Gun carrying dopers, does "taking a bullet" actually work?

So I was reading about the Batman shooting and one of the survivors said her boyfriend took the bullet for her. But I was under the impression that bullets fired from a rifle that doesn’t really work since it’ll just go through the first person and hit the second. (Kind of what happened to Gov. Connally.) Of course this made me think of more than a few times I’ve heard the story of one soldier getting save because his buddy took the bullet for him. So under what scenarios is “Taking the Bullet” actually going to work? (I mean is it pistols and shot guns only? If the other guy has a rifle or machine gun are you SOL with the “taking the bullet” strategy?)

It of course depends on the bullet, but especially if the bullet hit bone it might fragment too much to continue on to another person.

Didn’t the shooter use handguns as well? I think I heard he was caught with them.

The shooter used a handgun, a shotgun and a small caliber rifle (.223). Depends on the body part and what it hits.

That’s pretty much my understanding. (He had 2 handguns but I haven’t heard if he used only one or both. I also read he had an AR-15 with a drum magazine, supposedly with 100 rounds.) I haven’t heard how much he used any of those weapons though. (And of course the first reports will probably be wrong.)

Even if it goes through someone, it will probably lose a lot of energy. But taking a bullet for someone is more of an instinct than a science. This guy turns toward your loved one, your instinct is to try to protect them, and the only thing you have is your body. I’ve stepped in front of my daughter to protect her before, from things much less dangerous than a gun toting maniac, of course. I think my feeling was “I certainly don’t want a piece of this thing that’s happening, but I’m more suited to deal with it than she is.”

The ‘small caliber rifle (.223)’ you mention is not a dinky .22 used for plinking cans, that’s an AR-15 (i.e. M16) and although the bullet’s diameter is only .223 the bullet & casing are very large (a 22LR is number 3, the .223 is number 8).

Or to put it another way, the muzzle energy (roughly, how heavy the bullet is, multiplied by the square of how fast it’s moving) is between 100 and 200 foot-pounds for the .22LR, and 1100-1300 foot-pounds for the .223 Remington.

If I draped my body over someone and I got shot in the leg and they weren’t beneath my leg, I think I could still say I “took a bullet” for someone.

Judging by the experiments on the Mythbusters, a handgun round is more likely to go through a person. Rifle rounds have so much energy that the non-compressible nature of water causes the bullet to disintegrate, imparting all of its energy into the target instead of wasting some of it on something behind the target.

Bullet design has a lot to do with having the bullet pass through a person or not, as does the part of the body hit. A non hollow point rifle round to the gut that hits no bone may very well go straight through while a hollow point to the pelvis probably would not exit the body.

Barnes as well as some others now make solid brass projectiles made to go deep into large game. I’d imagine passing through a person would not slow bit down too much.

The suspect was using an AR-15 (so I read) which shoots the .223 projectile. This round is designed to tumble end-over-end inside a target, bouncing around, expending its energy and causing a larger wound channel. Even the fully-jacketed round would most likely not go “through and through.” If they were hollow-point rounds, they most likely break apart completely inside the first target. Larger rounds such as the .30 of an AK-47 can indeed blow straight through a target, especially if they don’t hit bone on the way through.

I think I’m pretty familiar with .223 rounds and M/16/M4 variants. Thanks.

I’d actually be a bit concerned if “gun carrying dopers” have a special insight into whether taking a bullet actually works…

That was my first thought too. “Honey? Could you come in here and stand in front of Bobby? I need to find something out for the Internet…”

Of course, one would also assume that responsible gun owners will know something about the properties of the bits of metal they may or may not have to fire at someone at some point. As indeed seems to be the case.

Of course, in an environment like the theater it’s possible a bullet may have hit something else first and lost some energy there, isn’t it? Gone through a seat, or through another person, or ricocheted off the floor?

Here’s a discussion from years ago on Yahoo! Answers so it lacks any emotional prejudice regarding recent events. IMO when push comes to shove using yourself as a human shield to protect loved ones from pistol or even long-arms fire is always going to be a good idea (not just morally, but practically)…

No, and no. I like Mythbusters, but if they’d done more research than ‘none at all’ they’d have known some answers before they pulled the trigger. Few bullets fragment after entering tissue/water. The .223/5.56NATO bullet, like any bullet with a center of pressure acting in front of the center of gravity, will rotate 180 degrees after entering a dense medium (such as tissue or water) and will finish traveling base-first. The .223/5.56NATO does it, the 7.62x39 fired by the AK-47 does it, a 6.5mm Carcano does it, a .22 LR does it, etc. And the bullet doesn’t tumble ‘end-over-end,’ it just rotates 180 degrees. How far it travels varies by the bullet. The .223/5.56NATO yaws on an average of 7", IIRC (penetrates ~10-12"), and the 7.62NATO won’t yaw until about 12" (penetrates ~24").

At velocities above about 2500 fps, however, as the .223/5.56NATO yaws around 90 degrees, it will break apart at the cannelure into various fragments (higher velocity, the more fragments result. At around 2500 fps it just breaks in two). This is why this bullet is nice at shorter ranges, but less desirable beyond 200 yards.

However, most full metal jacket bullets do not fragment. The 5.45x39 fired by the AK-74 has a muzzle velocity comparable to the .223/5.56NATO, but it doesn’t fragment as it has a thicker copper jacket. Likewise, neither the 7.62NATO nor the 7.62x39 fragment, nor does the .30-06, .303 British, 6.5mm Carcano, etc. (I do admit surprise the .50BMG did). Hollow point bullets may fragment, but since these tend to be for game animals, it’s not desirable as the lighter weight means less penetration and you’re trying to drive the bullet deeper to hit something vital.