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RESULTS OF SHOOTING IN CADAVERS; SKIAGRAPHIC AND OTHER EVIDENCE.

4.  The cadavers were suspended by the head so that the feet cleared the floor.  For convenience in comparing the shock effects of the different projectiles employed, the maximum amount of oscillation in a suspended limb was rated at 100.  The accompanying skiagrams were, as much as possible, selected to show the injuries at the short, medium and long ranges.  The injury in the soft parts about the wounds of entrance and exit was duly noted.  The projectiles were stamped with a letter or number at their base and caught in a barrel of sawdust back of the cadaver.  Each bullet when recovered was put in a small cardboard box with the notes of the injury which it caused.

(a)  Bullet from Colt’s Revolver, Caliber 0.38, Model of 1903, (the present service revolver).

The Shock Effects as noted by the standard laid down for cadavers, viz: the oscillation of the limb at the moment of impact was not perceptible when soft parts alone were traversed.  If the joint end of a bone was hit, the motion noted amounted to a tremor of the member, and when the bullet was made to collide with a hard bone, like the shaft of one of the long bones, the amount of motion at close range was rated at 50.  The force of impact was noticed to throw the limb back in the direction of flight of the bullet, and in regaining its normally suspended position, the member was apt to sway back and forth several times.

SOFT PARTS.-- The wounds of entrance and exit were, as a rule, the size of the caliber of the bullet.  In cases of bone injury showing displacement of fragments, the wound of exit was generally larger than that of entrance.  If the bullet caused only a perforation in the bone, as for instance in the joint end of one of the long bones, the wound of exit presented no characteristic features.

BONE.--  A study of the injury to bone, as demonstrated by the skiagrams, shows that the bullet has a tendency to perforate the joint ends of bones with little or no tendency to lateral displacement.  The resistance offered by the soft spongy structure of bone near the joint ends is not sufficient, as a rule, to disintegrate the bullet, and lead fragments are seldom seen in these cases.  The bullets which cause the injury to the joint ends are generally recovered practically undeformed.  See skiagrams Nos. 1, 2 and 3.

The injury to the bones in their RESISTANT STRUCTURE, as for instance, in the shaft of the long bones, is very different to that just described.  The bone in this part is hard; it offers enough resistance to break up the bullet into fragments.  The force of impact is so great and the amount of energy which is liberated by the deforming bullet is so effective that extensive fracture of bone is noted.  The pieces of bone are unusually large, and the fissures in the bone substance away from the point of impact are long, as much as two and three inches in some cases.  The degree of deformation of the bullets varies as shown in the illustrations, from the deposition of small particles in some cases to larger ones in others.  At times the whole of the bullet seems to have disintegrated and to have thus lodged at the seat of fracture.  The bullets recovered in the barrel show all manner of deformation, and the majority have lost from one-third to two-thirds of their weight.  See Skiagrams 4, 5 and 6.

(b)  Blunt-pointed bullet from Colt’s Revolver, Caliber 0.45, New Service.

SHOCK EFFECTS.-- When the soft parts alone were traversed there was no shock effect perceptible.  In the joint ends of bones it was more than was noted with the 0.38 caliber Colt’s.  The amount of shock effects in the middle of the shafts of the long bones was rated at 80.

SOFT PARTS.-- The wounds of entrance and exit, when soft parts alone were hit, corresponded in size to the caliber of the projectile.  The wound of exit varied when hard bone was hit, as noticed with the 0.38 caliber Colt’s, only to a greater degree.  In some instances the wound of exit was multiple, either from pieces of lead or fragments of bone issuing through the skin.

BONE.-- The injury to the joint ends of bones with this bullet was characterized by a perforation or tendency to gutter or furrow the bone without complete fracture.  The resistance usually offered here seldom caused more than detachment of the smallest fragments from the bullet.  See Skiagrams Nos. 6-A, 6-B, 6-C and 6-D.

The injury to the shafts of the long bones accords with that of the 0.38 Caliber Colt’s, and as far as the amount of fragmentation of bone and of the bullet, a comparison of the skiagrams of these particular bones shows the injury to be about the same in both, although the larger caliber should of necessity give more exaggerated effects, yet as much as this may be true, they are not as striking as they might be in examining the illustrations side by side.  The bullets recovered in the sawdust show deformation at their points, which increases with the resistance encountered in the body.  See Skiagrams noted above, (6-a, 6-b, etc).

(c)  Bullet from Colt’s New Service Revolver, Caliber 0.476.

SHOCK EFFECTS were perceptible only when bone was hit.  In the case of the joint ends of bone, there was perceptibly more shock than with the preceding calibers.  When, however, the shafts of the long bones were hit, the amount of shock was very much in excess of anything that was noticed with any of the bullets tested in these experiments.  For instance, shooting through the hand from left to right or vice versa, the member was thrown back in the line of flight of the projectile with great violence.  Again, when the tibia or shin bone was struck in about its middle third, the force of impact was exhibited by the foot being forcibly thrown forward so that the lower fragment of the tibia was made to describe an angle of about thirty-five degrees with the upper fragment.  For the purposes of comparison, the amount of shock effect in the resistant bones has been placed at the maximum -- 100.

SOFT PART:  Wounds of entrance and exit were the size of the bullet, except when resistant bone was hit, and then they were larger, as in the case of the 0.38 and 0.45 calibers previously noted.

The skiagrams show correspondingly large perforations in the joint ends of bones.  In the case of the humerus, there is a slight tendency to fissuring.  See Skiagrams Nos. 7, 8 and 9.  In the case of the long bones, the skiagrams show that the bullet, in deforming, and fracturing the bone, acts variously.  For instance, at close range, in Skiagram No. 10, the bullet made a regular impact on the femur, caused but little fragmentation at the point of impact, but left a long fissure in the upper fragment of the bone, and the whole of the bullet appears in two large fragments and a dozen or more smaller fragments close to the seat of injury.  This bullet, for reasons which might be variously explained, at close range, sought to spend its energy in deformation instead of breaking up the bone, as is shown in Skiagrams Nos. 11 and 12.  It may be noted also that the amount of fragmentation of the bone is even less than we find in Skiagram No. 13, at long range.

(d)  Full jacketed bullet from Luger Pistol 9 M/M.

The SHOCK EFFECTS were not perceptible when soft parts alone were hit and scarcely perceptible when joint ends of bones were traversed.  When the middle of the shaft of the long bones was struck, the shock effect was equal to that of the 0.45 Caliber Colt’s revolver with blunt-pointed bullet, and is consequently rated at 80.

SOFT PART:  The wounds of entrance and exit corresponded in size to the caliber of the bullet when soft parts and joint ends of bones were hit.  The wound of exit at times in the joint injuries was apt to be oblong in the longitudinal or transverse diameter of the limb, showing possibly a key-holing on the part of the bullet.  The shape of the orifice of entrance of the bullet in the head of the barrel also indicated that it had lost its balance.  When resistant bone was struck, the wound of exit was, as a rule, larger than the wound of entrance.  The wound of entrance was never larger than the wound of exit, except in parts of the body where the overlying skin was stretched over subjacent bone; as, for instance, that covering the crest of the tibia.

The injury to the joint ends of bones, as shown by the skiagrams, shows uniform perforations, except when the bone has been struck near the edge, in which case a guttering appears.  The injury to the resistant structures, on the other hand, demonstrates fragmentation of bone with more or less fissuring.  The area of fracture is generally free from the lodgment of particles of the bullet and this feature serves often to identiy the lesion or injury of the jacketed from the unjacketed bullets.

The bullets show denting of their pointed ends, when they perforate joints alone, and a tendency to set up at the conical end as far as the base of the cone when hard bones have been hit.  In some cases resistant bone, like the femur, causes a slight dispersement of some of the lead core and envelope.  See Skiagrams Nos. 15, 16, 17 and 18.

(e)  Full jacketed bullet from Luger Pistol 7.65 M/M.

The SHOCK EFFECTS as noted against hard bone was greater than that of the 0.38 Caliber Service bullet, and it can be rated at 60.  In the joint end of bone there was perceptible motion of the suspended limb; in the soft parts no motion occurred.

SOFT PARTS:  The wounds of entrance and exit presented nothing characteristic except when a hard bone was struck, and then the wound of exit was apt to be larger and irregular, the irregularity taking the shape of the distorted bullet in the majority of cases.

BONE:  The injury to the joint ends of bones partook of the nature of complete perforations and guttering, with little or no tendency to fissuring.  See Skiagrams Nos. 19, 20 and 21.

In injuries of the shafts of the long bones, the Luger bullet causes fracture and lateral displacement of fragments with striking effect.  The area of fracture is not distributed as much in the shaft of the bone as we have noticed with the 0.38 and 0.45 Caliber lead bullets.  The foyer of fracture is more circumscribed, with a little of the substance of the bullet showing in the vicinity.  See Skiagrams Nos. 22, 23 and 24.

The energy and destructive effects of this Luger bullet are strikingly shown when a cavity with semi-fluid contents having rigid walls, like the skull, has been struck.  For an illustration of this point, see photographs A, B and C.  In this case the bullet perforated the skull entirely, making a wound of entrance the size of the projectile and a wound of exit about twice the size of the projectile.  The bullet is dented at the point and flattened somewhat on one side more toward the base.

(f) Full jacketed bullet from Colt’s Automatic Pistol, Caliber 0.38, Military Model 1902.

The SHOCK EFFECTS of this bullet was estimated at 65 when hitting against resistant bone.  It was practically nil when traversing soft parts only and it imparted very little motion to the limb when the joint ends were hit.

SOFT PART:  The wounds of exit and entrance in the soft parts were the same size as the sectional area of the bullet except when bone injury occurred, and then the wound of exit was nearly always larger.

BONE:  The tendency to perforation of the joint ends is noticed in the case of this jacketed bullet.  There is, in accordance with the skiagrams presented, a slight tendency to fissuring. See Skiagrams Nos. 25 and 26.  In the middle of the shaft the area of fracture is not so widely distributed as in the case of the 0.38 Caliber Service bullet, and in this particular the injury more nearly approaches what we find in the case of the Luger 7.65 M/M.  Against very resistant bone, the jacket of this bullet shows a tendency to rupture.  See Skiagrams Nos. 27, 28 and 29.

For the destructive effects of this bullet upon the skull, see Photographs G, H and I.  The wound of entrance in the scalp was the size of the projectile while the wound of exit was lacerated and four times the size of the bullet.  The bullet shows a slight indentation at its conical end.

(g)  Marred bullet from Luger pistol 7.65 M/M.  Jacket of bullet marred by filing the point transfersely, sufficient to expose the lead core.

The SHOCK EFFECTS were the same as noted in the experiments with the full jacketed Luger bullet of this caliber.  In the resistant bones, when the bullet was broken up by the force of impact and became lodged in the tissues, the shock was greater than was seen in the case of the full jacketed bullet.  The latter seldom disintegrates entirely against the more resistant structures in the body, so that part of its energy usually escapes with the bullet or its fragments that pass outside the body.

SOFT PARTS:  The wounds of entrance and exit, when the soft parts and joint ends of bones were hit, were similar to those noted in the case of the full jacket.  These structures -- soft parts and joint ends -- offered no resistance sufficient to break up the bullet, although it was marred, as stated, to invite deformation.

BONE:  The joint ends of bones, in the strictly spongy structure, present perforations alone in the way of injury, similar to those made by the unimpaired jacket and already noted under (d).  The injury to the hard bones was, however, very different.  In the large majority of such hits the marred bullet generally parted with its jacket and caused destruction of tissue not unlike the dum dum or soft nose bullet.  The wounds of entrance were usually round and the same size as the bullet, but the wounds of exit often exhibited tears and lacerations many times larger than the bullet itself.  The amount of breaking up of the bullet and the bone substance are shown in the skiagrams better than it can be described.  It will be seen that the area of fracture is limited and that the bone is pretty well broken up.  See Skiagrams Nos. 30 and 31.  The effect of firing a marred bullet against the head is showin in Skiagram No. 32, and Photographs D, E and F.

(h)  Marred bullet from Colt’s Automatic Pistol, Caliber 0.38, Military Model 1902.  Jacket of bullet marred by filing the point transfersely, enough to expose the lead core.

The SHOCK EFFECTS were similar to those noted under (f), with the full jacket, except that they were greater when the resistant bones were hit by the marred bullet.

SOFT PART:  The wounds of entrance and exit were similar to those of the full jacketed bullet when the soft parts of joint ends of bones were hit.  As in the case of the marred jacket of the Luger bullet 7.65 M/M, these tissues have not resistance enough to cause a separation of the marred jacket from the lead or to cause deformation except the slightest amount of denting of the envelope now and then.  The wound of exit, when a resistant bone was hit, was generally lacerated, showing protruding flesh at times, and as noted in some cases, as much as four inches in length.

BONE:  The joint ends of bones are perforated without fracture, as was demonstrated in the case of the full jacketed bullet.  See Skiagrams Nos. 33, 34 and 35.

The destruction of the hard bones from the use of the marred jacket in this test of experiments is very striking.  The area of fracture is not so circumscribed as in the case of the preceding experiments with the marred Luger 7.65 M/M.  The bullets often break up at the seat of fracture and lodge.  See Skiagrams Nos. 36, 37 and 38.

(i)  Metal patched (soft nose) bullet from Colt’s Automatic Pistol, Caliber 0.38, Military Model 1902.

The SHOCK EFFECTS were very similar to those noted under (f), with the same caliber weapon.  When the bullet happened to strike a very resistant bone, like the femur, the amount of motion was very well marked and it exceeded in those instances the shock effects noted with the full jacketed bullet.  The amount of shock effect for the close range jacketed bullet was placed at 60, and the shock effects for the metal patched might be placed at 70.

SOFT PARTS:  The wound of entrance was, as a rule, the size of the bullet.  The wound of exit, when resistant bone was hit, was much larger and showed a great deal of laceration.  When soft parts and joint ends of bones alone were hit the wounds of entrance and exit were practically the same, namely, the size of the projectile.

BONE:  The injury in the joint ends of bones was marked by a perforation, as a rule, with very little more tendency to displacement of fragments than we have found with the full jacketed bullet.  See Skiagrams Nos. 39 and 40.  The amount and character of injury in the hard part of bone is very striking.  The fragmentation of the bone at the point of fracture is circumscribed, with little tendency to fissuring in the shaft.  The area of fracture is marked by the presence of pieces of the lead and jacket of the bullet.  The bullet seems to undergo more or less complete rupture upon colliding with the shafts of the long bones.  See Skiagrams Nos. 41, 42, 43 and 44.

In recovering the deformed bullets in the barrel, in the large majority of cases the pieces of lead and jacket were separated and as the marks for identification were placed on the envelope at the base, the latter could always be identified with the particular injury that it had inflicted, but it was impossible to find the particular core of lead that went with each particular envelope, so that in describing the deformation of the bullets it will be seen that the description pertains mostly to a description of the envelopes found.  We recovered nine lead cores and some fragments of lead.  The former were set up at the conical end for the most part, the cylindrical part being normal in shape. 

(j)  Bullet with hole in point from Colt’s Revolver, Caliber 0.45, New Service.

The SHOCK EFFECTS were thought to be greater at times than that determined for the Colt’s Revolver Caliber 0.45 bullet, already noted.  This appears to be especially so when the resistant bones were hit and the bullet lodged.  The shock effects for the Colt’s Revolver, Caliber 0.45, with the blunt-pointed pullet, under (b) was rated at 80, and this might be rated at 85.

SOFT PARTS:  The wounds of entrance and exit cannot be well described inasmuch as the notes pertaining thereto are in Washington.

BONE:  With reference to the injuries in the joint ends of bones, the skiagrams show that the action of this bullet does not materially differ from the blunt-pointed bullet.  There is a tendency to perforation with no special disposition to displacement of fragments.  See Skiagrams Nos. 45 and 46.  In the hard bones the projectile ruptures readily and causes fracturing not unlike that noted in the soft nose bullet.  Se Skiagrams Nos. 47 and 48.

The bullets emerging from joint ends of bones, which were recovered, showed no special tendency to deformation.

(k)  Cupped (so-called “Man-stopper”) bullet from Colt’s Revolver, Caliber 0.455, New Service.

SHOCK EFFECTS:  The shock effects in the soft parts were small.  In the joint ends of bone the shock effects were greater than were exhibited by any other bullet with which we have experimented.  In the resistant structures, in shots for close range only, the shock effects should be rated between the 0.45 and 0.476 Caliber Colt’s Revolvers, and it might be placed at 87.

SOFT PARTS:  In the soft parts the wound of entrance was usually the caliber of the bullet.  The edges of the wound were sharp cut.  The wounds of exit cannot be described on account of the notes not being available.

BONE:  The injury to the joint ends of bones from close shots is exhibited in Skiagram No. 49.  It will be seen that the projectile deformed and left part of its substance around the area of fracture, which is not the case with ordinary lead bullets when striking joint ends of bone.  The bullet, as will be noted, made no perforation but broke up the spongy structure in the same way that the shafts of the long bones are broken up by these lead bullets.  For the long ranges, the bullet has not sufficient energy to penetrate the bone.  The energy seems to spend itself in deformation of the bullet, as shown in Skiagram No. 50, in the head of the tibia.  In the shafts of the long bones, at close range, the bullet deforms very completely.  The whole of its substance seems to lodge and the area of fracture is marked by large pieces of bone and long fissures.  See Skiagrams Nos. 51, 52 and 53.

For an exhibit of the dispersion of lead fragments when the projectile strikes the head, see Skiagram No 54.  Photographs showing the amount of injury to the skull will accompany the complete report; they have not yet been received.

S U M M A R Y

The foregoing experiments in cadavers, and the skiagraphic evidence from the same, show that the effectiveness of weapons of the pistol or revolver class increases with caliber rather than with velocity.  This is illustrated specially in the joint ends of bones.  In this spongy structure the uniform penetration by the envelope type of bullets is strikingly exhibited in the skiagrams.  The perforations being seldom larger than the section area of the bullet, the amount of shock effect, destruction of tissue or loss of function that result is small compared with the hits from larger calibers.  Speaking for the joint ends of bones and soft parts, in those cases where the Board endeavored to increase the shock effects and destruction of tissue by the use of metal patch or marred bullets, this expedient failed because these special bullets did not encounter sufficient resistance to cause deformation.  In the hard substance of bone, the effects of the jackedted and unjacketed bullets were sufficiently severe and possessed the requisite amount of shock effects for a military pistol or revolver.  The stopping power and shock effects increased, as already stated, with the sectional areas of the bullets used.

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References

The Colt Model 1905 Automatic Pistol, by John Potocki.  Andrew Mobray, Lincoln, RI:  1998.
“The Holes in Stopping Power Theory,” by Leon Day.  Gun Digest, 1983.
U.S. Military Automatic Pistols, 1894-1920, by Edward Scott Meadows.  Richard Ellis, Moline, IL: 1993.
 

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