Unblinking Eye



8.  The foregoing evidence from shooting in cadavers, living cattle, living and dead horses, shows that any of the bullets tested has, of course, sufficient shock effect upon striking a vital part of a man or horse, and that the stopping power of these bullets when hitting the body structures and non-vital parts, like the soft parts, the lungs, liver, intestines, etc., increases markedly with the caliber rather than with the velocity, within the limits of energy permissible in a military pistol or revolver.

Explosive effects, such as are well known to attend the use of the high velocity projectiles of the military rifle, like the U.S. Magazine Rifle, at proximal ranges, have not been noted in any of these experiments with revolvers or pistols.  The explosive effect of the military rifle bullet, when a resistant bone has been hit, shows a great deal of bony sand distributed in all directions, some of it even appearing in the wound of entrance, and the pulpification of the soft parts, amounting to entire destruction of the tissues, extends some distance around the channel made by the bullet.  The wound of entrance generally corresponds to the size of the bullet while the wound of exit appears like a bursting forth of the skin.  The channel made by the bullet from the point of impact on the bone to the exit wound in the skin is funnel shaped, the apex of the funnel corresponding to the point of fracture of the bone, while the base of the funnel corresponds to the exit wound in the skin.  In bony cavities filled with semi-fluid contents, like the brain in the skull, this rifle bullet exhibits explosive effects of a striking character.  The top of the skull cap in such cases is torn away entirely, leaving nothing but mutilated brain tissue and torn scalp exposed to view.  Explosive effects by the military rifle have been minutely described, because some inventors, in advocacy of their pistols, have claimed expanding or spreading effects, in the nature of explosive effects, because of the superior energy of their bullets.  The Board found nothing to approach explosive effects with any of the revolvers or pistols used.  The interior velocity and energy of the bullets of these hand weapons compared to the velocity and energy of the rifle bullets, is a convincing argument against such a claim.

The Board has also duly considered the cliam of some inventors pertaining to the efficacy of the small jecketed over the larger lead bullets when hitting blood vessels.  It is said that the former cut the vessels more readily, so that their stopping power is thereby enhanced.  The Board considers it doubtful if the claim that they cut vessels more readily is established.  It is a well known fact, as observed by military surgeons in recent years, that wounds of blood vessels by the reduced caliber military rifle bullets bleed less, and that the hemorrhage in such wounds is apt to stop spontaneously.  The reason adduced is that the channel of the small metal clad bullet leading to and from the cut vessel is so small that a change of the arrangement of the layers of muscles and other soft parts which occurs upon change of position of a limb, for instance, destroys the continuity of the channel communicating with the surface of the body, so that the hemorrhage is arrested by the unyielding barriers.  A spontaneous arrest of hemorrhage as just stated is not apt to take place when the vessel has been hit by a large caliber lead bullet, and past experience shows that when a main vessel has been injured by it, that alarming and fatal hemorrhage occurs through the large channel made by the bullet.

Touching upon the question of shock effects and stopping power, so essential in pistol firing, the Board is of the opinion that soldiers armed with pistols or revolvers should be drilled unremittingly in the accuracy of fire, and that the vital parts of the body, their location and distribution in the organism, should be intelligently explained.  Based upon the distribution of the vital parts, and parts of the body which when hit insure sudden stoppping of an adversary, the Board hopes, in its complete report, to furnish a target of a shape to include the more essential points to be hit in the body.  It is thought that men drilled at such a target could do more effective firing at close range with pistols and revolvers.  The Board has been prompted to refer to this point because of the prime importance of decisive shooting at close quarters, and of the large amount of the target area of the human body which offers no hope of stopping an adversary by shock or other immediate results when hit.


9.  After mature deliberation, the Board finds that a bullet which will have the shock effect and stopping power at short ranges necessary for a military pistol or revolver should have a caliber not less than 0.45.

The 0.476 lead bullet undoubtedly has the greatest stopping power, and the board is particularly impressed with the design, construction and other characteristics of the bullet, (see samples herewith).  The weight of the bullet is 288.1 grains, its muzzle velocity 729 f.s. and its muzzle energy 340 ft. lbs (see Ballistical Table, Page 4) [page 2].  These cartridges are manufactured by Eley Bros. Ltd, London, and are known as the “.476 Government, Mark III, Solid brass, central-fire for revolvers.”

The caliber 0.45 lead bullet, slightly blunted point, manufactured by the Union Metallic Cartridge Co., is next in stopping power.  A slightly blunt point has the advantage of making the bullet “bite” more in striking a hard bone at an angle or in clipping the edge of an artery.  This bullet (see sample herewith) weighs 250 grains, has a muzzle velocity of 720 f.s., and a muzzle energy of 288 ft. lbs., (see Ballistical Table, page 4) [page 2].  All things considered, the Board believes that this bullet, possessing the necessary stopping power, is most suitable for service.

With the regular bullet, caliber 0.45, or above, as may be adopted, the Board recommends that, if found practicable, a “cupped” bullet of soft lead, like the so-called “man-stopper” be issued for service of troops in the brush or wooded country.  This bullet could be issued in connection with the regular bullet in proportion deemed advisable, according to circumstances.  The stopping power of this bullet at close range is remarkable.  The cupped bullet (see sample herewith), caliber 0.455 weighs 218.5 grains and has a muzzle velocity of 801 f.s. and a muzzle energy of 288 ft. lbs., (see Ballistical Table, page 4) [page 2].

None of the full jacketed or metal patched bullets, (all of which were less than caliber 0.45) tried by the Board had the necessary shock effect or stopping power.  Their lack of these necessary qualities was principally observed in their less destructive action in the ends of bones and non-vital parts, which comprises a large part of the target area presented by the human or animal body.  They make more complete penetrations of these parts than do the large lead bullets mentioned above and escape with a considerable part of their energy, which is lost so far as shock effect is concerned.

In case of an automatic pistol of the caliber recommended, or higher, be adopted for service at any time, thereby necessitating a jacket, the point of the jacket should be made thinner and the lead core softer than in the case of any jacketed bullet tried by or known to the members of the Board.  In the metal patched bullet, the nose should be made of the softest lead, permitting ready loading from the magazine into the chamber.  The object of this is, of course, to secure “mushrooming” of bullet, with its attendant great shock effect and stopping power.

There being no further business before it, the Board adjourned March 18, 1904.

(Signed) Louis A. La Garde,
                  Major & Surgeon, U.S.A., President

(Signed) Jno. T. Thompson,
                  Captain, Ordnance Department, U.S.A., Member and Recorder.

Meadows quotes the final version of this report, which concluded:

...All of the bullets used in the experiments lodged in the body, so that every particle of energy was delivered with each bullet.  The animals invariably dropped to the ground when shot from three to five times with the larger caliber Colt’s revolver bullets, and they failed in every instance to drop when as many as ten shots of the smaller jacketed bullets from the Colt’s automatic and Luger pistol had been delivered against the lungs or abdomen.  This failure on the part of the automatic pistols of small caliber set to rest at once the claims of the makers that the superior energy and velocity of their weapons was a controlling factor in stopping power.  The Board was of the opinion that a bullet which will have the shock effect and stopping power at short ranges necessary for a military pistol or revolver should have a caliber not less than .45.

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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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