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Terminal Ballastics

Started by Alan, November 18, 2022, 04:05:56 AM

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I suspect, more has been written about terminal ballistics, than any other firearm statistic. The problem is, most of the published results are nothing more than speculation and hyperbole! The following is an excerpt from Shooting Sports Illustrated's web site (

When it comes to terminal ballistics and defensive handguns, a lot of what's taken as fact is based on speculation. This is primarily because the shooting of a human with a handgun is the initiation of a chaotic event. In other words, predicting a short-term result is at best a 50/50 proposition. Since a scientific study involving human test subjects—shot in high-adrenalin situations—is inconceivable, we're left with attempting to simulate the physical damage and then speculate on the immediate outcome a defensive-handgun bullet might yield.

Yes, the author (Richard Mann) is speaking about handguns, but the truth is, airgun terminal ballistics parallel those of handguns, as typical velocities for both as subsonic. Another truth is simply the methodology we use to "determine" terminal ballistics. Gel, clay blocks, and other target fodder do not, and cannot, depict what living flesh does when struck with a projectile, whatever propelled it! And people who believe such information as factual, are referred to (by the author) as "Jell-O junkies". I agree!

Our very own Bob Sterne has designed more airgun projectiles, than anyone I've ever heard of. Not to take steam from Bob, I suspect his design parameters are based around good BCs and accuracy, rather than what happens when said projectile smacks its target! And there is good reasons for this. While the shape of a projectile does contribute to terminal ballistic performance (hollow points are a good example), the actual material used to mold the projectile is a huge variable. And I dare to say, most of Bob's designs are assuming the material in question is basically pure lead. After all, no one to my knowledge, has done research on projectile design versus the material they're made of.

So what are we left with? For one thing, our own personal knowledge, which can be flawed too. For example, I use NSA's .25 caliber, 26.8 grain slugs. I have no clue what the lead alloy NSA uses for their slugs. Whatever it is, they do the job effectively... Most of the time! But what would happen if the alloy was harder? Or made of bismuth? Or has a "ballistic tip"? Talk about speculation!

I am of the opinion, the most important attribute, required to effectively dispatch game, is shot placement, rather than some amount of imparted energy upon said game! Seemingly, YouTube posters of hunting videos would have you believe they always hit game in the head. My question is, how many of their poor hits are edited out? Whatever the case, if you can't hit your target, all else is moot!

I have a Hill EC-3000 compressor. If you're a fellow Guild member, and you pass through Roswell, NM, I'll fill your tank as a courtesy (4,250 PSI limit).


NSA use "pure lead", because it is easier to swage.... That also helps the expansion of course.... If the alloy is too hard, it becomes almost impossible to swage....

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