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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
The .45 caliber comes up often with people asking questions about defense rounds and about under/ over penetration.

After posting my topic of the Hornady Critical Defense and reading other recent threads under penetration keeps coming up. I personally, can not see under penetration with a .45 at a self defense distance of 7 to 10 yards or less using 185gr or 230gr. If I am missing something let me know please.

Is there any statistics of actual shootings showing survival rate at the distances mentioned above with a .45 failing to penetrate enough minus someone being hit in an arm or leg of course?

Thanks :)
 

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Keep in mind that most of the 185 grain loads are +P, and thus are traveling at a much higher velocity which causes many of them to begin expanding after less penetration than a 230. Something like the Hornady XTP in 185 grains might be an exception, since that bullet expands less and penetrates more deeply than many newer designs.
 

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So many seem to be caught up in penetration, it's only 4 inches to the heart. Over penetration to me is more of a worry; when you fire a round you own it.
 

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So many seem to be caught up in penetration, it's only 4 inches to the heart. Over penetration to me is more of a worry; when you fire a round you own it.



IF you are shooting 90degrees perpendicular to the bad gun..throw in winter layers, a BG turned sideways and aiming 1 handed "yo-boy, gangsta" style. Now you have a 280# male that has bulk muscle to make the Hulk look anorexic and you now have to punch a 185 gr JHP through winter 4-layer Carhart and denim, 3" of chest muscle and a 55" chest making your "heart" more than 4" from the chest skin....




Worse case scenario at it's best....but you get my drift.
 

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Can anyone actually recall a civilian defensive gun use where over-penetration occurred?
Oh sure, probably get a few anecdotal responses but it's statistically irrelevant.
 

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Gentlemen, Also keep in mind that in many real world shootings, large bones must be broken in order to affect the penetration of vital internal structures. I have seen an X-ray of victim of a .40 S&W gunshot wound where the projectile bearly penetrated beyond the sternum. A direct hit on a large diameter bone can really compromise penetration especially if the projectile flattens or fragments.
 

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You are potentially going to be in a heap more trouble if you have to shoot and actually miss your target and hit the proverbial "innocent bystander".

I can't state this enough - the amount of time some people spend worrying about over/under penetration is better spent at the range and/or with a trainer and becoming proficient.

I personally would be more worried about a missed shot, than one that hits my intended target - and whether that target gets "over penetrated" or not.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 · (Edited)
You are potentially going to be in a heap more trouble if you have to shoot and actually miss your target and hit the proverbial "innocent bystander".

I can't state this enough - the amount of time some people spend worrying about over/under penetration is better spent at the range and/or with a trainer and becoming proficient.

I personally would be more worried about a missed shot, than one that hits my intended target - and whether that target gets "over penetrated" or not.
I practice a lot that's why my husband's right arm is bigger then his left from reloading. :) I am confident with my shooting skills. I agree that people should practice often.
 

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I am confident with my shooting skills. I agree that people should practice often.
Over/under penetration be damned. A woman with a gun AND the right attitude, is a force to be reckoned with. :)
 

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Gentlemen, Also keep in mind that in many real world shootings, large bones must be broken in order to affect the penetration of vital internal structures. I have seen an X-ray of victim of a .40 S&W gunshot wound where the projectile bearly penetrated beyond the sternum. A direct hit on a large diameter bone can really compromise penetration especially if the projectile flattens or fragments.

I take exception with the word "must" as not all bullets hit bones, e.g., between ribs, abdomen, etc.

Regardless, notice how many .45 ACP JHP defense rds. fail against simulated bone/ballistic gel:


http://www.brassfetcher.com/45ACP/45ACP Bone Test.pdf
 

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Boge, Please read the statement completely. It states that "in many real world shootings" - which does not imply all shooting, just many. That is most certainly true especially when the projectile impacts the upper torso - the likely aimpoint in most shooting situations.
 

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Here's the thing: in ideal situations, no, underpenetration is not likely to occur.

However, there are very real scenarios which are documented in many many case studies which do come up in the real world:

- Subject had his arms out holding a gun, bullet first penetrated the arm, traveled a distance through the arm, exited and then entered the chest.
- Subject had heavy clothing or object preventing a direct strike of the chest which prevented clean penetration.
- Subject was partially obstructed by object such as car door, furniture, door frame, or other intermediate barrier through which was the only viable shot.

The problem with underpenetration is not the penetration itself. As another person pointed out, average thickness for a straight-on chest shot is only about 4". However, underpenetration can occur if for some reason another barrier was involved that prevented sufficient energy to be retained, or caused other failure of the bullet.

Further, underpenetration occurs at greater frequency with loads which tend to fragment, including the Hornady Critical Defense. loads that fragment lose energy more quickly, and thus suffer much reduced penetration, to as little as (documented in bare gel) 7".

Underpenetration is a more likely scenario where obstructions and other conditions may occur than overpenetration, and given the very real likelihood of having to shoot through a barrier, including the subject's arm or some other obstruction, the best wisdom on the topic is to choose a load which penetrates as much as possible while still maintaining expansion and other characteristics that lead to a larger wound channel and more blood loss.

Also, by and large, Brassfetcher's data is junk, based on faulty standards of gel used to do testing.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
DeltaKilo, just thinking and picturing the scenarios you and others have given the thoughts below come to my mind.

Bag guy has arm/arms in front of chest: A person in a defense situation most likely wouldn't try to shoot thru the arm to get to the heart or other vitals in the area to stop the threat. Wouldn't the person defending themselves see a head shot a bit more logical to stop the threat in that situation? Why would they take a chance on a maybe with shooting thru the arm in hopes they would reach the heart?

Windshield and car doors are not like they used to be. Most vehicles are not made with steel doors and bodies but of lighter materials for fuel economy and of course safety (yawn). At the slightest fender bender a front bumper falls apart and connected parts fold costing a fortune to repair. In a local town near me that has quite a bit of criminals shooting people in cars the criminals seem to have no problem hitting their targets in the car. The car is shown on the news with bullet holes that went thru the side of the car.

Today windshields are made to withstand wrecks. A month ago there was two guys that took their fight outside of a bar. It turned into a gun fight which involved two more guys. Shots went everywhere including across the street and into a small car dealers parking lot. Afterwards police found bullets stuck in the windshields of a few cars in that parking lot. One may think this proves the point that getting more power out of round will do it. Not really, windshields today are made to either reflect or stop flying objects. Again why take chance on a maybe? Another thought that comes to mind is why would a person in defense even want to take a shot at the windshield. If someone is in a car coming towards a person and shooting wouldn't it make more sense to get out of the way of the moving car and get to cover then choose this time to stand there and risk getting shot with again a maybe shot? To my understanding to protect one's self they are on the defense to make the threat go away or if need be stop the threat from bodily harm in a fear of life situation. Some of the scenarios that have been given on this same topic of penetration seem to be those that would be more for law enforcement then for civilians defending themselves. I can not see shooting into a vehicle because there could be an innocent child or victim in the car that is not seen. Yes there are criminals that have been caught or shot and the police found children in the car.

These are just my thoughts.
 

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Bag guy has arm/arms in front of chest: A person in a defense situation most likely wouldn't try to shoot thru the arm to get to the heart or other vitals in the area to stop the threat. Wouldn't the person defending themselves see a head shot a bit more logical to stop the threat in that situation? Why would they take a chance on a maybe with shooting thru the arm in hopes they would reach the heart?
In all honesty, you may be over-analysing this just a tad...

i teach to ALWAYS aim for center of mass. Yes, there may be an arm or two in the way, but your best chance to stop a threat involves putting as many rounds as you need to, on COM.

Headshots sound fine in theory, but real life just isn't the same as the "two to the heart, one to the head" drills done with static targets at your local range. Gunfights are dynamic. A headshot under stress on a moving target requires MUCH more concentration and accuracy, and those things typically take critical seconds away that are better served by shooting NOW and trying to hit COM - whether there is an arm in the way or not.
 

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DeltaKilo, just thinking and picturing the scenarios you and others have given the thoughts below come to my mind.

Bag guy has arm/arms in front of chest: A person in a defense situation most likely wouldn't try to shoot thru the arm to get to the heart or other vitals in the area to stop the threat. Wouldn't the person defending themselves see a head shot a bit more logical to stop the threat in that situation? Why would they take a chance on a maybe with shooting thru the arm in hopes they would reach the heart?
A headshot is deceptively difficult to actually hit. The head is the most animated part of the body, and due to its shape, presents a deceptively small area of effectiveness in terms of aiming. So, not only do you, under duress, have to predict where the head is GOING to be due to its animation, you have to hit it pretty square on to prevent the chance of deflection.

If you think that's easy, go out to the range with some helium balloons or a couple of live chickens. Get the chickens riled up, or tie off the balloons where the air can hit them and cause them to move around, and then try to make snap shots and hit them, while under stress, such as a timer.

9 out of 10 students I've trained with or have taught and who have tried to do this, fail. You aim center of mass because you're most likely to hit it, this is where odd angles or obstructions come into play.

Windshield and car doors are not like they used to be. Most vehicles are not made with steel doors and bodies but of lighter materials for fuel economy and of course safety (yawn). At the slightest fender bender a front bumper falls apart and connected parts fold costing a fortune to repair. In a local town near me that has quite a bit of criminals shooting people in cars the criminals seem to have no problem hitting their targets in the car. The car is shown on the news with bullet holes that went thru the side of the car.
I don't expect cars to be tanks. However, there are a multitude of issues that addressing sheet metal can cause to bullets, such as failure to expand, deflection, or causing them to fragment. The issue is less about penetrating a car door (I test against car doors fairly often, and you'd be surprised at what comes out the other side), but moreso about how the bullet holds up and what it does on the other side. If the bullet fragments, deflects, or fails to expand, then the efficacy of the bullet is reduced, and may mean the difference between a quick stop and an exaggerated fight.

Today windshields are made to withstand wrecks. A month ago there was two guys that took their fight outside of a bar. It turned into a gun fight which involved two more guys. Shots went everywhere including across the street and into a small car dealers parking lot. Afterwards police found bullets stuck in the windshields of a few cars in that parking lot. One may think this proves the point that getting more power out of round will do it. Not really, windshields today are made to either reflect or stop flying objects. Again why take chance on a maybe? Another thought that comes to mind is why would a person in defense even want to take a shot at the windshield. If someone is in a car coming towards a person and shooting wouldn't it make more sense to get out of the way of the moving car and get to cover then choose this time to stand there and risk getting shot with again a maybe shot? To my understanding to protect one's self they are on the defense to make the threat go away or if need be stop the threat from bodily harm in a fear of life situation. Some of the scenarios that have been given on this same topic of penetration seem to be those that would be more for law enforcement then for civilians defending themselves. I can not see shooting into a vehicle because there could be an innocent child or victim in the car that is not seen. Yes there are criminals that have been caught or shot and the police found children in the car.
Again, the point you're making misses the point of the testing and what you get out of it. In specific, yes, shooting through auto glass is more likely to be an issue for cops than for civilians. However, again, auto glass is built with certain specifications and to certain standards. It's a hard barrier that can replicate with some accuracy what happens if other barriers are encountered, and is useful information for judging the performance of a bullet, in a gross sense, against a type of barrier.

When a civilian is forced to defend his or herself, they are likely to be at the disadvantage of situation, readiness, and preparation out of the box. That is to say, civilians, unless you've chosen to do otherwise, don't get body armor, they don't get to choose their engagements, and they don't have the benefit of being the ones initiating hostile contact. They are the ones caught out, the ones whom the subject has initiated contact against and are not protected by cover, armor, or the element of surprise.

This is why it is incredibly important not to treat such situations with a laissez faire attitude akin to "oh, well, I'm just defending myself, I don't need to worry about all of this other stuff", since logically, by being engaged in a situation that demands self defense, you are already at a disadvantage. You are the prey who now must fend off a predator.

Choosing to use a lesser weapon or ammo, choosing not to avail yourself of every advantage you can, be it better ammo, better sights, easier accessibility of your firearm, etc, is going to do more to even the odds than anything else short of staying home and locking your doors.

And as a side note, I hunt hogs. I use self defense ammo against hogs. Hogs are, physiologically speaking, very close in body weight, body mass, and internal organ size and layout very similar to human beings (which is why experimental testing on decomposition, physical characteristics, etc. are done using pigs). Given this, what works well in that arena are very similar to what work well against humans. Given that, I have found that bullets that perform extremely well on the FBI tests also work extremely well against hogs, and those that faired poorly were inadequate and generally poor choices.

This is not, nor should it be, considered to be conclusive data for anything. Comparing across species outside of gross factors is extremely inaccurate, as is comparing fine details about shootings from one human subject to another. Every situation is different, every human sufficiently varied compared to the next, and every set of circumstances sufficiently unique to warrant the use of every possible advantage.

The development of grossly homogenous and reproducible testing mediums and standards that are uniform against common factors have given us the chance to compare bullet performance in perfect environments, and give us a benchmark of: based on thousands of shootings we've studied, bullet X that did well in testing did well in the real world, so bullets that do comparatively equal to or greater than X will, by correlation do well in the real world.

It's not a guarantee of anything. And sure, many many bullets that did poorly in the testing will work against a human being under the right circumstances. But I don't want a bullet that will do well under the right circumstances. I want a bullet that will give me the characteristics I want and perform well in the worst possible conditions within the limits of what a handgun bullet can feasibly do, and with testing, study, etc., I can get within a realm of performance, and do the rest with proper shot placement and willingness to apply generous and copious amounts of lead and copper.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
In all honesty, you may be over-analysing this just a tad...

i teach to ALWAYS aim for center of mass. Yes, there may be an arm or two in the way, but your best chance to stop a threat involves putting as many rounds as you need to, on COM.

Headshots sound fine in theory, but real life just isn't the same as the "two to the heart, one to the head" drills done with static targets at your local range. Gunsfights are dynamic. A headshot under stress on a moving target requires MUCH more concentration and accuracy, and those things typically take critical seconds away that are better served by shooting NOW and trying to hit COM - whether there is an arm in the way or not.
Thank you! I have always thought COM but with the discussion of barriers it made me think about the situation a bit more, maybe too much.

If the arm was just hit or it went further either may discourage or take the fight out of the threat so staying with COM is probably the best choice as you mentioned.
 

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Thank you! I have always thought COM but with the discussion of barriers it made me think about the situation a bit more, maybe too much.

If the arm was just hit or it went further either may discourage or take the fight out of the threat so staying with COM is probably the best choice as you mentioned.
Yep. Bottom line here is we're not great white hunters. We're trying to stop the threat. All scientific data and such aside, our goal is to make the bg stop trying to hurt us, so we keep shooting until he decides it's not worth it and gives up.

Maybe he sees a gun and gets the idea that his predator-prey calculations are wrong. Maybe he's dead set on killing you and the only thing that stops the fight is killing him first. Maybe something in between. But until he stops, I keep shooting.
 

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If the arm was just hit or it went further either may discourage or take the fight out of the threat
Yes, it might. Or it might not. But either way, you've already got rounds on target rather than trying to line up a headshot. :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 · (Edited)
A headshot is deceptively difficult to actually hit. The head is the most animated part of the body, and due to its shape, presents a deceptively small area of effectiveness in terms of aiming. So, not only do you, under duress, have to predict where the head is GOING to be due to its animation, you have to hit it pretty square on to prevent the chance of deflection.

If you think that's easy, go out to the range with some helium balloons or a couple of live chickens. Get the chickens riled up, or tie off the balloons where the air can hit them and cause them to move around, and then try to make snap shots and hit them, while under stress, such as a timer.

9 out of 10 students I've trained with or have taught and who have tried to do this, fail. You aim center of mass because you're most likely to hit it, this is where odd angles or obstructions come into play.



I don't expect cars to be tanks. However, there are a multitude of issues that addressing sheet metal can cause to bullets, such as failure to expand, deflection, or causing them to fragment. The issue is less about penetrating a car door (I test against car doors fairly often, and you'd be surprised at what comes out the other side), but moreso about how the bullet holds up and what it does on the other side. If the bullet fragments, deflects, or fails to expand, then the efficacy of the bullet is reduced, and may mean the difference between a quick stop and an exaggerated fight.



Again, the point you're making misses the point of the testing and what you get out of it. In specific, yes, shooting through auto glass is more likely to be an issue for cops than for civilians. However, again, auto glass is built with certain specifications and to certain standards. It's a hard barrier that can replicate with some accuracy what happens if other barriers are encountered, and is useful information for judging the performance of a bullet, in a gross sense, against a type of barrier.

When a civilian is forced to defend his or herself, they are likely to be at the disadvantage of situation, readiness, and preparation out of the box. That is to say, civilians, unless you've chosen to do otherwise, don't get body armor, they don't get to choose their engagements, and they don't have the benefit of being the ones initiating hostile contact. They are the ones caught out, the ones whom the subject has initiated contact against and are not protected by cover, armor, or the element of surprise.

This is why it is incredibly important not to treat such situations with a laissez faire attitude akin to "oh, well, I'm just defending myself, I don't need to worry about all of this other stuff", since logically, by being engaged in a situation that demands self defense, you are already at a disadvantage. You are the prey who now must fend off a predator.

Choosing to use a lesser weapon or ammo, choosing not to avail yourself of every advantage you can, be it better ammo, better sights, easier accessibility of your firearm, etc, is going to do more to even the odds than anything else short of staying home and locking your doors.

And as a side note, I hunt hogs. I use self defense ammo against hogs. Hogs are, physiologically speaking, very close in body weight, body mass, and internal organ size and layout very similar to human beings (which is why experimental testing on decomposition, physical characteristics, etc. are done using pigs). Given this, what works well in that arena are very similar to what work well against humans. Given that, I have found that bullets that perform extremely well on the FBI tests also work extremely well against hogs, and those that faired poorly were inadequate and generally poor choices.

This is not, nor should it be, considered to be conclusive data for anything. Comparing across species outside of gross factors is extremely inaccurate, as is comparing fine details about shootings from one human subject to another. Every situation is different, every human sufficiently varied compared to the next, and every set of circumstances sufficiently unique to warrant the use of every possible advantage.

The development of grossly homogenous and reproducible testing mediums and standards that are uniform against common factors have given us the chance to compare bullet performance in perfect environments, and give us a benchmark of: based on thousands of shootings we've studied, bullet X that did well in testing did well in the real world, so bullets that do comparatively equal to or greater than X will, by correlation do well in the real world.

It's not a guarantee of anything. And sure, many many bullets that did poorly in the testing will work against a human being under the right circumstances. But I don't want a bullet that will do well under the right circumstances. I want a bullet that will give me the characteristics I want and perform well in the worst possible conditions within the limits of what a handgun bullet can feasibly do, and with testing, study, etc., I can get within a realm of performance, and do the rest with proper shot placement and willingness to apply generous and copious amounts of lead and copper.
Thank you for the information which you explained in great detail very well. I can see your point and it makes sense. I had on my mind too that if a situation occurred that I had to defend myself and it went to court that my ammo choice wouldn't be considered more like offense then defense. Hope I am explaining this well.

Thanks!

:)
 
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