FAN­TAS­TIC VOY­AGE

Prob­ing the path of a per­ni­cious pro­jec­tile

American Survival Guide - - TABLE OF CONTENTS - By Will Dabbs, M.D.

Know­ing how a bul­let works when it leaves the bar­rel might help you un­der­stand what to ex­pect when it hits its tar­get. It weighs 124 grains (about 8 grams), and it sits in the dark for weeks, months or even years. It gets jos­tled, shaken and bumped in­ces­santly dur­ing that time. De­pend­ing on how it is car­ried, it can also ac­cu­mu­late a fair amount of pocket lint within its gap­ing maw. It is a SIG Sauer V-crown 9mm hol­low­point bul­let, and it is about to earn its keep.

For such a mod­est, in­ert thing, it em­bod­ies a shock­ing amount of tech­nol­ogy. The case is nickel plated for cor­ro­sion re­sis­tance, smooth feed­ing and long life. The pow­der is spe­cially for­mu­lated for con­sis­tent per­for­mance and low flash. The primer is the best man can pro­duce.

It is, how­ever, in the bul­let where the real magic hap­pens. That’s the pay­load—the war­head, if you will—and that is the lim­it­ing reagent to the car­tridge’s over­all per­for­mance.

The SIG V-crown bul­let is mar­keted as a “hol­low­point within a hol­low­point.” I didn’t re­ally un­der­stand that very well un­til I saw it in ac­tion. Now, it makes per­fect sense.

The lead slug nes­tles tightly within the jacket ma­te­rial, held in place by a can­nelure crimped cir­cum­fer­en­tially around the bul­let’s waist. This me­chan­i­cal in­ter­face is what tends to keep the lead core and the jacket to­gether dur­ing the vi­o­lence that is to come. The ge­om­e­try and scor­ing of the V-shaped snout, hence the name, give the an­gry end of the thing an an­ti­sep­ti­cally sin­is­ter, al­though util­i­tar­ian, ap­pear­ance. The cone de­scribed within the nose of the con­trap­tion ta­pers down into a point in the cen­ter. From this apex there is an­other small, but in­ten­tional,

star-shaped void formed down into the core. Ev­ery minis­cule snip­pet of the bul­let’s ge­om­e­try has some in­ten­tional pur­pose.

SIG Sauer burns through twice as much bal­lis­tic gelatin as the en­tire rest of the coun­try com­bined. I’ve seen this up close, and it’s ob­scene. The V-crown bul­let is the end re­sult of a sim­ply ridicu­lous amount of R&D.

SOME­THING BAD HAP­PENS

It’s never ex­pected. If you knew it were com­ing, you’d ei­ther avoid the sit­u­a­tion or buy your­self a tank. How­ever, it al­ways seems to drop out of the clear, blue sky. In this case, it took place in­side a ve­hi­cle.

Here, we will es­chew the com­bat de­tails in fa­vor of physics ... with a lit­tle hu­man anatomy tossed in for fla­vor.

The Glock 43 is up and out in a flash. The fin­ger in­dexes from the side of the trig­ger guard to the

THE GE­OM­E­TRY AND SCOR­ING OF THE V-SHAPED SNOUT, HENCE THE NAME, GIVE THE AN­GRY END OF THE THING AN AN­TI­SEP­TI­CALLY SIN­IS­TER, AL­THOUGH UTIL­I­TAR­IAN, AP­PEAR­ANCE.

trig­ger, au­to­mat­i­cally de­press­ing the blade safety in the trig­ger face and ren­der­ing the sys­tem live. The in­dex fin­ger of the right hand ex­erts about 5.5 pounds of force on the ap­pendage, fur­ther com­press­ing the striker past its trip­ping point. The striker slams for­ward un­der spring pres­sure and vig­or­ously dents the face of the primer.

The primer face is rel­a­tively soft and de­forms read­ily in re­sponse to the im­pact of the fir­ing pin. A small quan­tity of shock-sen­si­tive primer ma­te­rial is com­pressed be­tween the primer face and the anvil of the primer. Me­chan­i­cal de­for­ma­tion and a sub­se­quent rapid in­crease in pres­sure con­spire to raise the tem­per­a­ture of the ma­te­rial past its flash­point, and the stuff con­fla­grates. The re­sult­ing jet of hot plasma is di­rected through the flash hole in the base of the car­tridge and ig­nites the pow­der within.

THE JOUR­NEY BE­GINS

The pow­der con­tains its own ox­i­dizer, so it burns in­de­pen­dently of out­side air. Un­der­wa­ter, outer space or sealed in a plas­tic bag—it doesn’t mat­ter. This rapid re­ac­tion re­leases a large vol­ume of hot, high-pres­sure gas. The cham­ber of the weapon sup­ports the walls and base of the car­tridge, so all that en­ergy is di­rected against the butt of the bul­let. The bul­let, there­fore, ac­cel­er­ates from 0 to about 1,100 feet per sec­ond in 3.39 inches, suf­fer­ing un­der­neath an ac­cel­er­a­tive force some 66,500 times that of grav­ity.

The G43’s bar­rel twist rate is one turn in 9.84 inches. That means the bul­let spins one revo­lu­tion for ev­ery 0.82 feet. At 1,100 feet per sec­ond, if my math is cor­rect, that puts the bul­let spin­ning at a bit north of 80,000 rpm at the muz­zle.

In this par­tic­u­lar case, the pro­jec­tile trav­els about 3 feet and then con­tacts the seat cush­ion of a pickup truck. Spin­ning like a tiny 9mm hole saw, the V-crown round cuts a per­fect cir­cle in the top of the seat, bores through the in­ter­ven­ing foam and cuts a sec­ond per­fect cir­cle through the front. It then trav­els about an­other foot be­fore the next phase of its trek.

THE PLOT THICK­ENS

Our next bar­rier is denim. Every­body owns a

pair of blue jeans, and that is what was wrapped around this par­tic­u­lar leg on this par­tic­u­lar day. The bul­let has not slowed ap­pre­cia­bly, so it snips through the thin cot­ton cloth with the same aplomb with which it tran­sited the truck seat. Now, things get in­ter­est­ing.

Skin is the largest or­gan in the hu­man body. Its pri­mary func­tion is to sep­a­rate you from the rest of the world; when in­tact, it does a sim­ply splen­did job of that. Skin also serves as a sup­port ma­trix for un­told miles of nerves and cap­il­lar­ies, as well as sundry other bits, such as hair and apoc­rine sweat glands. The del­i­cate in­ter­play among all that com­pli­cated stuff helps reg­u­late your body tem­per­a­ture, pre­vents con­tam­i­na­tion, hin­ders in­fec­tion and pre­cip­i­tates a de­light­ful lit­tle en­dor­phin boost when­ever your bride brushes your arm as she walks by in the kitchen. Skin is a re­mark­ably pli­able and elas­tic ma­te­rial that is pur­pose-de­signed to re­sist punc­ture, abra­sion and tear­ing.

It never stood a chance.

OUR BUL­LET GOES TO WORK

The rapidly spin­ning pro­jec­tile cuts through the outer layer of skin as eas­ily as it has ev­ery­thing else thus far and dives vig­or­ously in­side. It en­coun­ters a soft, warm, wet hy­draulic medium too com­pli­cated and het­ero­ge­neous to cat­e­go­rize read­ily. Hu­man males are about 60 per­cent wa­ter; fe­males are closer to 55 per­cent. Be­cause the owner of this leg is in pos­ses­sion of both X and Y chro­mo­somes, that means his tis­sues are at the higher con­cen­tra­tion. As a re­sult, fluid dy­nam­ics now be­come the de­ci­sive fac­tor in how our sor­did, lit­tle tale un­folds.

Un­like gases, liq­uids are in­com­press­ible. That means pres­sure at one point is trans­mit­ted in real time to other con­tigu­ous flu­ids. It is this pe­cu­liar prop­erty that al­lows the pi­lot to ma­nip­u­late the con­trol sur­faces of an air­liner. It also al­lows you to ap­ply the brakes to stop your car when your son’s soc­cer ball un­ex­pect­edly bounces across your path.

THE SIG V-CROWN BUL­LET IS MAR­KETED AS A “HOL­LOW­POINT WITHIN A HOL­LOW­POINT.” I DIDN’T RE­ALLY UN­DER­STAND THAT VERY WELL UN­TIL I SAW IT IN AC­TION.

The bul­let is still trav­el­ling re­ally fast, so this sur­round­ing wet, gooey amal­gam strug­gles might­ily yet fails to get out of the way. The sub­se­quent hy­draulic pres­sure ex­erts a truly im­mense force against the in­te­rior of the V-crown’s hol­low­point cav­ity. This force drives the lead core to me­chan­i­cally de­form out­ward against the jacket ma­te­rial, frac­tur­ing at its pre­de­ter­mined fail­ure points such that the var­i­ous com­po­nents of the bul­let now ex­pand out­ward like the petals of a flower.

These ex­pand­ing petals hugely in­crease the sur­face area of the tran­sit­ing bul­let, mag­ni­fy­ing the me­chan­i­cal brak­ing force and spilling en­ergy into what is rapidly be­com­ing a bloody great mess. The bul­let yaws a bit, rip­ping and tear­ing as its lin­ear and ro­ta­tional ve­loc­i­ties de­crease vi­o­lently.

In this par­tic­u­lar case, the bul­let tore through mus­cle, fas­cia and sundry goo with­out strik­ing bone, nerves or plumb­ing of con­se­quence. That’s the amaz­ing power of ran­dom­ness: It’s al­ways bet­ter to be

THE BUL­LET, THERE­FORE, AC­CEL­ER­ATES FROM 0 TO ABOUT 1,100 FEET PER SEC­OND IN 3.39 INCHES, SUF­FER­ING UN­DER­NEATH AN AC­CEL­ER­A­TIVE FORCE SOME 66,500 TIMES THAT OF GRAV­ITY.

lucky than good.

The bul­let has torn com­pletely through this hu­man calf in a mil­lisec­ond and now tents against the skin on the far side. This time, the de­vice is fully de­ployed and much slower but still spin­ning like a jagged me­tal dervish. It carves through the skin from the in­side like a ta­ble saw through a hot dog. Un­like its en­try, its exit is thor­oughly de­void of el­e­gance: Where the en­trance wound was a rel­a­tively cute, lit­tle 9mm hole, the exit is jagged and closer to 4 inches.

Much spent, the fully de­ployed bul­let now zips across the cab of the truck and lodges in the fac­ing door, dent­ing the steel deeply enough to se­cure the now-weary pro­jec­tile in place.

WHERE THE EN­TRANCE WOUND WAS A REL­A­TIVELY CUTE, LIT­TLE 9MM HOLE, THE EXIT IS JAGGED AND CLOSER TO 4 INCHES.

THE IM­ME­DI­ATE AF­TER­MATH

The sub­ject of this dark, lit­tle physics ex­per­i­ment was fairly fit and healthy. He told me the ini­tial im­pact felt like be­ing hit with a base­ball bat. He had maybe a 30-sec­ond grace pe­riod af­ter the bul­let’s ini­tial im­pact. Dur­ing that time, he could have moved, thought and fought—as long as he didn’t try to put weight on the in­jured limb. Af­ter the 30-sec­ond mark, how­ever, he was done.

Up to that point, the en­tire event had been trau­matic but rel­a­tively pain­less. Af­ter that mo­ment, the pain be­came ex­quis­ite and de­bil­i­tat­ing. The wound also be­gan to bleed with vigor. The im­me­di­ate ap­pli­ca­tion of di­rect pres­sure kept things from go­ing truly side­ways.

THE REST OF THE STORY

The ER staff cleaned and ir­ri­gated the wound and then closed it with a com­bi­na­tion of su­tures and surgical sta­ples. Owing to the bul­let’s for­tu­itous track, noth­ing about the event was im­me­di­ately life-threat­en­ing. How­ever, the pain did not abate, and the sur­round­ing flesh grew red and an­gry. Nearly a week later, the surgical team opened the of­fended leg back up to take a peek in­side.

The cul­prits were ac­tu­ally an odd amal­gam: Within the cav­ernous de­fect were found two hole-cut­ter bits of Nau­gahyde, a lit­tle cylin­der of foam rub­ber and a scrap of denim. Nau­gahyde is an ar­ti­fi­cial leather sub­sti­tute used in the man­u­fac­ture of au­to­mo­bile seats. It con­sists of a knit fab­ric back­ing sur­rounded by a polyvinyl chlo­ride plas­tic coat­ing. In its nat­u­ral state, the stuff is also awash in op­por­tunis­tic micro­organ­isms.

It seems the tran­sit­ing bul­let picked up these four bits as pas­sen­gers, trans­ported them into the leg parenchyma and then de­posited them there be­fore con­tin­u­ing on its trek. Once the of­fend­ing ob­jects were re­moved and the wound was vig­or­ously scrubbed, ev­ery­thing healed up nicely, al­beit with a lit­tle help from some ag­gres­sive an­tibi­otic ther­apy.

DENOUEMENT

There are lessons aplenty to be de­rived from this sor­did episode. For starters, these are not your grand­dad’s FMJ bul­lets. High-tech rounds such as the SIG V-crown are hugely more ef­fi­cient than their pre­de­ces­sors of even a sin­gle gen­er­a­tion prior.

This was a pe­riph­eral shot, and it was thor­oughly ef­fec­tive at ex­pe­di­tiously tak­ing the fight out of a de­ter­mined com­bat­ant. Had the same bul­let wrought its mis­chief among crit­i­cal or­gans, the end­ing would not have been nearly so bonny.

Pack the big­gest gun you can com­fort­ably pack, along with the best de­fen­sive ammo you can af­ford. If ever called upon to serve for real, ex­pect these re­mark­able In­for­ma­tion Age bul­lets to give their lives en­thu­si­as­ti­cally for the cause. Do your part, and they should re­li­ably do theirs.

Right: The SIG V-crown bul­let is de­scribed as a “hol­low­point within a hol­low­point.” The sec­ondary star-shaped void is vis­i­ble at the apex of the bul­let’s mouth. Be­low: We spend un­told hours on the range prac­tic­ing with our de­fen­sive hand­guns. The...

Mod­ern de­fen­sive am­mu­ni­tion such as this SIG V-crown 124-grain 9mm Para­bel­lum is the prod­uct of im­mense R&D ef­forts.

The Glock G43 is a com­pact, yet pow­er­ful, de­fen­sive hand­gun. De­spite its small di­men­sions, the gun throws dis­pro­por­tion­ately ef­fec­tive rounds.

Look­ing like per­fectly sin­is­ter flow­ers in bloom, SIG'S V-crown rounds are state-of-the-art show-stop­pers for bad guys.

Above: The exit wound was closer to 4 inches, rip­ping roughly along the long axis of the limb. Left: The en­trance wound was a rel­a­tively tidy de­fect not much larger than the 9mm bul­let di­am­e­ter. En­trance wounds fre­quently be­lie the mis­chief that lurks...

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.