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Hello. It seems that we have handgun ammunition designed to rapidly expand with but miniscule odds of completely penetrating a human. This appeals to some but others cry foul and cite the Miami Fiasco or testing that leads them to want more penetration...even if the bullet leaves the original intended recipient. Others opine that this is dangerous and needlessly endangers bystanders.

Is it your opinion that overpenetration concerns are legitimate and a major consideration or do you believe the perils are overexaggerated and unlikely to be of consequence?

Thanks in advance and best to you and yours.
 
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It is my perception that overpenetration is overemphasized in bullet design and selection. A miss is much more common and much more dangerous. I do want an expansive bullet in small to medium calibres, but that is to increase the damage to the assailant, not to reduce the risk to anybody in a direct line behind him.
For bigbores, my preference is colored by the report of my only personal acquaintance who has had occasion to shoot a man. It was at close range with a 1911A1 and .45 ACP hardball. Neither of two bullets exited the torso and the assailant was effectively stopped and soon dead.
 

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Mr. Camp,

I believe that if there is a bystander directly behind a problem, then the shootist shoot move in relation to the problem and the bystander.

This could be as simple as going down on one knee to 1) disorient the problem and 2) hopefully give an upward angle to any bullet which may overpenetrate.

I, like Mr. Watson, prefer the enhanced effects on the target which an expanding bullet gives. Of the expanders, I prefer the ones which give deeper expansion, about 14" and prefer it to shore up on skin rather than creating an exit wound. However, this is asking a bit much because of all the variables. I would therefore err on the side of caution and say that any bullet I fire in self-defense or otherwise will overpenetrate, whether it be a .25acp or 9mm. I will therefore take appropriate action to minimize risk.

In other words I believe that yes, it is a major concern, and though expanding bullets help, they can also hurt in some cases and the burden of safety falls on the firearm operator and not the bullet design.

Josh <><
 

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Yes, I believe that perforating shots are a threat, though to be honest, I have no idea how much the safety of bystanders is compromised. I'm sure that bystanders are hit by rounds that miss their intended target many, many times more often than they're hit by bullets that go through some intermediate person.

My use of expanding bullets is based primarily on a desire to impart 100% of available bullet energy to the target, and in doing so I achieve the side benefit of keeping innocent bystanders from being hit. Any extra "stopping power" effect given by expanding bullets isn't really a consideration for me. To quote Vincent J. M. Di Maio in his Gunshot Wounds (Second Edition): "In regard to charges that hollow-point ammunition is 'more lethal', in an unpublished study of over 75 fatalities from hollow-point ammunition by the author, he was unable to demonstrate any death that would not have occurred if the bullet had been an all-lead bullet. As to increased severity of wounding, this is purely theoretical (emphasis mine) To this day, the author cannot distinguish a wound by a hollow-point bullet from that by a solid-lead bullet of the same caliber until recovery of the actual bullet."

Whether expanding bullet ammunition is more effective at "stopping," seems also to be in doubt; according to what I can glean from Di Maio, truly devastating wounds seem to be more a result of high velocity than bullet design.

So in answer to the question, yes, I am concerned about overpenetration, but somewhat less concerned about danger to bystanders than danger to myself when my assailant doesn't lie down and stop fighting.
 

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Yes, I think it's a real threat. But it might be a moot point, depending on the circumstance.

It all depends on where we're at when a deadly confrontation occurs. We'll only have seconds or fractions of seconds to decide whether to shoot or not if the three criteria of lethal force response are there (intent, capability, opportunity). We may be justified in shooting, but our target may risk bystanders unnecessarily, then again they might not.

I recall reading Jeff Cooper's comments once where he said "any cartridge capable of doing the job will be overpenetrative, at least by some criteria...".

I'm currently carrying a Makarov with hardball, waiting to get some JHP's when I can find them. I also am looking forward to Corbon's latest DPX offerings (I think 9mm Mak is one of them). I do not feel unarmed with the hardball.
 

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I do remember reading more than a couple after-action reports that might indicate a trend towards overpenetration with the 10mm in any of its full-power loadings. However that hasn't stopped me from carrying my Delta Elite for ccw, stoked with Silvertips or CorBon.

Have long made target/non target 'alignment' part of my concerns during practice, so hopefully it will never be an issue for me.
 

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Right off the top of my head, I can think of one case (and another unconfirmed one) that I've personally worked on in which a person was shot by a bullet that had passed completely through another person. FMJs in both cases.

Let's face it though, the likelihood of having to use a defensive gun in a crowded situation is pretty minimal. Criminals like their victims isolated.

Still, it's something to consider.

So, I don't worry about it nearly as much as a lot of folks.
 
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The Mississippi Riverboat captain who was sitting across the card table from Wild Bill Hickok, was a victim of overpenetration. The bullet that killed Hickok lodged in the captain's hand and stayed there until his death many years later. It earned him many free drinks.

Is overpenetration a problem? Yes. However, FBI stats show that in police shootings the hit ratio is 12 percent. That means 88 percent of bullets fired by police officers go flying off into the distance somewhere. I seriously doubt that non-commissioned people have a better hit ratio. So misses are a much more serious problem than overpenetration.
 
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I think it's a risk; it does occasionally happen as a poster above noted. To me it's another consideration in the category of the fourth rule: be sure of your target and what's around it.

It does seem like an expanding bullet would destroy more tissue and make a bigger permanet would channel, but maybe not. I've read that Di Maio quote before. Human tissue must be amazingly elastic. In .45 acp, Taurus Hex reportedlyexpands to more than .80 inches, but apparently makes a considerably smaller permanent channel becauuse the copper tines are not sharp and tissue wraps back around it after the bullet has passed.

Still, I carry jhp, but now that I think about it, the main reason is to prevent overpenetration, not in hopes of delivering a devastating blow.

Take that chain of logic further and you come to one advantage of .45: if it failed to expand you'd get two .45 holes, each bigger than what you'd get with a smaller round. Also at 800fps it might pose less of overpenetration threat compared to a 9 mm +p, for instance.
 
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I read some where and can't recall it right now that in police shooting something like 300 people where shot that didn't need to be shot and that armed CCW holders in the same number of shootings had only hit 30 people. I don't remember the exact amount of shooting that they checked but I believe it was over a number of years that they looked at. This tells me that the old saying that the best place to be whe the police are shooting is right in front of them. But not to offend any police officers out here is I know a number of them that practice very often and a larger number of them that don't ever practice at all in fact many of them only shot their weapon once a year when they have to qualify and thats all the sheriff's deptment where I live only has to qualify once a year and does not require their officers to shot anymore then that .Which is kind of scary to me. Yes I worry about over penatration more then misses. Reason being is I try to practice once a week if not more and shoot somewhere in the neighborhood of close to 1500 to 2000 rounds a month with all my classes I teach or just out having some fun with my son and even then I never target practice but try to practice the way I would fight if nessesary. If any of this makes sense to you all. Kurt P. Be safe out there.
 

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A few things to consider.... if your walking into a fire fight, your first choice is rifle, not hand gun...then the question of over penetration does not come into play...too often we read all the "after the fact" data....and seam compelled to come to some meaningful conclusion i.e. Miami.. the conclusion, we need more penetration, missing the fact, and point, and difference, between a stopping shot, and a death shot...one round in the head...and Miami would not be the stink it has become. Hitting someone, not of your target is not good...period. Thinking you are setting the scene of a shoot...is foolish...they happen where they happen ...a shoot is dangerous, to you, your target, and anyone near...a bullet striking bone, many still over penetrate, same as a designed non-penetrating round...no guarantees!!! nothing is that simple. If you make up your mind, you can find tons of data to suppot your belief...sometimes all data, and theory and 35 cents....is still only worth 35 cents.... Personally I want penetration, I want more power, and if it blows threw, I will deal with the consequences....if you know, your walking into a firefight, its best to go in, with as many things on your side as possible....the importance is walk away, alive..... from the fire fight. ........pax
 
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Gents,

Personally, I don't give a hoot whether I shoot hollow points or ball ammo. Only hits count.
An noted above, a number of police shootings have had a tremendous number of misses. I know of a number of cases, here in Oregon, where officers fired in excess of 30 rounds that resulted in the perp getting a single flesh wound to the arm. Portland just had a similar incident.
From the legal standpoint using high grad hollow points can win you points in court, if needed. You paid good money to avoid that happening, but medical staff will honestly tell jurors it's a crap shoot(no pun intended). You are responsible for your misses and those that over penetrate.
I'm tired of the Miami fiasco still being pointed out. Winchester's Silvertip performed EXACTLY as designed in the cross body shot on Michael Plaxco. It was a non-survivable wound, but failed to incapacitate immediately.
Overall this was an FBI screw up of MASSIVE proportions. The OIC's should have known better and had everyone in vests(they were in the trunk) and trained in felony car stops. What resulted was something from a Keystone Cops cartoon and good men lost their lives.
The FBI, of course, laid the issue squarely at the foot of the Silvertip round.
I've digressed a little...guess you hit a hot spot.
In short, you shoot it, you own it!
Wes
 

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"It was a non-survivable wound, but failed to incapacitate immediately."

Actually, Platt probably could have -- and would have -- survived if he hadn't been bound and determined to go down fighting. If he and Matix had surrendered immediately, a first class ER and emergency surgery could have saved him. Matix would have died no matter what, though he was seen functioning in an apparently rational and controlled manner even after the devastating head wound he suffered.

But they didn't give up, and both died.

I heard lots of negative things about the Silvertip loads, mostly based on what people said about the Miami shooting.

Since then I've read the autopsy reports and have here in front of me the reports and the photos, both external and post autopsy, and having seen all this, I would not feel undergunned were I carrying the Silvertips. In the case of Platt the bullet which pierced his chest and almost made it to his heart actually performed incredibly well. Had it not been for the right arm that got in the way, the slug would have torn his heart to pieces. Even with the primary wound to the arm, though, the Silvertip did a tremendous amount of damage in the chest cavity. He'd have needed a very quick trip to a very good trauma unit in order to make it.
 

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In answer to Steve's question : Overpenetration: A Real Threat or Overexaggerated?

My answer would be "Yes" ;)

Overpenetration is a real threat, but yes, it is often overexaggerated.

The problem of danger to bystanders does not go away with a bullet that will stay in the human body. To pick on my own side of the house, some 82% of rounds fired by Law Enforcement nationally, miss the intended subject...no amount of penetration limitation is going to solve that threat to the general populace!

Leyland has accurately reported on Dr. Anderson's work, what is not specifically listed there is that one of those S.T. penetrated from 8 to 9" and the other one from 4 to 6", neither of them hit bone apparently (not 100% sure, it is just not listed). That is a far cry from the 11-12" of penetration they give in 10% gelatin. About 1/2 of the .38 +P bullets penetrated only 1" or less in a straight line - they hit bone (they did penetrate some unimportant flesh on the tangent).

I consider that a wake up call. Bullets perform in a *range* of parameters not an *average*...you never know what your bullet will do, but don't be counting on text book performance. Any caliber, any situation, any design. However some tend to perform in a more consistent manner than others.

Interesting topic, as usual!

Onward,
Jim
 

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Interesting question, but I think the answer is "unknowable." Whether you need to use ammunition with a high degree of penetration or not depends on the circumstances of a violent confrontation, and generally one is not going to know what those circumstances are until it one is in the middle of it.

A couple high profile police-involved shootings come to mind. Trying to disregard the political sides of these events, or whether the guys being shot at needed to be shot, they may illustrate problem over expansion vs penetration...

- In New York, there was the incident where four policeman, using departmental Win 115 gr FMJ (yes, ball ammo), fired 41 times in a very short amount of time at Amadou Diallo. Massad Ayoob wrote about this http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0BTT/is_149_24/ai_65910628 and noted that of the 41 shots, only 19 were hits (misses, are, of course, a problem of neither expansion nor penetration). Of the hits, only about two hit where they had immediate affect (the spine). In a later article (not the one I linked to) Mr. Ayoob noted that a number of the hits just went on through the body, and of course the rounds that missed also had little effect, so in keeping with their training to shoot until the threat was neutralized, the cops kept shooting, which contributed to the high round count. Anyone standing behind Mr. Diallo would've had a bad day, but I believe he was standing in doorway or entryway of somekind, with no bystanders. So here's a case where non-expanding ammunition didn't provide incapacitating wounds, and penetrated too much, which may have contributed to "not stopping the threat immediately" and posing a danger to anyone in the background.

- Second incident that comes to mind is a more recent shooting out in Compton (Los Angeles), where 10 sheriff's deputies fired about 120 rounds at a guy in a vehicle. Some shots hit houses in the area, one deputy was hit once in the b-proof vest, and the suspect was hit only four times, and apparently not severely at that. Thus it would appear that most of the shots hit the vehicle, but only four made it to the suspect. (Possible that some others went thru the vehicle but didn't hit the occupant I guess). Here's a case where I think there probably wasn't enough penetration, and again in keeping with training, the deputies kept shooting until the vehicle finally stopped (this last point was not in any of the news articles I read, it is my own supposition).

So how do you know in advance which you are going to need? You don't, is the answer. Even if you have one magazine of super-expando hollowpoints and one of maximo-penetrator, it seems likely that you will not have time to figure out which you need and get it in your gun (Murphy's law - whichever you need will not be in the gun).

I think Mr. Camp's question about penetration may have been more oriented towards penetration of the body, not barriers, but I think my thesis still holds - it is not knowable which is better until it's too late. The best you can do is decide which situation is more likely and load up for that.

I, as a non-policeman, think it is less likely that I will be involved with shooting thru barriers, and given I am in Texas, heavy winter clothing is not common. So, for self-defense I will go with ammo that tends to exand more and sacrifice penetration if I have to. If I take up feral hog hunting, which has tickled my fancy on occasion, I will definitely be looking for something with more penetrating power!

Anyway, thems my thoughts. YMMV.

elb
 

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ELB;

That was a very thoughtful post. To it I might add that from my review of many gunfights the most common barrier I have seen is an arm or a weapon...those are common no matter what your job description.

Best regards,
Jim
 

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Interesting thread. Been looking through some of the studies today. As a "civilian," (remember, cops are civilians too) it's unlikely that, per ELBs post, that barrier penetration (which I define as vehicle, building walls or parapets) is going to be much of an issue; matter of fact, probably best for most of us to simply retreat under cover or concealment if possible, as we don't all have the castle doctrine in Florida. Dr. Fackler talked about the penetration necessary to defeat the human structure, including arms, and with the modern frangible hollowpoint, seems to this observer that sufficient mass, say 150gr., at sufficient speed, at least 1100fps, should be employed. Of course, .45ACP 230 @ 850 will work too, mass compensating for the lower velocity. Many decades of after-action reports by both military and police is far more illustrative about what works and why, then say, Marshall/Sanow's "statistics," when the latter is constructed to support their light bullet/high velocity prediliction. Placement is still key, and yet the bullet must still have enough additional primary penetration, and I agree about the 14" minimum the other respndent speaks of, to ensure that a stop will occur. It's one thing if 9mm 115+P+ works perfectly on a "broadside" angle, it might be quite another when your opponent is oblique using Weaver which could increase the needed minimum penetration by a third. Letting air in and blood out, lots of it, is why Elmer Keith always advocated big bores! Apologies in advance for all the Hi-Power lovers on the board.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Hello. Been some interesting posts and while I agree with having some concerns with underpenetration on some rapid expanders in 9mm, I've also seen that there are some very good 9mm loads available that eliminate this concern. With several loads that come to mind, underpenetration should not be a concern.

Best.
 

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My take on overpenetration is that it depends on the situation. I use a .45 with FMJ ammo, as I've not yet found a JHP load that I like and can afford, though I just picked up a case of MFS (Hungarian) 230 JHP +P which I plan to use as soon as I can put 150rds downrange to proof it (I always test ammo before I use it for real). I the urban environment in which I live the FMJ might (MIGHT!) cut through the scumbag and endanger the neighboors, which is why I plan my home-defense to minimize the danger. I would consider it an even bigger issue if my dwelling were of less solid construction (trailer or manufactured home). Also, a large number of feral dogs in my area might mean shooting at a target that will absorb less energy and therefore pose a higher risk of overpenetration (which is why I'm just itching to get the JHP's online). However, I don't consider the issue significant enough to risk using untested ammo to reduce it, instead I keep a lot of liability insurance and work to minimize the risk should I need to use the weapon.

As for being overhyped, sure, but most of the people I see doing it are connected to or talking about the Law Enforcement community, and given the litigious society we live in the LEO's have reason to worry.
 
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