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View Full Version : A query about a particular gunshot wound. . .



Sasha_Delaney
11-13-2011, 12:37 PM
Okay, so I'm writing a story where the main character attempts suicide by shooting himself in the chest (aiming for the heart but obviously missing) with a .45 revolver. It is imperative for the story that the bullet remains in the wound . . . at least until he gets to the E.R. I need to know if this is realistic, what angle it would have to be in order to be realistic, and what kind of damage it would do (both immediate and lasting).

Story facts that might make a difference:

Character is big: 6'6'' with a barrel chest,

Character is a werewolf, but that shouldn't keep the wound from being realistic (or at least close), as he uses a silver bullet on himself while in human form.

Character isn't really familiar with guns, so he might just botch the shot.

But I need to stress that it's important for the bullet to still be in the wound when he reaches the E.R.

I would love to receive advice from a surgeon, an E.R. nurse, or anyone who really knows about gunshot wounds, and/or has a deep familiarity with the human anatomy. This is one of two puzzle pieces that I need to put together the second installment in a series of short stories featuring this character, and I'm hoping to start on it as soon as possible.

Drachen Jager
11-13-2011, 08:31 PM
A .45 at point blank with a non deforming bullet is pretty much going to go through his chest 99% of the time.

A FMJ .45 penetrates 27 inches in test environments. A silver bullet would do slightly worse because it has less mass, but you pretty much have to compare to a FMJ because silver doesn't deform like lead.

Snick
11-13-2011, 08:47 PM
You might want to switch to a less powerful gun. With a .32or a .38 would be less unrealistic for the bullet to remain in the thoracic cavity, and it would do as much damage.

Drachen Jager
11-13-2011, 09:34 PM
With a .32 ACP you're still looking at 14" penetration, which is more than enough to clear a chest on even a large human.

sheadakota
11-13-2011, 09:46 PM
I think a .22 might be the weapon of choice here- but still at point blank range? I'm not sure- you're still going to get a shock wave of kinetic energy but not nearly as severe as from a .45 or a .32. it is also likely the bullet with deflect off a rib if he is aiming for the heart maing it likely that that bullet will be sitting in a lung causing a fair amount of damage right there. You could also have bruising of the heart from the shock wave- it depends on how badly injured you want the guy-

Drachen Jager
11-13-2011, 10:06 PM
@sheadakota Maybe you missed the part where the OP said the dude's a werewolf.

I don't think it bothers him in the same way as it would bother a human if it takes a silver bullet to the heart to kill him.

sheadakota
11-13-2011, 10:31 PM
@sheadakota Maybe you missed the part where the OP said the dude's a werewolf.

I don't think it bothers him in the same way as it would bother a human if it takes a silver bullet to the heart to kill him.
This is true;) Talk GSW to a trauma nurse and werewolves are forgotten- silly me:tongue

Sasha_Delaney
11-14-2011, 06:18 AM
@All

. . .

Okay, so let me admit, I don't know dick about guns.

Period.

The reason the guy's gun is a .45 is because big guy = big hand. Anything smaller would look ridiculous. And I just like revolvers . . . (I watched a lot of cowboy movies as a kid, :D )

And the silver would negate, (or mostly negate) the werewolf's healing capability, which is why I almost didn't mention that fact. I probably shouldn't have, but I didn't want to answer the question of "Well, why is it so important that the bullet stay in the wound"

And I don't care how bad the character gets hurt, (shattered ribs, punctured lung/s, whatever) so long as it's realistic, and survivable. I like for my stories to be gritty, and as realistic as one can get while using a supernatural theme. Not to mention consistent. I can't stand it when authors change the rules of their fictional world to fit the story; I'll change the story to fit the world.

Which brings me to my next issue: while the details of the suicide attempt aren't super important to the immediate story, (he flashes back to it both briefly and vaguely), I'm using this story to foreshadow that one, and I want to be able to keep my details consistent.

And believable.

skylark
11-14-2011, 12:31 PM
Bigger calibre guns don't have to be physically bigger. None of your readers are going to worry about whether he looks silly with a smaller calibre gun in his hand.

You could have it ricochet off a rib and lodge against his spine? It's going to do a lot of damage, but it sounds like he can take it.

Also, if you want to slow it down before it gets into him, what is he wearing, and could you plausibly put him in a really solid leather jacket? Maybe even have it have to go through something in his pocket first?

Another possibility might be that it goes straight through, ricochets off whatever's behind him, and then it's the ricochet which lodges in him? But, honestly, I'd keep it simple. Lower the calibre a bit and have it ricochet around inside.

Anaximander
11-15-2011, 01:23 AM
At point-blank range, it's going to go through your average human almost every time. However, you're not dealing with an average human - you're dealing with a 6'6" werewolf. If you mention that werewolves are made of sterner stuff than normal folk, even when in human form, and you have the bullet chip a rib on the way in and maybe catch inside his shoulder blade or something, then I'd say that'd be fine - at the very least, it won't require any more suspension of disbelief than the whole "werewolves exist" thing.

Jack M Kaiser
11-15-2011, 03:20 AM
I think a .22 might be the weapon of choice here- but still at point blank range? I'm not sure- you're still going to get a shock wave of kinetic energy but not nearly as severe as from a .45 or a .32. it is also likely the bullet with deflect off a rib if he is aiming for the heart maing it likely that that bullet will be sitting in a lung causing a fair amount of damage right there. You could also have bruising of the heart from the shock wave- it depends on how badly injured you want the guy-
Not to get too far off topic here, but would it word the same with a 9mm shot to the spine? Is it possible that the bullet would lodge in the spine?

Sasha_Delaney
11-15-2011, 04:54 AM
@skylark

I know that worrying over the aesthetics is silly, but when I read it's like watching a movie, and when I write, it's like directing. And I'm adamant on having everything just right.


Also, to anyone who's following this: I'm thinking I'm going to use a lower caliber, I just need to figure out how to make it all work. Once I know what the injury is going to be, I need to figure out how long it would take to heal.

hammerklavier
11-15-2011, 08:39 AM
Silver is much lighter and harder than lead. In general, the bullet won't penetrate even half of what a lead bullet will. Look up mythbusters, silver bullets, they did an episode on it once. Also, a silver bullet would have to be hand loaded and will therefore be of an unknown power level.

I find your premise entirely believable. Especially if the bullet caught a rib, that would severely slow a silver bullet.

MTaillard
11-15-2011, 11:30 PM
Okay, so I'm writing a story where the main character attempts suicide by shooting himself in the chest (aiming for the heart but obviously missing) with a .45 revolver. It is imperative for the story that the bullet remains in the wound . . . at least until he gets to the E.R. I need to know if this is realistic, what angle it would have to be in order to be realistic, and what kind of damage it would do (both immediate and lasting).

Story facts that might make a difference:

Character is big: 6'6'' with a barrel chest,

Character is a werewolf, but that shouldn't keep the wound from being realistic (or at least close), as he uses a silver bullet on himself while in human form.

Character isn't really familiar with guns, so he might just botch the shot.

But I need to stress that it's important for the bullet to still be in the wound when he reaches the E.R.

I would love to receive advice from a surgeon, an E.R. nurse, or anyone who really knows about gunshot wounds, and/or has a deep familiarity with the human anatomy. This is one of two puzzle pieces that I need to put together the second installment in a series of short stories featuring this character, and I'm hoping to start on it as soon as possible.


Hey, we learn a lot about this during combat first aid in the army. First of all, you're talking about point-blank range for a person to shoot themselves. It's going to have to be a small gun with proper ammo. Possibly an M9 with hollow tip bullets. Maybe just a basic .22.

Second, its completely realistic that the bullet would stay in but its not likely to stay in one piece. Bullets are meant to break apart on impact in order to dissipate all the energy inside the body and shred your insides.

Third, don't shoot the heart. You're essentially killing your character. Shoot the lungs. Shooting the lungs will give you the opportunity to describe in vivid detail the process of building a pneumothorax, adding realism to your description.

Mark G
11-16-2011, 01:21 AM
Have him standing in front of a cement wall and have the bullet go through, ricochet, and go back in... ?

hammerklavier
11-16-2011, 07:53 AM
A silver bullet would not not fragment like lead, would not expand, and most importantly, would not penetrate nearly as far. Stick to your original premise, and go watch that Mythbusters episode: http://dsc.discovery.com/videos/mythbusters-silver-vs-lead-bullets.html

Sasha_Delaney
11-16-2011, 08:44 AM
A silver bullet would not not fragment like lead, would not expand, and most importantly, would not penetrate nearly as far. Stick to your original premise, and go watch that Mythbusters episode: http://dsc.discovery.com/videos/mythbusters-silver-vs-lead-bullets.html


Thanks . . . I'm waiting to hear back from a couple sources who work in the medical field, so that I can accurately track the path of the bullet through the body. That MythBusters vid shows that silver only has about a third of the penetration power, so I think he might end up using a .32 or a .38, and just misses his heart. However, like I said, I have to know where the bullet is going to travel, what it will damage, and how long the healing process will take for a normal human. (Since silver obviously negates the healing capabilities for lycanthropes.)

Thank you all for your help, and if anyone has anything more to add to it, feel free, as help is always welcome.

MTaillard
11-16-2011, 10:38 PM
Oh, silver. I completely missed that part. Hell, I don't know. There's not a whole lot of practical precedence for such a thing.

Mark G
11-16-2011, 11:03 PM
Ricochet!!!!!!

From Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ricochet):



Target material
Bullets are more likely to ricochet off flat, hard surfaces such as concrete or steel, but a ricochet can occur on almost any surface, including grassy soil, given a flat enough angle of impact. Materials that are soft, give easily, or can absorb the impact, such as sand, have a lower incidence of ricochet.[2] (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ricochet#cite_note-box-1) Though it may not be obvious, bullets easily ricochet off water;[3] (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ricochet#cite_note-2)[4] (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ricochet#cite_note-3) compare stone skipping (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stone_skipping).
[edit (http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Ricochet&action=edit&section=5)] Angle

The angle of departure, both vertically and horizontally, is difficult to calculate or predict due to the many variables involved, not the least of which is the deformation of the bullet caused by its impact with the surface it strikes.[5] (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ricochet#cite_note-4) Ricochets will almost always continue on a somewhat diagonal trajectory to their original trajectory, unless the impact is against a flat surface perpendicular to the angle of incidence (or approach), in which case the angle of reflection depends on the other variables involved.
[edit (http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Ricochet&action=edit&section=6)] Dangers

Ricochets are a common hazard of shooting because the bullet that ricochets poses a serious danger of causing collateral damage (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Collateral_damage) to animals, objects, or even the person who fired the shot.
In rare cases, ricochets can return to the shooter.[6] (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ricochet#cite_note-5)[7] (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ricochet#cite_note-6) This can occur when the object struck possesses enough resistance to withstand the impact of the bullet, and its surface is perpendicular to the shooter. Alternatively, elastic targets such as rubber tires shot with lower power weapons can return the slug along the line of fire even when struck at an oblique angle.[citation needed (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Citation_needed)] Some bullets are designed to deform at the nose, which is the main reason for the bullet ricocheting at such an extreme angle and returning in the shooter's direction.[clarification needed (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Please_clarify)]


Have your character stand against a solid stone/cement wall, or steel door, and you practically guarantee that the bullet - once it has passed through his body and lost a significant amount of velocity - will ricochet off the thing behind him and travel at a reflection angle back into his body.

GeorgeK
11-17-2011, 05:42 AM
I don't think that there will be many people with werewolf experience to complain about whatever you do in your scene. They'd probably complain if he stood up against a howitzer, but 45, 9mm...it's a freaking werewolf!

Sasha_Delaney
11-21-2011, 11:39 AM
I got what I needed regarding the gunshot wound. Thank you Sheadakota!

:)