.38 ammo penetration, tactics in close range (real story)

.38 ammo penetration, tactics in close range (real story)

This is a discussion on .38 ammo penetration, tactics in close range (real story) within the General Firearm Discussion forums, part of the Related Topics category; I hear the arguments about penetration, close in tactics, etc. I thought maybe I should relay this story, which is real for you to consider. ...

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  1. #1
    VIP Member Array Eagleks's Avatar
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    .38 ammo penetration, tactics in close range (real story)

    I hear the arguments about penetration, close in tactics, etc. I thought maybe I should relay this story, which is real for you to consider.

    Background of Story :
    A guy in a car is driving down a 2 way highway, and shooting at trucks and the drivers as he passes them. This goes on for a long time, and the word is out on the radios. So, some truck drivers (my cousin one of them & ex LEO) decide to get this guy off the road and stopped, so the Hwy Patrol (who they notified) can meet them and get this guy.

    Two trucks are behind the guy and keeping track of him and communicating with 2 on-coming trucks. At the right time and no cars are between all of them.... the 2 trucks coming from each direction get side by side.... and are going to meet up with and trap the guy in. Remember , the guy has been shooting at people and obviously is armed.

    The trucks coming from each direction block the guy, and he realizing he is trapped comes to a screeching halt. My cousin is one of the one's that jumps out to "get the guy".


    Tactics & Results : I was called , told about this, and told to turn on the news 'quick' as my cousin had been shot. The TV News announcer is saying the same thing as above, and in the background, ... there is an ambulance and they have a guy on a gurney and they are loading him into the ambulance. I'm watching that, to see if it's my cousin.

    Then, the announcer says... "we'll talk to one driver who was shot" . WHAT ?
    Sure enough, she's talking to my cousin who is standing there and asking him what happened.... huh, they just said he had been SHOT ! ! !

    He says, a couple of them jumped out of their trucks and told the guy the Hwy Patrol was coming and to settle down, as he was ranting , etc. Then the guy pulls out the gun and shoots my cousin..... .38 revolver ... from about 8-10 feet away. My cousin, reacts without waiting, and rushes the guy , grabs the gun, and then commences to beat the living tar out of the guy for shooting him.

    The guy they were loading in the ambulance, was the guy who shot him after he got done with him. Seems he had several broken bones (nose, jaws, ribs, arm, etc) and was not in good shape.

    The bullet , hit his cowboy belt buckle. The bullet went thru the buckle and came resting between the buckle and the belt. No penetration thru the belt.... although he did have a black and blue spot on him from it.

    Side note: woman wanted to kill her husband, and after several attempts to poison him, etc. ... got fed up one day and shot him point blank with a .38 cal revolver 5 times in the face. He survived. She said she was happy they were locking her up where she didn't have to deal with him, then she heard he gets visitation.

    So."penetration" and effectiveness...... obviously shot placement per se was not the issue, but penetration and effectiveness were.

    But, tactics.... as soon as the guy shot he rushed him, the guy never got off a 2nd shot. Says something about how fast someone can cover that distance and stop a shooter by getting control of the gun hand, or yours. It also says something I guess, about that he kept whaling on the guy until he was no longer a threat.
    Last edited by Eagleks; May 19th, 2011 at 10:34 PM.
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  2. #2
    VIP Member Array BugDude's Avatar
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    The cousin was shot in the belt buckle...I'd say shot placement was THE issue. The placement on the buckle caused the lack of penetration and effectiveness. JMO. Can't speak to the face shots. Glancing blows to a hard round skull can riochet without causing deadly consequences. No detailed info on where the shots landed. Agani, JMO. If you're implying that the .38 is an ineffective round, I would argue that any round not properly placed is ineffective. JMO.
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  3. #3
    Member Array paullie's Avatar
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    i hope he thanked the Good Lord for the 1 in a million shot

  4. #4
    VIP Member Array Eagleks's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BugDude View Post
    The cousin was shot in the belt buckle...I'd say shot placement was THE issue. The placement on the buckle caused the lack of penetration and effectiveness. JMO. Can't speak to the face shots. Glancing blows to a hard round skull can riochet without causing deadly consequences. No detailed info on where the shots landed. Agani, JMO. If you're implying that the .38 is an ineffective round, I would argue that any round not properly placed is ineffective. JMO.
    Different people have had cell phones, stop bullets. Many things can stop bullets. His was a belt buckle and he didn't give the guy a chance to make a 2nd shot. I've seen LEO mic's or badge stop or deflect a bullet. I'm suggesting more than anything, not to assume your ammo type will penetrate just anything, nor that 1 shot will do it, and it is something to think about.
    I don't make jokes. I just watch the government and report the facts. --- Will Rogers ---
    Chief Justice John Roberts : "I don't see how you can read Heller and not take away from it the notion that the Second Amendment...was extremely important to the framers in their view of what liberty meant."

  5. #5
    VIP Member Array BugDude's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Eagleks View Post
    Different people have had cell phones, stop bullets. Many things can stop bullets. His was a belt buckle and he didn't give the guy a chance to make a 2nd shot. I've seen LEO mic's or badge stop or deflect a bullet. I'm suggesting more than anything, not to assume your ammo type will penetrate just anything, nor that 1 shot will do it, and it is something to think about.
    I absolutely agree with your suggestion.
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  6. #6
    Senior Member Array Spidey2011's Avatar
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    One more reason for my giant shiny buckle!

    I hope your cousin realizes how lucky he was, especially since it wasn't too bright to confront an armed gunman. A little higher (or lower) and he'd have had a bad day.

  7. #7
    VIP Member Array Eagleks's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Spidey2011 View Post
    One more reason for my giant shiny buckle!

    I hope your cousin realizes how lucky he was, especially since it wasn't too bright to confront an armed gunman. A little higher (or lower) and he'd have had a bad day.
    Oh, he did.... but he wasn't going to give him a chance to make a 2nd shot. That part of it was due purely to his quick reaction and experience in past situations. Oh, he knew he was dumb to get out and be in the open like that, but ...... they thought since he did not have a gun out at that point and thought they could get up to him and get ahold of him so he couldn't do anything. They didn't do that fast enough, or shouldn't have even tried at all. I'ld go with the later, and not approach the guy at all at that point.
    I don't make jokes. I just watch the government and report the facts. --- Will Rogers ---
    Chief Justice John Roberts : "I don't see how you can read Heller and not take away from it the notion that the Second Amendment...was extremely important to the framers in their view of what liberty meant."

  8. #8
    Member Array crabbys44's Avatar
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    Did he frame the buckle before he got a bigger one?

    Seriously, I saw a .38 get stopped by a guys teeth. It went through his upper lip and stopped. It was the old "widow maker" (158gr RNL) round about 30 years ago.

    I still believe a .38 or .380 are adequate but at the floor of effective rounds. I have both, but carry my .44 or .45.

    I carried a .38 as my duty gun for a decade. To compensate for its "shortcomings" I started shooting competitively with my duty gun to be the best I could be with "six for sure." I was at the point where I could speed rock center mass at 15 yards with almost boring consistency. Since I don't shoot several times a week any more, I wouldn't want to embarrass myself by trying it again.
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  9. #9
    Distinguished Member Array Madcap_Magician's Avatar
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    It would also be interesting to see the ammo used. With marginal calibers like the .38, ammo choice is critical in the round's effectiveness. A 130-gr. FMJ, 158-gr. LRN, or 148-gr. wadcutter will not have nearly the effectiveness of a 135-gr. GDHP.
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    Member Array Skippys's Avatar
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    Eagleks, I see you're from Kansas-- you may recall the Carr brother's Dec., 2000, quadruple homicide in Wichita. The fifth victim survived because her hair clip deflected the bullet at point blank range while her four friends died, execution style, nude in a snow-covered soccer field.
    I'd give my right arm to be ambidextrous.

  11. #11
    VIP Member Array BugDude's Avatar
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    For as much as the .38 seems to stink, it sure did the job for law enforcement for many years. Today's +P defensive rounds seem to be far better than those of yester-year. I personally wouldn't rank .38+P as being the same as .380, but I could be wrong.
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  12. #12
    Distinguished Member Array RevolvingMag's Avatar
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    That's why I use .357 Hydra-shok, or .45 PMC Starfire. (Not the heaviest rounds, but I LOVE the Starfire. And have heard wonderful things about Hydra-Shoks and have no reason to doubt them)
    "Rock and load, lock and roll... what's it matter? FIRE!!"

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  13. #13
    VIP Member Array zacii's Avatar
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    We don't know the angle of the shot.

    Recently, azchevy posted an old timer giving advice to aim for the belt buckle. Seemed like good advice to me. "Shoot a man in the guts, and he'll drop what's in his hand."

    This incident should prompt us away from penetration testing using water jugs. Instead we should be using belt buckles...

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    VIP Member Array glockman10mm's Avatar
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    I know I would be pissed if my collector 94-95 PRCA Bucking Bull of the Year "BODACIOUS" was damaged from a bullet fired from some varmit. Yeah, we would have an issue.
    Ignorance is a long way from stupid, but left unchecked, can get there real fast.

  15. #15
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    There's .38 ammo and then there's .38 ammo.

    Would need to known what sort of .38 ammo was used in the OPs original tales to have an opinion.

    Target hollow-base wadcutters at 600-700fps (actual chronographed velocities of factory examples), Bubba's powderpuff handloads, or some ill-stored 50-75 year old stuff (see below) isn't the same breed of cat as modern standard velocity .38 Special ammunition. There are also the ancient .38 S&W and .38 Long Colt rounds to consider.

    Of lesser but still practical importance would be the quality and condition of the revolver firing the rounds. Was it a foreign cheap-o with a barrel/cylinder gap one could pitch horseshoes through and an over-sized bore made to sloppy tolerances? The right combination of crummy revolver and crummy ammo could make for feeble performance indeed.

    An impromptu chronograph test was made with some junk .38 Special ammunition.






    Probably all but the one headstamped "Super-X" were pre-war production. The Super-X could have been 1940s-1960s production. All were 158 grain round nose loads. Of the lot, only one gave a "normal" velocity reading (in the high 800s as I recall). One gave a reading somewhere south of 499 fps. One gave a "no-read" over the chronograph screens because its velocity was so low. An aiming reference at the 100 yard rifle berm was used for sighting across the screens. The "no-read" hit the ground about 50 yards out after giving a feeble "fwssst" of a report. Gave about the same impression as a bullet flung from a wrist-rocket sling shot. Two would not fire though struck multiple times.
    Charter Member of the DC .41 LC Society

    “No possible rapidity of fire can atone for habitual carelessness of aim with the first shot.”

    Theodore Roosevelt, The Wilderness Hunter, 1893

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