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Old May 30, 2024, 12:30 PM   #1
itsfrankiesgal
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Bullets, Boxing & John Wilkes Booth

Hello Gents,

I'm an author and historian checking the last of my facts/claims, for a non-fiction biography on a 1920s prizefighter killed in the ring, which I will publish in late June, early July. I hope you might please confirm/correct/have a good laugh, at a paragraph I wrote (below). Those I've reached out to, involved with antique arms magazines, requested more info to "do the math," but never replied after said info was provided.

My claim in the book is as follows:

"According to Duke University biomechanics expert James McElhaney, a heavyweight's wallop can land with around 1200 foot-pounds of force. That’s equal to the explosive energy of an armor-piercing bullet. Max Baer was said to have one of the hardest punches in fight history. The damage he inflicted on Frankie Campbell was equal to at least two times the force of the bullet the assassin John Wilkes Booth shot into the head of President Abraham Lincoln."

The "do the math" info I was asked to provide is as follows:

The handgun that Booth shot Lincoln with was a 44 caliber single-shot, 5.87-inch derringer.

The bullet was a spherical lead ball weighing "nearly an ounce," and composed of a mixture of antimony, tin, copper, and soft lead.

Eyewitnesses claim Booth shot Lincoln in back of the head from about 3 feet away.

Last request was general info for an armor piercing bullet. I randomly selected the Tarkov Ballistics. It's a 7.62x39mm BP gzh (GRAU Index - 7N23) cartridge with a 7.9 gram armor-piercing bullet with a hardened carbon steel core with lead cladding on the tip and a bimetallic jacket, in a bimetallic case. This particular round has the following properties:

Muzzle Velocity 730 m/s
Damage 58
Penetration Power 47
Ballistic Coefficient 0.28

Please let me know if you need any other information and I'll try my best.

While I grew up with a Father active in his local rod & gun club, and have fond memories of being paid $1 per 100 in the 1970s to pop primers out of bullet cases, unlike my Dad, I'm a complete boob when it comes to math and such, so hope you'll take pity on me. I'd be happy to cite your name in my book as the source for the math, etc behind the claim in my above paragraph.

Thanks much for any assistance you might provide.
Regards,
Catherine Johnson
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Old May 30, 2024, 03:15 PM   #2
Jim Watson
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According to Duke University biomechanics expert James McElhaney, a heavyweight's wallop can land with around 1200 foot-pounds of force.

Energy, not force, different physical measures.
Very high end, I found a reference to Rocky Marciano tested at 925 ft lb.


That’s equal to the explosive energy of an armor-piercing bullet.

Armor piercing - or any small arms bullet - does not explode. It has kinetic energy derived from mass and velocity.

Max Baer was said to have one of the hardest punches in fight history. The damage he inflicted on Frankie Campbell was equal to at least two times the force of the bullet the assassin John Wilkes Booth shot into the head of President Abraham Lincoln."

The difference between a punch and a bullet is that the bullet penetrates forming a permanent wound through flesh, bone, and organs. Campbell died of what is now known as Traumatic Brain Injury with cerebral hemorrhage from multiple blows to the head, not one penetrating bullet.

The "do the math" info I was asked to provide is as follows:

The handgun that Booth shot Lincoln with was a 44 caliber single-shot, 5.87-inch (Overall length, this is a pocket pistol.) derringer.
The bullet was a spherical lead ball weighing "nearly an ounce," and composed of a mixture of antimony, tin, copper, and soft lead.

The actual recovered ball was .414" diameter and is most likely nearly pure lead with little tin, no antimony, no copper. It weighs approximately 106 grains or about 1/4 ounce. A velocity of 500 feet per second is reasonable, even generous. That is 59 ft lbs which is less than a punch from an average man, never mind a professional boxer. The difference is, the punch is spread over a relatively large area and is not going to penetrate the opponent's skull like even a low powered bullet did.

Last request was general info for an armor piercing bullet. I randomly selected the Tarkov Ballistics. It's a 7.62x39mm BP gzh (GRAU Index - 7N23) cartridge with a 7.9 gram armor-piercing bullet with a hardened carbon steel core with lead cladding on the tip and a bimetallic jacket, in a bimetallic case. This particular round has the following properties:

Muzzle Velocity 730 m/s
Damage 58
Penetration Power 47
Ballistic Coefficient 0.28

OK, that is 2105 Joules, 1552 ft lb for an "intermediate" rifle caliber. A 7.62 NATO will be about half again as much.
I don't know what "Damage 58" and "Penetration Power 47" mean unless they are arbitrary figures for scoring a game.
Ballistic Coefficient 0.28 is a measure of the "streamlining" of the bullet and is used in calculating the trajectory of the bullet over different ranges to the target.
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Old May 30, 2024, 08:03 PM   #3
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Bullets and punches.

Apples and oranges.

No justification for comparing them logically.
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Old May 31, 2024, 12:57 AM   #4
georgehwbush
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for the sake of argument!
the armor-piercing bullet... so it's a 122gr bullet with a m.v. 2395ft/s and (assuming g1) bc of .280
the deceleration rate is about 2.81 ft/s per yard, for the first 100 yds. and the round goes subsonic at about 600yds.
so the real question to ask about the rifle slug question is 'at what distance?' one has to assume it is not intended to be a muzzle against the scull propisition... so what range?

the math is simple weight times speed equals energy, there are a few conversions that have to be made but it's simple.
at 100 yds the velocity is 2114 ft/s and the energy is 1210 ft/lbs

all numbers rounded of course.
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Old May 31, 2024, 08:15 AM   #5
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Let's stop at the ball fired by Boothe's .44 cal. Deringer. It may be seen at National Museum of Health and Medicine in Silver Spring, Maryland. (Note: The Deringer is displayed at Ford's Theatre) and was probably closer to 128-9 grains instead of 1 ounce (437 grains per ounce per the interweb). The old Brown Bess musket (72 cal) that served in the British Army from the 1700s to 1830s fired a one ounce ball.

Note: I'm not checking my books to see the weight of the lead ball fired from the Deringer. Some weight may have been lost from the firing as well as its passing through poor Abe's skull.

Better ask the Nat'l Mus for an image of the bullet to confirm my view. I strongly doubt that the bullet was spherical. Spherical bullets were known by target shooters of the era and some were used in handguns in the ACW, but most were round ball guns and casted of pure lead. I doubt if any exotic amalgamation of metals were used by Boothe. Soft lead does a fine job of maiming or killing on its own and adding things like tin or antimony would only make it harder (less bullet deformation). The rifle muskets and rifled-muskets of the era fired the conical minie ball (so the technology was here).

Sidenote: Per Dr. John Sotos, Abe may have had a rare form of cancer (Multiple Endocrine Neoplast Type II b and not Marfan) and would have died anyway. Dr. Sotos has a book on that subject matter: The Physical Lincoln.

My own speculation: In a karmic sense, Abe needed Boothe to assassinate him for Abe to attain matrydom. Without Boothe Abe would have not lasted a year and would have wasted away in office (per a conversation I had with Dr. John Sotos) and Johnson would have become president anyway. I'll pass on the matrydom myself.

I walked to the library (next room) and pulled out several books. Per the 2nd Edition of the Lyman Black Powder Handbook & Loading Manual a 45 cal round ball 8" bbl single shot pistol (see page 289):

20 grains FFF (Goex) powder firing a 128 gr 440 round ball:

MV 924 fps
ME 243 ft lbs
Pressure: 4,6000 PSI
Velocity at 25 yds: 867 fps
Energy at 25 yds: 214 ft lbs

25 grains FFF powder (same ball)

MV 1027
ME 300
Pressure: 6,200
Vel @ 25: 948
Ene @ 25: 256

30 grains FFF powder (same ball)

MV 1104
ME 347
Pressure: 6,500
Vel @ 25: 1002
Ene @ 25: 285

From the Third Edition of The Gun Digest Blackpowder Loading Manual info on the 45 cal "Kentucky Pistol" from CVA (see page 283) with 10 1/4 ", 1:66 twist & .440" 129 grain swaged Hornady RB:

20 grains FFF powder

MV: 859 fps
ME: 211 fpe
Vel @ 50 yds: 713 fps
Ener @ 50 yds: 146 ft lbs

40 grains FFF powder

MV: 1153 fps
ME: 318 fpe
Vel @ 50 yds: 911 fps
Ener @ 50 yds: 238 ft lbs

As you already know, the short barrel Deringer will generate a lot less MV & energy. The 5.87" is the overall length of the Deringer (one "r") and not the actual barrel length (probably 2 1/2"). You should contact the NPS at Ford's Theatre for the actual barrel length.

There are many, many more figures in the original Lyman Black Powder Handbook (copyright 1975) for the 440 cal round ball. See pgs 190-2.

ETA: Good luck on your book. Approach any publisher yet?
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Old June 1, 2024, 06:45 AM   #6
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From Forward_Observer at THR who owns a pair of replica Deringers:

Quote:
The barrel is 2 7/16 inches long not including the tang. It's hard to measure the bore because it has an odd number (7) of lands and grooves so there is always a groove opposite a land. However, the set came with 7 cast balls hidden in a compartment under the bullet mold. It's claimed online that the original assassination pistol was .44 cal. The balls that came with the set measure .40. Using pillow ticking that is normally .018 inches thick and doubled since it surrounds the ball would come to .436 cal. Close enough to call it .44 cal I guess.

Cheers
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Old June 2, 2024, 09:21 PM   #7
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??????

" strongly doubt the bullet was spherical "

"most were roundball guns"

I think the terms here are mixed up, or the phrasing got rearranged. Likely, the bullet was not "conical". Spherical and round are the same.....aren't they?
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Old June 3, 2024, 09:46 AM   #8
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Yeah, I messed up. Was thinking conical.

Boothe used a round ball (spherical).
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Old June 4, 2024, 11:51 PM   #9
Jim Watson
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I read that it was a .414” ball, but seeing it pictured, flattened and expanded from impact, I don’t see how that number was arrived at.

Note that the pocket Deringers do not have ramrods. Speed loading out of your pockets would not be feasible anyhow. If you were in Philadelphia, Mr Deringer had a range and your pistol(s) would be cleaned and reloaded for you after practice.

Last edited by Jim Watson; June 5, 2024 at 01:46 PM.
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Old June 7, 2024, 02:49 PM   #10
itsfrankiesgal
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Thank you very much gents. Fascinating to read through this thread. Since my analogy has rightly been deemed ridiculous, what might be a better one that references an important historical moment? Thanks again!!
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Old June 8, 2024, 12:15 PM   #11
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OK

I would agree that equating a boxers punch with a bullet strike is a poor comparison and a better analogy and phrasing is needed. Bullets penetrate, punches do not. Armor piercing brings another confusing dynamic, what kind of armor, and there are projectiles large and small, that are specifically intended for that role. Just don't go there. While I'm at it, why an historical event?

Another sort of blow might be more easily related to by your readers. Some research might turn up the energy involved in a bat striking a baseball, a bowling ball striking pins, etc. I'll have to think about that for awhile.

I too am terrible with math.

Thread may close before any further replies, if so wish the best in your endeavor.
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Old June 8, 2024, 03:31 PM   #12
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Bullet wounds are a combination of blunt trauma and a penetrating injury.

If the bullet is non-expanding and moving relatively slowly (as bullets go), then the resulting injury is primarily a penetration wound. That is, the bullet pokes a hole in the tissue but doesn't do much else. Sometimes wounds like this can go unnoticed initially even if they are quite serious.

If the bullet has a lot of energy, especially if it expands/fragments as well, then the resulting injury can have significant blunt trauma effect. That is, tissue can be stretched/bruised/torn in addition to the penetration injury. Wounds like this tend to be noticed immediately, even if they aren't serious.
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Old June 10, 2024, 01:44 PM   #13
itsfrankiesgal
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Ok I won't go there. Have been pondering this and a common visual analogy would work better. It's funny I had written a line about punches poking holes like a hobo's meal ticket, and my editor called me on it. But I read several sports articles on the results of fights, and darned if they didn't repeatedly use 'poking holes' and 'faces sliced up as if with an artists knife,' so while people think of the broad area of a boxing glove as doing broad damage, you also have split eyelids, etc. It's a quandary. Hey thank you very much for pondering along with me.
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Old June 10, 2024, 01:55 PM   #14
itsfrankiesgal
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That's kind've why I went where I went, but it looks like I got it backwards? I never went beyond the fact that a Civil War era cast lead ball, while traveling much slower than a more modern full metal jacket, would cause a penetration wound because its a solid piece, while the higher velocity bullet with expansion capabilities, would actually be closer to what I was envisioning, but still not a great analogy. Great food for thought, thanks.
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Old June 10, 2024, 02:01 PM   #15
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sometimes comparing apples and potatoes is difficult, but why bother with minute details if you are just wanting to create a visual for your readers? while maybe not accurate it draws a picture and you can clearify with a simple "kinda like" or something symular. <bad_spelling/>


that will take the need for accuracy off of you and let you express your self more clearly.
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Old June 10, 2024, 02:16 PM   #16
itsfrankiesgal
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Oh I like this ! Gives me a bit of an 'out.' But nah, I'll figure something else out or remove the last bit. Just checked on a baseball swing but that has something like 4-6000 lbs of force, so scratch that lol.

I am providing proof that a future heavyweight champion of the world knew he had knocked his opponent out cold, but with the help of a paid off referee beholden to racketeers, and a state commissioner who got cuts of Baer's purses, was allowed to intentionally throw twenty plus punches to an unconscious opponent while he was hung up on the ropes, until his brain was separated from his skull. I am throwing history into a tailspin, so I need to be very careful with every word, claim, analogy that I put to paper.
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Old June 10, 2024, 02:23 PM   #17
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understood.
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