Who needs armor-piercing ammunition?

For starters, every innocent victim of the psychopath and/or terrorist in Aurora, Colorado. He wore armor. The same people could have used sound suppressors, both to avoid being blinded by their own muzzle flashes in the dark and to reduce recoil.

FN57 with proper (non-fragmenting) defensive ammunition. SS190 is hard to find but still available.

In the absence of vest-busting ammunition, any pistol with any rounds would have been better than none. Arms, head and legs all have major blood vessels. Arms in particular are often hit when armed suspects are shot — no instant stops that way but a major impediment to further slaughter of innocents.

Those who have been to firing ranges know how much concentration is required to make accurate hits. Return fire, even if technically ineffective, still has a way of breaking the attacker’s concentration. And most trained people would have eventually scored hits. Had more than one lawful gun carrier been present, Mr.Psycho would have ended up in a crossfire — again, not a position conducive to marksmanship against moving people in semi-darkness. But he got to shoot helpless, unarmed marks without any fear of return fire — in part thanks to the theater policy prohibiting lawful carry, in part due to the complacency of the theater-goers.

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28 Responses to Who needs armor-piercing ammunition?

  1. David says:

    Absolutely. This is one situation where everyone started way behind the curve, possibly even thinking the smoke grenades and shots were part of a movie publicity stunt – I can even easily see myself thinking that for a critical few seconds. I agree, a person with a firearm could have at the very least distracted the man. I love you people say, “It would only make it worse!” He was KILLING people – how would trying to stop him be any worse than what he was doing? A remember cops in the wheelgun era used to carry a few armor piercing rounds, just in case – in this case IF you could see clearly enough to observe the vest, and IF could easily reload with a dedicated magazine under very stressful conditions, yes, AP ammo might have spelled the difference. As it is, he had unfettered free reign to kill.

    • David says:

      [quote]I love you people say, “It would only make it worse!”[/quote]
      Forgive me, the autocorrect put the wrong words in for some reason – was supposed to read “I hate people saying…” I apologize for the error.

  2. & surprise, surprise, surprise SGT Carter, it was a gun free zone.

    Another Gun Free Kill Zone claims lives

  3. I have a technical question: what happens when a person is wearing ballistic protection and is struck on a chest plate by a .357 magnum at 10 yards?

    Would he fall back or lose his balance sufficiently for two able-bodied, well-regulated types to tackle him, disarm him and hold him?

    Just asking…

    • Oleg Volk says:

      A person would feel impact similar to rifle recoil but not int he least disabling.

    • Paul Koning says:

      Basic physics. Conservation of momentum: m*v of the bullet = m*v of the recoil. Similarly, when the bullet hits the target, m*v of the bullet = m*v of the target (or more precisely, of the target plus bullet). So yes, if the recoil of firing the gun doesn’t knock you down, neither will the impact of the round. The pain and shock and distraction from the impact is quite another matter.

  4. I have a technical question: if a person is wearing ballistic protection around the chest and is shot in the chest plate by a .357 Magnum at ten yards, would he lose his balance enough to be tackled by two men, disarmed and held for police?

  5. jkutches says:

    I usually carry a Glock 23 with 3 mags of Hornady Critical Duty. They won’t penetrate a ballistic vest or helmet but they’ll knock that guy on his rear. Nearing 500ft/lbs of power, he’ll drop his gun when hit. Keep hitting that vest and he won’t be able to overcome the excruciating repeated impacts. Keep him pinned as you advance and you can get close enough for a head shot. If I’m not the first casualty, being in the middle of the crowd, he’ll be the next.

    • anonymous coward says:

      “I usually carry a Glock 23 with 3 mags of Hornady Critical Duty. They won’t penetrate a ballistic vest or helmet but they’ll knock that guy on his rear.”

      This myth was disproved in the 1980s. Again, watch the video at

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o5f1Fo4r4_I ( 6 minutes long)

      To make his point, the host of the program was shot with an FN-FAL 7.62x51mm rifle at close range while wearing a vest. It did _NOT_ “knock that guy on his rear.”

      I don’t know why gun owners persist in perpetuating myths that not only violate basic high-school physics but are demonstrably false, while insisting that we are intellectually and morally superior to the rest of humanity.

  6. Egil Woxholt says:

    But he got to shoot helpless, unarmed marks without any fear of return fire — in part thanks to the theater policy prohibiting lawful carry, in part due to the complacency of the theater-goers.

    You do understand that you are literally blaming the theatre owner and the patrons for their own slaughter, don’t you?

    • Oleg Volk says:

      Not really. I am listing contributing factors to the high body count. The primary fault is with the murderer.

    • T.Stahl says:

      Well, if you don’t buckle up and also forbade the other occupants of your car to buckle up and someone crashes his car into yours, are you to blame for the damage he does to you and your passengers?

  7. David says:

    Even if he is wearing body armor a 45 would knock him down and maybe out long enough or at least stun him enough to change it all, then maybe some bystanders could have at least jumped him and beat his ass and stopped it. If the 45 shot was lucky enough to send him straight to hell even better.

    • T.Stahl says:

      No, the .45 won’t knock him down. If anything knocks you down, it’s impulse.

      A soccer ball weighs at least 410grams (=6327grs). The average player is able to achieve at least 120kph (=33.3m/s=109ft/s). A goalkeeper hit during a penalty kick thus absorbs an impulse of 13.7mkg/s, which is equivalent to an IPSC factor of 690, three times that of your .45.

      Watch anonymous coward’s video above: Even a 7.62×51 from a FAL won’t knock somebody down.

  8. Jeff says:

    And to further muddy the waters, the notion of armor piercing ammunition is a very fluid discussion. I say this because what the US government defines as armor piercing and what actually pierces armor are many time two completely different things. I was contemplating making a projectile out of monolithic brass (no lead) with laser scoring for use in sub-sonic rifle rounds. Oleg even took pictures of some of the prototypes. I can assure you that there was no way, even on their best day, that these things could go through armor. But they are AP rounds according to ATF and thus the project was abandoned (pity). Now, the standard lead core full metal jacket rounds I use for my MP7 are not defined as AP. Yet they will go through body armor like it was butter.

  9. Bob G says:

    Any return fire might have slowed the monster masquerading as a human and allowed people to escape. Most people have never faced return fire. Being “lit up” with a Surefire light and then being hit — even if armor stopped the bullets — would have to be distracting in the least and probably would have spoiled his aim.

    Let’s not forget that the monster was also wearing a gas mask. Those of us who’ve been through NBC warfare training can tell you that aiming a gun with a gas mask on is difficult to begin with. I suspect that the monster was pointing rather than aiming and achieved so many hits because of the crowded environment.

    I’m certain that many of us who are hurting over the loss of innocent people — especially children — would have been willing to try to stop a similar attack in a place where CCW was legal. Would I have been able to put him down? Maybe not, but perhaps he would have used the exit door behind him when he started taking hits.

    • Oleg Volk says:

      Good point about the gas mask. I also realized that theater seating rises towards the back, so that all present would have had the ability to fire on the per at once without the risk of hitting each other.

  10. David Krueger-Duncan says:

    I recall being told that the .45 was developed after the lesser caliber rounds failed to stop the tribesmen encountered in the Philippines around the turn of the last century. The complaint had been that the tribesmen, hopped up on indigenous drugs, didn’t drop even after being hit. The .45 was supposed to represent enough physics to shove them back. Is it all a myth or were Philippine tribesmen just physically a lot smaller than a well fed American today? Or is the better answer to be found in how the body armor distributes the shock?

    • Oleg Volk says:

      38Colt used unjacketed, light, low velocity rounds. It lacked penetration on even the most rudimentary armor and also produced very small wound channels. 125gr at 775fps wasn’t much to stop a charge, especially with peripheral hits. 45Colt revolver round had 230gr bullet going closer to 1000fps, so it stopped better. 45ACP tried to duplicate that performance in an autoloader. Jacketed ammunition improved penetration vs. 45Colt despite lower velocity.

      None of those rounds — and not even rifle rounds — shove anybody back. People wearing modern armor don’t fall away from the hit direction unless already off balance. Small arms bullets work mainly by destroying tissue and breaking bones, sometimes by severing nerves — but just picking people up doesn’t work. There’s not just enough momentum in a bullet or even a shotgun slug to do that.

      • David Krueger-Duncan says:

        Alas… I routinely “suspend disbelief (and physics)” to enjoy the “sound” of an X-Wing fighter blowing up in space or to buy into warp speed… but now I shall have to extend my suspending to all the cop shows as well. Nevertheless, the truth is always a handy thing to know! Thank you.

    • TheIrishman says:

      The .45 cultists will tell you that the government went to .45 because the .38 had little effect on the drugged up and religiously fervent Moro’s. That is where they stop the story. What no one mentions, is that the big bad .45 had no greater effect. PISTOL ROUNDS SUCK! Pistols are a last ditch effort or a means to fight your way to a long gun. As to a .45 or even a .500 magnum blowing you out of your boots…Not gonna apply any more force to you than to the hands of the shooter. Newtons laws of physics don’t change because Jeff Cooper loves the 1911 any more than the laws of gravity change because the kid on the garage roof thinks he’s superman.

  11. Jake Dorsey says:

    He had a full complement of armor: Throat, groin and leg pieces as well as a vest and helmet.

    Also, I would not have liked my chances of avoiding hitting an innocent in such a situation (dark, smoky). I might have shot at him anyway, but if I ended up shooting someone else accidentally …

  12. dart67eb says:

    7.62 x 25 tokarev

  13. Cargosquid says:

    Yet another reason for lasers on guns.

    Besides aiming in a dark smoky room….shine the damn thing in his eyes and blind the bastard while shooting him in the head.

  14. Bob G says:

    What a shame that it was a “gun free” zone. One (or more) CCW holders could have made it much harder for him, even if they were shooting something like 9mm JHP and not penetrating the armor. Given the way he gave up to the police w/o a fight, he might have fled out the back after finding out that trying to run a gun WHILE BEING SHOT AT can’t be easy, even with body armor.


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