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Old September 25, 2012, 11:22 PM   #75
Join Date: February 12, 2001
Location: DFW Area
Posts: 18,490
But it is not the energy that is causing the cartridge to be effective; it is not the energy causing the damage (at least at the range of velocities of handgun cartridges customarily used for self defense).
Since kinetic energy is, according to established science, the potential of a projectile to do work, it is not possible to say that kinetic energy does not cause damage since, effectively, damage is equivalent to the work done on the target medium by the projectile.

Kinetic energy causes damage any time a moving projectile causes damage. Does it tell the whole story? No, and it can be difficult to use energy to make relative assessments of the performance of rounds that differ significantly in other respects, but it's important not to wander too far afield of what science tells us about what kinetic energy means.
The physics and physiology of bullet performance are much more complex than that.
That is true, because kinetic energy is only a measure of potential, not a measure of what will happen, because some of the work done by the projectile may not have any significant wounding effect (e.g. temporary cavity in elastic tissues), and because phsyiology is tremendously complex. However, neither the fact that kinetic energy doesn't tell the whole story, nor the fact that the problem of terminal ballistics is very complex, can justify an attempt to redefine kinetic energy by stating that it doesn't cause damage.
...kinetic energy is not only not conserved in real collisions...
This statement may be somewhat misleading to some. It is true that kinetic energy is not conserved, but overall energy is certainly conserved, and many of the energy conversions have significant effects on the target medium in one form or another. In fact, any movement of the target medium or damage to the target medium is the result of an energy conversion of one sort or another.
Energy does not do the damage either in handguns or rifles, the bullet does the damage in both.
Without kinetic energy, the bullet does not move and therefore it does no damage. Only moving projectiles can cause damage, and therefore it's not possible to dismiss kinetic energy as a factor in the damage caused by moving projectiles.

There are two major misconceptions about kinetic energy when it comes to terminal ballistics.

1. Kinetic energy tells the whole story.
2. Kinetic energy doesn't have anything to do with the answer.

Neither is true.
Did you know that there is a TEXAS State Rifle Association?
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