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Thread: Terminal Ballistics - Experience, Experiments, Theories, Etc ...

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    Premium Member MarineHawk's Avatar
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    Default Terminal Ballistics - Experience, Experiments, Theories, Etc ...

    Quote Originally Posted by Smitty of the North View Post
    You DO REALIZE, that this energy figure is meaningless, and you'd probably be better off with the "low-end standard .44 Mag loads". DON'TCHA ????
    Quote Originally Posted by Smitty of the North View Post

    Sorry, I couldn't help it.

    Smitty of the North
    Yes you can.

    I personally would prefer the "low-end standard .44 Mag loads." By "low-end," I certainly did not mean anything disparaging. I was just pointing out that the hottest 10mm loads are almost, but not quite, as powerful (in terms of energy) as the weakest .44 mag loads.

    As to energy being meaningless, I invite you to read the following linked work, which is about 100-150 pages long when printed. It made me rethink my positions and beliefs and change several of my opinions I had held for decades, such as the reasons why a wide meplat bullet may penetrate more than a smaller one, and the impact of hydrodynamic pressure as creating a permanent cavity rather than "hydrostatic shock." The author so comprehensively analyzes every aspect of the terminal effects of bullets, I find him rather convincing on almost every issue. It’s possible that you also might find it convincing, and, if like me, you are not completely resistant to changing your opinions, it might have that effect on a few of yours.

    I’m not saying you or anything else should read it, and I think I understand the view that some people hold that, “who cares, just shoot” etc… I just personally find the topic of the science behind bullet trauma (and many other things) very interesting. And there is a science to it.

    The author’s data on bullet penetration and cavitation are based on hundreds if not thousands of experimental examples from himself and others, including Askins and the like. He sets that out and graphs it. I haven’t even finished reading all of that.

    Before you get excited, his basic premise is not very pro-energy, and he repeatedly criticizes those who rely on it too much:

    "Plainly stated, I maintain that the effect of bullets upon living targets is caused by the wound track made by the bullet. Now, before you accuse me of being a wise guy, recall that most theoretical explanations of wounding are tied to the kinetic energy or momentum or some other such physical quantity of the bullet which is 'transferred' or imparted to the target. My theory recognizes these characteristics, but relies upon a fundamentally different premise, which is that two physically equivalent wound tracks in a game animal will have an equivalent effect, no matter how different were the kinetic energies or other physical attributes of the bullets which caused them. There are some extremely rarely encountered exceptions to the general rule, but for most purposes the hole caused by a bullet is its only measure of lethality." http://www.rathcoombe.net/sci-tech/ballistics/wounding.html

    He explains:

    "Wounding is caused by the force exerted by a bullet to displace tissue. The exertion of force in displacing tissue requires an expenditure of energy, and translates into damage to the tissue in the form of penetration and cavitation as the elastic limits of the tissue are exceeded by the stresses imparted from this force. According to Cranz' Law, the kinetic energy of a non-deforming projectile is proportional (in a non-elastic medium) to the volume displaced by penetration and cavitation. But the quantity of kinetic energy alone does not tell us enough to predict the dimensions of this cavity. Reality differs. Real bullets generally deform and real tissue is extremely elastic. In understanding the interaction of the bullet with the target, it is helpful to consider the water analogy. The higher the impact velocity of a projectile, the greater the initial resistance. This is what I call the 'splash effect,' and is true of all solids when the stresses placed upon them overcome their intrinsic rigidity and cause them to behave like a fluid. It is easier to push your hand into water than to slap into it. Pushing slowly, you can penetrate deeper with less effort (energy) than by slapping at a high velocity. However, by slapping you make a bigger splash in the water (cavitation). These are exactly the basic mechanisms which govern terminal ballistics in living tissue. Understanding how the kinetic energy of a bullet contributes to wounding, we can consider the separate components of wounding..
    http://www.rathcoombe.net/sci-tech/ballistics/mechanics.html

    Throughout the article, the author points out that the KE of a projectile often is not predictive because of all of the other variable in play--he discusses them all. He explains how a wide meplat 45-70 can out-perform what it's KE predicts. Read it if you like. He does note that:

    "In theoretical terms, a projectile creates a cavity which is proportional to its kinetic energy (actually, the permanent volume of the cavity may be considerably less than the theoretical expected volume). The cavity extends radially (what I term cavitation) and along the path of the bullet (penetration). The more it cavitates, the less deeply it penetrates. High velocity can have a detrimental effect upon penetration in a fluid, due to the 'splash effect.' It can destroy the bullet or cause it to create an enormous cavity without penetrating (which is not necessarily undesirable in certain tactical situations). ... Against hard solid targets, such as armor or heavy bones, high impact velocity is the most important factor contributing to maximum penetration (assuming that the bullet remains intact), because this has a shattering effect upon the material. Maximum penetration in a fluid medium, however, is achieved when cavitation is held to a minimum, as in the case of a non-deforming, round-nosed bullet travelling at "moderate" velocity. Heavy big-bore, flat-nosed, hard-cast lead-alloy bullets are favored by handgun hunters for large game because they are more efficient than jacketed soft points. The broad flat nose on the relatively large caliber bullet provides adequate cavitation, so expansion isn't necessary. Since there is no expansion, there is also no energy lost to bullet deformation ­ all of the remaining kinetic energy of the extra-heavy bullet is directed toward penetration with acceptable cavitation. ...

    Cavitation is caused by two sources: mechanical crushing and hydrodynamic pressure.

    Mechanical crushing occurs directly in the path of penetration and is caused by the undeformed bullet nose or the expanded bullet 'mushroom.' At low velocities, flat or sloping surfaces merely push tissue aside. However, at higher velocities, tissue is macerated. For rigid solid bullets, a flat nose shape with a broad meplat (the flat portion of the bullet nose) will create a larger crushed cavity than a semi-spitzer or round nose shape. For expanding bullets, a broad and nearly flat expanded bullet shape will create a larger crushed cavity than an expanded "mushroom" with a classic round shape with gently sloping edges. Although an expanded bullet may have a diameter of 0.55 to 0.75 inch (14 to 19 mm), the effective meplat diameter is rarely more than the nominal bore diameter.

    Hydrodynamic pressure causes damage from the pressure induced radial velocity extending from the stagnation point at the point of the bullet in its axis of travel to the outer edges of the bullet. The tissue velocity is zero at the infinitessimal point of the bullet nose, where the hydrodynamic pressure has its highest value. The velocity with which the tissue is displaced by this pressure is a function of the angle between the axis of penetration and the bullet nose (see the figure below). If the angle is small, the radial displacement velocity is small. For this reason, a larger diameter, flatter expanded bullet is more effective in producing cavitation from hydrodynamic pressure than a smaller diameter, steeply sloped bullet shape. Because the tissue velocity is also proportional to the velocity, the cavitation can be much larger than the actual diameter of the bullet. This is how a .50 inch (13 mm) diameter expanded bullet can create a 1.5+ inch (39 mm+) permanent hole in game. "
    http://www.rathcoombe.net/sci-tech/ballistics/mechanics.html

    "There is a myth to the effect that a bullet which remains inside a target is more effective (in terms of stopping or killing power) than one which completely penetrates. ... [he explains]"
    http://forums.outdoorsdirectory.com/newreply.php?do=newreply&p=725620

    "The rate of energy transfer to the target is vastly more important than the quantity of energy transferred. This is the technical definition of power. Anyone sunbathing on a clear summer day at the beach will receive an irradiance equivalent to over 4600 ft-lbs every minute! Eventually, this bombardment by extremely high velocity particles will result in sunburn, but the body can withstand the energy it receives because it is spread over a large area and arrives at a relatively slow rate (compared with bullets). The power and intensity (power per unit area) is much less than ballistic events.

    The other popular contemporary misconception results from the assumption that the kinetic energy of the bullet is 'transferred' to the target, thereby somehow killing it through 'hydrostatic shock.'

    I don't know where this term originated, but it is pseudoscience babble. In the first place, these are dynamic - not static - events. Moreover, 'hydrostatic shock' is an oxymoron."
    http://forums.outdoorsdirectory.com/newreply.php?do=newreply&p=725620

    “An important fact to remember is that not all energy is ‘created equal.’ … However, simply because a quantity of kinetic energy is not, in and of itself, enough to describe the wounding characteristics of our weapons does not imply that kinetic energy is not a valid measure of ballistic performance. We need not be reactionary or suppose that someone got it wrong and that what we need is a better ‘formula.’” http://www.rathcoombe.net/sci-tech/ballistics/myths.html

    “It's as if the cancerous pseudoscience of gun writers has spread to corrupt even the hallowed precepts of true science. I shouldn't make it seem as if the author of [a referenced] particular article were alone in his assumptions. The history of popular terminal ballistics in the 20th century saw several examples of this kind of crackpot science, such as Elmer Keith's ridiculous invention of ‘pounds-feet.’ What is most astounding about this latest outrage against science and clear reasoning is that the (long since departed) editors of the magazine didn't know enough themselves to prevent its publication. I expect this sort of thing in cyberspace, but I expect a higher standard from publishers (incidentally, the present editorial staff has a much more scientifically founded perspective). Men like Townsend Whelen knew their basic science and would not have made such errors, nor permitted them to be published in their journal. It troubles me that our knowledge has diminished so much in 70 years.

    When gun writers attempt to describe terminal ballistics in terms more technical than ‘wallop’ they take on the mantle of science and bear the responsibility to their readership to convey an accurate discussion of the mechanisms involved. Science does not merely belong to scientists nor only in the realm of the scientific journal. It is truth on a fundamental level. There are no "everyday" meanings to terms such as velocity, momentum, kinetic energy and impulse. They are not slang or jargon used to describe nebulous, ill-defined concepts. They hold precise meanings. To carelessly misuse scientific language is to render a disservice to the readership, even though it be predominately composed of non-technical readers. … If the average shooter doesn't know what is wrong with the following tidbits then this country has more serious problems than confusion about terminal ballistics:

    'The upshot is that the kinetic energy formula is neither correctly labeled as to resulting units, nor particularly accurate in describing projectile energy. I get the feeling that it is used very little outside the ballistics field. [emphasis added] If it were, it would likely have been changed long ago... In the KE formula we have something that is provably wrong in regard to the foot-pounds label...' (pg. 62)

    ... The author displays an appalling incomprehension of junior high mathematics and general science, confusing a quantity squared with one doubled and the operation of addition with multiplication, using the terms energy, ‘impulse energy’ (his own invention), momentum and force interchangeably, confusing rate with duration, and then has the incredible arrogance to unequivocally assert that 300 years of scientific inquiry is deluded, but that he perceives the truth of projectile motion. …

    This kind of tabloid quality ‘science’ is overtaking the firearms community. In the age of bioengineering, quantum electronics and relativistic physics, the firearms community is becoming mired in a level of scientific ignorance comparable to Medieval Europe. The truth is not marketable but crackpot theories about better formulas for kinetic energy warrant feature articles. Falsehood and error need to be corrected. Those of us who care about the quality of the literature and the accuracy of the inquiry into terminal ballistics bear the responsibility to repudiate the nonsense and to authoritatively instruct concerning the facts. …

    Just in case somebody doesn't know, foot-pounds are a real quantity and can be converted into BTUs, Joules, kilowatt-hours, calories, ergs, electron-volts or any other measure of energy as you please. All of these resolve down to the same fundamental quantities of mass times distance (divided by time) squared. Not all energy is the same, but all energy has the same fundamental units. Kinetic energy was not invented for the delight of gun writers. The different definitions of energy are based upon inter-related physical laws, none of which have been overturned since God created the universe, let alone in the last century.”
    http://www.rathcoombe.net/sci-tech/ballistics/myths.html


    “III.e. Taylor Knockout (TKO) Formula

    I almost hate to comment on this one because it happens to be a favorite of one of my favorite gun writers, a man of outstanding skill and a reputable hunter whose guidance in such matters should not be taken lightly (and I don't refer to Taylor!). Taylor himself was also a man of unimpeachable experience and his views on rifles and calibers, especially for dangerous game, is taken as gospel on the subject.

    However, this formula has got to go.

    For example, a hand-thrown baseball would have roughly twice the TKO of the standard nitro express load. I doubt if anyone would argue that bouncing a baseball off the noggin of an elephant would produce any positive result. Taylor himself acknowledged that there wasn't any appreciable difference in the killing performance of the various .400s, .416s, .450s, .465s, .470s, .475s, and .500s on dangerous game when loaded with reliable bullets of sound construction. But his TKO formula (as generally interpreted) exaggerates any difference that might exist because it makes the bore diameter equally as important as the velocity … Elaborating, the author indicates that this stunning effect truly applies for the most part to near misses of the brain on elephant, enabling a more leisurely dispatch with a follow-up shot (possibly of lesser caliber) or, especially, permitting the shooting of other nearby elephants, while the first is down. Such tactics are no longer permissible and were never ethical in my view (Taylor was a self-acknowledged poacher). Indeed, whether his TKO is true even in this sense is a highly contentious matter, disputed by some very experienced African hunters (I will not pretend to be highly experienced in this regard, but I have seen a Cape buffalo shot between the eyes, within millimeters of its brain, with a .500 NE which did not produce any effect whatsoever). … But the point here is that Taylor never offered this formula as an indicator of killing or even ‘shocking’ performance for hits on the body. That is an American gun pundit extrapolation of thought.” http://www.rathcoombe.net/sci-tech/ballistics/myths.html

    There’s more ...

    See Emprical Methods: http://www.rathcoombe.net/sci-tech/b...s/methods.html

    And Analytical Modeling: http://www.rathcoombe.net/sci-tech/b.../modeling.html

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    Great POST, Marinehawk, you (AND Smitty) are "the man"!

    I'm still confused about the terminal ballistics of my BuffaloBore .380autos, and if they would be better with 200grain slugs at 800fps.

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    Default in all seriousness...

    Murphy put a great explaination in another thread...
    The original title of this thread; Velocity vs Ft. Lbs., is a little a little unusual in concept. I think what is really meant was Energy vs Momentum? maybe. Or what part does velocity play in the terminal performance? Which is better more velocity or more bullet weight?

    In any regard I think I know what Akrstabout was getting at.
    Energy ft. lbs. champions velocity. E=1/2mass*V*V
    We square velocity and take 1/2 the mass.

    Those numbers don't have any significant meaning in terminal performance except to say that higher numbers, on a relative scale will generaly net higher tissue damage. They also net higher bullet destruction, which in some cases bring even higher tissue damage. In this case, high energy numbers reduce penetration.

    Since the Ten Millimeter caliber was mentioned, we'll stick with handguns and their rather low velocity. I have found that the window of velocity of handguns in general, that can be relied on for the best performance in hunting, is from about 1100 fps to somewhere near 1500 fps. This isn't to say faster than 1500 fps isn't good, it certainly is but we cannot achieve that for impact velocity from packable handguns. There are exceptions but I am talking about impact velocity. Below 1100 fps there is little or no expansion and we must rely only on penetration regardless of bullet type. Generally speaking. This is what I call puncture velocity. At velocity below 1100 fps many bullet types also become unstable and cannot be relied upon to penetrate in a straight line, some do but type and weight will be important.

    At impact velocity at or above the speed of sound, tissue destruction is obviously increased. I have a theory about this but it isn't important. The standard atmosphere velocity of sound is 1120 fps.

    Now enters bullet shape where the greater difference in tissue damage comes about. round nosed bullets smoothly slide between muscle tissue. Flat nosed bullets do not. They push and rip through. More damage. Expandable bullets will, at impact, become distorted to various shapes which rip and cut through tissue. This does a lot of damage but the bullet is no longer designed to penetrate. If heavy enough it will still penetrate, but likely will be unstable and not straight line penetrate.

    A bullet built as a solid, meaning it will retain its shape after impact, will penetrate much deeper. A bullet designed to transfer maximum energy, and is a solid, will take its destruction deep into the intended target. A hard cast bullet is designed as a solid. If the nose design is one of the wide meplat flat nosed designs, and if it is heavy enough , to have enough momentum, it will exit the intended target. Momentum is mass * velocity.


    When a bullet is fired and exits at a given muzzle velocity, that velocity begins to decay, reduce, as it travels to the target. However if it weighs 200 grains when it leaves the muzzle, it will weigh very nearly to 200 grains when it reaches the target. Bullet weight and design are very dependable, controllable variables in the terminal equations. Velocity is not and consequently energy is not. Energy fizzles away with the square of velocity. Momentum drops with the linear velocity decay. At handgun velocities, I will always opt for hard cast, flat nosed heavy for caliber bullets when hunting and will rely on their ability to penetrate through the vitals from any angle if I do my part. I will select the right design in the heaviest weight that can be launched at about 1100 fps or greater.

    Murphy
    And in agreement, this is what I do know:

    Velocity AND weight are what combine to create the "FtLbs" number called Kinetic Energy. And in the past many people treated the Energy number (ftlbs) as the leading indicator of "stopping power"...(which probably gave too much emphasis to the velocity side, and not enough to the bullet-weight side of the "stopping power" equasion). This is changing.

    NOW people are starting to realize that a SLOW moving heavy projectile can be MORE damaging than a FAST moving one (withing a certain minimum of between 1300-1600fps of velocity) because of "surface tension" issues that exist in living tissue (which is mostly water).

    Which kinda shows that perhaps the "momentum" equasion of weight and velocity are more correct than the "energy" equasion, because the momentum equasion doesn't give excess value to the "Velocity" side of the equasion.

    But, each variable surely "counts" to a certain degree. "Energy" may be "overrated", but you ALSO CANNOT just go 100% faith with the "it's ALL about bullet construction" mantra...that seems so common from certain recent ammo manufacturers.

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    Permanent wound channel is determined by the diameter of the whole CUT multiplied by the length. This is a volume measurement. The temporary wound channel closes and does little to add to the loss of blood.

    I think the confusion with KE is the fact that it takes more energy to drive a larger or expanding bullet through a target. Yes greater KE generally means that you have a better preforming bullet. KE is not the answer and merely a symptom.

    If you move a .40 caliber bullet 2000 fps and one at 3000 fps and nothing else changes, then there is no difference in the bullet and both pass completely through the target. The permanent wound channel does not change.

    The difference that can be made by velocity is when the increase in velocity either causes the bullet to break up. This will cause the volume of wound channel to decrease. Also if the increase in velocity can cause the bullet to expand greater with out breaking up and or create a longer wound channel. Both of these situations are increases of KE, with different results.

    It takes more energy to push a larger diameter bullet through, too much velocity though will destroy that bullet and it's ability to create permanent wound channels.

    Oh and one more thing. An object at rest tends to stay at rest. Fluids are bound by this law. The faster a bullet strikes fluid the more resistance the fluid puts on the bullet impact. This is why pointed bullets that expand after impact are some of the best choices. Think about jumping into the water from high up. You can only go so high before it destroys whoever dives in.
    If you want a quick experiment to help you understand. Mix a box of corn starch with some water and make a thick paste. Make it the constancy of syrup. Now let your hand rest on it and it is like sinking in water. Next slap the mixture with your hand and you will find that it becomes like a solid.

    Remember: Diameter of cut hole (x) Length of whole cut, cubed = round effectiveness.

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    Quote Originally Posted by klickitat View Post
    I think the confusion with KE is the fact that it takes more energy to drive a larger or expanding bullet through a target. Yes greater KE generally means that you have a better preforming bullet. KE is not the answer and merely a symptom.

    The difference that can be made by velocity is when the increase in velocity either causes the bullet to break up. This will cause the volume of wound channel to decrease. Also if the increase in velocity can cause the bullet to expand greater with out breaking up and or create a longer wound channel. Both of these situations are increases of KE, with different results.

    It takes more energy to push a larger diameter bullet through, too much velocity though will destroy that bullet and it's ability to create permanent wound channels.

    Remember: Diameter of cut hole (x) Length of whole cut, cubed = round effectiveness.
    100% agree. Well stated.

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    MH: That is a good site. I went through it about a year ago. You can also see some of the problems he encounters with his modeling. Lack of “consistent” test data.

    If I had to summarize his findings in a few sentences, it is a point that AD Fields tried to make in another tread. The formulas for energy and momentum compute the quantity. But energy and momentum also possess an infinite number of “flavors”, depending on the proportion of mass to velocity. The flavor can be just as important as the quantity in wound ballistics.

    Also you posed a very good question in one of the prior treads about the same two “non deforming” bullets, one with a higher velocity. It was suggested by some that the higher velocity bullet might not penetrate as well. You made the point that the higher velocity bullet would penetrate some amount before it matched the velocity of the slower bullet. This of course is true and the only way a slower bullet could penetrate more is a complete change in the total penetration profile of the faster bullet (resistance / drag vs. momentum). I am attaching a PDF document that among other thing discusses bullet stability after impact. Bullet stability could be in part the answer to your riddle.

    The PDF document is filled with boiler plate and legal mumbo jumbo, but if you skim through that there is a good discussion of bullet shape. It is also has a good summery of the scientific efforts in wound ballistics to date, along with the disagreements and lack of consistency.
    Attached Files Attached Files

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    Premium Member MarineHawk's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by klickitat View Post
    Permanent wound channel is determined by the diameter of the whole CUT multiplied by the length. This is a volume measurement. The temporary wound channel closes and does little to add to the loss of blood.
    Quote Originally Posted by klickitat View Post

    Remember: Diameter of cut hole (x) Length of whole cut, cubed = round effectiveness.
    I basically agree with you, but with one fairly minor tweak. Assuming, which I tend to believe, that the author is correct, you are close, but he finds that it is the surface area, not the volume, of the permanent cavity that creates the debilitating effect (though those two often will be closely related). The author uses the term “cavitation” to mean the permanent cavity. He does not believe that the temporary cavity, which is another thing, has any consistent effect on stopping or killing large animals. In his diagrams, he shows how the permanent cavity can both be wider than the bullet and not consistently straight, but are somewhat bulbous.

    He says:

    “Cavitation is caused by two sources: mechanical crushing and hydrodynamic pressure.

    Mechanical crushing occurs directly in the path of penetration and is caused by the undeformed bullet nose or the expanded bullet 'mushroom.' At low velocities, flat or sloping surfaces merely push tissue aside. However, at higher velocities, tissue is macerated. For rigid solid bullets, a flat nose shape with a broad meplat (the flat portion of the bullet nose) will create a larger crushed cavity than a semi-spitzer or round nose shape. For expanding bullets, a broad and nearly flat expanded bullet shape will create a larger crushed cavity than an expanded "mushroom" with a classic round shape with gently sloping edges. Although an expanded bullet may have a diameter of 0.55 to 0.75 inch (14 to 19 mm), the effective meplat diameter is rarely more than the nominal bore diameter.

    Hydrodynamic pressure causes damage from the pressure induced radial velocity extending from the stagnation point at the point of the bullet in its axis of travel to the outer edges of the bullet. The tissue velocity is zero at the infinitesimal point of the bullet nose, where the hydrodynamic pressure has its highest value. The velocity with which the tissue is displaced by this pressure is a function of the angle between the axis of penetration and the bullet nose (see the figure below). If the angle is small, the radial displacement velocity is small. For this reason, a larger diameter, flatter expanded bullet is more effective in producing cavitation from hydrodynamic pressure than a smaller diameter, steeply sloped bullet shape. Because the tissue velocity is also proportional to the [bullet] velocity, the cavitation can be much larger than the actual diameter of the bullet. This is how a .50 inch (13 mm) diameter expanded bullet can create a 1.5+ inch (39 mm+) permanent hole in game."

    http://www.rathcoombe.net/sci-tech/ballistics/mechanics.html (emphasis added).

    Author clearly believes (and he describes experiments show, later) that a bullet can cause a permanent cavity large than the actual bullet (in fact the large meplats are good at this). He goes on:

    Other than hits to the central nervous system (brain and spine) or the unpredictable mechanism of spontaneous cardiac arrest, the only reliable cause of rapid death is through hemorrhaging produced by cutting a hole through major blood-bearing organs (heart, lungs, liver) or major blood vessels (e.g., aorta). The dimensions and especially the location of the cavity produced by the bullet will determine the rate of hemorrhaging and in turn the rapidity of the onset of death. It is actually more lethal in some cases to sever the arteries directly above the heart, than to penetrate the heart itself. If these arteries are cut, blood pressure instantly drops to zero and death will follow in seconds (this is one reason why an arrow can kill as fast as a bullet). Lethal hemorrhaging does not depend upon how much blood exits the body, but only upon the loss of blood pressure. A bullet which exhibits both expansion and deep penetration is desired. Three things are worth noting: 1) hemorrhaging in the thorax is far more severe in the case of pneumothorac injuries (collpased lung) than in vascular tissue such as muscle, due to the relative pressure difference between the pleural space and the cardio-vascular system, 2) the surface area of the wound, not its volume, is most related to the rate of hemorrhage, and 3) the body's natural response to hemorrhage, coagulation, is more pronounced in extremely violent wounds which rupture thrombocytes, releasing fibrin into the blood (in other words very sharp cuts generally bleed more freely and longer than ragged, macerated wounds - although a cleanly severed artery may spasm and close, whereas a torn artery may continue to bleed).” http://www.rathcoombe.net/sci-tech/ballistics/mechanics.html

    One thing I thought was pretty interesting, if true is that: "Typically, once a bullet has entered the thoracic cavity, it will at least cross the entire cavity, even if it is captured under the hide on the other side of the body. Consequently, the maximum thoracic depth implies a minimum mean wound diameter of roughly 7.5 mm to be effective. And again, these figures are drawn from data in which wounds did not rapidly coagulate, so the minimum for bullets will be larger in practice.” http://www.rathcoombe.net/sci-tech/ballistics/mechanics.html

    If so, that means the value of penetration would not be linear, because, a bullet either had enough penetration to get into the thorax area (where, if it gets there, almost any bullet will cruise through that soft, squishy deadly stuff after that) or it won’t.

    P.S. I have some careless links back to the forum instead of to the article in the original post. The links should be to the Sections I - V starting here: http://www.rathcoombe.net/sci-tech/b.../wounding.html

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    Premium Member MarineHawk's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ragtop View Post
    MH: That is a good site. I went through it about a year ago. You can also see some of the problems he encounters with his modeling. Lack of “consistent” test data.

    If I had to summarize his findings in a few sentences, it is a point that AD Fields tried to make in another tread. The formulas for energy and momentum compute the quantity. But energy and momentum also possess an infinite number of “flavors”, depending on the proportion of mass to velocity. The flavor can be just as important as the quantity in wound ballistics.

    Also you posed a very good question in one of the prior treads about the same two “non deforming” bullets, one with a higher velocity. It was suggested by some that the higher velocity bullet might not penetrate as well. You made the point that the higher velocity bullet would penetrate some amount before it matched the velocity of the slower bullet. This of course is true and the only way a slower bullet could penetrate more is a complete change in the total penetration profile of the faster bullet (resistance / drag vs. momentum). I am attaching a PDF document that among other thing discusses bullet stability after impact. Bullet stability could be in part the answer to your riddle.

    The PDF document is filled with boiler plate and legal mumbo jumbo, but if you skim through that there is a good discussion of bullet shape. It is also has a good summery of the scientific efforts in wound ballistics to date, along with the disagreements and lack of consistency.
    This is one of my opinions, as I indicated, that I have revised insofar as I was not taking into effect the potential penetration-inducing effect of the stability of certain slow bullets because the do not yaw, like the faster ones. A couple of people on the forum made that point to me, but sadly I failed to appreciate and accept it.

    I think the author's whole premise is that you can't rely on one forumula because of all the variables. I still think the energy forumula provides a decent starting point because of some of the reasons stated in my original post.

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    Quote Originally Posted by MarineHawk View Post
    This is one of my opinions, as I indicated, that I have revised insofar as I was not taking into effect the potential penetration-inducing effect of the stability of certain slow bullets because the do not yaw, like the faster ones. A couple of people on the forum made that point to me, but sadly I failed to appreciate and accept it.

    I think the author's whole premise is that you can't rely on one forumula because of all the variables. I still think the energy forumula provides a decent starting point because of some of the reasons stated in my original post.
    The article you are reading is very interesting IMO. Like Ragtop I viewed his research some time ago and I see that he has revised/updated a significant portion since my study of his information. I need to take another look at his information since the update. I think he makes an excellent attempt to explain the phenomena of terminal ballistics and his conclusions are based on real world tests, which is of immense value. IIRC he considers the wound crush cavity as the means for measuring incapacitation effectiveness regardless of actual KE, momentum, energy transfer, etc. Establishing how a projectile makes such a cavity is multifaceted and his article goes a long ways in helping to predict the performance of bullets in living tissue.

    KE might be a "decent starting point", but its actual value is limited when comparing different projectiles. IME there are many times in life when less is actually more and perhaps this is true of KE; or at least true under certain circumstances.

  10. #10

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    Yep, read all of that when it first came out and it is great stuff and it sure gets rid of a lot of miss guided belief. We have had miss guided beliefs about terminal ballistics, but reading this kind of material and experience in the field taking game and inspecting the wound channel sure can be a real "Myth Buster".
    A GUN WRITER NEEDS:
    THE MIND OF A SCHOLAR
    THE HEART OF A CHILD
    THE HIDE OF A RHINOCEROS

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by 1Cor15:19 View Post
    The article you are reading is very interesting IMO. Like Ragtop I viewed his research some time ago and I see that he has revised/updated a significant portion since my study of his information. I need to take another look at his information since the update. I think he makes an excellent attempt to explain the phenomena of terminal ballistics and his conclusions are based on real world tests, which is of immense value. IIRC he considers the wound crush cavity as the means for measuring incapacitation effectiveness regardless of actual KE, momentum, energy transfer, etc. Establishing how a projectile makes such a cavity is multifaceted and his article goes a long ways in helping to predict the performance of bullets in living tissue.

    KE might be a "decent starting point", but its actual value is limited when comparing different projectiles. IME there are many times in life when less is actually more and perhaps this is true of KE; or at least true under certain circumstances.
    I agree, except to clarify that he clearly found that the mechanical crushing and the hydrodynamic pressure both create permantent cavitation--the latter causing it outside of the bullet path--and that it is related to bullet velocity (as well as its shape and mass).

    I think the author takes a reasonable and accurate approach in noting that "In theoretical terms, a projectile creates a cavity which is proportional to its kinetic energy (actually, the permanent volume of the cavity may be considerably less than the theoretical expected volume)." What the first sentence gives, the second sentence takes away, partly. I acknowledge that. But it's good (for me, maybe not others) to know the theoretical potential extent of cavitation of a cartridge in one number before doing the more sophisticated and necessary analysis of the many, very-important additional factors that will affect specific results.

    If one never, ever will look at any number at all, including the width of the meplat, the weight of the bullet, the velocity of the bullet, its sectional density, the "Taylor KO," its energy, its momentum, etc... in the process of deciding what might be a good cartridge, I can offer nothing. But, if one ever will look at any numbers in this process, then what number might be the best starting point? Taylor KO, which shows that a thrown baseball is twice the stopper as a .470 NE, and which Taylor himself even said was just for elephant brain shot analysis? Momentum, which shows the recoiling rifle to be 200% a better stopper than the bullet it fires? Velocity (which could mean the velocity of a grain of sand or a 1-ton 18-inch projectile)? Mass alone, which could be moving slower than a turtle or faster than an Apollo rocket? Or energy? If you had to pick one single number, what would be the best starting place? No sane man would rely on any one number, but what one number more adequately predicts terminal performance than kinetic energy? I'm not talking about an end-result number that decides the question. I'm talking about a number that gives you a fair estimation of what damage a bullet might cause before you engage in a more sophisticated look at the various factors.

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    That is a good article and I have read parts of it on occasions over the last couple of years. At one time I believed KE played a big part in the killing of the game animal with its shock value. I also believed that wound channel also played a part. After reading this article and some others, I changed my mind and subscribed to the wound channel as being the sole source of death of the animal due to lack of oxygen to the brain from lack of blood pressure, due to blood loss from the wound channel.

    A few months back I got into a thread in another forum that explored the validity of shock power in the killing of the animal. I opened right up with my first post in the thread espousing the wound channel thinking as THE source of death for the critter. After a few other members chimed in with "DRT" experiences. One member reported a DRT I began questioning how the wound channel/blood loss theory could bring about instant death? The only answer is, that it can not bring about instant death. It would take some time for the bleed out and subsequent oxygen deprivation. I thought maybe the shock caused the DRT animal to go unconscious. But one of the members reported a deer that was gut shot and DRT and no other damage done to the deer. And there were other DRT reports that got me thinking about it. My conclusion was/is that KE, or "shock", can have a big effect but it can not be predictable.

    The wound channel theory just plain and simple does not explain instant death. But... I believe the wound channel theory is responsible for the vast majority of game animal deaths. There is a lot of debate on this topic because there is a lot of very different personal experiences in the field. Part of the title of MarineHawk's thread is "experience" and I'll put mine down. I would be real interested in hearing others.

    Here is a copy and paste of my experiences from the other thread...

    I have shot maybe 30 deer, elk, antelope and a bighorn ram. They were all fatal first shots and the ram got 3 more insurance round through it while it stood there watching me. I have never seen any damage that was not directly caused by the bullet. I gut shot a couple of antelope just behind the diaphragm and they walked about 50 yds and fell 0over. I think I got their livers but there was no damage to their organs other than the bullet hole. I Texas heart shot a buck antelope last year with a 180 SP out of a 300 WSM and recovered the bullet under the hide of the front shoulder. The bullet lost about half its mass and there was a good deal of lung damage, which might have been caused by both shrapnel and hydraulic shock. But the intestines, stomach etc., were in tact other than the bullet hole. All my game has been taken with a 7 RM and a 300 WSM with the exception of my first deer, taken with a 243 and this years buck antelope taken with a 25-06. Oh yeah, shot one whitetail buck with a 12g slug. It needed a knife in the ribs to finish it. another doe shot with a slug expired fairly quickly.

    The 7 RM and 300 WSM are high energy rounds and they caused varying amount of damage, but nothing other than direct permanent wound channel. Sometimes that permanent damage in the lungs was a little more extensive than other times.

    I never had any animal fall over due to shock or at least that I'm sure I could attribute to shock. A couple of antelope that were on the dead run piled up immediately. One shot at the base of the neck went down like a sack of potatoes. Last year two doe antelope went straight down with high lung shots just a couple inches below the spine. Most of the deer walked any where from a step or two to a few yards. And a big bull elk shot at 15 yds leaped straight up in the air, spun 180 degrees, took one leap and piled up. That was an interesting one because I was so close and the velocity of the bullet out of the muzzle of the 7 RM was high. I was literally able to see a violent shock wave go through the entire body of the elk. But it didn't immediately collapse.

    Anyway, I have found the high rib shots to be very effective, sometimes dropping them immediately in their tracks , but there is always a good deal of damage with the shot. It's interesting to hear or read about animals that have been dropped and appear dead, get up after a few minutes, sometimes when you grab their horns. I think that the shock of the bullet might often cause the body to go into extreme shock and loose consciousness and then expire as it's laying there hemorrhaging. And I think shots in close proximity to the spine can cause a shut down to the CNS.

    After reading this, I'll have to say that about 4 or 5 antelope that I have shot with the 7 RM went down instantly and appeared to be completely dead. One way to determine that would be with the amount of bleeding or lack of it. If the animal died instantly the heart would probably cease instantly and cause very little bleeding. I can not honestly recall how much bleeding there was with these kills.

    Here's the thread I mentioned... I think it's very good reading.

    http://www.longrangehunting.com/foru...opinion-50227/

    Would like to hear others experiences...

  13. #13

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    I am not about to say that shock value has no value. However I do not think that it kills many animals.

    before anyone gets red faced from that statement, hear me out.

    #1 I have shot several deer that went down instantly and when I got up to a deer I thought was dead it would start to come too. One of which was while I was slitting its' throat.

    #2 I have also slit throats on deer that appeared to be dead but the heart was still pumping.

    #3 I have and I know others have all heard stories of guys shooting a deer and thinking it was dead had it come back to life in the back of a truck or in a trunk.

    In almost all of these cases the shot was usually a lung shot or high up on the shoulder. It is my personal belief that what many think is a kill from shock is a blood pressure spike that causes the animal to pass out caused by shock. The amount of energy striking the animal and causing pressure on the circulatory system is what causes the blood pressure spike. Now the animal might also die from the bleeding, but the instant drop is either caused by passing out or from a structural breakage (spine or shoulder) or a nervous system disruption.

    Just something else to think about. If you haven't figured it out I am a believer in the permanent wound channel theory.

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    Quote Originally Posted by MarineHawk View Post
    If you had to pick one single number, what would be the best starting place? No sane man would rely on any one number, but what one number more adequately predicts terminal performance than kinetic energy? I'm not talking about an end-result number that decides the question. I'm talking about a number that gives you a fair estimation of what damage a bullet might cause before you engage in a more sophisticated look at the various factors.
    I did not mean to suggest that I never consider KE; I even conceded it "might be a decent starting place." However, I prefer to consider the components (mass & velocity) of KE rather than KE as initial indicators of effectiveness. IMO inspecting a cartridge's KE is not nearly as descriptive as the components of KE in determining its effectiveness. Maybe I am splitting hairs, or perhaps we are really considering the same things in different ways MH.

    For my part, I want to understand what the most likely outcome of the bullet will be in living tissue; I am unconvinced that KE reliably indicates this outcome or that KE is useful in comparing different cartridges in anything more than a general generic sense (a cartridge producing 5000 ft lbs is very likely more effective than a cartridge producing 500 ft lbs). That is not to say that other "killing formulas" are better at this than KE. I've tried to maintain that these "killing formulas" are overly simplistic (at least as far as I can discern) and fraught with half-truths. I don't think I have before and I definitely will not argue here that they are superior to KE as a one figure comparison.

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    Premium Member MarineHawk's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 1Cor15:19 View Post
    I did not mean to suggest that I never consider KE; I even conceded it "might be a decent starting place." However, I prefer to consider the components (mass & velocity) of KE rather than KE as initial indicators of effectiveness. IMO inspecting a cartridge's KE is not nearly as descriptive as the components of KE in determining its effectiveness. Maybe I am splitting hairs, or perhaps we are really considering the same things in different ways MH.

    For my part, I want to understand what the most likely outcome of the bullet will be in living tissue; I am unconvinced that KE reliably indicates this outcome or that KE is useful in comparing different cartridges in anything more than a general generic sense (a cartridge producing 5000 ft lbs is very likely more effective than a cartridge producing 500 ft lbs). That is not to say that other "killing formulas" are better at this than KE. I've tried to maintain that these "killing formulas" are overly simplistic (at least as far as I can discern) and fraught with half-truths. I don't think I have before and I definitely will not argue here that they are superior to KE as a one figure comparison.
    I honestly think we look at things pretty similarly then 1Cor.

    A personal illustration, from my perspective, is the .44 vs. 10mm comments that precipitated this thread.

    Note that a traditional standard.44 Mag loading has a (0.429”) 240gr bullet moving at 1,180 fps (Remington data), and, if there is any truth in advertising, the DT 10mm loads will push a (.401) 230gr lead wide flat nose gas check bullet at 1125 fps or a 200 gr lead wide flat nose gas check bullet at 1,300 fps.

    The .44 Mag bullet produces 741 ft-lbs (for some reason, I was thinking it was 760 ft-lbs); the 200gr 10mm produces 750 ft-lbs; and the 230gr 10mm bullet produces 641 ft-lbs.

    If I was scanning for bullets to use defensively on large game, I might look only at bullets producing over 500 ft-lbs. Then, I might quickly notice that the 10mm is one of the only compact service-auto cartridges achieving this. Then, I might notice that one of the 10mm loads roughly equal a standard .44 Mag 240gr load. At least, this brief analysis likely is leading me in the correct direction fairly quickly. It would point me to a 10mm or .44 Mag (or .454 or .500, etc.) over the .38 Special, .40 S&W, .45 ACP, and the like. Then, I independently can weigh the the other characteristics of the three cartridges described above, considering the velocities, masses, diameters, and the types of bullets available, and also the convenience and capacity of the handgun that fires them. And, though not being one to think rapid-firing is highly-relevant to bear defense, I might even consider how fast I could accurately shoot a second or third round in case the first misses the animal or fails to have the desired effect (I think I can fire three 200gr 10mm bullets from my G20 in about a second). I might even consider cost and availability, the reputation of the ammo manufacturer—along with many other things.

    But, if at the outset, I limited the potential cartridges to those firing a bullet producing more than 500 ft-lbs, I think I’ve helped myself accelerate my search. I still might consider the possibility that a sub-500 ft-lb bullet would do the job. But, I doubt that there are many sub-500 ft-lb bullets that will equal or surpass the effectiveness of one of the more-than-700 ft-lb bullets—which are designed to work on big game. In other words, if you try, you easily can make a more-than-700 ft-lb bullet that will perform more poorly on large game than the best of the sub-500 ft-lb bullets designed for that purpose (if any exist). But, no matter how hard you try, you likely can’t make a sub-500 ft-lb bullet that will exceed the effectiveness on large game of the best, large-game-focused, more-than-700 ft-lb bullets. It's possible that there could be some weird exception to this that I haven’t considered. Do you know of any sub-500 ft-lb bullets that likely would perform better on big game than the 10mm and .44 Mag loads described above? Even if there are some, I think they’re aberrational. And my starting-point kinetic-energy factor has helped me narrow down my options quickly and/or focus on the most promising cartridges first. That’s the main benefit of energy to me. It’s a starting point; not an ending point. there will be exceptions when when using KE as a starting point, but that's what the rest of the data/factors are there for.

    On another point, I don’t mean to put you on the spot, but are you open to considering the possibility that the hydrodynamic pressure described by the author based on the factors he described, including meplats and velocity, can create a permanent cavity larger than the diameter of the bullet (expanded or not)?

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    Only way to guarantee the instant death of anything is CNS destruction.

    All the rest is net/bar debate

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    Quote Originally Posted by 1Cor15:19 View Post
    I did not mean to suggest that I never consider KE; I even conceded it "might be a decent starting place." However, I prefer to consider the components (mass & velocity) of KE rather than KE as initial indicators of effectiveness. IMO inspecting a cartridge's KE is not nearly as descriptive as the components of KE in determining its effectiveness. Maybe I am splitting hairs, or perhaps we are really considering the same things in different ways MH.

    For my part, I want to understand what the most likely outcome of the bullet will be in living tissue; I am unconvinced that KE reliably indicates this outcome or that KE is useful in comparing different cartridges in anything more than a general generic sense (a cartridge producing 5000 ft lbs is very likely more effective than a cartridge producing 500 ft lbs). That is not to say that other "killing formulas" are better at this than KE. I've tried to maintain that these "killing formulas" are overly simplistic (at least as far as I can discern) and fraught with half-truths. I don't think I have before and I definitely will not argue here that they are superior to KE as a one figure comparison.
    Great post, and one which I believe nails the issue.

    Momentum is probably a better formula than KE itself, as it doesn't give an overly "weighted" number to the velocity.

    IT still boils down to a combination of 4 primary variables that we CAN control.
    1. Bullet weight
    2. Bullet velocity
    3. Bullet construction (sub-formula of caliber/meplat/expansion/no expansion="cavitation/penetration")
    4. Shot placement.

    BW+BV+BC(sub)+SP = effective Killing wound channel.

    Some of these variables carry more "importance" more than others..in a shot's effectiveness.
    As wildwest alludes to...SP (shot placement) is the one that carries the MOST "importance" in the formula in regards to "killing power".

    If you remove ShotPlacement from the formula, then Momentum (weight and velocity) and Bullet Construction (bullet cavitation/penetration) are the remaining parts of the formula...and how they overcome the bullet's own "inertia" and that of the target, as well as "surface tension effects" of the soft tissue in the target, determine the effectiveness (size) of the wound channel.

    They ALL combine to perform "work" (mechanical deformation and heat) on the target.

    Since I prefer an EXPANDING bullet (with LOTS of cavitation/energy transfer) I like a round with High Velocity combined with "adequate" weight and GREAT cavitation. (soft tissue destruction)

    Some folks prefer less cavitation and more reliable penetration (bone destruction) in their bullet performance. To each his own.

    Much of the decision might be whether you are "defending yourself" and don't care about meat/organ/hide destruction...or weather you want to save the hide and not destroy the internal organs, etc.

    Some variables may be more important than others depending upon the target and the type of destruction you desire.

  18. #18

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    Quote Originally Posted by beartooth View Post
    Yep, read all of that when it first came out and it is great stuff and it sure gets rid of a lot of miss guided belief. We have had miss guided beliefs about terminal ballistics, but reading this kind of material and experience in the field taking game and inspecting the wound channel sure can be a real "Myth Buster".
    I'll go along with that Bearthooth!

    This all makes for good debate and conversation but the real proof is in the pudding! You can take out the central nervous system with a well placed shot from most anything. In that case you can take KE , Taylor KO and the rest of the theories and throw them in the breeze. Aside from those brain/spine shots a good wound channel at the end of a short blood trail tells it all!

    Figure this one out! I have probably field dressed 500 deer in my time yet the most devastating wound channel that I have ever encountered was a deer that I killed two years ago. The deer was a huge 200lb Iowa corn fed whitetail doe. The distance was 60-70 yards and the gun was a Ruger Blackhawk 41 magnum. I was shooting 210 Hornady XTP bullets at a velocity of 1400 fps. The deer was facing me when I fired and she spun as I shot. The bullet hit her low in the front left shoulder traversed the full length of the deer and exited the right rear ham, turning everything inside that deer into jelly. That deer sat down on it's butt like a dog and then fell over backwards dead. I've gutted deer shot length ways with a 358 Norma mag that didn't have that kind of internal destruction going on. This leads me to believe that every single time a bullet meets a critter it is a unique situation that can't be duplicated and thus can't be compared with numbers!

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    I have to agree. I have seen similar wound channels/results with the old .300Weatherby, and that's why I'm such a believer in the partitioned expanding bullet. But, then again...I don't eat the heart and liver (bleh!). And I DO like a neck shot just below the ears, if I can get it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by elmerkeithclone View Post
    I'll go along with that Bearthooth!

    This all makes for good debate and conversation but the real proof is in the pudding! You can take out the central nervous system with a well placed shot from most anything. In that case you can take KE , Taylor KO and the rest of the theories and throw them in the breeze. Aside from those brain/spine shots a good wound channel at the end of a short blood trail tells it all!

    Figure this one out! I have probably field dressed 500 deer in my time yet the most devastating wound channel that I have ever encountered was a deer that I killed two years ago. The deer was a huge 200lb Iowa corn fed whitetail doe. The distance was 60-70 yards and the gun was a Ruger Blackhawk 41 magnum. I was shooting 210 Hornady XTP bullets at a velocity of 1400 fps. The deer was facing me when I fired and she spun as I shot. The bullet hit her low in the front left shoulder traversed the full length of the deer and exited the right rear ham, turning everything inside that deer into jelly. That deer sat down on it's butt like a dog and then fell over backwards dead. I've gutted deer shot length ways with a 358 Norma mag that didn't have that kind of internal destruction going on. This leads me to believe that every single time a bullet meets a critter it is a unique situation that can't be duplicated and thus can't be compared with numbers!
    I understand the idea the numbers aren't everything, and I've had aberrational results hunting. But you used eight numbers to make your point. If numbers don't matter, then a .22 caliber bullet moving at 200 fps will do the same damage that a .50-caliber bullet moving at 2,000 fps speed will do. Just numbers.

    There really are principles, many numerical, that determine the size of the wound channel. Of course, there is a lot of luck and chance involed in terms of where exactly you hit and what happens from there.

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