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Thread: Penetration at all cost?

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    Default Penetration at all cost?

    I have been reading the many threads in this website about bear protection advices and it was truly a pleasure to read.

    Based on conventional wisdom, terminal ballistics for antipersonnel ammo need to dissipate all or most of its energy into the target to be most effective; better still, if the round becomes unstable upon entering the target and tumbles, the amount of damage would be even more devastating.

    Having said this and reading Garrett's articles in his website (Garrett's Cartridge), it appears that penetration is everything at all costs.
    One thing I am not understanding is that his idea is to make the rounds go through the large cape buffalo, bear, or whatever instead of allowing the round to dissipate all of its energy into the animal. In one of the African Safari stories in Garrett's website, there is even a cape buffalo that was shot under its chin and the bullet passed thru the animal and exited from the rear.That seem to run contrary to the way we understand when we're discussing antipersonnel ammo.

    I understand that his intention is to break bones when the bullet meets with bones but isn't it better for the bullet to be unstable (i.e. tumble) after it passes the thick skin and fat layers?

    Any thots?

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    Welcome art to the forum - good bunch of guys and gals on here for sure!
    I have never shot a grizzly bear so my opinions are purely thoughts. I would think the thought process for a bullet that will hold together and pass as far thru as possible would have more possibilities of breaking bones. To break both shoulders on a big bear and disable him would likely be safer than taking out heart or lungs which the bear could still have time to travel into thick cover or munch on the hunter. Even a bullet designed to stay together and penetrate will be lethal if it pokes a hole in the heart or lungs.
    It seems most of the big bear guides and stories relate to first taking the bears ability to move away as best as possible then putting more rounds into the bear. Hopefully I have stated my thoughts well?
    Kinda like you can shoot holes in a vehicles gas tank but it can still travel quite a ways, break the axles and it won't go as far....
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    Smokey covered a lot of it!

    Another thing you have to take into account is the fact most humans are made out of the same stuff and our vitals are approx the same depth inside us. So when a manufacturer designs a bullet to stop humans it is easier to come up with one that will penetrate the vitals on 90 percent of humans perfectly and expend all of its energy.

    When designing bullets for game animals the majority of us hunt a variety of big game with one caliber so you need one bullet that will work on all of them. The other issue I see is the fact you can be shooting a big game animal from a lot of different angles unlike a human so penetration is going to vary even more so.

    The last aspect I look at is I like having two holes for blood to run out of so penetration is a requirement.

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    Thanks for the response. I like your illustration about gas-tank/axle. It's picture perfect.

    So, if the same theory is applied to antipersonnel ammo, would it not also be good to disable the human with broken bones and stop him at his track than cause lots of internal disturbance among the innards, which may take longer to disable him? In fact, that was exactly the issue that was brought up by our boys fighting on foreign soil shooting the M855 62gr 5.56mm ammo. Compared to the M193, the M855 is highly stable after entering the body and exits quickly and intact. In those cases, the target can still function and bring harm to our soldiers.

    I am trying to understand how the terminal ballistics for bears and humans can be so different. I do not see much difference in their ends because both wants to neutralize the target in its track ASAP. Please help me understand.

    Thanks!
    Last edited by arthury; 06-04-2012 at 07:58. Reason: spelling

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    Quote Originally Posted by broncoformudv View Post
    [...]
    Another thing you have to take into account is the fact most humans are made out of the same stuff and our vitals are approx the same depth inside us. So when a manufacturer designs a bullet to stop humans it is easier to come up with one that will penetrate the vitals on 90 percent of humans perfectly and expend all of its energy.
    Yes, I agree.

    Quote Originally Posted by broncoformudv View Post
    The other issue I see is the fact you can be shooting a big game animal from a lot of different angles unlike a human so penetration is going to vary even more so.
    Why is this so?

    If you consider military sniping, it is pretty much like long range hunting. The target is usually shot when it becomes stationary and the choice of the shot is picked by the shooter when the optimal angle presents itself.

    On the other hand, the self-protection scenario when handling a charging bear vs engaging enemies in a shootout, it's pretty much similar: target is forward facing (usually).

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    I think the military has had its hands tied by NATO and others that restrict the use of bullets that cause massive collateral damage inside the body as it is considered inhumane.... Plus if a soldier is wounded it takes more support personel to help get that person off the frontlines vs one that was killed so you tie up more of the enemy with wounded only soldiers...
    Humans also are more frail than animals in general so for hunting it takes more to stop a critter..... Kick me in the nads and I am done for - sneak up and do that to BigFoot and your gettin a butt whoopin!
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    Quote Originally Posted by arthury View Post
    I am trying to understand how the terminal ballistics for bears and humans can be so different.
    Humans are bipeds- you have to break the pelvis or femurs to really take the wheels out from under us. Break a guy's shoulder and he can still run away, or perhaps shoot back. Since we walk upright, a shot that would break the pelvis would seldom involve center of the body where the pump room is.

    Humans are also pretty lightly built when all things are considered and in human conflicts overpenetration can have unwanted consequences. Humans also present a pretty uniform target angle- we're about as thick from side to side and front to back. A quadruped can present widely varying target angles to reach vital organs... a moose or bear is a lot longer than it is thick and there is much more variation within the species than in typical humans.

    Ammo that is appropriate for shooting and stopping people has about as much in common with shooting bears as it does with shooting woodchucks. Probably best not to draw very many parallels between them.
    "I do not deal in hypotheticals. The world, as it is, is vexing enough..." Col. Stonehill, True Grit

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    Quote Originally Posted by arthury View Post
    Yes, I agree.



    Why is this so?

    If you consider military sniping, it is pretty much like long range hunting. The target is usually shot when it becomes stationary and the choice of the shot is picked by the shooter when the optimal angle presents itself.

    On the other hand, the self-protection scenario when handling a charging bear vs engaging enemies in a shootout, it's pretty much similar: target is forward facing (usually).
    You can not bring snipers their ammo and weapons into this comparison because that is an entirely different game all together.

    I did not realize you were just talking about dangerous game animals charging the hunter or hunted, I thought you were generalizing about hunters desire to have a bullet cartridge combination that gave the maximum amount of penetration.

    Yes a bear charging you is similar in some respects to a human coming at you in that both are facing you but after that the similarities end. A bear for one moves a LOT faster and has a up and down movement to it and its vital zone is much smaller than a humans.

    A bears vital zone is much better protected than that of a human. To reach a bears brain you have to punch through a severly sloped and thick skull, plus the brain is small. A human as a square skull that is thin and has a large brain. The heart and lungs of a bear are behind some serious muscle, fat, and bone not to mention deeper within the thoracic cavity than that of a human. Once again you need something with more penetration than you would on a human.

    If I am shooting at a charging bear with a high caliber rifle or magnum pistol using a bullet designed specifically to penetrate and I miss my mark (the brain cavity of the skull) the bullet has a good chance of continuing on and hitting something else that might stop it right there or slow it down so I can get another shot off. If I was using a bullet that expanded it might stop right there and not give me that second chance.

    Another thing you have to take into consideration is the difference between a black bear and a grizzly/brown bear. These two animals are built entirely different from one another. What would be sufficient to protect you in the event of a black bear is not going to do the job properly with a grizzly bear.

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    Quote Originally Posted by arthury View Post
    I have been reading the many threads in this website about bear protection advices and it was truly a pleasure to read.

    Based on conventional wisdom, terminal ballistics for antipersonnel ammo need to dissipate all or most of its energy into the target to be most effective; better still, if the round becomes unstable upon entering the target and tumbles, the amount of damage would be even more devastating.

    Having said this and reading Garrett's articles in his website (Garrett's Cartridge), it appears that penetration is everything at all costs.
    One thing I am not understanding is that his idea is to make the rounds go through the large cape buffalo, bear, or whatever instead of allowing the round to dissipate all of its energy into the animal. In one of the African Safari stories in Garrett's website, there is even a cape buffalo that was shot under its chin and the bullet passed thru the animal and exited from the rear.That seem to run contrary to the way we understand when we're discussing antipersonnel ammo.

    I understand that his intention is to break bones when the bullet meets with bones but isn't it better for the bullet to be unstable (i.e. tumble) after it passes the thick skin and fat layers?

    Any thots?
    You're covering a lot of topics. For your last paragraph, it isn't "better" for a bullet to go unstable after entry. The unstable "tumbling" effect in the original M16 bullet was actually a side "benefit" that allowed a FMJ bullet to come apart and produce a shrapnel effect that created a larger wound than a "stable" FMJ bullet would create. The later bullets were developed to give the M16/M4 better barrier penetration (ie, shooting through windshields, engine blocks) to disable vehicles. That then became a problem with penetration of the enemy without stopping him.

    The Marines are now fielding what they call an OTM design which addresses both problems:

    http://www.marinecorpstimes.com/news..._ammo_021510w/

    Everyone has an opinion on bullet design and what the bullet is supposed to do once it hits the target, but most game bullet manufacturers strive to have bullet penetrate in a straight line (not tumble), expand, and drive through the animal, creating a wound channel which will cause it to bleed out expeditiously. Solids, like Garrett's are made to penetrate as far as possible, breaking any bones in the way, and creating a wound channel on the way through.

    Solids are mostly used in large caliber guns - expansion isn't necessary since the bullet is already quite large. You'll notice the calibers that Garrett loads for: 45 and 44. That's why so many like the 1911 over the Beretta M9. No expansion required.

    As others have pointed out, there are cartridges that are perfect for shooting a grizzly, but aren't good "stopping" calibers.

    Terminal ballistics for bears and humans aren't all that different. You just need to rethink your questions. Do you want it stopped right now? If that were the issue, every soldier would carry a Barrett 50 cal. Kind of the same for bears. A 30-06 with good bullets will take anything here. Lots of people carry 300 win mags, but I think mostly for the increased range. I haven't hunted bears, but as Phil Shoemaker says in his tag line,
    Anyone who claims the 30-06 is ineffective has either not tried one, or is unwittingly commenting on their own marksmanship
    .
    These days, there are many very well constructed premium "controlled expansion" bullets that can work as well or better than a solid. African PHs recommend them for Cape Buffalo over solids for their clients.

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    Please don't apply any military application, be it accidental or intended, to any situation where we are hunting or defending our life against great beast with a handgun.

    I 110% agree with the Garrett philosophy. ( It was mine before it was his.)
    Is there nothing so sacred on this earth that you aren't willing to kill or die for?



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    In a nutshell, as far as I'm concerned, 2 holes bleed better than 1, and preferably with as much damage as possible between the 2 said holes.

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    Comparing a person to a brown bear is like comparing a hum vee to an Abrams. You have to get through the frontal armor of a brown bear in order to destroy whats inside. Lightly constructed tumbly bullets frequently don't make it past the armor. People are a lot lighter constructed and go down pretty easy in comparision. Even a 22LR will get to the heart of a human. I don't believe in penetration at all costs as a 30/06 with ball is a very good penetrator but a very slow killer. With a 220gr RN it still penetrates well but also expands and tears up a lot of tissue. With a 130 gr HP it will kill thin skinned animals very well if the bullet can get to the vitals. Different bullets for different jobs.

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    A really important point about penetration is straight line penetration. Some FMJ spitzers will veer off the intended path. Some times that's better (in case of a bad shot placement) but generally we want straight through penetration with a large exit hole. Expending all the energy inside is ....what's the word I'm looking for here......horse****!
    Is there nothing so sacred on this earth that you aren't willing to kill or die for?



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    Quote Originally Posted by arthury View Post
    I am trying to understand how the terminal ballistics for bears and humans can be so different. I do not see much difference in their ends because both wants to neutralize the target in its track ASAP. Please help me understand.

    Thanks!
    It's my understanding that the difference is in expected penetration.

    Reportedly, BEAR flesh is reely tuff, and we err on the side of penetration for caution that the bullet will not penetrate ENUFF, to reach a vital area. In which case, we can get, got by the bear. So, penetration is considered essential.

    With handguns, particularly the Beeg Bore ones, there has apparently been a lot learned recently, not only in accuracy etc. but what kind of bullet penetrates, AND kills the best.

    We are told that Handguns kill differently than does a high velocity rifle.

    Since the velocity in a handgun is limited, we need to think in terms that were common in the Black Powder era, where that was the case with both rifles and handguns. (To add power/potential killing power, add caliber and bullet weight.)

    It's a good question you have, and worth considering.

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    Art Alphin gives a pretty good explanation of balancing penetration vs. expansion on different types of game on this page...http://a-squareco.com/Triad.html
    "I do not deal in hypotheticals. The world, as it is, is vexing enough..." Col. Stonehill, True Grit

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    Woodleigh has some interesting theory about deep penetration and they have new bullet line called "hydrostatically stabilized" bullets.

    Look around their website and they have a pretty cool video of it in action.

    http://www.woodleighbullets.com.au/p...lly-stabilised

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    I'm with Murphy! A 22 will expend all it's energy.........I'm for a big entrance hole and a bigger exit hole!

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    Excellent discussion as usual. This website attracts lots of knowledgeable, calm and helpful people. Once again, thanks to all who contributed!

    Great points and definitely worth summarizing and putting it into a writeup.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Murphy View Post
    A really important point about penetration is straight line penetration. Some FMJ spitzers will veer off the intended path. Some times that's better (in case of a bad shot placement) but generally we want straight through penetration with a large exit hole. Expending all the energy inside is ....what's the word I'm looking for here......horse****!
    When is it good for a bullet (I'm assuming spitzer geometry) to veer off?

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    Just like I said. If you make a lousy shot into the guts, and the bullet veers off course into the heart..

    Normally it is never what we want because there is the presumption that the shot was well aimed into the vitals and we can never predict where the bullet will go or what course it will take.

    We also cannot predict or depend entirely on how much or at what point in the course a bullet will expand nor can we predict with any degree of certainty at what velocity the bullet will expand, particularly with handgun velocity, so we opt for no expansion and a bullet designed to remain stable after impact. If a heavy bullet remains point on in travel it will go in a straight line and make a hole through the target. Often this is the best theory when hunting larger dangerous game because a single large bore hole where we aimed it is much more likely to dispatch or disable the animal than anything else. this is true for rifle and handgun and is the reasons behind a non expanding solid.

    When a small inadequate caliber is used and we luck out and get a quick kill (usually in a smaller animal) we delve into the causes and find the bullet did not expand, lost stability and coursed through the vitals killing quickly. We then postulate a theory that it is a super effective killer beyond its reliable capabilities. This is the case with the 5.56 and the tumbling, breaking, understabilized (1 in 12 twist) 55 grain bullet. It would be sheer lunacy to hunt dangerous game with such a combination yet I've heard of those who actually believe it to be effective.

    The postulate that when all energy is expended inside an animal that the bullet is most effective. Absolutely nothing could be more ridiculous. If I shoot a 7mm STW with an 87 grain bullet into the shoulder of a Cape Buffalo, all the energy will for sure be expended in the animal but the net result would be one pissed off buffalo. We cannot program a bullet to expand at impact and then travel to the off side hide and stop. And why would you want to? An exit hole is always desired. An exit hole is almost always bigger and an exit hole always allows the loss of more blood quickly. This blood loss is the key to a quick demise of man or beast, try it some time. Large ragged holes through the vitals are what kills quickly and gets your butt out of trouble when hunting dangerous game.

    Spitzer bullets are designed to be aerodynamic. The travel through the air with minimal loss of velocity. This bullet will be much more effective if it will expand and shorten at impact, without loosing weight, so the momentum and stability will be retained and penetration will be deep. Heavy, hard cast, big bore handgun bullets are effective, oil barrel shaped solids. They retain their impact shape, (no expansion), they retain their weight and the flat nose shape tears and destroys tissue as it penetrates deep. Penetration is a function of weight, sectional density (Weight in pounds /diameter squared), bullet design (substance and shape) and velocity.
    The only sure way to get two holes is with dependable penetration.

    Quote Originally Posted by arthury View Post
    When is it good for bullet (I'm assuming spritzer geometry) to veer off?
    Is there nothing so sacred on this earth that you aren't willing to kill or die for?



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