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Dave T
11-26-2003, 11:20 AM
I visit about half a dozen gun related web sites and although some are obviously better than others, it is pretty universally held that handguns are notiorusly underpowered and consequently caliber choice doesn't matter all that much, i.e. 38 Special is about as good as 9mm which is about as good at 40 S&W which is about as good as 357 Magnum which is about as good as 45 ACP which is...and so it goes.

If all the standard calibers are about equivilant, how is it that bullet design (factory load) A can be vastly superior to bullet design B? Can the particular 45 ACP load I am carrying be in-effective relative to some other 45 ACP load when they are all comparable to 9mm or 38 Specials? If handguns are so underpowered that they would never be chosen for a fight, what possible difference can one JHP design make over some other JHP design?

Now I'm not saying there is anything wrong with JHPs and I'm not saying the only load to use is the 45 ACP. My point here is to ask if we don't spend way too much time worrying about bullet "A" working better than bullet "B" when having a gun that works EVERY TIME, and being able to shoot it well is so much more important.

sponge
11-27-2003, 02:58 AM
I think caliber matters, but not always more so than guns. I remember reading in a gun mag that when one is looking for a pistol he is to pick a caliber first. That system of selection can lead to choosing a peice that is not practical for a user, being to big for carry or being double action only. The ammunition preoccupation has I think slowed down the improvement of the pistol. Better a pistol I can shoot and carry in a smaller caliber than the other way around.

Dave T
11-28-2003, 07:02 AM
If I understand Mr. Di Fabio correctly, I made the right decision back in 1974 when as a young LEO I started carrying a 1911 and chose Ball ammunition because in those days few JHPs performed reliably, particualrly at 45 ACP velocities.

Of course when, in 1994 my state passed a shall issue CCW law and I could again carry, I chose Hydra-Shok I prabably should have just carried ball. The Federal offering was considered the best at the time but it has since been proven to be nearly worthless. Thank goodness I was not involved in a defenesive shooting, I probably wouldn't have survived.

Now I'm faced with a delema. The vaunted Winchester Ranger Talon (as close to a magic bullet a we can find) is only available to LE, which I ain't anymore. Yea, you can buy it at gunshows but at what price and I always wonder if you aren't getting seconds or maybe the culls. Speer's Gold Dot is supposed to be almost as good but I have had occasional feeding problems with it in a variety of guns, including the never fails (according to some) Glock.

I have unwisely settled on the performance perameters JMB started with, a 200g bullet at 900 fps, in part because my wife and sister handle it better than any of the +P loads and I can exactly duplicate it in a handload for practice. Problem is, the only factory load I can find at that performance level (Hornady 200g non +P) has a bullet (the XTP) which falls under Mr. DiFabio's description of "Marginal loadings".

I started this thread with the thought that we spend too much time worrying about which load to carry. That is one of the main topics of discussion on most of the threads I visit, and I even see it crop up here. From what I'm hearing, apparently it does make a lot of difference.

Still, I keep asking myself how it is a .358" diameter 148g wadcutter at 700 fps has been shown to be effective but my .451" diameter 200g JHP @ 900 fps that doesn't expand to the size of a quarter is "marginal". Guess there is just no magic in my life!

sponge
11-28-2003, 08:27 AM
Dave, I think the 200 grain as being only "adequate is in comparison to other .45's, and the .38's being in another catagory. When I carried .45's My chosen load was a 185/1100 flat point hardball, this is out of the catalog now. My thinking was/is that the gelatin penetration is just the maximum potential penetration at the given leval of expansion and the actual is allways going to be shallower, sometimes even much shallower than with gelatin. So at least I had consistancy and I still had 45 caliber with the hardball . sdgergvbaihguirghiergbrehuireghvuirepyutpsdvndjgds veutoeuwjvldjgosuosjg;jgckbvjfjgiorjgiobklcxxxxxxx And A possibile solution to the need to have to go to a reduced power 200 grain so the ladies can shoot it. The best idea i have seen is to reduce the butt circumfrence of the 1911 with a file and then refinish it, then screw on some thin stocks, I can say from my own experience that a smaller grip reduces felt recoil for the small and/or weak hand. d;sklfj "there are no magic bullets, there are bullets with more magic"

Vig Creed
11-29-2003, 08:37 AM
If all the standard calibers are about equivilant, how is it that bullet design (factory load) A can be vastly superior to bullet design B? Can the particular 45 ACP load I am carrying be in-effective relative to some other 45 ACP load when they are all comparable to 9mm or 38 Specials? If handguns are so underpowered that they would never be chosen for a fight, what possible difference can one JHP design make over some other JHP design?

...My point here is to ask if we don't spend way too much time worrying about bullet "A" working better than bullet "B" when having a gun that works EVERY TIME, and being able to shoot it well is so much more important.


Dave,

First, the low velocity .38 special RNL, in my street experience, is a miserable stopper, while the higher velocity 9mm is pretty good. To me the .38 special is more comparable to the punny .380, not to the much more effective 9mm Luger.

Second, choosing between a better bullet and reliability/accuracy is not a valid or necessary choice. Reliability/accuracy are totally separate from bullet type, and are very important no matter which bullet is selected.

In short, it's not an "either/or" choice, since all of these factors should concern us and all are available in the same load.

creed

Dave T
11-29-2003, 11:58 AM
This post was prompted by two conversations I recently had.

In the first I was taken to task for allowing my wife and sister to carry the Hornady 200g XTP becasue "...that bullet is crap...". This despite the fact that if functions flawlessly in all our guns and they like to shoot it (they hit well with it).

The second conversation was several questions from one of my CCW students. He asked why we need hollow points when the 45 ACP had such a track record of stopping people (military). I gave him my stock answer about bigger holes produce quicker stops, or at least a better chance of stopping. When we got futher into the subject of high performance JHPs and I said the better ones all work, he then wanted to know why everyone doesn't shoot 9mm if it works as well at 45 ACP. My answer was that I believe the 45 ACP will work in a wider variety of circumstances than most other calibers. Then he wanted to know which 45 ACP JHP is "best". I told him what gets rave reviews here and elsewhere, then he asked me what I carried. When it wasn't one of the chosen few I had to do my "no magic bullet" bit.

All this started the wheels turning, and resulted in the original post. I'm always looking to learn/understand more. Thanks to all of you for the opinions and comments. In particular, thanks to Mr DiFabio for the history behind the XTP.

Anthony
11-30-2003, 04:31 AM
Of course when, in 1994 my state passed a shall issue CCW law and I could again carry, I chose Hydra-Shok I prabably should have just carried ball. The Federal offering was considered the best at the time but it has since been proven to be nearly worthless. Thank goodness I was not involved in a defenesive shooting, I probably wouldn't have survived.

******************
Sorry guys, I'm abit out of date here. How has the Federal Hydra-Shok ( 230grn .45 ACP ) been proven to be nearly worthless ?

Dave T, IMHO, this load could not perform worse than ball ( or could it ?) Even without any expansion, it's still 230grns, .45 diameter, and the nose must cut better than rounded ball which as we know, pushes aside a smaller diameter hole than the bullet diameter.
If this load is as bad as you state, then I also must be glad to not have had to use it in a fight. - But then again, at 'bad-breath' distances, I've trained for along time now, to shoot for the face !

Regards,
Anthony.

fastbolt
11-30-2003, 02:59 PM
I've come across many of Dave T's postings on other forums, and I've learned that if he's asking a question there's generally a good reason for it, and it's probably something that will interest me, as well ...

I also started my L/E career carrying a Combat Commander which had been tuned to be "mostly reliable" when feeding the early CCI 200gr JHP's. Since "mostly" isn't something comforting, I defaulted back to good quality 230gr FMJ. In later years, after Federal redesigned the ogive of their 230gr Hydra-Shok, and it proved reliable in my pistol, I started carrying it.

I won't believe in "magic bullets" until I find them being sold alongside "magic beans", and the beans really will grow a beanstalk above the smog.;) Well, maybe not even then ...

In the meantime, I've found what my various pistols "like", which includes periodically function-testing newer production lots of the same ammunition to make sure the manufacturers haven't "improved" anything which adversely affects functional reliability in MY pistols. I rely on various other folks and agencies to periodically test similar ammunition in controlled gelatin testing, for the same reasons. Production variations can cause performance "variations" when it comes to the equipment used to manufacture bullets, especially JHP/BHP bullets.

I also find the .38 Special to be MY lowest acceptable caliber for a defensive weapon, and prefer something larger when possible, particularly when on duty. On the other hand ... I also consider the mental state, shooting abilities and skills of the operator to be of surpassing importance when it comes to actually using defensive weapons chambered in "reasonable" service calibers.

If I absolutely HAVE to go into some dark and forbidding situation, give me the experienced and SKILLED veteran cop (shooter), even if he's only armed with a M10 revolver loaded with 158gr SWC ammunition ... instead of the young, untested fellow carrying the latest high-tech, polymer & unobtanium framed pistol, who has TOTAL faith in the ability of his ammunition to do all the work.

Yes, I've seen enough ballistics testing to believe that better designed bullets do offer improved performance in many situations ... but the bullets have to land where they're needed, first.

I've also learned of some instances where "poor performing" .45 hardball rounds worked with a single round ... effectively, and terminally so. That doesn't mean they always do, or will, or that I recommend them to folks carrying .45 weapons on their CCW.

I think the subject of ammunition "performance" requires our constant attention when it comes to the increasing improvements in both design and technological capability in production. New developments are occurring all the time.

Ammunition is still just ammunition, though ... and the shooter must still possess the necessary knowledge, skills and abilities to "effectively" use the ammunition.

Can "high performance" ammunition reasonably compensate for poor shooter skills and accuracy?

Can good shooting skills and accuracy reasonably compensate for "less effectively performing" ammunition?

You tell me ... because I'm not an expert. This is a personal risk assessment issue, and it's ultimately up to everyone to decide for themselves, hopefully after considering enough good information to make an informed choice ... and then revisit the issue to see if the same choice is still the "best" choice next month ... next year ... etc.

As an instructor, I don't want any of the folks I train to accept whatever I may say as "dogma", because it's not, and I don't intend for it to be taken that way ... Okay, once we get beyond basic safety issues, anyway ;).

I prefer they realize they must always be able to think for themselves, and exercise some degree of flexibility in their world view. "New" doesn't always mean "better", but it might ... and how "wise" would it be to deliberately ignore any opportunity to become more knowledgeable, and better equipped/prepared?

Personally, I think Dave is to be applauded for be willing to ask such a "basic" question on an open forum, especially considering how some folks react on public forums. It's probably a wise choice to do so on this forum, in that respect, and I'm guessing that's why Dave chose this one.

I've certainly listened to the information offered carefully ...

In one sense, an instructor is a perpetual student ... with some heavy responsibilities to other, less knowledgeable students ... and if we stop learning, we stop learning.

Thanks Dave ...;)

Nanuk
12-01-2003, 04:03 AM
Back in the 80;s I worked for a large PD in Texas. I saw many, many shootings. 38 spec wadcutter???? dont bother just makes em mad.... I saw a .380 shatter a shoulderblade ( from the front) and a femure. 9mm bullets at the time were lousy. The 357 mag ruled. 158 grn sjhp penetrates DEEP....but works. 145 grn silvertip was the choice of most officers (for vampires and werewolves). I like a 45 acp, but saw it bounce off of bumbers on some 60-70 vintage cars and windows. For personal protection I love the 45 acp but for LE i think it is too underpowered. Today I carry a H&K USP/C .40 with 155 grn fed.

Dave T
12-01-2003, 06:28 AM
Anthony,

Mr DiFabio is correct in that I was speaking a little "toung in cheek" reguarding the Federal Hydra-Shok. Back in the 1990s it was considered the end-all, be-all of selfdefense loads. It was the one all others were compaired to. In the last year or so it has become something of a pariah. This change in status of nearly 180 degrees is one of the things that has led to my profound dis-belief in "magic bullets".

Just to illistrate this a bit more - for 60 some years the 45 ACP made it's reputation as a "man stopper" with Ball. These days ball is considered far to much of a penatrator and of questionalable stopping ability. Only hollow points will do...but not just any hollow point. It has to be the partiuclar load that is in current favor. Trouble is, that favor changes almost monthly. After 30 some years of this business I am tempted to say (but then I can't say that on a public forum, now can I).

If it was just me I wouldn't post such dumb questions, but I am an instructor and feel a obligation to my students, so...I keep asking questions and continue to learn.

PS: fastbolt got where I'm coming from. Thanks fastbolt!

Anthony
12-01-2003, 09:04 AM
Dave T,
I guess I was alittle slow catching on to your 'toung in cheek'.
FWIW, I've never believed in 'magic bullets' either. I chose Hydra-shoks some time ago, - over ball, because of the M&S writings ! ( Yes, one more who fell for it all !) I personally had no problems with ball upto that point, ( although I had a preference for the TC.)

I used for Practical Pistol, - a lead H&G SWC, 200 grns, at about 900 fps.
During a year, I shot alot of varmin, and other animals with this sharp shouldered bullet. Duck, geese, fox, sheep etc. I must say that with good bullet placement, it was a great killer. Almost all, one shot stops.

Regards,
Anthony.

Vig Creed
12-22-2003, 12:28 PM
Why is it that handgun ballistics always seems to degenerate into irrational debate?

IMO, bullet choice is only 10%-20% of the self-defense equation. AWARENESS and shooting FIRST, FAST, ACCURATE and LAST is the other 80%-90%.

But...........it's still comforting to know that your caliber/bullet choice is a top performer on the street, isn't it?

:D creed :D

Dave T
12-24-2003, 04:23 PM
Mr. Creed,

Not every, or even most,

"... HIGH VELOCITY (1100+ fps) expanding handgun bullet(s)...",

will in fact produce,

"...large diameter, very damaging, deep holes...".

There in lies the difficulty! Depending on which test, web site, expert or article you accept the answer varies endlessly. So you see, it isn't, "...really pretty simple."

That is precisly what led me to my original post. I guess this means we have come full circle and accomplished absolutely nothing. Maybe it's time to bury this one?

Al Lipscomb
12-25-2003, 07:47 AM
I followed a number of sources looking for the "magic bullet" and wasted a lot of time and money. Several designs seem to float to the top when tested with meaningful methods by independent testers. I would use any of them.

There are a lot of people who have selected a bullet that does not score as well on today's tests. Sometimes they have valid reasons for their selection, sometimes not. People do strange things.

For my part I understand that both the techology of bullet design as well as the technology of bullet testing have progressed over the years. Better models have been created and larger samples of "real world data" have been used to verify the models. Most important is knowing what causes a bullet to fail.

Vig Creed
12-25-2003, 08:41 AM
Mr. Creed,

Not every, or even most,

"... HIGH VELOCITY (1100+ fps) expanding handgun bullet(s)...",

"...large diameter, very damaging, deep holes...".


DT,

I don't think you understood my post correctly.

Merry Christmas!

creed

Sleuth
01-14-2004, 10:36 AM
Dave T is in his usual mode of asking thoughtful, and thought provoking questions.

My general answer to 'bullistics' questions is SHOT PLACEMENT.
My students are told to carry the most powerful handgun THEY CAN CONTROL. Then, choose a bullet, designed since the late 80's by a major manufacturer, that functions 100% in their chosen gun. Shoot enough of them to be sure of that 100% reliability, then find an inexpensive practice load, and shoot lots of it. Spend the rest of their effort and cash on training.

Dave, I think the "magic" you are looking for is in placing the bullet where it will most effectivly stop the attack. Advertising aside, any of the modern bullets, in .38/9mm or larger, are capabile if the rest of the system (operator, handgun) can get it to the right place.

nightowl
02-19-2004, 10:36 PM
FWIW I simply decided go to Hydrashock 230gr for CCW with Hardball close at hand if needed. I'm tired of hype/sales etc. I know the 45 acp does its job, I just gotta do my part.
I like the Big Holes, Big Leaks doctrine.

Al Lipscomb
02-20-2004, 06:16 AM
FWIW I simply decided go to Hydrashock 230gr for CCW with Hardball close at hand if needed. I'm tired of hype/sales etc. I know the 45 acp does its job, I just gotta do my part.
I like the Big Holes, Big Leaks doctrine.

When I had a Corvette it came with belted tires. They were state-of-the-art at the time. When I purchased it from the original owner I put high quality radial tires on it. The belted tires "did the job" so why change? Today few would want to put belted tires on their car when radials are available.

When the Hydra-Shok came out it was a top end round. Today, although improved, it is not as good a bullet as others. I will take one of the newer designes that offers a little more for my money.

Of course since Federal has announced the end of the Hydra-Shok production the choice will be easier.

ISRAELI EXTREMIST
02-20-2004, 10:50 AM
Hi my name is Itshak (Ike) and I am Happy to have joined
this forum,it seems to be one of the most informative forums i have seen, I am sorry that another forum that I used to frequent is no more. I am happy to see that the consensus is that there is no magic bullet but good shot placement,what I do not undrestand is ,if the Federal Hydra Shock was the rage years ago there must have been a good reason for it like good terminal performance/stopping power or lots of hype generated by gun writers or advertisement. Of course new developments in bullet quality coused it to fall behind, so there is no reason that if you are carrying Federal Hydra Shock you are in a disadvantage if you place your shots effectively. We can not say that bullet placement is the most important thing even if it is ball ammo and then put down one brand or another of ammo, Which is it?
Now to my next topic of barrel length if all of the above is a moot point then in a 45 ACP 3, 4, or 5 inch barrel, length would not matter all the time it had enough penetration and it would penetrate more from a 3 inch barrel then from a 5 inch barrel, because even a hollow pointe would expand less from a short barrel then from a long one,so is it important or not?
Thanks. Itshak

Sleuth
02-20-2004, 11:04 AM
Welcome - pull up an ammo crate & sit a spell.

1. Given the same bullet placement, some rounds expand better than others, thus are more effective. In our search for the best in personal defense, we seek out the most effective round because we realize our shot placement will not always be perfect. We hope the most effective round will compensate for this to some extent. Hydro Schocks are not bad, but some feel other rounds are better. Ball is a poor choice, even with very good bullet placement.

2. Shorter barrels usually mean less velocity, and less energy to act as a wounding mechanism. Thus, less expansion and less penitration. This loss of effectiveness is compensated for by the increased ease of carry. The short .45 in your pocket is far more effecive than the 5" 1911 in your safe when you need it.

dsapp
02-20-2004, 12:38 PM
you said "Of course since Federal has announced the end of the Hydra-Shok production the choice will be easier"...

well , I've heard this rumor before, and I have contacted Federal myself by phone, and in late 2003, and still today Febuary 20th, 2004 there are NO such plans to do away with the best-selling bullet line of all time...

and besides that... look at this OSS update.... the HydraShok's are at 95% with over 200 shootings in .45ACP

how could they be called "worthless" like some posters say???

Anthony
02-20-2004, 12:47 PM
Sleuth,
We used to say: - "pull up a sandbag".
Same as an 'ammo box'. Just a slight 'slang difference' from different sides of the Atlantic.
But:
I LIKE BALL ! Always have. I know that it's not the best over there for various reasons. But at least it get's through to the heart of the matter. ( Excuse the pun ;) )

Before anyone enters criticising me, I know that ball is no-longer a practical choice for you guys. And for good reason. But I have always liked penetration. ;)

Welcome Ike. And how are you Sleuth ?

Regards,
Anthony.

Sleuth
02-20-2004, 12:55 PM
Doing well, Mate.

When it comes to ammo choices, we all get to make our own. I would never reccomend ball, in any caliber below 75mm. But, all you are betting is your life.

I have the Mission Essential Needs Statement for the ideal personal defense round (IPDR). Self Guiding, Outlaw Discriminating (it cannot hit a good guy), 100% Incapacitating, Long Range, and the size, report and recoil of a .22 short.
Anyone care to invest in the development stage?

I will always try to carry the most effective round, as I am not a perfect shot. Your choices may vary.

Anthony
02-20-2004, 01:13 PM
Doing well, Mate.

When it comes to ammo choices, we all get to make our own. I would never reccomend ball, in any caliber below 75mm. But, all you are betting is your life.

I have the Mission Essential Needs Statement for the ideal personal defense round (IPDR). Self Guiding, Outlaw Discriminating (it cannot hit a good guy), 100% Incapacitating, Long Range, and the size, report and recoil of a .22 short.
Anyone care to invest in the development stage?

I will always try to carry the most effective round, as I am not a perfect shot. Your choices may vary.


:D :D :D

I'm out of here. Looking after some tourists who want to go to the hinterlands for Carnaval.
I'll be back on thursday.
All the best,
Anthony.

ISRAELI EXTREMIST
02-20-2004, 02:10 PM
Sleuth i completly agree that you should use the best
expanding and the best constructed bullet out there,so can any body tell me which hollow point bullet expands out of a 3 inch
Kimber ultra, I can not carry any thing with a longer barrel because I do not like the IWB carry mode and prefer the pancake belt slide to it and having a short torso I can not carry too high
a position either. With my kimber ultra I carry 230 grain golden sabers, with my Kahr P40 180 grain Rangers and in the summer
with my pocket PM9 Ranger 115 grain +P+ ammo. I hope in time of need and I hope that time never comes,what I carry will work
and save me or my family or who ever else I might be protecting at that time and hope for the best shot placement on my part and the function and accuracy of my weapon. Having been in two wars
I have seen many killed with FMJ ammo and people still fighting with 2 or 3 bullets in them. So I think aside from all of the above it also comes down to ARE YOU READY TO FIGHT BACK WITH DEADLY FORCE when that time comes? and thanks for the wellcome to the forum to you all.

Thanks.
Itshak

Sleuth
02-20-2004, 02:26 PM
The ammo you have sounds good to me, with the possible exception of the 115g 9mm - in that small a gun, you may not obtain enough velocity to expand that round. I'll let others comment.

Rather than worrying about the ammo, spend the time/money on training and practice. Superior shot placement reduces the need for super-duper hot shot ammo. It sounds like you have the experience of two wars, so I would focus on the software (training) rather than the hardware (ammo/guns/holsters).

Al Lipscomb
02-21-2004, 01:52 PM
you said "Of course since Federal has announced the end of the Hydra-Shok production the choice will be easier"...

well , I've heard this rumor before, and I have contacted Federal myself by phone, and in late 2003, and still today Febuary 20th, 2004 there are NO such plans to do away with the best-selling bullet line of all time...

and besides that... look at this OSS update.... the HydraShok's are at 95% with over 200 shootings in .45ACP

how could they be called "worthless" like some posters say???

Never said they were "worthless". Never said belted tires were incapable of being used. Just said that there were better. The end of Hyrda-Shok was reported by some fairly reliable sources (http://www.thegunzone.com/efmj.html). Of course there may have been a change due to marketing issues and contractual obligations. But they are losing LEO contracts to the other guys so something will change.

As for the "OSS" numbers. They are nonsense. As I have said on other forums go take a college statistics class and you will be embarassed to have fallen for that mistake.

Mountain Gunner
02-21-2004, 08:02 PM
we know today thanks to the work of Gene Wolberg and other criminologists that 12-14" provides the "magic" depth we have been looking for.

Can someone point me to more information on this? Is this due to fear of over penetration? Why does 12-14" perform better than 14-18"?

Dave T
02-22-2004, 11:01 AM
Shame on me! I started this thread and hadn't checked on it in quite a wile.

Someone earlier told me not to worry about "magic bullets" and concentrate on placement. Friend, I have been working on that for, lets see now, must be 34 years. Maybe I'll get the hang of it one of these days.

You will be happy to know I have finally arrived. Yesterday I got to test fire a couple boxes of Winchester 230g Ranger Talons, the supposed LEO only load. Functioned, grouped and hit POI with my carry gun (Wilson KZ-45 Compact) so I guess that is my new carry round. Sure am relieved to finally be safe. All those years of carrying ball (LEO career) and Hydra-Shoks (retired LEO) sure were dangerous, particularly since I didn't quite have that "placement" thing down pat.

Oh, someone asked about 3" 1911s. Mr. DeFabbio recommended the PMC/Taurus sold copper 185g JHP for my wife's Ultra carry so I shot a box yesterday in the Ultra CDP I recently aquired. Surprisingly soft recoil but will supposedly open up. Thank goodness she will soon be safe too.

Keep your head down and your powder dry - as they used to say!