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24 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
I was wondering wich hollowpoints are most likely to stop in a bg. In the unfortunate event of having to use my firearm in defense I'd like my family to not get shot also. Probably already been asked but my search came up with alot of stuff not pertaining to my question. any help would be much appreciated.

11,479 Posts
Hollow points are made to go into the body and stay there. I doubt you will find any reliable conclusive info that one is better than another. Give 10 different hollow point ammo's to each of ten different shooters and you will get different results from every one of them. This is going to be like a 9 vs 40 thread. Everybody can recommend but nobody can guarantee.

Premium Member
16,428 Posts
I agree with OEFM. Hollowpoints are made to stay in a BG. Personaly I stay way from prefragmented ammo but that's just a personal choice.
Check out http://www.firearmstactical.com/
They have good info on this subject.

1,454 Posts
one-eyed-fatman said:
Best info I've heard on this forum is check with local law enforcement and see what they carry.

10,955 Posts
I believe that even fragmented ammo causes a serious risk to a family member or innocent bystander if you dont hit your intended target. I would say that the general rule of thumb to follow is to avoid a gunfight in your home at all costs and be aware of whats BEHIND your intended target should you have a shoot through or a miss, get an alarm, a dog, good locks, etc... Its not always feasible and **** goes bad real quick most times but set up a room designated as a safe room, get the family to converge into that room quickly and defend your family from there. If the BG doesnt come into that room, insurance will cover your contents.
I know thats not what the thread was about but I think OEFM hit the nail on the head.

302 Posts
I guess we're just covering all the bases here, but it would seem to me that you're much more likely to hit a loved one by missing the BG than by hitting them and the bullet passing through.

5 Posts
The Box of Truth http://www.theboxotruth.com/ sets up drywall and then tests differnt ammo...
Having some time for study of this fascinating sport, I built the "Box O' Truth".
The purpose of the Box is to test the penetration of various rounds.
People often say, "I think...". "I suppose...", "I bet...", when discussing facts like penetration of ammunition.
There is only one way to know how much a certain round penetrates.
You must shoot it into a medium and see for a fact.
This is the Box.

143 Posts
I have been researching a bit on ballistics, and basically my conclusion thus far is I have a ton to learn :)

That said, here are two interesting things I found recently in one of my searches regarding human cadaver testing of rounds - they are comments from a single individual, and may not be correct/already discounted by others, still looking, but I'm sure more informed people here can correct if these are in error...

Comments Regarding the The U.S. Army Tests of 1904
Bruce L. Jones
Program Manager Infantry Weapons
USMC - Pacific Theater

Because the stopping power of the Army .38 caliber revolvers had proven very unsatisfactory in actual field use, it was decided to study the relative stopping power of various handgun cartridges then in existence with the view of adopting a new weapon for military use. The board convened for this purpose was headed by Col. John T. Thompson (Of Thompson submachine gun fame) and Col. Louis A. LaGarde. The calibers selected for testing were the .30 (7.65mm) and 9mm Luger, .38 Colt Army revolver, .38 Colt Auto Pistol, .45 Colt Revolver, .45 Colt Auto, (1905 version) .455 Colt and the .476 Colt. The ballistics of these guns and cartridges are listed below:

Cartridge Bullet Wt. Velocity Energy

.30 Luger 93 grs. 1420 fps 415ft/lbs.

9 mm Luger 123 grs. 1048 fps 301ft/lbs.

.38 Colt Army 148 grs. 763 fps 191ft/lbs.

.38 Colt Auto. 130 grs. 1107 fps 354ft/lbs.

.45 Colt Auto. 200 grs. 900 fps 405ft/lbs.

.45 Colt Rev. 250 grs. 720 fps 288ft/lbs.

.455 Colt 218 grs. 801 fps 288ft/lbs.

.476 Colt 288 grs. 729 fps 340ft/lbs.

The test series consisted of first firing shots from all of the handguns into human cadavers. Movement or oscillation of the cadavers on impact of the shot was noted as well as the apparent tissue and other damage. Results were studied both by X-ray and dissection.

It was consistently demonstrated that the degree and magnitude of oscillation of the cadavers was always greater with the larger caliber bullets. The amount of sway caused by the .30, 9mm and .38 caliber bullets was always small, more like a tremor in most cases. On impact by any of the large caliber bullets limb movement or oscillation of the entire body was quite marked.

The wound channels generally corresponded to the diameter of the bullet, but with the exit wound being larger than the entrance wound. The small caliber high velocity bullets generally demonstrated clean penetration of bones whereas the larger calibers tended to fracture and fissure bone structure. The tendency to fracture was more pronounced by all calibers in areas of long bone, away from the joints. Lead bullets showed a greater fracture effect than full jacketed or the soft point bullets available at that time in handgun velocities.

Head wounds were an entirely different proposition, and a small caliber high velocity bullet of full jacketed or soft point type caused a tremendous amount of fragmentation in the skull cap, with resultant greater disruption of brain tissue. Large caliber bullets at lower velocity did not always penetrate through the skull and did not create the same degree of fragmentation. Such a blow to the skull is likely to disorientate and knock out a live target -so this may be this would have produced a "stop" in real life.

It was found that lead bullets tended to deform and also tumble more frequently than jacketed bullets and, either through deformation or tumbling, often did more tissue damage than jacketed bullets. Most wounds made by the smaller caliber bullets were judged more easily and rapidly healed than those made by the larger diameter bullets.

The second part of this Army test involved shooting into live animals in order to observe the actual effect on living tissue. On the killing floor of the Chicago stockyards, shots were fired under controlled conditions at a range of 3 feet into steers and horses. No shots were fired into vital organs such as the heart or brain, all shots being fired into the lung or intestinal areas. The effect of the shooting on the animal was noted, and it was then immediately dispatched in the usual way. If an animal failed to drop by the tenth shot, firing stopped.

PW: Steers and horses are much larger than humans, and the distance that a shock wave from a wound would have to travel to a major nerve centre is much greater. Distance needed to reach a major blood vessel is also greater. Such animals are not analogues for humans. The early researchers didn't see this as a factor as they considered it all relative for merely the sake of comparison. In 1904 horse-mounted Cavalry were still a major part of the army and the pistol was considered one of their major weapons. The capability to kill enemy horses was considered a major function of a handgun.

With the .30 Luger, in no instances did an animal drop by the tenth shot and in fact none of them appeared to suffer great pain, shock or distress even after the tenth shot. Animals shot with the 9mm or the .38 Colt auto showed greater distress and by the sixth or seventh shot showed great distress, shock or exhaustion and usually dropped before the eighth shot. The effect of the .38 Colt Army revolver was about the same although perhaps not quite so pronounced as the two automatic rounds.

With the .45 Colt revolver the animals showed great shock and distress and usually dropped by the fourth shot. With the .455 and .476 caliber revolvers the animal usually dropped by the third shot. Those shot by the large calibers would begin to bleed from the nose and mouth by the second or third shot. This did not happen with the smaller calibers. (This is presumably bloody froth from damage to lung blood vessels)

The major conclusions drawn from the Army lethality tests of 1904 are as follows:

Within the velocity range possible with handguns there is no marked effect from velocity alone other than greater penetration.

At handgun velocities there is little difference in the effect of different bullet materials (lead or jacketed) when traversing flesh. However, lead bullets will inflict more damage when they strike bone.

In flesh there appears to be little difference between a sharp pointed or round nosed bullet. On the other hand, a flat or blunt point does substantially more damage to blood vessels and bone and has less tendency to be deflected by bone or cartilage.

The weight of the bullet may be critical, it is to be noted that the most effective bullets were not only of large caliber, but also the heaviest weight.

The diameter or caliber of the bullet is important because at handgun velocities expansion of soft point or other expanding bullets is not reliable. The larger diameter bullets simply destroy more tissue and blood vessels because they affect a larger cross sectional area and attack it with more weight.

There were other tests to follow, of course. The net result was the Army's adoption of a .45 cartridge firing a 230-gr. jacketed bullet at 855 fps. The jacketed bullet does better with skull penetrations and damage. Lesser velocity works very well as the British later noted, but this higher velocity was a compromise to achieve better penetration of heavy clothing.

During the 1920's the British conducted a series of experiments in the course of which they also fired handguns into cadavers and live animals. Their conclusion was that diameter of the projectile made less difference than weight. Weight and velocity were the most important factors and the velocity had to be low, not high. They concluded that a 200-gr. projectile traveling at an initial velocity of about 650 fps was ideal for good short-range stopping power. The reason for the low velocity was so that the bullet would expend its entire energy within the target and not carry on through. They adopted the .38/ 200 cartridge, really nothing more than the old .38 S&W (known as the "Super Police" when loaded with the 200-gr. bullet) in the middle 1930's. It was known officially as the .380 Revolver Mk I and had a 200-gr. bullet of .359" diameter that developed a muzzle velocity of 630 fps. It was to replace their .455 Webley which had a 265-gr. bullet with a MV of 600 fps. Both were used in WWII and there are conflicting reports as to their relative effectiveness.

As time went on, report was issued by the U.S. Army after the Korean War entitled, "Weapons Usage in Korea", by S.L.A. Marshal. All of the general infantry weapons were evaluated by field studies both during and after combat. According to this report, the .45 Automatic was regarded by the combat troops as superior to the .30 caliber carbine for close range fighting because of its superior stopping power. The .45 Auto was very highly regarded in the Korean War.

Canadian troops in the Korean War were armed with the 9mm Browning auto pistol and many of the Canadians traded their 9mm's for the .45. The only time the 9mm proved superior to the .45 was if the enemy troops were wearing light body armor and heavy clothing. The 9mm with its higher velocity gave better penetration, but the .45 had the best stopping power against unarmored personnel. The .45 Auto proved very effective in certain types of fighting required in Korea, usually at ranges of from 15 to 25 yards, although there were instances of effective use at ranges out to 50-60 yards.

Modern tests bear out the 1904 findings. The old formula still works and velocity seems to have little effect as far as velocity can be varied in pistols. If huge increases in velocities can be affected, for example –an extra 1000 fps, there are gains made. But then, you may as well be shooting a rifle.
The Pig Board II
Bruce L. Jones
Program Manager Infantry Weapons
USMC - Pacific Theater
October 13, 1998

Re: Law Enforcement/Military Cartridge Effectiveness Study
Conducted 1995 - 1996

In the recent past, performance tests were conducted to determine the ballistic effects of different weapons and ammunition on flesh and bone targets, living and dead, and to determine the efficacy of different types and designs of body armor in defeating the threats presented by these projectiles.

The following information was taken from the personal notes of an experienced law enforcement observer in the field of forensics from a large western law enforcement agency.

The final reports were proprietary to armor manufacturers who funded the research as well as being classified as proprietary/ confidential by certain government agencies that placed a gag order on distributing data from the report. The report itself can't be distributed, however, the individual mentioned above was under no such constraint to not discuss what he saw and wrote down in his personal notes.

It should be noted that on at least two other different occasions in the past, the U.S. Army has conducted similar tests on unarmored subjects. The first of these was a handgun test in conducted in 1904 that resulted in the adoption of the .45ACP cartridge as the military standard and the second was convened in June of 1928 and dubbed the “Pig Board” due to it's use of pigs as test subjects. The purpose of the Pig Board was to determine the most effective cartridge for use in military rifles against human targets. That exercise resulted in the identification of a .276 caliber (approximate 7mm) high velocity bullet as the optimum choice. That choice was not put into practice, although the M1 Garand was developed in a working model for it, because a high ranking general of the time (General Douglas MacArthur) insisted on using the already developed .30/06 cartridge; which was more powerful anyway. Thus the Army adopted the M1 Garand in .30/06 caliber, which was later changed to the .308 caliber. The .308 caliber approximated the results of the .276 in a larger diameter projectile. This choice was probably precipitated by the popular manufacture of commercial weapons in the .308 caliber.(1)

In the current modern test instance, tests were conducted on human cadavers, live pigs and ballistic gelatin, both unprotected and protected by modern body armor. Test weapon types were rifles, shotguns and pistols. There was about fourteen months of research conducted.

(Note: Cadaver research is common, as Coroners and Medical Examiners receive hundreds of unclaimed cadavers or donated ones that are unsuitable for the usual medical research. They are then used for other forms of research with Medical examiner and/or coroner approval. Cadavers are tested with respect, the faces and bodies covered, only the area tested is exposed. After use, the Coroner examines tissue damage to gage injury, wound channels, secondary projectiles, armor failure or internal injury from vest success with high energy projectile stops).

The research was conducted in phases:

Rifles, shotguns and then handweapons, in that order.
Cadavers with body armor.
Cadavers without body armor.
Live pigs with body armor.
Live pigs w/o body armor.
Testing confirmed that in most instances the lighter Hollow Point (HP) projectiles (.380, 9mm, .40 cal.) open prematurely or do not open at all, the HP cup filling with target medium, turning itself into lighter ball ammo, or the HP projectile takes a different path from the flight path upon entering the target medium, resulting in non lethal hits or lesser wounds than intended due to deflection of the projectile from the unstable HP cup reacting to hydrostatic pressure from impact with the target medium (veering off course, so to speak).(2)

Heavier Ball ammo (any round of 200gr weight or greater) such as .45ACP 230 gr., .44 Special 246 gr., .45 LC 255 gr., .38 Special 200 gr. LRN,(3) all followed the intended flight path, even upon hitting bone. These projectiles gave the best observed handgun performance in creating damage that would be consistent with producing incapacitation of a human target with the fewest possible shots fired. They also did not exit the cadaver torso as the energy was invariably shed in the target, leaving no apparent energy for over-penetration and exit(4). Exit wounds did occur with face shots, head shots and extremities, face shots causing imparting of secondary velocity to teeth and chunks of bone, creating secondary fragment projectiles.

In terminal ballistics, all HP's of the same approximate weight and approximate velocity are equal in performance. Velocities in handguns are essentially insufficient to provide predictable opening when necessary or desired in human targets. The most effective HP's in .45ACP are those that retain the original weight of 230 gr. as they will continue to function as well as ball ammo, whether they open or not.

Testing was also done on a comparison of handgun ammunition between hard cast lead, swaged lead and semi-jacketed soft point to FMJ. Testing was only done to examine the types of wounds produced, not for armor protection as none of those projectiles in handgun loads, including .44 Magnum and .454 Casull can penetrate level IIA or III body armor. Hard alloy lead (like linotype metal) performed somewhat like FMJ and bored straight through. To be exact, #2 Lyman chilled 230 gr. .45's were tested on cadavers and they duplicated FMJ results. Softer lead gave surprising results(5), in that it deformed on impact but pushed ahead through bone and flesh and shed its velocity and energy quicker, stopping 3 to 5 cm earlier than FMJ. In other words, it produced a MORE violent stopping effect than harder leads. This result also duplicates the Army findings from the 1904 tests. It is problematic for modern law enforcement use, however, as soft lead does not feed reliably in semi-automatic pistols. It's use is outstanding, however, in revolvers as there is no feed travel problem.

Further tests with handgun projectiles custom made of steel or brass drill rod or solid copper rod with a slight truncated cone shape and fired at magnum velocities penetrated level IIA vests and damaged and compromised the level III. These loadings were in .357 Magnum, .41 Magnum and .44 Magnum.

In defeating armor, the lighter, less than common 7.62x25 Tokarev in it's high velocity variant (Czech round for the vz52 at 1700fps) can penetrate earlier versions of body armor, but newer level IIA will stop it. In the unprotected body, it tends to penetrate on a straight line, as did the old .357 pointed ball, sold in the 50's through the 80's, but does less damage along it's path than the heavier bullets.

Tests indicated that longarm (rifle/shotgun) torso wounds on unarmored targets from modern cartridges are devastating except for the M193 5.56x45mm Ball and similar projectiles which required multiple hits to create lethal stop damage.

Using body armor, no existing body armor except IIA and III levels with ceramic inserts or laminate inserts will stop high-power rifle rounds such as 30-30 or 7.62x39mm Russian. As an example, level III was penetrated by a 30-30 loaded with a 150 gr. PBT (Pointed Boat Tail), while a 150 gr. Soft Point did not penetrate the vest. In either case the wearer would have been injured.

Ceramic and laminate inserts will stop even 30-06 Armor Piercing (AP) projectiles. Curiously, German 7.92mm AP Ball has the greatest range of effective penetration potential of all the standard military calibers. Probably due to the higher sectional density of the heavy 198 gr. 7.92mm bullet.

Under 50-75 yds most AP is no more effective than regular rounds as it has not developed critical velocity/energy for penetration. From 125 out to 250 yards, penetration is almost guaranteed. This occurs as the high velocity AP projectile is still gaining speed(6) and stability out to 125 yards or more.

There are standard hunting rifle cartridges capable of level IIA and III penetration, although it requires a little handloading, or at least replacement of the FMJ with a different type bullet of the same weight. Solid copper projectiles or projectiles turned from brass drill rod will penetrate the level IIA and III with ceramic inserts. These rounds do not break up like FMJ. Projectile weight must be 165 gr. or over. Velocities must be the same as standard high velocity rifle.

Experimentation was conducted with .30-06 AP projectiles pulled from the original cartridges and reloaded in .300 Winchester Magnum (Win Mag) cartridges. They penetrated level IIA and III like butter. It seems the high velocities unachievable in a military gas-operated gun, but simple in a .300 Win Mag bolt gun, makes those old AP penetrators incredibly efficient. They penetrated mediums and combinations of mediums that would have never been considered possible with .30-06 or its sister military calibers in their standard loadings.

It should be noted that if a wearer is protected from certain death wearing high protection armor, the wearer may not escape injury. It has been shown that with solid perpendicular hits the wearer may suffer some form of cardiac impairment form the impact, almost guaranteed separation of the sternum from the rib cage, broken ribs, etc.

But, if a large caliber magnum rifle is used - such as .338, .300, .375 in Win Mag calibers (they were the most consistent) and loaded with SOLID Spitzer Boat Tails, no body armor would stop it. Spitzer Boat tails are THE projectile. They work better than anything else in the AP mode.

It should also be noted that the U.S. Military has developed new armor piercing rounds in .50 BMG and 7.62x51mm that will defeat any of these body armors with extreme ease. They are called “Sabot Light Armor Penetrating” or SLAP cartridges. These consist of a relatively sharp pointed tungsten carbide “dart” of a smaller diameter than the weapon's bore encased in a plastic sabot to bring it up to caliber. The projectile is fired at very high velocities and it sheds the sabot on the way to the target. As an example, the .50 BMG SLAP round uses a .415 gr. projectile fired at a speed of 4000 fps (78 ft. from muzzle). It will penetrate approximately .750 ( ¾) inches of high-hardness steel armor at a range of 1500 yards.

Although these tests appear conclusive, the scientific acceptance is tainted by the perceived need for secrecy. This perceived need was driven by two factors, one is a potential profit motive of ballistic vest manufacturer(s) co-sponsoring the tests, while the second is the perceived negative political atmosphere in which such tests may be received by certain anti-weapon activist groups.

It would certainly be important to military and law enforcement agencies if these tests could be replicated in an acceptable enough political atmosphere to make public release of the information acceptable. This office, therefore, recommends such a study be undertaken by the appropriate military agency

115 Posts
When the Arizona State Police were using the old style 185g/45 ACP Rem JHP in the late 80s/early 90s, it often exited torsos. That load penetrates 16 inches in bare gel and 24.5 inches through heavy cloth. 230g/45 ACP penetrates 25 inches in bare gel.
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