Saturday, August 16, 2008

Pistol lethality, and trancendent things.

Most important for a pistol round is hitting the target. You get zero to negative points for all rounds that miss.

Second most important is penetration. The important bits are at the back, and you may have to shoot through the bad guy’s arms.

Third most important is the size of the round, and the important parameter is area diameter squared divided by 4 times 3.14…. Because the target is probably movin, you don’t know exactly what bit of the body the bullet will destroy, so the advantage is to the bullet that destroys a little more.

The.380 is functionally the same as .357, .38 special, or 9mm. between 0.355 and 0.357 inches diameter. The .380 doesn’t have a lot of energy, so if your bullet expands, it won’t penetrate. If it penetrates, it must not expand. .357 magnum has more energy, so the bullet can be designed to expand a bit, and will still penetrate enough. A round that starts off at .45 inches diameter, aside from being heavier (which helps penetration) starts off with more area. An expanding .45 round (flying ash tray) can expand to larger than a 12 gauge slug.

Of course the best is not a pistol, but a shotgun. The 12 gauge, with number 1 shot puts (with 3 inch magnums) 25 each thirty caliber pellets through your enemy. That is 25 opportunities to cut a spinal chord.

Lavoisier, the discoverer of Oxygen dabbled in politics during the French Revolution, and was sent to the guillotine. His last experiment was to blink his eyes as long as possible after his head was severed. It took 16 seconds for that head to die, and another 1000 years will not produce another like it.

This was originally posted as a comment here:
http://www.justinbuist.org/blog/2008/08/15/okay-so-380-sucks/#comment-16403

2 Comments:

Anonymous Mazeman said...

And of paramount importance is shot placement.

Tue Aug 19, 09:22:00 PM 2008  
Blogger Don Meaker said...

Not so much as you might think. Of the 100 percent cross section, perhaps 4% is lethal in a short period of time. Of that 4%, you don't know where the spine is going to be between the time the decision is made to shoot, and the time that the bullet arrives. Shooters have some amount of reaction time, and goblins tend to move. If you were shooting a sleeping fellow, marksmanship would be more important.

Tactics are important. Rather than using Jeff Cooper's "double tap" or even the "Mozambique" with two to the chest and then, one more carfully aimed to the head, the right answer is to shoot and keep shooting until your foe goes down.

The spinal chord is about as big around as your little finger. Miss in your estimate of where it is by as little as half an inch, and you miss cutting it. If your enemy moves by as little as half an inch between the time you think the target sights are lined up on the right piece of him, and the time that the bullet hits, and you miss. Then consider what happens when he has his arms in front of him, and you shoot through. Though you can't miss fast enough to win, you can deliver multiple hits quickly enough that you improve your odds of getting a winner.

Spend a little time as a pin setter in an old bowling alley, and you will get an appreciation of how much even a heavy 16 pound ball moves when striking pins. The bullet will often deflect by rather a lot when it hits the remarkably non-homogeneous human body (or animal body, for that matter).

So lets run a budget. for a half inch wide lethal target (spinal chord)
0.1 inch permitted error in aim point selection.
0.1 inch permitted error in marksmanship, vs. point of aim.
0.1 inch permitted error in you pistol sights.
0.1 inch permitted error in target movement after you launch the bullet.
0.1 inch permitted error in bullet deflection

Where the errors of each of thest are less than the budget, I will then agree with you that shot placement is paramount. Where the errors are greater than the budget, shoot, shoot, shoot again, with the largest caliber you can handle. Keep shooting as long as your foe is a threat.

Let me know then you get all your rounds reliably within 0.1 inch of the targets.

Wed Aug 20, 09:37:00 PM 2008  

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