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Fri Feb 8, 2013, 05:32 PM

hollow point bullets and auto brake lines

Back in the 1980s, my grandfather complained about a DOT regulation about automotive brake lines. The regulation required them to be steel, not copper.

For those who do not know, auto brakes are hydrolic. Pressure on the fluid inside metal tubes, the brake lines, makes the brakes work. The DOT came to the conclusion that since steel is stronger than copper, it makes a safer brake line.

While this seems like a perfectly reasonable conclusion, the actually facts of driving in the North caused him to doubt it. Winter roads are corrosive because of the salt used by the state to melt ice. This causes steel brake lines to rust. Copper does not rust, so a copper line is stronger than a half-rusted steel line.

Last week I heard John Stewart express concern over hollow point bullets which he suggested belong in the military. With respect to one of the smartest, most honest guys on TV, he's wrong. Here is why.

Pistol bullets come in many varieties for different applications. Practice rounds are generally of the "full metal jacket" (FMJ) variety as they are the cheapest. The projectile is completely encased in copper. Defensive rounds tend to be hollow point. The nose of the bullet has a recessed cavity. When that bullet hits something, the depression flattens out, making the bullet much wider than it originally was. Criminals seem to prefer FMJs because they are cheap.

One HP shot will cause more damage than one FMJ bullet. In actual practice, however, FMJ rounds are prone to "over penetration." That means the bullet might hit the "bad guy," go through him, and hit someone behind him. Or, if you miss, the bullet might go through the wall and harm a neighbor. By "mushrooming," the HP is more likely to stay in the assailant's body and not over penetrate. Likewise, a missed shot will probably stay stuck in the wall.

HP is also safer for the bad guy than FMJ. The reason is because most pistol rounds are under powered. The odds of stopping a determined assailant with the first shot are low. I've prosecuted many cases where police had to shoot dangerous suspects and have found it to be true. If a bullet does not over penetrate, all of its energy is directed at the assailant. An over-penetrating bullet takes much of its energy with it when it exits the body. Consequently, it usually requires more shots of FMJ than of HP to take down a suspect.

One HP wound is usually a lot less dangerous to the person getting shot than multiple FMJ wounds. This is what makes HP safer for the person getting shot. This is why police officers almost universally carry hollow point rounds. Police do not seek to kill suspects, but only to STOP them. This is also the goal of any personal or home defense situation. Yes you can kill someone with a single FMJ pistol round, but it is far less likely to stop someone with one shot than HP.

Oddly, the military does NOT use HP rounds. Their job is different from the police. They really are out to kill folks, or to wound them enough to be a burden to their comrades. The Geneva Convention prohibits expanding rounds. The reason for this goes back to the musket age. Back then, bullets were big, soft lead, and slow. A hit in the extremities would cause the bullet to deform around a bone and rip it out of the body. This caused unnecessary deaths and losses of limbs.

The military still bans hollow points largely because the main weapon of a soldier is a powerful RIFLE and not a relatively weak pistol. Rifle bullets are frankly devastating to human flesh. (Yes, I know about the problems with 5.56mm at close distances). In the event that an enemy is shot in the extremities, the wound will put him out of the fight, but the copper jacketed bullet will not likely pulverize his bones or create a huge wound that will immediately bleed out. So, no expanding rounds in the military.

This presents a problem for their pistol back-up guns. 9mm pistols are not very effect man-stoppers. The army makes up for that by using heavier bullets with extra pressure (+P or +P+) and speed. The unusually high speed bullet transfers more energy to the enemy than a normal speed bullet would.

So, to conclude:

Hollow points: safer for civilians including police than full metal jacket.

FMJ: required for military use

Given the abuse I get when I express the smallest sympathy for guns owners, I will not be answering responses.

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Arrow 8 replies Author Time Post
Reply hollow point bullets and auto brake lines (Original post)
Deep13 Feb 2013 OP
krispos42 Feb 2013 #1
NYC_SKP Feb 2013 #2
KracevayaKoshka Feb 2013 #4
snooper2 Feb 2013 #5
Viva_La_Revolution Feb 2013 #3
mwrguy Feb 2013 #6
Adam-Bomb Feb 2013 #7
jmg257 Feb 2013 #8

Response to Deep13 (Original post)

Fri Feb 8, 2013, 05:36 PM

1. One thing...

It's the Hague Convention that prohibits hollow point or dum-dum bullets, if memory serves.

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Response to Deep13 (Original post)

Fri Feb 8, 2013, 05:40 PM

2. True, but "hollow points" sounds scary, thanks to Hollywood.


I learned in the experiential way about the penetrative power of even a humble .22.

My grandfather left me a Win model 90 1890 .22 WRF.

The box even warns that the range of these rounds (full metal or no) exceeds one mile.

I shot at a wooden target, backed up by a 1" barn siding wall, and after one shot and checking where it went, found it to have easily penetrated these two boards and entered a box of 2x4 ends and penetrated several of these wood scraps, for a total penetration of more than 5 inches.

Were one to shoot this in a home it would pass through the home invader unless it hit a bone, and continue potentially through several sheetrock walls to the neighbor's kid's wall or window.

For home defense, a hollow point will disintegrate before it can go though several such features.

Nevertheless, I prefer a shotgun for home defense, not that I have one at hand.

It's just that I don't want to worry about what's a mile downrange, or even 30 yards.

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Response to NYC_SKP (Reply #2)

Fri Feb 8, 2013, 05:56 PM

5. we used to make hollow point .22 mercury rounds when we were young teens

and shoot at full cans of soda, the little beads of mercury disintegrate everything...

I believe they are highly illegal to make though

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Response to Deep13 (Original post)

Fri Feb 8, 2013, 06:57 PM

6. Instead of worrying about what kind of bullet people are stockpiling

Let's just stop them from stockpiling bullets, period.

I don't think those kids at Newtown cared what kind of bullet they were killed with.

Get rid of them all.

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Response to Deep13 (Original post)

Fri Feb 8, 2013, 07:13 PM

7. uh...

Still trying to figure out why a story about brake lines ends up talking
about hollow point slugs.

Anyway, moving along , I prefer HP's for my handgun's self-defense
loads because of their superior performance.

I use solid slugs for plinking and competition; they're cheaper.

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Response to Deep13 (Original post)

Fri Feb 8, 2013, 07:15 PM

8. What about getting shot with several HPs? Is that safer then several FMJs?

Seems not getting shot would be safest of all.

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