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  1. #1
    Marksman Vanguard.45's Avatar
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    The myth/ truth of "WASTED ENERGY"

    On many of the gun forums, whenever a discussion of sufficient penetration of bullets vs. the overpenetration of bullets on a body arises, I often see posts similar to the following:

    "The bullet is transferring a tremendous amount of energy into the target as it decelerates in the body. For me over penetration is considered wasted energy since the bullets energy is not competely transferred into the target."


    One camp, reflected in the quote above, seems to believe that a bullet which penetrates deeply, but not through and through, somehow "dumps" more energy into a body since the round stops before exiting.

    The other camp, the one to which I tend to subscribe, believes that a bullet which blows through a target tends to dump lots of energy all the way through the target and also leaves another hole through which more blood/ air might leak out of the goblin.

    So, in your opinion, which is it? Does the 44 Magnum tend to transfer more energy to a target during a "through and through" than a .45ACP coming to rest in the body? Or, does the deceleration of the round somehow contribute to some sort of "energy dump" due to the round coming to a stop?

    My opinion is that the 44 Magnum ripping through a person would tend to send a shockwave through them from front to back and would continue to have energy emitting from it as it continued on its merry way past the target! Yes, the 44magnum has more energy to give to targets past your primary one, but isn't a through and through the epitome of the maximum transfer of energy to that primary target resulting in the round continuing to destroy tissue all the way through???

    I am not here to address the issue of environmental considerations (i.e. bystanders hit by overpenetrating bullets) in this discussion, because, of course, one must consider this in choosing a defensive handgun. However, I am simply wanting to talk about the myth/ truth of this idea of "wasted" energy or bullets coming to rest in the body somehow "dumping" more energy into the body because they have come to rest.

    What are your thoughts? If you are being charged by a 300 lb. goblin and have the .45 in one hand and the 44 Magnum in the other, which do you feel confident would do more to slow him down/ dump more energy into him?

    Vanguard.45
    Picking up the 1911 feels like shaking hands with John Wayne.

  2. #2
    Grandmaster DeadeyeChrista'sdad's Avatar
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    I'd be happy with either. That said, I belong to the through and through camp, and do consider over penetration to be not my problem if things are already bad enough that I have to squeeze the trigger. I don't mean to sound reckless, but I definitely want two holes in my bad guys.
    It is good to have friends when you need them, even if they are only in your head

  3. #3
    Grandmaster Bigtanker's Avatar
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    My uneducated opinion.

    Bullet "energy" is kinda like stopping power. Doesn't matter. As long as it penetrates deep enough into the target, hitting vital things, it has enough energy.

    More a little later when I have time.


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  4. #4
    Grandmaster BigBoxaJunk's Avatar
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    I don't think I'll ever stop worrying more about being able to have my bullets hit where I want them to than to worry about what they do when they get there.

    But most here on INGO are probably much better shots then I am.
    Is it me? It's them, right?

  5. #5
    "Energy dump" is BS and is not creating any sort of "extra" wounding in most tissue. In terms of handgun rounds, temporary stretch cavity is just that, temporary, and is like you pinching your skin and lifting it up. It moved, it deformed for a bit, but then it just snapped back and left no sign.

    In short, you're asking the wrong question. It's very much like stating car #1 has 350 ft/lb of torque, car #2 has 500 ft/lb of torque, who wins the drag race? You can't tell with just the "energy" and no other information. Equally, you can't tell which bullet is more damaging based on "energy" numbers, let alone some notion it "dumps" energy into tissue and damages it.

    To steal from DocGKR:

    Physics. Its real. Kinetic energy is simply a measure of the work potential of a projectile. As noted above, although part of the equation, kinetic energy in and of itself it is not a predictor of incapacitation effectiveness. Recall:

    -- Bullets cannot physically knock down a person by the force of their impact.
    -- Kinetic energy or momentum transfer from a projectile to tissue is not a wounding mechanism.
    -- The amount of "energy" deposited or momentum transferred to a body by a projectile is not directly proportional to the amount of tissue damage and is not a measure of wounding power.
    -- Wounds of vastly differing severity can be inflicted by bullets with identical kinetic energy and momentum.

    What a bullet does inside the body--whether it yaws, deforms, or fragments, how deeply it penetrates, and what tissue it passes through is what determines wound severity, not KE!
    Your absolutely ideal bullet would penetrate completely through your target then immediately stop. There is no benefit, from a wounding perspective, to leaving the bullet in the body. The flip side is most of the bleeding does stay inside the body, it doesn't gush out. An extra hole on the back isn't twice as much bleeding.
    My nuts are the great uniter.

  6. #6
    Master
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    When trying to get a rem 700 classic in 17 rem to shoot well. (Had 17 caliber chatter tooling marks in rifling) the idea was just in the first range of thought. Save the hides one hole in pelt. On fox and coyotes it did seem to plant well hit ones right in the tracks. In on one side and not out the opposite side. Massive bullet expansion also. I would say that when dealing with very small calibers traveling very fast the all energy expended into the animal seemed to work very well. The rifle had horrid copper fouling would shoot great for 7-10 shoots then you would have to clean clean clean out the copper. Wisdom might say that a 22-250 could do so on a wolf size animal. Maybe the 25-06 on say a pronghorn ect.

    The 222 rem I have never found the prefect one hole in loading for coyotes not to mention a smaller fox. Aside from a few shot that have hit high around the spine seldom have the coyotes drop on the spot like the 17 rem but the round is no where as explosive or quickly expanding as the 17. Normal for the 222 are through shots a jump a small run and a roll when they pile up.

    Now in self defense never really though about it. Pull trigger until threat is eleminated.

  7. #7
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    Beyond Blue Eyes said it well. The fact a bullet travels through a body has little bearing on the damage it really causes. IE: The .223 / 5.56 round is a classic example. If the bullet is not tumbling, has a small diameter and traveling below the speed of sound, it may cause very little tissue / organ damage, if it stays in or exits the body. That is why they designed the bullet to tumble. However a high speed rifle can cause a great deal of damage due to the "shock wave" generated by the bullet even without tumbling or expanding. Another issue is the proper expansion of hollow point and other hunting / self protection cartridges. These are normally designed to do great damage by expanding so that a larger diameter wound cavity is created causing greater tissue damage and bleeding. So bullet design, diameter, velocity, expansion all enter into the equation, most of these are far more important than whether the bullet exits or remains in the body.
    Life member NRA - FFL -03 (Collector) life LTCH

  8. #8
    Grandmaster oldpink's Avatar
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    The idea of hydrostatic shock with conventional handgun rounds (the above cited .44 Magnum) is a moot point because of the relatively low velocity of bullets from such rounds.
    Compared to centerfire rifle bullets moving along in the 2500fps or above range, handgun bullets are slowpokes, so they depend almost entirely upon the crush cavity created by the mechanical displacement of tissues from the expanding bullet passing through them.
    Since you mentioned the theoretical advantage of .44 Magnum over .45 ACP, you might be interested to know that the statistics indicate the best .45 ACP loads rate very near the top (90%+) range for one-shot stops, while I'm not aware of any .44 Magnum round that gets much beyond the 85% one-shot stop statistic.

  9. #9
    Expert NIFT's Avatar
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    [QUOTE=BehindBlueI's;7180196"Energy dump" is BS and is not creating any sort of "extra" wounding in most tissue. In terms of handgun rounds, temporary stretch cavity is just that, temporary, and is like you pinching your skin and lifting it up. It moved, it deformed for a bit, but then it just snapped back and left no sign.

    In short, you're asking the wrong question. It's very much like stating car #1 has 350 ft/lb of torque, car #2 has 500 ft/lb of torque, who wins the drag race? You can't tell with just the "energy" and no other information. Equally, you can't tell which bullet is more damaging based on "energy" numbers, let alone some notion it "dumps" energy into tissue and damages it.

    To steal from DocGKR:
    Physics. Its real. Kinetic energy is simply a measure of the work potential of a projectile. As noted above, although part of the equation, kinetic energy in and of itself it is not a predictor of incapacitation effectiveness. Recall:

    -- Bullets cannot physically knock down a person by the force of their impact.
    -- Kinetic energy or momentum transfer from a projectile to tissue is not a wounding mechanism.
    -- The amount of "energy" deposited or momentum transferred to a body by a projectile is not directly proportional to the amount of tissue damage and is not a measure of wounding power.
    -- Wounds of vastly differing severity can be inflicted by bullets with identical kinetic energy and momentum.

    What a bullet does inside the body--whether it yaws, deforms, or fragments, how deeply it penetrates, and what tissue it passes through is what determines wound severity, not KE!

    Your absolutely ideal bullet would penetrate completely through your target then immediately stop. There is no benefit, from a wounding perspective, to leaving the bullet in the body. The flip side is most of the bleeding does stay inside the body, it doesn't gush out. An extra hole on the back isn't twice as much bleeding. [/QUOTE]

    BehindBlueI's got it right, and the OP is very short on knowledge of terminal ballistics.

    Knock-down power is a myth.
    Stopping power, synonym to knock-down power, likewise, is a myth.
    Hydrostatic shock is a myth. Hydro means water, and static means at rest or constant motion. Regardless, anything that smacks of ballistic pressure waves has been proven nonsense.
    Kinetic Energy is a mathematical construct and is not a wounding mechanism. On top of that, kinetic energy is a lousy proxy for wounding. More kinetic energy can, easily be associated with reduced wounding, and increases wounding is, often, associated with lower kinetic energy.
    Last edited by NIFT; 07-30-2017 at 18:42.
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  10. #10
    Marksman JAL's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BehindBlueI's View Post
    "Energy dump" is BS and is not creating any sort of "extra" wounding in most tissue. In terms of handgun rounds, temporary stretch cavity is just that, temporary, and is like you pinching your skin and lifting it up. It moved, it deformed for a bit, but then it just snapped back and left no sign.

    In short, you're asking the wrong question. It's very much like stating car #1 has 350 ft/lb of torque, car #2 has 500 ft/lb of torque, who wins the drag race? You can't tell with just the "energy" and no other information. Equally, you can't tell which bullet is more damaging based on "energy" numbers, let alone some notion it "dumps" energy into tissue and damages it.

    Your absolutely ideal bullet would penetrate completely through your target then immediately stop. There is no benefit, from a wounding perspective, to leaving the bullet in the body. The flip side is most of the bleeding does stay inside the body, it doesn't gush out. An extra hole on the back isn't twice as much bleeding.
    This is why I concern myself more with shot placement with a good JHP than whether I'm using a .380 ACP, 9mm parabellum, .45 ACP, .45 Colt, or a .357 magnum. My favorite handguns are the 1911 .45 ACP 230 grain and .357 magnum 158 grain but the smaller 9mm (124 grain) and .380 ACP (90 grain) will do just fine. The .45 Colt with 225 grain Hornady LEVERevolution JHP is growing on me even though it's a single action wheel gun.

    OTOH, at 4-7 yards, a 12 gauge with 2-3/4 inch #4 buckshot anywhere in the thorax should end it. One shot. Immediately. Approximately two magazines of .22LR fired all at once . . . plus the wad as a bonus.

    John


       
    United States Army, Retired

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