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  1. #1
    nukehayes's Avatar
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    Have humans become more 'Bulletproof'

    Well on the midwatch last night I had some time alone with my thoughts, I know, it was pretty scary Anyway, I was composing a wishlist of handguns that I want to own and grouping them by caliber. A good bunch of them are military guns that have been used by various countries in many wars and battles. I also noticed that as time went on, the "military" caliber has changed from as small as .32ACP (7.65mm) in such platforms as the Walther PP to .38 spl to .380 and to 9mm and .45 I think some countries used to not let civilians own guns over a certain caliber due to being a military round. What defines it as a military round? And if it is good enough for the military in the '30s to use with ball ammo, why is .32auto these days looked down upon as being too small and not having enough 'stopping power'? Is it due to advances in medicine? Did people die more often back in the day from smaller bullets? It seemed to work 50 years ago for the German Police and other countries, why is it obselete now? Is the increase in caliber due to narcotics being more common in recent years so therefore we need 'more powerful' bullets to stop a threat. Do we need more powerful handguns these days for CCW to ensure our attackers cannot testify and win against us in court due to the legal system giving more rights to our assailants than to the average Joe trying to protect himself? Are we going to carry larger caliber guns in the next 50 years? Back in the day pocket guns were .25Auto like the Colt vest pocket model 1908 (another on my list) It may also be because of increases in technology and metallurgy that we can make more powerful weapons.

    Conversely, I noticed Rifle calibers are on the fall. WWI and WWII saw us using the .30-06 in the Springfield 1903 and the M1 Garand. The caliber went down to .308 with the M-14 and M1A during the Korean war and early Vietnam. Middle and late Vietnam to present, we adopted the .223 in the M-16. Is the caliber going to drop again in the future? It seems we are trading velocity and caliber for more ammo. Is this because the military standards for marksmanship are going down so now the average soldier needs more ammo to hit his target? What about penetration through cover. Especially in todays modern urban combat, I've heard stories of troops shooting at the enemy who were behind brick walls and not being able to do any damage. Give those guys a .30-06 and that fight would be over fast.

    Does all of this sound funny to you? I know, I was bored and asked myself a lot of questions, but it's curious isn't it. What are your thoughts?

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  3. #2
    dourdave is offline Junior Member
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    Well, son-of-a-gun, Nuke, ya got me thinking some about my past ! Now, my past was a long, long time ago, but some of the ancient concepts may still apply. Let's see:

    A good guy shoots at a bad guy. Consider "fire" probability (a discharge occurs), then, "hit probability" (the bad guy takes the projectile), then "kill probability (the bad guy is ineffective), then lethality (the bad guy, or assembly of bad guys, is/are dead). The bad guy can be one individual, a bunker, a tank, a plane, etc. With respect to handguns, I think the military, the LEO's and the civilians have different concepts and ideals with respect to the defeat of the bad guys. Let's assume that the military shooters are in groups: They are all trained, but the good ones survive to do it again and again. They learn to use what they are provided or what they can get on their own. The LEO's are also trained but rarely engage in a life threatening situation. They may swager a bit, but most of their time is spent in non-threatening situations. So---what do they need--- something easily controlled and relatively reliable (hit probability). Since there appears to be no "thing" as stopping power in a handgun, multiple hits appear to be a worthy goal. Us civilians, however, appear to be able to afford good weaponary, lotsa training (our own $$$), lotsa interest and desire, and sincere motivation to "do good" with respect to our loved ones and neighbors. We are rarely at risk but practice frequently.

    I was trained that "2 in the body and 1 in the head" was perfection. I am now old-----my objective is for as many hits to the body as I can manage. It is easier to miss the head than the body. Does it make any difference which bullet (9mm, 357SIG, 40S&W, 45) hits the body ? Sure----but out of 4 shots, how many hits can you (me) deliver. I'll take the 9mm and hope for lotsa hits.

    About the long gun change in objective: If I remember correctly, the .223 "tumbles" a bit during it's path toward the target. WOW ! A high velocity tumbling mass vs. a moderate velocity linear mass. Think about it. I do not want to be behind a brick wall if being shot at with a barrage of .223 ammo.

    I do not think there is a definate answer to your question/quandry, but I think there are definate answers to situations that are significant to survival in the most confronted situations of the group (military, LEO, civilians) trying to survive.

    I am now a non-combatant. I want to protect my loved ones and myself. I will use that which is comfortable and "lethal" for the encounters I somehow expect. The second sentence of the second paragraph is my mantra.

    Keep thinking, Nuke, you are on the right track. You are the future.

    Dave

  4. #3
    TOF's Avatar
    TOF
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    If we just knew what caliber rock David used to slay Goliath we could settle in on the perfect round.

    I don't recall which weapon was used in the Cain-Able confrontation but that might also shed some light on the caliber/velocity question.

    Keep thinking and enjoy.

    Edit: I should add; 2 to the body and 1 to the head in a continuing cycle till the BG is down and out. He might be wearing body armor and, even given the lower probability of head shots, one might be required.

    Last edited by TOF; 07-22-2007 at 08:06 PM.

  5. #4
    Baldy's Avatar
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    Back when .25cals & .32cals were the thing to have most were carried by the dudes, elites, and gamblers in our country. People were shot across a card table or in a bar at close ranges. Not always did they stop the agressor who might die a month later from an infection from the wound. So lots of times both died just at different times. With todays durg culture you have use something that will stop the threat now.
    I have read in medical & police reports where a man can be shot through the heart and it still takes one mintue for him to bleed out. Scramble his brain and the fights over. Shoot through him and break his back bone and he's done. So that tells me that you want to practice the old Mozambique Drill of 2 to the chest and 1 to the head. It's true the head is a small target but if he's coming at you it gets bigger in a hurry.
    Good thread Mr Nukehayes.

  6. #5
    Mike Barham's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nukehayes View Post
    Well on the midwatch last night I had some time alone with my thoughts, I know, it was pretty scary
    Heh, I was in a guard tower all night with two Afghans who spoke maybe three words of English between them! Gotta love the military!

    ...noticed that as time went on, the "military" caliber has changed from as small as .32ACP (7.65mm) in such platforms as the Walther PP to .38 spl to .380 and to 9mm and .45 I think some countries used to not let civilians own guns over a certain caliber due to being a military round. What defines it as a military round?
    I think it depends on the country you're talking about. Italy used to prohibit rounds that, say, Mexico didn't. Of course since government bureaucrats decide what is allowed and what isn't, it naturally makes no sense at all.

    And if it is good enough for the military in the '30s to use with ball ammo, why is .32auto these days looked down upon as being too small and not having enough 'stopping power'? Is it due to advances in medicine? Did people die more often back in the day from smaller bullets? It seemed to work 50 years ago for the German Police and other countries, why is it obselete now?
    Well, the American military never relied on such things (except for some largely ceremonial pistols for general officers). I think it's because Americans as a whole have had vastly more collective experience with gunfighting than Europeans have had. As well, Europe has a much longer history of advocacy for criminals, which is a more recent phenomenon in the US. It really took terrorism, starting in earnest in the 1970s, to wake up the Europeans to the inadequacy of their armament.

    Is the increase in caliber due to narcotics being more common in recent years so therefore we need 'more powerful' bullets to stop a threat. Do we need more powerful handguns these days for CCW to ensure our attackers cannot testify and win against us in court due to the legal system giving more rights to our assailants than to the average Joe trying to protect himself?
    We need more powerful handguns partially because, as your title notes, bad guys are more bulletproof these days. Aside from the extreme prevalence of drugs among criminals, think about what we do when we catch a bad guy. We stick him in prison where he does little but work out for a few years at taxpayer expense. He comes out on the other end tougher and stronger and more muscular. He's now a lot more resistant to gunfire than some pasty, nicotine-craving European thief.

    Are we going to carry larger caliber guns in the next 50 years?
    I don't think so. The trend seems to have peaked with the .45ACP or 10mm. Now it's going the other way with .40S&W, .357 SIG, etc.

    Back in the day pocket guns were .25Auto like the Colt vest pocket model 1908 (another on my list) It may also be because of increases in technology and metallurgy that we can make more powerful weapons.
    Remember also that the revolution in gunfighting knowledge didn't really begin until after WWII with Jeff Cooper. Granted, there were others before him, but systematic research didn't really begin until the 1950s, so turn-of-the-century gun carriers didn't have the knowledge base we now possess.

    As you astutely note, we can also make guns smaller yet more powerful with modern design and materials. Compare a KelTec P3AT to a Walther PPK or a SIG P232. Compare a Kahr PM9 to a Walther P38 or Browning P35.

    Conversely, I noticed Rifle calibers are on the fall. WWI and WWII saw us using the .30-06 in the Springfield 1903 and the M1 Garand. The caliber went down to .308 with the M-14 and M1A during the Korean war and early Vietnam. Middle and late Vietnam to present, we adopted the .223 in the M-16. Is the caliber going to drop again in the future?
    I think it may. Look at the trends like the FN P90.

    It seems we are trading velocity and caliber for more ammo. Is this because the military standards for marksmanship are going down so now the average soldier needs more ammo to hit his target?
    Firefights are busy and chaotic. The bad guys are a lot harder to hit than the pop-ups on the qual range. Guys who routinely shoot Expert may go through most of a mag trying to hit a single haji. It's just the nature of modern warfare, not a flaw in our soldiers.

    What about penetration through cover. Especially in todays modern urban combat, I've heard stories of troops shooting at the enemy who were behind brick walls and not being able to do any damage. Give those guys a .30-06 and that fight would be over fast.
    It's a tough call. Sometimes our guys roll up on a village and can't use a heavy weapon like an M2 for fear of blasting through the adobe huts and killing innocents. So sometime you don't want a lot of penetration.

    As it stands now, we have the M4s for CQB and the crew-served weapons if we need to chop through cover. It seems to work fine. We win every engagement, anyway, so I don't really see a need to change what we're doing. Giving everyone a .30-caliber rifle would cause more problems than it solves.

    Does all of this sound funny to you? I know, I was bored and asked myself a lot of questions, but it's curious isn't it. What are your thoughts?
    I think you made a great observation. I think what we're really seeing is the specialization of calibers for gunfighting, and the realization that calibers suited to gunfighting need only be within a relatively narrow band of power.
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  7. #6
    Mike Barham's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dourdave View Post
    I was trained that "2 in the body and 1 in the head" was perfection. I am now old-----my objective is for as many hits to the body as I can manage. It is easier to miss the head than the body. Does it make any difference which bullet (9mm, 357SIG, 40S&W, 45) hits the body ? Sure----but out of 4 shots, how many hits can you (me) deliver. I'll take the 9mm and hope for lotsa hits.
    Agreed. The old Mozambique Drill has really been replaced with the "shoot them to the ground" philosophy. Since we now incorporate movement into our drills, head shots are more difficult. Not that they were ever easy, they just seemed so on the square range where nothing moved.

    But of course, out of four shots, you need to make four hits. Not just for your survival, but because every bullet you launch has a lawyer attached to it.

    If I remember correctly, the .223 "tumbles" a bit during it's path toward the target. WOW ! A high velocity tumbling mass vs. a moderate velocity linear mass. Think about it. I do not want to be behind a brick wall if being shot at with a barrage of .223 ammo.
    .223 does not tumble in flight. If it did, you wouldn't be able to hit anything with it. The older M193 rounds were unstable and would yaw when they struck flesh, however, often splitting at the cannelure.

    But that has nothing to do with hard cover. I'd be delighted to hide behind a brick wall if a guy was shooting tumbling little .22s at me, though.
    Last edited by Mike Barham; 07-23-2007 at 09:00 AM.
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  8. #7
    Anxiety.'s Avatar
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    Bulletproof

    I'd say that some criminals are more bullet proof these days. I guy I went to Tech school with got into a shoot out once. He was in his apartment in Fargo. (Don't talk to me about the movie I didn't make it and i don't sound like that.) A guy broke in, so he ran to his room and got his .357mag(supposedly) I don't know for sure what he had. He shot the guy once in the abdomen area. The BG shot back hit my friend in the leg. So my friend shot back once more hitting him in the upper chest. That "stopped" him. The BG didn't die but he would have if the paramedics wouldn't have gotten there so fast. I guess the BG was really tweaked out.

    So I'd say drugs play a huge part in gun fights these days. At least in the civilian world.

  9. #8
    rachilders's Avatar
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    Isn't it interesting how pistol calibers considered "adequate" for use have generally been on the increase for the past half century while rifle calibers have done the exact opposite.

    Actually, I think it all has to do with the major threat of the times, the economy and what's PC at the moment. Here in the US, large calibers have more often been the rule (at least for the military) than the exception for all guns. Starting with the first cartridge pistols and rifles in the 1870's, rifle and pistol bullets were in the 40's until the Spanish-American war. By then, the caliber had dropped into the 30's (.38 Colt for revolvers) and in general they were adequate. The problem with the pistol caliber was it was packaged in a fairly mild load. When the military realized it lacked the stopping power of the old .45 Colt under some battle conditions, rather than make a more powerful load, they decided to return to a "known man stopper"... the .45, and designed a new round and pistol around it, the .45 caliber 1911Auto.

    Everything went fine for about 50 years but weapon's and tactics evolve. Warfare and how it was conducted changed between WWI and the cold war era, the same way it did the previous 50 years between the Civil War and WWI. Distance shots (beyond 100-200 yards) became the exception rather than the rule while close quarter, urban and jungle warfare was the new norm. For rifles, more available firepower in modern assault rifles led to smaller, faster bullets that allowed more rounds to be carried and more accurate control of the gun when firing multiple shots (have you ever tried to maintain accurate control of a BAR or M-14 on full auto!).

    With pistols, the need for more ammo and better control - the same as with rifles - led to the use of the 9mm (it was also meant as a concession to our NATO allies during the cold war) by the US military. The round is fine, but as per international agreement, only FMJ ball ammo is to be used by military forces. With the advent of body armor and new materials, the 9mm has sometimes proved to have less than enough stopping power and the military is - again - considering a return to a larger caliber.

    Bottom line is that modern bullet designs with modern powders make one shot stops more likely than they were 50-100 years ago. We need to remember that the goal of a bullet and the reason it is designed (at least where personal defense is concerned) is not necessarily to kill but to stop the threat ASAP. The 9mm ammo personal defense ammo used today has the one stop shot capability .45 FMJ had only a few years ago. However, other factors - like body armor and improvements an medicine - have made it more likely that a person who's shot will survive. It's all a matter of what's the priority at any given time and place.
    Last edited by rachilders; 07-23-2007 at 12:50 PM.

  10. #9
    dourdave is offline Junior Member
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    Mike,

    Well, Poop! I remember it was a .223. But then-------

    Anyway, in the early 70's I was involved with delivering shape charges to armor, bunkers and facilities. In a demonstration of our device, I remember a military counter-demonstration using an automatic rifle firing at a reinforced concrete block wall and completely demolishing it with one clip. That was very impressive. Our assault would display an explosion, only to leave the wall intact, except for a modest hole "drilled" by heat through the wall, and completely burning everything behind the wall.

    Needless to say, I was impressed with the military demonstration, but the ultimate consequence of the fire demonstration was ours to own.

    Any ideas on what round was used to demolish the "wall". Whatever it was, us "nerds" were impressed, but not convinced.

    Dave

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    Mike Barham's Avatar
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    The M855 ammo will penetrate deeper in hard cover than the old M193, but doesn't yaw and tumble as much in flesh. But M855 didn't enter service until the 1980s, along with the M16A2 and the 1/7" twist, so it couldn't have been used in the demo.

    M193 will break down a wall eventually, it will just take a while.
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  12. #11
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    Boy I wish I lived in the past where you could go down to your local hardware store and buy yourself a nice Tommy gun with a hundred round magazine. They were big bucks back then 350 that might be around 3k today but you would save on the 45 ammo back then so it would pay for itself in todays dollars. ACE where your local hardware Tommy toting man lives.

  13. #12
    dourdave is offline Junior Member
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    Mike,

    The "tumbling bullet" discussion a while back (7-23-07, this thresd) has bothered my sorry old brain until today. I ran in to a discussion that might be of interest to you:

    www.thehighroad.org/showthread.php?t=299751

    It was in the mid-60's that I saw a brick wall crumble. If I remember correctly there was one rifleman doing the demolition. Only took the blink of an eye. I was impressed.

    Take care.

  14. #13
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    When you think about it in the very far past, rifle calibers have changed a great deal. The revulution was fought with .45 to .65-ish caliber rifles (all custom, all different by maker) and .75 caliber muskets. The civil war was fought with mostly .54 caliber caliber muskets, both rifled and unrifled.

    Of course these were blackpowder and WAY underpowered by today's standards but the trend still stands.

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    Don't forget about the advances in medical care, especially the field corpsman/ paramedic.

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