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Old June 13, 2013, 02:58 PM   #1
simonrichter
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Different calibers' effectiveness against vehicles

Whenever the pros and cons of the different calibers are discussed, it is - naturally - mostly on penetration and stopping power. Yet, if I'm informed correctly, e.g. the .357 Magnum was introduced to LE (amongst other reasons, of course) to provide a better performance in stopping cars and being able to shoot through car doors. I suppose for LE and military that might still be an issue today. So does this kind of performance go right along with the general penetration performance of a caliber or do other parameters apply?
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Old June 13, 2013, 03:22 PM   #2
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In my opinion, it's kind of a non issue. If you're(as LE or Military) in a situation where you absolutely must stop a vehicle with your sidearm, you'll likely need to examine the decision making paradigm that led to this point.
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Old June 13, 2013, 03:56 PM   #3
Dragline45
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Quote:
to provide a better performance in stopping cars and being able to shoot through car doors
It was actually to be able to shoot through car windshields more than doors, which the .38 special was not known for doing well. I agree though, for the average citizen shooting through barriers should not be of much concern.
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Old June 13, 2013, 04:10 PM   #4
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Gangster Getters....

In the "Crime Wave" era of the 1920s & 1930s, many crooks took to the .38Super caliber for its high vel & use against common barriers like auto glass & metal of the period.

Today, many in US law enforcement view the .40S&W or the under-rated .357sig pistol caliber as working best with auto glass, vehicles, engines, etc.
I read a article about a mid south state LE agency(KY or TN) saying approx 90% of the use of force shootings were near or in motor vehicles. They issued the .40 to all sworn members.
The Texas Department of Public Safety & the state police of NM, RI, VA, & DE have all used the .357sig for nearly 15 years with great results.

I'd feel well armed with a .357sig duty pistol if I were a state trooper or DoT inspector.
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Old June 13, 2013, 04:26 PM   #5
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It seems that most of the major defensive calibers have some bullets that do well in the FBI's testing including test against sheet metal and auto glass. I can see where an armed citizen might have to shoot through a car window during a car jacking so choosing a bullet that performs well might be a good idea.
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Old June 13, 2013, 11:49 PM   #6
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Other than stopping the driver by penetrating metal or glass, what are you thinking a round should do to stop a vehicle? If you are thinking a round penetrating an engine block, you will have to move up to rifle rounds, namely-armor piercing, .50 cals, etc. I'm sure pistol rounds can break radiators, fuel tanks, engine components, etc, but again, they just leave a mark on engine blocks.

I've seen training movies/videos which dispelled common myths of rifle/pistol/shotgun rounds, one being .357s being able to stop engines.....well these movies/videos show they don't even come close. Regular rounds and tracer rounds blowing up vehicle gas tanks like in movies.....nope. I haven't seen these since the '80s and '90s, but I wouldn't doubt there are similar videos on the net.
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Old June 14, 2013, 12:36 PM   #7
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I'm sure that, at one time, under certain conditions the .357 Mag would crack an engine block. OF course, there us just a wee bit of difference between what was on the road in the late 1930s and what is on the road today.

And there is more than a little bit of difference between the .357 Mag of those days and the commonly used loadings today.

And also ammo companies used to make "metal piercing" ammo in several calibers (not military AP (armor piercing)), using a load and bullet intended to give superior performance over regular ammo against car bodies and such things.

Engine blocks in those days were different as well, generally. Flat, boxer, or straight engines dominated, relatively large surface areas, and I'm pretty confident that the quality of the casting and the alloys wasn't what it is today.

Penetration and effectiveness against automobiles? How to figure it? Is it a factor, if so, how much? Interesting questions, and the opposite end of the usual discussion of defense loads, where so many people are concerned about over penetration of their ammo.

Choose a round (and loading) powerful enough to punch through cars and that stuff will sail through your apartment or house walls with authority.

Bullets with rounded nose shapes can glance off of hard surfaces at certain angles, where they would cleanly penetrate that same surface at a different angle. The list of variables is huge.

Personally, I don't think that performance against vehicles is, or should be much of a concern for anyone not in "business" of protecting us from people in vehicles. Police, LEOs, military, and private security types have to deal with that, ordinary citizens generally don't.

What you use, and how effective it is depends not just on the ammo, but what it is shot out of, and the specific details of the shooting as well. Read a test done back in the 70s, using cars from the 50s on up, the results, using what was available then, were interesting, and varied.

One result sticks in my mind, the (then standard) .38SPL 200gr RN "police"load, fired out of a service revolver (6") would reliably penetrate car windshields. The same ammo, fired out of a 2" Chief Special would not reliably penetrate under the same conditions.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, a .44 Mag, fired from behind went through the trunk lid, back seat, front seat. 3/4" plywood cutout representing the driver (also blowing a loop of the front seat springs through the it), through the dashboard, and "raised hell with the air cleaner" before finally stopping. And this was an early 60s sedan, with just a bit more metal than today's avererage car...
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Old June 14, 2013, 03:36 PM   #8
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.30 tokarev is good considering the large supply of steel core ammo, and the fact that the cartridge is known for very good penetration. Imagine lighting up an old German Mercedes with a 1400 RPM PPSH-41.
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Old June 14, 2013, 04:05 PM   #9
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I think when police or other agencies are looking for a handgun round the last thing will be looking at is will it stop a car. The thought of police shooting at a car to try to stop it in in my opinion ridiculous. If the police want to stop a car they shoot the driver.
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Old June 14, 2013, 07:18 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by manta49
If the police want to stop a car they shoot the driver.
I guess things must be pretty different in Northern Ireland. My experience has been that when police around here want to stop a car, they turn on those annoying flashy lights on the roof, and sometimes they use that really loud whoop-whoop thing.

On a more serious note, what's under discussion here -- the ability of a round to penetrate sheet metal, windshield glass, etc. -- might be pretty important if police wanted to shoot the driver, given that the driver is invariably inside the car.
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Old June 14, 2013, 07:48 PM   #11
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Re: Different calibers' effectiveness against vehicles

An M2 or a MK19 will solve your problem, but unless you're in a combat zone, I can't see the need
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Old June 15, 2013, 03:18 AM   #12
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You may want to look over here at the "Box O'Truth" where just about anything that you might want to see shot has been shot.

Here they shoot an engine block.

http://www.theboxotruth.com/docs/bot54.htm

Here they shoot into and out of an automobile with various calibers and in various places.

http://www.theboxotruth.com/docs/thebuickotruth.htm

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Old June 15, 2013, 04:18 AM   #13
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Great links Tipoc.
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Old June 15, 2013, 06:18 AM   #14
manta49
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Quote:
On a more serious note, what's under discussion here -- the ability of a round to penetrate sheet metal, windshield glass, etc. -- might be pretty important if police wanted to shoot the driver, given that the driver is invariably inside the car
I was replying to the posts regards hitting the engine block to stop a car not the ability to shoot trough car doors etc. Like the one bellow for example. And as we are discussing the ability of stooping a car I assume that they used that really loud whoop-whoop thing and it didn't work. If that doesn't work here they would ram the car if possible with one of the vehicle in the photo it usually stops them.
Quote:
I'm sure that, at one time, under certain conditions the .357 Mag would crack an engine block. OF course, there us just a wee bit of difference between what was on the road in the late 1930s and what is on the road today
PS I am sure the ability to shoot trough car doors are taken into consideration when deciding on a calibre but it certainly would not be top of the list of requirements.
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Old June 16, 2013, 12:50 PM   #15
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Handguns are not good for stopping cars. They can be good for shooting into cars though. My grandfather was a cop in Milwaukee, Wi in the 1920's and 1930's.

I asked him once when I was a lad about chasing bad guys. His reply was simple, " If I turned on the lights and they sped up, I just stopped and used my 03A3 and put a 30-06 armor piercing thru the rear differential, they stopped pretty quick". He also taught marksmanship for the Army during WWI so he could shoot.
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Old June 16, 2013, 01:19 PM   #16
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I asked him once when I was a lad about chasing bad guys. His reply was simple, " If I turned on the lights and they sped up, I just stopped and used my 03A3 and put a 30-06 armor piercing thru the rear differential, they stopped pretty quick"
Not THAT's when coppers were coppers...

Thanks, Grandad - for getting the job done and surviving.


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Old June 16, 2013, 08:48 PM   #17
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bunny path

I think we're down the wrong bunny bath. Wasn't the .357 mag intended to defeat the body armor of the day? What it might do with a vehicle would be incidental.

The vehicles were stout. I've read an account that one of the officers involved in the Bonnie and Clyde ambush examined a Barrow vehicle from an earlier shootout. He learned the .45 acp slugs from Thompsons did not penetrate the car bodies and supposedly went and procured a BAR some time thereafter.
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Old June 16, 2013, 08:54 PM   #18
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While I'm at it

Using a firearm to "stop" a vehicle is forbidden by policy in my agency. I suspect maybe so in most other agencies. (LE) The effect (or more correctly lack of) 115-230 grs of lead, against a vehicle whose weight is measured in tons can easily be predicted.
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Old June 17, 2013, 06:15 AM   #19
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A hand gun will NOT! stop a motor vehical. Period. If the Officer did manage to shoot and disable the driver... Now we have a several ton missile going down the road at many miles an hour. Now what? Could the officer who fired the shot be held responsible for any damage the vehical may cause? Another issue is people trying to shoot out the tires. Tires are a relitively small angled moving target. Besides anyone know what tires are made of?

This argument on what round can shoot through a car is not new. One summer during the range cycle they dragged a bunch of old cars out to the range. A range instructor demonstrated how our service ammo (now considered weak) would penitrate auto glass, and auto body. 158 gr semi wad cutter ammo will pass through auto glass like a hot knife through butter. What did happen was the slope of the winshield, or rear window may cause the round to deflect.

Like Bamaranger said... Most agencies dont allow Officers to shoot at moving vehicals. The risk is far greater than any reward. My agency allowed shots at the vehical only if the vehical was used as a weapon against the officer and the officer was shooting to save his life, or if shots were being fired from the vehical.
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Old June 17, 2013, 02:00 PM   #20
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I paraphrase the late Dean Grennel writing on this subject - 'the best way for a 38 or 45acp to get in the car is to open the door first'
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Old June 17, 2013, 06:34 PM   #21
simonrichter
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very interesting, thank y'all for the comments!

Again, please note that my interest is of a purely theoretical nature. I don't intend to shoot anything, neither on wheels nor legs
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Old June 19, 2013, 11:14 PM   #22
ClydeFrog
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never say never....

Don't say never just yet, in the late 1990s, I watched a VHS video of the Second Chance CEO, a ex cop who did Mythbuster type stuff shoot a old car that was running.
A bullet fired from a large revolver cracked the engine and the car broke down.

It was interesting to view.

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Old June 19, 2013, 11:39 PM   #23
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A hand gun will NOT! stop a motor vehical. Period.
A .22LR into the radiator will do a pretty good job of stopping a vehicle.

As will virtually anything else that hits anything vital.
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Old June 20, 2013, 01:02 AM   #24
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I think we're down the wrong bunny bath. Wasn't the .357 mag intended to defeat the body armor of the day? What it might do with a vehicle would be incidental.
Actually no. S&W thought it was too powerful for a police round. They developed it as a hunting round. The first guns they sold for it were not aimed at the police market but for sportsmen. They chambered it in a new gun which they called "The Registered Magnum", a very beautiful and hand fitted gun. Each one had a special serial number and a letter attesting that the gun was "Registered" to it's owner and came with the name of whoever bought it on the letter. S&W advertised as how it could take the biggest game etc. But they didn't aim it at the police market. They already had a gun for that, actually more than one.

The one intended to "beat" the body armor of the day was the 38/44 Heavy Duty with a hot loaded .38 Spl.

They didn't stop any vehicles unless it was by luck and an accident. Back then cars and trucks were made of steel and cast iron. I've seen old ads for a snubby M&P (the Model 10) claiming it would send a 38 Spl. round clean through a Ford. OK.

Colt had the 38 Super.

But anyway the .357 was soon in demand and law enforcement wanted it so S&W came up with the Highway Patrolman which was aimed at law enforcement. This was in the post war period. This became the M28 and later there was the Combat Magnum which became the M19.

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Old June 20, 2013, 12:42 PM   #25
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.45 Colt Super X goes clear though a helium tank. Ought to do some damage to a car. I can only imagine a 45-70 BFR or a .30-30 BFR.
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