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Why Do Shotguns(in general) Have Such High Terminal Effectiveness?? Login/Join 
E tan e epi tas
Picture of cslinger
posted
So something I have wondered from an academic side, albeit a morbid one as well. Why does the average 12 gauge shotgun loaded with buck shot of some type or another enjoy such a huge advantage in terminal effectiveness? Most folks in the medical world agree that a solid hit with a 12 gauge is pretty well devastating.

Since ft lbs of energy vs ft lbs of energy there are many rifles that match or exceed the old 12 bore it cannot be just that. Is it that 9 to 20 some wound tracks is just too much for the human animal to compensate for???

I have always been fascinated buy the fact that what amounts to as a short burst from a .32 caliber Smg is so final so to speak.

So barring the obvious range considerations and recoil characteristics, what makes 9 to 20 some round lead Balls so effective? Again I am talking real shotgun, buckshot loads or possible slugs not birdshot etc.


"Guns are tools. The only weapon ever created was man."
 
Posts: 3257 | Location: Nashville, TN | Registered: July 25, 2002Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Armed and Gregarious
Picture of DMF
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As you correctly point out, at "room clearing" ranges a well aimed load of 00 buckshot is going to deliver 9 closely grouped projectiles, all at the same time. That's a huge shock to the target, and opening a big wound.

With newer ammo, like Federal Flite Control, that tight group of 9 projectiles can reach out beyond "room clearing" ranges. C

At work the only reason I use a rifle instead of a shotgun is I shoot long guns lefty, and our policy won't allow for a left handed safety in our issued 870s.


___________________________________________
"He was never hindered by any dogma, except the Constitution." - Ty Ross speaking of his grandfather General Barry Goldwater

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Posts: 12092 | Location: Nomad | Registered: January 10, 2003Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Lost
Picture of kkina
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Good question. My guess is that it has something to do with the wound channel(s). It's not just the total energy imparted to the target; it's the distribution.

A single high power rifle bullet produces a single wound channel (assuming for the moment it's non-fragmenting, and also that the round does not punch clean through the target). It's a certain finite amount of damaged tissue. Now spread that damage over 9 channels. Even though you're splitting up the energy commensurately, it's over a much wider area, so more damaged tissue.

Or look at it from the other perspective. Take the pellets from a 12GA and fire them individually through the exact same hole. The same net energy transferred to the target overall, but the amount of damaged tissue is fractionally less, even like 1/9th a normal shot spread.
 
Posts: 10699 | Location: SF Bay Area | Registered: December 11, 2003Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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It was my gory misfortune to attend an autopsy in which the deceased received a "goose load" (12GA BB )from about 15 feet. Entrance wound was about 3 inches in diameter. The Coroner described it as a "rat hole wound". He told me the individual pellets created so much damage to internal organs that repairing them was not possible nor would an ER be able to control bleeding enough to prevent death.
He also said close range shotgun wounds sometimes introduced foreign objects into the wound such as bits of clothing, wadding, plastic buffer and even buttons. These things caused nasty secondary infections and peritonitis.
I was an untrained observer but he dealt with shotgun wounds on a regular basis. Looked like the truth to me! This was years ago so trauma treatment may different now.


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Posts: 6330 | Location: Marquette MI | Registered: July 08, 2014Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Fonky Honky
Picture of wildheartedson0105
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Multiple wound channels? Most people train to shoot center of mass, essentially the heart. A human can bleed out almost as quickly from a shot to a limb. Disrupt the blood flow and the brain shuts down.


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Posts: 3097 | Location: Badger, Badger, Badger! | Registered: October 01, 2003Reply With QuoteReport This Post
British by birth,
American by Choice
Picture of Longbow_06
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A year or so ago, I was able to attend an active shooter seminar which was focused on school and church shooting.
The seminar was delivered by local LE officers, who had undergone multiple training on the response to active shooters.

The one thing that stood out that the one officer reported, was their concern not over AR type rifles, but semi-auto shotguns....

As the officer on the stage pointed to the front row, he made the point that at that range, he could possibly take out four of the front row with just one shot. Again he stated that the AR or assault rifle wasn't as much as a concern as an open choked semi-auto shotgun, with a shorter barrel.

It was a very interesting seminar.


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Posts: 2952 | Location: Georgia... 45 Minutes from everywhere....... | Registered: July 05, 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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simply put- its a lot of lead in one shot.

'go to' is #1 buckshot. 16 pellets of .30 caliber. Any one of those 'could' be fatal. 16 +/- striking at one time produces the high effectiveness you mention.

The AR vs. shotgun topic has been hashed to death but the argument is based on other factors, not 'per shot' terminal effectiveness at HD distances.

----------------------------------


Proverbs 27:17 - As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.
 
Posts: 6554 | Location: Eastern NC | Registered: September 20, 2004Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Best thing I've heard was from Clint Smith at Gunsite. Please forgive my paraphrasing but basically:

Handguns are for putting holes into people.

Rifles are for putting holes through people.

Shotguns at the right range and with the right ammo are for removing Large chunks of people.........dj


Remember, this is all supposed to be for fun...................
 
Posts: 3635 | Registered: April 06, 2007Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Because energy does not directly correlate to terminal effectiveness so comparing energy of a shotgun vs. a rifle is meaningless. Energy is a means to achieving things like velocity, expansion, fragmentation, or increased payload size that will translate into better terminal effectiveness.

Instead you have to look at wounding mechanisms as they relate to different projectiles impacting at different velocities.

At velocities below 2000-ish FPS, the wounding mechanism is only the permanent cavity. Or; whatever the projectile touches and crushes. The temporary stretch cavity does not happen violently enough to tear tissue. (2000 fps isn't a magic line, there is a velocity range where you really start to get wounding from the temp cavity around this number and this is also affected by bullet profile)

For handguns and shotguns, the terminal effect comes from the size of the permanent cavity. How much damage to organs and major vessels? With a handgun, you want the fattest round to start and/or the biggest opening HP that will also go deep enough.

With a shotgun, you can pick from a .75 cal hole clean through 'em (slug) or 8-12 .33 caliber holes at the same time as is the case for 00 buck. 8-9 roughly 9mm hardball size cavities through the organs in the upper chest simultaneously, is a lot of tissue damage.

Rifles with velocities well north of 2000fps cause damage with the permanent cavity as well as tear tissue and rupture organs in the area of the temporary cavity as it is created faster than the elasticity of the tissue. So a rifle ball round will get a small crush cavity all the way through plus a decent temp cavity. A rifle HP makes a bigger crush cavity and creates a larger temp cavity as well. A rifle that fragments makes a small crush cavity for the bullet base, lots of smaller cavities for the fragments and a big temp cavity.

Another advantage of the temp cavity causing damage is you can get good results from a near miss as well (I mean a miss of a vital organ in the body, not a miss of the target). The bullet may pass through nothing vital, but if it gets close to the spine the temp cavity could drop the person (or animal) anyway. Or, for a head shot the bullet misses the medulla, but the temp cavity hit it or the temp cavity size exceeds the size of the cranial vault turning the brain to mush.

I would bet a large temp-cavity producing rifle like a .308 would probably be on par with a shotgun for terminal effectiveness. We don't get a lot of .308/7.62 data though. 5.56 is way more effective than a handgun, but the bullets are still tiny so them plus the temp cavities they make doesn't equal the damage of a load of 00 (but a quick double-triple tap does).




“People have to really suffer before they can risk doing what they love.” –Chuck Palahnuik

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Posts: 3240 | Location: Oregon | Registered: October 02, 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Picture of maladat
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quote:
Originally posted by Strambo:
I would bet a large temp-cavity producing rifle like a .308 would probably be on par with a shotgun for terminal effectiveness. We don't get a lot of .308/7.62 data though. 5.56 is way more effective than a handgun, but the bullets are still tiny so them plus the temp cavities they make doesn't equal the damage of a load of 00 (but a quick double-triple tap does).


Deer are about the same size as people. I used to hunt with a 7mm-08 using a 139gr 3000 fps load with a good expanding bullet. A shot anywhere close to the center of the chest cavity would generally turn most of the lungs into something resembling melted strawberry ice cream (there would generally be some small torn-up pieces left).

I've never shot a deer with a shotgun. I did shoot one with a .41 magnum revolver (so heavier and higher velocity than individual buckshot pellets) - it punched nice clean holes without much other damage. I would expect buckshot to be similar to shooting a deer with a pistol 10 times (and would expect that to be devastating).
 
Posts: 4034 | Location: TX | Registered: January 24, 2011Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Frangas non Flectes
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The one deer I helped my old man butcher that he shot at the base of the neck with a 12ga slug made an impression on me. The entrance wound was the size of the slug and the exit wound on the other side of the neck was about as big as my fist. The amount of missing tissue was shocking. I’ve killed plenty with a shotgun, but always with shot and not slugs. The prior post about using a shotgun to remove chunks of someone or something is about right on.
 
Posts: 8667 | Registered: February 10, 2011Reply With QuoteReport This Post
always with a hat or sunscreen
Picture of bald1
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quote:
Originally posted by Sig209:

'go to' is #1 buckshot.


Totally concur. Doesn't even have to be a 16 pellet load. The Sellier & Bellot 12 Gauge 2-3/4” #1 Buckshot load only has 12 Pellets but it too will do the deed. Smile



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Posts: 8273 | Location: Black Hills of South Dakota | Registered: June 20, 2010Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Bald 1, you've got mail on a different topic.
 
Posts: 12843 | Location: Eastern Iowa | Registered: May 21, 2000Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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quote:
Originally posted by maladat: Deer are about the same size as people. I used to hunt with a 7mm-08 using a 139gr 3000 fps load with a good expanding bullet. A shot anywhere close to the center of the chest cavity would generally turn most of the lungs into something resembling melted strawberry ice cream (there would generally be some small torn-up pieces left).


That has been my experience with deer and 30-06, 300WM hits. I've also shot deer with 12 gauge slugs. The effects of the slug were far less dramatic.

While we've come to accept the 5.56/.223 as a primary military rifle, it is still a "varmint" cartridge and nowhere close to a 308/30-06 in terms of terminal effects.
 
Posts: 7013 | Location: The Red part of Minnesota | Registered: October 06, 2002Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Glorious SPAM!
Picture of mbinky
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quote:
Originally posted by bald1:
quote:
Originally posted by Sig209:

'go to' is #1 buckshot.


Totally concur. Doesn't even have to be a 16 pellet load. The Sellier & Bellot 12 Gauge 2-3/4” #1 Buckshot load only has 12 Pellets but it too will do the deed. Smile


Count me in as another user of #1 buck. I'd rather have 15-16 .30 caliber pellets going downrange instead of 8-9 .33 caliber pellets. The more .30 caliber wound channels the better IMO.
 
Posts: 7752 | Registered: June 13, 2003Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Plowing straight ahead come what may
Picture of Bisleyblackhawk
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Just my layman's take...I shoot cowboy action. We sometimes shoot the triangle shaped knockdown targets with .32, .38, .44 and my .45 Colt (200 grain bullet at 900 FPS)...they fall with a good center hit (sometimes slowly...but they fall nonetheless)...

Do that with a 3/4 oz. up to 1 1/8 oz. 1200 FPS #7 1/2 load and they just don't fall...they hammer flat...the wads can see bouncing off the steel at the distance we shoot...12-18 yards (across the bedroom or better distance)...with the open chokes most cowboy action shooters use there is almost no opening up of the shot charge at that range...

Swap that 1 oz. #7 1/2 for a 1 oz.-1 1/4 oz. load of various and sundry buckshot @ 1200 FPS...at short range you are looking at a 1 1/2"-3"(maybe 4") almost solid projectile that hasn't "spread" out at close to 1200 FPS (remember the shot column is just not wide...it's also long, so it "stacks up" at close range...each .25-.30 pellet having a lot of energy...

It's pretty impressive.


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Making the best of what ever comes our way
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Posts: 8015 | Location: Southeast Tennessee...not far above my homestate Georgia | Registered: March 10, 2010Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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quote:
Originally posted by Longbow_06:
A year or so ago, I was able to attend an active shooter seminar which was focused on school and church shooting.
The seminar was delivered by local LE officers, who had undergone multiple training on the response to active shooters.

The one thing that stood out that the one officer reported, was their concern not over AR type rifles, but semi-auto shotguns....

As the officer on the stage pointed to the front row, he made the point that at that range, he could possibly take out four of the front row with just one shot. Again he stated that the AR or assault rifle wasn't as much as a concern as an open choked semi-auto shotgun, with a shorter barrel.

It was a very interesting seminar.


Your officer was very misinformed. Typical spread for a shot gun at 25 feet is in the range of 6-12 inches depending on the choke and load. Go out to 25 Yards and the spread will be in the range of 18-36 inches. Now, if you assume that a seating is spread at about 30 inch intervals it's rather obvious that the MOST that can be hit from 25 YARDS is TWO People. Another factor to consider that even 00 Buck has a pretty poor sectional density for each pellet and as a result they lose energy quickly. So while 25 yards could prove fatal I am not so confident that a body strike of a 00 pellet at 100 yards would be fatal. Finally a typical 2 3/4 12 gage 00 Buck shell holds a total of 9 0.36 diameter pellets and a Longer Magnum 12 pellets. At a Close Quarters range of 15 feet or so that charge pattern somewhere in the 3 to 4 inch, so a body shot is likely close t0 100% fatal.

Now, want something even more lethal than 00 Buck at close range then cut the pellet diameter to 0.24 inches and get 27 pellets in a 2 3/4 inch shell or 41 pellets in a 3 inch shell. That will turn the entire wound channel into something resembling ground beef. Downside for the #4 buck is that the individual pellets lose velocity even faster than 00 so once past 20 yards or so you may not get enough penetration for a near instant kill.

Sum it up and a shotgun is VERY lethal at close range but the shot doesn't spread nearly as much as many believe. Don't believe this take a shotgun to the range sometime and shoot a 12 inch target at 15 feet and observe the results.


I've stopped counting.
 
Posts: 4043 | Location: Michigan | Registered: November 07, 2008Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Yeah Scooter, I was tempted to address that "front row" story as well. I don't do why the shotgun spawns so many persistent myths and misconceptions.

They aren't complicated devices...just go pattern the F-in thing with various buckshot loads at various distances and see for yourself!

For example, my 18" cylinder bore 870 does 12" with cheap #1 buck at 10yds and about 2.5" with Hornady LR TAP at 10 yds. Neither are anywhere near "you don't have to aim" or "it will take out 4 in the front row" propositions...




“People have to really suffer before they can risk doing what they love.” –Chuck Palahnuik

The world's a dangerous place, we can help! http://portlandfirearmtraining.com/
 
Posts: 3240 | Location: Oregon | Registered: October 02, 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Choke, spread etc for common civilian across the living room defense use is close to meaningless. At the ranges involved in home defense a shotgun is essentially a large bore rifle.
 
Posts: 2227 | Location: Finally free in AZ! | Registered: February 14, 2003Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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something about mass,velocity , water not compressing and two things occupying the same space





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Posts: 45915 | Location: Henry County , Il | Registered: February 10, 2004Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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