From: firstname.lastname@example.org (John Ross)
Subject: Re: Thoughts on light bullets (nylon, aluminum, H2O)
Date: 28 Nov 1999 11:47:50 -0500
On 25 Nov 1999 07:00:21 -0500, David Steuber
#First, in the book "Unintended Consequences" by John Ross (a must
#read), the character Henry Bowman came up with a .44 Magnum load that
#used nylon bar stock for the projectile. It could allegedly penetrate
#a bullet proof vest. I just don't buy it.
Whether you "buy it" or not, remember the engineer's dictum: "When the
results don't conform to the theory, believe the results and come up
with a new theory."
High velocity causes astonishing penetration in things that one would
intuitively expect to resist same. A .220 Swift at ten feet will not
reach the second side of an empty beer can. The bullet will
disintegrate before it reaches the second side and will blow the can
apart but there will NOT be a hole in the back side of the can
opposite the entrance hole. In spite of this, the same Swift load
will chop a 3/8" diameter hole in 1/2" mild steel plate. Don't take
my word for it--try it yourself.
Similarly, a nylon bullet (especially a pointy one) at 3000 FPS out of
a .38 Special will defeat a vest that laughs at .357 Magnum 158 grain
ammo at 1350 FPS. Don't take my word for it--try it and see. A
commercial manufacturer of this type of ammo had to go to a special
shape projectile (straigh cylinder with huge hollow point) and
download the ammo slightly so that it would NOT go through body armor.
I have a stack of old vests (police trade-ins) I use for tests. I
have also killed a few trainloads of slaughterhouse cattle with
various loads over the years. You might be surprised at some of the
You can learn some interesting things when you actually perform
experiments instead of just guessing about what will or won't happen.
The stuff I put in UC is just the tip of the iceberg.
Here's an extra-credit question for you: Yes or no--will a standard
issue .50 BMG Armor-Piecing Incendiary round detonate on a flying
claybird? (Hint: Try it and see.)