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The penetrating power of ammunition.
February 16, 2006 5:52 AM   Subscribe

Sheetrock (drywall) doesn't slow any round down much. If you shoot in the house, walls will not stop any serious round. Insulation doesn't help. Metal front doors provide concealment, not cover - they won't stop bullets. "How hard is it to shoot off a lock?" Answer: Very hard. The .44 Magnum, "the most powerful handgun in the world and capable of blowing your head clean off", according to Dirty Harry, penetrates standard issue fragmentation body armour "like an ex-wife through your life savings."
posted by three blind mice (89 comments total)

 
Of particular interest lately: buckshot patterns.
posted by grabbingsand at 6:00 AM on February 16, 2006


Lessons learned:

3. Shooting stuff is fun.
posted by cmicali at 6:05 AM on February 16, 2006


Isn't the .454 Casull a more powerful cartridge than the .44 magnum?
posted by Tullius at 6:09 AM on February 16, 2006


Yeah, but they aren't much fun to shoot.
posted by TwelveTwo at 6:14 AM on February 16, 2006


I wouldn't think so.
posted by Tullius at 6:16 AM on February 16, 2006


In case any one is curious, here are some ballistic tables which show the relative power of different kinds of rounds.

The .44 Magnum produces 1042 foot pounds of pressure per square inch. The .50 AE produces 1661 (the .44 hasn't been the most powerful handgun for a long time, but it's still a great quote), and even the .50 AE isn't the most powerful. That title goes to the .454 Casull (as seen in the movie Alien Nation) which produces an amazing 1955 foot pounds.

For comparison, the 5.56 round used in the M4 (the front line military rifle) produces over 400 more foot pounds than the .44 mag despite having a bullet that is 2.6 times smaller in mass.

Fun stuff.
posted by quin at 6:16 AM on February 16, 2006


Fascinating.

This why urban warfare/fire fights are extremely dangerous. When a p32 can punch through a metal door, imagine what a assault rifle can do...

Also, a pet peeve (from my army days) is the Hollywood misconception of bulletproof vests stopping rifle rounds.

I got absolutely livid when Jack Bauer takes an AK 47 7.62mm rounds to the chest and shrugs it off because he was wearing a vest. Graah! A t-shirt does as much good to you as a vest against 5.56/7.62. That's why wore flak-jackets; they're only good against shrapnel.

Also, ducking behind trees for cover? Ducking part = good, tree = not so much. 7.62 goes through quite a bit of wood before stopping...

'That, my friend, will mash up through the engine block of a Fiat Uno, no problem.' /Spaced
posted by slimepuppy at 6:24 AM on February 16, 2006


...that's why we wore...
posted by slimepuppy at 6:25 AM on February 16, 2006


I got absolutely livid when Jack Bauer takes an AK 47 7.62mm rounds to the chest and shrugs it off because he was wearing a vest.

He shrugs off the vest because it has a hole in it. The round actually bounces off his ribs.
posted by biffa at 6:28 AM on February 16, 2006


Adamantium?
posted by TwelveTwo at 6:32 AM on February 16, 2006


Surely that would shatter the hell out of the rib and surrounding area?

Also, can't remember if this is a repeat occurence (he is, after all, a tough motherfucker), but I was talking about the fourth series and the shot does knock him off his feet. That made me assume it was a clean centre-mass hit. It happens in other films/series as well.

It is fiction after all.
And Jack Bauer eats bullets for breakfast.
posted by slimepuppy at 6:35 AM on February 16, 2006


Also, a pet peeve (from my army days) is the Hollywood misconception of bulletproof vests stopping rifle rounds.

Reminds me of when they tested the bullet stopping power of a car door on Mythbusters. IIRC, there wasn't any.
posted by smackfu at 6:38 AM on February 16, 2006


Off-topic, but I have to ask: is it true that, as J Greely says here, Casull is "pronounced like ka-boom"? If so, is it ka-SOOL or ka-ZOOL? 'Cause I'm languagehat, and I have to know these things.
posted by languagehat at 6:49 AM on February 16, 2006


I watched an episode of mythbusters last night where they tested the stopping power of water. It was surprisingly effective when shot at a 30 degree angle. Fascinating articles here.
posted by anomie at 6:50 AM on February 16, 2006


Nice post 3bm. I hope I get to enjoy my (eventual) retirement as much as the BoT guy does.

Remember folks, respect your firearms. They're not toys.
posted by djeo at 6:53 AM on February 16, 2006


I've said it before in threads and I'll say it again. If you feel you must have a gun for home defense, make it a pump shotgun with birdshot. Changes are cycling the pump will be all you need to do, but if you do need to shoot, you won't kill the neighbor two houses down.
posted by Pollomacho at 6:55 AM on February 16, 2006


Surely that would shatter the hell out of the rib and surrounding area?

Yes, but Jack just grows a new one.
posted by cillit bang at 6:57 AM on February 16, 2006


Ch..ch..changes should read chances. Turn to face the strange.
posted by Pollomacho at 7:01 AM on February 16, 2006


Pollomacho, very sound advice.

But this raises an important point. When you shoot a 5.56 into walls, you cannot be sure where the flight path of the bullet will go. This is an important consideration if others are in your home.

This frightens me quite a bit. I'd say it was an important consideration regardless of where you are. That's the point of rifles: they have unparalled penetration power and will go through a human being and keep going...

Who in their right mind would even consider using a assault rifle for home defence? You shoot the burglar. Great. The bullet goes through him, through a dry wall, then tumbles and lodges itself in your sleeping daughter's head. Or, better yet, keeps going and hits that annoying neighbour who borrowed you hedge-trimmer and when you got it back it had half a tank of gas and wasn't cleaned properly...
posted by slimepuppy at 7:04 AM on February 16, 2006


I knew someone who decided it would be fun to dry-fire his .44 at the wall of his apartment. Except the gun was actually loaded. THe bullet exited his apartment, entered the next one, exited that apartment, entered the apartment on the other side, hit someone in the back, and killed him.

So, yeah- sheetrock doesn't stop bullets.
posted by dogwelder at 7:05 AM on February 16, 2006


Unparalleled.
Stupid language.
posted by slimepuppy at 7:06 AM on February 16, 2006


If so, is it ka-SOOL or ka-ZOOL? 'Cause I'm languagehat, and I have to know these things.

I've heard it pronounced kaz-ul (with a short a - like the British pronounce Basil.)

What pollomacho said. An armed intruder might take the chance that the scared homeowner with a .38 shortbarrel he has never before fired isn't going to be able to find his torso with even one round.

That same guy looking at that same scared homeowner holding a shotgun isn't going to be nearly as confident.
posted by three blind mice at 7:08 AM on February 16, 2006


this

is perhaps the coolest set of pictures on that site. Definetly gotta try shooting gallon jugs one day.
posted by Rubbstone at 7:15 AM on February 16, 2006


Also, sorry to keep spamming this one thread, but fucking hell, check out the exit "wound" in the last picture. That's rifles for you. Teeny tiny entrance wound and, to quote Penny Arcade, an exit wound the size of a basketball... court.
posted by slimepuppy at 7:16 AM on February 16, 2006


tbm: you assume the guy raiding a house is smart enough to appreciate such things, rather than strung out on his need for a fix.
posted by Goofyy at 7:23 AM on February 16, 2006


That's why the gun is loaded.
posted by smackfu at 7:26 AM on February 16, 2006


tbm: And even if you kill the burglar, you can claim you didn't shoot him, only peppered.
posted by qvantamon at 7:28 AM on February 16, 2006


Awesome post. Thanks.
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 7:32 AM on February 16, 2006


Goofyy: you assume the guy raiding a house is an ignorant crackhead strung out on his need for a fix.

Still easier to hit them with a shotgun loaded with birdshot. And less likely to kill your neighbour.
posted by slimepuppy at 7:32 AM on February 16, 2006


can i still consider myself a pacifist if stuff like this utterly fascinates me?
posted by lord_wolf at 7:32 AM on February 16, 2006


you assume the guy raiding a house is smart enough to appreciate such things, rather than strung out on his need for a fix.

Absolutely. The idea is to avoid violence which is always - ALWAYS - the best thing. If he's smart - and you're holding a shotgun - then maybe you won't have to shoot him. If you have to shoot, then it's best not to miss.
posted by three blind mice at 7:33 AM on February 16, 2006


dogwelder, what ended up happening with that guy?
posted by atchafalaya at 7:41 AM on February 16, 2006


lord_wolf: sure you can!

(And because it amuses me: the .50 BMG produces nearly 13 times the power of the .44 mag. and even that is not the most powerful cartridge ;)
posted by quin at 7:48 AM on February 16, 2006


quin: nice! thanks! :-)
posted by lord_wolf at 7:51 AM on February 16, 2006


A humbling post. If everyone knew about these effects, I wonder how much that would cut down accidents and injuries.
posted by furtive at 7:58 AM on February 16, 2006


Am I the only one who thinks that "foot pounds of pressure per square inch" is either redundant or just wrong?
posted by Kirth Gerson at 8:10 AM on February 16, 2006


This is interesting.

The Birdshot doesn't penetrate beyond the first wall, but the author of the sight maintains that it does not penetrate deeply enough to reach a bad guy's vital organs. Birdshot makes a nasty but shallow wound. It is not a good Stopper.

Make of that what you will.
posted by slimepuppy at 8:16 AM on February 16, 2006


feet pound, squares inch.
posted by TwelveTwo at 8:19 AM on February 16, 2006


There are plenty of movies where assassins/hitmen shoot someone through walls on purpose (Miller's Crossing comes to mind), but the only movie I have seen where a bullet accidentally passed through drywall as it would in reality: Mulholland Drive (see seventh paragraph).
posted by Lord Kinbote at 8:21 AM on February 16, 2006


99% of the shot may not penetrate to the vital organs but it only takes one pellet in the wrong place to kill you.
posted by smackfu at 8:22 AM on February 16, 2006


make it a pump shotgun with birdshot

Apparently people agree with you. Though they caution that it may be ineffective against body armour.

My suggestions about dealing with home invaders wearing body armour would be to leave the neighbourhood.
posted by GuyZero at 8:31 AM on February 16, 2006


Truly awesome find. Thank you.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 8:34 AM on February 16, 2006


The Birdshot doesn't penetrate beyond the first wall, but the author of the sight maintains that it does not penetrate deeply enough to reach a bad guy's vital organs. Birdshot makes a nasty but shallow wound. It is not a good Stopper.

Veep Cheney shot his victim at 30 yards and penetrated to/into his heart with 28 gauge loaded with birdshot. I'd say that pretty much closes the case on the argument that a 12 gauge could do it.

What I'm interested in is the penetration characteristics of different types of shot, like steel or copper loads. What difference would that make?
posted by Pollomacho at 8:36 AM on February 16, 2006


Pollomacho - It made it into his heart via his blood stream. It didn't penetrate to his heart at all. It doesn't take much for a little bit of birdshot to get into your bloodstream and kill someone a few hours later.
posted by anomie at 8:45 AM on February 16, 2006


Thanks for the clarification, anomie. I had only read the reports that the shot had "lodged" and assumed. There is some speculation that it may have traveled through the chest wall though now that I do a bit of searching.
posted by Pollomacho at 8:50 AM on February 16, 2006


Fascinating post and well researched too. Shame(?) you're not Cheney's spin team or they would have come up with a more plausible story.

Makes me want to go to the range and pop some caps. But they don't let you shoot at anything but paper targets.
posted by fenriq at 8:51 AM on February 16, 2006


I bet the stucco on the outside of my house would stop most handgun rounds. It's like rock (I have drilled it for cable etc)
posted by hardshoes at 8:58 AM on February 16, 2006


TwelveTwo, in case you were answering me, the problem I have with the expression is not what's made plural.

Foot-pounds is a measure of torque in mechanical systems - the turning force on a shaft applied by an arm one foot long with a one-pound weight hung on it. I'm not clear on what foot-pounds have to do with bullet striking force.

Pounds per square inch is a measure of pressure, and that does make sense in this context - 1000 psi is a lot of push.

"Foot-pounds of pressure per square inch" does not compute, for me. Can someone clear this up?
posted by Kirth Gerson at 9:21 AM on February 16, 2006


Foot-pounds is a measure of torque in mechanical systems - the turning force on a shaft applied by an arm one foot long with a one-pound weight hung on it. I'm not clear on what foot-pounds have to do with bullet striking force.

Correct, but it is also a measure of energy or the work done by moving one pound one foot. As a unit of energy, foot pounds can also be expressed in joules (but I forget the conversion factor.)
posted by three blind mice at 9:25 AM on February 16, 2006


After reading through the entire site, one thing becomes clear to me. The author has left out one factor and that is the blunt force. Penetration, while of course very deadly is only one thing to consider when talking about "stopping" an intruder. Hitting someone with a burst of birdshot may not blow the victim in half or even blow a big, deep hole in them. The difference is like stabbing them with an ice pick or hitting them with a bat.
posted by Pollomacho at 9:34 AM on February 16, 2006


Apparently a foot-pound is 1,355781 joule.

After some googlage, I found this:
Source: Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary (1913)
Foot pound \Foot" pound`\ (Mech.)
A unit of energy, or work, being equal to the work done in
raising one pound avoirdupois against the force of gravity
the height of one foot.


Most of the definitions left out the gravity part, which is what makes it meaningful. After all, without some opposing force, it's no more work to move a pound a mile than it is to move it an inch.

Still wondering about the combination of foot pounds and psi.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 9:43 AM on February 16, 2006


The question might be, "Why would you shoot at someone at 45 yards?" Well, if he is at 45 yards and shooting at me, I will return fire. If a shotgun is all I have, I will use that. But understand that you will have a lot of missed pellets.

I love gun guys, they have a kind of Rumsfeldian eloquence.

At moderate ranges (20 yards), the loads had an average spread of around 9 to 17 inches. This is getting big enough that, unless carefully aimed, many pellets will miss a bad guy.

At 20 yards, many will miss? I'm really beginning to wonder about this "30 yards" claim. Seems like face-neck-chest were all not so much missed as nailed.
posted by dhartung at 10:17 AM on February 16, 2006


The difference is like stabbing them with an ice pick or hitting them with a bat.

Quite. A round from a 9mm handgun has a power of 500 foot pounds/square inch. That is the equivalent energy of dropping a one inch square steel bar weighing 500 pound from a height of one foot. It won't knock down a 300 pound man who is moving towards you, but it will make him take a step back. The .454 Casull - at 1955 foot pounds per square inch - will bowl him over.
posted by three blind mice at 10:30 AM on February 16, 2006


Still wondering about the combination of foot pounds and psi.
posted by Kirth Gerson

Here is the conversion.
posted by quin at 10:44 AM on February 16, 2006


If you feel you must have a gun for home defense, make it a pump shotgun with birdshot.

Or, if you'd rather avoid the potential issues of waving a long-gun 'round where there's lots of walls to obstruct your fire position, consider a wheel-gun loaded with Glaser Safety Slugs.

(On the other hand, it's hard to argue the audible caution a pump-action shotgun provides... should be warning enough for most burglar-types.)
posted by deCadmus at 10:45 AM on February 16, 2006


...and for heaven's sake: if you're gonna keep any firearm as your bed-side companion, get thee to the firing range and make sure you know how to use it -- and how to identify your targets -- before you react to something going bump in the night.
posted by deCadmus at 10:49 AM on February 16, 2006


The .44 Magnum, "the most powerful handgun in the world

445 Supermag
posted by 445supermag at 10:58 AM on February 16, 2006


Sorry, 445supermag. You are indeed powerful and a wonder to behold, but the .454 cas sill has you dead to rights.

Though you can take solace in the fact that you are by and far the most powerful nic here.

:)
posted by quin at 11:04 AM on February 16, 2006


To give you an idea of the energy involved, here are some videos from Afghanistan of what a round from a .50 caliber sniper rifle does to a grown man. The rounds are probably depleted uranium and this is a military sniper rifle so this is several orders of magnitude beyond what I posted in the FPP. Graphic but not too gross.
posted by three blind mice at 11:26 AM on February 16, 2006


The .44 Magnum produces 1042 foot pounds of pressure per square inch.

There seems to be a lot of confusion in this thread about the table quin referenced. That's no surprise -- physical units are confusing.

Let me do my part to add to the mess.

For starters, quin's table shows upper and lower bounds for muzzle energy in foot-pounds -- the "per square inch" part is superfluous -- and, as pointed out before, it's a measure of energy. Relevance: all other things being equal, a higher-energy bullet fully stopped by its target will do more damage.

So, we don't need to say (and physicists wouldn't say) "per square inch" when referencing muzzle energy.* three blind mice gets it right -- 500 foot-pounds is one heck of a lot of energy to deal with over the short period of time it takes for a bullet to deliver it -- though not knowing much about guns and shooting it puzzles me why a round like the Casull that would bowl an attacker over wouldn't also bowl over the shooter. Is it just a matter of prepping oneself for the recoil or is there more to it than that?

*I'm not a ballistics engineer but it isn't inconceivable that one could come up with a measure of ballistic energy concentration with the units "foot-pounds per square inch," which might be useful in addition with the more prosaic "pounds per square inch" measure of pressure in estimating penetration ability.
posted by Opposite George at 11:28 AM on February 16, 2006


The .454 Casull - at 1955 foot pounds per square inch - will bowl him over.

Uh, if it's imparting enough energy to bowl over the target, it's imparting enough energy to bowl over the shooter too.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 11:32 AM on February 16, 2006


Oh, and really though muzzle energy is important I think for bowling-over ability the most relevant factor would be how much momentum -- impact velocity times projectile mass -- the projectile dumps in the target.

You can ALMOST use some of the measures we've been discussing as proxies for the other ones which is probably adding to the confusion.
posted by Opposite George at 11:36 AM on February 16, 2006


The .454 Casull - at 1955 foot pounds per square inch - will bowl him over.
posted by three blind mice at 10:30 AM PST on February 16


Is the shooter knocked over every time he fires that particular weapon?
posted by Optimus Chyme at 11:39 AM on February 16, 2006


Uh, if it's imparting enough energy to bowl over the target, it's imparting enough energy to bowl over the shooter too.

This is very true. The movies have led us to believe something that simply isn't true. If you get shot, even if you are wearing a bullet proof vest with a trauma plate, you will not get knocked down by the impact. A flinching reaction to being shot? Possibly, but not the impact itself. When Mythbusters attempted this, it took a 12 gauge shotgun and point blank range to move a body the 1/4th inch or so required to knock it off a hook.

The 1955 fp that the Casull produces will result in a flatter trajectory (by virtue of it's velocity) and much higher penetration. On an unarmored human sized target the difference between a .44 mag, a .455 supermag, and a 454 cas would not be all that obvious. (assuming they were all using the same ammunition type) Where the difference becomes apparent is shooting larger animals like buffalo, velociraptors, etc.

Since i don't hunt, and the only joy for me in in the shooting itself, the difference in the power produced is irrelevant. For other shooters, the greater power may serve a purpose.
posted by quin at 11:42 AM on February 16, 2006


slimepuppy writes "The Birdshot doesn't penetrate beyond the first wall, but the author of the sight maintains that it does not penetrate deeply enough to reach a bad guy's vital organs. Birdshot makes a nasty but shallow wound. It is not a good Stopper."

I prefer birdshot with 00 as a final round backer, most people aren't used to be shot. A couple rounds of birdshot will deter most.

GuyZero writes "Though they caution that it may be ineffective against body armour."

If your first couple of shots don't seem to have an effect start going for the head.
posted by Mitheral at 11:48 AM on February 16, 2006


Sorry, 445supermag. You are indeed powerful and a wonder to behold, but the .454 cas sill has you dead to rights.

And the new 460 S&W has it all over the 454 (its the same diameter, but longer, so you can use 454s as "light loads").

And bolt action pistols like the savage striker etc. that shoot rifle cartidges like the 300 WSM are way above the 460.

And some nut has probably made a 50 bmg pistol. And he will be topped by a 20 mm anti-tank pistol...(I hope I just made that up).
posted by 445supermag at 11:50 AM on February 16, 2006


Is it just a matter of prepping oneself for the recoil or is there more to it than that?

It's like they say about shotguns: kills the target and harms the shooter.

quin, you're ignoring the mass of the round. Shotgun pellets have low mass and hence not much momentum (mass times velocity) when they hit.

A .45 calibre slug has a hell of lot more mass. The problem with a bullet proof vest is that although the bullet may not penetrate, it's energy will.

Watch the video I linked to above and tell me if the flying bodies are "a flinching reaction." I assume that the shooter has anchored his weapon on something more than his shoulder.
posted by three blind mice at 11:52 AM on February 16, 2006


66 caliber tiger repellant - Howdah pistol
posted by 445supermag at 11:58 AM on February 16, 2006


Glaser slugs are the most popular. But there are all kinds of frangible ammunition. (Lapua makes some as does extreme shock which seems like it should have some sort of 'extreme' soundtrack)
I like the round-nose and compressed-core on the Glaser slugs because they feed nicely and can get some distance. But for greater distance and reduced risk of ricochet Black Hills ammo makes some frangible 5.56mm for the shorty carbine (M4A1) and the M16 and the M249 SAW (in case you have the civilan versions around some place) and they make molycoated ammo too. (Meh)

Considering the wound ballistics on Glaser slugs (et.al) and bullets in general*, if you're in good shape you might want to stick to a knife or a good club, something short, and the phone for home defense. All you have to do is hold them off until the cops show up.

*"Instantaneous incapacitation is not possible with non central nervous system wounds and does not always occur with central nervous system wounds."

If you're going to use a gun for home defense, get some subsonic rounds ('cause your shooting inside) and get a flash-light mounted on it.

Otherwise, yeah, it's mobility and cover that saves your ass, not walls. Use shaped charges on them. (Or the M303 is nice)
posted by Smedleyman at 12:04 PM on February 16, 2006


Actually, Rou, that's not quite true. Yes, the force to propel the bullet is equal, but much of it is reduced on the shooter's end in different ways. Some of the force is in the gas that ejects out the side and end. Some of the force is, in the case of a semi-automatic, in the bolt cycling. Some guns have fancy recoil shocks in the butt.

Speaking of butt, that is the other reason you aren't knocked over, the 4 inch by one inch or so butt has a heck of a lot more surface area than a half-inch diameter slug so that pressure is disbursed over the 4 square inches.

It is not uncommon for the prey, even a larger animal, to flip or tumble several times when hunting, while you sit comfortably unmoved in your tree stand or blind. See 3-blind's stomach churning video for further evidence.
posted by Pollomacho at 12:05 PM on February 16, 2006


Also - power is nice, but the big big guns are for hunting. You don't want to have to use that in a fire fight.
posted by Smedleyman at 12:06 PM on February 16, 2006


Oh, and here's a less disturbing video of gun physics in action.
posted by Pollomacho at 12:10 PM on February 16, 2006


445supermag, are you the Dan Wesson carried by Elvis Cole?
posted by Kirth Gerson at 12:24 PM on February 16, 2006


Good post. And not one rabid ant-gun comment.

*Sniff* Oh MetaFilter, how you have matured.
posted by tkchrist at 12:27 PM on February 16, 2006


It's like they say about shotguns: kills the target and harms the shooter.

Hee. :)

The problem with a bullet proof vest is that although the bullet may not penetrate, it's energy will.

I think the the idea of a BPV (apart from limiting penetration) is that some energy gets dissipated in it rather than the target.

On the other hand, under the right circumstances a BPV could increase momentum transfer, which would cause the target to move more on impact.

Wild-assed conjecture on the efficacy of a larger butt (hunh.. huh huh... huh huh huh...): Though pressure with a larger, non-spring-loaded butt will be lower, the force the shooter has to deal with should be the same. Maybe a larger butt takes advantage of non-linearities in human anatomy (e.g., muscle and fat being less elastic than bone) to make the impact less jarring and easier to deal with?

Or maybe I'm just full of crap...
posted by Opposite George at 12:29 PM on February 16, 2006


i'd like to make an ant-gun comment, but can't see the gun.;)


great post.
posted by Miles Long at 12:30 PM on February 16, 2006


Speaking of butt, that is the other reason you aren't knocked over, the 4 inch by one inch or so butt has a heck of a lot more surface area than a half-inch diameter slug so that pressure is disbursed over the 4 square inches.

And to add to that, the round doesn't receive it's energy instantaneously. The charge burns slowly (well relatively slowly) and the bullet gains speed (and momentum) as it proceeds along the barrel. The total energy imparted to the bullet is dispersed in time with regard to the shooter. This is why a long gun doesn't kick as much as a large calibre pistol or shotgun.

On the receiving end, all the energy arrives at the same time.
posted by three blind mice at 12:39 PM on February 16, 2006


And some nut has probably made a 50 bmg pistol

And indeed, some nut has...several nuts, in fact.
posted by hackwolf at 12:46 PM on February 16, 2006


Wild-assed conjecture on the efficacy of a larger butt (hunh.. huh huh... huh huh huh...): Though pressure with a larger, non-spring-loaded butt will be lower, the force the shooter has to deal with should be the same. Maybe a larger butt takes advantage of non-linearities in human anatomy (e.g., muscle and fat being less elastic than bone) to make the impact less jarring and easier to deal with?

Well, there is that, plus, unlike the moron in the above video, you brace yourself and transfer force into the ground. Not only that, but the shooter moves, even if slightly, with the recoil, acting as a giant shock absorber of sorts.
posted by Pollomacho at 1:06 PM on February 16, 2006


445supermag, are you the Dan Wesson carried by Elvis Cole?

Dan Wesson firearms was started by a desendent of the "Wesson" in Smith and Wesson. They did make some small .38 revolvers in the '70s, probably what that character uses. They are much more famous for making revolvers that that can quickly switch barrels, allowing one to have a 2" barrel for carry and a 10" (or even 15") and a scope for hunting. The barrels are tensioned by a barrel shroud and a nut at the end, this makes them very accurate and they became the favorite of target shooters. Elgin Gates designed a series of cartridges that were the same diameter as standard magnums (.357, .41 and .44 magnums), but longer. They were intended for Silhouette target shooting competitions (where you knock over a heavy cast iron target at ranges to 200 meters, with open sights and no rest). Dan Wesson was one of the few to chamber the .357 supermag and the only to chamber the .414 and .445 supermags. Recently sold, bought, sold again, they are mostly making 1911s right now with CZ as the owner.
I love mine, I can put on a 4" compensated barrel for hiking in grizzly country and switch to a scoped 8" for deer hunting (with a bipod, I can hit soda cans beyond 150'). The recoil is not bad because it is so heavy, but the pressure wave that rolls over you can be disconcerting.
posted by 445supermag at 1:16 PM on February 16, 2006


A humbling post. If everyone knew about these effects, I wonder how much that would cut down accidents and injuries.

Education is the most effective form of gun control.
posted by b1tr0t at 1:34 PM on February 16, 2006


Education is the most effective form of gun control.

Hmm, I always thought shooting accidents topped that list?
posted by Pollomacho at 2:00 PM on February 16, 2006


Now if I can just get wireless in my apartment that runs on bullets.
posted by Eideteker at 2:01 PM on February 16, 2006


Three Blind Mice oh, i completely concede that the mass of the round has a huge amount of impact (ignore the pun) on the down range effect of a bullet, but in my defense, the movie you linked to is demonstrating an .50 BMG anti-material weapon. A bit more than oomph both in round mass (720 grains vs 200) and velocity (3080fps vs 975fps) when compared to a .45 ACP.

That said, i do retract my earlier statement. It's clear that in some instances, with the right round you can make someone fly back. But i stand by my statement that it's not going to be from the average handgun round.

[on preview, spellcheck wants to turn 3080fps to 'Coldfusion' and 975fps to 'purposes'. i find this funny for some reason]
posted by quin at 2:13 PM on February 16, 2006


which of course should read "but i'll amend my statement such that it's not going to be from the average hand gun round."
posted by quin at 2:15 PM on February 16, 2006


We're in agreement quin. I think I qualified the video - a .50 cal military weapon is orders of magnitude beyond your run-of-the-mill handgun. The video certainly attests to that.

You are right though. A shotgun loaded with birdshot might knock down a 78 year old lawyer, but probably won't even slow down a 250 pound kid juiced on meth and adrenaline. He'll take it like rocksalt and keep coming at you - madder than hell. A .380 revolver - commonly kept in the drawer for self-defense - won't do the job either unless you can double-tap him in the vitals. And that's hard to do to a moving target in poor lighting. I guess that's why some people feel the need to have something larger - despite the threat to everyone around them.

As for me, I'm a peaceful dude and don't play with guns anymore. I just wish everyone else would stop too.
posted by three blind mice at 4:03 PM on February 16, 2006


great FPP

I love the Box o' Truth TBM, I've been saving that sight as the centerpiece of a home ballistics FPP for a couple months

oh well back to the drawing board
posted by Megafly at 5:54 PM on February 16, 2006


"Birdshot makes a nasty but shallow wound. It is not a good Stopper."

There's a compromise though, and that's #4 buckshot. Bigger than birdshot, smaller than 0 or 00 buck, more pellets, better penetration. It's a nice balance between the two, especially in 3-inch magnum round.

I have a Mossberg 500 pump 12-ga with a 24" cylinder bore (no choke) barrel and rifle sights; basically a slug rifle. Plenty good for home defense. Don't have a handgun yet but would prefer .40 S&W or 10mm.

Anybody in his right mind when faced with a shotgun puts his damn hands up and surrenders. They just do outrageous amounts of damage to flesh at close range. 12-ga. with 00 buckshot at less than 50 feet will through-and-through, with the exit wound being most of the back side of the target. Note that if you're using a 12-ga. inside a house your longest shot distance might be 25 feet or so.
posted by zoogleplex at 7:35 PM on February 16, 2006


Plane as a bullet
posted by mert at 9:57 PM on February 16, 2006


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