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Snippet from Wikipedia: Hydrostatic shock

Hydrostatic shock is the controversial concept that a penetrating projectile (such as a bullet) can produce a pressure wave that causes "remote neural damage", "subtle damage in neural tissues" and/or "rapid incapacitating effects" in living targets. It has also been suggested that pressure wave effects can cause indirect bone fractures at a distance from the projectile path, although it was later demonstrated that indirect bone fractures are caused by temporary cavity effects (strain placed on the bone by the radial tissue displacement produced by the temporary cavity formation).

Proponents of the concept argue that hydrostatic shock can produce remote neural damage and produce incapacitation more quickly than blood loss effects. In arguments about the differences in stopping power between calibers and between cartridge models, proponents of cartridges that are "light and fast" (such as the 9×19mm Parabellum) versus cartridges that are "slow and heavy" (such as the .45 ACP) often refer to this phenomenon.

Martin Fackler has argued that sonic pressure waves do not cause tissue disruption and that temporary cavity formation is the actual cause of tissue disruption mistakenly ascribed to sonic pressure waves. One review noted that strong opinion divided papers on whether the pressure wave contributes to wound injury. It ultimately concluded that no "conclusive evidence could be found for permanent pathological effects produced by the pressure wave".

Hydrostatic shock or hydraulic shock describes the observation that a penetrating projectile can produce remote wounding and incapacitating effects in living targets through a hydraulic effect in their liquid-filled tissues, in addition to local effects in tissue caused by direct impact.<ref>Deadly fighting skills of the world, Steve Crawford (1999) pp. 68–69</ref><ref>AK-47: the weapon that changed the face of the war, Larry Kahaner, John Wiley and Sons (2007) p. 32</ref> There is scientific evidence that hydrostatic shock can produce remote neural damage and produce incapacitation more quickly than blood loss effects.<ref name=“”>

</ref> Proponents of cartridges that are “light and fast” such as the 9x19mm Parabellum versus cartridges that are “slow and heavy” such as the .45 ACP round often refer to this phenomenon.

Human autopsy results have demonstrated brain hemorrhaging from fatal hits to the chest, including cases with handgun bullets.<ref>Krajsa, J. Příčiny vzniku perikapilárních hemoragií v mozku při střelných poraněních (Causes of pericapillar brain haemorrhages accompanying gunshot wounds), Institute of Forensic Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, Masaryk University, Brno, Czech Republic, 2009.</ref> Thirty-three cases of fatal penetrating chest wounds by a single bullet were selected from a much larger set by excluding all other traumatic factors, including past history.

It has often been asserted that hydrostatic shock and other descriptions of remote wounding effects are nothing but myths. An article in the journal, Neurosurgery, reviews the published evidence and concludes that the phenomenon is well-established.

Origin of the theory

In the scientific literature, the first discussion of pressure waves created when a bullet hits a living target is presented by E. Harvey Newton and his research group at Princeton University in 1947:<ref name=“E. Newton Harvey 1947”>An Experimental Study of shock waves resulting from the impact of high velocity missiles on animal tissues, E. Newton Harvey, PhD and Howard McMillen, PhD, Journal of Experimental Medicine, February 1947.</ref><ref>Another early mention of “hydrostatic shock” is Super speed bullets knock ‘em dead, Popular Mechanics, April 1942, p. 9</ref>

Frank Chamberlin, a World War II trauma surgeon and ballistics researcher, noted remote pressure wave effects. Col. Chamberlin described what he called “explosive effects” and “hydraulic reaction” of bullets in tissue. …liquids are put in motion by ‘shock waves’ or hydraulic effects… with liquid filled tissues, the effects and destruction of tissues extend in all directions far beyond the wound axis.<ref name=“fn_(100)”>Chamberlin FT, Gun Shot Wounds, in Handbook for Shooters and Reloaders, Vol. II, Ackley PO, ed., Plaza Publishing, Salt Lake City, Utah, 1966.</ref> He avoided the ambiguous use of the term “shock” because it can refer to either a specific kind of pressure wave associated with explosions and supersonic projectiles or to a medical condition in the body.

Col. Chamberlin recognized that many theories have been advanced in wound ballistics. During World War II he commanded an 8,500-bed hospital center that treated over 67,000 patients during the fourteen months that he operated it. P.O. Ackley estimates that 85% of the patients were suffering from gunshot wounds.<ref name=“fn_(101)”>Ackley PO, Col. Frank T. Chamberlin, in Handbook for Shooters and Reloaders, Vol. II, Ackley PO, ed., Plaza Publishing, Salt Lake City, Utah, 1966.</ref> Col. Chamberlin spent many hours interviewing patients as to their reactions to bullet wounds. He conducted many live animal experiments after his tour of duty. On the subject of wound ballistics theories, he wrote:

Other World War II era scientists noted remote pressure wave effects in the peripheral nerves.<ref name=“fn_(102)”>Livingstone WK, Davis EW, Livingstone KE: Delayed recovery in peripheral nerve lesions caused by high velocity wounding. J. Neurosurg., 2: 170, 1945. </ref><ref name=“fn_(103)”>Puckett WO, Grundfest H, McElroy WD, McMillen JH, Damage to peripheral nerves by high velocity missiles without a direct hit. J. Neurosurg., 3: 294, 1946.</ref> There was support for the idea of remote neural effects of ballistic pressure waves in the medical and scientific communities, but the phrase “’hydrostatic shock’” and similar phrases including “shock” were used mainly by gunwriters (such as Jack O'Conner<ref name=“fn_(104)”>O’Conner J, The Hunting Rifle, McMillian, 1970.</ref>) and the small arms industry (such as Roy Weatherby,<ref name=“fn_(105)”>Gresham T, Gresham G, Weatherby: The Man, The Gun, The Legend, Cane River Publishing, 1992.</ref> and Federal “Hydrashock.”)

Fackler's contra-claim

Dr. Martin Fackler, a Vietnam-era trauma surgeon, wound ballistics researcher, a Colonel in the U.S. Army and the head of the Wound Ballistics Laboratory for the U.S. Army’s Medical Training Center, Letterman Institute, claimed that hydrostatic shock had been disproved and that the assertion that a pressure wave plays a role in injury or incapacitation is a myth.<ref name=“fn_(9)”>

</ref> Others expressed similar views.<ref name=“fn_(50)”>Patrick UW: Handgun Wounding Factors and Effectiveness. FBI Firearms training Unit, Quantico, VA. 1989.</ref><ref name=“fn_(51)”>MacPherson D: Bullet Penetration—Modeling the Dynamics and the Incapacitation Resulting From Wound Trauma. Ballistics Publications, El Segundo, CA, 1994. </ref>

Dr. Fackler based his argument on the lithotriptor, a tool commonly used to break up kidney stones. The lithotriptor uses sonic pressure waves which are stronger than those caused by most handgun bullets,

yet it produces no damage to soft tissues whatsoever. Hence, Fackler argued, ballistic pressure waves cannot damage tissue either.<ref name=“fn_(3)”>Fackler ML, Gunshot Wound Review, Annals of Emergency Medicine 28:2; 1996.</ref>

Dr. Fackler claimed that a study of rifle bullet wounds in Vietnam (Wound Data and Munitions Effectiveness Team) found “no cases of bones being broken, or major vessels torn, that were not hit by the penetrating bullet. In only two cases, an organ that was not hit (but was within a few cm of the projectile path), suffered some disruption.” Dr. Fackler cited a personal communication with R. F. Bellamy.<ref name=“fn_(9)”/> However, Bellamy’s published findings the following year<ref name=“fn_(900)”>Bellamy RF, Zajtchuk R. The physics and biophysics of wound ballistics. In: Zajtchuk R, ed. Textbook of Military Medicine, Part I: Warfare, Weaponry, and the Casualty, Vol. 5, Conventional Warfare: Ballistic, Blast, and Burn Injuries. Washington, DC: Office of the Surgeon General, Department of the Army, United States of America; 1990: 107–162. available for download:</ref> estimated that 10% of fractures in the data set might be due to indirect injuries, and one specific case is described in detail (pp.&nbsp;153–154). In addition, the published analysis documents five instances of abdominal wounding in cases where the bullet did not penetrate the abdominal cavity (pp.&nbsp;149–152), a case of lung contusion resulting from a hit to the shoulder (pp.&nbsp;146–149), and a case of indirect effects on the central nervous system (p.&nbsp;155). Fackler's critics argue that Fackler's evidence does not contradict distant injuries, as Fackler claimed, but the WDMET data from Vietnam actually provides supporting evidence for it.<ref name=“fn_(900)”/><ref name=“fn_(99)”> Courtney M, Courtney A: Misleading reference to unpublished wound ballistics data regarding distant injuries,</ref>

A summary of the debate was published in 2009 as part of a Historical Overview of Wound Ballistics Research.

Distant injuries in the WDMET data

The Wound Data and Munitions Effectiveness Team (WDMET) gathered data on wounds sustained during the Vietnam War. In their analysis of this data published in the Textbook of Military Medicine, Ronald Bellamy and Russ Zajtchuck point out a number of cases which seem to be examples of distant injuries. Bellamy and Zajtchuck describe three mechanisms of distant wounding due to pressure transients: 1) stress waves 2) shear waves and 3) a vascular pressure impulse.

After citing Harvey's conclusion that “stress waves probably do not cause any tissue damage” (p.&nbsp;136), Bellamy and Zajtchuck express their view that Harvey's interpretation might not be definitive because they write “the possibility that stress waves from a penetrating projectile might also cause tissue damage cannot be ruled out.” (p.&nbsp;136) The WDMET data includes a case of a lung contusion resulting from a hit to the shoulder. The caption to Figure 4-40 (p.&nbsp;149) says, “The pulmonary injury may be the result of a stress wave.” They describe the possibility that a hit to a soldier's trapezius muscle caused temporary paralysis due to “the stress wave passing through the soldier's neck indirectly [causing] cervical cord dysfunction.” (p.&nbsp;155)

In addition to stress waves, Bellamy and Zajtchuck describe shear waves as a possible mechanism of indirect injuries in the WDMET data. They estimate that 10% of bone fractures in the data may be the result of indirect injuries, that is, bones fractured by the bullet passing close to the bone without a direct impact. A Chinese experiment is cited which provides a formula estimating how pressure magnitude decreases with distance. Together with the difference between strength of human bones and strength of the animal bones in the Chinese experiment, Bellamy and Zajtchuck use this formula to estimate that assault rifle rounds “passing within a centimeter of a long bone might very well be capable of causing an indirect fracture.” (p.&nbsp;153) Bellamy and Zajtchuck suggest the fracture in Figures 4-46 and 4-47 is likely an indirect fracture of this type. Damage due to shear waves extends to even greater distances in abdominal injuries in the WDMET data. Bellamy and Zajtchuck write, “The abdomen is one body region in which damage from indirect effects may be common.” (p.&nbsp;150) Injuries to the liver and bowel shown in Figures 4-42 and 4-43 are described, “The damage shown in these examples extends far beyond the tissue that is likely to direct contact with the projectile.” (p.&nbsp;150)

In addition to providing examples from the WDMET data for indirect injury due to propagating shear and stress waves, Bellamy and Zajtchuck expresses an openness to the idea of pressure transients propagating via blood vessels can cause indirect injuries. “For example, pressure transients arising from an abdominal gunshot wound might propagate through the vena cavae and jugular venous system into the cranial cavity and cause a precipitous rise in intracranial pressure there, with attendant transient neurological dysfunction.” (p.&nbsp;154) However, no examples of this injury mechanism are presented from the WDMET data. However, the authors suggest the need for additional studies writing, “Clinical and experimental data need to be gathered before such indirect injuries can be confirmed.” Distant injuries of this nature were later confirmed in the experimental data of Swedish and Chinese researchers,<ref name=“fn_(19)”> Suneson A, Hansson HA, Seeman T: Pressure Wave Injuries to the Nervous System Caused by High Energy Missile Extremity Impact: Part I. Local and Distant Effects on the Peripheral Nervous System. A Light and Electron Microscopic Study on Pigs. The Journal of Trauma. 30(3):281–294; 1990. </ref><ref name=“fn_(21)”> Wang Q, Wang Z, Zhu P, Jiang J: Alterations of the Myelin Basic Protein and Ultrastructure in the Limbic System and the Early Stage of Trauma-Related Stress Disorder in Dogs. The Journal of Trauma. 56(3):604–610; 2004. </ref> in the clinical findings of Krajsa <ref name=“Summary, 2009”/> and in autopsy findings from Iraq.<ref name=“Iraq”>YS Selman et al., Medico-legal Study of Shockwave Damage by High Velocity Missiles in Firearm Injuries, Fac Med Baghdad 2011; Vol. 53, No. 4</ref>

Autopsy Findings in Iraq

An 8 month study in Iraq performed in 2010 and published in 2011 reports on autopsies of 30 gunshot victims struck with high-velocity (greater than 2500 fps) rifle bullets.<ref name=“Iraq”/> In all 30 cases, autopsies revealed injuries distant from the main wound channel due to hydrostatic shock. The authors determined that the lungs and chest are the most susceptible to distant wounding, followed by the abdomen. The authors conclude:

Inferences from blast pressure wave observations

A shock wave can be created when fluid is rapidly displaced by an explosive or projectile. Tissue behaves similarly enough to water that a sonic pressure wave can be created by a bullet impact, generating pressures in excess of

.<ref name=“fn_(10)”>


Duncan McPherson, a former member of the International Wound Ballistics Association and author of the book, Bullet Penetration, claimed that shock waves cannot result from bullet impacts with tissue.<ref name=“fn_(51)”/> In contrast, Brad Sturtevant, a leading researcher in shock wave physics at Caltech for many decades, found that shock waves can result from handgun bullet impacts in tissue.<ref name=“fn_(141)”>

</ref> Other sources indicate that ballistic impacts can create shock waves in tissue.<ref name=“fn_(19)”/><ref name=“fn_(142)”>

</ref><ref name=“fn_(143)”>


Blast and ballistic pressure waves have physical similarities. Prior to wave reflection, they both are characterized by a steep wave front followed by a nearly exponential decay at close distances. They have similarities in how they cause neural effects in the brain. In tissue, both types of pressure waves have similar magnitudes, duration, and frequency characteristics. Both have been shown to cause damage in the hippocampus.<ref name=“fn_(21)”/><ref name=“fn_(150)”>

</ref><ref name=“fn_(151)”>

</ref> It has been hypothesized that both reach the brain from the thoracic cavity via major blood vessels.

For example, Ibolja Cernak, a leading researcher in blast wave injury at the Applied Physics Laboratory at Johns Hopkins University, hypothesized, “alterations in brain function following blast exposure are induced by kinetic energy transfer of blast overpressure via great blood vessels in abdomen and thorax to the central nervous system.”<ref name=“fn_(152)”>

</ref> This hypothesis is supported by observations of neural effects in the brain from localized blast exposure focused on the lungs in experiments in animals.<ref name=“fn_(150)”/>

“Hydrostatic shock” expresses the idea that organs can be damaged by the pressure wave in addition to damage from direct contact with the penetrating projectile. If one interprets the “shock” in the term “hydrostatic shock” to refer to the physiological effects rather than the physical wave characteristics, the question of whether the pressure waves satisfy the definition of “shock wave” is unimportant, and one can consider the weight of scientific evidence and various claims regarding the possibility of a ballistic pressure wave to create tissue damage and incapacitation in living targets.

Physics of ballistic pressure waves

Medical Department, United States Army. Wound Ballistics in World War II. [ed.] Major James C. Beyer. Washington, D.C. : Office of the Surgeon General, Department of the Army, 1962. />

A number of papers describe the physics of ballistic pressure waves created when a high-speed projectile enters a viscous medium.<ref name=“fn_(30)”>

</ref><ref name=“fn_(31)”>

</ref><ref name=“fn_(32)”>

</ref> These results show that ballistic impacts produce pressure waves that propagate at close to the speed of sound.

Lee et al. present an analytical model showing that unreflected ballistic pressure waves are well approximated by an exponential decay, which is similar to blast pressure waves.<ref name=“fn_(30)”/> Lee et al. note the importance of the energy transfer:

The rigorous calculations of Lee et al. require knowing the drag coefficient and frontal area of the penetrating projectile at every instant of the penetration. Since this is not generally possible with expanding handgun bullets, Courtney and Courtney developed a model for estimating the peak pressure waves of handgun bullets from the impact energy and penetration depth in ballistic gelatin.<ref name=“fn_(16)”> Courtney M, Courtney A: Ballistic pressure wave contributions to rapid incapacitation in the Strasbourg goat tests. accessed 29 May 2007. </ref> This model agrees with the more rigorous approach of Lee et al. for projectiles where they can both be applied. For expanding handgun bullets, the peak pressure wave magnitude is proportional to the bullet’s kinetic energy divided by the penetration depth.

Remote cerebral effects of ballistic pressure waves

Goransson et al. were the first contemporary researchers to present compelling evidence for remote cerebral effects of extremity bullet impact.<ref name=“fn_(131)”> Göransson AM, Ingvar DH, Kutyna F: Remote Cerebral Effects on EEG in High-Energy Missile Trauma. The Journal of Trauma. 28 (1 Supplement):S204-S205; January 1988.</ref> They observed changes in EEG readings from pigs shot in the thigh. A follow-up experiment by Suneson et al. implanted high-speed pressure transducers into the brain of pigs and demonstrated that a significant pressure wave reaches the brain of pigs shot in the thigh.<ref name=“fn_(19)”/><ref name=“fn_(20)”> Suneson A, Hansson HA, Seeman T: Pressure Wave Injuries to the Nervous System Caused by High Energy Missile extremity Impact: Part II. Distant Effects on the Central Nervous System. A Light and Electron Microscopic Study on Pigs. The Journal of Trauma. 30(3):295–306; 1990. </ref> These scientists observed apnea, depressed EEG readings, and neural damage in the brain caused by the distant effects of the ballistic pressure wave originating in the thigh.

The results of Suneson et al. were confirmed and expanded upon by a later experiment in dogs<ref name=“fn_(21)”/> which “confirmed that distant effect exists in the central nervous system after a high-energy missile impact to an extremity. A high-frequency oscillating pressure wave with large amplitude and short duration was found in the brain after the extremity impact of a high-energy missile . . .” Wang et al. observed significant damage in both the hypothalamus and hippocampus regions of the brain due to remote effects of the ballistic pressure wave.

Remote pressure wave effects in the spine and internal organs

In a study of a handgun injury, Sturtevant found that pressure waves from a bullet impact in the torso can reach the spine and that a focusing effect from concave surfaces can concentrate the pressure wave on the spinal cord producing significant injury.<ref name=“fn_(141)”/> This is consistent with other work showing remote spinal cord injuries from ballistic impacts.<ref name=“fn_(714)”>Saxon M, Snyder HA, Washington HA, Atypical Brown-Sequard syndrome following gunshot wound to the face, Journal of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery 40: 299–302, 1982.</ref><ref name=“fn_(715)”>Taylor RG, Gleave JRW, Incomplete Spinal Cord Injuries, Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery, B39:438–450, 1957.</ref>

Roberts et al. present both experimental work and finite element modeling showing that there can be considerable pressure wave magnitudes in the thoracic cavity for handgun projectiles stopped by a Kevlar vest.<ref name=“fn_(142)”/><ref name=“fn_(143)”/> For example, an 8&nbsp;gram projectile at 360&nbsp;m/s impacting a NIJ level II vest over the sternum can produce an estimated pressure wave level of nearly 2.0 MPa (280 psi) in the heart and a pressure wave level of nearly 1.5 MPa (210 psi) in the lungs. Impacting over the liver can produce an estimated pressure wave level of 2.0 MPa (280 psi) in the liver.

Energy transfer required for remote neural effects

The work of Courtney et al. supports the role of a ballistic pressure wave in incapacitation and injury.<ref name=“fn_(16)”/><ref name=“fn_(110)”> Courtney A, Courtney M: Links between traumatic brain injury and ballistic pressure waves originating in the thoracic cavity and extremities. Brain Injury 21(7): 657–662, 2007. Pre-print:</ref><ref name=“fn_(15)”> Courtney M, Courtney A: Review of criticisms of ballistic pressure wave experiments, the Strasbourg goat tests, and the Marshall and Sanow data. accessed 29 May 2007. </ref><ref name=“fn_(17)”> Courtney M, Courtney A: Relative incapacitation contributions of pressure wave and wound channel in the Marshall and Sanow data set. accessed 29 May 2007. </ref><ref name=“fn_(18)”> Courtney M, Courtney A: A method for testing handgun bullets in deer. accessed 29 May 2007. </ref> The work of Suneson et al. and Courtney et al. suggest that remote neural effects can occur with levels of energy transfer possible with handguns, about

. Using sensitive biochemical techniques, the work of Wang et al. suggests even lower impact energy thresholds for remote neural injury to the brain. In analysis of experiments of dogs shot in the thigh they report highly significant (p < 0.01), easily detectable neural effects in the hypothalamus and hippocampus with energy transfer levels close to

. Wang et al. reports less significant (p < 0.05) remote effects in the hypothalamus with energy transfer just under

.<ref name=“fn_(21)”/>

Even though Wang et al. document remote neural damage for low levels of energy transfer, roughly

, these levels of neural damage are probably too small to contribute to rapid incapacitation. Courtney and Courtney believe that remote neural effects only begin to make significant contributions to rapid incapacitation for ballistic pressure wave levels above

(corresponds to transferring roughly


of penetration) and become easily observable above

(corresponds to transferring roughly


of penetration).<ref name=“fn_(110)”/> Incapacitating effects in this range of energy transfer are consistent with observations of remote spinal injuries,<ref name=“fn_(141)”/> observations of suppressed EEGs and apnea in pigs<ref name=“fn_(131)”/><ref name=“fn_(132)”> Suneson A, Hansson HA, Seeman T: Peripheral High-Energy Missile Hits Cause Pressure Changes and Damage to the Nervous System: Experimental Studies on Pigs. The Journal of Trauma. 27(7):782–789; 1987. Suneson A, Hansson HA, Seeman T: Central and Peripheral Nervous Damage Following High-Energy Missile Wounds in the Thigh. The Journal of Trauma. 28 (1 Supplement):S197-S203; January 1988.</ref> and with observations of incapacitating effects of ballistic pressure waves without a wound channel.<ref name=“fn_(111)”>Courtney M, Courtney A, Experimental Observations of Incapacitation via Ballistic Pressure Wave without a Wound Channel , 2007.</ref>

Other scientific findings

The scientific literature contains significant other findings regarding injury mechanisms of ballistic pressure waves. Ming et al. found that ballistic pressure waves can break bones.<ref name=“fn_(114)”>Ming L, Yu-Yuan M, Ring-Xiang F, Tian-Shun F: The characteristics of pressure waves generated in the soft target by impact and its contribution to indirect bone fractures. The Journal of Trauma 28(1) Supplement: S104-S109; 1988.</ref> Tikka et al. reports abdominal pressure changes produced in pigs hit in one thigh.<ref name=“fn_(113)”>Tikka S, Cederberg A, Rokkanen P: Remote effects of pressure waves in missile trauma: the intra-abdominal pressure changes in anaesthetized pigs wounded in one thigh. Acta Chir. Scand. Suppl. 508: 167–173, 1982.</ref> Akimov et al. report on injuries to the nerve trunk from gunshot wounds to the extremities.<ref name=“fn_(112)”> Akimov GA, Odinak MM, Zhivolupov SA, et al., The mechanisms of the injuries to the nerve trunk in gunshot wounds of the extremities: Experimental research. Voen Med Zh 80: 34, 1993. </ref>


The FBI recommends that loads intended for self-defense and law enforcement applications meet a minimum penetration requirement of

in ballistic gelatin and explicitly advises against selecting rounds based on hydrostatic shock effects.<ref name=“fn_(50)”>Patrick UW: Handgun Wounding Factors and Effectiveness. FBI Firearms Training Unit, Quantico, VA. 1989.</ref>

Hydrostatic shock as a factor in selection of ammunition

Ammunition selection for self-defense, military, and law enforcement

In self-defense, military, and law enforcement communities, opinions vary regarding the importance of remote wounding effects in ammunition design and selection. In his book on hostage rescuers, Leroy Thompson discusses the importance of hydrostatic shock in choosing a specific design of .357 Magnum and 9x19mm Parabellum bullets.<ref>Rescuers, Leroy Thompson (1988) p. 207</ref> In Armed and Female, Paxton Quigley explains that hydrostatic shock is the real source of “stopping power.”<ref>Armed and Female, Paxton Quigley, E.P. Dutton, 1989, p. 160</ref> Jim Carmichael, who served as shooting editor for Outdoor Life magazine for 25 years, believes that hydrostatic shock is important to “a more immediate disabling effect” and is a key difference in the performance of .38 Special and .357 Magnum hollow point bullets.<ref>The Woman’s Guide to Handguns, Jim Carmichael</ref> In “The search for an effective police handgun,” Allen Bristow describes that police departments recognize the importance of hydrostatic shock when choosing ammunition.<ref>The search for an effective police handgun, Allen Bristow (1973) p. 69, 91</ref> A research group at West Point suggests handgun loads with at least

of energy and

of penetration and recommends:<ref>Courtney and Courtney,</ref>

A number of law enforcement and military agencies have adopted the 5.7x28mm cartridge, which is reputed to cause considerable hydrostatic shock.<ref name=“”></ref><ref>The FNH Five-seveN Pistol, Chris Boyd, Law Officer, Volume 3, Issue 9, 2007 Sept 1</ref> These agencies include the Navy SEALs<ref>Meyr, Eitan (January 06, 1999). “Special Weapons for Counter-terrorist Units”. Jane's — Law Enforcement.</ref> and the Federal Protective Service branch of the ICE.<ref>


</ref> In contrast, some defense contractors, law enforcement analysts, and military analysts say that hydrostatic shock is an unimportant factor when selecting cartridges for a particular use because any incapacitating effect it may have on a target is difficult to measure and inconsistent from one individual to the next

. This is in contrast to factors such as proper shot placement and massive blood loss which are almost always eventually incapacitating for nearly every individual.<ref>


Ammunition selection for hunting

Hydrostatic shock is commonly considered as a factor in the selection of hunting ammunition. Peter Capstick explains that hydrostatic shock may have value for animals up to the size of white-tailed deer, but the ratio of energy transfer to animal weight is an important consideration for larger animals. If the animal’s weight exceeds the bullet’s energy transfer, penetration in an undeviating line to a vital organ is a much more important consideration than energy transfer and hydrostatic shock.<ref>

</ref> Jim Carmichael, in contrast, describes evidence that hydrostatic shock can affect animals as large as Cape Buffalo in the results of a carefully controlled study carried out by veterinarians in a buffalo culling operation.

Nathan Foster of Terminal Ballistics Research found that it is possible to induce hydrostatic shock in Bovines providing impact velocity is above 2600fps, using controlled expanding projectiles of appropriate weights. Furthermore, using hunting cartridges between 6mm and .338 bore diameters, a nominal velocity of 2600fps or higher produces the same results on most mammals where bullet weights and bullet construction are again appropriately matched to game body weights for optimum energy transfer. During tests, wider bores were capable of producing hydrostatic shock at lower impact velocities than the small bores on medium game- but not heavy game, showing the subtle relationships between bullet frontal area and energy transfer and bullet weights versus game weights.

Tests revealed that Hydrostatic shock produces an immediate loss of consciousness. This often appears to the viewer as an 'instant kill' But it is the action of loss of consciousness combined with rapid blood loss to the point that life can no longer be sustained, that results in what can be better described as fast, humane killing. Mr Foster also found that results with Hornady TAP ammunition (frangible A-Max projectile) can produce neural trauma on medium sized game at much lower impact velocities than traditional hunting projectiles.<ref></ref>

Dr. Randall Gilbert describes hydrostatic shock as an important factor in bullet performance on whitetail deer, “When it [a bullet] enters a whitetail’s body, huge accompanying shock waves send vast amounts of energy through nearby organs, sending them into arrest or shut down.”<ref>A to Z Guide to White-Tailed Deer and Deer Hunting, Randall Gilbert, 2003, Woods N’ Water, Inc., p. 106</ref> Dave Ehrig expresses the view that hydrostatic shock depends on impact velocities above

per second.<ref>Muzzleloading for Deer and Turkey, Dave Ehrig (2005) p. 64</ref> Sid Evans explains the performance of the Nosler Partition bullet and Federal Cartridge Company’s decision to load this bullet in terms of the large tissue cavitation and hydrostatic shock produced from the frontal diameter of the expanded bullet.<ref>The deer hunter’s almanac, Sid Evans (1996) p.66</ref> The North American Hunting Club suggests big game cartridges that create enough hydrostatic shock to quickly bring animals down.<ref>The Game Rifle, The North American Hunting Club (1992)</ref>

See also


hydrostatic_shock.txt · Last modified: 2020/03/12 18:35 (external edit)