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Old February 18, 2009, 09:43 AM   #1
jg0001
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Purposely firing through a WALL or DOOR -- FMJ or Hollowpoint

In thinking extensively about whether to preload FMJ or Hollowpoints in my "home defense" guns (9mm Sig and .45ACP Kimber 1911), one thing I've wondered is this:

Since I don't carry, even in my house (*I know, I know, I should*), the most likely place I'd be using a gun in a home defense scenario is from my bedroom (which is at the opposite end from the entry door, and I happen to be on the third floor of the house, so a window entry is very unlikely for a regular BG). Whether this was an awake from sleep moment or a retreat to the bedroom scenario doesn't really matter.

So the question becomes, if I am in the bedroom with the bedroom door closed, I will know the point of entry for any potential BG (badguy). At that point, he/she will not know my location beyond the door. This would seem to me to be my highest point of tactical superiority (i.e. before he/she breaks the door open about 15 seconds later).

Should I attempt to SHOOT THROUGH THE DOOR (assume it is a common interior wood door, nothing fancier)? If so, would hollowpoints be a mistake at that point (assume the BG has cold weather clothing).

As a secondary issue, in shooting through the door, if I miss, the BG may have more time to reposition for a response, and he will also of course now know that I am armed. If I wait for a clear shot when I can see the BG, I could perhaps make a better shot, but then again, the BG would likely be in motion (granted, given the confines of the space, the motion would likely be directly towards me, not zig zagging around the room).

Anyway, thoughts?

[One thing I've come across in the FMJ v Hollowpoint discussion was to mix & match the two in the same magazine (talking semi-autos here, not revolvers). Others have suggested this may lead to feeding issues, but I'm not enough of an expert to know.]
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Old February 18, 2009, 10:28 AM   #2
TINCUP AL
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Without discussing the FMJ versus hollowpoint debate, DO NOT blindly shoot through the door. Hopefully I do not need to go into the reasons why. You must first identify the threat before you feel the need to shoot.
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Old February 18, 2009, 10:30 AM   #3
jg0001
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If it makes it easier (and to remove from discussion the ID piece), assume I've already identified the threat and then retreated to the bedroom to retrieve my gun, closing and locking the bedroom door behind me to buy myself some time. Let's focus just on the shooting through the door bit.
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Old February 18, 2009, 10:52 AM   #4
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Quote:
Should I attempt to SHOOT THROUGH THE DOOR (assume it is a common interior wood door, nothing fancier)? If so, would hollowpoints be a mistake at that point (assume the BG has cold weather clothing).
I can't see JHP vs FMJ making much of a difference when shot through a wooden door. Assuming a solid door, the hollowpoint is most likely going to clog or deform in on itself and the round is going to behave like FMJ.
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Old February 18, 2009, 11:10 AM   #5
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Interior doors are seldom solid. If the assailant has chased you in your own home and you are sure it is not a friendly, then ventilate him/her through the door. I would, however, NEVER shoot through my front or other exterior door. To do so would be to invite accusations that you could have just waited for the cops. Even though in Texas we have the Castle Doctrine now I still would wait for the door to cave and then unleash a wall of lead and buckshot.

I think that FMJs would be much better suited for this task if your gonna shoot through solid stuff though.
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Old February 18, 2009, 11:28 AM   #6
OldMarksman
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If it makes it easier (and to remove from discussion the ID piece), assume I've already identified the threat and then retreated to the bedroom to retrieve my gun, closing and locking the bedroom door behind me to buy myself some time. Let's focus just on the shooting through the door bit.
Sorry, but unless your door is transparent, that won't cut it.

You may have identified "the threat" and you may assume and maybe really think that the person on the other side of the door is the same person, but you cannot be absolutely certain. Could be someone whose presence you were not aware of trying to get in with you to get away from the assailant. Unlikely? OK. Very unlikely? Maybe. Not possible? Can't bank on that.

Now for the sake of discussion, assume you're going to do it anyway. Where are you going to shoot? What makes you think you're going to hit the person?

Are you going to empty your gun? And then what?

By the way, one problem with FMJ is the risk of over penetration and possibly hitting a neighbor. That's why I don't use 'em.

That's also another reason to not cut loose with un-aimed shots.
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Old February 18, 2009, 11:29 AM   #7
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I still would wait for the door to cave and then unleash a wall of lead and buckshot.
+1

On a technical note the fmj is more likely to penetrate but I couldn't ever condone shooting through a door.
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Old February 18, 2009, 11:34 AM   #8
Brian Pfleuger
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I can envision circumstances where the threat on the other side of the door has been positively identified and shooting would be justifiable. In most cases I agree that waiting until the BG is visible is a better option. I would be shouting orders (and warnings) while they are on the other side of the door.


So far as the question of just plain shooting through a door, or anything else for that matter:

FMJ is going to be less damaged by passing through pretty much anything. In other words, all else being equal, FMJ will penetrate better and be less damaged, regardless of material.
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Old February 18, 2009, 11:36 AM   #9
jg0001
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I'm a bit surprised with the answers thusfar. If I'm chased into my room by someone I perceive to be a threat enough to shoot at them were they to get inside, I certainly would have no hesitation to shoot them through the door - except for if it was a tactical mistake to do so. I'd have extra magazines pre-loaded in my bedroom safe, and I'd have TWO loaded guns in that same safe (a GunVault multi-vault), so running out of ammo is not my concern.

Maybe I'll just go the mixed loadout route and load my guns 2 Hollowpoint, 1 FMJ, repeat until full (end with 2 hollowpoints on top as a starter).
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Old February 18, 2009, 11:40 AM   #10
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Quote:
Should I attempt to SHOOT THROUGH THE DOOR
If you do, you might be up for manslaughter. NEVER shoot until you've positively identified your target and said target represents an immediate threat to life or severe injury.

A. The ABILITY to inflict serious bodily injury. He is armed or reasonably appears to be armed.

B. The OPPORTUNITY to inflict serious bodily harm. He is positioned to harm you with his weapon, and,

C. His INTENT (hostile actions or words) indicates that he means to place you in jeopardy - to do you serious or fatal physical harm.
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Old February 18, 2009, 11:47 AM   #11
Brian Pfleuger
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except for if it was a tactical mistake to do so
The problem is that it's sort of a "loaded question". LIke I said, there are scenarios I can imagine wherein I would shoot through the door, no questions asked, but there are many more wherein I feel that it is safer to wait.

Let me give you an example:

1) I see a guy in my house, I identify that he is holding a gun. As I retreat to the bedroom with the wife and kids, I see him headed my way. I lock the door and call the police. He starts kicking the door and fires a couple rounds through it. Now, in this case, I'm shooting through the door. I have no doubt about his intentions and he has escalated the violence beyond any reasonable hope of a peaceful end.

2) I see a guy in my house, I identify that he is holding a gun. As I retreat to the bedroom with the wife and kids, I don't know where he is or what direction he went. I lock the door and call the police. A few seconds later someone is banging on the door and yelling "Hey, are you alright! I saw a guy run from your house!" It can't be the police, I don't recognize the voice as being a neighbor.... NO WAY am I shooting through the door. Even if they start trying to come through the door the threat is not sufficiently identified in my mind to pull the trigger. It COULD be a well meaning person doing something that is really quite stupid but thinking that they're helping. I'd still be shouting warnings and such but you just never know what somebody might do that thinks they're being a hero.
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Old February 18, 2009, 11:52 AM   #12
Al Thompson
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Aside from the legal/scenario issues, loading FMJ is pretty much a waste. Inert material clogs JHPs so that they act exactly like FMJ anyway. I agree that you may pick up a few inches by using FMJ, but it's not worth the effort IMHO. Best to have a standard load and stick with it. That way you don't have to remember if there's a POI/POA difference or what load comes up next or what ever. If it was that big a deal, switched on police units would do so and they don't.
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Old February 18, 2009, 11:56 AM   #13
TINCUP AL
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I will say it again. Never shoot until you have identified your target and determined that they are a threat to you. +1 to Keltyke's post. In your example, you previously identified the threat and then retreated to your bedroom and closed the door. You just momentarily gave up the threat identity. You cannot see what is on the other side of the door. You may be able to hear, but not see. Actually, you have no idea what is on the other side of the door. Any number of things could be happening, or other people ( innocent ) could be in the line of fire.

Discounting for the sake of discussion the "castle law" or the "make my day law" that permits you to use deadly force on an intruder to your home, if the bad guy is outside your bedroom door and not yet comming in, you are not yet in jeopordy. You need to identify the target at the time of pulling the trigger. I hope this helps.
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Old February 18, 2009, 12:11 PM   #14
jg0001
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if the bad guy is outside your bedroom door and not yet comming in, you are not yet in jeopordy
You're kidding right? If someone is in my house and persues me as I retreat, they are placing me in jeopardy; I may have no idea if they have a weapon, but even a momentary intent to do me harm in my own home should be justification enough for force. Just because I may have found momentary sanctuary doesn't mean I need to wait until the playing field is even again before I make my move. The whole point of the post was to ask if it was tactically an advantage to begin the shooting (assuming I would be shooting were there no door) with the door still closed, the assailant NOT charging nor having a bead on me, etc. Once the door is open, the threat level to me will rise rapidly in a split second.

I'd agree that a lot has to be read into this, but if we're talking worst case scenario, I'm not going to gamble with the lives of my family in order to be sure I have a 100% righteous kill, if that's what it comes to. Once the door is down, I'll have lost any advantage I may have had. And, again, I'm not talking some kind of saferoom setup here, I'm talking a door a 10 year old could probably break down (or someone with a flat head screwdriver on the simplistic interior door lock).

I can see this is getting a little mired in the legal mindset. Were this a question of MILITARY tactics and there no question whatsoever as to the intent or ability of the assailants, and little worry at all about mistaking the BG for someone else, and no worry about misses (***that cover it all?***), would you then be firing through the door/wall or would you still wait until the BG could see you in plain sight?
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Old February 18, 2009, 12:19 PM   #15
TINCUP AL
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I would not be firing until I had identified the threat at the time of pulling the trigger. Doing otherwise will set you up for a mountain of legal problems. I wish you the best of luck in your search.
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Old February 18, 2009, 12:21 PM   #16
onthejon55
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I would just stick with the JHPs. Ive seen what JHPs do through a relatively thin peice of wood and I dnt think they would perform any worse than a FMJ. Either way a slightly deformed peice of lead is going to enter the BG. I would stick with JHPs because you never know when you mite need the expansion i.e. if he makes it through the door.
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Old February 18, 2009, 12:36 PM   #17
OldMarksman
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If I'm chased into my room by someone I perceive to be a threat enough to shoot at them were they to get inside, I certainly would have no hesitation to shoot them through the door
You cannot really know that the person on the other side of the door is in fact the person you saw chasing you unless you can see through the door. If he is not I don't think you would have a defense. You probably should consult an attorney on that--not the one who does your will, but a trial lawyer who specializes in your state's criminal code and knows the relevant case law.

Also, you cannot depend on an assumptions (1) that shooting through the door would hit the assailant and (2) that your misses would not hit someone else.

I don't know how many people have actually had anyone trying to get into his or her house or bedroom door at night, but it is a terrifying experience. You need to have your wits about you and shoot effectively when you need to and only when you need to. Blasting away at someone you cannot see is contra-indicated.

If someone is breaking through with an axe you are justified legally and morally to use deadly force (depending on obligation to retreat or the possibility of retreating, in some states), but you do have to be able to get your shots on target. Even if the invader has presented himself as a clear treat, I, for one, will not shoot on the basis of my guess of where he may be standing, crouching, walking, running, or kneeling.

Quote:
Were this a question of MILITARY tactics and there no question whatsoever as to the intent or ability of the assailants, and little worry at all about mistaking the BG for someone else, and no worry about misses (***that cover it all?***), would you then be firing through the door/wall or would you still wait until the BG could see you in plain sight?
It's not a question of whether he can "see me in plain sight." Based on the assumption that intent and ability are known, it's then a matter of whether I can hit him. And if I can't see him, we cannot say that we have "no worry at all about misses." And "little worry at all" about mistaken identity is still too much worry to permit your firing. By the way, these days that's usually true in military scenarios also, except in the heat of battle.
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Old February 18, 2009, 01:05 PM   #18
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Closed.

After some deliberation, I'm closing the thread. The original question has been asked and answered. Asked again and answered again. There's really nowhere for the discussion to go from here but downhill.

Furthermore, I don't think even discussing what amounts to blind shooting furthers TFL's mission statement of "responsible firearms ownership."

Feel free to PM me if you have any questions.

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