Sunday, October 14, 2012
Firearm Myth: Hollow Point ammunition
This is going to be a series addressing myths and misconceptions about firearms and weapons. A lot of these are projected by accident by people who are simply not aware of the mistake or intentionally by the media and anti firearm political groups and a lot of these I encounter personally both among shooters and non shooters alike. These are simple misunderstandings pushed out by uninformed people and sometimes it is for the intention of scaring people.
Now despite that little introduction I wish to clarify I am not a subject matter expert, I am not a ballastician, or a medical examiner or lawyer or anything with a fancy acronym after my name. (2013 UPDATE: I am somebody with a fancy acronym after my name now.)
Myth: Hollow Point rounds were intended to kill people easier
Reality: While theoretically a Hollow Point will kill easier or inflict more damage that was not the key intention of the design. the priority is slowing the round down.
A hollow point round is a projectile that has a kind of cavity drilled into the centre of the round. The intention of this design and the reason that most law enforcement carry hollow point rounds is that upon impact with the rounds target the bullet will expand out which will slow the round down and as such will improve the odds of the round staying inside the body. The cause for this rapid expansion is that we as human beings are mostly made of water. And when it hits that hard that quickly water is more or less like hitting concrete. The water enters the cavity of the round and pushes through it more or less causing a massive expansion of the round in some ballistic tests the round almost doubles in size upon impact, sometimes it breaks up into several particles and fly's in different directions inside the body.
NOW a by product of that effect is that the round can potentially cause more "damage" internally. But the purpose of the design is not from a lethality standpoint the goal is to slow the round down so it will stay inside the body as opposed to passing through the body and moving on until it stops. Like all rounds it is designed to kill but its not designed to be a magic super bullet that will kill everything with impunity its designed so that when you shoot someone the bullet doesn't exit the body and move on to "hit the gas tank of a school bus full of nuns." (Credit to TheHossUSMC for that line)
The reason why police and why armed citizens carry hollow points is that traditionally we fight inside very close to medium range environments and often times there may be bystanders present. Think of the distance as like the width of a car, the length of a car, the length of a hallway, the length of your driveway. relatively short distances and most of these are in built up areas where you will probably find bystanders and people who you dont want to shoot.
Another instance where you want to control penetration would be in a controlled or pressurised environment such as an aircraft. you want to stop the round inside the body by expanding and slowing down so as not to cause an unwanted effect to the aircraft.
All in all I feel that the point of stopping the round is the priority in a Hollow Point bullet and the fragmentation and expansion is simply an added benefit