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CONCERNS OF BULLET OVER-PENETRATION IN CIVILIAN SHOOTINGS

CONCERNS OF BULLET OVER-PENETRATION IN CIVILIAN SHOOTINGS

PREFACE
This essay will deal with the dynamics of potential bullet over-penetration in normal civilian settings as opposed to war-time settings. It is meant to open your mind to all sides of the discussion regarding over-penetration in “carry” guns. It offers no definitive answers, but offers open minded, clear thinking.

DISMAL STATS
In most police department shootings, around 80% of shots fired at humans, miss the human target and that means the bullet is going to head in the direction it was fired, until its kinetic energy is expended one-way-or-the-other. In civilian self-defense shootings, a similar percentage of shots fired miss the human target. Considering this, why are we so worried about over-penetration of the 20% of shots fired that actually hit the human target, when the much greater percentage of shots fired miss the human target and continue on? I am NOT saying that bullet over-penetration should be of no concern, but I am suggesting that we have turned that issue into something much bigger than reality says it is.  A missed shot that hits an innocent bystander will land us and the poor bystander in as much trouble as a bullet that over-penetrated the human target and hit a bystander, right? In fact, there is the likelihood that the bullet that struck the intended human target and spent most of its energy on that target, would not have nearly the momentum remaining to continue on to do as much harm for as great a distance as the bullet that missed its target altogether and has retained its energy!

LIMIT RISK BY PONDERING THE WHOLE  
None of us want to be involved in the shooting of another human, but if the situation we find ourselves in, dictates that we must shoot another human to save innocent lives, we may find ourselves needing a bullet that will penetrate heavy winter clothing, stick frame walls, car doors, windshields or whatever soft cover our threat may have jumped behind for the moment. My carry pistols for public/urban carry, generally have an expanding bullet in the chamber and maybe one more, first up, in the magazine, but all the remaining ammo in the magazine will utilize non-expanding bullets so that I can shoot through some types of soft cover………for decades African hunters have used a “soft” (expanding bullets) for their first shot, but all the remaining ammo in their rifle feature “solids” that will not mushroom and will give extreme penetration under a variety of angles and conditions. Consider that your day is already going so badly you end up in a gun fight…….do you really want ammo that will not penetrate deeply enough to get the job done on any shot other than a “frontal” on an averaged sized or smaller person, that is not wearing winter clothing?

If we knew ahead of time that our upcoming gun fight would be against a man that faces us frontally, stands still, is by himself, in daylight, weighs under 150 lbs., is wearing only a tee shirt and he will not jump behind cover, we could get by with using only expanding ammo that will never over-penetrate a human torso, but the reality is that we need to be prepared for the worst case scenario, which is why we carry firearms in the first place.

PROPER PREPAREDNESS VIA SMART AMMO CHOICES
All ammo choices will involve some sort of trade-off or compromise. The key is to think through the possibilities of a gun fight ahead of time and choose ammo that will work for the conditions under which you “carry”.

All gun fights will involve considerable risk, which is why we should avoid them to the best of our ability, but if we are forced to shoot, we need ammunition that will cover a wide range of needs and conditions, which means under some circumstances, the bullet may over-penetrate a small, frontal, lightly clad human target, but under other circumstances, (a bigger bad guy at a bad angle wearing heavy clothes, etc.) it may not get the job done unless it is capable of extreme penetration.

MAKE THE BEST OF A BAD DAY
Gun fights are sloppy tragic propositions and if you find yourself in one, you will have already had a bad day, but if you are prepared and cool headed, you may save your life and/or the lives of many innocent people. Make smart ammo choices part of your preparedness. Only you can choose what your particular parameters are.

Good shooting and God bless,
Tim