Monday, February 3, 2014

Radically Invasive Projectile

There have been more advancements in the quality and variation of ammunition in the last twenty years than in the entirety of human history. This is true for many types of technology, but fewer have as obvious of a kinetic impact on the minds and bodies of Americans. My beliefs on weapon ownership are my own. My goal is not to sway people and frankly I doubt such a thing is possible. I want only to make my position clear before I get into the details.

I believe strongly in every persons right to own firearms for the purposes of hunting, sport shooting and self-defense. Each pursuit requires different types of weapons and ammunition. If your goal is hobby long range shooting, you will want full metal jacket(FMJ) ammunition made to exacting standards. There are several calibers for this hobby so people have options. For hunting, you may be able to use the same rifle, but odds are a rifle used for long range target shooting is not the best option for hunting, and the ammunition definitely has to be different.

When you’re hitting paper targets for accuracy, a common choice would be match grade 168 grain weight .308 caliber. This has become common so it’s a good choice for target shooters because so many different companies make a version. For deer hunting, .308 is still a good caliber, but you would likely want a slightly lighter weight bullet and definitely one designed to expand on impact.

I meant what I said about not trying to change anyone’s position on weapons. What I will say is that making uneducated posts about the details of weapons and ammunition may actually be counter to whatever point you are trying to make. If there is to be a debate, get off your high condescending horse and at least learn enough about the basics so that you don’t go into a debate intellectually unarmed. Also, while you may wish to eliminate all firearms from the face of the planet, until someone creates a magic wand, they are a reality we need to deal with.

I’ve recently seen arguments from intelligent people claiming that expanding bullets should be outlawed, citing that the Geneva Convention bans them so they must be bad. This logic is flawed and made out of ignorance. In point of fact, it is not the Geneva Convention but the Hague Accord of 1899 (a document the USA abides by but didn’t sign). Expanding bullets were banned in war because of the horrific wounds they cause to the recipients. In war, anyone that follows the rules (mostly UN countries) uses only ball or full metal jacket rounds. A soldier is more likely to survive a wound from a full metal jacket round. If given the option I think most soldiers would prefer to stay with the FMJ rounds because they can shoot the enemy through doors and walls, putting themselves at less risk.

This is because the FMJ round doesn’t expand (much, there is always some distortion upon impact, the thing isn’t magic), so it doesn’t transfer its energy to the target. It punches a hole about the same size entering and exiting. The problem is that the bullet doesn’t magically disappear after it exits the target. It keeps much if its velocity and energy and keeps on going, through wood, sheetrock, or the flesh of another person until the gravity and friction act upon it enough that it comes to rest. This is good news if you’re the target (because it causes less damage to you), but bad news if you are standing behind the target.

Outside of warzones, this is a horrible idea regardless of whether it is a police officer or someone defending themselves. Hollow points and frangible ammunition are designed to do the opposite. They are specifically designed to transfer all their energy to the intended target and not exit the body. No sane person wants to protect themselves and their family at the cost of the family next door or in the case of hunting, wants the animal to suffer.

Quick side not. About twenty years ago, one round that was designed for elk mistakenly got into our hunting ammo can we used for deer. In the dark, I loaded my rifle with deer rounds in the magazine but the loose round I put in the chamber was the “Super Slammer” elk round. I shot a buck at about 250 yards away. It dropped like the strings were cut, which is the reaction I’m used to. You may hate the idea of hunting, but you must agree that if it occurs, the animal should not suffer. I believe this strongly enough that I don’t take risky shots. When I went to field dress the deer, it was still alive. The elk round wasn’t a full metal jacket, but it was designed to bring down a much bigger animal. The exit wound made it look like it had been an FMJ and the deer suffered. My fault and I was sick to my stomach. The deer rounds I used expanded similar to a pistol hollow point and all the deer I ever shot with those rounds died instantly because of the amount of sudden damage. Those bullets exited, but they didn’t go far or have much velocity left. 

I understand the reaction and the desire of rational people to recoil from the idea of causing other people harm. I share this sentiment. I will be happy to die of old age having never killed another human being. However, if I am ever stuck in a situation where my only two choices are to either cause harm to another or die or worse see one of my family die, then I vote for that other person to die instead.

Some people don’t share this belief and they are as incomprehensible to me as I’m sure I am to them. While it’s easy to try to dehumanize or denigrate anyone that has different views than you, I respect pacifist beliefs. I don’t need to agree with them that it is better to die and let their families die than to cause another person harm, I just have to accept that they have the right to their beliefs and it is not ok for me to call them stupid or suggest that they need to be weaned from the gene pool (as a few people on FB did about gun owners).

My belief is that I live in a world and specifically America where people do harm to others without cause or justification. Until that changes, I will do whatever I feel is necessary to protect my family and myself but I will not have any self defense weapon in my house loaded with a round that will punch through multiple walls and cause unintended consequences.

People love quoting statistics about gun owners being a greater threat to themselves than external threats, and I certainly admit that there are plenty of people that own guns that lack wisdom and or the sense to use them responsibly. All I can do is make sure that I’ve taken the steps I need while ensuring that I don’t introduce more risk to my family. Gun safes, training and awareness and the proper ammunition that won’t travel through concrete blocks are just the basics.

The reason for the latest outcry is a new round called the Radically Invasive Projectile, or R.I.P. It is being touted as the last self defense round you’ll ever need. Based on my stance, you may jump to the conclusion that I can’t wait to buy a few boxes. You’d be wrong.

This ammunition is not technically “dum dum” or a hollow point or even traditional frangible ammunition. This is the worst, not the best of both worlds. Not only does it spread out like a frangible round on impact, but it is designed to punch through barriers including sheet rock (not that hard to do), windshield (because shooting at people in cars is so common) sheet metal (much harder to do), cinder blocks (god forbid the person you want to shoot is cowering behind cement) and hints at being able to defeat bullet resistant vests that lack ceramic plates if you read between the lines and boasts 18 inches of penetration. The average body thickness is only 9 ½ inches, so this ammo is designed to kill two inline people, and that is with their current 9mm pistol round. They plan to make larger caliber rounds including a 12 gauge shotgun version. I shudder to think what the penetration through concrete will be for these larger rounds. 

This is a terrible idea just like using war required full metal jacket ammunition for self defense is a terrible idea. The reason is the penetration that they are bragging about. This ammunition is only suitable if you are the only person in range that you care about. So it’s great for a zombie apocalypse or for any sociopath. If I was ever scooped up and dropped on one of those islands you see in the movies where I had to kill every other person to “win”, I’d want this ammo, otherwise, WTF?

I don’t consider this responsible gun ownership or usage and can’t condone it because of the potential for collateral damage. I’m not advocating outlawing it, but some people will. Or more correctly, people will think they are creating a law to ban this type of ammunition and end up banning something else by mistake because they believe themselves so above gun culture that they won’t bother to do the research.  If your plan is to create new laws then you need to educate yourself so you pass a law that causes the least harm when eliminating all harm is not practical. “Dum dum” or hollow point bullets should be mandated, not outlawed, for self defense.  But legislation for one brand or type is foolish because they will just change it slightly to get by the law. An example of this was when San Francisco outlawed Black Talon ammunition. They were so specific in their language, that the company slightly changed their product by removing a coating to the bullet and the law no longer applied.

The best option would be to use language that can’t be misinterpreted. Specify that self-defense ammunition that will punch through the body of the initial target and travel through the neighbor’s house and into someone else is illegal. Ownership of different types of ammunition should not be made illegal, but discharging dangerous ammunition in a self-defense situation should carry a penalty. 

Full metal jacket ammunition has it’s place outside of war, specifically for target practice.  Educating people that get concealed carry permits as to the type of ammunition that is best for self defense just makes sense but isn't currently mandatory. If you want to make new gun laws, quit dreaming about total bans and make recommendations that are possible and would be beneficial to law abiding citizens.

1 comment:

  1. I have a feeling that this bullet design may have the same fate as the Black Talon ammunition from a few years back.