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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have notice here and a few other forums that a few people are touting the idea that hydrashock ammo is the stuff. It isn't anything more than hype by the manufacturers. Here is why:
Part I: "Energy Dumping" Is A Myth

Let me state right here and now that there are two terms you're going to hear that have no meaning. If you haven't heard them yet, you will, if you spend any time at all on a shooting range or hanging around the wiseacres in gun shops. Both refer to popular myths among shooters about how a bullet kills, and are based on thorough misunderstanding of ballisitics and biology.

"Hydrostatic shock" is the idea that a bullet kills by setting up a "shock wave" in the incompressible water of which an animal's body is largely composed. "Energy dumping" is the concept that if a bullet stops within an animal, it will kill more effectively than one that goes through and exits, since it "releases its entire amount of energy within the body."

As intuitively appealing as these notions are, the fact is that a bullet kills the same way any other agent of penetrating trauma does. A bullet may act faster than a knife or an arrow, but like them it kills either: 1) by causing a rapid loss of blood pressure, depriving the central nervous system of oxygen; or 2) by physically interfering with nerve pathways; or 3) both.

The False Reasoning Behind The "Energy Dumping" Fallacy

The bullet does indeed have a good deal of kinetic energy, and the faster it's moving the more it has, of course. In the USA bullet energy levels are rated in "foot-pounds", a relatively obscure unit implying the amount of energy needed to move one pound of weight one foot.

European countries use the much more sensible (in the case of this post) metric system, and in this system the energy unit is the "joule". While both these units refer to energy of movement, the joule has the advantage that it can easily be converted to units used to measure heat. One calorie is equivalent to 4.1 joules, the calorie being a unit of heat. Specifically, one calorie is the amount of heat needed to raise one gram of water one degree Celsius. (The comparable unit in the US system is the BTU (British Thermal Unit), but converting foot-pounds to BTU's is not so straightforward as converting joules to calories.)

A bullet fired from a reasonably powerful handgun, say a hot 9mm Parabellum load, has an energy level of perhaps 500 joules at the muzzle.

So why do I care about converting muzzle energy figures into heat? Because if a bullet is stopped in its target, that's exactly what happens: its residual kinetic energy is, in fact released (or, as the wiseacres have it, "dumped") into the animal's body; but it's released as heat, in accordance with the laws of thermodynamics. (This is the reason why your car's brakes heat up when you stop: that energy can't be destroyed, it can only be converted to another form, and the "defaut" is to convert it to heat.)

The amount of heat liberated by stopping a bullet is surprisingly small: 500 joules works out to be about 106 calories. That would be enough to raise 106 grams (about 0.25 pounds) of water one degree Celsius (about 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit). That's not all that much, especially when compared to the size of animal it has to be "dumped" into.

A man is a pretty large animal (about the size of a deer) and 500 joules (or 106 calories) of energy diffused through the body of a 150-pound (68,100 gram) human would not suffice to raise his body temperature even one-one-hundreth of a degree Fahrenheit. And that is a maximum amount, which assumes the bullet is stopped and that the shot was fired at point-blank range. To have a noticeable effect on tissue temperature you would have to "dump" a great deal more energy than 500 or so joules: the amount of heat liberated even by the biggest and baddest bullet available is very far below the capacity of the body's water to absorb it. It should be obvious, then, that the theory of "energy dumping" is based on an exaggerated idea of how much energy a bullet actually has, and is meaningless as a part of the killing mechanism.

Believers in the "energy dumping" theory never seem to have an adequate explanation for the fact that there are many, many gunshot victims are still walking around with bullets that "dumped" all their energy, and are still inside the victims. Many people with such retained bullets received them at close range from large-caliber guns, and were therefore the unlucky recipients of lots of "dumped" energy, but they are still alive. The answer, however, is really very simple: they are still alive because they were lucky enough not to have received a hit in a vital area.

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Part II: "Hydrostatic Shock" Is An Even Bigger Myth

Proponents of the "hydrostatic shock" (aka Hydrashock) theory usually argue that animals are composed largely of water, and therefore a bullet causes a "shock wave" to be set up in them, which causes displacement of organs, and rupture of tissues. Their belief in this concept is bolstered by the spectacular splashes that expanding bullets make when fired into plastic milk jugs filled with water: they imagine that something of the same thing happens in an animal body. They are wrong!

First, animals aren't jugs of water, and don't resemble jugs of water in the least. Animals don't have uniform internal density, and the response of muscle to a bullet is very different than that of, say, the bones or the lungs. At the microscopic level, animals are actually very compartmentalized, and there is almost no "free" water (or any other liquid) to constitute a homogeneous medium in which a "shock wave" can be propagated for more than few millimeters. About the only places where large quantities of fluids are found sloshing around are in the spleen and liver, both of which contain sizeable volumes of "loose" blood.

Second, it has been demonstrated quite conclusively that most body tissues are very tolerant of momentary deformation and quite resilient. Unless a bullet physically cuts a blood vessel or nerve, little more than localized damage is done by its passage.

It is true that in passing through, a bullet does form a so-called "temporary wound cavity" of considerable size, which lasts for milliseconds. Inside this volume a "shock wave" does form, and it even displaces some organs. But the effect of the temporary wound cavity is small, and most tissues and organs resist this very brief deformation. There is certainly no possibility--as you will frequently be told by ignorant gunshop clerks--that you can "...hit a man in the arm and the shock will travel through the blood to his brain and kill him..." Blood is carried in blood vessels, and those vessels are tough. Anyone who has dissected a freshly-dead animal will testify to the strength of an artery: it takes a good deal of force to rupture one, and physical displacement for a few milliseconds isn't enough. It's perfectly possible to displace an artery by several inches permanently with no loss of function. To do significant damage the artery has actually to be hit by the bullet, preferably by the sharp edges of the expanded outer jacket, which will cut it.

Furthermore, there is no way the "shock wave" could "travel through the blood" because the design of the system is such that a) it permits only one-way flow; and 2) it dampens pressure oscillations of considerable magnitude. Arteries that carry blood to the body are very muscular structures and designed to resist considerable heads of pressure lest they burst. And as they get smaller and smaller, ramifying to all the organs, the resistance to flow increases greatly. Even if you were to set up a significant "shock wave" locally, it wouldn't get very far in the system before the increasing resistance to its passage would dampen it out completely.

The True Believers in the "hydrostatic shock" myth often point to the messy soup found inside the chest of deer hit in the lungs as "proof" they are right. But they are really pointing to a major hole in their argument. There isn't any "free" blood in the chest of any mammal: like blood elsewhere, it's in blood vessels.

The lungs are a sort of enormous capillary bed, with millions of small blood vessels lying between the gas-exchange surfaces. Most of the volume of the chest is air. The vast quantities of blood found in the chest cavity of a lung-shot animal weren't there when the shot was fired. The free blood found in the chest after a shooting got there because the bullet damaged the blood vessels running through the area.

An expanding bullet does a fearful amount of damage to the extremely delicate tissue of the lungs, but this region also includes major blood vessels (the aorta and pulmonary artery, to name two) which are usually damaged as well. These pour enormous quantities of blood into the thoracic cavity when they're ruptured. Contraction of the body musculature and the pumping of the heart (if it too isn't hit) will assure this. The blood in the chest cavity is the result of the damage, not the cause of it, and the "shock wave" isn't propagated through it at all.
 

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I understand your points and they are very logical. It is certainly equivalent the the myth of stopping power. With that said, here is why the HS is a great round and does so well in ballistic testing: It has good expansion when coupled with a solid penetrating caliber.

I am certainly no pro or expert on the matter, but when looking for a great self defense gun, I want something that has an excellent penetration. 9mm, .357mag, .40SW, and .45 ACP all are excellent self defense rounds that produce penetration. Second, I want a bullet that will stop that penetration from going to far and straight through the BG. The HS does just that in an excellent fashion. It expands well and causes trauma in the wound so the BG will stop.

I don't need all the "energy dumping" crap, but just because that theory is behind the HS, it doesn't mean it is a bad SD round. If fact, it expands and does it job wonderfully. You sate this in your last two paragraphs very well.
 

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As far as bullet design I haven't seen a difference in performance between them and I have tried most as have many here. The only difference I have found is with hollow points "vs" FMJ for obvious reason the hollow point is my round of choice. As long as that round goes bang when I need it I'm a happy camper. I'll admit that I do have a favorite the Winchester 180grain 40cal hollow point (law enforcement ammo).
 
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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I understand your points and they are very logical. It is certainly equivalent the the myth of stopping power. With that said, here is why the HS is a great round and does so well in ballistic testing: It has good expansion when coupled with a solid penetrating caliber.

I am certainly no pro or expert on the matter, but when looking for a great self defense gun, I want something that has an excellent penetration. 9mm, .357mag, .40SW, and .45 ACP all are excellent self defense rounds that produce penetration. Second, I want a bullet that will stop that penetration from going to far and straight through the BG. The HS does just that in an excellent fashion. It expands well and causes trauma in the wound so the BG will stop.

I don't need all the "energy dumping" crap, but just because that theory is behind the HS, it doesn't mean it is a bad SD round. If fact, it expands and does it job wonderfully. You sate this in your last two paragraphs very well.
Digger thanks for the compliment. I am not saying that the hydrashock is a bad round. It is a good SD & HD round. The point I was making is that the whole idea of energy dumping and hydrastatic shock doesn't work on the human body nor any other animal. The round itself is a darn good round. It stops the BG normally without over penetrating and exiting the body. I am just saying that you can't send a shockwave through any animals body like that of ballistic gelatin or a jug of water. That is what the idea of the Hydrashock ammo is. That it sends a shockwave through the body to effect the kill.
 

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Ya p7196, I agree totally. I thought I expressed that enough. Sorry if I was unclear. Your info is great for those who don't understand ballistics or newcomers.
 
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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Digger you did. I was just reiterating what we both had already said. Most people never put any thought into it ,they just buy into the hype the makers throw at us. Unfortunately I was among the masses that did that. The worst part is the price companies like Federal charge for the rounds.
 

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Very good points. I look at it like this. I want a bullet that will penetrate to the depth it needs to but not keep on trucking like a FMJ would. Hydrashocks expand to a point to help keep from over penetration. In stopping in the body or what ever your shooting they are putting the energy into that target. Check out this link that gives some info on energy transfer http://www.mcrel.org/whelmers/whelm22.asp . I dont think its the transfer of energy from the bullet to the body that does what needs to be done but the size of the wound, depth, and location.

Do I think hydrashocks transfer energy? Yes. Does any bullet trasfer energy? I think I would have to say yes, FMJ's and other brands of HP's transfer energy when they impact a target.

Do I think there is this super duper deadly shockwave from hydrashoks? No lol. I think they just expand and create a larger wound channel like any other good HP.
 
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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Well said andrew241. As for "dumping" any bullet that contacts any other object of matter transfers energy. That being said (and proven by some scientist) you are right kind sir. I am like you though, there is no deadly shockwave unless you are shooting a jug or bottle of water. If it did work that would be an awesome bullet .
 

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Good Post 7196!! I too could never understand why people buy int these myths when simple understanding of the laws of physics clearly show them too be false!

The whole reason for JHP and HP in general is to reduce over penetration and collateral damage to bystanders! The other stuff marketing hype to make them sound more exciting.
 

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i've tested bunches of brands on water jugs, wood, dirt, bunches of phone books and on and on. I can't tell much difference in the brands of JHPs, so I stick with whatever I find cheap, usually Win. jhp is the cheapest.
 
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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
You know I guess I miss a lot of things in life. I am afraid to get shot because a shockwave may ensue, I don't break dance because if I dance something is gonna break, I don't run anymore because my man boobs beat the hell out of me. I miss the days of being in good physical shape. Two to three yrs on your arse and back so to speak will do that to ya.
 

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And now for your weekly dose of recycled controversy...

Yeah, I was doing some more un-archiving stuff and came across this gem. :)

Peace favor your sword,
Kirk
 

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And now for your weekly dose of recycled controversy...

Yeah, I was doing some more un-archiving stuff and came across this gem. :)

Peace favor your sword,
Kirk
I enjoy seeing what the old guys argued about years ago.
And how similar it is to what we are still arguing about
 
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