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GUNS Magazine March 2010 - Page 16
HANDGUNS • MASSAD AYOOB • DYNAMIC AMMO Even in short barrel handguns. ubcompact pistols and S revolvers are short in both barrel length and ballistic performance, but with today’s ammo choices, they don’t come up too short. Visit Us At SHOT Booth#1925 Reader Greg M. writes, “Do the new rage of short-barreled handguns, even in potent calibers of .40 to .45 or 9mm, have the velocity to penetrate to the vitals from a distance past 7 yards? Some of the shootings I have seen even by off-duty police using a Glock 27 do not penetrate but about 3" to 4" behind the shoulder blade using hollowpoints.” Greg is an EMT with a decade of urban experience. Any .40 S&W jacketed hollowpoint that only penetrates 3" to 4" into flesh has either been fired from a very long distance away, or had to have gone through something solid in its path between muzzle and intended target to slow it down. In a hollowpoint projectile, it could be said velocity opens the bullet and more velocity opens it more. The “mushrooming” of the bullet creates a parachute effect slowing it down and retarding its penetration, since more frontal surface is meeting more tissue. It has long been known a bullet traveling too fast for its design envelope can mushroom so wide and so prematurely its penetration is severely retarded. The shorter the barrel—other things being equal—the lower the velocity. Therefore, other things being equal, the shorter barrel pistol launching a somewhat slower bullet is likely to result in more penetration, not less, since it is probably going to mushroom less and therefore meet less resistance. This140-grainCor-BonDPX.40S&Wwas firedfromastubbyGlock27andrecovered fromahog.itworkedwell. Counterintuitive, but true as a rule. If that wording sounds like a writer hedging his bets, you heard it correctly: nothing can be counted on to a 100-percent absolute certainty when bullets meet flesh. In days of yore, “old school” copperjacketed hollowpoints tended to open better from long barrels than short ones. Those are the bullet designs you’ll find in today’s economy ammo lines. Some years ago, I had occasion on the same day to shoot three hogs with Federal’s accurate Classic line 185-grain .45 Automatic Colt Pistol jacketed hollowpoint, from three different Colt .45 1911s. The bullet from the 5" Government Model mushroomed very impressively. The one from the 4.25" barrel Colt Commander could be said to have “deformed,” but certainly not into the classic mushroom expansion shape. And the bullet from the 3.5" barrel subcompact Officers ACP could have been reloaded and fired again once you got the blood Firedfroma2"S&W.38,thisFederalall-leadhollowpointinstantlykilledahog. 16 WWW.GUNSMAGAZINE.COM • MARCH 2010