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The "Shallow" Back Wound and the "Short" Shot

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Considering all types of frangible bullets, would soft tissue fragment the bullet

to the degree necessary to prevent the bullet from exiting the body? Or would that

require contact with a bone, such as a rib or vertabra?

FINALLY, someone asks a REALLY intelligent question! God bless you, Tom.

A frangible bullet performs in almost exactly the same fashion as a hollow point bullet (lethal frangible bullets actually are a type of hollow

point bullet) and do not need to contact bone to make them open up. In fact, both types of bullet perform better if they contact only flesh and


A hollow point bullet is made of lead, and has a small deep opening in the nose of the bullet. In the standard hollow point, the nose of the bullet

opens up from this force and looks something like this, if it does not break up entirely into fragments. OTOH, the hydraulic pressure in the nose

of the frangible bullet exerts enough force to disintegrate the compressed metal powder core back into a 4 inch cloud of metal powder, disintegrating

it totally. Upon disintegration into powder, the bullet comes to an abrupt halt and transfers ALL of the energy of the bullet to surrounding

tissue. The result is devastating and totally lethal.


I should point out that standard hollow point rifle bullets also lose a tremendous amount of velocity as they open up and, quite often, they will

not exit a wound, either.


Thanks for the excellent data on frangible bullets. And OF COURSE for the complement!

What you have said re a frangible bullet and considering the true location of the back wound, I'm convinced that an undercharged shot did NOT cause

the "shallow back wound." A frangible bullet seems the only plausible alternative. IIRC, there are X-rays available of JFK's lungs depicting no damage.

OTOH we the X-ray tech (Jerrol Custer?) who insists he did NOT take x-rays of the lungs, only the empty chest cavity. This leaves us with an

unexplained pneumo/hemothorax as reported by Dr. Jenkins, and the obvious evidence that the WC was able to change his opinion,with presumably

false information. Given all of the above, I believe Custer's version, and I absolutely believe the Bethesda stuff has been parsed and the

remaining items tampered with as necessary.

Robert, and anyone else who has studied the 'throat wound':

Q1. What are the chances that the throat wound caused the reported damage to the top of

JFK's right lung? If so, the penetration of the membrane surrounding the lung would have caused a pneumothorax...?

Q2. Is this damage to the upper part of the right lung apparent in the extant chest x-ray? (which I am currently seeking)


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Hi Tom

Sorry I took so long to reply.

1. Going solely on what Custer told the ARRB, there were reported to be, by Custer, many small fragments in the vicinity of C3/C4 vertebrae. This is in itself odd in the extreme, as I would expect even a soft nosed bullet, at that close range, to plough straight through the neck bones with not an outstanding amount of damage to the bullet. In other words, just the fact the bullet was stopped by the vertebrae is quite miraculous. If it then also broke up into tiny fragments after hitting only the vertebrae and stopping, it goes from being just miraculous to almost unbelievable.

That being said, take a look at these photos.




The first five bullets on the left can be ignored. They are tracer and armour piercing rounds for the 8x56r Steyr. The five cartridges on the right are for the 6.5x52 Carcano. The first three, from the left, are multi-ball "guard" rounds; low velocity cartridges that shoot a stack of balls like a shotgun. The fourth from the left is an armour piercing round and, on the extreme right, is the M37 "Magistri" frangible range bullet.

Looking at the closeup cutaway view of the frangible round, it is possible to see the construction of the bullet. Inside the two piece bullet jacket can be seen a small volume of sand in the base with a larger volume of powdered lead above that. In the nose can be seen a tiny pellet made from lead or maillechort.

The photo below shows another view of this bullet, and how the very tip of the nose jacket appears to have been left open.


I believe this tip was left open to allow the disintegration process to begin, once this bullet hit steel or concrete. While this is not a hollow point, it would take very little effort with a drill to turn it into one. This would make it identical to a modern lethal frangible bullet except, of course, that the modern frangible has a compressed metal powder core, while this bullet's core is powdered lead and sand. Still, though, if this bullet was able to penetrate the 1/4 inch thick human skull, I imagine the sudden disintegration in the brain would still cause a lot of damage.

Getting back to the throat wound, it is just possible this modified frangible bullet entered the throat and disintegrated when it hit the vertebrae, leaving the many small fragments (powdered lead and sand?) Custer saw at C3/C4. The small lead (maillechort) pellet in the nose could have remained intact, and ricocheted down into the right lung, puncturing the lung, collapsing it and causing a pneumothorax there.

2. I don't believe the damage is visible in the extant chest x-rays, purported to be those of JFK's.


The cutaway views show there is substantially less gunpowder in the frangible cartridge than there is in the armour piercing cartridge beside it. As the frangible bullet was comprised partly of sand, it weighed much less than a standard FMJ bullet. The gunpowder was reduced in the frangible cartridge to slow this bullet down to the same velocity as a FMJ bullet.

Edited by Robert Prudhomme
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