Clinton A. Love

Writer, Musician, Mortician

Clint's Author Blog

Exploding Bullets and Other Bullshit

Posted on June 19, 2014 at 9:10 PM

June 19, 2014 at 8:08pm

I recently helped a female friend make a decision on whattype of a handgun to buy for self-defense. She was a victim of domesticviolence and she feared that the other party may have plans of revenge aftershe embarrassed him and got him arrested by the police.

Since she would need it both for home and to carry around,and was comfortable carrying a 9mm semiautomatic pistol, I recommended theRuger LC-9. I own one and I think it’s great. It has a smooth, easy to workslide, a long, but easy double action trigger and can handle +p loads (for theuninitiated, +p means cartridges that are loaded at slightly higher thanstandard pressure). The LC-9 also can be bought equipped with a laser sight,which is something that she wanted, in case she needed to use it at night.

When we got on the subject of ammunition, I mentioned that Ifavor the SPEER Gold Dot Hollowpoints. I like the 124 grain +p, specifically.They show a pretty good energy dump in ballistic gel even from a shorterbarrel. I use the Gold Dot brand in everything because I saw some that werepulled out of a dead body and they performed impressively (There’s anendorsement for you), meaning of course,that they expanded properly, didn’t fall to pieces and didn’t over-penetratethe target. That’s when the lady said something that raised my eyebrows a bit.

“Oh! Those are the ones that explode inside of people!” Shesaid with her eyeballs bugging out.

Dear Sweet Baby Jesus, I thought. Do people still reallybelieve that shit? Apparently they do.

Of course, she is from California, so she probably believesin Ghost Guns and God knows what else, so I decided it’s time for a littleballistics education. The following is basically what I explained to her.

Essentially, the way bullets work hasn’t changed since the1700s. A trigger gets pulled; a hammer falls on some type of striker, whichignites a primer, which in turn ignites a gun powder charge, which creates asmall but powerful explosion that sends a tiny ball of lead screaming down ametal tube and through the air.

The difference now is that the whole explosion part occursinside a ready-made metallic cartridge with the bullet crimped into the tip andthe lead bullet is usually coated to some degree in copper for greater velocitythrough the barrel of the weapon and they are more torpedo shaped to make themmore aerodynamic.

The bullet most of us recognize is the Full Metal Jacket round,or FMJ, otherwise known as “ball” ammunition or “hardballs”. This is just aplain, round nosed bullet, cased entirely in a copper jacket. It is used by themilitary, primarily due to the Geneva Convention banning ammunition that wouldcause “undue suffering”. Ballistically speaking it normally will punch a clean,straight cavity through whatever medium you choose to shoot it. It is normallynot preferred as defense ammunition, oddly enough, as its design is lesseffective, both in terms of bullet design and in ballistic performance asmodern defensive rounds.

Here is a link to avideo of a .45ACP FMJ passing cleanly through a block of clear ballistic gel inslow motion. Brass Fetcher has lots of videos like this. He gets all sciencyabout it too.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3G-txVKnVjY

The bullet that had the concern of my lady friend is thedreaded Hollowpoint, usually abbreviated HP when using gun lingo. A hollowpointbullet is simply this, a FMJ with a hole in it. Specifically, it is a conicalhole that makes a wide volcano-like shape at the nose of the bullet and tapersdown toward the center of the bullet. You can get hollowpoints in virtually anycaliber of bullet, from the tiny .22 all the way up to .50AE if you want.

HOLLOWPOINTS DO NOT EXPLODE

That would be incendiary rounds and that is somethingcompletely different. Incendiaries are used for destroying equipment andpenetrating armor. It is NOT the same thing.

What hollowpoints do is expand. When they hit somebody, theybasically turn into a mushroom- The bullet, not the person. If you shoot aperson and the PERSON turns into a mushroom, you have found some type of alienweapon I cannot describe. Either that or you are on some serious drugs andshould not be handling any weapons at all.

The whole idea behind a hollowpoint is to create a short butdevastating wound channel(limiting over-penetration and possible danger tonon-combatants) , cause a massive temporary expansion cavity (the disruption inthe tissue caused by the shock of the impact), and cause sufficient centralnervous system shock to result in a one-shot stop (incapacitate the bad guy).

The idea is to hit him hard enough one time so that he can’tfight and you can end the conflict as quickly as possible. It’s not a magic explodingbullet of mass destruction.

Here is a link to Brass Fetcher’s Channel where you can seea 200gr +p Gold Dot HP bullet in .45ACP hit a ballistic gel block. Notice thedifference in energy and the shorter penetration than the FMJ.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A8XqAMn4Wqo

The FMJ goes peeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeew

The HP goes PEW!

At the end he shows you the mushroom shape too!

Categories: Firearms, Social Commentary

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