Previous Post
Next Post


Reader JWT writes:

RF, a few friends, and I were shooting out on my range at a dueling tree. After having to shoot one steel paddle no less than 4 times with my 9mm service pistol to get the paddle to swing, I commented on how much I hated the 9mm, and the 5.56 NATO as well, and how I had never seen a single shot kill from those rounds, even at close ranges, and even from head shots.

Robert asked, “Seen a few people shot, have you?”

I responded, “hundreds”. Then he asked me to share . . .

I hate sharing, but I’ve been all over the world and I have seen a whole lot of people shot, stabbed, burned, run over, and blown up, and some of you might find this information valuable.

I was an EMT and a trauma tech working on a truck and in a trauma room for about 10 years and I was an army combat medic for eight years. Also — and this is important — when deployed I was almost always part of an “advisor” force. I was technically a “combat advisor” for two tours in Afghanistan, embedded with the Afghan National Army and Afghan National Police force. I’ve done the same thing with host nation National Guard troops in Central America.

I’ve never worked OCONUS on a large US base, and my patients have almost always been local nationals. Few of my patients OCONUS have been American troops, and I am grateful for that. Because of my specific role, and because I was often the closest competent medical provider for an extremely large number of people (sometimes over 20,000), I have treated an inordinant amount of gun shot and blast injuries in places where surgical treatment was often well over an hour away. My average medevac time for an urgent or urgent surgical patient in southern Afghanistan was four hours. That’s a long time to bleed. During my first tour in Afghanistan, I averaged one patient death per day.

I kept mission logs and patient logs. Looking through all my logs, both CONUS and OCONUS, I have recorded 371 gun shot wounds and significant blast injuries. About 20% of my patients were children under the approximate age of 12. About half of the total were blast wounds, primarily from mines and IEDs of all types. But that half represent a much greater number of deaths, and it doesn’t include the dead that didn’t make it to me.

Let me cut to the chase here, if the goal is to live, you would rather be shot close range in the face by a 9X19 or .45ACP round than step on a mine or be in the first 10 yards or so of any significant blast. Blasts cause multiple injuries, and shrapnel from the blast is often travelling far faster than even the fastest modern rifle caliber bullets. Wounding comes from overpressure, penetrating trauma (the vast majority of the injuries) and the body actually being thrown against other objects or the ground. So if the choice is to drive over an Italian anti-tank mine (still a little bitter about that one), or take one in the noggin, I say grin and bear it.

I owe Robert an apology. I did actually record one single-shot kill from a 9X18 (Makarov). It was a contact shot into the center chest on a sleeping target. The victim died immediately. I have also recorded a few single-shot kills from a .45ACP, one from as far out as 60 meters, fired from an HK UMP 45, which one of our team members carried and used with Jedi-like skill. The vast majority of engagements with that weapon, however, were within half that distance and patients usually took several hits. What can I say, he got lucky once.

On the civilian side, I saw only one single-shot kill from a pistol ever, and that was from a .357 magnum, within a living room, probably not more than five yards. The round entered the sternum and exited the spine. In fact, within the US, the vast majority of people that I saw shot lived after receiving medical treatment. That includes attempted suicides. I even had a patient live after a self inflicted shotgun wound to the face. He died of the cancer he was attempting to flee from, months later.

Beyond that, I do have recorded kills with a 9X19, but they all required multiple shots or they all took time to die.  Time enough to return fire or flee far enough to have to search for them. I don’t mean seconds of life, either — I mean minutes or hours. I have seen people shot that had to traverse long distances that still got away. And damn that’s frustrating.

In just about every country I have been in, our host nation counterparts — army and police — used the 9X19 NATO round.  Because so much of what I did was house-to-house police searches, I’ve seen a lot of pistol shootings, much more than US police would ever see, and much more than experienced by most medics deploying solely with US personnel. And yet, I have zero, not one single experience, where a single gunshot wound from a 9X19 NATO round killed someone prior to them being able to return fire or flee. This includes people shot in the chest, back, back of the head (one hit behind the left ear) the neck and the face.  None.

Unfortunately, the same goes for the 5.56 NATO round. I have yet to witness a single shot quick kill with this round. I even recorded a patient shot from less than three feet away, square in the back of the head, who lived. The round did not exit his body. Yes, he was immediately rendered unconscious and required (might I say exceptional) medical treatment. He was comatose for at least six months after that, but he lived.

But more importantly, in every experience, at ranges from zero (negligent discharges) to 35 yards (my closest, and worst-placed, shot on a person) to 400 yards (our average initial engagement distance in Afghanistan) individuals shot with a single 5.56 NATO round had time to fire, maneuver, or both. Did I see single shots that killed eventually? Yes. Does that matter in combat? Not one damn bit if you are the one they are still shooting at.

For those of you who say “just shoot them again,” I would tell you that is actually pretty difficult on a mobile target with cover at 400 meters who is shooting at you. Also, once they get shot they tend to be a little more wary. People are tricky that way. I will never forget the terror of shooting a man, watching the round strike his chest, and then see him lay over a short wall to steady his aim and continue firing at my teammates.

In my experience, the standard NATO combat round pokes 5.56mm holes in both bones and flesh, shattering nothing. It creates minimal bleeding. I know people say it tumbles and yaws, but that isn’t my experience at all. I saw it poke tiny holes in humans and rarely induced hemorrhaging sufficient to cause unconsciousness or uncompensated shock, which is the only result that matters.

On the flip side, having a patient who was shot by a 7.62X51 NATO or larger round was a rarity. Dead people aren’t patients, they are a supply issue. Patients hit with a ZSU aren’t patients either, they are an iron-like odor in the wind.

Take from that what you will. For me, what I learned is, when it comes to combat, shoot the heaviest rifle round I can, shoot at what I can hit, and then shoot it again if I can. I also learned that, in general, multiple organ damage shortens the time a patient is able to compensate for hemorrhagic shock far greater than the effect of a larger wound track in a single organ. And the Ma Deuce is the greatest, most perfect thing ever invented by man.

I have included a photo of a patient shot at close range with the 5.56NATO round (above).  The photo is of the patient’s calf, and is as I received the patient, within minutes after the shooting. Minimal care was necessary, with the primary concern being infection and tendon damage, not blood loss or bone damage. This is typical of the damage I have seen by this round.

As an aside, Chris Kyle (FWFS, brother) was a friend of mine, and while not so patiently listening to one of my Crown-induced rants on the 5.56 NATO, he suggested that it was not caliber I hated, but the bullet. He told me to load up the case as fast as I could, push a 64 grain or heavier soft point round and see what happens. So I had Underground Tactical built me an AR in 5.56 which I swore I would never own, and built rounds ranging from 64 to 75 grains with it. I’ve taken 11 deer with them, and the wound tracks are nothing like I saw with the NATO round. I’ve never had to look for an animal, and a little Underground 5.5lb AR in 5.56 is my go-to hill country deer gun now, which is just crazy.


Previous Post
Next Post


  1. The article seems to indicate that no pistol round is good for one shot so would that make 9mm a better choice than 45 since you get more opportunity to hit again, or do you go 45 cause he says shoot heavier?

    Seems like the debate will go on forever.

      • Not if you have small, or even medium-sized fingers/hands.

        The .45 is also the easiest round to stop with a vest, by far. With the proliferation of cheap soft body armor, even 9mm ball/FMJ is a better choice than similar loads in .45. 9mm is also easier to shoot, faster to shoot, has more rounds available in every platform, smaller/lighter guns for most uses, has better penetration, is far cheaper (which equates to more practice-per-$, and therefore, better trained shooters), has mil-spec specialty loads like tracer available, and much wider general availability worldwide.

        • While they are sitting on the ground, from 1st .45 hit which the vest stopped, perhaps you can shoot them a second time. In the brainpan.

        • I think you mean when they are thrown across the room smashed through the far wall from the herculean might of the 1st .45

        • @Neiowa I think it would be rather hard to make that headshot with a .45 after the initial hit knocked him back a few hundred metres.

          I know it happens, Hollywood sez so.

        • Well once again here comes DJ9 riding his tired old 9mm defending horse. Instead of responding to the author’s experience (of course subjective but good grief how much more proof do you need?) he trots out his standard opinions. The 45 shooting military ball is simply a more effective weapon.

        • Joseph Quixote,

          As you should have noted from the offset placement of my comment, I wasn’t really responding to the author/article, as much as BDub’s comment about the double stack .45.

          As for the article, while I GREATLY appreciate the author’s service and experience, it’s still just one person’s experience. The article itself is kind of all over the map; first he denigrates the 9mm for its failure on a swinging steel plate (a measure of momentum, which NO ONE uses as a serious measure of effectiveness in a handgun round nowadays, unless you are shooting IHMSA/Hunter’s Pistol matches). Then he states he’s never seen a one-shot kill with a 9mm. Later, he takes back this comment and describes one. In one area, he seems to lump the 9mm and .45 together as both being ineffective; then we learn that the most effective “kill” he’s seen with the .45 was fired from a carbine, not a handgun. The article is filled with complaints about the ineffectiveness of the 5.56mm, but ends with him praising the effectiveness of his new hunting .223 when filled with modern expanding ammo. Combine his rather loose definition of “kill” (stop. kinda), along with the fact that (as many folks mention in the comments, below) a medic often doesn’t get called if the shootee is DRT, and it becomes obvious that his experience is just as affected by the bias of his specific circumstances as any of us. As said below, if you’ve heard the name Trayvon, then you have heard of someone who was a 9mm one-shot-stop/kill; so they DO happen, the author’s experience to the contrary.

          As for my comment to BDub, or “opinions”, as you labeled them, I think a reasonable (read: non-rabid-.45-fan) reading of each of them, along with a bit of research, would reveal that they are, in fact, quite factual. I’m equally sure that you could dredge-up a few outliers that you think would “prove” the opposite in very specific cases, so I’m not really up to spending the time to hash them out with you, for no good reason; converting religious “true believers” (which is what many .45 fans are) doesn’t happen often enough to make it worth my time. If you’re happy in your little bubble, enjoy your time there; I won’t try to pop it on you, but I might make an occasional effort to see that no more new-to-shooting folks join you inside of it.

        • If it won’t stop you/knock you down without a vest it sure as shit won’t with one:-)

        • I do not care how big you think you are nor how much body armor you wear, if you get hit with a .45 you’ll be on the ground, bruised and out of breath for minutes, the second round will be easily applied and the pain will cease. I personally carry a .45 with cast bullets loaded in it, they’ll hurt allot…

        • I’ve got tiny little racoon hands. And a XDs Mod II in .45. Fits like a glove.

      • I look forward to our military’s conversion to .44 magnum pistols and .338 Lapua Mag ARs. But thanks to NATO regulations, the use of fragmenting or hollow point rounds are illegal in the action of war. Overall bullets are created to stop the threat not cause instant death. Otherwise we would be coating our ammo in cyanide!

        • I doubt cyanide coated bullets would be very effective. The Cyanide that kills you fast is inhaled (cyanide blocks oxygen if IIRC).

        • Exactly! The nato round will have no expansion and thus do much less damage than a civilian hollow point round would. 5.56 is nasty if proper ammo is used, as is 9mm and 45. Agree with Kyle (RIP) blame the bullet no the caliber.

        • The Hague Convention of 1899 banned the use of certain types of weapons in war- especially “bullets which expand or flatten easily in the human body”. That is why full metal jacket and not hollow point is used by armies in most civilized countries (which dont do very well for single shot/single kill).

        • Sometimes a wounded soldier can hurt an enemy’s ability to fight more than a dead one. When you kill a soldier, you take one person out of the battle. When you wound a soldier, a few other people must stop fighting to help the wounded soldier.

          This assumes you are fighting an enemy who values their soldiers, and wants to minimize the number of deaths and injuries in their ranks. Our armed forces are like that; not so much in some other armies.

        • What’s up with the whole pig fat/blood thing? As a muslim I can tell you that, no we are not going to go up in flames if we touch a pig or God forbid (/sarc) see a woman naked.

        • It is my understanding that the FMJ spec is from the Geneva convention and not just a NATO thing. Is that correct?

      • Actually, from everything I have gathered the problem with 5.56 (other than not being 7.62) is not 64 grain or better, it is use anything other than the 62 grain ice pick. As far as 9×19 that has long been known as a simple hole poker. You need what NATO can’t use, modern hollow point ammo.

        Since I am not .mil, I just do not care, from a personal perspective. For me, it is just research and then use best available ammo for my carry guns and stay the hell out of New Jersey.

        • The thing is pretty much all pistols are just hole punchers, even .45 or .357 Magnum. If you look at ballistic tests of the latter it generally just behaves like 9mm with more velocity, creating similar permanent cavities but just massively overpenetrating. If you actually look at the cavities that the ALL-POWERFUL .45 ACP MURDERCANNON created it’s not at all much more impressive than .40, and .40 in turn is nearly indistinguishable from 9mm.

          The Box O Truth would finish every pistol caliber test with an adage about how rifles are rifles and pistols are pistols and it couldn’t be more true. On top of that if you have a rifle make sure you’re shooting frangible or expanding projectiles, because you’d be surprised how much of an icepick that even FMJ .308 can be. I was surprised with the praise of military x51 ball as a one-stop instakiller, because ballistic researchers like Fackler or Roberts have consistently shown that the most common rounds like M80 are actually poor at creating large wounds. This is actually consistent with what a couple infantrymen have told me, one of them humped around an M240B and saw a lot of people surviving clean through-and-through hits from his gun.

          There’s obviously military x51 projectiles out there that can be devastating like LR118, but those are those aren’t widely issued and are basically JHP rounds that get issued in quiet contravention of the Hague Accords

    • Didn’t TTAG have an enlightening article about the percentages of gunshot wounds and death?

      Something like being shot once was 90% survivable, twice was like 50% and so on.

      • Just going from hazy memory. 3-5% of people shot once with a handgun die. 50% shot once with a rifle die. 95% shot once with a shotgun die. These stats I believe were compiled in stateside civilian shootings.

        • So let me see if I got this right:

          Getting shot = bad day
          Getting shot multiple times = even worse day

          Shoot a guy = you can’t shoot him enough nor stop him fast enough

        • I have a few paramedic friends. In Detroit. They have all said pretty much the same thing. They see a lot of gun shot wounds. Several a day on weekends. They say basically the same thing. Almost everyone NOT shot in the head by a handgun lives. Almost no one shot by a shotgun lives. They know they don’t have to rush to the hospital with 12ga buckshot wounds.357 magnums were usually quite awesome in their damage. Rifle damage was varied, depending on the round. 7.62×39 show up a lot. SKS and AKs. Those tend to over penetrate and just go right through the victim. Into other people sometimes. Most shootings are with 9mm hardball through cheap guns like HiPoints.

      • this^

        that’s the very first thing I thought of (and think of any time the caliber wars start)….what sort of projectile are we dealing with?

        If it’s military rounds, ball nose stuff, I’m not at all surprised that there are few deaths…THAT’S THE ENTIRE POINT. a dead combatant is cover, a wounded combatant is screaming for two other combatants to drag him out of the line of fire.

        if all you can do it poke holes in stuff, then….yeah…poke the biggest holes possible with the fastest thing you have. if you get to use the expanding stuff, however….the minor differences between calibers and speeds (handgun especially) get even smaller.

        • Mr. R:

          American military small arms development is, in general guided one of the $CITY Protocols (Hague, Geneva, whatever).

          The aim of the protocol wasn’t to make ammunition less lethal in general, but to prevent suffering (to the extent possible) in the survivors. This is why the prohibition on glass projectiles, and on designing projectiles to *deliberately* fragment (remember, when the rules were written bullets that could reliably expand and NOT fragment would have been science fiction if they’d invented science fiction at that point).

          So no, they weren’t designed to “wound rather than kill:, but were designed with adherence to a specification that is designed to minimize suffering.

        • We really over think the fmj issue for military weapons. Back in the day when the militaries of the world were experimenting with the new tech of machine guns and magazine fed rifles they were still using cartridges that contained black powder propellants and soft lead projectiles.

          Real full auto mg’s and rapid repeat fire magazine fed rifles were not practicle because of the dirty nature of these powders and bullets. Smokeless powder and fmj bullets solved the problems and brought real fire power into service.

          These modern fmj rounds solved a lot of problems in the weapons of the time and were readily accepted by both the soldiers and the bean counters.

          In 1899 hollow point loads were few and far between and both the hiollow points and soft points then in production added to functioning problems in the new water cooled and belt fed mg’s and bolt action magazine rifles so recently adopted.

          It was of great benefit to restrict soldiers to fmj from both a cost and effectiveness standpoint. When some bleeding heart started talking of the cruelty of expanding ammo the generals and bean counters probably encourged this drible as it served their purposes quite well.

          Just a few years before the 1899 conventions people fought wars with large bore soft lead ammo that was terrible in it’s effects on its targets and there was little to no incentive to ban “cruel ammo”.

        • Hague Convention of 1899 restricts expanding ammo. This effectively makes all ammo used by the US military “ball” ammo, or FMJ. The USA has been part of this since 04/1900. I understand the M855A1 isn’t FMJ but the wound channels it creates will be the same.

          Declaration concerning the Prohibition of the Use of Bullets which can Easily Expand or Change their Form inside the Human Body such as Bullets with a Hard Covering which does not Completely Cover the Core, or containing Indentations

          This declaration states that, in any war between signatory powers, the parties will abstain from using “bullets which expand or flatten easily in the human body.”

        • Peter: Thank you, that might be the first time I’ve actually seen someone say Hague convention on the first try and not Geneva

        • Does the US still use those rules when fighting terrorists such as ISIS who are not signatory to that convention?

        • Peter, you left out the part about the US not ratifying that particular convention. As a matter of fact, the US only ratified 3 of the 6 conventions of 1899. We use OTM ammo (see: Mk 262). I think you also glossed over the fact that the Hague Conventions applies to wars between the signatories.

        • Just for the record, OTM ammunition is not considered expanding. The open tip design has nothing to do with that function and is not in violation of these accords.

        • Adam, no. Remember that the rifles are built by the lowest bidder. Conventional troops will not EVER get specialty rounds such as MK 282 because of COST.

          It is a supply nightmare too, as only so much of those specialty rounds can be made (when you switch to new projectiles, you have to retool your equipment to make it). Then to make sure the right ammo is ordered and delivered to the correct unit.

          So again, due to cost and supply issues only the SOF guys will see it and use it.

      • JWT’s final paragraph about the type of projectile being so important to efficacy is definitely very relevant to pistol calibers as well. 9mm ball vs. modern 9mm hollow points (Federal’s HST, for example) is a vastly different proposition.

        No matter what, I very much enjoyed learning from JWT’s experience and it’s extremely interesting and certainly food for thought.

        • First of all, read the part of the Hague Convention above… Soldiers are limited in ammo selection, and military bullet manufacturers have to jump through hoops to ensure no lead is exposed (I forget what treaty that was in). Basically, all of the small-arms ammunition for the Military is either FMJ, AP, or incendiary- no hollow points or segmented bullets!

        • First of all, try telling the Mk262 Mod 1 that it is a full metal jacket. Hague Conventions apply when both belligerents are signatories, so it wouldn’t apply in Afghanistan or Iraq, and certainly doesn’t apply to ISIS. Besides, the US never ratified that particular part pertaining to the “Use of Bullets which can Easily Expand”.

      • Correct me if I am wrong, but it is my understanding that the US didn’t sign Article IV,3 of the Hague Convention.

    • “And yet, I have zero, not one single experience, where a single gunshot wound from a 9X19 NATO round killed someone prior to them being able to return fire or flee.”

      Selection bias? How many cops or soldiers ever shoot just one round? I’m not saying you need to empty the whole 17 round mag like some cops do, but rather how many casualties did this guy see where there was only one pistol hit, versus those with multiple hits?

      • When talking about JHP ammo, I agree. Little or no difference.

        When using FMJ or other non-expanding bullets (which our military use), then both calibers will poke a hole all the way through the enemy, unless a hard bone deflects or shatters the bullet. The 9mm hole is smaller than the .45 hole, so the 9mm causes a little less injury.

        Did you read the article or did you comment without reading it, because it clearly says that?

    • This article seems to indicate that nato rounds are crap when compared to decent hollow points and +p ammunition. As far as 9mm vs .45 acp there isnt a significant difference in the wound channels between the 2 when using modern projectiles.

    • The author is on point in the details, it’s important to remember though that combat shooting is a vastly different animal from defensive shooting.
      The most important thing for the average civilian to take away from this is his statement: “shoot it again.” Most defensive shootings involve a single aggressor who is not sufficiently motivated that killing them is the only solution. In this case caliber doesn’t matter, what matters is that you hit the assailant and then continue hitting the assailant until they desist. In other words; Mag-Dump.
      Additionally his point about standard NATO Garbage ammo is relevant. The 9x19mm Hornady SDF or comparable rounds are a significantly different animal than 9x19mm ball and other standard MILSURP ammo. The statistics he’s recorded throughout his career would be dramatically different if the local nationals and OPFOR in question were using commercial SDF ammo in any of the platforms he mentions.

      • All very true and that was my point. You hit the nail on the head, you want to shoot until the threat is down. 100% behind you on that. I just think it’s funny when they talk about “over penetration” when that’s what kills. Although I don’t live in an apartment 😛

    • That’s why the FBI just issued instructions to return their personnel to the 9mm round as of two weeks ago. Most Law Enforcement will likely follow suit. With that small of a round, .40 vs 9mm, and with the Ranger series, Speer Gold Dot, and other premium LE ammunition tracks almost identical between rounds, they have decided that more rounds is better than the slightly larger round diameter.

    • This applies to this post and the whole article. The Geneva Convention controls what military ammo and other weapons can and cannot be/do. A jacketed round like a FUN NATO round is designed to penetrate but not cause undo trauma by wounding. That is why it punches holes instead of leaving big wound channels. Chris Kyle understood. Put a round designed for hunting or a hollow point for self defense in the hands of any military and the trauma and one shot kills medics see will go way up.

    • The final lines in the article made the correct point. White tail dear are roughly the same size as a human. I hunted dear for years with handguns. My most effective hunting firearm was a Dan Wesson 357 Maximum. With it I took white tail out to 150 yards (scooped and on a solid rest). The effectiveness was attributed to the fact that the hollow points I used expanded to twice their diameter and did not exit the body of the dear. None traveled more than 50 yards and most dropped on the spot…all attributed to the effectiveness of the BULLET PERFORMANCE, not ultra high velocity or distance of the shot.

      My self defense rounds are all jacketed hollow cavity, Hydroshock, or Glaser rounds.

      • I know several people who pistol hunt and are rather successful at it. They all use the heaviest hollow points they can find. I have carried JHPs in my 9mm for a long time, just made the switch to Hornady Critical Duty FlexLock since my favorite Remington JHPs are so hard to find anymore.

    • i think one Of the mOst important facts has been Over looked in these statements,,,,the 203 round Will kill you but it’s always been better to wound your enemy,,,taKes More exposour of supporting Units

    • “…there is no appreciable difference in the effectiveness of the 9 mm and the .45 ACP cartridges.”
      Vincent J. M. Di Maio, GUNSHOT WOUNDS: Practical Aspects of Firearms, Ballistics, and Forensic Techniques SECOND EDITION, Page 150.

    • I would assume most combat by the infantry is with the use of rifles, and not pistols. And pistols are usually rather inaccurate past 25 yards, unless they are a target pistol shot by an expert. However the cartridge of choice currently used by ghetto gang assassins/executioners is the 9 mm for head-shots at close range. In large US cities(murder capitols), 1+ people are killed by pistol wielding felons everyday; consistently every year. Most pistol shots to the brain or heart are going to be deadly. The author of this article only worked on non-fatally wounded patients. He did not autopsy the dead.

    • Funny. Insurgents I shot in Iraq (4 tours) dropped DRT…dead right there. This loser doesn’t know what he’s talking about.

    • Today, for the 9×19, use the Federal HST 147gr JHP, or the Speer G2 GDHP 147 grain. If you do your part, they will do theirs. Same goes for 223/5.56, Speer LE GDSP 75 grain 223 for defense out to 100 yrds, Black Hills MK 262 mod 1 77 grain, or the (Israeli clone) IMI 77 grain BTHP Mod 1 for longer range. Make sure your Barrel is 1-7 or 1-8 twist.

  2. Thanks for the insight, we appreciate it. And, thanks for your service- several thanks, for your multiple tours.

    Could you give us some details on your lightweight AR? I’d like to know how you got the weight down that low.

  3. Pistol rounds are pistol rounds, and are inadequate when compared to rifle rounds.

    In 5.56, bullets matter greatly, and the difference from your garden variety 55gr and very effective 75gr rounds are vast. IMHO though, the .300 Blackout is king of them all. All the capability of the M4 type platform, no need for special mags, bolts, uppers or lowers (just a barrel change), and all the 7.62 hard hitting capability out to 400 yards you need.

    • Totally agree about 300 BLK. But i’ve stopped advertising the barrel change part and just started saying uppers. Outside of a gunshop or armory, it’s WAY easier to just swap uppers. But technically, yea, only the barrel 😉

        • I came up with a pretty good solution. MY 5.56/.223 uses black PMAGS, the .300 BLK uses FDE PMAGS, and the 6.8 SPC uses metal STANAGS. The guns also have matching colors, except my SPC is OD green. I try to make a habit of outsmarting my own stupidity.

    • .300 AAC Blackout is a great round in my opinion using sixteen inch barrel and a 100 to 110 grain bullet out to around 275 yards. With supersonic .300 Blackout I do not like ammo that is heavier than 124 grain.

      Though I did like .300 Blackout I sold my upper assembly to someone else and went with a 7.62 x 39 AR-15 upper assembly. 7.62 x 39 is a little more powerful than .300 Blackout and the ammo is far more common and cheaper.

  4. But… but… I thought guns were magical death rays that “go off” by themselves…

    Also, simple rebuttal to the OP’s extensive medical knowledge: Fort Hood shooting.

    That’s an awful lot of people who died basically by a .22 magnum.

        • Yup.

          .22 has killed an awful lot of people.

          My take on the OP and everything else I’ve read is that anything under .357 out of a pistol all performs the same.

          That means there isn’t as much real world difference as we might think between a .22 and a .45 acp out of a pistol.

    • At least some of those would probably have survived had medical care gotten to them quicker. Just as in civilian active shooter scenarios, the first goal is to stop the shooter so the responders don’t become victims. Unfortunately, just as in the civilian world, everyone but the shooter is unarmed, leading to long response times before the shooter is contained.

      • Agree with you. Had a local 10 year old that was shot by his little brother (dad was first time gun owner short on attention and shorter on sense). Gun was a AR, one bullet fired. 10 year old took it to the sternum and it came out his back while standing in the living room. The medic that got there said he was still talking when they arrived. He didn’t code on them until they were pulling into the ER drive.

        Bigger guy with more of a reserve probably would have lasted longer. Definitely long enough to empty all the mags he had if he wanted to return fire.

  5. Thanks for sharing that, JWT. And thank you for your service.

    I have not seen nearly as many as you have, but saw quite a few handgun shooting victims in my career before I retired. Barring two major artery and one heart shot (and a few brain pan suicides) all of those shot were still kickin’ when I got on scene and most survived. A few with quite a few holes in them.

    • I own two guns. A Glock 20 (10mm) and a 308AR.

      So, I agree.

      You should show up to a defensive carbine class with a 308AR. Your gun will standout when the shooting starts. It’s not just sound, but the debris too.

      • I qualified for my Texas CHL with a 10mm. Turned a lot of heads with it. Would have been a better score, but the muzzle blast kept knocking the hanging target away.

  6. wow. lots of experience. from what i’ve read time and time again. NATO spec ammo is crap for stopping threats. ammunition designed to dump energy, fragment, mushroom, or what have you will have a better effect on the target. kinda why you can’t hunt deer with FMJ.

    • I was thinking the same thing. What the author experienced was bullet failure, not caliber failure. Full metal jacket bullets are great at wounding attackers and not very good at stopping them.

      That said, handguns do anything but guarantee a quick stop of a criminal even with the best bullets available. Nevertheless, you use what you have.

  7. Great article, and it does validate my thinking about 5.56 … My go-to HD load is Black Hills 77gr OTM (basically MK 262) for my AR. I practice with XM193 and XM855 and run the occasional Black Hills magazine just so I know how it behaves. I’m certainly not a Jedi expert at this sort of thing, but I do take comfort by reading this article that for 5.56, I’ve selected a decent home defense round.

    I just wish it weren’t so expensive.

    • I have seen a few enemy killed by 556 one in particular was hit on full auto an he looked like he had been run thru a sewing machine a tiny drip of blood on each entry when I rolled him over face down the entire back was blown out. this was at close range of less than 20 meters. the VC nickname for the M16 was ” black death”

    • Hollow points excel at damaging soft tissue, not so much something that’s wearing body armor or is using a solid object as cover. Toss in something like an angled windshield on a vehicle and the hollow point may just deflect off without penetrating the windshield at all let alone the body you’re trying to shoot at.

  8. First, thank you for your service.

    Re wounding vs killing, as you point out, the dead don’t need medical care (usually, in a combat situation, etc.). The wounded do. So a weapon that wounds more often, rather than killing outright, will in theory occupy more of an opponent’s personnel with things other than shooting in the middle of the fight, assuming an equal number of hits.

    In theory. It’s my understanding that this was part of the thought process when the move to smaller, lighter calibers was taking place … along with the more commonly discussed other reasons, eg lower weight weapon, more rounds per pound and per cubic foot, more manageable recoil, etc.

    • The wound versus kill is one of the arguments trotted out to justify the use of the 5.56 round. It might be a valid argument if you were fighting an enemy a gave a $h!Tabout his troops. For the most part that hasn’t been the case since we fought the Germans in WWII. We went to the 5.56 because the Army was enamored with SLA Marshall and the AR platform was available. There is no other reason. I won’t post the video again but go look at Hickock45’s video of the M-14 vs a cinderblock wall at 250 yards. No 5.56 round could that at half the distance. For any given velocity regime mass is king.

      • All very true and valid — until you have to carry your gun, mags, and ammo for any serious distance. And deal with the logistics of military resupply.

        Just two of the MANY other reasons reasons that the 5.56mm was adopted over larger, heavier rounds and weapons. You don’t get to shoot the cinder-block wall if you never arrive, or if you’re out of ammo when you get there.

        • Except we did it in WWII and Korea and yes I know the standard load was 80 rounds for the M-1 but GIs typically grabbed as much ammo as they could carry.

        • And sometimes “all they could carry” STILL wasn’t enough.

          The last line of my above post still stands. Every modern large military force in the world (not just us) currently recognizes these challenges, and they arm their soldiers accordingly. There are other, better solutions to a mythical 250-yard-away cinder-block wall problem, such as the 40mm M203/M79 — or a Javelin/AT4/air/drone strike.

        • Aren’t 40mm grenades and Javelins a larger strain on logistics and supply than 308 or 7x62x39?

        • And all you can carry is still not enough today. In Vietnam, when autofire was king a soldier would go through his load faster than a WWII infantryman. To argue that it is too hard to do today what we did 70 years ago is setting our sights a little low. FYI, They had bazookas, P-47s and $h!t load of highly accurate artillary back then to take out cinderblock walls.

    • The problem with the “better to wound than kill” theory is that it assumes the enemy cares as much about his soldiers as we do about ours. The United States armed forces are famous – and almost unique – for their commitment to leave nobody behind. Most of our enemies don’t think that way. We should have learned that lesson when we fought the Japanese in WWII. What would a GI deployed in the Pacific during WWII think of a weapon designed to wound instead of kill? He would throw that weapon away as soon as he could get his hands on a more powerful one. Lots of our enemies today are more similar to the Imperial Japanese than they are to us. The Soviet model has never valued the lives of individual soldiers, and the Russians trained nearly half of the world’s armies with their doctrines. The Islamic terrorists are quite happy to become martyrs. They don’t value their own lives or the lives of their compatriots the way we value ours. The 5.56 has its merits, but we should stop counting the “wound instead of kill” property among them. That property is not an asset against our likely enemies in the foreseeable future.

      • A quote attributed to Ayatollah Khomeini during his exile in France,”We shall defeat you because you value life more than we value death.” Ponder on that sh*t a while. Let it sink in. THAT is what the human race faces.

  9. What I took away from this was, load up with modern premium expanding bullets in whatever caliber suits my fancy and git to gittin.

    • What did he mean by “…load up the case as fast as I could….” Does the powder lose its “flavor” when exposed to air? I don’t reload so I wouldn’t know anything about it but I do make a great espresso.

    • I think you are right. For all intents and purposes it doesn’t matter the caliber (within reason), so run what you brung.

  10. The key is soft point bullets.

    Not to disagree with the author as he as demonstrably more experience than I on this subject, most of the record history on gunshot victims is full metal jacket bullets.

    Now, as I say this, some enterprising individual will no doubt find data to prove me wrong, but soft point bullets are were its at.

    I too can only record what happens when soft point ammo hits game animals but I have been using hollow point/soft point ammo since the 70 just because it does a better job on game animals. DRT is something to be admired when taking food.


    • That’s was thinking, and it’s also implied in the article. NATO ammo is FMJ, correct ?, and it does drill holes. All of which is why it’s ineffective in hunting or personal defense. So the observation about pistol gunshots not being effective in stopping or killing is pretty much “does not apply”.

  11. Biggest problem with military 5.56 is that it is not hollow point.

    That said, my defense gun is 300blk with hollow points. More energy than 556, but not the over penetration of .308

  12. Thanks for sharing your experiences. I’m like you I don’t trust the 9mm or the 5.56. The Military engineered the tumbling out of the 5.56 NATO bullet so that it would be more stable at those 400m engagements. They weren’t interested in lethality, they had a one-round-to-rule-them-all mentality when they did that. It took a while for them to introduce a DMR into combat. I doubt they’ll ever revert the round back to it’s damage inducing brother. I was a pilot and had a M9 most of my time in, praying that we never had to use it because of how faulty they were (we called it the brick and the bolt-action pistol).

  13. I’ve also spent over a decade on an ambulance, most of that in pretty violent city in the northeast. My experience has been similar, in that people shot with handguns rarely die immediately. Although the gentleman with an apparent self inflicted 45ACP shot to the head did. Fortunately, we don’t see a lot of guys shot with rifles in the street around here. However, I hear that’s a different story in some of the other cities in this part of the world.

    I do find it interesting that while the abysmal performance of the 5.56 is attributed to bullet construction and weight, the same courtesy is not extended to the lowly 9×19. It would be interesting to see how the author’s experience with patients on the receiving end of 9×19 would have differed if he was in an area where the ammunition selection included modern defensive or law enforcement loads for those handguns.

    Please do correct me if I am incorrect in assuming that the majority of those shot with 9×19 that you have documented contacts with were shot with FMJ bullets.

    • “Please do correct me if I am incorrect in assuming that the majority of those shot with 9×19 that you have documented contacts with were shot with FMJ bullets.”

      I was thinking this exact same thing. NATO ammo in 9×19 is all FMJ unless I am terribly mistaken. Also, it is well known that handgun ammunition is very rarely going to produce a 1 shot stop if a vital organ/bone is not hit. Its physics really; not enough energy is able to be transferred by such a small mass going at speeds attainable out of a <5 inch barrel to result in damage able to stop an enemy immediately.

    • How much of the gang shootings are with anything approaching decent ammo? I get the impression that FMJ target ammo shows up on the street a lot for 9mm and smaller (when they can even load the gun with the right caliber) but the bangers who carry .40 or .45 are also more likely to be using premium hollowpoints.

  14. Wow, suddenly those articles we’ve all read about the impact of different calibers in a blob of gelatin seem a little silly.

  15. JWT, did you see many people shot with 7.62×39 round? If so, how did it compare with 5.56 NATO?

    Thanks for the article, btw. It’s nice to hear some real-world experience.

  16. Thanks for the information JWT! Your vast experience confirms my beliefs based on my minimal experince. As I recall the 9mm and 556 were promoted during the cold war days when putting a Russian in the hospital was more important than killing him out right. Our current enemy has no intentions of caring for his wounded. In my experience the .44mag is the smallest pistol round the has any real stoping power and ouly up close. “If you are 100% sure you don’t need a gun carry a pistol other wise you need a rifle.” – Col. Towsnend Whelend. I don’t see the 556 as much of a deer rifle, 6.5X55 is my minimum.

    • I am pretty confident that a 5.56mm round with a heavy-for-caliber EXPANDING bullet will put deer down reliably if you limit your shots to roughly 100 yards or less. No one questions the .243 Winchester round with 100 grain expanding bullets for promptly killing deer. That .243 round is 6.17mm diameter … not a huge difference compared to 5.56mm. The key is that both small bore rounds have high velocity, expanding bullets, and enough weight to guarantee penetration.

      • Millions of deer have been poached with a 22LR. That doesn’t make its a good deer round. If you look on youtube there is a bulistic jell test comparing 223 PDX Winchester (considered by most as the most effective 223 round) and cheep winchester white box ball 308. There is no compassion the 308 was vastly supppior!!

  17. just remember the 5.56 is supposed to create wounded, not kill. If you have a wounded man it will take two to drag him out of the fight,.

    • Is that urban legend or is there some authoritative reference to this as an actual combat strategy? Seems to me that the trade off is, the wounded man doesn’t leave the fight.

      • Well, there reason for the Geneva Convention is to prevent unnecessary death. That’s why hollowpoint bullets are not allowed in war. More importantly (from the government’s perspective) is cost. 7.62 is about twice the price of 5.56. On average, tens of thousands of rounds are fired for every ONE enemy shot in combat. Efficiency is important too. As such, lethality simply isn’t that much of a concern, especially compared to the massive cost difference. That’s why we use the 5.56.

      • Well, I’m not a huge history buff, but I am a bit of one, and more than once in my reading on the subject I’ve run into the statement that , in the big picture, a soldier wounded badly enough to be put out of action is much more of a drag on the nation’s war-making power than a soldier who is killed outright, as the wounded soldier requires additional personnel to care for him and continues to consume resources (food, fuel/transportation, medicine, clothes, etc) without making a contribution to the war effort in return. The key phrase, I guess, being “badly enough to be put out of action”. And again, that is the strategic view, not the tactical one.

        • That also assumes that our enemies are humane enough to care for their wounded. Unless your enemy sends medics and corpsmen into the field, like we do, I say we switch to explosive rounds. I wonder if Hornady can make a ballistic tip out of Semtex?

      • It’s an urban legend that was retroactively applied by the fanboys of M855. The original 5.56 platform, as designed by Stoner, used 55gr rounds and 1:14 barrel twist. This meant that bullets were basically understabilized, and while negatively affecting accuracy (not to the point where someone with iron sights aiming at human sized targets would care, mind you), it meant that bullets tumbled and fragmented reliably and very spectacularly, with a typical wound profile at closed range being a tiny entry hole on the front, and a huge, fist-sized gaping hole on the back filled with minced meat.

        But Army was not too comfortable with the accuracy, so they demanded a reduction to 1:12, which reportedly increased the stability enough for there to be a noticeable decrease in terminal ballistics. Even then it worked reasonably well, until such time M855 and 1:7 twist were adopted.

        • Int19h has got it all wrong! In the 60’s I spent much of my youth caring a Remington 722 in .222 Rem. For those of us knowledgeable on rifles know the .222 was the predecessor the .223. The Army felt the wanted more power than the .222 so Remington came out with the .222 Mag. but it was too long for the size gun they had in mind so it was shortened and the .223 was borne. The .222 was highly accurate and used for bench rest shooting and an improved version the .222 ½ was the bench rest standard until the on set of the PPC. ALL OF THEM HAVE A 14” TWIST!!!! The reason the Army went to the faster twist rates is to shoot a heaver and heaver bullet due the .223s piss poor stopping power!! Improved long range accuracy was as side effect. GET THIS THORUGH YOUR HEAD THE IDEA OF THE “TUMBELING BULLET” IS A MYTH!!! IT IS HOG WASH!!! If a bullet tumbles after it hits a target that is purely accidental and not intentional.

    • No, no it wasn’t. When first fielded in Vietnam by SF, they praised its terminal ballistics stating it was causing far greater wounds than the 7.62 it replaced and was a much more lethal round. The whole designed to wound was a urban myth

    • Agree. That’s what was taught in the USMC Basic School in 1990. Back then, the enemy was different. Today, the enemy will leave their wounded to die in place.

    • Yeah, that is an outright lie. The military is in the business of killing, not tickle fights. Bullets and bombs are designed to kill, people are tough and survive those things a lot. Trust me, I was one of those that did.
      The “wounding” excuse came about for two reasons, 1) because the report written about the then fledgling 5.56mm described the damaged it would cause as wounding effects, becasuse they are called wounding channels, and killing channels. This was infered as the 5.56mm is INTENTIONALLY designed to wound, which is NOT the case. 2) because our military only uses FMJ, the wound channel and energy transfer is significantly less than HPs, so the old excuse is that the guns and bullets are wounders and not killers on purpose. It isn’t.

  18. This is interesting but of very limited relevance unless you’re using NATO type FMJ ammo. I suspect similar reports regarding incidents involving mostly JHP ammo would significantly differ.

  19. Just for grins, when in my youth, two of my co-workers were killed with single pistol shots. One of them was hit with nothing more than a .22LR to the chest. Monster of a guy. Over 300 lbs. The other a 9mm to the back. skinny guy, 140 lbs wet. Lights out. Gone. So I have never had anything but respect for anything that goes bang.

    Living organisms can either succumb to nothing of consequence or take massive damage to the body. Both of these have happened many times in war. The studies of guys dieing on the spot from pure fright on the battlefield are legion. No wounds, trauma or blood. The body just shut down from being afraid. On the other hand, you can Google all sorts of trauma that have you shaking your head, where the guy came out alive on the other end. Massive steel rods penetrating the entire body/head. RPGs impacting and embedding into the poor soul. M79 grenades. Just take a look at the story of latest VietNam Green Beret MOH awardee from VN, Command Sgt. Maj. Bennie G. Adkins taking 27 hits of all types.

    This just goes to the whole magic bullet thingy. 9 vs 45, 243 or 7mm, 30-06 vs 338. Careers where built on this stuff. The Warren Pages/Keith/O’Connor/Whelan stories filled magazines for decades.

    So while I don’t dispute your own observations and conclusions, because they are yours and you are entitled to them, I have to differ. Pistols are fine. Pretty much any pistol round. They deter criminals and when used they punch holes in things. That is great for me and mine.

    • “Just for grins, when in my youth, two of my co-workers were killed with single pistol shots.”

      Just for grins??

  20. All controversy on round selection aside, that was an outstanding article. I don’t know how buttoned up you are after all that hell you were in, but it couldn’t have been easy to relive some of it to write this article. Thank you so much for your service.

    That said, we can’t have an answer without a question. “what’s the superior round for _____?” is a more important part of the equation. Civilian self defense and military shootings are two completely different questions. Offensive weapons are different from defensive weapons, and ammunition is an important component of weapon systems.

    Example: the 2.5inch 12 gauge shotshell full of 00 buck. An *outstanding* man stopper. Not the best choice for a military offensive weapon, door breaching aside. On the reverse, letting loose the .308 will certainly drop someone, but it would never be my first choice for defensive cartridge due to over penetration.

    The world of firearms has been, is, and will always be a world of compromise. No pistol, revolver, rifle, or cartridge is simply the best. If it was, we would all use it all the time and there would be no argument about which was superior. We have to identify what we want to accomplish, and then build our systems around that. Form must follow function.

    Except the 9mm Glock of course, the One Pistol To Rule Them All.

  21. Wow. That’s a good bit of experience you just shared there, sir. I thank you. And am glad I don’t have to go through what you did in order to get it. I bet there are a lot of people out there that owe you their lives, doc. And possibly a few more too some day from the experience you passed on…

    If you ever have to defend yourself, you don’t want to kill someone…eventually. You want to stop them from attacking you, immediately. Making this data all that much more valuable to understand.

    Curious how much of the 5.56 stuff was green tip/penetrator rounds. As i remember, .mil doesn’t use 55g.

    Anyway, thanks for your service and passing this on. Some bigtime valuable real world experience there for sure.

  22. Well, chances are slim that the people you are referring to were shot with hollowpoints. There really is an immense difference between FMJ and hollowpoints, especially with handguns in mind. I would imagine that .45 FMJ is considerably more effective than 9mm. But hollowpoints bridge the gap a bit, because 9mm +P has about 83% as much kinetic energy as a .45 ACP; with hollowpoints, ALL of that energy is transferred to the target (assuming the bullet does its job and doesn’t overpenetrate.

  23. I would like to see this guys medical training. is he a former 18D or just a graduate of the army’s field medical school.

  24. Thanks for your service and for sharing your experiences, good information and food for thought. I’m guessing most of those police packing 9×19 were using FMJ and not any type of hollow point? I would expect those kind of results with FMJ.

    Could you share more information about your 5.56 loads and your AR? I still haven’t jumped into AR and my recent car purchase will probably set that back even further, for now my self-defense will be 9mm pistols with good HP rounds. Other good comments in the thread is the use of a .300 Blackout upper, hadn’t really considered that aspect of it.

  25. The problem with the 5.56 is mainly that they are using XM855 62 grain (green tip “Penetrator”) ammo which is designed to penetrate vehicles like trucks/HUMMVs, etc. When you shoot a human with that it punches right through as it is designed to do which doesn’t cause much in the way of human trauma unless you happen to hit a major organ or artery.

    The older 55 grain stuff causes much more trauma as it fragments upon impact so it is far more effective against human targets but if it hits anything en route such as foliage it can be deflected or fragment without hitting the target. Additionally the effective range and accuracy is decreased with this round in comparison to the 62 grain bullet.

    The army developed a new bullet to address the deficiencies of the 62 grain bullet against human targets. The MK 262 Mod 1 OTM (open tip match) has superior accuracy, range and lethality in comparison to either the 55 grain or 62 grain bullets.

  26. And people lose their minds when a cop gets 16 hits on someone trying to murder him.

    To be fair, 9×19 NATO and modern expanding defensive ammo is simply not comparable. Much of the same applies to 5.56. NATO bullets are “humane” and just not designed for effective grim work.

    Also to be fair, all handguns are a compromise and generally suck.

    And anything worth shooting once is worth shooting until it stops all aggressive motion.

  27. Very interesting read. I think we already know to use good hollowpoints. Once again I would recommend reading “terminal ballistics as viewed in a morgue”. Similar results from real world experience. And before someone pipes in with “the 9mm is so much better-so is the 40,45,44mag. and 357mag than 10-15 years ago. And that author also says “carry the biggest caliber you can”. I can’t open carry a rifle or shotgun in Illinois so I would carry something with a 4 in the description(or5 LOL).Oh yeah that author is also big on 357 as an exception( but he saw very few shootings with it)

  28. “…push a 64 grain or heavier soft point round and see what happens.”

    Sierra 69gr HPBT Match in 5.56mm.

    Or use a M-1 Garand in .30-06 or M-1A/AR-10 in .308 with any bullet of 150gr or more (especially the Sierra 168gr HPBT Match or their 168gr hunting bullet).

    Or an 8″ SP Howitzer …

  29. Chris Kyle? Who here wants to talk about Jesse Ventura vs. Chris Kyle?

    JWT, what do you think? Do you think Jesse Ventura really said that stuff to Chris Kyle?

  30. Talk to any Vietnam vet who carried the M14 before being issued an M16. He will tell you that he loved his M14 and absolutely despised his M16. The reasons were twofold. First, the M16s were jamtastic. This problem was “cured” by issuing cleaning kits. Second, the 5.56 NATO round was too light to punch through jungle growth and still be lethal against the VC or NVA soldier.

    OTOH, the 7.62 NATO round stopped anyone it hit. Real fast. It’s a very good round, almost as good as the venerable .30-06 that it replaced.

    • I’ve talked to members of that same cohort of SEA vets, Ralph, and they all, to a man, said the same thing: As soon as they saw the results of the 5.56, they found a way to get their M-14 back, even with the giggle switch removed (as many of the M-14’s were adapted).

      Ballistic mass is your friend. I’ve seen this again and again on large game. There’s a reason why some states outlaw the use of anything smaller than .224 bullet diameter, or a cartridge of less than X foot-lbs of muzzle energy, or a cartridge of less than X inches length, etc.

      Since adopting brass cartridge ammunition, the US military has progressed from the .50-70 Government, with a 450gr lead bullet, to the 405gr .45-70 replacement, to the .30-40 Krag with a 220 grain bullet, then on to the 1903 Springfield’s original ammo with a 220 grain round-nosed bullet, to a 150-grain Spitzer, which was the 1903 Springfield chambered in the 1906 standard, which became known as the .30-06, to the 7.62×51 with a 147gr bullet, to today’s 5.56 with either a 55gr or 62gr bullet.

      I’d wager that if we fielded some rifles in today’s engagements with a .50-70 flinging a 450gr lead projectile downrange, we’d see some enemy combatants take a hard fall with only one center-mass shot, because elk and bison fall pretty quickly to this round. The .50-70 killed a lot of people and a lot of large game in the west with rifles that didn’t cycle even as quickly as a bolt action.

      • On Monday I was reminiscing with a Vietnam vet, a former Marine who I had just met. I told him what I do for a living and he noted that, after being away from shooting for a long time, he wanted to buy a rifle. His first choice was an M1 Garand, which he’d qualified with at Paris Island (at 500 yards). He wants one that’s “target ready,” not rack grade.

        His second choice would be an M14. He was first issued an M14 in Nam, loved it, and then had it replaced with the M16. He hated the M16. Okay, I’m being bit less than accurate here because he was very, uh, colorful in his description of the despised M16.

        I’m going to take him shooting and we’ll pop off all three.

        • The guys to talk to for a “target ready” Garand are Fulton Armory. They know service rifles like the back of their hands, and that’s all they do.

        • How accurate are “rack-grade” Garands? I presume they have decent accuracy like most millitary rifles of that period?

        • A “rack grade” Garand will typically be a “two MOA” or “two minute” rifle, maybe a bit better, maybe a bit worse with ball ammo – in other words, it should hold a 2″ to 2.5″ group at 100 yards with issue ammo.

          I’ve seen some really well-used Garands that shot better than they looked, and some nicer-condition Garands that shot worse than they looked, and most of it (in my observation) has been a result of how they were cleaned. The mil-spec issue cleaning rods were jointed steel rods, and one of the faster ways to kill a rifle is to shove that jointed steel cleaning rod down the muzzle of any rifle. Any joint that isn’t perfectly mated and has a little run-out from one segment of the rod to the next presents a sharp edge, which if rammed into the crown, will eventually break down the crown on the barrel and then things start to get wider from there.

          My theory is that some well-used Garands look that way because they were used by men who actually used them in engagements, and they cared about their accuracy. They were careful in how they cleaned them, and they probably were not “over cleaned.”

          Some Garands were used by people who were in the rear, and their weapons were inspected for cleanliness and appearance first, and the shooting results didn’t matter so much for those men – so the cleaning rods were rammed in/out of those good-looking rifles much more than combat weapons.

          I’ve seen more than a couple of accurate rifles killed by overzealous cleaning with the wrong tools. It’s a crying shame, but it happens.

        • So I was correct in my guess, I was guessing about 2 MOA.

          What is always strange to me is while shooting groups is a good way to measure precision it is not the best way to measure accuracy since your target isn’t going to be still while you fill it with lead. I mean, Dragunovs have about 1 MOA with good ammo yet they have been used efficently at 1-1.2 km in bad condition and/or with bad ammo to for instance take out drivers (which is pretty small). Same applies to AKs, while they have varying MOA (about 2-6 depending on ammo, quality and condition) still people have managed head or heart shots at 200-300 meters. I’ll admit it is anecdotal but still worth considering.

        • Let’s get our terms clear here. I go over this issue with entry-level machinists as well as shooters:

          “Precision” is a term used to indicate how closely you can resolve a number or measurement. To put this into gun terms, let’s say that you have a Nightforce 24X scope on your lever-action deer rifle. I’m not suggesting that anyone actually do this – I’m making an example.

          At 100 yards with a scope of that quality and magnification, you can see individual hairs on the deer. You could put the crosshairs on a specific hair on their hide, if they’re holding still enough.

          “Accuracy” is a term used to indicate the repeatability of a measurement. Again, using the above example, if your rifle won’t group tightly, which is nothing more or less than shooting repeatably to a point of aim, your chances of actually laying a round into the individual hair you can see under the reticle in your 24X scope are low to very low.

          In the machining world, I see this confusion all the time with things like digital calipers in the hands of students and noobs. Most digital calipers on the market today will give a reading down to a half-thousandths of an inch (or 0.0005″). For people who don’t understand how fine a measurement that is, the thickness of a sheet of typing or copying paper is typically 0.003″, or six times the resolution of the digital caliper. The hair from a blonde’s head will typically be 0.003 also, with young children’s hair being even finer. Brunettes will often have thicker individual hair strands, perhaps as thick as 0.005″. So now those of you with no machining experience have a feel for how small a thickness 0.0005″ really is.

          You can, with inattention to your thumb pressure when using a set of calipers, change the measurement indicated by the instrument by as much as 0.005″ – an order of magnitude more than the resolution of the digital caliper. In order to achieve repeatability between measurements (and therefore achieve accuracy), you need to train yourself to produce repeatable pressure to close the jaws of the calipers. In almost no case is even an experienced machinist able to get a set of calipers to repeat to within 0.0005″ from measurement to measurement, every single time. It is for this reason that experienced machinists know the precision of the digital calipers exceeds their accuracy.

          Same thing on rifles: Put a high-dollar, high-power scope on a rack-grade rifle, and you now have precision that exceeds accuracy.

          What you want in firearms first is accuracy; precision is easier to add on afterwards.

        • Fulton Armory also does a very good AR-10 clone, if a highly-accurate .308 is the vet’s desire. Cheaper, easier to customize, reliable.

        • That I am aware of. It is possible to have an accurate rifle that isn’t precise.

          Sorry if I am not being understandable now. Feeling kinda depressed when I today found out a lot of hard work was pretty much for nothing and I am going to be screwed (not the good way) in school. That and it is pretty late now.

        • D S,
          Good post on accuracy and precision. Myself, I define a “precision” rifle as one that will “usually” group 1/2 MOA.
          A good varmint rifle should do that most of the time.
          Of course you can’t expect much under a MOA with factory loaded ammo. If you can get 3/4 MOA with factory loads, you should start handloading, or sell the rifle to someone who will bring out it’s finest.

        • My Old man was there at the same time. He loved the M-14″ ’cause you could beat someone to death with it and the M-16 was plastic.” He was first issue and had no problems with the rifle. It was also full auto unlike his M-14. He was special forces Army 4th. Only the “Team” leader had a full auto M-14 to conserve ammo. He served 4 tours and is a real hero. He is still alive if your wondering.
          He said only the “city” guys had problems cause they never had a gun before. Hahahahaha!

        • Regarding “‘Accuracy’ is a term used to indicate the repeatability of a measurement,” I’m not so sure. If you have a yardstick which EXACTLY repeats a measurement of 36.00″ every time, by this definition, it’s accurate. But if the indicated distance is off by EXACTLY 9.00″ every time, I’d say it’s very repeatable but pretty inaccurate.

    • >> First, the M16s were jamtastic. This problem was “cured” by issuing cleaning kits.

      Well, and chrome-lining the gas tube (which was stripped from the original design due to cost concerns). And replacing the cheap powder back to what was originally specified. And many other things.

      The reason why soldiers got a crapstick for a rifle in ‘Nam was because of government bureaucrats trying to pinch pennies by cutting corners. As originally designed, AR15 was much more reliable than the first version of M16. It took them a while to bring it back to that level.

    • I find the repeated comments reporting some variant of “Marines who had their M14’s replaced with M16’s immediately wanted their M14’s back.” Well, of course many of them did, because they were in the cohort that received the very first M16’s sans chromed chamber and barrel, sans cleaning kit, and provided with dirty over-pressure ammo. No surprise there.

      By the time I was issued a (relatively new) M16A1 in RVN, the ammo was good, both the chamber and barrel were chromed, and the only complaint my buds had about the weapon was this, that they wanted a CAR15 instead, because it was handier on choppers. I found the rifle jam-free and easy to clean. The idea that the cartridge was not lethal is absurd. What is true is that at longer ranges (and not when sniping) a belt-fed machine gun (the M60, now the M240B) is the right tool. Soldiers agree. Putting a heavier, longer, slower-to-action rifle in their hands has repeatedly proven an unpopular idea among the actual troops.

      As RVN vets age, there appears (in my acquaintance) a early group of now older-than-me guys who think “I’d like a heavier-caliber gun that kills things better at longer ranges.” They are the ‘M14’s are wonderful’ crowd. In other words, they slip into thinking of an assault rifle as a range toy or for fixed-position defense item. That simply isn’t what an assault weapon is for. Perhaps it is the kind of defensive weapon needed for old guys who can’t run, or who view defending a rural house as the key requirement. Active duty soldiers who have fired their weapons in combat, both in Iraq and Afghanistan (survey selection criteria), instead have repeatedly said either they like the weapon as-is, or if desiring change, that they would prefer an even shorter lighter version, an MK18-like SB carbine. I think the enthusiasm for short bull-pup designs lines reflects a similar and natural reaction.

      • The point of my comment was in brief, to say that while the M1 Garand, M-14, and more recent 7.26 x 51 weapons are excellent for what they do, the lighter assault rifle has a different role and fills it well. That role is not, it seems to me, a long-distance one, though it can fill that role up to a point, as a stop-gap. Why people feel compelled to put down one because their preference runs to the other caliber/feature set is beyond me.

      • I liked my M16 kept it clean and never had a jam imo there is a lot to be said about being able to carry more ammo
        that fact that there no recoil again imo
        results in more rounds in target and since most of the time targets were much less than a 100 meters the 556 was quite sufficient and very acçurate .I can easily understand that the M14 could be a much better long range rifle if needed, I fired expert with both but I was glad I didn’t have to carry the M14 In country

    • Two tours in RVN 1st with the M-14, loved it, it stopped shit now, 2nd with the M-16 other than the lighter ammo pack it sucked.

  31. I feel like the fmj rounds the military uses plays a big role in soft tissue damage compared to the 77gr TAP 5.56 rounds I load in my AR or 124 gr 9mm HST in my cz

  32. Can people stop repeating the myth that the 5.56 was designed to wound. Its simply not true. It is a urban legend, along the lines of you couldn’t shoot people with the 50cal, you had to “aim” at the weapon, or the shockwave from a 50 can kill you from a near miss.

    • Right you are. The 5.56 is just like any other military round — it’s designed to kill. It’s just not very good at it.

      • Reminds me of “you are not an ugly human, you are a beautiful monkey”.

        So 5.56 can be considered (with ball ammo) to not be a bad killer, but a wonderful wounder.

      • All military weapons have different virtues, contexts in which they excel. If I’m going to be sent into a military context in which multiple enemy have to be hit quickly, and the ranges will likely exceed those for which buckshot is appropriate, I’d rather have a 5.56 selective fire weapon than a much larger and more energetic caliber. For longer ranges or contexts in which scoped rifles and a few seconds’ are practical for aiming, I’d rather have a 7.62 x 51 or larger. Honestly, the majority of my experience in combat was with an M60, and I only used the M16 when I couldn’t stay in the gunner’s well or wasn’t on a chopper. The M60 (with a good feed-tray…) is a nice option, but doesn’t allow the soldier much agility, and does snag on vegetation.

        In retrospect I look at the select-fire 5.56 carbines and rifles as an optimization of the Thompson…though also able to provide very accurate longer-range semi-auto fire: More maneuverable, more controllable during automatic fire, lighter, and with better terminal ballistics at longer ranges. I owned and used a black-market Thompson in RVN, as did my best bud, but ditched it when the sear gave out (and my CO complained). I think many people judge the M4 and similar harshly, but think they think of its use from a static position, not its high suitability when fighting on the move, on the run, or quickly when surprised on patrol. It kills just fine with the right ammo and tactics.

  33. During Vietnam, the military used the M193 5.56mm 55 grain round which worked well on mostly unarmored NVA and VC fighters. During the draw down from Vietnam, the military turned its focus back to getting ready for a fight against Soviet/Warsaw Pact soldiers. The average Soviet/Eastern European soldier of the 70’s and 80’s, wore a flak vest under his shirt and a load bearing vest over his shirt with his AK mags worn over his torso. the M855 62 grain with steel penetrator round was designed to defeat the mags and vest to get to the flesh with sufficient energy to defeat the soldier out past 400 meters. An additional problem was the 1 in 12 twist barrel on the M16A1 did not provide enough spin to stabilize the heavier 62 grain bullet causing the round to tumble almost immediately after exiting the muzzle making it inaccurate. The M16A2 was developed with a 1 in 7 twist barrel to solve the stability issue. Now the military finds itself fighting an enemy very much similar to the enemy it fought 45 years ago.

  34. Has anyone experimented with 1 in 14 or 1 in 12 twist with 55 grain 5.56? Shit accuracy but tumbles likes crazy in flesh.

    • The result of a 1 in 12 twist barrel with a 55 grain bullet is already known. The bullet will be stabilized and accurate. There will likely be some deformation of the bullet and yawing when hitting flesh causing a larger wound channel. This is why it was successful in Vietnam. The M855 62 grain out of a 1 in 7 twist barrel will be accurate also but will likely not deform and yaw when hitting flesh penetrate through the body causing a little pin prick wound channel.

      • That’s what I was getting at. I think outside of a war zone scenario, I would think a slower twist with a lighter bullet would an ideal load for most due to how it reacts in flesh.

  35. “And the Ma Deuce is the greatest, most perfect thing ever invented by man.”

    Beautiful words. Thanks….now I have to get my 308 build on.

  36. Amazing stories. Thank you for sharing and thank you for your service. I also hunt deer with 64 grain soft point ammo in my 556 AR–15. They just drop.

  37. I am curious about 7.62×39, especially M67 bullets. Pistol rounds are pistol rounds and thusly you might as well go for what you are most accurate with (and quick with).

  38. It was interesting to read a Medic/EMT’s view of things. I, however, am not surprised that he saw so many of the undead hit by 9mm and 5.56. More people in his AO’s were shot with those calibers than any others, so naturally more ineffective shots with those were also seen. But lots were killed with one or two rounds and never were seen by a medic/EMT.

    My nearby city, Philadelphia, has been the locus of quite a few one-shot kills with 9mm. Unfortunately they often involve many more shots being fired, but inaccurately. And then GZ comes to mind.

    It has been absolutely common knowledge, since 2008 and earlier, that the most reliably-effective anti-personnel 5.56 rounds are the heavier 75-77 grain rounds if barrier/BA penetration isn’t an issue. PD’s went to them because…they could. The military has been moving to them bit by bit, once they received permission to use “open tipped” as opposed (laugh) “hollow point.” Obviously the heavier bullets are also better at long ranges.

    I suppose most .223/5.56 shooters who consider their carbine/rifle a defensive tool have watched the march to 77-grain OTM bullets, then onward to polymer-tipped cannelured 75- or 77-grain bullets, such as the BH 77-grain TMK …which is generally unavailable in civilian markets due to high military/government demand, or Hornady 75-grain TAP.

    Using a 9mm with 147-grain bullets should flip a paddle. 115’s? Perhaps not. 124-grain +P? Try them. Query: Why would a person who quickly replies that he hates the 9mm (and 5.56…) also be out shooting a dueling tree with….a 9mm? Let me guess: He’s more accurate with the 9mm than a .40 cal, .45ACP, or 10mm? Still, in the actual case, why?

    As for what people preferred in RVN, it depended on what you did. If you had to constantly patrol, shoot on the move in vegetation, or maneuver in and out of choppers or other vehicles, then full-auto capable M16’s or Car15’s were the thing, quickly set to Auto. M14’s and M60’s were preferred if the context allowed for their weight and length, which it often didn’t. In southern areas that were primarily rice-paddy covered range and .308 made sense. Naturally as contact proceeds .308 machine guns or other heavier weapons continue the engagement. Battles aren’t fought with 5.56 unless somebody has screwed up –the M4’s are just for immediate defense and first response. House clearing in urban terrain is a different subject.

    Personally, I preferred the reality of firing fast 3 or 4 round bursts in very sudden contact….than firing semi-auto .308. Even today I think training for quick 5.56 pairs in defense is a more attractive notion than planning singles or doubles with a .308 indoors for HD. (I also find the “no one-shot kills with 5.56” unfathomable. Police have scored quite a few. Soldiers, too. Two shots is more common with 5.56 simply because it is easy (reflexive, really) compared to getting off two very quickly and accurately with a .308.)

    I see a parallel between the 5.56 v. 7.62×51 debates on one hand, and the hunting-oriented preferences for .300WM out in the dry west, versus shorter-barreled less powerful .30-30’s, .308’s, and such in the forested northeast. It just depends on what you do, how you do it, and where you do it….in large part. No?

  39. So I love shooting the AR platform. Never been in the military so I have no experience there but I know my way around the AR. I’ve been shooting 2 and 3 gun for years. Never really been a hunter though but recently I’ve gotten into hunting the past couple years with a buddy who is an avid hunter. Went hog hunting earlier this year and I decided to take my Noveske BLOCK II M4-A1 build. I picked up some 5.56 NATO loaded rounds thinking these would be GREAT for taking pigs. BOY WAS I WRONG! We found a herd of hogs and I shot one RIGHT in the face at about 25 yard using an EOTECH EXPS3.0T and G33 magnifer. The shot was good, just below the left eye and it. She went down and started to trash. My friend shot one with his .35 and I took a second one with another NATO round. That one started to run away so I dropped 4 more rounds on it, 3 of which made contact and he was still limping away. First pig was still thrashing. I walked by I shot the first hog with 2 more quick shots in the side of the neck which spaced out to be about a 4 inch group just below the ear. Went and finished off that second hog with 3 shots to neck area but the first big was STILL trashing. Came and transitioned to my HK45CT (8+1 round) and fired 3 rounds of .45ACP into the first hogs neck, just below the ear. STILL TRASHING! I emptied the remaining 6 rounds of .45ACP into her head and neck at which point when I stopped firing she finally let out that last gasp of air. We stop and look around and the second pig I “finished off” was still kicking around a bit. Buddy finished it off with a shot from his .35 for me.

    I now own a SCAR 17 for hunting. I’ve yet to take it out but I’m hoping for better luck! I also find I now carry my HK P30 more than my HK45CT for self-defense. I’m now leaning towards carrying MORE rounds. With my HK45CT I always carry 8+1 and a spare 10. If I carry the P30 I carry 15+1 and 2 spare 15’s normally.

    • Pigs are tough animals.

      You’ll be well served to go with heavier bullets on pigs. One of the more successful pig hunters I’ve met swears by using a .35 Whelen (.30-06 necked up to take a .358 bullet, 250 gr in weight). Another guy I met who loves pig hunting swears by his .45-70 lever gun. They both started with lighter rifles and traded up as they hunted more.

      • What DG said, hogs are pretty resilient. I would use 308, 7.62×39 as minimum (though I would prefer the necked up 9×39).

    • Use anything BUT FMJ NATO on pigs LOL

      Any open tip, “home defense”, or JHP will work fine, as long as its not a 45 grain varmint plucker. I shoot the piss out of them with Wolf Gold 75 gr.

      Yeah pistol cartridges perform poorly against them unless you are carrying something bigger than 45 or 9mm.

      Pigs are a good gauge for cartridge effectiveness. just sayin.

  40. I have seen dozens of people killed with single hits from 9mms, 5.56s, .45s, oh, and .22s, .32s, .380s, etc.

    I am far from the only street copper in the US with this level of experience.

    This whole article smells of bullshit.

    • I don’t think you even got the point. It’s not that they don’t kill… eventually. It’s that they rarely instantly incapacitate (stopping them from taking further action, ie – shooting at you). I’m not sure you even read the post. You definitely didn’t comprehend it.

    • The military doesn’t recognize the concept of stopping power. They talk in terms of lethality. In layman’s terms this means how long to you have before you die without treatment. The more lethal a round, the less time you have to get help. Virtually any hit by any caliber to the body core will ultimately be lethal without medical intervention.

  41. It appears as if I was unclear, so I’m happy to answer some of your questions.

    The only bullet type I ever saw in combat, regardless of caliber, was FMJ, with the exception of the .50BMG rounds and obviously the 14mm and 23mm rounds. This includes both outgoing and incoming rounds.

    Here in the US, I have seen FMJ, HP, and LSWC rounds used in pistol calibers. I’ve seen all sorts of performance from each. I have no consistent pattern that I have personally witnessed to say one outperforms another.

    I have never personally seen a pistol of any caliber penetrate body armor. But to be clear, I can’t remember ever seeing armor struck by a pistol round that wasn’t a hard plate. I have no experience with rounds to soft armor. Spall and fragments yes, rounds, no.

    The 7.62X39 round clearly outperforms the 5.56NATO round at shorter ranges. I have to add the caveat that I saw very, very few 7.62X39 rounds strike their target from more than 200 yards. I can also say that I have seen many people shot by this round that did not die immediately either, including one patient that walked in himself after taking 3 rounds to his right center chest from no more than 10 feet away. I marked him down as either real hard or real lucky, and either way as a dude not to mess with.

    I’m just a medic. I am not a Green Beret. I am not a long tab wearer. I have never been a student in the 18D program, I have not completed Robin Sage as a student, and I have never been to “selection” as a student.

    Chuck Haggard, your experience is very different than mine. I’ve don’t know that I’ve ever met a police officer that’s said they’ve personally seen dozens of people killed at all, much less with a single shot and quickly.


    • Lack of hits is probably due to bad condition of weapons and lack of training.

      When ammo is scarce people don’t train much. When they don’t train much (due to preserving ammo for engagements) they become not so good shots to put it in a nice way.

  42. Correct me if i am wrong, or have been wrongly informed by my Basic Training Instructors. (It has been a while),

    the Geneva convention prohibits the use of Hollow Point, Ballistic tip, or Frangible ammo, and although shooting at enemy forces, because of this the current ammo used by our Military is not intended to kill, it is meant more to would, maim, or generally take that person out of the fight, Death is a by product of that situation, not the direct intent. i am not sure with this write up if it (his recordings) are solely based on NATO spec ammo, Where as the current civilian and law enforcement agencies use hollow point, ballistic tip. frangible type ammo. I feel the comparisons would be different, and more effective then the claims made in this write up, (i would at least would/assume hope so). your thoughts?

    • The Hague Conventions and Geneva Conventions cover many war-related topics. However, it is the 1st Hague Convention which bans ‘dum-dum’ bullets, as intended to cause unnecessary suffering. It is the Geneva Convention details that govern most POW and related issues.

  43. Horrifying! Jockhead killers bragging about their skills and their toys. This is why I HATE the friggin military. Just what have you protected America from? Some gooks in a rice paddy somewhere? A raghead in a cave? You want a challenge? Target your Commander in Chief, confirm the kill, and then report back for more clean-up.

    • What country are you from?, you are under no obligation to stay, Pack up, Denounce your citizenship and have a great life. No one is forcing you to stay in America, if that is where you are from. Talk about a keyboard commando.

  44. JWt , thanks for the insight. Your friends may have a point about the bullets . the FMJ’s aren’t the choice when you have the option of JHP.

    as far as the guys who say a military round should wound, so others have to help them off the field must have never been in combat. The ” wounded enemy” will likely continue to fire at you, and so will other combatants .
    The assist just doesn’t happen untill way to late.
    It puts our soldiers at horible risk.

    also at 400 yds , 55 – 62 gr 5.56 doesn’t have much left, I am not surprised by your experiences .

  45. I have been saying this forever, 5.56mm is not lethal nor incapacitating. It is all about putting the biggest bullet YOU can in the right place. Its not a 9mm or 45 caliber game its a shotS placement. I am a paramedic and while I have seen no where near as many gunshots as this gentleman. I have NEVER seen a single shot from anything take a person down. I have even seen point blank(burn marks under the arm) with a .380 that on the Xray passed through both ventricles, and the guy got out of the car and ran 30 yards and was shot 6 more times before dying. I have even seen a few hunting accidents that while there were lots of damage from the high powered rifles, the patients ultimately went home.

    • In all likelihood the person you described was already dead but his body didn’t know it yet. The additional six shots were redundant from an outcome point of view.

  46. Someone who kept notes.

    Matches what I saw. 20 hits (torso, arms, and head) from M855 and still shooting. Doc said he bled out while our guy was reloading. 2/3 hits with return fire, dude had balls of steel.

    Lesson: If you expect trouble, carry a rifle or a shotgun.

    Rule 34. If you’re leaving scorch-marks, you need a bigger gun.

  47. I appreciate him sharing, but none of these observations are perfectly relevant to the USA and to self-protection for the following reasons:

    1. He starts with complaining how he couldn’t flip a steel target with 9mm. Maybe that steel target was meant for the harder punch of rifle rounds, not 9mm. Metal flip targets come in categories designed for the bullet you intend to use on them. Had his set been intended for something other than 9mm, like the .22 LR flip targets, his opinion at this point would’ve been “OMG 9mm has such power!” because the targets were set to move with the force of .22 LR. So his introduction is poor.
    2. He states that his primary customer were people suffering from injuries from blasts. Is he going to use this info to tell us to conceal carry grenades or mines?
    3. He says rifles trump all. We can tell that if we look at the power and speed statistics of the various rifle rounds, and also the force with which they recoil (though recoil isn’t a primary source of information). We already knew that. But the premise of this article is being fed to people who conceal carry and think in terms of pistols, so without caveats to this point, this is only going to feed a caliber war, a war no one can win.
    4. He tells us 9mm takes multiple hits to kill. He’s thinking military: the US civilian is, if anything, concerned with stopping, not killing (even if this is only “on paper”), and full metal jacket NATO, so really his opinion at this point is worthless. Multiple people survive being shot with FMJ 9mm NATO? No kidding? Yeah, this has already been said before. People survive single rifle shots all the time, too. Military combat is not the same environment as home defense or even US police work.
    5. He then tells us 5.56 NATO doesn’t kill. If it doesn’t, I’d be more willing to cite divine intervention from a merciful God, as I have personally talked with several USAF Security Forces who have killed in combat with the M-4. I have a hard time believing that his experience is this way across the board: maybe, if anything, he was lucky that this was his experience. But really, in combat, our troops aren’t told to coup de grace everyone they incapacitate, either, so this could also be exceptionally good medical care. But this guy’s job is to save life, not destroy it, so maybe he’s just exceptionally good at his job.
    6. Combat itself is far different than statistics and testimony related to US home defense. I teach Self Aid / Buddy Care to military types every week: we deploy with combat tourniquets. If we’re being shot at and can’t stop in the middle of a firefight to take care of the wound, if possible, we tourniquet because that’s faster, and continue to return fire. We’re also taught (Law of Armed Conflict and others) to, if we shoot an enemy and they’re still conscious, hence they’re now a POW, to render first aid to them as well. In combat, we also push through difficulties in order to kill or incapacitate the enemy. In combat, gunshot casualties are more likely to push through the pain and injury in order to win the fire fight. These factors and others make combat far different than US home defense, where we have many news stories of thugs and bad guys chickening out when they’re faced with armed resistance. Few bad guys on our shores (thank God) behave like an enemy combatant, otherwise people would be (in US home defense) more likely to die than live.
    7. The 5.56 tumble/yaw effect, if I remember correctly, was limited to some of the ammunition we had in Vietnam. If they “corrected” this “feature”, that explains why he never saw tumble. Can someone please verify?
    8. His admission that he saw few, if any, 7.62 shots, only brings his expertise in this area into scrutiny, as he has only a few of those to compare against many 5.56 shots (by his own admission).
    9. He then says he built different ammunition and now he likes 5.56. Go figure: NATO, home defense and hunting deer are all entirely different

    So when he says “take that as you will”, I sure will. I will take this as the report of only one person and only in combat in Afghanistan. I won’t say he doesn’t know what he’s doing, and/or doesn’t have experience, but I will say that his research was combat, and overseas, not in the US, and not with home defense. I have a lot of respect for combat medics, and the number of them that weren’t worth anything was few, if not nonexistent. Combat medics are bad-ass. Combat is hell, and it’s not easy, nor is it fun. But it’s not the United States, and it’s not home defense, nor personal defense.

    But regardless of his experience, and whether it applies to personal defense or home defense, he’s exactly the type of person I would want help from in a SHTF scenario. The training he and others in the military received is indispensable.

    • You are absolutely correct. Using civilian ammunition, even with HP, the wound channels are going to be far more dramatic. M855 is infamous for lacking dramatic wound channels on a consistent basis.

      “The 5.56 tumble/yaw effect, if I remember correctly, was limited to some of the ammunition we had in Vietnam. If they “corrected” this “feature”, that explains why he never saw tumble. Can someone please verify?”

      They DID “correct” the issue largely by adopting the M855, which is intended to deal with body armor and helmet wearing troops riding in vehicles. M855 still tumbles eventually, but by the time it does, the round is already out of the human body or tumbling in the last 2 inches before exit; this is especially so with malnourished third world fighters.

  48. Everything in firearms and self-defense is situational. That’s why there’s no such thing as “the best caliber”.
    Nice article and an interesting insight but, this has nothing to do with the situations in which most of this sites readers are concerned with.
    The engagement distances he references would mean certain jail time for a civilian in what cannot even seriously be called a defensive use of force outside of a warzone.
    OK, people didn’t die from a single shot. But, he kind of glosses over how many times that one shot would have stopped the threat. Perhaps that can’t be known since he had more occasion to deal with people after the incident that caused their wounds.
    All you need to worry about is carrying the largest caliber you can proficiently shoot and comfortably carry and then find the best round in that caliber. You’re not going to be trying to get a 2nd shot on a “mobile target with cover at 400 meters who is shooting at you” in a home invasion or a street mugging or a carjacking.

  49. It comes to mind that bin Laden was killed with one 5.56 to the forehead. The shooter himself claimed the second shot (as BL fell) was an insurance shot. I find myself (yes, I’m aware) reacting negatively to harsh assessments of the 5.56 in carbines and rifles, which assessments neglect the context for which the items are extremely well adapted. Obviously bullet choice is (and long has been) a key issue.

    Afghanistan provides a solid example of how, outside the urban environment, battles are actually fought. Carbines provide the immediate reaction, but the engagement continues with machine guns and mortars. When the enemy is aware that he’s being engaged, he keeps moving and finds good cover. A bullet takes a long time to go 1,000 yards…and hitting a randomly moving target at that distance is not likely. Sniping is an entirely different matter, but in open country that’s a .300WM. .338 Lapua, or .50 cal Barrett proposition these days. The SCAR 17H, for example, is a special-purpose item for a small team that needs to move fast. It isn’t an appropriate replacement for MK18’s or M4’s at the low end, or for serious sniping power at the high end.

    I’m glad, JWT, that you found a good (heavier) bullet for your AR.

    • That hasn’t changed since WWII. The principle role of small arms, including machine guns is to pin your enemy in position and then drop indirect fire on to them. During and after the war the Germans denigrated the skills of US infantry because they relied on outside firepower to do most of the job. Some of their criticisms of US tactical skills were accurate but they missed the point. The US had developed methods of delivering air and artillery support that were unmatched by other nations until well after the war. And when push came to shove in places like the Ardennes US infantry proved skillful enough to stop the Germans in their tracks. The Red Army did not match the ability the US Army to deliver accurate fire until the 1980s. The Russians used mass to make up for precision.

      • Yes. My point in highlighting Afghanistan was just this: Many people, exposed through the news to repeated conflicts in urbanized and forested areas, forget the realities of engagement in a larger landscape, one more sparsely populated. Fire from a 7.62 NATO rifle provides nothing that can’t be delivered better by an M240, suppressive fire at long range, so that the mortars and artillery/ air-support can hit the pinned-down opponent. I can’t see the net benefit of moving to a heavier rifle and cartridge to fill that gap, just to adjust to a landscape of a type rare for U.S. troops. I thought, in my own experience, that an M-16A1 and an M-60 was a good pairing. A heavier rifle would have put me at a disadvantage in many circumstances in which I actually found myself. I don’t think my experience was unique. I sure as hell wouldn’t have been as well served by an M14. A 1-in-7 twist barrel and Mk262 Mod1 would have been fine with me, though.

        • Having called danger close fire missions just can’t emphasize it enough, artillery is the king of battle, close air support is the queen. Unless you’re talking B52 strikes, all bets are off, then, and you better damned well have a deep hole when the Finger of God comes through.

  50. Who in their right mind only shoots once anyway? Depending on the .45 im carrying you’re getting 8+1, 10+1 or 13+1. If I can still pull the trigger im going to be pulling it. So what is this one shot shit about?

    • Exactly. The one place he addresses followup shots he references “a mobile target with cover at 400 meters who is shooting at you”.
      A valid point on the battlefield but not really applicable to most of this audience.

  51. Where and when did MEDEVAC take 4 hours?… Especially in S Afghanistan… there are/were FOBs all over the south with role 2s & 3s. And a team mate humping a UMP-45? Where did you find .45 in theater? I never saw it in any AHA and I’ve been to a few. And getting shot in the face over rolling over an Italian AT mine? I rolled over an Italian AT mine back in ’06. One of the little green plastic suckers. Sure, it sucked but Im alive and unharmed safe for a little hearing loss. I don’t think I’d fare so well getting shot in the face. Regardless, this whole article is suspect. The tough-guy, in-your-face, bravado does little to hide some glaring discrepancies and outrageous claims. Unless you can prove me wrong with some names, dates, locations and assignments, Im calling BS. Complete and utter BS.

  52. well, back in the days when we all rode with Custer ,,then, 45-70 springfield trapdoor single,shot was considererd a pretty good one shot killer ,seldom had to,shoot again,, however being a single shot and getting hot shooting a lot ,guys had to try to,pry out empties with a pocket knife , this slowness gave the indians a prime choice for repeat shots . a suprising number of fallen and dead soldiers at the final,custer battle at the little big horn, in which 100% died ,were done with 32 rimfire rounds from the wariors winchester lever action repeaters ,(perhaps a few 32-20s and 44-40s),,.did you ever hear a 32 rimfire round fired in a rifle? ,,,,pffftt! one fact tho ,an indian shot once with a 45-70 ,seldom got back on his horse ,,ever .,,,yes a number of wounded bluecoats were dispattched by knife and tomahawk,, many by women of the tribe after the shooting and dust cleared.

  53. Interesting article, but its nothing new really. Shooting M193 or M855 out of a short barrel will give less than spectacular results.

    The 5.56 is a fine round when loaded with a 60+ grain bullet and shot out of a 16in plus barrel.

    Has the author seen any wounds that could be contributed to the MK262 round out of a proper barrel?

    • I think 5.56 x 45 is fine for self defense at ranges shorter than about 160 yards (with a 16 inch barrel) with a 62 grain soft point or hollow point bullets. I prefer heavier rifle calibers over 5.56 millimeter though.

  54. The author states many times that he has never recorded a 9X19 or 5.56 “clean, one shot kill”. The key statment, however, is this one: “it doesn’t include the dead that didn’t make it to me.”
    Obviously, a clean, one shot kill, meaning instant death, would NOT make it to the medic! That one would be on the way to the morgue.
    That said, I am not a fan of the 5.56 or 9mm either.
    Although a medic would not see this personally, the stats show that there are more one shot STOPS (not neccessarily kills) with larger calibers than with the 9 and/or 5.56.

  55. Pistol rounds poke holes, especially NATO-standard FMJ. No surprise there.

    Same with m855. It punches holes.

    I’ve seen bad guys punched with 77gr OTM and SOST. Those rounds work. Nothing like M855.

  56. I am surprised no one has mentioned that Trayvon was killed quite swiftly by a single, non-head shot from a 9mm, and a cheap gun at that.

    • I believe George Zimmerman said that right after he shot Trayvon Martin, he said, “You shot me” or “You’ve killed me”. (I forgot the exact words.) Then Zimmerman was able to get Martin off of him. He probably was losing consciousness at that point, and then died from loss of blood pressure a few seconds later. It wasn’t an instantaneous death.

      • Incorrect. You can’t believe whatever the media tells you in a case like this, you have to go to the source (if possible).

        I’m not going to link to it here, as links will often send a post into the Moderation queue, but if you find the Martin autopsy report (it’s on several sites, including CNN), and go to page 3 of 6, you’ll see this:

        “The entrance wound is located on the left chest, 17 1/2 inches below the top of the head, 1 inch to the left of the anterior midline, and 1/2 inch below the nipple. It consists of a 3/8 inch diameter round entrance defect with soot, ring abrasion, and a 2 x 2 inch area of stippling. This wound is consistent with a wound of entrance of intermediate range.”

        Not a contact wound at all; you don’t see a 2-inch gunpowder stippling pattern around a contact wound caused by a pistol.

  57. Think I’ll make me a 10″, four shot, 7.62x54r revolver, then, and feed it Hornady plastic-tipped hunting rounds.

    That’ll stop then alien zombie bears. Four of ’em, anyhow.

  58. It highlights the problem with following rules of engagement set forth for wars between countries. We haven’t fought a war with another country since Saddam was overturned. Now it’s a bunch of militant groups, not representatives of other countries and their military. Because of this, and they fact that none of them subscribe to any code of battle, we should be using the most lethal munitions possible. Imagine if we had been using all hollow points in Afghanistan. The number of rounds required to stop a threat would have been greatly reduced as hits would have actually meant something.

    So let’s put all the ball away for bad guys and break out the hunting bullets. If they’re going to act like animals they might as well be treated like them.

  59. I don’t understand. How can the author make such claims about 9mm NATO rounds and 5.56mm not killing people instantly, when he, as he said, only treats patients. If they were killed instantly, as he surmised with the 7.62, he wouldn’t have ever heard about it.

    I was a Marine POG, but I’ve had a lot of Marine friends deployed to OIF and Enduring Freedom and they certainly have mixed opinions about various calibers. I’ve also got a close friend who was an outstanding combat Corpsman with several deployments and cross service dets and deployments under his belt, and I’ve been meaning to ask his opinion about it when he indicates he’ll talk about such things. Everything the author says here may be true, but I’m in the habit of taking extraordinary resumes and stories from the interwebz with a grain of salt.

    • You said it yourself: he treats patients. If you know that 9mm/5.56 and 7.62 are being used in theater in approximately equal proportions, but a hugely disproportionate number of patients you’re seeing are coming in wounded by 9mm/5.56, it’s reasonable to assume that those who were hit by 7.62 had one of two outcomes: either they all walked away without medical aid, or they expired quickly enough that they didn’t reach you. The latter is more likely. It’s only a correlation, to be sure, but it seems a logical one.

  60. All I can say is WOW! This is the biggest joke I’ve seen on this site. I understand combat is different but this guy is an Idiot at best.
    I have .45, 9mm, 380 auto, .22lr, .357 Mag, 38 sp, 44 Mag, and 460 Rowland handguns and have killed many pigs and steers with them to test bullet types. I have never used a .223 though but it is more effective than any handgun round coming out of a rifle.
    It’s all about where you shoot and what angle depending on what you use to make a kill shot. I used my old “changed out” 9mm rounds to kill my pigs this year. And if you don’t know the 9mm+P will penetrate the back of the skull and a 200gn+P 45 won’t very often 😉
    That’s how I test my bullets.
    Funny thing is any hit in an artery is fatal but he seems has as fixed them all. Kudos to him.

  61. This looks like a job for Don Shipley. This article smells like bullcrap.

    “Still a little bitter about that one.”


    Jedi-powered UMP?


  62. The author is right about 5.56 but he should be more specific at the beginning of the article and mention that he’s talking about M855 ammo and not the capable XM193 ammo. Glad to see Chris Kyle (RIP) helped him clarify at the end. Of course 7.62×51 is going to kill faster/more efficiently. Issue XM193 or change the laws of war to allow hollow points. One could argue M855 is inhumane.
    Good read.

  63. And brother? Could we convince you to do some write ups on first aid/trauma? A subject far too many shooters are woefully lacking in!

  64. I just think that if the enemy I’m looking doesn’t put on a uniform and hides amongst the locals that I should get to use hollow points to even things up. If the enemy has a uniform then we can stand in the streets and shoot each other with ball ammo like gentlemen. Then we can stop shooting at tea time and patch our wounds while sip on Earl Grey.

    • Damn. Sheered that front axle gear off rather cleanly. Worst part is it don’t take a college educated engineer to do that. Plenty of semi-literate booboos running round the world know how to do this, the trick is instilling a moral code that stops them from doing so. And from history to date it does not appear we will any time soon.

  65. Note UMP45
    south of Shajoy, Zabul Province, Afghanistan, 4 July 2009, combined, joint operation

    note destroyed MRAP. This was ours, destroyed by an Italian Anti Tank Mine, Ghazni, late October 2009, temporarily assigned to 1-121 INF.

    And then, for verification of who I am, where I was, when I was, and the patients I saw:

    I am a unfamiliar with internet forum standards. Are what point are people required to apologize?


    • Were you more familiar with internet forum standards, you would realize there are none. There are only moderators. They either do too much or not enough with the exception, of course, of the TTAG moderators…

      I’m of two minds on the issue of apologies: On one hand a few posts were accusatory or dismissive. On the other hand their unintended consequence was to draw forth your photos from Zabul and Ghazni, which I enjoyed, together with the description of your activities and circumstances in Zabul. I suppose the ruder comments should be awarded both disdain and a thank-you.

      To your credit, you obviously haven’t spent much time on firearms-oriented web sites. Had you done so you could have written a more nuanced version, specifically stating which 5.56 round in what version of SBRs/carbines/rifles didn’t work very well. I agree with those who say that the M193 shot from an M16A1 was a good lethal combination producing very severe wounds if fired at ranges less than 200 meters, which was typical. So, too, the same round was little better than 9mm FMJ when shot from a 11.5 inch CAR15. Such is life. M855 from a 14.5 or longer barrel, and within 150 meters, should indeed tumble and then fragment once it hits tissue. 18 and 20 inch barrels give noticeably better performance, I think, but I’m no expert and don’t plan to become one. People are touchy, especially when they’ve seen a firearm and loading work well in their hands, just long ago (or very recently).

      When you said “shooting out on my range at a dueling tree” it did sound like, well, it was your range, so why the surprise at the 9mm’s performance. After all, it’s your range and your tree. OK, not: This sort of confusion arises all the time when reading web posts. I am curious, though: Happily you and the AR type have become friends. Good. But what about you and the 9mm? Are you stuck with the thing because it’s a duty gun for you? Stuck with the loading? Have you found a better loading to use on your favorite local range’s dueling tree? (They are often designed to reward the 230-grain .45ACP shooters. Shades of IDPA.)

      The name for shooting a person once with a pistol is standardized. It’s called “a mistake.”

      Thanks again for your post. Glad you found yourself a deer rifle.

    • I’d second what ropingdown said about standards, or the lack thereof. As one of the moderators, one who has not, to this point, read this post or its comments (though I intend to remedy that now), I’ll advise you to treat the comments you receive like a buffet: pick the ones you like, skip over those you don’t. Waiting on an apology is, most of the time, an exercise in futility. You could have pictures of you so deep in the shit that we can only see your eyes, and some idiot would still try to accuse you of photoshop. Realize that the people that matter appreciate your contribution to the fight, and this site, and those that don’t, don’t matter.

  66. “Shoot the heaviest rifle round…shoot at what (you) can hit, and then shoot it again”
    This has been said time after time. The only issue I have is that the word “rifle” should be substituted by “firearm”. Whatever you are using, make sure it is big enough. If you think it MAY be, go one size bigger. Remember, bring enough gun. As for multiple rounds……….”Why did I shoot him 9 (15, 20, or whatever) times your honor”? “That’s all the bullets my gun held. I was reloading when he fell”

  67. The single best, most helpful article I have ever read on TTAG. To add, the operators I have known and shot with said if you have to shoot a 556 for a living, load up on 77grain ammo. Much more single shot effect than anything that came before. Love my Sig 776 and one day if I can swing it, a LaRue 308 is going home with me. Nothing is too good for our friends.

  68. I concur….for the most part with what this medic says….size matters. I did nearly 20 years in radiography in So. Cal. Most of it in the knife and gun clubs of So. Central and E. LA….gang country. Saw LOTS of GSW patients.
    Invariably the smaller the caliber the higher the probability of surviving at least long enough to get to the ER. After that it can be a crapshoot as to who lives and who dies. And the medic’s experience in the sandbox is about the
    shortcomings of FMJ ammunition…..Hollow point, semi jacketed, soft nose….all are far more effective in ANY caliber than FMJ.

  69. In all our ccw classes that we teach here in the Cleveland, Ohio area we stress the biggest gun cal that the individual can safely and effectively shoot. If it’s a 45 great but if not that’s ok. I’d rather hit a bad guy with a 22 than miss him with a 45 !
    It’s what the shooters can handle ?

  70. One item that is missed in the NATO pistol calibers is hollow points are not allowed. Add new ammunition into the equation and the picture will change.

  71. Arrraggh! The modern bullet technology! It burns!

    But really. Doublestack XDm 45acp loaded up with 220gr +p Hornady Critical Duty. I don’t have the hands of a giant and handling is just fine. In fact, recoil with the +p out of a 3.8in barrel comes in at just under the snap produced by 40s&w.

    • I have started carrying 135gr 9mm Luger Hornady Critical Duty since my standard remington 167gr JHP Subsonics are practically impossible to find anymore. Have a stock of 147s and about 200 rds of 167s, have to accept reality and make the jump. +P is not an option for me, I run a Walther P1/38.

  72. I finally located an old article that I had read a few years ago about the lethality (or lack thereof) of the 5.56 M855 NATO round and the attempts that were/are being made to improve lethality by improving the ammo. This article is well worth your time to read:

    In Search of Lethality: Green Ammo and the M855A1 Enhanced Performance Round

  73. I’m surprised that not ONE person quoted Jeff Cooper: “The 9mm is designed to kill europeans…if you have a really tough opponent you need a 45.” ( I suppose this was before the 10)

    I have exactly zero experience beyond inert targets and I refuse to try to sound like an expert but the point of shooting someone would seem to be to stop them from continuing to do whatever they are doing. The experience of the writer seems to support the proposition that you carry the largest gun you can and stop shooting when the threat is gone. I would have thought that anything sent coursing through one’s biological data center would be enough.

    • What works in combat will not work in civilian self-defense scenarios. You cannot shoot a perp multiple times and expect that you are going to be exonerated on the basis that it took that many to stop him. Just as Darrin Wilson how well that worked out with all the “Hands Up. Don’t Shoot!” bullsh*t. And that was a cop shooting in self-defense.

      If the ME finds that the first shot you fired was lethal, a zealous DA can nail your hide to the wall for “Excessive use of force” which translates into a criminal charge of, at the very least, “Negligent Homicide” and in the worst case scenario, “2nd Degree murder.”

      If you have a 15 round mag and you empty that mag into the thug – even if he’s carrying a freaking AK-47 – you still have to justify the extra shots – especially if they are larger than 9mm.

      Everyone should practice a close-range head shot (within 9 feet). Most of the time, you won’t see that at the range. You’ll see targets brought in no closer than 7 yards because of the mindset that 7 yards is in the middle of the defensive range. But, 3 yards and in is where most of the action takes place. Stopping a threat from a distance is important as well if the perp is also armed, but you’d be surprised at how difficult it is to place a shot when the perp is within a second of grabbing you or your gun.

      That’s why you also have to think about placing distance (or a barrier) between you and your attacker at all times.

      My range has a programmable system that you can set up different scenarios with your paper perp targets. You can have them approach and retreat, spin left or right or turn around completely (shooting a perp in the back is also problematic). hitting a moving, spinning target is a lot more realistic than hitting a stationary one.

      Comments about 9mm defensive ammo improving is so true. some of the rounds out on the market are downright devastating. There’s a company called Allegiance Ammunition that sells a line of frangble ammo called “Power Strike” that do insane things to a block of gel with 4″ of denim.

      A 95 grain high velocity 9mm round breaks apart into tiny metal particles that explode and then catch fire inside the ballistics gel!

      They also make a variety of .223 ammo from hypersonic (PowerStrike) to subsonic (SilentStrike) made from powdered Tungsten. The subsonic .223 might be useful for home defense but the following .223 round I’d reserve for Zombie defense.

      The PowerStrike 110 grain .223 sent the block of Ballistics gel soaring 3 feet above the table with a massive wound cavity in it and no overpenetration

  74. Great read, I concur. I witnessed a suicide bomber take close to 15 rounds of 9×19 and 5.56 before falling to the ground, yet was still capable of detonating his vest…wounding a small number of us in the process.

    Flip side also had a pt who took a 7.62 round through the left eye and out the left ear, lost the eye and deaf in left ear now, but was up and around after having the wound washed out.

  75. All through the article I was saying to myself, that is because NATO is FMJ ball ammo. Then came the end of the article . . . bingo! Change to soft point or JHP and the result changes — for all ammo.

  76. Funny, the ol’e boy writing this article seems to be inexperienced when it comes to the ballistics of hunting. Out here in West Texas, we’ve known for decades that the .22 hot rod is the king of white tail. By the way, a 22 hot rod is the .220 Swift, .22-250, .224TTH, and even a .223 or .222 Rem Mag. Sierra 77gr Match King HP plus velocity equals one hell of a wound channel. One shot drop on every white tail I’ve shot.

  77. Don’t tell me a single head shot from a handgun won’t kill. I had a very close friend killed by her husband last weekend. A single shot to her face. Her friend’s daughter washiding in a bathroom on the phone with 911 and cops arrived within minutes of the shooting and she was dead when they arrived.

  78. Most ammo on the battlefield is fmj rounds and they do ” Poke holes”. These are great for punching into cars and thin armor. If you want to see trauma then have a look at what the 5.56 round in 55gr ballistic tip will do. This round will not punch threw walls, and armor very well but looks like a small explosion inside The victim causing major inside damage. The heavier the round the deeper it will go and more it will go threw. If I need to stop a car I want a heavy fmj round. If I want to stop a person with a handgun round I want light and fast fragmenting rounds. These will dump there power on impact and are not as likely to travel threw and hurt a bystander. The 40s&w is my favorite but I do like the 45acp and 9mm. The 9mm round is a totally different round today then it was 10 years ago. I too have seen close head shots and the bullet never entered the skull. I assure you the rounds of today are not as forgiving. Our Favorite Hunting rounds are .224 diamiter in 5.56 and 22-250. They are perfect for anything we have in these woods. We have 35gr ptbt up to 77gr Hpbt for wild hogs.

  79. As far as ammo brands and manufacturers I love my Barnes, Nosler and Hornady rounds for my reloading. I load all our hunting rounds and lots of protection rounds. There are lots or bullet companies with great bullets on the market now. Gunbroker has some good deals on all.

  80. personnel experience! 9mm Std ball, 5 chest rounds did not stop charging, 2 Ft. head shot stopped him! changed to .45 no more problem! 5.56 is a junk round ! saw a hopped up VC with body wrap soak up a full 20 round mag and stay in the fight long enough to kill two buddies, .30 cal forever. the Junk 5.56 twist was changed to comply with Geneva Conventions as with the original twist the bullets started tumbling about 50 yards, was a good close range Buzz saw! although the M60 was awesome, hit with that and most gave up the fight immediately!

    • I have a Marlin 336 in 30/30 and a Mossy 20 ga. in my closet for a reason! IMHO, both are better than the 9mm in my nightstand, the .45acp in my gunsafe, or the .32 Seecamp I carry in my pocket.

  81. The Hague convention is absurd. Soldiers have to shoot “non-expanding” rifle and pistol rounds, but Soldiers firing 30 mm M789 HEDP from Apaches is totally kosher – and that round will literally turn a bad guy into a FLIR smear if it hits, and mangle him if it near-misses. Not to mention that artillery can drop hundred-lb explosive steel shells, and aircraft can drop 500 and 2000 lb bombs and even napalm.

    I think most people would agree that the restriction on rifle and pistol ammo is both logically inconsistent with, and totally obviated by, droppong napalm on someone.

  82. Great piece, buddy. God bless ya, man. You’ve been thru a lot. I hope you’re still at piece. Also, welcome back to the 5.56 world with your custom rifle/load.

  83. Also, this is why I am currently searching reviews and recommendations for 7.62 NATO battle rifles. I’m excited to make that purchase!

  84. ” I have yet to witness a single shot quick kill with this round. ”
    Ever heard of the Beltway Snipers ?

  85. Personnel experience, the AR or M16 is no damn good, the twist was changed in the Sixties as twist was too slow and bullet tumbled upsetting the Swedes who got it changed! Wouldn’t feed well when hot and extractor would rip cases out jamming in firefights, hard too keep clean
    when first issued it got a lot of grunts killed!
    The nine, same damn thing! one VC I knew of took 5 in the chest {soft points from home} kept charging until stopped with a head shot from about 5 inches, lucky because his rifle was dry, VC was trying to stick shooter like a hog!
    I agree with writer, both those weapons are no damn good!
    Military trying too save costs by screwing the Grunts!
    The only AR I would now own are in .308, .7mm08, .243 etc

    • Was a reserve grunt in the in-between years, no deployment. I will NEVER own a direct impingement gun just because I got so goddamn sick of cleaning them. Looking at buying an ACR now that the price has dropped into the sub$1600 range.

      • PWS MK216. REALLY soft shooting, and I’ve built several DI and Piston .308 rifles and own an M14 and an FN-FAL. The PWS is my favorite and eats anything I feed it. That said I’ve been exploring 6.5 Grendel, same weight with a long-distance optic and a 20″ barrel with better ballistics. Pretty impressive.

      • Pistol ball ammo, including .45, wont reliably stop a housecat or a possum, I am not kidding. It’s pathetic. Commerical hp ammo, especially the lightest per caliber Corbon PowRBall ammo, does a lot better. Still noting like the ‘Split Nose,”, tho

  86. In-range TV did this. They tested the ballistic effects of 9mm 124grn ball, and pitted 55grn ball versus M855 ball and MK262. They found that M855 and 9mm fmj basically both poke little holes. The 55grn Wolf FMJ outperformed M855 in accuracy, wound performance, AND price. MK262 beat them both for terminal effectiveness. They did not test any 9mm hollowpoints nor did they test any copper solids.

    M855: Does It Live Up To The Hype?

    I was an M14 die-hard before these guys showed up. My eyes are finally and truly opened.

  87. As a fellow combat medic, 68W, from the US Army I completely agree. I have never seen a single shot kill from a low caliber weapon. And yes, I include 5.56 as a low caliber weapon. I have seen kills from the weapon but not one that was attributed to a single shot. The only weapons I have seen single shot kills from are the M14 7.62 x 51 Nato round and the .50. This is not to include crew served weapons or blast weapons. In fact, the last injury I treated before my departure from the military was from an Afghani .45 pistol. It was a single shot wound to the face and this particular soldier suffered a million dollar injury that should have killed him. The point is that 5.56 is inexpensive and effective but I would not rely on this weapon or this round to be my “go to” weapon in the case of emergency. I own a 7.62 NATO M1A extremely comparable to the M14 that I would not trade for the world. Is it more expensive? Absolutely. Is it more effective though? You bet your ass it is. That being said… true effectiveness comes down to personal preference and shoot-ability.

  88. I’m assuming his experience is mostly with wounds from fmj and not hollow points. What is the chance of a si gle shot kill from a hollow point in small calibers. I have dropped deer with 5.56 hollow points with seconds from hit to them down.

  89. I think the writer of this article has been remarkably lucky, in not seeing the actual damage these NATO rounds normally cause, and if you don’t believe a non EMT like myself who has never had the misfortune of seeing someone shot, then I invite you to look up the X-Ray photos of the people who were shot at the Aurora theater in Colorado, both those who survived and those who did not.

    The damage to these poor peoples’ bodies, made clear by the X-Ray photographs which are freely available on the Net for viewing, are so horrendous you will never forget them, no matter how much you would like to.

  90. This wound vs kill thing is all horsepucky, whether I kill or wound the enemy never crosses my mind, the important thing is whether I STOPPED the enemy and he/she is NO LONGER A THREAT. A wounded enemy can still fight back in many cases and while maybe he/she may tie up a medic at some point, that is not your concern…your concern is making sure they are no longer a threat to you or your team.

  91. The author is speaking on military experience which is w FMJ rounds. I have shot deer w a 223/556( same thing ) and I never had to track them. The rounds I used was soft point. Soft points work about as well as hollow points. And for the idiot that said body armor will stop this and that……. Shoot legs. Or better yet pelvis where alot of nerve bundles are. I had problems w both my Glock 19,s jamming….. and no it wasn’t limp wristing, bad ammo, bad mag springs or anything else. I now carry the handgun caliber King……. The 357 magnum in a 7 shot revolver w a 4 inch barrel. U can’t do better for a handgun. Best for many reasons. If you doubt it’s power do a test by shooting something w it. Handguns are weak compared to rifles but 357 magnum is your best bet. U can get em in 7 or 8 shot revolvers and get speed loaders or moon clips, not that they will be needed. Oh and if you can hit the spine or brain they will go down….. WP

  92. A self defense situation in say your house…. If you nail the bastard center mass or pretty much anywhere in the trunk or even lower region they will most likely flee if still mobile. Not military per say but have seen a few things myself. Nothing like the author but anyway God Bless.

  93. I’ve never seen anyone survive a 12 or 20 gauge rifled slug in the torso and be capable of continuing the fight. Had one perp hit with a 12 gauge 2-3/4″ rifled slug hit in the liver just below the rib cage. Dropped like a sack of potatoes. Dead by the time EMTs arrived. Doctor who signed off on the autopsy said his liver looked like braunschweiger and his abdomen was full of 5+ litres of blood.

    Also saw a deer hunting accident where a kid with a 20 gauge double-barrelled shotgun was climbing over a barbed wire fence and accidently shot his uncle in the lower back. According to the witnesses, the uncle was instantly unconscious and never regained consciousness – autopsy showed that the 20 gauge slug shredded his kidney and he bled out from his renal artery in less than a minute. Pathologist said his blood pressure probably instantly dropped once that renal artery was severed and bloodflow to his head dropped and made him unconscious within a few seconds. Another victim who had several litres of blood in his abdominal cavity.

    When you absolutely, positively have to kill someone without body armor at 100 yards or less, a 12 or 20 gauge with rifled slugs is pretty damned hard to top.

    • he’s seen ZERO people shot with 223 softpoints, and he knows damned well that the bullet makes all the difference in the WORLD. If you load the 9mm with the 45 gr Split Nose, 2 segment hollowpoint, 2300 fps from a 5″ barrel, you’ll not see anyone doing much of anything after a single chest hit with it, at 10m or less, which covers almost 100% of civilian pistol shootings. TWO wound cavities with each hit, and the temporary cavity damage from the Mach II velocity means that any fragile organ tissue, caught between the 2 wound cavities, gets destroyed. So what matters, guys, is what kind of ammo you put into the gun. .30 AK ball ammo is not particularly destructive or shocking. You take a TREMENDOUS handicap when you have a .308, vs a 223, cause you can’t have a handy 308 that has a silencer, as you can a 223 AR. The lack of blast and flash mean a lot less flinching on your part and a lot less accurate enemy fire making you duck, too. The suppressed, full power 223 is SO “tame” that practice with 8c per shot .22lr ammo, thru a Ciener conversion unit, without the silencer, is very pertinent to suppressed 223 skill. That 4x greater amount of practice, along with the advantages of the suppressor, mean you get a LOT more hits, on your attackers, a lot faster. Given 60 gr Nosler softpoints, you’ll only need one chest hit each.

  94. Great read, Thank you, Dan!
    From what I understand though, the 5.56 round was originally designed to take the enemy off of the battle field by maming, thereby taking at least one of his comrades with him by evac= two men from the fight. Thoughts? Thanks.

  95. without hearing protection, you’ll hit very little with an unsuppressed rifle. Our troops fire 50,000 shots per kill, for god’s sake! A suppressor helps with that a lot. You can’t, however, lug around a 20″ barreled 308 and the needed 10 of suppressor. So choosing a 308 means no “can”, and that is a retarded choice. It also means no .22lr conversion, which is stupid, too. The $250 .22 unit saves you 20c per shot, so it pays for itself in one month’s needed practice. It will also pay for the suppressor in less than 5 months. The shorty AR is concealable in your pack, letting you have the option of blending in with other people, if need be while the 308 gets you shot on sight.

  96. The Doc is right…it is all about the bullet. Little has been improved from the old Remington Power Point, or the original Winchester Silver Tip, or the Sierra HP Boat tail. In the 223/5.56, I would choose the Sierra 69 gr. Hollow point, or the Speer 70 gr. semi spitzer…all devastating rounds.

  97. I agree with his assessment of lighter rounds do less damage therefor in “combat” you should shoot big and hit continue to hit your target until the threat is resolved. However, in the civilian world, things are different. 99% of the criminals you are shooting won’t return fire once you start shooting and certainly not after you hit them once. Once their prey becomes the hunter, their fun night out is ruined. I’m not saying carry a 22 short plinker pistol, but if you can accurately fire a 380ACP into the chest at 5 yards quickly, then 99% of the time, you will come out on top. If 9mm is your preferred weapon, great, you get to shoot more, if 45ACP is your favorite, even better since you have that knock-down power over 9mm, point being, make that 1st shot count and keep tapping them until the threat is resolved and you will come home to your family no matter what caliber you are using. Bigger is better only if you can accurately do it faster then your opponent.

    On a side note, I recently updated my AR-15 to an AR-10 because my AR-15 wouldn’t drop a coyote instantly… that’s not an issue with my AR-10.

  98. First off I want to say great blog! I had a quick question which I’d like to ask if
    you do not mind. I was curious to know how you center
    yourself and clear your mind prior to writing.
    I’ve had a tough time clearing my thoughts in getting my ideas out there.
    I truly do take pleasure in writing however it just seems like the first 10 to 15 minutes are lost just trying
    to figure out how to begin. Any ideas or hints? Appreciate it!

  99. If he actually followed his own rules, and wanted a light, carryable AR, wouldn’t he have had it chambered in .300 Blackout?

  100. 9mm fmj has never been a good stopper and 62gr green tip also sucks. Use good hollow points in the 9mm and good bullets in the 5.56 and they are death. Speer Gold Dot 124gr +p in 9mm and Gold Dot bonded 64gr in 223 are awesome.

  101. My carry, is a glock model 29, rebarreled to 9×23 which uses thicker brass at the head very much like 5.56 cases. This round operates at 55,000 psi which is the same pressure an m4 5.56 nato round uses, 125 grain softpoint rounds are about 1700fps. This meets or exceeds 357 mag rounds and the model 29 holds 17 of them.

  102. I aint gonna lie. When midway into your article i was already thinking… But what about Hollow point or soft point ammo. I appreciate your review though. Very informative. My Riot 12 gauge and 7 shot 357magnum are my go to weapons. Even though i have an AR15 and a 19 shot 9mm handgun

  103. 1953, Alberta Canada.
    Bella Twin shot and killed world’s largest grizzly bear with .22 Long (NOT Long Rifle!) single-shot bolt action rifle. First shot was deadly.

  104. In AFG, when one team would rotate out with another a small stash of covered hdra shock rounds would always be passed along to be the first few in each 9mm mag. I came up with one better and figured out I could bring a lee-loader and a few boxes of 62gr nosler partitions and 147gr XTP. I would pull the bullets from issued rounds and re-load the above mentioned. In testing accuracy and reliability were excellent and voila I had some “real” ammo. Each deployment I would make a stash and share them with the team.
    I got the idea from an old MSG who discussed using a lee loader for last ditch reloading 7.62 using AK bullets and powder. Not sure what the idea was for primers but never the less.

  105. This is rubbish. That photo was not a 5.56 at under 100 yards. 5.56 out to around 150 yards will blow up an arm calf etc. It will not leave a nice tiny exit hole. Look at kyle Rittenhouse. One shot guy dropped like a rock did not live. The guy he it in the arm blew his bicep OFF not a little hole in then out.

    You get shot in the head at close range you are dead.

    Maybe this guy is just pushing some kind of agenda to push for larger calibers. 5.56s at 2500 to 3200fps is devastating on soft tissue. Sure 500 yards not so much.

    • Kyle Rittenhouse had S&W MP15 meaning 16,5″ barrel and 1:9 twist, and my bet is that the “FMJ ammo” he was using was something like Wolf 55grs i.e. performance wise M193 ammo. His setup means fragmenting and therefore explosive effect on tissue up to some 150 meters (or more precisely up to the distance where the projectile has more than 750 m/s, which roughly translates into some 2500 fps).
      NATO military mostly uses M855 out of 14,5 barrel, 1:7 twist. Solid stable bullet that does not fragment so easily but can penetrate body armor and is more accurate. However the effect is often a .22 sized straight hole.

  106. “He told me to load up the case as fast as I could, push a 64 grain or heavier soft point round and see what happens. ”
    A very good advice. A cannelured FMJ with thin jacket and lead core will work as well as long as it’s faster than 2500 fps.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here