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Old November 19, 2011, 01:31 PM   #1
anonimoose
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interpreting Box O' Truth: the "best" home-defense round

Shooters,


ISSUE

I realize this may be one of those un-resolveable "AR vs. AK", "9mm vs. 40SW vs. .45ACP" or "Mossberg vs. Remington" debates, but I'd like to discuss the best home-defense round*.


BACKGROUND

The consensus on TFL seems to be that in a home defense setting, a miss with a pistol presents a greater risk to people in the next room/home than a miss with a shotgun or rifle. The errant pistol caliber round stays intact and penetrates more walls, whereas errant buckshot or frangible rifle caliber rounds will slow down/get stopped more readily.

Though the good folks at the Box O' Truth are often called to testify as expert witnesses in the court of internet opinion, the results are a Rorschach test, and folks see what they want to see. For the shotgun advocates, the fact that 00 or #1 Buck only penetrated 6-8 sheets is proof positive that a good pump-action will devastate the bad guy without hitting their loved ones in the next room. The rifle guys will cite evidence that the .223/5.56x45mm round fragmented and tumbled even as the 9x19mm round remained intact and continued punching through the test walls. The pistol shooters say, what are you talking about? In two separate Boxes O' Truth, the pistol and caliber rounds performed equally -- they both punched through 12 layers of sheetrock and four insulated/improved test walls.


SCENARIOS

May I suggest that we're looking for a simplistic, one-size-fits-all answer, when really, there's no one "perfect" solution? Even if the TFL consensus is that "pistol caliber rounds represent a greater risk of over-penetration", how do you balance that against the conventional wisdom of "shotgun: very close range, pistol: close range, rifle: long range"? Wouldn't you be more worried about errant shots from a rifle? I'm reminded of the story I read on TFL (tried searching for it without any luck) of those youngsters who were plinking with their AR at some sort of backyard/country range -- they ended up hitting some spectators at a local high school football game over a kilometer away.

Let's discuss three hypothetical scenarios at three ranges. Let's assume the bad guy is 10 meters away, standing in front of a wall. Let's say you hit him -- best scenario, right? But can the round over-penetrate his body and keep going into the next room? Worse, what if you miss? The round will ultimately stop somewhere -- but how? And at what range?

Scenario #1: You hit the bad guy at 10 meters away. Does the round keep going?

Scenario #2: You miss the bad guy and the round ultimately travels through multiple walls before stopping. This would be the case of a bad guy standing in front of the master bedroom wall, with the missed round traveling into the home -- so it hits the master bedroom wall, but then it goes into the bathroom behind that, and then the children's bedroom behind that (at 25 meters), and then travels down the block to your neighbor's home (at 100 meters).

Scenario #3: You miss the bad guy and the round travels through just one or two walls before traveling some distance and ultimately stopping. This would be the case of a bad guy standing in front of a master bedroom wall, but this time, the missed round travels out of the home -- so it hits the master bedroom wall which also serves as an exterior wall, and the round leaves your home and travels down the block to your neighbor's home (again, at 100 meters).


DISCUSSION

Having established the background and the scenarios, my questions are highlighted in red below. Would appreciate the collective wisdom, experience and insight represented here at TFL.

What happens after the round has traveled 10 meters?

SCENARIO #1: HITS BAD GUY:
- #1 Buckshot pellets hit the bad guy at 10 meters, create multiple, significant wounds
- 9x19mm JHP round hits the bad guy at 10 meters, creates a decent wound
- 5.56x45mm frangible round hits the bad guy at 10 meters, fragments/yaws, and creates a bigger wound channel

SCENARIO #2: MISSES BAD GUY, HITS LOTS OF WALLS:
- Not applicable here since we're only at 10 meters

SCENARIO #3: MISSES BAD GUY, HITS JUST ONE OR TWO WALLS:
- Not applicable here since we're only at 10 meters

What happens after the round has traveled 25 meters?

SCENARIO #1: HITS BAD GUY:
- #1 Buckshot pellets hit the bad guy at 10 meters, create multiple, significant wounds, but then that's it, right? They won't over-penetrate another 15 meters past the body up to the full 25 meters?
- 9x19mm JHP round hits the bad guy at 10 meters, creates a decent wound, and likely remains in the bad guy.
- 5.56x45mm frangible round hits the bad guy at 10 meters, fragments/yaws and creates a bigger wound channel but then may exit the body and continue moving another 15 meters? Or does that only happen with .223 FMJ, and not frangible rounds?

SCENARIO #2: MISSES BAD GUY, HITS LOTS OF WALLS:
- #1 Buckshot pellets miss the bad guy and instead penetrate the master bedroom wall at 10 meters, which then penetrate the bathroom, and then the children's bedroom at 25 meters, but are they traveling fast enough to wound/kill? According to Box O' Truth, probably yes.
- 9x19mm JHP round misses the bad guy and instead penetrates the master bedroom wall at 10 meters, then the bathroom, and then the children's bedroom at 25 meters, but is it still traveling fast enough to wound/kill? According to Box O' Truth, probably yes.[COLOR="red"]
- 5.56x45mm frangible round misses the bad guy and instead penetrates the master bedroom wall at 10 meters, starts fragmenting/yawing, but still has enough energy to penetrate the bathroom and then the children's bedroom at 25 meters. But it's tumbling at all sorts of weird angles/trajectories -- is it enough to wound/kill?

SCENARIO #3: MISSES BAD GUY, HITS JUST ONE OR TWO WALLS:
- Not applicable here since the neighbor's home is 100 meters away

What happens after the round has traveled 100 meters?

SCENARIO #1: HITS BAD GUY:
- #1 Buckshot pellets hit the bad guy at 10 meters, create multiple, significant wounds, but then that's it, right? They won't over-penetrate another 90 meters past the body?
- 9x19mm JHP round hits the bad guy at 10 meters, creates a decent wound, and likely remains in the bad guy.
- 5.56x45mm frangible round hits the bad guy at 10 meters, fragments/yaws and creates a bigger wound channel in his body, but may exit the body and continue moving another 90 meters? Is that possible?

SCENARIO #2: MISSES BAD GUY, HITS LOTS OF WALLS:
- #1 Buckshot pellets miss the bad guy and instead penetrate the master bedroom wall at 10 meters, then the bathroom, and then the children's bedroom at 25 meters, but are they then stopped by that last exterior wall before traveling another 75 meters down the block to the next home?
- 9x19mm JHP round misses the bad guy and instead penetrates the master bedroom wall at 10 meters, then the bathroom, then the children's bedroom at 25 meters, then the last exterior wall (Box O' Truth says 12 layers of sheetrock!), then travels another 75 meters down the block to the neighbor's home -- but how much energy does it have at that point? Can it still wound/kill?
- 5.56x45mm frangible round misses the bad guy and instead penetrates the master bedroom wall at 10 meters, then starts fragmenting/yawing, but still has enough energy to penetrate the bathroom, the children's bedroom at 25 meters, then the last exterior wall, then it travels another 75 meters down the block to the neighbors home -- will it get there, or will there be so much fragmentation and yawing that it won't wound/kill?

SCENARIO #3: MISSES BAD GUY, HITS JUST ONE OR TWO WALLS:
- #1 Buckshot pellets miss the bad guy and instead penetrate the master bedroom/exterior wall at 10 meters and travel another 90 meters down the block to the neighbor's home -- but at this point, do they still have enough energy to penetrate that home's exterior wall and wound/kill?
- 9x19mm JHP round misses the bad guy and instead penetrates the master bedroom/exterior wall at 10 meters, then travels another 90 meters down the block to the neighbor's home -- but at this point, does it still have enough energy to penetrate that home's exterior wall and wound/kill? Perhaps more so than the shotgun, but isn't there a reason why the pistol is considered a short range weapon?
- 5.56x45mm frangible round misses the bad guy and instead penetrates the master bedroom/exterior wall at 10 meters, starts fragmenting/yawing, then travels another 90 meters towards the neighbor's house -- and it still has enough energy to wound/kill, right?


CONCLUSION

As the discussion above demonstrates, I believe that analyzing the home-defense round's performance at different ranges (10, 25 and 100 meters) adds a new perspective to the consensus that a miss with a pistol round represents a greater danger than a miss with a rifle round. I believe you could argue that a miss with the rifle round -- depending on the path, trajectory and distance -- could hypothetically place an innocent bystander in the next room/home at a greater risk than a missed pistol round.

*And of course, we're only talking about home-defense rounds, not home-defense weapons. Even if the 00 or #1 buck is the ultimate home-defense round, the shotgun may not be the most appropriate home-defense weapon for certain individuals. Moreover, we didn't even consider pistol caliber carbines, whose longer barrels enable pistol rounds to reach out and touch someone at an even greater distance.

Thus, it seems, as in all things firearms, there is no singular "right" or "perfect" answer -- and nearly everything is a compromise.

Respectfully,
Moose
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Old November 19, 2011, 02:41 PM   #2
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This, is why I don't use a firearm. I'd rather see their face and know they don't belong before firing and worrying about where the round/s go.

Well written, and well thought out though.
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Old November 19, 2011, 02:48 PM   #3
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Flawed. Your premiss is that a miss at 10 meters (33 feet) and resulting penetration after the miss, is not applicable due to is being only 10 meters. Seriously?

10 meters under stress, likely in low light, and likely involving a moving partial target, perhaps in and around loved ones etc. and you think any type of miss is not applicable due to it only being 10 meters. The HD shooter is quite likely to be an average Joe with average or less skills. Even assuming above average, a miss is at least likely or worthy of consideration. Not "not applicable" as in "ain't gonna happen". When discussing what an errant round will do or not do it is very applicable. I think that IS the point.

At my place is is true that the nearest neighbor is a good 100+ meters away through some trees. That is the closest, and is one house. The rest are well past that and through lots of trees. This is not the case for most home owners or renters. Having a scenario where the nearest neighbor is past 100 meters is not realistic for most folks.

That being said, a pistol is easier to get to, and move around inside, so most will simply opt for that. Not a bad choice at all. Personally, I have a semi auto rifle and a pump 12 gauge at hand along with a variety of pistols and stuff if needed. Given enough time I will grab a long gun. For simply answering the door I stick a pistol in my back pocket. Lest anyone think this is paranoid you should understand that no one, and I mean no one gets to my place by simply knocking on the wrong door or something. Being on my porch is by definition being off of the beaten path.

Hope I didn't ramble too very much. Time to go stack wood.
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Old November 19, 2011, 02:57 PM   #4
TexasJustice7
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Animoose, in my case where I carry a 44 Spl 3" Bulldog, and a S&W 38 Spl, how does the 44 round compare? I have them loaded with Hollow Points,
the CA Bulldog loaded with Winchester 180 Grain 44 Spl Hollow Points.
Is there a safer round for my gun for home defense, whan what I have it loaded with? Most likely if I have to shoot an intruder it will be when the door is being broken down, and I see who it is, and would be at very close range?
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Old November 19, 2011, 03:04 PM   #5
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Quote:
home-defense rounds performance at different ranges (10, 25 and 100 meters)
Man, somebody has some huge houses. The farthest I can see in my house (without peeking around doors or corners is about 30 feet (that's stretching it since I'm too lazy to get up and measure it).

Looking around, at my front door and back door, its 9 feet and 10 feet from where I'm setting. And about 6 ft and 12 feet from my bed. (that's line of sight, without peeking around corners.

I'm not the best shot in the world, but I don't see any need for a rifle at those ranges. There is enough ambient light that I can tell the difference between my granddaughter getting up for a snack or a bandit coming in.

People need to look around their house and think a bit. From where I set, and from my bed, looking at the angles, if I have to shoot a bandit, either if I miss or the round exits the target, and it passes through walls, it will harmlessly fly off to never never land. I don't have any close neighbors and my little 38s just wont fly that far, with or without passing through walls.

What one needs to do, is look around, see how big your house is, angles to targets vs to where your kids might be sleeping. Determine if misses or penetration puts someone else in danger.

I think you'll find that few of us live in houses so big we need a rifle. You should also determine if there is enough ambient light to identify targets. If not then set up some night lights.
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Old November 19, 2011, 03:19 PM   #6
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you're going to have to forgive me for not getting involved in this one.
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Old November 19, 2011, 04:58 PM   #7
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You take a full load of 12ga 00buck in the chest its game over. I have seen what it does to deer at close range and its devastating.
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Old November 19, 2011, 05:18 PM   #8
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10 meters? I don't know where you live, but that might not be considered self defense here. And, how big is your house?
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Old November 19, 2011, 05:29 PM   #9
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My house is absolutely enormous. two stories; about 3k square feet. My dining room holds family banquets with as many as 20 people on every holiday, and some anniversaries and birthdays. There may be 25 here for my niece's graduation. Our living room has held nearly 30 comfortably seated.

Even so, I've measured a couple times because of discussions exactly like this. the very longest possible reach in my entire home with direct line of sight is in the area of 27-30 feet. I would be hiding in the corner of my living room, and shooting at my front porch.

Since my patio is enclosed, I could maybe legally stretch that. If I backed up against the wall of my main staircase, and aimed prone out my kitchen door, I could maybe reach 10 meters if I aimed at the farthest wall of said enclosed patio.

But that's just plain stupid.
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Old November 19, 2011, 07:42 PM   #10
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All,

Criticisms very much welcomed! I very much respect the collective experience of many on this forum -- I seem to learn something new every day. I do agree that I was overly generous with the ranges represented -- no doubt many of us have homes that are smaller and neighbors that are closer. To be honest, I was simply trying to use nice round numbers and ranges that most of us are familiar with. If I had to do it all over again, I'd probably examine/discuss what happens at 3 (bedroom wall), 5 (next room), 10 (neighbor's home) and 100 (elementary school down the block) meters.

Since my original post was so long, would this be a fair summary?

Home-defense rounds:
- 00 or #1 buckshot will cause high damage up close and represents a low/medium risk of hitting those in other rooms/homes (only 6-8 layers of sheetrock; please see previously cited Box O' Truth experiments)
- 9x19mm JHP rounds will cause low/medium damage up close, and represents a high risk of hitting those in other rooms/homes at a close range (12 layers of sheetrock, rounds stay relatively intact), and a low/medium risk of hitting those in other rooms/homes at ranges greater than 50-100 meters (rounds lose significant energy at great distances)
- 5.56x45mm frangible rounds will cause medium/high damage up close and represents a medium/high risk of hitting those in other rooms/homes at a close range (12 layers of sheetrock, but it's tumbling/fragmenting/yawing), and should it so happen to have a clear path/trajectory, represents a medium risk of hitting those in other homes at ranges greater than 50-100 meters (rifle rounds go further)

Home-defense weapons (as distinguished from home-defense rounds):
- 12 gauge pump/auto represents medium/high weight, low maneuverability, and low round count
- semi-automatic pistol represents low weight, high maneuverability, and medium round count (though can get high capacity mags)
- AR-15 or similar variant represents medium weight, low/medium maneuverability, and high round count

Again, as I said in the original post: when it comes to firearms, everything is a compromise, and there is no one "perfect" or "right" home-defense solution.

Quote:
jhenry
Flawed. Your premiss is that a miss at 10 meters (33 feet) and resulting penetration after the miss, is not applicable due to is being only 10 meters. Seriously?
Forgive me -- I think we have a misunderstanding. The discussion/exercise was designed to follow the path of the home-defense round after leaving the barrel of a firearm at three different ranges, using our three hypothetical scenarios, with the bad guy standing in front of a wall 10 meters away from the shooter. If we examine what happens to the round after it's traveled for 10 meters, we stop there -- if it's a hit, great, but if it's a miss, I won't discuss what happens until we get to our next ranges -- what does that missed round do after it travels another 15 meters (25 meters total) and another 75 after that (100 meters total)?

Quote:
TexasJustice7
Animoose, in my case where I carry a 44 Spl 3" Bulldog, and a S&W 38 Spl, how does the 44 round compare?
I'm afraid I don't have the expertise to judge that -- again, I was simply trying to discuss the results as demonstrated by the Box O' Truth. They were hyperlinked in my original post.


Thank you all, for the discussion.

respectfully,
Moose
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Old November 19, 2011, 07:49 PM   #11
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My house is mainly brick and thus a good backstop for bullets.

Plus I know just where and what angels are safe or not to fire.

So within reason I don't care if I use a rifle, shotgun, or handgun in my house. All will work and some work better in different circumstances.

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Old November 19, 2011, 08:27 PM   #12
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I prefer a long gun (18" 870) because I know I'm much, much more likely to connect at speed, under stress, in low light. 12 gauge buckshot? Bonus.
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Old November 20, 2011, 02:46 AM   #13
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There is something to be said for barrel length. It is much easier to instinctively aim a rifle or shotgun than pistol.

For penetration issues:
The Box O'Truth has shown 8-12 layers of sheet rock. Figure two layers per wall, and you are still likely to have dangerous velocities in the next two rooms over (at a minimum).
Now, there are a lot of variables that the site cannot account for. What if you hit a stud? What will the book case, lamp, couch, etc do? We simply don't know. I have seen a WWB 9mm round stop in a single 2x4 (in the short direction). To say the least, I was mildly disappointed in its penetrating power! On the other hand, sometimes bullets penetrate things way more efficiently than expected (6.5mm Carcano penetrating something like 36 inches of lumber in some tests.)
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Old November 20, 2011, 03:51 AM   #14
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Quote:
10 meters? I don't know where you live, but that might not be considered self defense here. And, how big is your house?
I live in a sub 2000sqft house. I have a longest possible clear shot of 37 feet. That is right around 11 meters.

Distance does not determine self defense. It is only one of many factors. If somebody takes a shot at you from 35 feet, returning fire is self defense.

As for best round, 147gr 9mm jhp. I am most accurate with that round. That means there is less chance I will miss. I also know that I won't practice enough with a shotgun to get very accurate. I also find it very hard to manuveur long guns well in my home.

That means 147gr 9mm is the best round for me to use personally.
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Last edited by MikeNice81; November 20, 2011 at 03:58 AM.
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Old November 20, 2011, 04:02 AM   #15
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Quote:
I have seen a WWB 9mm round stop in a single 2x4 (in the short direction). To say the least, I was mildly disappointed in its penetrating power!
I've seen the actual police report of a 124gr 9mm fmj that went through a windshield, the driver seat head rest, the back window, and travelled over 80 feet before going through the exterior wall of a strip club.

It just goes to show that sometimes bullet performance is like the stock market. Past performance does not ensure future returns.
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Old November 20, 2011, 06:14 AM   #16
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I like the distinction made in the original post between home defense rounds and home defense weapons, although it could be argued that the choice of the latter may be more critical. Likewise, I'd like to suggest that unless all you have is an Olympic target pistol in .22 short, there are no bad cartridges; only that some are better than others. I wouldn't even begin to argue which is the best.
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Old November 20, 2011, 06:53 AM   #17
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Not really a problem here most house walls internal and external are brick.
I take is some houses in America are wood built.
Of course all have windows a round could go trough it.
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Old November 20, 2011, 11:33 AM   #18
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Quote:
- 12 gauge pump/auto represents medium/high weight, low maneuverability, and low round count
- semi-automatic pistol represents low weight, high maneuverability, and medium round count (though can get high capacity mags)
- AR-15 or similar variant represents medium weight, low/medium maneuverability, and high round count
I wonder where an AR-15 pistol comes in on the list.
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Old November 20, 2011, 01:15 PM   #19
Slopemeno
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Probably worst-of-both-worlds. Do a simple experiment: Take a Glock/Hi-Power/1911 and shoot five pepper poppers with a timer. Now do runs with the AR pistol. Wonder which produces more hits in less time?
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Old November 20, 2011, 01:59 PM   #20
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Try the same drill with a semi auto 12.
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Old November 20, 2011, 02:43 PM   #21
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Quote:
As the discussion above demonstrates, I believe that analyzing the home-defense round's performance at different ranges (10, 25 and 100 meters) adds a new perspective to the consensus that a miss with a pistol round represents a greater danger than a miss with a rifle round. I believe you could argue that a miss with the rifle round -- depending on the path, trajectory and distance -- could hypothetically place an innocent bystander in the next room/home at a greater risk than a missed pistol round.
Sorry, but this conclusion is bogus given that you assume the rifle round to be frangible ammo. If you used frangible pistol ammo, the pistol round very well could be safer.

Quote:
you're going to have to forgive me for not getting involved in this one.
No forgiveness for you because you lied.

Quote:
10 meters? I don't know where you live, but that might not be considered self defense here.
No, 10 meters would not be considered self defense if the bad guy is outside of the home and armed with bare hands, a stick, or a knife. 10 meters in many or most states would be considered within the guise of self defense for any intruder in the home, the criterion really being that the person is an intruder. Also, there is no stated distance in US law as to what consitutes self defense. If the intruder is armed with a rifle and has opportunity, intent, and ability, then self defense distance is within the range of the rifle. Self defense can easily be well in excess of 10m.
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Old November 20, 2011, 03:03 PM   #22
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I deserve points for not getting into the initial question, at least.
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Old November 20, 2011, 03:16 PM   #23
briandg
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Quote:
Not really a problem here most house walls internal and external are brick.
I take is some houses in America are wood built.
Of course all have windows a round could go trough it.
I know that there are areas of the country that have a lot of homes with brick, but once you get into homes built in the later 1900s, cost factors have limited it to almost nothing but boards for average housing. Brick adds thousands of dollars to the price of a home, and most people here prefer interior amenities than brick.

I suspect that you would be surprised at all of the glass that you would find in an american house. glass patio doors, 10 feet long multiwindows, and generally 2 or 3 windows in every corner room.

The north side of my home (back) has only enough glass to admit some light. the south side seriously has more glass than wall,and the windows are 6 feet tall with a ten foot ceiling. If fired a weapon towards any wall in my house, it's almost an even chance i'd hit glass.
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Old November 21, 2011, 09:44 AM   #24
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I'm not sure what your point is; but the chances of a 5.56mm round travelling 100m AFTER it has fragmented are pretty much zero. You are looking at a round that is only 40-75gr typically to begin with... depending on what they strike and how they strike it, the largest remaining chunk after fragmentation might be anywhere from 31gr to 4.7gr.

An irregular piece of metal lacking any kind of aerodynamic properties is going to shed energy very quickly, and the smaller it is, the faster it is going to shed that energy.

Now, if the round doesn't fragment; because say it is a bonded HP round that retains all of its weight and just deforms to a less ballistically efficient shape (or a lightly constructed varmint round that sails through a window), then it might keep on trucking through the neighborhood.

Quote:
Thus, it seems, as in all things firearms, there is no singular "right" or "perfect" answer -- and nearly everything is a compromise.
Well, although not a revelation, this part is certain true. If it weren't true, we'd all be using the same thing and it wouldn't be a source of controversy.
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Old November 21, 2011, 10:03 AM   #25
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For what it's worth I think the best HD weapon, albeit illegal, is a sawed off double barrel with 00 buck. Just about guaranteed to hit what your pointing at.
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