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Old July 3, 2013, 10:54 PM   #1
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Caliber size wound effects on the human body

The following video was originally produced for a medical conference. It shows a 60 liter bottle (132 pounds) being shot by different calibers.

The 9mm produces a small hole which the water leaks out of, however, the jug is not moved. The 357 Magnum seems to have more effect on the jug but not by much. A burst of 9mm fire from an MP5 rips the jug apart. One round from an AK47 makes the jug jump several inches off the ground causing the water to shoot out the hole created. A burst from the AK47 is an impressive display causing the jug to literally explode. The 5.56mm doesnt cause nearly the same effect. The 50 caliber is the most impressive causing the jug to explode and moving it a few feet.

For home defense I would have to say the AK47 is probably the best choice. It is a practical rifle which seemed to have a good effect on the jug. I did notice the difference between the 357 and the 9mm, but the difference was not so great in my opinion. A 3-5 shot burst with +p+ 9mm will really intensify the effect whereas one round does not move the jug.

One might look at this and conclude the 9mm is not an effective round, however, it is much easier to fire off a burst from the 9mm pistol then it is with the 357 revolver. There doesnt appear to be a lot of difference on the jug between the 9mm and 357, but there is a great difference with a burst of fire with hot 9mm.

So if I was going to choose a self defense pistol based on this video I would go with a full sized high capacity 9mm loaded with +p+ rounds and focus on 3 shot bursts in training. In rifle calibers I believe the AK47 is the winner.
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Old July 3, 2013, 11:14 PM   #2
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For home defense I would have to say the AK47 is probably the best choice.
Lawyers on the opposing side would surely be fine with that.

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Old July 3, 2013, 11:29 PM   #3
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In my personal opinion, you are correct. An AK47 is one of those "big bad" firearms which doesnt make for a good appearance in court whereas the Mini30 is a more politically correct firearm. Someone like Joe Biden would approve of the Mini30 whereas he would not approve of the AK47. The Mini30 is the gentlemens rifle whereas the Ak47 are for those living on the edge. However the Mini30 is not as practical and easy to use as the AK47 IMHO.

Recently I was reading about a woman found in a wall murdered over 20 years ago. If she was defending herself with an AK47 she may not be in that wall today. So you have to make choices. Would you rather be on trial or in the wall? Neither option is pleasant.
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Old July 3, 2013, 11:47 PM   #4
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Honestly, I think I'd take a 5.56 over a 7.62 in the house. It's smaller and has less recoil and allows for faster follow up shots. But, more to the point, a softcore 5.56 green tip penetrates roughly the same number of walls as a .22 Rimfire does. That's to say, they'll all go through a wall, but the 5.56 soft point does so for only a wall or so and then it breaks into fragments which are less likely to continue going and harm a person. I also think the damage done by a tumbling, fragmenting 5.56 is going to be fairly great. Also, 7.62 probably has too much recoil for me to comfortably hold in a "pistol" (which would be my choice rather than SBR)

Not to say a 7.62 won't stop a man. These are just my personal considerations on the matter and what I feel would work best for me. That may even change over time.
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Old July 4, 2013, 12:55 AM   #5
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The MP3 burst into the jug has holes going all over the place suggesting fragmentation. The AK47 is the only one which makes the 132 lb jug jump about 3 to 4 inches in the air. The 5.56 burst rotates the jug but it doesnt send it into the air. The 50 cal simply obliterates the entire jug not giving it a chance to get airborne.

So would an AK47 knock someone off their feet?
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Old July 4, 2013, 01:03 AM   #6
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From sheer power? No. From power, muzzle blast, noise, light, surprise, and psychological trauma? Some of the time. Remember, whatever force you're feeling from the gun is the same force that the bullet carries
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Old July 4, 2013, 01:06 AM   #7
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What makes the jug jump? Whats going on exactly?
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Old July 4, 2013, 01:17 AM   #8
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Any idea what kind of bullets were used? FMJ? Hollow point? Soft point?

I don't know how much demonstrations of shooting containers of water, or wet phone books, or watermelons, or chunks or wood really translate to effectiveness on living targets, but the videos are fun to watch anyway.
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Old July 4, 2013, 01:21 AM   #9
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It's the energy dump. Water is a newtonian fluid and it transfers the energy. Think like waves at the beach. The bullet loses so much energy because of water friction and it sends the energy into the water, where it is carried upwards and outwards. This causes a jump as the momentum of the bullet is transferred.

I have no idea what type of bullets were used. This is a horribly unscientific test for doctors. No methodology with regards to number of shots, no repeat testing of the same caliber, no looking at actual wound and channel fragments.

Not to mention a barrel of water is not a human. Flesh is different. There's bone. It doesn't show how tumbling bullets effect the organ cavity, if at all, or refraction off of bones, bleed out, anything like that.
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Old July 4, 2013, 02:21 AM   #10
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So did they happen to test a 12ga 3" magnum? Slugs or buckshot?

If our criteria is damage to a jug of water Joe Biden is closer to the target.
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Old July 4, 2013, 04:07 AM   #11
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First, while this is impressive, I wonder what difference might be observed with non-NFA semi-automatic weapons. Would the effects be the same, similar, or different? Would the difference in firing rate have an effect?

Second, this does ignore the largely undisputed most dangerous weapon for home defense- the 12 ga shotgun.

Third, this video to me only emphasizes the difference between rifles and handguns. Why select a 9mm based on this video when only 1 other handgun cartridge was demonstrated? You're going to see a lot of difference in energy transferred between a 115 gr 9mm round and a 230 gr .45 round.

Add in Dakota's issues with the comparasins between water and human bodies, I think this video, while entertaining, really has little to do with home defense.
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Old July 4, 2013, 07:55 AM   #12
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People aren't water jugs.
Too many variables to come to any conclusions.
There are many studies on this subject. The water jugs don't help at all.
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Old July 4, 2013, 08:08 AM   #13
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Ditto on water jug vs human. There is no fear or emotional factor with a water bottle and maneuvering is somewhat static.
I'd like to see what an agitated medium sized Rottweiller's "burst" would do in comparison.
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Old July 4, 2013, 08:25 AM   #14
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Human beings are not waterbags - we are each a matrix of skin, muscle, bone, fat, organ tissue and blood. Each of these factors varies from person to person, as does our mental state, toughness, and willingness to perservere in the face of grievous injury.

There simply is no way to predict how any particular person will react to any particular wounding injury. That's why we occasionally see big tough guys drop into a faint after sustaining a minor wound, and also see little scrawny guys who keep going and going after sustaining multiple mortal wounds.

All this video shows is that some cartridges produce more visually stimulating results when fired at a water barrel than others, and that those results seem to be proportional relative to the power of the cartridge fired. In other words, nothing new, and certainly nothing of any particular benefit to a medical professional.
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Old July 4, 2013, 09:17 AM   #15
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The only thing I can think of is.. Why would someone destroy good water jugs.?
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Old July 4, 2013, 09:38 AM   #16
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Obviously this isnt a scientific study but there are some key takeaways which are:

1. A burst of fire is more effective then a single shot.

2. Pistols in general are not as effective as rifles.

3. Larger caliber rifles are certainly most effective.

I am curious as to how the Ak47 made that heavy barrel jump. Why didnt the other rifles make it jump? Im also curious about the MP5 burst where there were holes in every direction.
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Old July 4, 2013, 10:00 AM   #17
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Re: Caliber size wound effects on the human body

The only issue I see with these tests are that water jugs, watermelons, ballistic jelly or any other medium lacks the one thing a living, breathing target always has - the will to survive. We can test the performance of the rounds we carry, but we can't test the true effectiveness simply because there are 200 billion plus different examples of human being out there. Everything we do is based on averages and statistics. The only true way to effectively stop any aggressor is to vaporize them. Short of that we have to pick the gun/caliber/round combination that works for us, practice so we can put rounds on target where they'll do the most good (or damage) without endangering anyone around us and hope for the best.
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Old July 4, 2013, 11:29 AM   #18
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The bigger the hole the better
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Old July 4, 2013, 11:48 AM   #19
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An AK47 best for home defense? If you like to kill your neighbours too, it may be a good choice. But if you don't want to penetrate the walls of rooms, choose a shotgun. A 12 gauge pump, or semiautomatic.
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Old July 4, 2013, 12:12 PM   #20
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Originally Posted by Rifleman1776
People aren't water jugs.
That is the bottom line. If you want to talk about cartridges for self defense, you need to start with some basic physiology.
  1. The goal is to stop the assailant.

  2. There are four ways in which shooting someone stops him:

    1. psychological -- "I'm shot, it hurts, I don't want to get shot any more."

    2. massive blood loss depriving the muscles and brain of oxygen and thus significantly impairing their ability to function

    3. breaking major skeletal support structures

    4. damaging the central nervous system.

    Depending on someone just giving up because he's been shot is iffy. Probably most fights are stopped that way, but some aren't; and there are no guarantees.

    Breaking major skeletal structures can quickly impair mobility. But if the assailant has a gun, he can still shoot. And it will take a reasonably powerful round to reliably penetrate and break a large bone, like the pelvis.

    Hits to the central nervous system are sure and quick, but the CNS presents a small and uncertain target. And sometimes significant penetration will be needed to reach it.

    The most common and sure physiological way in which shooting someone stops him is blood loss -- depriving the brain and muscles of oxygen and nutrients, thus impairing the ability of the brain and muscles to function. Blood loss is facilitated by (1) large holes causing tissue damage; (2) getting the holes in the right places to damage major blood vessels or blood bearing organs; and (3) adequate penetration to get those holes into the blood vessels and organs which are fairly deep in the body. The problem is that blood loss takes time. People have continued to fight effectively when gravely, even mortally, wounded. So things that can speed up blood loss, more holes, bigger holes, better placed holes, etc., help.

    So as a rule of thumb --

    • More holes are better than fewer holes.

    • Larger holes are better than smaller holes.

    • Holes in the right places are better than holes in the wrong places.

    • Holes that are deep enough are better than holes that aren't.

    • There are no magic bullets.

  3. With regard to the issue of psychological stops see

    • this study by Greg Ellifritz.

      As Ellifritz note in his discussion of his "failure to incapacitate" data (emphasis added):
      Originally Posted by Greg Ellifritz

      ...Take a look at two numbers: the percentage of people who did not stop (no matter how many rounds were fired into them) and the one-shot-stop percentage. The lower caliber rounds (.22, .25, .32) had a failure rate that was roughly double that of the higher caliber rounds. The one-shot-stop percentage (where I considered all hits, anywhere on the body) trended generally higher as the round gets more powerful. This tells us a couple of things...

      In a certain (fairly high) percentage of shootings, people stop their aggressive actions after being hit with one round regardless of caliber or shot placement. These people are likely NOT physically incapacitated by the bullet. They just don't want to be shot anymore and give up! Call it a psychological stop if you will. Any bullet or caliber combination will likely yield similar results in those cases. And fortunately for us, there are a lot of these "psychological stops" occurring. The problem we have is when we don't get a psychological stop. If our attacker fights through the pain and continues to victimize us, we might want a round that causes the most damage possible. In essence, we are relying on a "physical stop" rather than a "psychological" one. In order to physically force someone to stop their violent actions we need to either hit him in the Central Nervous System (brain or upper spine) or cause enough bleeding that he becomes unconscious. The more powerful rounds look to be better at doing this....
    • Also see the FBI paper entitled "Handgun Wounding Factors and Effectiveness", by Urey W. Patrick. Agent Patrick, for example, notes on page 8:
      ...Psychological factors are probably the most important relative to achieving rapid incapacitation from a gunshot wound to the torso. Awareness of the injury..., fear of injury, fear of death, blood or pain; intimidation by the weapon or the act of being shot; or the simple desire to quit can all lead to rapid incapacitation even from minor wounds. However, psychological factors are also the primary cause of incapacitation failures.

      The individual may be unaware of the wound and thus have no stimuli to force a reaction. Strong will, survival instinct, or sheer emotion such as rage or hate can keep a grievously wounded individual fighting....

  4. And for some more insight into wound physiology and "stopping power":

    • Dr. V. J. M. DiMaio (DiMaio, V. J. M., M. D., Gunshot Wounds, Elsevier Science Publishing Company, 1987, pg. 42, as quoted in In Defense of Self and Others..., Patrick, Urey W. and Hall, John C., Carolina Academic Press, 2010, pg. 83):
      In the case of low velocity missles, e. g., pistol bullets, the bullet produces a direct path of destruction with very little lateral extension within the surrounding tissue. Only a small temporary cavity is produced. To cause significant injuries to a structure, a pistol bullet must strike that structure directly. The amount of kinetic energy lost in the tissue by a pistol bullet is insufficient to cause the remote injuries produced by a high-velocity rifle bullet.
    • And further in In Defense of Self and Others... (pp. 83-84, emphasis in original):
      The tissue disruption caused by a handgun bullet is limited to two mechanisms. The first or crush mechanism is the hole that the bullet makes passing through the tissue. The second or stretch mechanism is the temporary wound cavity formed by the tissue being driven outward in a radial direction away from the path of the bullet. Of the two, the crush mechanism is the only handgun wounding mechanism that damages tissue. To cause significant injuries to a structure within the body using a handgun, the bullet must penetrate the structure.
    • And further in In Defense of Self and Others... (pp. 95-96, emphasis in original):
      Kinetic energy does not wound. Temporary cavity does not wound. The much-discussed "shock" of bullet impact is a fable....The critical element in wounding effectiveness is penetration. The bullet must pass through the large blood-bearing organs and be of sufficient diameter to promote rapid bleeding....Given durable and reliable penetration, the only way to increase bullet effectiveness is to increase the severity of the wound by increasing the size of the hole made by the bullet....

  5. Urey Patrick was in the FBI for some 24 years, 12 of which were in the firearms training unit where he rose to the position of Assistant Unit Chief. John Hall is an attorney who spent 32 years in the FBI, including serving as a firearms instructor and a SWAT team member.
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Old July 4, 2013, 02:30 PM   #21
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If I get attacked by a 132 pound jug I'll know what to do.
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Old July 4, 2013, 03:07 PM   #22
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johnelmore, after seeing how much damage the AK did to a jug filled with water, imagine what it would do to a wall of a residence. Do you live within a mile of another home? If you do, it's something you need to worry about it.

If we're talking terms of raw power, an AK round will be more powerful (as you'll note by the recoil when firing one). However, raw power does not equal raw destruction. A 5.56 round is incredibly damaging and a round I would use for home defense would tumble and have a chance of fragmenting, causing a very large wound channel similar to a shotgun. However, it will also not penetrate many walls. A good forward muzzle brake (on either) will create a small blast in the dark that's psychologically damaging.

Point is, don't make your decisions based on these tests. An AK will stop a person but come with a lot of other issues, not the least of which is defending yourself in court.
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Old July 4, 2013, 04:09 PM   #23
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I would say most rifle and pistol rounds will penetrate through walls completely...rifle rounds more so then pistol. There are a wider variety of rounds for the 5.56 available with some designed not to penetrate through walls. I do not believe there is the same variety in 7.62x39. The only round I use in the AK is Wolf JHP which may or may not be better in these scenarios.
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Old July 4, 2013, 04:18 PM   #24
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I correct myself. Magsafe does sell ammo for the AK. I havent tested this ammo and have no idea how it feeds or performs. Its 30 dollars for 6 rounds. 1000 rounds of Wolf can be had for 300.
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Old July 5, 2013, 10:06 AM   #25
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I would say most rifle and pistol rounds will penetrate through walls completely...rifle rounds more so then pistol.
Got any basis for this statement? Most every test shows this to be false.

Best test I've seen to date:
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