Shooting Holes in Wounding Theories
February 20, 2003 3:27 PM   Subscribe

Shooting Holes in Wounding Theories. A long, technical, in-depth essay on how bullets injure and kill living creatures. The political part of the essay seems to be clearly labled, and is largely confined to a discussion on the infighting that goes on in the field of firearms ballistics. It is not a light read, but might be of interest to the morbidly curious.
posted by moonbiter (6 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Minimum Wound Area: MWA (cm2) = [ 1 cm2 / 5 kg Body Mass ] + 60 cm2

Or, as Laurie Anderson would say, it's not the bullet that kills you, it's the hole.
posted by jokeefe at 5:18 PM on February 20, 2003

The Delta operators from Black Hawk Down made sure the book included a small rant against 5.56x45mm for a reason - it may have a lot more going for it according to the 'black hole' school of wounding (essentially maximize internal wound area to increase bleeding), but its lack of kinetic energy when compared to the 7.62x51mm (phased out in the Vietnam era when the M16 replaced the M14) was a serious problem during that operation.

Diagrams of modern 5.56x45 (SS109) vs 7.62x51 NATO against gel blocks.

The logic of 5.56 was that wounding a man would chew up 2-3 people because of hospitalization and requirements for medical care, whereas outright killing him would only reduce the enemy headcount by 1. This fails to take into account that your side loses a man if the enemy can still shoot back after being shot. Dr. Fackler, referenced quite heavily in the links here, has quite a bit to say on the subject.
posted by Ryvar at 8:06 PM on February 20, 2003

It was a good read, moonbiter. Thanks.
posted by Yelling At Nothing at 8:12 PM on February 20, 2003

They shoot pigs, don't they?
posted by Jos Bleau at 9:03 PM on February 20, 2003

Ryvar, I think one of the other advantages attributed to the 5.56 round is that you could carry 17 lbs. of gun and ammo with the M-14 and the 7.62 round, and you had a soldier with an M-14 and 100 rounds of ammo. With an M-16 and 5.56 rounds you had a soldier with 280 rounds of ammo for that same 17 lbs. of pack weight.

The guys I know that carry the M-16 love slathering themselves in "personal" ammo. Cut the toothbrush handle in half, strip pack straps, lose pack issue cruft, and carry an extra clip and 50 loose. An extra hundred rounds is not uncommon.

That's a lot of little holes.

A lot of the time you are just trying to get the hell out of a situation, and withering fire with plenty of ammo is excellent for that. The guy on the other end may know the 5.56 doesn't pack the punch of the 7.62, but if you shoot a bucket and a half of 5.56 over his head, he's going to eat dirt and like it. Mustering fire is often enough to keep that guy from shooting back, even if he isn't injured.

That and the 5.56 round can be consistently fired at what it's aimed at by basic infantry troops. Repeating fire is about getting the third shot to hit where it's aimed, and the auto M-14 did not qualify for that at all without a lot of special training.
posted by dglynn at 10:25 PM on February 20, 2003

Jos Bleau: Give us a bit more warning when linking to a site with pics of a dog being tortured and dying like that, ok?
posted by lazaruslong at 1:50 AM on February 21, 2003

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