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Tactical Briefs (Volume 2, Number 4)
April 1999

Wound Ballistics Review, the Journal of the International Wound Ballistics Association

The IWBA has just distributed its latest issue of Wound Ballistics Review. For those of you who are interested in learning more about centerfire rifle bullet wounding and incapacitation mechanisms, this is the issue to get. In the Questions and Comments section (Incapacitation Time), Dr. Fackler provides very detailed answers to specific questions about this subject. Ever wonder why many people who are shot in the upper torso with a centerfire rifle bullet collapse instantly when blood loss is insufficient to produce incapacitation in such a short amount of time? Or, why do some heart shot deer drop in their tracks? Fackler explains the mechanisms involved.

Also, the IWBA is presently preparing its own web site. We should have more information to share with you about this development soon.

The following table lists the articles published in this edition:

Wound Ballistics Review Volume 4 Number 1, 1999

Dr. Martin Fackler

About This Issue
The .224 Boz
Web Page

Questions and Comments

Incapacitation Time
Shock Wave
Kevlar Cap
Shots to the Pelvic Area
Perspectives on the .223 Remington
The .358 Winchester as a Police Rifle
Gun Retention, M1 Carbine vs. .223

Understanding the Law Enforcement Issues in Suicide by Cop
Shirley MacPherson, Ph.D.

12 Gauge 00 Buckshot Ammunition Test
George Bredsten, Lead Instructor, Firearms Division;
Steve Bryant, Inspector, U.S. Marshals Service;
Dan Fair, Lead Inspector, U.S. Marshals Service;
Eddie Brundage, Armorer, Firearms Division;
Billie Savell, Armorer, Firearms Division; all at Federal Law Enforcement Training Center, Glynco, Georgia

Wound Profile of the Briese Controlled Disintegrator Ammunition in Caliber .308 Winchester
Kramer D. Powley and Dean B. Dahlstrom, R.C.M. Police Forensic Laboratory, Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada

IWBA Handgun Ammunition Specification Tests -- 9mm in MP5
Duncan MacPherson

The Limitations of Water-Filled Cardboard Cartons in Predicting Bullet Penetration
Gus Cotey Jr.

Comparison of the Terminal Performance of .22 Long Rifle Hollow Point Bullets
V.G. Swistounoff, Institut de Recherche Criminelle de la Gendarmerie Nationale, French Wound Ballistic Society -- France

Rifle Accuracy Facts, Harold R. Vaughn, Precision Shooting, Inc., 222 McKee St., Manchester, CT 06040 (Book Review)
Duncan MacPherson

Click here for information to order this journal

Black Hawk Down: A Story of Modern War

The disastrous battle of Mogadishu, Somalia, involving U.S. troops in October 1993 is now detailed in a new book by investigative reporter Mark Bowden.

Click here to read CNN's book review

Too Good To Be True
by Dr. Martin L. Fackler, MD, President
International Wound Ballistics Association

We pointed out in IWBA Bulletin No. 1/92, that three academic statisticians had judged, independently, the Marshall/Sanow one-shot stop data to be bogus, i.e., made up to fit a preconceived theory. Since that time, another renown academic, Dr. Carroll Peters, Professor of Engineering at the University of Tennessee calculated the probability that they could be true to be one in ten to the twentieth power (1 in 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000). Dr. Peters' paper describing his analysis will soon appear in print.1

When Marshall's "One-Shot Stop" statistics appeared in Petersen's Handguns in November 1988, I noted that his data appeared to be "too good to be true." In response to inquiries, I analyzed these data and concluded that they must have been fabricated. My analysis included:

The overall accuracy in any data collection is determined by multiplying all individual accuracy percentages produced by each factor that limits statistical certainty. Thus 70% of 60% yields 42% and this multiplied by 70% yields the final accuracy factor of 29% (or 71 percent uncertainty). This means that, given the methods Marshall claims to have used, only 29% of his incidents could be expected to yield consistent results (i.e., more disruptive bullets showing greater effects than less disruptive bullets).

Below I have duplicated data from two tables in Marshall's 1988 article. He reported the "one-shot stop" percentages for the .38 Special in two lists: one in which a weapon with a 2-inch barrel was used and another where a 4-inch barrel was used. The extreme regularity of these results: the 12 identical loads arranging themselves in exactly the same order (of descending effectiveness) in the group of shooting incidents in which a 2-inch barrel was used as in those incidents in which a 4-inch barrel was used; and the percentage of "one-shot stops" being always 3, 4 or 5 percentage points higher when the 4-inch barrel was used, could only occur in a study in which a certainty of 99 to 100% could be expected. This excludes any study involving human reactions.


.38 Special Loads, 2-inch barrel

.38 Special Loads, 4-inch barrel

Winchester 158 grain LHP 61% Winchester 158 grain LHP 65% +4
Federal 158 grain LHP 61% Federal 158 grain LHP 64% +3
Remington 158 grain LHP 61% Remington 158 grain LHP 64% +3
Federal 125 grain JHP 60% Federal 125 grain JHP 63% +3
Remington 125 grain JHP 58% Remington 125 grain JHP 61% +3
CCI 125 grain JHP 57% CCI 125 grain JHP 60% +3
Winchester 125 grain JHP 56% Winchester 125 grain JHP 60% +4
Federal 125 grain JSP 55% Federal 125 grain JSP 58% +3
Federal 158 grain SWC 50% Federal 158 grain SWC 55% +5
Federal 158 grain RNL 50% Federal 158 grain RNL 55% +5
Remington 95 grain JHP 50% Remington 95 grain JHP 55% +5
Winchester 110 grain JHP 50% Winchester 110 grain JHP 55% +5

The total numbers of shooting incidents reported ranged from 16 to 112, averaging 48.6, for each load.

Note: My analysis is of Marshall's 1988 paper. Dr. Peters analyzed data that appeared in the book Handgun Stopping Power, by Marshall and Sanow (published in 1992). In the book the statistics were purportedly based on considerably more shooting incidents than reported in the 1988 paper. However, the same order of the .38 Special bullets that was reported in the paper was repeated in the book (the same 12 loads in the same order from each barrel length).

The extreme regularity of response to being shot reported by Marshall is, in my opinion, impossible, due to the well-known inherent variations and inconsistencies in human reactions. The constant mistake made by those who fabricate data is that they make it "too good to be true."

This article was originally published as: "Exploding the Mythology of Stopping Power: Ballistic Myths of the 90's, Too Good To Be True (2 pages), Strasbourg Tests -- Another Gunwriter/Bullet Salesman Fraud? (3 pages)" by Dr. Martin Fackler, M.D., F.A.C.S. Handout for Firearms Instructor Update Course #2015-A, Washington State Criminal Justice Training Commission, October 29, 1993, Kent, Washington.

Reprinted with permission from Dr. Fackler.

End Notes:

  1. According to Fackler,  Dr. Peters was too busy to finish his article and it was never published.


Fackler's article above explains why the professional wound ballistics community isn't interested in performing a study of "street shootings" in a manner similar to Marshall. The concept and methods are so flawed that such a study is meaningless in context.

(Marshall claims a study of approximately 200 law enforcement shootings, conducted by Richard Fairburn, that was published in the March/April 1993 issue of The Police Marksman, supports his "findings." Marshall's claim is eloquently discredited by Fackler, in a six page review of Marshall's book ,Street Stoppers.)

The professional wound ballistics community does, in fact, investigate actual shootings. But these studies do not attempt to quantify the wound effectiveness of any particular bullet, because "effectiveness" is a consequence of the bullet's wound track through the body. Shot placement is a critical aspect in producing an effective wound, and this factor is entirely independent of, and is more important than, any attribute that can be ascribed to bullet performance, except penetration. To reliably be "effective" a bullet must pass through vital cardiovascular organs or damage the central nervous system. The key words are reliable effectiveness.

Instead, the research examines the physiological mechanisms that produced, or failed to produce, incapacitation based upon damage to anatomical structures. Terminal performance observed in actual shootings is compared with terminal performance observed in standard ordnance gelatin, to answer the questions: Did the bullet(s) perform as expected? If not, what factors inhibited expected performance?

The professional wound ballistics community, comprised of well-qualified law enforcement personnel, emergency room physicians, medical researchers, trauma surgeons, weapon/ammunition designers, forensic pathologists, neurologists, criminologists and other interested persons, has been engaged in this kind of "street shooting" research for years. These knowledgeable researchers realize that no honest study done with Marshall's purported methods could possibly produce results that are anywhere near as regular as those he reports.

Wishful Thinking?

"In mid-September 1987, the FBI called together a panel of doctors and professors and one cop to discuss wound ballistics. This was in response to the April 1986 shootout in Miami. The bureau felt that the Miami gunfight would have turned out differently if the bullets that the agents fired had produced deeper penetration.

"The 9mm 115-grain Silvertip fired by agent Jerry Dove penetrated the right bicep of Michael Platt, entered his chest, collapsed his right lung and came to rest in the lung tissue. Some have speculated that if the bullet had deeper penetration, it would have taken out his heart and the gunfight would have been over. That sort of wishful thinking is not supported by medical facts nor has it been the experience of other street cops." -- Ed Sanow

"The 9mm Subsonic, Fight Stopper or Failure." Handguns 6(1), p.26, October 1992.

Book Review:

The Best Defense: True Stories of Intended Victims Who Defended Themselves with a Firearm. Robert A. Waters, Cumberland House, Nashville, Tennessee, 1998 (212 pages) $11.96/Amazon.com

The Best Defense documents the stories of twenty incidents of deadly criminal violence in which the intended victims resisted the assaults with a firearm and survived. These stories cover a wide spectrum of situations involving armed private citizens who were victims of random street violence, home invasion, a serial rapist, a cold-blooded killing spree, armed robbery of business establishments, a serial murderer, armed robbery while camping in a National Forest, a stalker, a gun battle with car thieves while coming to the aid of a fallen law enforcement officer, and many other criminal violence situations.

Waters, whose writing style captivates his readers' attention, is a superb storyteller. His ability to articulate the feelings of the victims, to describe the crime scenes in such vivid detail, and to expertly narrate the violent events as they unfold makes you feel as though you're an eyewitness to each incident.

These stories reveal the many different scenarios and circumstances in which common, everyday citizens are preyed upon by vicious criminal predators. One benefit of reading this book is that it will expose you to many different violent crime situations, which can help you to better prepare to defend yourself and your loved ones against wrongful and life threatening criminal attack.

To give you a flavor of what to expect, we've reprinted the book's Preface:

On December 8, 1994, 74-year-old Lillie Mae Ponder returned home from church to find that her house had been burglarized. She lived near the crime-ridden Ivey Lane housing project in Orlando, Florida, and kept a .38 Special for protection. Just hours later, while she and her husband, Paul, were asleep, the burglar returned. When the Ponders awoke and confronted the intruder, he sprayed them with Mace. Nearly blinded, Lillie Mae reached into a drawer and pulled out her gun. She fired, hitting him in the cheek and killing him instantly.

She later said she was afraid for the life of her husband, who was confined to a wheelchair.

Police called it a "lucky shot." They also called it a classic case of self-defense.


Perry and Debra Jones were sleeping in their Waller, Texas, home on the night of December 11, 1995, when a burglar broke their bedroom window.

Wearing black clothes, a camouflage mask, and surgical gloves, he climbed into the Joneses' bedroom. Perry Jones awoke and shouted for the man to leave. When he refused, Jones picked up a shotgun that lay beside his bed and fired, fatally wounding the intruder.

Because self-defense using firearms is usually a local event, it is one of the least known issues in America today. No single story is enough to make national news. When examined collectively, however, these accounts show that a significant number of Americans are choosing to fight back when attacked. On January 31, 1996, after grocer Sam Turrisi killed an armed robber in his store, the Orlando Sentinel reported that the robber was "the ninth gunman in eighteen months to die at the hands of an intended victim" in Orange County, Florida.

There are conflicting estimates of the number of individuals who successfully use guns to defend themselves and others. Neither police departments nor the federal government keep such statistics. Gary Kleck, a criminologist at Florida State University, has done extensive research into all forms of gun violence. In his widely acclaimed 1991 book, Point Blank: Guns and Violence in America, Kleck estimates that there are between 400,000 and 500,000 uses of firearms each year for defensive purposes. In recent years, his research has indicated that there may be up to 2.5 million instances of self-defense with firearms annually.

The vast majority of these confrontations do not end in violence -- usually a potential victim merely shows a gun and an aggressor retreats, as happened in the case of Denver's notorious "Ski Mask Rapist."

Since the summer of 1985, this unknown rapist had been terrorizing the city. His method of operation was to stalk single women, determine the nights they would be home alone, and break into their homes after they had gone to bed. He always wore a ski mask and gloves, and cut their outside telephone lines. Once the attacker had isolated his victim, he would brutally rape her, often for hours. The police were stumped as to his identity.

On January 4, 1986, all had gone according to plan for the rapist. He stood over the bed of his intended victim, erotic fantasies playing in his mind. Rape quickly became an afterthought, however, when the victim suddenly sat up and pointed a pistol between his eyes. The intruder dove through the kitchen window. Investigating officers found that, as in the other cases, the telephone lines had been cut. It took two years, but a task force finally captured Frank Vargas. During that time, the Ski Mask Rapist had violated twenty women. He had been thwarted once, by an armed woman.


My purpose for writing this book is not to enter the gun control debate, but to recount dramatic true stories of split life-or-death decisions made by innocent victims defending themselves, their families, their employees, or strangers.

While scanning local newspapers, which is where such stories are often reported, I came across thousands of such cases.

From the February 11, 1995, Atlanta Constitution: A shooting was videotaped by a store camera at the Lakewood Grocery Store in Atlanta. The store owner, a Korean immigrant, was stocking shelves when a man entered, apparently scoping the place. The owner's wife was behind the counter. The man left, but returned a few minutes later with an accomplice. They pulled out pistols and attempted to rob the clerk, whereupon the grocer pulled his own gun, fired, and killed one of the robbers. At the time the newspaper reported the story, the police were still searching for the second robber.

From the February 7, 1995, Orlando Sentinel: Around midnight, two men broke into the apartment of Raymond Scott. Scott, asleep in his bedroom, was awakened by strange noises coming from the living room. He cracked the door and saw a masked intruder tying up his two adult children with black electrical tape. Scott burst into the living room, firing his 9mm handgun. A second intruder began shooting at him. After a wild gunfight, both attackers ran from the apartment, and Scott called police. Home invasion is a current fad among central Florida criminals, but it didn't pay for the two who broke into Scott's apartment. Stephen LeRoy Jones was arrested while being treated for gunshot wounds at the Orlando Regional Medical Center. His partner, Shonrell J. Harper, wasn't so lucky. At 7:30 the following morning, he was found dead under a stairway in Scott's apartment complex. A ski mask and a roll of electrical tape were found with his body.

From the December 12, 1995, Mountain Press, Prather, California: A woman ran into a local church for protection from an attacker. The pastor hid her in a back room, then came out and tried to reason with the assailant. The man didn't want to listen, however, and opened fire. Shot in the hand, the pastor ran to his office and slammed the door shut. The gunman broke through the door, at which time the pastor shot him between the eyes, killing him instantly.

From the June 10, 1995, Gastonia Observer, Gastonia, North Carolina: A young woman walked alone outside a mall, trailed by a trio of men with violent pasts. One had served hard time on three occasions. When the men continued to threaten the woman, a bystander, Christopher Gore, intervened. The three-time loser, who had consumed vast quantities of beer that day, pulled a gun and began shooting at Gore. The samaritan pulled his own 9mm handgun and returned fire, killing the felon.

As stated previously, in most instances of self-defense, the attacker is not killed, but merely captured or run off. In October 1995, a Griswold, Connecticut, woman telephoned her brother to tell him that someone was trying to break into her house. Her brother called police and raced to the scene. By the time he got there, the woman was holding the suspect, a teenage burglar, with a .22 rifle. Police quickly arrived and captured three accomplices nearby.

It is a general misconception that the police exist to protect the public. This is true only in the most generic sense -- i.e., once a criminal act is committed, and a suspect caught and convicted, theoretically he is locked up so that he cannot prey on other people. The problem is that someone has to be a victim before the criminal can be taken out of society. And many offenders commit dozens of violent acts before they are caught. This doesn't even take into account the fact that the criminal justice system continually releases the most violent offenders.

Since police are unable to protect citizens from violent attacks, many individuals feel that it is their own responsibility to protect themselves and their families.

All states have laws governing and restricting the right of self-defense. Florida law states, "The use of force is justifiable when a person is resisting any attempt to murder such person or to commit a felony upon him or in any dwelling house in which person shall be." Such wording is open to interpretation.

After two incidents in which homeowners shot intruders, one central Florida sheriff interpreted the law this way: "In your home, you have a right to protect every square inch of it.... When criminals break into a home, they better be prepared to pay the ultimate price."

Other Florida law enforcement officials have attempted to be more restrictive, but public pressure has usually prevailed, and home owners and business owners who have shot intruders have almost always been found to have been legally justified.

For example, on November 14, 1992, Manny Roman, a Cuban refugee who owned Aries Auto Repair in Miami, was spending the night at his shop. He was armed because the place had been plagued with break-ins. At about 1:30 A.M., he heard a window break. Moments later he heard someone rummaging about in his office. Roman grabbed his Beretta 9mm semiautomatic. As he explained, "When I opened the door, we were face to face. I was afraid. I just kept shooting and I went back and closed the door of the office and dialed 911." Police found Stanley Dixon, a crack addict, with eleven bullet holes in his body. A hammer was grasped in his hand.

Police initially stated that Roman would not be arrested. Eight months later, the state charged him with murder. Kathleen Fernandez Rundle, the County State Attorney, claimed that Roman was "lying in wait" for the next person to break into his shop. For that reason, she stated, he had "entrapped" Dixon. Roman replied that the reason he was in his shop late at night was because he had worked until late in the evening and was too exhausted to drive to his home across town.

Rundle also said that reloading his weapon after the shooting showed premeditation. The business owner advised her that he'd reloaded when he heard other noises outside.

The community was outraged at the state attorney's decision to charge Roman. Under intense public pressure, Rundle approached Roman on two occasions, asking him to accept plea bargains with no jail time. He refused. He later said, "I knew I had done the right thing in protecting my life."

On November 3, 1995, the Dade County State Attorney's Office reluctantly dropped all charges after a sixteen-member grand jury refused to indict Roman. After the finding, Rundle said, "I have concluded that it is extremely unlikely that a Dade County jury would convict him."

Most states recognize that if a citizen's life, or that of another, is in danger from criminal attack, a citizen has the right to take every measure available to save his or her own life or the life of another.

The "home protection" law in Tennessee, for instance, has changed little since it was written at the time of Cherokee Indian attacks on settlers in the early 1800s. It consists of two subjective tests: "apprehension," or a sense of impending danger; and "external manifestations": Was the intruder armed? Was he under the influence of mind-altering substances? Did he have a prior record?

New York's self-defense law is one of the most restrictive in the nation, as exemplified by the following incident. In February 1996, Timothy Pastuck saw his neighbor being brutally attacked with a baseball bat. Pastuck grabbed his unlicensed .22 rifle and shouted for the attacker to stop. When he refused, Pastuck shot him three times, wounding the assailant and driving him off.

The police called Pastuck a hero but arrested him anyway. He was charged with attempted murder, assault with a deadly weapon, and unlawful possession of a weapon. He spent a full day in jail, trying to bail himself out as the public railed against a policy that would not allow a citizen to protect another person in danger of being murdered.

Pastuck was forced to appear in court, where the district attorney, under intense public pressure, finally dropped all charges. Pastuck said, "You try to do the right thing, and the next thing you know you're in the system." Then, obviously confused, he stated, "I don't know what they want; people, citizens to react, don't react."

The stories in this book portray citizens who did react. Citizens such as Travis Dean Neel. Just outside Houston, Texas, city limits, on January 21, 1994, Neel watched as Harris County Deputy Frank Flores stopped a stolen Jeep Cherokee. The three occupants of the Jeep were members of an organized car-theft ring. As Flores walked toward the Jeep, one of the thieves hid in the back seat and ambushed the deputy.

Flores was shot four times and collapsed on the street. Neel witnessed the shooting and went to the defense of the deputy. He carried two 9mm semiautomatics in his truck. Opening fire, he prevented the suspects from continuing to shoot Deputy Flores. Neel shot up one clip and then another. He stated in later testimony before a congressional subcommittee hearing on crime that his greatest fear was that an innocent bystander would get hurt, or that he would be killed by the thieves, and people would think he was one of them.

When their automobile became boxed in, the car thieves attempted to car-jack another vehicle. But Neel drove them away with rapid fire. The suspects finally fled on foot and were captured a few hours later. The fallen deputy recuperated, and Neel was proclaimed by the Harris County Deputy Sheriffs Union to be "Citizen of the Year, 1994."

While writing this book, I have spoken with law enforcement officials, as well as many intended victims of crime who used weapons to protect themselves and others. In addition, I have read trial transcripts, police reports, newspaper accounts, and hundreds of related documents. I have read thousands of pages of research concerning gun violence.

I have tried to be a accurate as possible in reporting the incidents described. All stories are documented and can be obtained through public record.

In the final section of most chapters, I have given the would-be victim a forum, quoting directly from interview sessions. Many speak with great poignancy about the life-threatening experiences they endured. Others state their views on related issues, such as gun control, crime, and police protection.

The stories that follow belong to the victims.  It is my hope that sharing them will shed light on a little known subject.

Waters is a talented and gifted writer. His book, The Best Defense, reads remarkably like gunwriter Massad Ayoob's American Handgunner column, "Ayoob Files," and makes for excellent reading by anyone who's interested in the use of firearms for self-defense against criminal attack.

The Best Defense has been so well received that Waters is presently researching and writing a sequel.

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