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

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I thought this video might be relevant to the discussion.

It shows .22 ammo penetrating 5 inches of meat wrapped in denim at 300 yards.

Hi Martin

Maybe you should look a little closer at these things before posting them. Your video shows .22 LONG rifle ammo, not .22 SHORT ammo.

Pat Speer distinctly said a SUBSONIC .22 bullet, and the only .22 ammo that is slower than the speed of sound, at 1035 fps, is .22 short ammo.

.22 short ammo. 830 fps muzzle velocity. Muzzle energy = 60 Joules

.22 long rifle ammo. Note the velocity advertised, 1650 fps, well above the speed of sound. Muzzle energy = roughly 300 Joules

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There's also this chart which I found on gunsmoke.com. This demonstrates that a subsonic .22 LR bullet starts out below the line of sight and then briefly rises above the line of sight, whereby it passes back across the line of sight around 50 yards. In other words, it demonstrates that there is no bullet drop at 50 yards, and only 7 inches of drop at 100 yards.

Wrong. Bullets drop from the moment they leave the barrel. The parabolic trajectory described by the path of a rifle bullet is the shooter's way of overcoming that bullet drop. To hit a target at 100 yards, the barrel must be pointed higher than the target, in order to "lob" the bullet at the target.

A centre fielder does not make a direct throw to home plate, he must throw the ball in a high trajectory in order to have it come down at the catcher. If the centre fielder was Superman, and he could throw the ball ten times faster, the trajectory of the ball would appear to be almost flat.

If you're shooting targets at 100 yards, and your rifle is sighted in at 50 yards (as you show) and you have 7 inches of drop at 100 yards, I wish you luck.

P.S.

Does it not make you curious why they show a .22 bullet at a maximum range of 50 yards?

P.P.S.

The sight height (distance above the barrel the sights are situated) of 1.5" is quite unrealistic, especially if the .22 is equipped with open sights. A sight height of .5" is more realistic. At this sight height, the bullet will be 8.47 inches below the line of sight at 100 yards. Real flat shooting rifle, Pat.

Edited by Robert Prudhomme
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Pat,

I highly recommend that you go to a shooting range and consult with a professional on this issue. I suggest resisting the urge to tell him your inquiry is about the Kennedy case. Keep it generic so that you get unbiased answers. If it is an outdoor range with plenty of room, you may even be able to rent a .22 and ask the professional to attempt the shot--or, if you're comfortable with shooting, attempt to do it yourself. Unlike Dealey Plaza, more than likely you will be on a flat surface from shooter to target and the target will not be moving. So it will be easier--much easier. Yet, even then, I am certain you will find the level of difficulty exceeds what the "paper model" looks like.

As far as the mind-set of Kennedy's killers, we aren't dealing with people who settle for the mere possibility of success. We are talking about certainty. A professional's weapon of choice here would be critical. I believe that those on the "mechanic" level who actually executed this murder (pulled the triggers) knew how to get the job done and left nothing to chance in terms of the absolute certainty of its being successful. Would their first choice, assuming they had options, include a weapon that fired a .22 subsonic round? -- No! -- Not because a hit is impossible, but because a hit is much less likely than it would be with a superior weapon. The chart you referenced [above] is based on a 0 degree incline (or decline) from shooter to target. Those were not the conditions in Dealey Plaza. Precise calculations are required to insure a hit and those "equations" are dependent on which floor of which building the shooter was placed, as well as the precise location of the target on Elm St (which was on a decline) at the time of that shot, how fast the target is moving, the direction of travel relative to the shooter's position--including lateral motion--and, of course, the wind. These "factors" can dramatically impact the accuracy of a subsonic round by comparison to a high powered round in that a lot more can go wrong.

We can go round and round on this topic "in theory" but nothing will demonstrate it better than empirical data, at least some of which you can obtain for yourself.

Well said, Greg. I might also add that, while it may be possible to hit a target at 100 yards with a subsonic .22 bullet, it may not be possible to kill that target, or even cause more than a minor wound.

I cannot state strongly enough the importance of muzzle energy. The .22 short, as I stated, has a muzzle energy of 60 Joules, while the 22-250 bullet, at a velocity of 4400 fps (Mach 4.25), has 2149 Joules of energy; 35 times the energy of a .22 short.

It may seem like overkill for hunting deer (or people) but, if you think about it, it is actually more humane to hunt with a rifle with a large amount of hitting power. I have lost track of how many wounded deer I have had to track, and I haven't always found them, either. It is better to shoot an animal with something you know they won't get up from.

Every year, where I live, a hunter will be skinning out a deer, and discover a .22 bullet lodged somewhere in that poor deer's body; shot by someone who believed a .22 was "more than adequate" for deer hunting. I won't repeat the names we have for these people.

Edited by Robert Prudhomme
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To get back to the topic of the thread, it does not matter if JFK was shot in the back with a 6.5mm Carcano, a .22, a 30-06 or a .460 "Nitro Express" Magnum, the truth of the matter is, the bullet was only travelling slowly enough to penetrate the back less than an inch. A bullet from any of these weapons, at this low velocity, would have severe performance problems and would likely begin tumbling long before it reached JFK. With such a severe reduction in velocity, the bullet drop, caused by gravity and experienced by all projectiles from the moment they leave the barrel, would have this bullet impacting well back from JFK.

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The possibility JFK was struck by weapons developed at Ft. Detrick cannot be dismissed.

http://www.aarclibrary.org/publib/church/reports/vol1/pdf/ChurchV1_6_Senseney.pdf

http://www.aarclibrary.org/publib/church/reports/vol1/pdf/ChurchV1_1_Colby.pdf

“There is a principle which is a bar against all information, which is proof against all arguments and which cannot fail to keep a man in everlasting ignorance - that principle is contempt prior to investigation” -- Herbert Spencer
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I thought this video might be relevant to the discussion.

It shows .22 ammo penetrating 5 inches of meat wrapped in denim at 300 yards.

Hi Martin

Maybe you should look a little closer at these things before posting them. Your video shows .22 LONG rifle ammo, not .22 SHORT ammo.

Pat Speer distinctly said a SUBSONIC .22 bullet, and the only .22 ammo that is slower than the speed of sound, at 1035 fps, is .22 short ammo.

Fair enough.

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Hey Bob,

How are we so sure that the wound only penetrated an inch?

I think there's a distinct possibility that it went deeper - during the autopsy, after the removal of the lungs, there was some discussion of bruising to the upper right lung cavity. Isn't it likely that this was caused by the projectile that entered the back (subsequently removed in the surreptitious pre-autopsy surgery)? Bruising could not have occurred because of post-mortem probing.

Chris

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Hey Bob,

How are we so sure that the wound only penetrated an inch?

I think there's a distinct possibility that it went deeper - during the autopsy, after the removal of the lungs, there was some discussion of bruising to the upper right lung cavity. Isn't it likely that this was caused by the projectile that entered the back (subsequently removed in the surreptitious pre-autopsy surgery)? Bruising could not have occurred because of post-mortem probing.

Chris

Absolutely, Chris. And as there is no photo of the right lung, and as most of the staff were not present when the lungs were removed (including x-ray tech Jerrol Custer) there is a good chance there was more than just a little "bruising" to the top of the right lung. Any discussion of bruising was likely haemorrhaging in the right lung that was quickly downplayed.

I maintain, due to Parkland's Dr. Marion Jenkins remarks about "obvious signs of pneumothorax", when he observed JFK, that the bullet entered the top of JFK's right lung and broke apart there, effectively halting it and preventing it from exiting the front of JFK's chest, and that it caused a pneumothorax and a haemothorax in that part of the right lung.

As I stated earlier, the most likely candidate for this would be a hollow point frangible bullet; made from compressed or glued metal powder and designed to disintegrate back to powder when travelling through soft, semi-liquid tissue (ie. lung, brain or other organs). The same bullet(s) were likely used for the head shot. It is interesting to note that the fellow who discovered the Harper fragment described, in an interview, how he observed the inside of the Harper fragment to be covered in a metal "powder". In all my experience hunting, I have never seen a bullet, even a hollow point, turn to powder. Lead is malleable, not brittle.

Edited by Robert Prudhomme
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But would this "undercharged" bullet only penetrate less than the length of Humes little finger?

A bullet fired from the sniper's nest at 400-450 fps would lose 100-150 fps before striking the target,

and barely break the skin. Humes testified that he couldn't even find an opening beyond the fascia just

beneath the skin.

Pat,

The point I am making is that you must fulfill two simultaneous constraints for

the same shot. Presuming that the gun has been sighted in at that range or

compensated for a different range, and the shooter has aligned his sights to the

back of the head, and the bullet departs the gun at normal velocity the bullet

will hit the back of the head as planned.

The shallower the penetration of the bullet the less energy/velocity it had at

impact. This impact velocity is vital to any calculations. What is your source

for stating that at 300 fps (more than 200 mph) a .22 bullet would barely

break the skin?

To prove your theory is possible:

1. The velocity required for this .22 bullet to penetrate the skin to the required

depth must be calculated.

2. With the sights on the back of the head, the path of this bullet at this

reduced velocity must impact the back at a point "x" inches below the aim point.

1. type of bullet (.22 short?)

2. normal muzzle velocity of this bullet

3. range to target

4. distance from intended body impact point to actual impact point

5. velocity of bullet at impact that would barely penetrate the skin

6. muzzle velocity of this 'short' short

With your charts and graphs it should be easy enough to calculate the impact point

for both trajectories (remember that the rifle is aimed at the higher target in

BOTH trajectories). If the difference between impact points equals the distance

between the targeted and actual impact points then you theory has been proven.

Tom

Edited by Tom Neal
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I thought this video might be relevant to the discussion.

It shows .22 ammo penetrating 5 inches of meat wrapped in denim at 300 yards.

Hi Martin

Maybe you should look a little closer at these things before posting them. Your video shows .22 LONG rifle ammo, not .22 SHORT ammo.

Pat Speer distinctly said a SUBSONIC .22 bullet, and the only .22 ammo that is slower than the speed of sound, at 1035 fps, is .22 short ammo.

.22 short ammo. 830 fps muzzle velocity. Muzzle energy = 60 Joules

.22 long rifle ammo. Note the velocity advertised, 1650 fps, well above the speed of sound. Muzzle energy = roughly 300 Joules

Not exactly. The CIA Manual on Assassination and other books on sniping specify that long-rifle ammo hand-loaded to be just below the speed of sound is the preferred technique for assassins. And besides, the video posted by Martin showed the specs for the round being fired (If I recall it was around 1400 fps muzzle). And it was hitting a target at 300 yards, by which time the round would have been either subsonic or very close to it. So it wasn't apples to oranges. As the velocity of the impact in the video was about 20% faster than a subsonic round at 100 yards, it was more like apples to pears.

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There's also this chart which I found on gunsmoke.com. This demonstrates that a subsonic .22 LR bullet starts out below the line of sight and then briefly rises above the line of sight, whereby it passes back across the line of sight around 50 yards. In other words, it demonstrates that there is no bullet drop at 50 yards, and only 7 inches of drop at 100 yards.

Wrong. Bullets drop from the moment they leave the barrel. The parabolic trajectory described by the path of a rifle bullet is the shooter's way of overcoming that bullet drop. To hit a target at 100 yards, the barrel must be pointed higher than the target, in order to "lob" the bullet at the target.

A centre fielder does not make a direct throw to home plate, he must throw the ball in a high trajectory in order to have it come down at the catcher. If the centre fielder was Superman, and he could throw the ball ten times faster, the trajectory of the ball would appear to be almost flat.

If you're shooting targets at 100 yards, and your rifle is sighted in at 50 yards (as you show) and you have 7 inches of drop at 100 yards, I wish you luck.

P.S.

Does it not make you curious why they show a .22 bullet at a maximum range of 50 yards?

P.P.S.

The sight height (distance above the barrel the sights are situated) of 1.5" is quite unrealistic, especially if the .22 is equipped with open sights. A sight height of .5" is more realistic. At this sight height, the bullet will be 8.47 inches below the line of sight at 100 yards. Real flat shooting rifle, Pat.

I think we're arguing semantics, Robert. Of course, the bullet starts out low, goes a bit high, and then drops down below once past the distance for which it was sighted in. Here's Frazier on it:

Mr. FRAZIER - Yes, sir; if you, for instance, take this rifle with a telescopic sight and sight it in for 300 feet--that is, the bullet will strike where you are looking when you are shooting at 300 feet--at 200 feet the bullet will be above the line of sight approximately one-quarter of an inch, and at 100 feet it will be approximately one-quarter of an inch below the line of sight. That is accomplished because the bullet is still coming up at 100 feet, it crosses the line of sight, and does not descend again to it until you come to the sighting-in distance of 300 feet.

If you sighted-in to strike at 450 feet, the bullet at 100 feet would be just at the line of sight--that is, on its way up would just cross the line of sight at about 100 feet. It would be one inch high at 200 feet, and approximately one and one-eighth inches high at 300 feet.

It would, of course, drop back down to the point of aim at 450 feet. If you sighted-in at 600 feet, then at 100 feet it would be approximately one-half inch high. At 200 feet it would be 2 inches high, and at 300 feet it would be approximately 3 inches high.

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As I stated earlier, the most likely candidate for this would be a hollow point frangible bullet; made from compressed or glued metal powder and designed to disintegrate back to powder when travelling through soft, semi-liquid tissue (ie. lung, brain or other organs). The same bullet(s) were likely used for the head shot. It is interesting to note that the fellow who discovered the Harper fragment described, in an interview, how he observed the inside of the Harper fragment to be covered in a metal "powder". In all my experience hunting, I have never seen a bullet, even a hollow point, turn to powder. Lead is malleable, not brittle.

Thanks for that Bob, I went back and read you're earlier post. Is a load like the one you're suggesting something that was an option back in 1963? Also one of my concerns is, from a snipers perspective, if I was using something really exotic on a target that I thought might get a ton of scrutiny, might that be a security issue (for the nature of the action and the sniper)?

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How tedious.

Pat,

Would you agree that there is a great deal of difference between reading about physical skills and performing them?

For instance, you can purchase a book on "How to Play the Saxophone" from a neighborhood music store. You can also buy a book that teaches you how to read music. You can also buy the sheet music for popular songs.

So if you bought all of those books and gained a very good understanding of them you may even be able to pass a written test about the subject matter. If you were fairly bright and a good "test taker" you may even get an "A" on this hypothetical written exam without ever even having held a saxophone in your hands!

Let's go one more step: Now you buy a book that explains everything there is to "know" about playing the saxophone part for the song "Born to Run" by Bruce Springsteen. And, once again, you study it very hard and are given a written exam that you easily ace.

The next night you are at a party being held at a popular club. The band has been playing great cover tunes all evening. They are very popular. Someone in the crowd shouts out "Born to Run--play Born to Run!!!" -- as it is one of this band's best performances. Sadly, the lead singer comes to the microphone and announces that their sax player was in an accident and couldn't be there that night (although his instrument was packed with rest of the band's equipment). He adds that if anyone in the audience "knows the sax part for Born to Run" they are invited to play.

Question:

Do you really believe that you could play Born to Run on the sax if you have never played the sax before? Would it be fair to say that there is a completely different set of skills required to intellectually comprehend a subject versus acquiring hands-on knowledge? Would you enter into a debate with experienced, if not accomplished, saxophone players about the difficulty of playing "XYZ Song" if you had only read about saxophones, but never played one yourself?

So you can make any number of arguments in your "theoretical firearms/ballistics world" without ever having any practical experience. They may look good on paper (at least those that don't have glaring errors in them) but until you apply them to REAL WORLD scenarios they are rather irrelevant unless proven otherwise.

Many on this forum have a lot of firearm's experience.

Edited by Greg Burnham
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I thought this video might be relevant to the discussion.

It shows .22 ammo penetrating 5 inches of meat wrapped in denim at 300 yards.

Hi Martin

Maybe you should look a little closer at these things before posting them. Your video shows .22 LONG rifle ammo, not .22 SHORT ammo.

Pat Speer distinctly said a SUBSONIC .22 bullet, and the only .22 ammo that is slower than the speed of sound, at 1035 fps, is .22 short ammo.

.22 short ammo. 830 fps muzzle velocity. Muzzle energy = 60 Joules

.22 long rifle ammo. Note the velocity advertised, 1650 fps, well above the speed of sound. Muzzle energy = roughly 300 Joules

Not exactly. The CIA Manual on Assassination and other books on sniping specify that long-rifle ammo hand-loaded to be just below the speed of sound is the preferred technique for assassins. And besides, the video posted by Martin showed the specs for the round being fired (If I recall it was around 1400 fps muzzle). And it was hitting a target at 300 yards, by which time the round would have been either subsonic or very close to it. So it wasn't apples to oranges. As the velocity of the impact in the video was about 20% faster than a subsonic round at 100 yards, it was more like apples to pears.

Pat

Why do you think we go to all the expense of buying deer rifles such as .308's or 30-06's when, according to your thinking, all we need is an inexpensive .22 calibre rifle and .22 subsonic cartridges?

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In fairness to Pat, there is a .22 cartridge that is subsonic, and is not a .22 short cartridge. It is referred to as a .22 subsonic cartridge, and is a rather odd looking cartridge meant to be fired from a .22 rifle chambered for the .22 long rifle cartridge.

At left, standard .22 long rifle cartridge. At right, .22 subsonic cartridge.

By using a longer and heavier bullet, and less gunpowder in a .22 short casing, this cartridge brings the .22 subsonic muzzle velocity to just below the speed of sound. There are several reasons for doing this. By combining this longer and heavier bullet with a .22 short brass casing, the overall length of the subsonic cartridge can be fired from a rifle chambered for the .22 LR cartridge.

The first reason is that many feel the performance, and thus the accuracy, of a bullet is affected as it passes through the sound barrier as its velocity decreases, although there are snipers shooting at targets at ultra long ranges with high powered rifles that might argue this point. As many .22 LR bullets leave the muzzle at not much more than the speed of sound, this is a very real possibility although, in my experience, shooters seldom employ a .22 at ranges greater than 50 yards, and a .22 LR bullet simply does not lose that much velocity in that short distance.

Another reason is not to disturb animals when shooting for pest control, such as rats and gophers. While the muzzle blast of a .22 might not alarm these animals as it is removed from them, the "crack" of a bullet breaking the sound barrier within a foot or two of them may be enough to send them all for cover.

It must be remembered that these are not much more than a primer and a bullet, and although the heavier bullet (40-60 grains) does add to the muzzle energy, this is not something I would consider for shooting deer, unless I was standing right beside the deer and could stick the barrel in his ear.

P.S.

I might add that the .22 subsonic cartridge is likely the least known and marketed of .22 cartridges.

Edited by Robert Prudhomme

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