William The Coroner’s Forensic Files

Thursday, 13, January, 2011

You’re Not Helping

Filed under: Boomstick — williamthecoroner @ 22:05

I have been working on a research project on ammunition and stopping power. The prevailing wisdom amongst the self-defense community is the larger caliber, the higher the speed, and the more fancy the bullet the better. Some people dislike 1911 pistols, because they feed very well with 230 grain ball, but may be finicky about 185 grain hollow points. From the autopsy perspective, I have personally observed that actually hitting the target is much more important than bullet type, or even bullet size. If I had to rank them, it would go hit, size, type.

But a lot of ink has been spilled on the topic, and my observations are just that, observations. They aren’t data. So, this semester I have put my minions(TM) to work, and we will be pulling autopsy charts and looking at recovered projectiles and getting some numbers that we can analyze. As I intend to publish, and there is no free lunch, I am getting in touch with several ammunition manufacturers, so see if they might be interested in sponsoring this research. Hornaday were very nice, and their voice mail system actually made me laugh out loud. Remington, on the other hand, kept me on hold for over half an hour. Not totally unexpected when you’re asking for a favour, but the Remington representatives said they usually only offered support in kind. That is, they’re willing to send me lots of ammunition (or firearms) for my study, but I then have to go shoot it myself.

As I only have three graduate students at the moment, the numbers of that study might be a too low to be really rigorous. Also, I happen to like my students very much, and even if they were willing to let me shoot them multiple times with various kinds of bullets, I don’t really want to do that. I also think my department chair, and the Dean would not approve of the study–among other folks.



  1. Um… yeah, probably not… What about ballistics gelatin?

    Comment by Old NFO — Friday, 14, January, 2011 @ 19:07 | Reply

    • Ballistics gelatin isn’t bad, but it’s not alive, and doesn’t stop. Live animals would work, but they are expensive, and if you are looking at stopping power you can’t anesthetize them. Also, if you are going to eat the animal, you can’t anesthetize it either, and I’d rather avoid that sort of work if I can help it.

      Comment by williamthecoroner — Friday, 14, January, 2011 @ 22:10

  2. I suppose trolling through the local druggie territory late on a Friday night wouldn’t work well either.

    But you could follow the cop cars to the scene!

    Comment by Crucis — Saturday, 15, January, 2011 @ 16:03 | Reply

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