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CWatts
01-22-2019, 08:59 PM
In my WIP I need to have a healthy young man die from a gunshot wound. The scene has him die within a minute or so, and I don't want a headshot.

Right now I have the shooter about four stories above him so there's a steep angle. The bullet enters near his shoulder and goes through his chest diagonally. I'm thinking he would bleed out internally from it damaging his heart or the major blood vessels. It's 19th century with a rifle whose stats are close to a modern high-caliber handgun.

Does this timeline make sense?

WeaselFire
01-22-2019, 10:52 PM
So have him die as you need. Death can be anywhere from instant to never. Do you need anatomical details for your story?

Jeff

D. E. Wyatt
01-23-2019, 01:53 AM
19th century rifles will usually be firing a soft lead projectile. That means when it hits the target it will flatten and expand (Civil War-era Miniť balls would have entry wounds the size of a thumb, but exit wounds bigger than the fist). Cavitation damage from such a round is going to be SEVERE. It may also tumble after entering the body, inflicting even more damage. Anything passing through the chest cavity is going to cause very severe damage and bleeding because it's not going to leave a small, neat hole.

I would also ask what type of rifle? Are we talking a late-19th century lever-action or breech-loading cartridge rifle, or is this a muzzleloader? The former are more likely to have a fixed powder charge which will limit their power, and many like the Henry and Winchester were smaller-caliber guns. Muzzleloaders like the Hawken rifle could take a considerable powder charge (my dad's could take I believe up to 200 grain). The type is also going to affect the caliber; Kentucky rifles were generally small-caliber, while the Hawken fired up to a .54 caliber ball or conical. This will also have a significant impact on how much damage the gun could do (Kentucky rifles fell out of use in the West because they lacked power, but a Hawken could drop a Grizzly).

CWatts
01-23-2019, 03:53 AM
Good point. Yes cavitation is going to be nasty.

It's a bolt-action. I will PM you the specifics.

MaeZe
01-23-2019, 07:51 AM
If you want to see it happen and you can stand watching this sad video of Neda from Iran again, here is a person hit in the chest who bled out and died in less than a minute. It looks like she turns her eyes to look at the person with the video, but actually that is a reaction from her brain dying.

This is the CNN video so it's not as close up as the actual one. But once you see it, you cannot unsee it.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ICJ8-XKHm_0

D. E. Wyatt
01-23-2019, 05:59 PM
You're absolutely right; I don't need to click that link, I can still see it even though it's been years.

Anyway, I hope you're not expecting your character to give any sort of speech or even talk to anyone around him before he goes. He's likely not going to remain conscious for long, either due to the shock or blood loss. And if he DOES remain conscious, there's a good chance he'll have a lot of blood getting into the lungs and he'll be choking/drowning.

Either way, he won't be talking after he's hit.

CWatts
01-23-2019, 10:21 PM
Thank you both. Yes, I remember that heartbreaking video all too well.

I was expecting that he couldn't speak, maybe trying to choke out words as he dies in his wife's arms. She is POV and later says it's nothing like it is in novels....

amateurhour
01-23-2019, 10:53 PM
Just throwing this out there but I can't recall ever questioning how long it took someone to die (other than excessively long) from a gunshot. I have been very annoyed on countless occasions by misrepresenting existing firearms.

If you really want to be technical about it a bolt action rifle is likely firing high velocity. As wyatt said lever actions would be more large pistol caliber oriented. I have no idea if the first bolt gun fired spitzer rounds (pointy bullets you didn't want in a lever tube as the point was near the other cartridges primer) or when the first smokeless powder cartridge was commonly used (higher velocity), but these are stuff to consider.
The angle also doesn't make sense.

I still wouldn't personally question any of that.

D. E. Wyatt
01-23-2019, 11:19 PM
Just throwing this out there but I can't recall ever questioning how long it took someone to die (other than excessively long) from a gunshot. I have been very annoyed on countless occasions by misrepresenting existing firearms.

If you really want to be technical about it a bolt action rifle is likely firing high velocity. As wyatt said lever actions would be more large pistol caliber oriented. I have no idea if the first bolt gun fired spitzer rounds (pointy bullets you didn't want in a lever tube as the point was near the other cartridges primer) or when the first smokeless powder cartridge was commonly used (higher velocity), but these are stuff to consider.
The angle also doesn't make sense.

I still wouldn't personally question any of that.

I've seen the details on the gun in question. It's not one I'm particularly familiar with but it IS a fairly large caliber round (right around .44cal).

amateurhour
01-24-2019, 12:06 AM
I've seen the details on the gun in question. It's not one I'm particularly familiar with but it IS a fairly large caliber round (right around .44cal).

If it is 44-40 it could be Model 1878 Hotchkiss (first thing that it shows on Wikipedia for bolt guns in that caliber, which fits the scenario.) Learned something knew. I'm not familiar with anything pre ww2 obviously today you can get a bolt gun in whatever you want, if their is demand for it.

I got the impression the op was making up a rifle.

CWatts
01-24-2019, 05:31 AM
If it is 44-40 it could be Model 1878 Hotchkiss (first thing that it shows on Wikipedia for bolt guns in that caliber, which fits the scenario.) Learned something knew. I'm not familiar with anything pre ww2 obviously today you can get a bolt gun in whatever you want, if their is demand for it. I got the impression the op was making up a rifle.It's a real rifle. Model 1866 Chassepot, 11 mm. I just didn't want the thread to fixate on gun details. The angle is based on incidents where soldiers went up in buildings to shoot insurgents on the ground. I'm guessing the bullets were too soft to ricochet much....

amateurhour
01-24-2019, 05:47 PM
Interesting gun (more so the cartridge.) Anyways if your not going to give an exact weapon, a real stickler would find a hard time complaining.

Back to the main point, I'd never think to myself why did the guy die in a minute.

WeaselFire
01-25-2019, 12:00 AM
It's a real rifle. Model 1866 Chassepot, 11 mm.

You picked a semi-oddball gun, but it will suit your needs fine. Depending on what your needs are, which so far we know as a shot from above that kills in about a minute. If that's the only requirements for your scene, write it. It will work fine.

Jeff

angeliz2k
01-25-2019, 06:48 PM
You say less than a minute; could it be instantaneous? If it goes through the heart, it'd be pretty damn swift. Wouldn't matter a heck of a lot what gun you're using. (A head shot would be swift, too, of course, but you said no head shot.)

CWatts
01-26-2019, 05:15 AM
You say less than a minute; could it be instantaneous? If it goes through the heart, it'd be pretty damn swift. Wouldn't matter a heck of a lot what gun you're using. (A head shot would be swift, too, of course, but you said no head shot.)That's a very good idea. Might even have the poor guy snuff it mid-sentence. There's certainly enough suffering in the scene without dragging it out for him. Just refreshed myself on a certain classic novel of the period and, yeah, someone having a chapter-long conversation and making paragraph long speeches in this situation is about as realistic as having them sing a song....

Al X.
01-26-2019, 12:36 PM
We were trained to make head shots in close combat. Because, a) the bad guys may be wearing body armor, and b) it's the only way to ensure that they are incapacitated instantaneously. Shoot someone in the mid upper torso and they will most likely die, but you have to give them time.

D. E. Wyatt
01-26-2019, 06:42 PM
We were trained to make head shots in close combat. Because, a) the bad guys may be wearing body armor, and b) it's the only way to ensure that they are incapacitated instantaneously. Shoot someone in the mid upper torso and they will most likely die, but you have to give them time.

That's surprising to hear. Most training I ever hear of is to aim center of mass. Head shots are too easy to miss because the head is smaller and can move much more quickly than the torso. Better to hit them SOMEWHERE than miss altogether.

ironmikezero
01-26-2019, 11:47 PM
Actually, Al X. is correct, although it tends to be emphasized in pistol training; and, it's not something that is well publicized. The goal is to stop the threat, the quickest way being to interrupt the central nervous system (CNS). If two successful hits to the center of mass (C/M) fail to stop the threat, assume body armor and place the third shot to the brain/stem/spinal cord. It's not that difficult to do, especially with routine training.

CWatts
01-27-2019, 04:56 AM
Interesting about the body armor. Of course that's not applicable...until I realized umm yeah my main character (who survives) takes what amounts to a vest hit from a bullet glancing off her steel corset stays. Yet all that does is turn what would have been a sucking chest wound into a blunt-trauma pneumo from broken ribs.

Al X.
01-27-2019, 10:16 AM
That's surprising to hear. Most training I ever hear of is to aim center of mass. Head shots are too easy to miss because the head is smaller and can move much more quickly than the torso. Better to hit them SOMEWHERE than miss altogether.

Depends. In a building breach/hostage rescue scenario where there are multiple armed combatants, a non lethal hit is as good as a miss. The point isn't to kill for killing's sake, but to incapacitate, and render the situation neutral. As ironmikezero has said, that is not publicized training. Police do not train for that. But in most home defense situations, you are correct in that a hit is better than no hit. Generally speaking.

By the way, most of those of us that have done this for a living do not enjoy killing. The people that do are psychopaths, and a psychopath has no position on, in or around my team. Period. I like to think that we were like doctors, making life and death decisions in the interest of preserving more life. I won't lie, it's a tough business. You do things that you live with the rest of your life. You learn to deal with them. Some guys do, some guys don't. The real challenge is to come out of that and stay human.

Cindyt
01-27-2019, 10:58 AM
Brandon Lee was shot near the navel with a .44 magnum revolver. He fell sitting with his back against a set wall, staring off into space. The projectile burst the aorta where it forks off into the legs. It was like puncturing a water balloon. Yet, the entry wound was merely a scratch. His belly began to swell with blood. His vascular system was devastated, and he began bleeding from every orifice. They got him into the ER withing thirty minutes, stabilized him best they could and rushed him into surgery. He died over twelve hours after being shot without ever waking up.

CWatts
01-27-2019, 06:18 PM
By the way, most of those of us that have done this for a living do not enjoy killing. The people that do are psychopaths, and a psychopath has no position on, in or around my team. Period. I like to think that we were like doctors, making life and death decisions in the interest of preserving more life. I won't lie, it's a tough business. You do things that you live with the rest of your life. You learn to deal with them. Some guys do, some guys don't. The real challenge is to come out of that and stay human.

That is an illuminating perspective. Also very well-written - you have the makings of a great memoir.

What you have in my scenario are civilians and irregulars up against a military where discipline has entirely broken down. They've just lost a war, have been prisoners, many of them were drunk and then you set loose generations of tension between the Rural Right and Urban Left. So you get atrocities and a total s***storm in a city literally on fire and end up with thousands dead.

My doomed guy is a militia officer trying to herd cats with his poorly trained folks on the ground when they're ambushed from above. I'm no tactician but retreat seems the only option, yet it isn't. They do have a small artillery piece (but no draft animals) and desperately try to bring it to bear but keep getting picked off. I may upgrade the piece to an early Gatling-like machine gun to make it easier to move and let them shoot back for a little longer. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mitrailleuse