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Caliber Snob?
#1
Let me start off by saying that I am in no way trying to come off sounding like a know it all tactical ninja, that is only beating a dead horse with old mantra. It is neither my intent nor my goal to create a thread for another caliber war. These are simply my latest and always changing thoughts about what I carry, I share them with you for my benefit and to discuss new ideas.


A while ago I posted a video hosted by a Doctor who was discussing the modern treatment of gunshot wounds. In great detail they discussed the tissue damage caused by modern bullet technology but they also hinted at how ineffective pistol calibers really are. After watching this video a few times I started to do some Q&A with some local trama doctors in the Reading area. I have started to feel that after years of hearing "caliber doesn't matter", in reality it does...

Every time we pull the trigger, a control chaos experiment happens. Regardless of brand claims, little variables such as humidity, elevation Barrel length and cut can cause the smallest of changes within the projectile that may or may not have a desirable impact. Spend some time on youtube and you can watch a myriad of interesting videos that test various pistol rounds in great detail and often times in media mimicking the FBI protocols.

TNOutdoors9 hosts an awesome channel on youtube that can provide you with all kinds of great data. After spending time watching his channel and the various tests on .380 it is easy to come to the conclusion that save FMJ, there is not a single bullet design in that caliber that will get to 12 inches of penetration and yet .380 has seen a renaissance of sorts and is a very popular caliber thanks to the new platforms introduced by every manufacturer these days. But... Have we fallen in love with myth? I keep my Kel-Tec loaded with Hornaday Critical Defense which I have been told is the best on the market. Even that fails to reach the desired penetration depths. Now I understand that these informal tests serve only as a model for testing in a controlled environment but if the design on said bullet cannot overcome a media designed to mimic human flesh how can I in confidence rely on the person selling me the product to provide me with unbiased data.

I'm not trying to pick on any one caliber so I'm going to move away from the .380 and discuss what I find important when selecting a self defense firearm.

The conclusion I draw from watching the video mentioned at the beginning of this thread and from talking with local Doctors, is that tissue injury is irrelevant and that penetration is far more significant if your goal is to incapacitate an assailant. To incapacitate you have to do one of two things. Break bones, or sever nerve connections. No amount of expansion or tissue damage can disrupt the ability of a person to continue an attack. With this in mind I find myself asking if 12 inches of depth on Ballistic Gel is even a good yard stick in which to measure the effectiveness of a given load.

I encourage everyone to find some videos of your favorite caliber and load and discuss the findings of their performance, but I find myself drifting into some serious thought about what I carry. To date I never had a problem carrying or recommending a 9mm in any of the modern loads for carry. Now I'll be honest, I'm finding it hard to find a load in 9mm besides the under powered 115gr hollow points that will actually make it to just 12 inches. I also think that carrying a load that pushes past that is actually a really good idea.

I understand that in the context of civilian self defense some thought must be given about selecting a round that may have a greater chance of passing through the intended target and causing collateral damage. However, I think as a whole we put too much emphasis on that chance and less on what a desired result is. Lots of data is out there on very high profile shootings and we need to keep in mind that calibers commonly carried fail to deliver on a regular basis. Is it not safe to think that perhaps our perception of what is and isn't acceptable may be off?

Your thoughts on this subject are greatly appreciated. Big Grin
JDP, proud to be a member of pa2a.org since Apr 2013.
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#2
Your post had me thinking, so I called up my friend who is an ER nurse at Temple Hospital in north Philly. I asked her about 9mm vs. .45 vs. other calibers. She said caliber doesn't affect the entrance wound so much, but definitely the exit wound. She said the two biggest factors are shot placement and penetration. My friend stated that the heart, lungs, and brain are the best areas to take a out a threat (no blood flow = death, no lungs = suffocation then death, no brain = well you get the idea). Also she said if a friend or family member gets shot, the most important thing to do is add pressure. Depending on the size of the wound, you may have to pack it with gauze, but adding pressure is the most important thing until paramedics arrive. Lastly, she said the reason hollow points are good rounds isn't so much because you don't want to over penetrate and shoot through your target but rather that your shot placement can be a little off because the expanding round has a better chance of touching the heart, lungs, arteries, etc.

Edit: For deep concealment when I carry my Ruger LCP (I only carry this if carrying a larger pistol isn't possible/practical) I carry .380 Buffalo Bore 90 grain +p rounds. For my 9mm pistols I carry either 115 grain +p+ Speer Gold Dots or 124 grain +p Federal HSTs. For my .45 pistols I carry 200 grain +p Federal EFMJ (not to be confused with that Guard Dog crap).
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#3
I agree with her assessment, but my counter point is that lungs and hearts can receive non repairable damage and the attacker can continue progress for a period of time. I would have to re-direct my conversation to an analysis of psychology but the direct reaction of being shot in a vital organ is to continue attacking. The Miami FBI shootout comes instantly to mind when discussing this. One of the assailants received a gunshot wound directly to his aorta. If he had been shot in ECU they could not have saved his life and yet he continued to return fire.

If our best defense is to ensure that with each well placed round we are disabling our attacker, than the logical assumption is that I need to disable the nervous system to a degree that will incapacitate. A shot into the medulla oblongata will immediately disable your attacker, however this means hitting a 2x3 inch rectangle, behind bone that most likely will be moving. If you rounds contact the spine or fracture hips and shoulders you may not completely incapacitate, but you do begin to limit the means of a continued attack.
JDP, proud to be a member of pa2a.org since Apr 2013.
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#4
The reason this has been studied to death and we still have no definitive answer is because there isn't one.

In my firearms training, I liked to relate the story of Parade Magazine officer of the year from Florida. She ended up at a home invasion. One of the assailants she shot in the head with a .45 and he continued to fight. Yet, in Perry County we had a homicide with a single shot from a break open air rifle and an instant incapacitation and death of a burglar, shot once in the chest with a .380, that came at the store owner with a hammer.

The only sure way to drop someone instantly is severing the spinal column, destroying the brain or smashing a support bone from the pelvis on down. Beyond that, it becomes psychological. Carry what you can shoot well with plenty of quality self defense ammo and practice, practice, practice. Shoot until the threat is no longer a threat.
He was the sort of person who stood on mountaintops during thunderstorms in wet copper armour shouting "All the Gods are bastards."
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#5
UJ U could not agree more with your assessment. In fact suspect that the likely hood of being involved in a self defense situation that warrants the need for a firearm is probably akin to say winning the Cash 5, and the mere presents of any firearm may be all you require of your selection.

With that said, I think its coincidental you bring up a head shot scenario. The brain feels no pain, and can operate with half of it missing. Nerves and bones as I stated are the only known way to incapacitate.
JDP, proud to be a member of pa2a.org since Apr 2013.
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#6
JDP;104974 Wrote:UJ U could not agree more with your assessment. In fact suspect that the likely hood of being involved in a self defense situation that warrants the need for a firearm is probably akin to say winning the Cash 5, and the mere presents of any firearm may be all you require of your selection.

With that said, I think its coincidental you bring up a head shot scenario. The brain feels no pain, and can operate with half of it missing. Nerves and bones as I stated are the only known way to incapacitate.

So do you think you know anatomy well enough and can shoot in a stress situation and hit bone or nerve? Do you know the diameter of peripheral nerves, or the width of the spinal cord?

I suspect very few of us, including well trained law enforcement, have that capability.
A gun rack in a pick-up is not for holding guns. Its a place for women to hold on to. Smile
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#7
I'm surprised that ER personnel can tell the difference in calibers, especially after deformation.
Shodan, proud to be a member of pa2a.org since Sep 2012.Anim_sniper2Zombieanimated
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#8
Shodan;107697 Wrote:I'm surprised that ER personnel can tell the difference in calibers, especially after deformation.

The probably never see an actual .45 hit. The part of the body that wasn't hole would land in Bucks County Smile
I produced precise formulations for what you call, "Black Powder," for General Washington. If not for me, you would be speaking the Queen's English today. Say my name, which you cannot find with an internet search, proud to be a member of pa2a.org since Sep 2012.
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#9
It's definitely something to think about. The human body is a strange organism, that will defy logic at every turn in some fashion.

Look at the recent thread on the LEO who engaged in a shootout with a determined opponent: http://www.pa2a.org/thread-why-one-cop-c...on-the-job

Quote:. . .
In this free-for-all, the assailant had, in fact, been struck 14 times. Any one of six of these wounds — in the heart, right lung, left lung, liver, diaphragm, and right kidney — could have produced fatal consequences…“in time,” Gramins emphasizes.
. . .

He was carrying a .45 and he fired a total of 33 rounds. The article gives the impression that one of three head shots finally dropped the bad guy.

Lung hits and kidney and liver wounds will bleed out, but not immediately. It's amazing how much blood you can lose and still stay in the fight, at least for a short time.
I don't suffer from insanity.
I enjoy every minute of it.
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#10
The caveat to this whole conversation is the rapid changes in the human body as it moves around. If you train yourself to shoot center mass all of the time with your .380 while hanging your hat on the idea that in a dynamic situation you are going to go all high noon with a feller all squared up... Well Shrug

I tend to find through research that a lot of people duck. They bend at the waist extend their arm out and return fire. So the minimum penetration that was 12" of jelly now gets thrown clear out the door. Also, what the frick do you aim for?

Does knowing human anatomy help?

IMHO Yes, and whatever you can get the front sight on, are the answers. I work Fire/EMS and love studying the human body. I have seen many a broken bones, large arteries and exposed spinal cords, I train with them in mind.

Training to shoot at a variety of shapes in non conventional positions, and being realistic about the situation is the best you can do. a lot of people say they can't/won't run away, and a lot of good people get killed trying make a stand. I could get real long winded about how we are sight hunters and have an instinctual drive to focus on movement but I don't have the time today, maybe at some point.
JDP, proud to be a member of pa2a.org since Apr 2013.
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