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Exit wounds vs staying in the body

Discussion in 'GATE Self-Defense Forum' started by cowboy1964, Jan 1, 2011.

  1. cowboy1964


    Likes Received:
    Sep 4, 2009
    There is a debate going on in the caliber forum right now about whether it is more effective in stopping someone if the bullet goes all the way through or stops in the body. The "exiter proponents", as I call them, think that the exit wound will be massive and will cause bleed out faster. I see no added stopping benefit in punching through the fat and skin on the opposite side. To me that just probably means the bullet did not expand optimally. I'm not planning on stopping threats by hoping they'll bleed out before they can kill me or my family.

    This is precisely why JHP's trump FMJ's, right?

    (Collateral damage is another reason to avoid over penetration but that can be ignored for the purposes of this question)
  2. Mas Ayoob

    Mas Ayoob KoolAidAntidote Moderator

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    Nov 6, 2005
    Cowboy, while I agree that danger to others from overpenetrating bullets can be overlooked for the purposes of a theoretical discussion, I don't think it can be overlooked from an overall perspective of defensive ammo selection. (Judging by your insightful comments in that thread, I don't think you'd overlook it either.)

    As in so many complicated questions, the answer is, "It depends." The test gel block is homogeneous, and no one square inch of it is more important to the survival of the structure than any other. In that complicated melange of skeletal support frame, control computer and wiring, and fuel pump and tubing that is the human body, "it depends" what structures are damaged along the wound track.

    I'm unaware of any empirical studies on speed/volume of blood loss that compare a bullet lodged under the skin at the end of a front-to-back torso wound track versus a perforating wound in which the bullet escaped the body through an exit hole. As you noted in the thread, it doesn't matter whether the exsanguinated blood pools in a body cavity or on the sidewalk, so long as it is taken out of the circulatory stream and not providing oxygen to the brain to sustain conscious, purposeful physical activity.

    If the exit wound is in the thorax, thoracic vacuum is violated and external air can squeeze down the lungs in tension pneumothorax, the "sucking chest wound." However, the wound track may be such that if there is no exit and blood is pooling heavily in the chest, where it can squeeze down the heart (hemothorax). Hence, "it depends."

    In the thread in question, you wisely noted that deeper penetration may be associated with a narrower wound track, i.e., the expanding 124 grain Gold Dot 9mm +P versus the non-expanding 230 grain FMJ .45 projectile. DEPENDING ON THE LOCATION OF THE WOUND TRACK, the sharp edge of the deformed 9mm, now expanded to .50 or .60 caliber or more, MAY have lacerated the aorta and initiated massive blood loss, while the round nose of the non-deformed .45 MAY have just bumped the aorta in passing and caused no damage to it while en route to its exit point.

    "It depends," and it's largely theoretical.

    What's more dependable and practical is this: if you've shot the homicidal threat, and it's still up and running, shoot it again until it isn't, and worry about the autopsy report/medical report later.