View Full Version : Is there a handgun that could do this?

12-19-2009, 09:23 AM
-handgun discharged from a distance of 50-ish yards
-entrance wound in victim's bicep (average build)
-no exit wound

Is there a firearm that can do this without making an exit?

I have no experience with close range shooting, so I don't know what would be realistic in this case.

I'm flexible with the set-up: it could be from 80 yards in the thigh, or whatever. The important thing is no exit wound.

Thanks for any help. :)

12-19-2009, 09:34 AM
A .22 fired from a handgun would lose a lot of power at 50 or 80 yards. I'm not a ballistics or medical expert, but I would say it's within the range of possibilities that the .22 bullet wouldn't exit if hit squarely at the bicep; it could be stopped by the bone without shattering the bone. In my younger days I shot a lot of squirrels and rabbits and birds with a .22 and often there was no exit wound. A squirrel isn't so much larger than a bicep.

Edited to add: There are bullets, such as hollow points, that are designed to break up when they hit something. The idea is to cause as much blood lose and trauma as possible. Such bullets would be less likely to exit. The make a .22 hollow point.

If you choose to have the victim shot in the thigh you would have even more options. The average thigh muscle is a fairly dense mass of muscle.

12-19-2009, 01:15 PM
I'm assuming striking an arm or leg is less than accurate shot, making a hit from a low-velocity handgun round more plausible at such ranges, unless the shooter is a practiced expert.

In that case, a .22 Long Rifle slug will do the minimal job you want. Although not as popular as they once were, there's also the .22 Long and .22 Short, even less powerful smallbore cartridges.

A .25 ACP fired from a short-barrelled semi-auto could also make a lucky hit and do the job of penetration without exit.

The next step up would be a .32 ACP then a .380, both relatively low-velocity semi-automatic rounds.

All of the above are credible candidates for flesh wounds where the slug does not go through, even though no bones are hit.

As Alleycat says, the soft lead of the .22s and bullets designed to open may penetrate less deeply, though they may do more damage to tissues.

Edit: The bullets from the cartridges mentioned are not all which could produce the wound you want, but should offer a reasonable sampling.

12-19-2009, 04:44 PM
The thing to remember is that handguns are fantastically inaccurate beyond 20 yards or so. And no, I don't mean the accuratized competition models. That is why cops never try for a head shot - they go for body shots - a larger target.

Another thing you can do is have the round pass through something like a window or even a sheet of newspaper - this would tumble the bullet, making both an inaccurate shot and significantly reducing the chance of an exit wound. It would also enable you to lessen your range. 50 yards is pretty far to hit a man-sized target with a handgun, unless you spend a LOT of time on the range.

12-19-2009, 05:59 PM
If it's a flesh wound, then .22LR, .32 ACP or .25 auto would fit the bill. If the bullet hits a bone, then .380 ACP or 9mm Luger could conceivably do this, as well as a few others.

50 yards is not far to hit something, just a bit far for most people to hit what they are aiming at. In other words, aiming at the chest and hitting the arm would not be so hard. Some people are good shots out to 100 yards with a pistol.

12-19-2009, 06:40 PM
You'd need to be a marksman to hit a bicep at 50 yards. Most pistol ranges are 25 yards. Beyond that, luck becomes a bigger part of the equation.

Even a .38 caliber could be stopped by a bone. A lot depends on the bullet itself. Copper jacketed may go straight through. Soft nosed may mushroom when it hits a bone. Hollow point may splinter on entry.

An instructor told us about an FBI agent getting hit on the underside of his upper arm with a .32 cal. The bullet hit his humerus, traveled up to his shoulder hit that and bounced down into his chest cavity, piercing his pulmonary artery.
The shooting took place in a hospital and he was rushed into surgery. The only reason he didn't die of exsanguination.

12-19-2009, 11:56 PM
Accuracy isn't so much an issue; a guard randomly discharges into a cluster of POWs.

You all have been very helpful. Thank you.

12-19-2009, 11:59 PM
Uh, oh. Hold on. A guard of any sort wouldn't normally carry any of the handguns we've suggested (except possibly for the .38), especially a military guard.

What is the location and time period you're using?

12-20-2009, 12:17 AM
Military Police. About a decade in the future. Chicago.

12-20-2009, 12:33 AM
Would you be willing to introduce a speculative element since the story is set in the future? For example, some sort of advanced plastic bullet that would actually penetrate flesh, but not so deeply.

If not, then you might want to consider something like a 9mm hitting the victim squarely in the thigh. Fired from a fairly long range, I think it's within the range of possibilities for the bullet not to exit (it might even be probably that it wouldn't exit, but again, I'm no expert on this exact question). I have a S&W 9mm . . . but I don't think I want to test its impact on anyone's thigh . . . unless it's one of those pesky Christmas carolers. ;-)

12-20-2009, 12:51 AM
What I'll do is move the crowd back to 80-ish yards and move the entrance to the thigh. She'll pull out a 9mm bullet and see it just missed the victim's femoral artery. This seems plausible, right?

I keep a shotgun for the carolers.

12-20-2009, 01:08 AM
What I'll do is move the crowd back to 80-ish yards and move the entrance to the thigh. She'll pull out a 9mm bullet and see it just missed the victim's femoral artery. This seems plausible, right?


I think so. The 9mm is considered a little old-fashioned, but I think it's still used by US military police (probably with a full metal jacket). Someone else might have a better idea. The main point is the military is going to use a fairly deadly handgun, not something like a .22. Except for the most powerful rounds, a handgun bullet is going to lose a lose of energy at 50 to 80 yards although it will still be traveling at over 1000 fps and would still kill if someone was hit in the right spot. The thigh is such a solid muscle mass that I think the scenario you purpose is acceptable.

01-17-2010, 04:22 AM
The thing to remember is that handguns are fantastically inaccurate beyond 20 yards or so. And no, I don't mean the accuratized competition models. That is why cops never try for a head shot - they go for body shots - a larger target.

I am a retired police chief and I am also a retired soldier. This statement is incorrect.

Many pistol competitions involve shooting at "long" range up to 100 yards. Police are trained to shoot for body mass because almost all cops are NOTORIOUSLY bad shots. The average cop shoots his weapon twice a year for qualification.

Any current service pistol or revolver(a pistol is an automatic, a revolver has a rotating cylinder) firing 9mm 40 S&W or 45 aacp is more than capable of hitting targets at 100 yards if the shooter is well trained and practiced.
I hunt deer with an S&W Model 686 six inch barrel in 357 magnum that i also used to carry on duty.


I am a graduate of several police firearm instructor schools and the US Army Small Arms Instructor School at Fort Bening, GA.

There is a well document recent case where a USAF Air Police Officer interdicted an active shooter at McCord Air Force Base in Washington and shot the AK-47 armed offender at a measured 77 yards with a an M9 (Beretta Model 92 FS) 9mm pistol. This was not a lucky shot. The AP fired four times and hit the offender three times including the final shot which was a head shot.

As far as militart police go, the US Department of Defense just bought another 400,000 M9 pistols from Beretta. The contracrt runs through 2016 and the weapons are expected to have a twenty year service life. A military police officer armed with a handgun through the next two decades would have an M9 9mm pistol. As stated, the 9mm is more than adequate at ranges up to 100 yards by a well trained individual. The current 9mm round is a full metal jacket bullet weighing 124 grains.

Sorry for the correction, but I speak from experience and education.

01-17-2010, 05:01 AM
There are many stories, most of which are true, about 7.62 rounds, especially those from the AK47 (first produced by the Soviet Union in the 1940s), that produce terrible wounds without exiting the victim's body. This Wikipedia article (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AK-47) might be useful.

One interesting story is of an Army Captain who was shot twice in the head in Vietnam. The bullets entered his helmet in each of the vertical captain's bars of his rank insignia, followed a path around his head between the steel helmet and fiberglass liner, and exited the rear of his helmet without causing any damage to him at all. Except, no doubt, for great surprise and vast relief. It was incidents like this that caused the Army to abandon the bright rank insignia used commonly in WWII and Korea, in favor of dull black ones.

L.C. Blackwell
01-17-2010, 07:52 AM
Bud, don't apologize; you are going to be very popular here! :D We like people with experience.

01-21-2010, 05:07 AM

I came late to this discussion, but not empty-handed. You might consider the use of frangible ammunition. Check it out at


Evil Gun Geek