View Full Version : Fun with Character Near-Deaths: Gunshot wounds

Rhoda Nightingale
01-20-2010, 08:52 PM
Firstly, a huge collective thank you to everyone who responded to my previous thread (http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=168004) about drugs and poisoning--I think I know what to do with that one now.

Secondly, I have another character that I was intending to kill off originally, but he turned out so awesome I decided to save him for the next book. (I'm planning a series here.) I'm having him shot, so what I'd like to know is how many times he can get shot, where, and with what kind of bullets in order to still walk away, without any previous knowledge of how to treat gunshot wounds? Apart from wrapping random bits of cloth around himself to stop the bleeding?

Thanks in advance!

01-21-2010, 03:02 AM
Evil Gun Geek here,

Who is going to shoot him, and what will they use?

Let's establish the weapon. High-power rifle bullets travel so fast--around three thousand feet per second--with so much energy, that a hit about anywhere in the torso will put a character down for good. So if you use a rifle to shoot him, it had better be in the leg, but don't hit any bones, unless you want him to be one-legged in the next book.

A solid .308 round, through and through the meaty part of the thigh or buttocks is about the best place for a rifle bullet, miraculously missing the femoral artery and the femur. The solid won't expand if it doesn't hit any bone, so it will just drill a clean hole. He'll limp, but can walk away. He'll need to plug the holes. Tampons work real well. They're sterile, and easily carried.

With pistols and revolvers, you have more choices. The bullets are slower, around one thousand to fifteen hundred feet per second, so they don't make as big a mess when they hit, so are more survivable. A hit in the upper shoulder, or the side below the rib cage won't put him down. You can even shoot him in the chest and hit a lung. As long as the heart isn't damaged, he'll walk away, headed for the nearest emergency room, stuffing tampons in the holes and covering them with duct tape as he goes.

01-21-2010, 03:53 AM
Good advice from Stan, the evil gun geek. You are the writer, so you control trajectory through the selected body part. Also, full metal jacket bullets will offer your character the best chance to "walk away."

However, even with a FMJ .308, its velocity through tissue at close range will cause an expanded wound channel with more debilitating results.

Handguns are the true hole-drillers. Since you can choose, maybe a 9mm Luger with FMJ hitting no bones or vital organs might be your best bet for modern weapons. The 9mm Luger cartridge goes back to the the late 1890s.

I was able to "walk away" with four .30 Carbine (handgun size and velocity) holes in my right leg, only a compression pad above the knee and a cravat below. A high-laced boot helped. However, when initial shock wore off a half-hour later, "walk" went to "hobble" with a great deal of whining. From there, I was lucky enough to get transport, but whining and sniveling continued.

01-21-2010, 04:32 AM

You are correct about the hydrostatic effect of ball ammo. I should have mentioned that the range would need to be out around three, four hundred meters. Which Rhoda could use to justify the miss.

There's gotta be a h*ll of a story behind how you happened to take a burst from an M1 carbine... An AK, I can see. But an M1?

I'll bet Rhoda could use a full-on description of that.

Whatcha think, Rhoda?

01-21-2010, 08:50 AM
Was he in a gun fight (did he have his own gun?) If so, I'll point out that the probability of being shot in one or both hands (or arms) goes up substantially, because a gun held out in front becomes a natural target. The other shooter's eyes will fix on it and he'll be more likely to be hit there.

On another note, I just read a report that stated that nearly 100% of police officers, when tested for marksmanship at 7 yards score 100% hits to center mass. But when in actual gunfights from that range (which is roughly the most common gunfight range for officers) they only get 11% hits against their target (anywhere on the body). The shooters likewise, score only about 11% hits. This is because, in a real fight, people don't just stand, take aim and fire as if it were a duel. They duck, dodge, and retreat while firing. Oddly enough, precious few police are trained in this style of fighting, they just stand and fire at paper targets.

Rhoda Nightingale
01-21-2010, 09:23 AM
Wow. That is so much more info than I was expecting, or will ever need--thanks guys!

So, I'm leaning towards the revolver or the 9mm--I need a weapon small enough for the shooter to stick in a pocket or tuck into his belt, so a rifle (while admittedly, much sexier) just won't work. Also, my gunshot victim is unarmed, and will be running away as soon as the shooter pulls the gun.

Also, BIG hugs and highfives for Chase for actually going through that! I think the leg is good. "It'll bleed plenty and we avoid any unnecessary organs." I want to hit him in the shoulder too, but . . . this isn't the sort of character who's going to randomly have tampons on him, and he won't be expecting this so he's rather unprepared. (And I would LOVE to hear the story behind the M1!)

L.C. Blackwell
01-21-2010, 10:57 AM
I would LOVE to hear the story behind the M1!

Ditto. I'm hazarding a guess, though. Chase lists his age as 68. Which means he was about old enough for Viet Nam. And friendly fire isn't.

Chase, you knew we were going to want to know. :D Please?

01-21-2010, 10:33 PM
I've mentioned my scrape with the thankfully underpowered .30 Carbine here a couple of times, so was pretty sure regulars are yawning. In my mid twenties, I was an old man in Vietnam, or so it seemed so to me.

I'm told I was lucky hits weren't from more powerful 7.62X39 AK-47 rounds. Both sides, particularly ARVN (Army of the Republic of Vietnam) troops for the South Vietnamese government and NLF (National Liberation Front) Vietcong guerrillas for the north favored the smaller M1 and M2 Carbines. The FMJ round nose bullet is only 110 grains. Only a round through my foot broke bones, but I was able to walk, my boot keeping things together. I still have the bullet dug from its sole.

The firefight I was able to walk away from was with Vietcong near Bien Hoa in late '65, long ago and far away.

01-21-2010, 10:55 PM

Ah. I wan't in on that one. Didn't know the Cong used M1 Carbines. Shoulda figured it, though, as millions went on the mil-surplus market after WW2. My son-in-law has one made by IBM. We shoot it regularly.

Thanks for the info.

L.C. Blackwell
01-22-2010, 12:01 AM
No yawns here. :) More like, we're glad it wasn't an AK-47 too. And thank you very much--not just for humoring us, but for serving.


01-22-2010, 03:21 AM

Thanks much for the salute.

I'm gratified to see our returning troops now are treated with somewhat more respect than many Vietnam vets came home to. When I graduated on the GI Bill in the mid-'70s, it was easier to land a public teaching job if one didn't dwell on how college funds were earned.