View Full Version : FBI Doc. on Handguns + Wounding Effectiveness

December 26, 2006, 11:11 AM
FYI - from '89 if you've never seen it:

Part 1 Of The FBI Paper On Handgun Wounding Factors And Effectiveness.

Part 2 Of The FBI Paper On Handgun Wounding Factors And Effectiveness.

(I find the discussion of this point especially interesting regarding choice of caliber and handgun:
" Psychological factors are probably the most important relative to achieving rapid incapacitation from a gunshot wound to the torso.")

December 26, 2006, 12:16 PM
Old info but good if you've never read it.I have a number of times tried to impress on people on this forum that they may be facing a BG high on drugs/alcohol/adrenaline so they may not respond to commands and may be totally immune to stopping power effects !!!

December 26, 2006, 12:36 PM
OK, I just read the whole thing, both parts of it. And from what I’m getting a 9 mm is better than a .22 and a .45 is better than a 9 mm, and a .50 is better than a .45. and presumably a potato gun is better than a .50 if you can get it to penetrate at least 12 inches.

Really though this is just common sense, bigger bullet, bigger hole.

December 26, 2006, 01:27 PM
Look at the dates of these articles. For some perspective, realize that bullet designs have gone a long way in the last 5yrs, let alone the last 17.

December 26, 2006, 01:50 PM
Bullet design not withstanding, I don’t think it going to change the basic premise that a bigger projectile is going to make a bigger hole.

There is a very interesting article in the new issue of “Guns & Ammo” that goes into bullet penetration and actual damage and how weight verses speed acts in the performance of a bullet. When I get home I will get the actual issue and the name of the article and post it here. The gist of the article is that bullet weight contributes more to penetration than does speed. The paper cited here argues that bullet weight and bigger frontal area produce greater tissue damage. Frankly this seems a no brainer.

December 26, 2006, 01:55 PM
the way I see it; can't expect one shot stops wheather you have a 9mm, .45 or .44mag ;)

December 26, 2006, 02:25 PM
I’ve known people who have been shot with a 44 Mag and another guy who was shot wit a .357 point blank. They were both shot in the leg. The guy who was shot with the .44 Mag was shot by his father accidentally and the shot went through the side of the camper he was sitting in before hitting him in the calf. It pretty much removed most of the calf muscle. The guy who was shot by the .357 was shot in a robbery by one of the BGs. He said one moment he was standing there and the next moment he was sitting on the ground with his legs out in front of him. He said the bullet flipped him in the air and he landed on his butt. That bullet also removed most of the calf muscle.

December 26, 2006, 04:00 PM

First off, let me state the obvious . . . I was not a witness to the 'flipped in the air' incident that you described. I think it is very probable that the person was indeed flipped, but I do not think the "bullet" or its force did the flipping.

Perhaps leg muscles reacted instantly at the trauma causing the flip. You might have seen something similar when you've shot elk or deer; they sometimes leap into the air when hit. But the laws of physics tell us that there is an EQUAL and opposite reaction to any force, and bullets aren't capable of generating that much force. If the force was great enough to throw a man into the air, the shooter would have experienced the same type of effect when firing the shot.

As the article in this thread stated, handgun bullets impact the human body with about the same force as a baseball. Even with Randy Johnson throwing at 100mph, the catcher can stop that force while squatted down, rocking on the balls of his feet.

Having said all that, I would not want you shooting at me or Randy Johnson throwing baseballs my way!;)

Capt. Charlie
December 26, 2006, 04:21 PM
Threads merged.

There are often threads posted on TFL that would be appropriate for several forums, but in order to keep things from becoming confusing, we request that members refrain from posting the same thread in multiple forums.

If you're unsure which forum would be best, you can either PM a mod., or make the best choice you can, and if a mod. thinks it would be better suited elsewhere, (s)he'll move it for you.

Thanks for your cooperation. :)

December 26, 2006, 04:43 PM

I wasn’t witness to either of these shootings I only have the individuals account of what happened. In the case of the guy who was flipped in the air he said that he was shot from a distance of maybe 2 ft with the bullet traveling downward toward the sidewalk. Also it apparently happened so fast that he was unaware of any movement on his part, just standing and then sitting. I did see the scar though and from that I can say that it definitely took away most of his calf muscle the same with the other guy. However the guy who was shot with the .44 Mag was shot through the wall of a camper so I assume the bullet deformed somewhat before striking him, and the distance was apparently something like 10 or 15 ft.

December 26, 2006, 05:18 PM
Bigger holes may be better, but in many cases, the wounds produced from modern ammo are possibly so insignificant as to leave this all on the table. This debate will rage on for years to come. An expanding bullet that does what it is designed to do is less important than a shooter putting it where it needs to go.

December 26, 2006, 05:41 PM
You're missing one large theme, and a main reason I posted the document: an immediate stop, as opposed to being dependent on this or that wound once a certain depth of penetration is reached, is most dependent on the BG's psychological awareness of being devastatingly shot - so, perhaps the bigger, louder, more frightening looking weapon is the determinant (my concludion from this). That also may be the last straw that makes him run, so you can avoid shooting him period.

December 26, 2006, 05:44 PM
I had a friend once who I met about 6 months after he got out of the Marine Corp. In the service he was a .50 gunner and he once told me that his instructors told them that a .50 round could hit you in the hand and kill you from the shock ( Stop your heart ). Granted this is second hand information so I don’t really know, but I gather that the idea is that the kinetic energy was such that a hit pretty much anywhere could be lethal. Also granted, a .50 cal Browning is a very big bullet and very heavy. Nevertheless it seems to me that the thing Don was telling me about the .50 also applies to other bullets to a lesser degree. So maybe the bullet has to be much closer to something important for it to mater. In any event I’m thinking more bullet, more speed, more damage to more area. In fact the truth is that if I could get a 20mm in a handgun that was concealable that’s what I would be carrying.
Hey, ya think ya could tell the difference between that and a 9mm? ya think it might approach the elusive “one shot stopping power”?

December 26, 2006, 07:27 PM
That's pure BS. There are many who have survived hits from things like a 50BMG. Get actual records of war wounds ,some are astonishing !! There was one soldier in WWII who brought a message 5 ,miles from the front line to HQ. Somewhere along the way his foot was blown off. He didn't even know it !!

Deaf Smith
December 26, 2006, 07:34 PM
Any 'stopping power' theory, FBI or not, is only an approximation. It's a 'most of the time' thing. There will always be exceptions. People have been just about dismembered and stood, and others have dropped by mear nicks!

And yes, the psychological state of the one being shot has a very large factor on what will happen.

Double Naught Spy
December 26, 2006, 09:10 PM
In following gvf's statement, one of the funnier things I heard from instructors at Thunder Ranch was that most bad guys don't read Combat Handguns, SWAT, etc., and so don't know that they are to be catastrophically dismembered when shot by the latest in bullet technology and hence somehow manage to not get dismembered, fall down, or necessarily slow down. However, you shoot somebody who "knows" ammo and that they are supposed to die when struck, even in the remote nether regions, and they very well may die of shock.

Bad guys don't stop just because you shot them with your pistol. As noted above, sometimes even good guys don't know when they have been shot and as a result, no stop occurs.

Bottom line? Buy subscriptions of gun magazines for bad guys so they know when they are supposed to die.

December 26, 2006, 11:11 PM
Kinetic energy does not wound. Temporary cavity does not wound. The much discussed "shock" of bullet impact is a fable and "knock down" power is a myth. The critical element is penetration. The bullet must pass through the large, blood bearing organs and be of sufficient diameter to promote rapid bleeding. Penetration less than 12 inches is too little, and, in the words of two of the participants in the 1987 Wound Ballistics Workshop, "too little penetration will get you killed."(42,43)

Given desirable and reliable penetration, the only way to increase bullet effectiveness is to increase the severity of the wound by increasing the size of hole made by the bullet. Any bullet which will not penetrate through vital organs from less than optimal angles is not acceptable. Of those that will penetrate, the edge is always with the bigger bullet. (44)

This is my, as well as their major concern. Many current SD handgun rounds penetrate 8-14 inches, thanks to design, and, limitation on bullet weight ratio to velocity.
I suspect that you would be better off using a less expanding, or non-xpanding bullet, in a caliber that doesn't have the ability to drive a hollow point 18" in ballistic gelatin.


December 27, 2006, 03:08 AM
Course, folks can bring up any point they want to on a thread. But one of the main reasons I brought it up - and a major theme of the document - is that the PSYCHOLOGICAL AWARENESS OF BEING SHOT AND CRITICALLY INJURED - is one of - or THE - major determinant of an immediate stop. So, the choice of weapon and caliber may lay outside of a perpetual quest to find the best in terms of its actual wounding abilty. The choice, in my view, should also lie in which is best to produce this overwhelming psychological "certainity" of doom (likely: big, loud, dramatic flash etc.). Only one poster dealt with this. Like I said, fine if everyone wants to argue about bullet dynamics and wounds......... but it's possible that may not produce the best choice of a defense weapon. (e.g, Even if one is convinced a a 9mm weapon wounds as well as a .45acp, and picks a light, easy to carry compact, the .45 in a 1911 may be the one that has the best chance of an immediate stop becasue of its psychological impact.) I'm a rookie, so what do I know, but this factor will be an important one in my choice for a CCW because it makes instinctive sense to me.

December 27, 2006, 04:03 AM
One of our other members had access to shooting reports, through his department, that documented the .357's effectiveness. The most common elements of the shootings were they took place at night, usually an officer's BUG,
at point blank range. What conveyed the information of being shot was the huge flash of unburnt powder, blinding the BG, and, the deafening, and disgusting noise a .357 snubby makes at point blank range. The number of one shot stops did NOT correlate with the damage done by the bullet. In short, the blinding and the deafening made the BG's give up, and, not wanting to repeat either experience.

One of the considerations for stainless guns is the bore looks bigger, from the business end, along with being rust resistant.

The 45 can be loaded with light bullets, 160's and lighter, from 1200 fps to 2200 fps, if I remember that Aguilla load.
It can also be loaded up to 230-260 grain bullets.

Can't do that with 9mm.

December 27, 2006, 04:31 AM
Exactly this type of data you offer re: 357, and the detail of what SSteel communciates and not just the degree or not the CCW likes it personally, are important considerations. They're what I mean. Thanks.

December 27, 2006, 05:45 AM
The temporary blinding and deafining can happen to the shooter too !!! Especially indoors at night !! Shoot and continue to shoot until the BG is no longer a threat !

December 27, 2006, 11:03 AM
gvf, You're right, most of us have missed the point of your post, sorry for the hi-jack.

BACK TO THE SUBJECT: I have received wounds from gunshots on 3 separate occasions (only 2 if you don't count a ricochet from me being stupid enough to fire a .44 mag into a flat bolder at 10 yards!). Even though the wounds were fairly minor and certainly not life threatening, each time I went down like a wet towel.

Psychological factors? One of those wounds was from a shotgun. I was hit with the 3rd round fired in my direction, so I was already freaked out by size of the bore, the loud report and the muzzle flash from the 1st two rounds. With the slap of pellets to my chest and then rolling over to find my shirt turning red, I was of no mind to go on the offence.

I'm not sure if it's because I saw so much "Hollywood" on TV as a kid, but I do think in my case, the size and look of a CCW piece have always had an impact on me. Right or wrong, I find myself going for the biggest piece that I can lug around all day. Even with knives, if given a choice I will try to find a way to conceal a 10" blade rather than the 4" model.

I have no data to back it up, but I think a BG would be more reluctant to continue a treat when facing the bore of a 1911 rather than a Jennings .22lr

December 27, 2006, 12:01 PM
I had read this article a couple of years ago, and what struck me about it is not that "psychological effects" play the most important role in stopping an attacker. I actually could have guessed that psychology is key in stopping a threat. (We all hear tales of the PCP junkie who walks through walls, ignoring injuries, or of the child stuck under the car and the guy that develops "superhuman" strength to lift the car.) That a person who is unaware of injuries can walk right through the pain doesn't surprise me.

No, what strikes me about this paper is that, according to the FBI, not only does "knock-down" not play a major role, it doesn't even exist! I had always seen the Hollywood versions of the guy getting shot with the .357 magnum and being blasted backwards through the wall. But, according to this document, such a thing is a complete fantasy!

Hmmm.... Interesting...

December 27, 2006, 01:00 PM
In the reverse of Phxdog's harrowing story, years ago a friend was critically wounded by a BG's .22 when he opened his apartment door to a knock in mid-day and found the BG with a small gun demanding money. He gave it up, and said as the BG ran away he heard a "pop". He went back inside and just stood there for a bit "feeling odd" and spacey. Only when he felt a liquid on his abdomen did he look down and notice he was bleeding from the guts. THEN he called 911 and began to go out. He was eventually OK after many, many months, the emergency operation to remove part of his intestines etc..

So, in this case a critical wound didn't register and while no one could prove it, the "undramatic" nature of the weapon and sound of the shot may have been a large part of the reason.

December 27, 2006, 07:36 PM
22's, because of the way they are produced are really unsanitary, or something like that. They are inclined to stay in the body, and, produce lots of germ problems...
Hence their deadliness, not now, but later.


December 27, 2006, 09:40 PM
I had always seen the Hollywood versions of the guy getting shot with the .357 magnum and being blasted backwards through the wall. But, according to this document, such a thing is a complete fantasy!That is correct. A living thing may REACT to a bullet impact in varying ways, but the impact itself does not have the power to move something the size of a human around. A test was done with a human sized/weighted dummy that was designed such that it would completely stop a bullet. It was then carefully suspended from an easily dislodged balance. It was set up so that a thrown baseball provided sufficient impact to cause the dummy to fall.

It was then shot with a .50BMG. The bullet was stopped inside the dummy as designed and the dummy was dislodged from the toggle and fell.

Here's the video (it's LONG). Their conclusion from watching the high-speed video was that the dummy moved backwards at most 2" from absorbing the entire impact from a .50BMG round at 20 feet.