11 April 20061

Reply to Massad Ayoob's Kooky Screed

-by Shawn Dodson

My first experience with Massad Ayoob's writings, that I can recall, was in 1984, when I attended basic law enforcement training.  My instructors handed out photocopies of a three-part article he'd written about the California Highway Patrol's "Newhall Massacre", which had been published in Police Product News.  Ayoob masterfully authored a gripping account, and the hook was set.  I found Ayoob's articles and books informative, instructive, and entertaining.

In the 1990s, I began my study of wound ballistics, and it was here where I discovered troubling issues with Ayoob’s credibility, specifically in articles that dealt with shooting incident reports and “stopping power.”  My distrust grew as I encountered questionable claims that I had reason to believe were untrue.  I instigated a skunk fight with Ayoob when I described my doubts about his testimony in a purported “court” case (which Ayoob erroneously refers to as "Christine Hansen et. al., v. Federal Bureau of Investigation").2, 3, 4  The following links provide details of the dispute:

Ayoob, Massad: “Response to Dodson.” 

Rich, John Townsend: Massad Ayoob's Role in Hansen v. Webster.

“I testified.  The court listened.”5

As documented in Hansen v. Webster (p. 3), Ayoob never testified in “court.”  Indeed a “court” never heard his testimony.

In June 1980, Ayoob testified, as an expert witness for complainant Christine A. Hansen, against the FBI, in an administrative hearing conducted by a Complaints Examiner for the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

ONE of the items claimed, which Ayoob supported, was that the FBI issue, medium-frame Smith & Wesson revolver was inappropriate for female agents because it was designed to fit the hand of an average male.  FBI lawyer John Hall cross-examined Ayoob.  Hall blind-sided Ayoob with a magazine article that Ayoob recently authored, in which he recommended the K-frame Smith & Wesson revolver as the ideal weapon for women.  This is the very gun Ayoob had just testified was unsuitable for women.  Hall instructed Ayoob to read aloud from his own article that contradicted his earlier expert testimony.  Ayoob reluctantly complied in a subdued and hushed voice.

Conclusions. When people ask me about carrying guns for women, I generally recommend a small .38 Special with exotic ammo, knowing that they’ll probably wind up with wadcutters no matter what I say.  I recommend something on a moderate frame for small hands.  Colt’s Police Positive, revitalized two years ago and sadly being discontinued this year, is a good choice as is the Diamondback, which has a chance for survival.  In the Smith line, a K-frame .38 Special should have the round butt, and be fitted with a Tyler-T grip adapter, a combination that fits many female hands, and small male hands, superbly. [Emphasis added]

My second choice would be an S&W Chief Special with 3" barrel... [Emphasis added]

-Ayoob, Massad F.: "Selecting the Woman’s Defense Gun." Guns, March 1979; pp. 8, 46-49.

(Ayoob's "second choice", the Smith & Wesson Chief's Special, is also known as the Model 36 (M36).  It is a small-frame (J-frame) revolver.)

In the same article, Ayoob describes “exotic ammo”:

…with an "exotic" load, the 38 Special is a moderately effective manstopper.

By that we mean hollowpoints.  Not semi-jacketed “softnoses,” which despite their theoretically equivalent ballistics on the mathematical sheets offer little more shock effect than the feeble old round nose, but either semi-jacketed hollowpoints from 110 to 125 grains, or maybe the 158 grain all lead H.P., (all of which are known generally as "Plus-P"), or maybe the new Scorpion.

The all-lead HPs, available only in the full 158-gr weight, generally mushroom reliably, but again, since recoil is primarily a function of bullet weight when pressures are equal, as in Plus-P factory .38 stuff, they kick harder.


Unfortunately for those with female hands, the FBI did not issue wadcutter cartridges as duty ammo, and it had no intention of doing so.  It issued the dependable .38 Special 158-grain +P LSWCHP cartridge (“FBI load”), which "kick harder" as Ayoob described accurately.

"Dodson gets his false interpretation of Hansen from the aforementioned mentor."6

-Ayoob, Massad: “Response to Dodson.” August 20054

Ayoob's bizarre speculation, above, is wildly inaccurate.  According to retired SSA Urey W. Patrick, former Assistant Chief of the FBI Firearms Training Unit:

John Hall demolished Ayoob - in a civil, polite and unmistakable manner....

The Hansen suit was not lost on the firearms allegations.  Actually, the suit was not lost at all – it was settled.  The settlement terms did not substantially change the FBI firearms program – they substantially changed the FBI physical fitness requirements, recruiting practices, and some other personnel and training measures.  The FBI agreed to identify a smaller weapon to have on hand to offer female trainees who could not physically handle the issued S&W M13, but with no compulsion to actually issue them except in individual cases where the instructor and the student agreed after the student failed with the M13.  An M36 with 3” barrel was selected to meet the terms of the agreement.  Issuing it never happened, since those who failed with the M13 did not want to try a smaller weapon with a shorter sight radius, lighter weight, reduced capacity and increased recoil effects – all of which they were given the chance to experience.

The other change in the firearms program was to mandate uniformity in the remedial program for students who failed initial qualification.  Prior to the settlement, remediation was left to the Principal Firearms Instructor for the class - some would devote far more time than others.  The settlement agreed to make remediation uniform so that all failed trainees got equal time and instruction.  The downside was that any extra time beyond what was specified in the official remedial program was absolutely forbidden.  Those instructors willing and eager to provide some extra time to their students could not do so - legally barred from it.

"Job critical" was the key.  Ability with a firearm was clearly job critical - and the court supported that, and supported the expertise of the FBI in deciding weapons/ammunition best suited to meeting the needs of that criticality.  The court deferred completely - with the single exception of the remediation program, which was deemed unfair to those with less conscientious instructors.  Essentially, the court said that in those areas that are truly "job critical", an agency has a pretty free hand to do what is best and require what is best, as determined by the agency.

As you may infer - Ayoob had nothing to do with any of that.  But then he knows that nobody is going to read the settlement, the transcripts or get anything out of the FBI so he promotes his own view for his own interests - as with so much else he does.

-E-mail to Shawn Dodson, March 2005

Ayoob is a master of self promotion - never overly constrained by consistency or fact.  The FBI’s experience clearly proved the problem was not the fit of the gun, as Ayoob dishonestly hypothesized in his embellished “court” testimony; instead the problem was the "hard kicking" ammo he truthfully described in Guns magazine several months earlier.

Stuck on Stupid: Ayoob and the FBI-Miami Shootout

Ayoob is offended by falsehood, which is how I describe his "FBI Miami Shootout" reports.4, 7  It appears in two places, the title and conclusion.  Considering that he believes his only error – HIS ONLY ERROR – is to misspell Gilbert Orrantia's surname, I doubt he'd accept any word that suggests the slightest hint of inaccuracy.  His complaint, however, has not fallen on deaf ears.  Ayoob compelled me to reconsider falsehood, and I concede it might be inappropriate.  I believe bullshit is more fitting.

On the issue of weasel-words, Ayoob’s mischaracterization of court and falsehood are prime examples.  Anecdotal is another.  In a scientific context, an anecdotal report simply means the data are incomplete, subjective interpretation, or have not/cannot be verified.  Nevertheless, in a contrived effort to discredit critics of his pal’s stopping power survey, Ayoob disingenuously weasel-words anecdotal, applying his now recycled “debater’s trick” malarkey:

Critics of the IWBA like to scoff at the Marshall study as “anecdotal” rather than “scientific.”  That use of the term is a cheap debater’s trick.  It relies on the public’s connotation of the word “anecdote” as meaning a joke.  Actually the first definition of an anecdote is “a short telling of an incident that happened.”

If it doesn’t fit the expectations of some guy in a lab coat who shoots bullets into gelatin, does that mean it’s a joke?  Quite the contrary.

…Anybody who says anecdotal reports are a joke is telling you that your [law enforcement] experience, and the collective experience of your professional community, is useless.

-Ayoob, Massad: "CopTalk: Anecdotal v. Scientific." American Handgunner, March/April 2000; p. 75

Anecdotal versus Scientific?  Ayoob relies upon anecdotal reports to make a living, so of course he's going to defend them.  Unfortunately the "joke" is on Ayoob's readers, who make decisions based on inaccuracies and speculation he authoritatively presents as facts.

In desperate attempt to vilify me, Ayoob deceitfully misrepresents my critique of his FBI-Miami shootout articles as a personal attack on Gordon McNeill and Edmundo Mireles:

...Ed Mireles and the late Gordon McNeill...came into the limelight through no intention of their own, but because they were deservedly acclaimed for the great valor and spirit they showed on 4/11/86. When Dodson snidely accuses them of falsehood by extention [sic], he goes too far.

At one point in his strange screed, Dodson insists that McNeill's .357 S&W Combat Magnum was loaded with .38 Special ammunition. He may not have had access to the official FBI materials, but that's no excuse; Dodson makes frequent reference to my book "The Ayoob Files," so he has obviously read it. Therein, Mireles is quoted on his recollection of being able to distinguish between the "pops" of the .38s and 9mms, the louder reports of McNeill's Magnum rounds, and what he called "the psychologically devastating ka-boom" of cop-killer Michael Platt's .223 rifle.

Dodson calls it a "falsehood" that Platt's accomplice Edward Matix sustained ear damage from Platt firing the .223 in direct proximity to his unprotected face. Gordon McNeill, far closer to the investigation than Dodson or his puppetmaster, said otherwise and was so quoted in "Ayoob Files."

I may have to put up with Dodson's crap.  But when he implicitly accuses these two genuine American heroes of "falsehoods," Dodson is contemptible and unforgivable.

-(see Ayoob: “Response to Dodson.”)

Unfortunately for Ayoob, his phony moral condemnation is exposed by the very lawmen he tries to selfishly exploit.  McNeill and Mireles personally reviewed Forensic Analysis; both endorse the report that Ayoob dismisses as “a speculative account.” Their written statements appear in Appendix III.  McNeill testifies (p. 112):

The report will serve as a model for all of law enforcement in the area of crime scene reconstruction and will finally set the record straight on one of the most significant and tragic events in FBI history. [emphasis added]

Mireles writes (p. 119):

I would like the reader to know that to the extent that was humanly possible, Dr. W. French Anderson’s research and conclusions are correct.  There might be some slight variation in the sequence of some of the events as we know them, but to the extent possible, the events documented are, to my knowledge, correct.  The reader needs to bear in mind that this event was reconstructed by Dr. Anderson ten years after the fact.  Four out of the ten participants are dead.  We will probably never really know exactly what all their actions were, but I agree with Dr. Anderson’s forensic analysis. [emphasis added]

(Formerly restricted to law enforcement, Forensic Analysis is now available to the general public from Paladin Press.)

Despite a claim to have carefully studied Forensic Analysis, Ayoob seems oblivious to its content.  In addition, it appears he's attempting to imply that he had privileged access to "official FBI materials."  If this is indeed the case, then why do FBI records disagree with his reports, as documented below?

Ayoob speculates that an unnamed "mentor" and "puppetmaster" was somehow involved in producing my critique of his FBI Miami shootout reports.4, 6  His kooky, juvenile conjecture is incorrect.  The buck stops here.  I don't need help to sound the bullshit alarm when I recognize bullshit.  (If I need help with anything it’s my pathetic, road sign-like prose.)8

Ayoob protests a “BS TV show” that McNeill, Mireles and John Hanlon personally appear in and who provide first-person testimony about their experiences on 11 April 1986.  Their appearance and personal testimony were the reasons I included the presentation as a reference, but in October 2004, as a result of an online discussion with Ayoob’s gunwriter buddy, Dean Speir, I made a decision to remove it because it’s redundant and unnecessary.9  The premise of my critique is to compare Ayoob’s faulty “FBI Miami Shootout” reports to Anderson’s Forensic Analysis, which stands on its own merit and provides all the information needed to uncover Ayoob’s minefield of misinformation.

...Look here she comes now
Bow down and stare in wonder
Oh how we love you
No flaws when you're pretending...

-Evanescence: "Everybody's Fool"

"…I determined that I had only gotten one thing wrong…"

-(see Ayoob: “Response to Dodson.”)

Ayoob can pose all he wants, but his pompous insistence that he’s correct in all but one minor detail regarding the FBI-Miami shootout is easily discredited by simple fact checking of sources he claims to have thoroughly consulted:

Ayoob Claim

Discredited By

False:  “Silvertip .357 is authorized by the Bureau only for special circumstances, and it is believed that supervisor McNeill’s 2½" Combat Magnum was so charged.” (p. 193)

"[Mireles] was able to clearly distinguish between what he described as the popping sound of agents’ 9mms and .38s, the bang of McNeill’s .357 Magnum rounds, and the ‘psychologically devastating ka-boom’ of Platt’s .223 rifle." (p. 220)

Anecdotal report not substantiated by forensic evidence

FBI records show McNeill fired 6 rounds Winchester .38 Special +P 158gr LSWCHP from his S&W M19-3, .357 Magnum revolver.  In addition, three .38 Special +P cartridges were loaded in the chamber of his revolver when it was recovered and examined. Finally, inventory of McNeill’s car, Buick LeSabre, license 516-DTK, revealed no Winchester .357 Magnum 145gr STHP ammunition within:

Metro-Dade PD records show nine .38 Special “casings” found at rear of McNeill’s car:

Rivers, David, Sgt., Metro-Dade Police Dept: “Weapons Found at Scene.” (Forensic Analysis, Plate B, p. 8)

Neither McNeill nor Mireles dispute Anderson’s statement, “6 rounds (38+P) fired,” (Forensic Analysis, pp. 13, 112-114, 119-127)

False:  “Meanwhile, Matix has squeezed out the driver’s door of the wrecked getaway car, and he unleashes a blast of 00 buckshot at Grogan and Dove to pin them down.” (p. 199)

FBI records show that Matix’s shotgun was loaded with Winchester #6 birdshot: (Adobe Reader pp. 66 & 67)

FBI records show spent #6 birdshot recovered from Grogan/Dove’s vehicle: (Adobe Reader p. 57)

False:  The buckshot has smashed into [Platt’s] face... but it has come in from a side angle, and no pellet has reached his brain.” (p. 202)

No evidence that buckshot "smashed into Platt's face."  Autopsy report (Forensic Analysis, pp. 97-105):

Case No. 86-0969: autopsy report for PLATT, Michael L., prepared by Jay S. Barnhart, Jr, M.D., Associate Medical Examiner, Dade County Medical Examiner, dated 25 April 1986, 8 pages 

False:  “Mireles’ fourth blast and his fifth, blows out the windshield of the Buick. Matix twists in agony as he is hit by the pellets.” (p. 203)

No evidence that Matix was hit by any buckshot.  Autopsy report (Forensic Analysis, pp. 90-96):

Case No. 86-0968: autopsy report for MATIX, William, prepared by Jay S. Barnhart, Jr, M.D., Associate Medical Examiner, Dade County Medical Examiner, dated 25 April 1986, 7 pages

False:  And behind the wheel, his face a bloody mask...." (p. 203)

Crime scene photo (Forensic Analysis, Plate IV-F, p. 84) of Platt’s body laying on ground, face up, does not agree with Ayoob’s dramatic, fabricated description

False:  "[Mireles] concentrates on the face of the copkiller at the end of the tunnel, and on his front sight, and even in broad daylight there is the flash as the Federal 158 grain lead hollowpoint .38 slug roars from the barrel of his gun and into the brain of the murderer Platt." (p. 204)

Autopsy report 

Autopsy x-ray (Forensic Analysis, Figure IV-4, p. 71) of Platt’s head shows no projectiles penetrated the brain

FBI records show that Mireles’ revolver was loaded with Winchester ammunition:
(Adobe Reader pp. 66 & 67)

False:  "[McNeill] adds that he learned later that both Matix’ eardrums had been ruptured by his partner’s gunfire. (p. 214)

Anecdotal report not substantiated by forensic evidence

Autopsy report: examination revealed no evidence of Matix having suffered ruptured eardrums:

EXTERNAL EXAMINATION:…No blood is in the ear canals.  The conjunctivae have no petechiae and the irides are blue and the pupils are round and equal and 4 millimeters in diameter….

False:  “[Mireles’] first shot had mangled the foot of the cop-killer, and the last three rounds of 12-pellet 00-buck smashed into Platt’s maxillofacial structure and also tore into the face of Matix. One pellet entered Matix’ brain." (p. 221)

Autopsy reports

Autopsy x-ray (Forensic Analysis, Figure IV-4, p. 71) of Platt’s head shows no projectiles having collided with or damaged the maxillofacial structure

Autopsy x-ray (Forensic Analysis, Figure IV-17, p. 76) of Matix’s head shows no projectiles penetrated the brain

False:  "...Dove fired 27 pistol shots and scored only one hit, and Grogan fired close to 20 with no hits." (p. 222)

FBI records show that Dove fired 20 rounds; Grogan fired nine:

Ayoob seems to think I’ve read his book, The Ayoob Files.  He shouldn’t flatter himself.  I merely verified photocopies of two FBI Miami shootout chapters taken from his book, that were provided to me by another person, to ensure the book was consistent with the magazine articles.  I critiqued the reports presented in the book because it appeared to me, at the time, that it would be easier for interested readers to get hold of his book than two aging magazine articles.  I have no reason to believe any given shooting incident report or “stopping power” claim Ayoob makes is true, as I shall continue to show.


Where’s the Brain?
In 1993, American Handgunner published Ayoob’s acrimonious reply to a letter from Martin L. Fackler, M.D., in which Fackler challenged assertions made by Ayoob in an article he'd written about the JFK assassination. Among several questionable claims, Ayoob’s conclusion is particularly worthy of scrutiny:

"…the head shot in frame 313 of the Zapruder film is totally incongruous with what the 6.5 Carcano ball round is known to do."

-Ayoob, Massad: "Where's the Brain?" American Handgunner, 17(105): July/August 1993; pp. 12, 15.

Ayoob’s declaration is absolutely untrue.

Ayoob is obviously conversant with Lattimer’s 1980 book, Kennedy and Lincoln: Medical & Ballistic Comparisons of Their Assassinations; in his reply to Fackler he cites information presented on pages 271 and 272.  Yet Lattimer’s Figure 91, Skull Bullets,10 not only proves Ayoob wrong it exemplifies the shameless extent of his blatant dishonesty.  (It appears Ayoob knew few of his readers had access to an obscure, out of print book; and of those that did, there was no mass media means to reveal his deceit.  In addition, his status with the popular gun press ensured he would have the last word in replying to any criticism.  However with the arrival of the Internet there are no more secrets; valid and verifiable evidence to challenge and expose misinformation can now be easily presented to a mass audience.  It is no longer possible to hide behind editors and exploit limitations of the print media to betray unsuspecting readers for the purpose of protecting one's own ego and importance.)

In response to Ayoob’s nonsense, Lattimer published a detailed summary of the findings reported in his book.  I present an extract from his summary, which appears after the References/Endnotes section of this reply, that describes the mechanics of JFK’s fatal head wound.  (The information presented in the extract also appears in Lattimer’s book, Kennedy and Lincoln: Medical and Ballistic Comparisons of their Assassinations, albeit in a less concise format.)

In a situation that bears striking similarity to his unscrupulous Hansen testimony, an earlier magazine article comes back to bite Ayoob in the ass.  Five months prior to "Where's the Brain?” Ayoob published the following:

Modern formulations of ballistic gelatin based on Fackler’s formula are extremely convenient for the experimenter, and they do indeed simulate the resistance to a bullet that would occur in the muscle tissue of a pig, which in turn closely replicates the muscle tissue of a man.  Unfortunately, there are also shortcomings.

We do not shoot at the muscles.  We shoot at the internal organs and do so through various intervening bodily structures.  One problem with gelatin is that it is homogeneous and gives the bullet a smoothly consistent resistance throughout its path that will not occur in the human body.

The mammalian body is heterogeneous.  In a tiny fraction of a second, the bullet goes through stretchy epidermis [sic], then the fibrous elasticity of muscle tissue, then perhaps the plastic density of a solid abdominal organ like the liver or spleen, and along the way it may have crashed through rigid resistance of bone.  Each of these obstacles offers a different resistance to the bullet than does any homogeneous medium, and this can drastically alter the performance of the projectile in terms of both deceleration and deformation, thus radically altering the degree and the profile of the tissue damage that will now be caused. [emphasis added]

These variables need to be considered.  They aren’t found in gelatin.  They are found in medical reports of surviving gunshot victims and in the autopsy protocols conducted upon those who did not survive.  Combined with involved personnel’s observations of exactly what the individual did immediately after being shot, we have the “anecdotal” data relied upon by Marshall and his followers. [emphasis added]

-Ayoob, Massad: “Stopping Power: A Look at the Current Controversy.” Handguns, February 1993; pp. 28–32, 87.

Thus, in February’s Handguns, Ayoob carefully explains several "shortcomings" of ordnance gelatin testing, but in the July/August issue of American Handgunner, Ayoob disingenuously contradicts himself; a block of gelatin is now so flawless it proves JFK wasn’t shot in the head with a 6.5mm Carcano bullet!  In pathetic effort to present the appearance of winning a debate (which is apparently more important to Ayoob than the truth) he deceitfully attempts to misrepresent Fackler’s wound profile:

"Dr. Fackler’s suggestion is incongruous in that it is completely refuted and contradicted by his own earlier work….

"Fackler’s workup of the 6.5mm Carcano roundnose bullet indicates that it will penetrate 106cm (41+”) of flesh simulant…."

-(see Ayoob: "Where's the Brain?")

Indeed, one cannot dispute that Fackler’s wound profile illustration shows that the 6.5mm Carcano FMJ bullet produces minimal soft tissue disruption.  However as shown by Lattimer, its performance in the JFK head wound is entirely consistent with a rifle bullet that strikes bone early in its wound path: it fragmented.  Bone not only affects a bullet's terminal performance characteristics it can also complicate wounding effects (or as Ayoob declared: "...this can drastically alter the performance of the projectile in terms of both deceleration and deformation, thus radically altering the degree and the profile of the tissue damage that will now be caused.").  Fackler's bare gelatin wound profile depicts a "simple wound" involving soft tissues only.  Whereas the JFK head wound is a "complex wound" involving projectile/bone/soft tissue interaction.  A block of bare gelatin in no way represents a human head.  Yet Ayoob deceitfully attempts to convince his readers that it does, in total disregard of his claims to the opposite in Handguns just a few months earlier.

(Note: an extract from an article by Duncan MacPherson that confronts misconceptions about differences in soft tissue densities, as related to homogeneous ordnance gelatin testing, appears after the References/Endnotes section of this reply.) 

In regard to the .30-30 photo cited by Fackler, Ayoob writes: 

"Interestingly, Dr. Fackler does not cite a much more representative .30-30 soft-nose head wound in the same book, with a more typical 2” defect."


Unfortunately, Ayoob did not identify the particular photo he refers to and it’s not obvious in DiMaio’s book.  Altogether there are about a half-dozen photos of .30-30 gunshot wounds presented by DiMaio:

-DiMaio, Vincent J.M.: Gunshot Wounds: Practical Aspects of Firearms, Ballistics, and Forensic Techniques. Elsevier Science Publishing Co., Inc., New York, NY; 1985.

Keeping in mind that the massive JFK head wound as well as the head wound cited by Fackler are both exit wounds, I’m unable to determine what photo, in DiMiao’s book, depicts the "more typical 2” defect," as none of the .30-30 head wound photos, in the context of an exit wound, appear to match Ayoob’s description.  It seems Ayoob habitually believes his readers will not verify the references he cites to support his claims.

DiMaio’s discussion on page 150, which refers to figure 7-8 (the photo cited by Fackler), states:

Intermediate and distant head wounds, show a wide range in the degree of severity, depending on the style of the bullet and the entrance site in the head.  Anything that tends to produce instability in the bullet as it enters the head results in more extensive injuries.  Thus, bullets entering the thick occipital bone cause greater injuries than those entering the temporal area.  Intermediate and distant wounds of the head can be just as devastating as contact wounds (Figure 7-8).”


Stressfire II: Another Erroneous Anecdotal Report

On page 12 of Stressfire II, Ayoob writes:

In an infamous San Jose shooting, a deranged homeless man snatched a police officer’s revolver, murdered him with it, then engaged other officers in a running gunfight.  After he had been killed, another officer was found a block away dying.  He was thought at first to have been slain by the cop killer with the stolen service-revolver.  However, autopsy showed that a single 00 buckshot pellet fired by another officer had gone past the offender and struck the officer, entering below his ballistic vest and severing the abdominal aorta.  The dead officer was between 50 and 60 yards from the officer who fired.

-Ayoob, Massad F.: StressFire II: Advanced Combat Shotgun. Massad F. and Dorothy Ayoob, Concord, NH, 1992.

In reality, investigators were unable to determine who fired the 00 buckshot pellet that killed officer Gordon Silva.  It was a ricochet, and there were two officers from whom the pellet could have originated: officer Phillip Rodgers was located about 20 yards from Silva, and officer Thomas Cannell was 70+ yards away.  There was no shooter between 50 and 60 yards as reported by Ayoob.  Reconstruction of the shooting produced inconclusive results because Silva’s fatal wound was accurately replicated in ordnance gelatin at both 20 yards and 70+ yards.

Contrary to Ayoob’s report, Silva was not “found a block away dying.”  In his police report, Rodgers describes his close proximity to Silva: “I observed officer Silva directly across from me on the sidewalk. …I took this into account as the suspect ran out and I took aim and fired at the suspect.”

Furthermore, Ayoob incorrectly reports that the pellet cut Silva’s aorta; in fact, it passed through the inferior vena cava.

Unique Perspective Indeed

"...Massad Ayoob has access to a unique real-world perspective of which rounds work and which don't in actual gunfights."

-Ayoob, Massad: "Top 9mm Parabellum Combat Loads." Handguns, October 1990; pp. 42–49.

"The LASD chose to go from the excellent 115 gr. Federal 9BP jacketed hollowpoint to a 147 gr. subsonic load.  Nature took its course.  The deputies discovered in the field that, when loaded with low-velocity hollowpoints, the 9mm was the impotent manstopper that Jeff Cooper had warned them about."

-Ayoob, Massad: “Safety, Safety, Safety.” American Handgunner, January/February 2001

"Sir, the information provided by Mr. Ayoob regarding poor performance of the 147gr 9mm is incorrect.  This Department uses the Winchester [147gr] SXT and the performance of this bullet is outstanding."

-Bruce Harris, Training Bureau, Weapons Training, Biscailuz Center Range, Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department (e-mail to Shawn Dodson, January 2001)

Sadly, although I can continue to present additional examples of Ayoob's misinformation, I’ve proved my point.

Among his many gifts Ayoob is an exceptionally talented, prolific and successful writer.  He's made great contributions to the study, understanding and application of lawful use of force, and I respect him for these achievements.  For as much as he writes he's bound to make an occasional error.  He’s human and stuff happens.  As with any reasonable person, I’m willing to overlook minor inaccuracies, and pardon major mistakes provided they’re acknowledged, corrected and don't happen too often.  But Ayoob has given me reason to question his honesty.

In addition, the multitude of serious factual errors reported by Ayoob, a product of inaccurate anecdotal reports, combined with a refusal to acknowledge and correct them, substantially undermines his credibility as an authority on shooting incident analysis and "stopping power."  A claim made by Ayoob, without valid, verifiable documentation to support it, is untrustworthy.

"There's a saying: If you suck one cock, you're a cocksucker forever.  Well, if you tell one lie in court, you're a liar forever.”  

-Massad Ayoob11

Ayoob was thoroughly impeached by John Hall in the Hansen case because of his misconduct as an expert witness - he lied.  Ayoob shopped his opinion, i.e., his testimony supported whatever the side paying him needed him to support regardless of truth.

Ayoob's lie is further exposed by the fact that every female FBI trainee rejected the smaller, hypothetically more "woman friendly" revolver because they were less proficient with it.

Hansen did not produce "sweeping" and "substantial" changes to the FBI firearms training program for women as Ayoob and attorney John Townsend Rich both claim.  The "victory with respect to firearms training" produced two changes only: 1) the smaller revolver, and 2) uniformity in remedial firearms training.

Ayoob's account of the 1986 FBI shootout in Miami is completely proved false by autopsy reports, FBI reports, Metro-Dade PD reports, crime scene photos, and statements from both McNeill and Mireles.

In "Where's the Brain?", Ayoob blatantly lied to his readers - multiple times.

Anyone seeking Ayoob's expert testimony is well advised that he can be easily discredited by his history of contradictions and deceitful arguments as exemplified in Hansen and the well documented evidence presented herein.


1. In tribute to the 20th anniversary of the FBI-Miami shootout.
6. Contemptuously alluding to Martin L. Fackler, M.D.
8. Apologies to Christopher Whitcomb
10. Lattimer, John K. M.D., Sc.D., F.A.C.S: Kennedy and Lincoln: Medical & Ballistic Comparisons of Their Assassinations. Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, New York, NY; 1980

Extract from “Differences in the Wounding Behavior of the Two Bullets that Struck President Kennedy; An Experimental Study.” (John K. Lattimer, M.D., Sc.D., Jon K. Lattimer, M.D., et. al., Wound Ballistics Review, 2(2): 1995; 13-37):

…Bullet (No. WC 567-569) which struck the President on the back of the head, broke up because of the hardness of the skull, with the immediate transition into the soft tissues of the brain (Fig 31 & 32).

The greatly increased surface area of the broken bullet and its fragments caused a large temporary cavity to occur in the semi-fluid brain, which, being confined in the cranial vault exploded upward and forward, out the huge wound of exit on the front-right of the skull caused by diverging bullet fragments.  Our replications demonstrated this “upward and forward” movement of the skull fragments and brain tissue (Fig. 25).

The lead core and gilding metal jacket separated on contact with the skull, (Fig. 26) leaving a 6.5mm fragment sheared off by the sharp edge of the bone at the point of impact.  The entry wound on the inside of the skull showed typical “beveling” of the inner end of the skull wound, where the hole was much larger than that of the outer end of the wound, as is characteristic of wound-of-entrance in bone.  The broken bullet scattered dozens of tiny fragments of lead along the track of the bullet from back to front through the brain (Fig 27).  Fragments several millimeters in diameter were embedded in the inner surface of the front side of the skull, adjacent to the wound track (Fig 28 AP & LAT).  All the fragments of lead removed from the President’s head and found on the floor of the Presidential automobile, matched this bullet and not bullet 399.  There were lead fragments from 2 bullets and 2 bullets only, by neutron activation analysis.

A “beveling” of the wound of exit on the front of the skull was also observed and 3 segments of skull could be seen in the Zapruder movie, spiraling upward and forward away from the head, with a cloud of exploding brain substance, immediately after impact, just as in our experimental replications (Fig 25).  These flew 40 feet in the air and were recovered from the pavement and infield, later.

Almost the entire right hemisphere of the brain was removed by the bullet (Fig 28 A&B, 29 A&B, 30).  This is exactly what our test bullets did when we replicated the skull and brain wounds on our experimental model.  Fragmentation of our skull was extensive in every case (Fig 31, 32) with upward and forward ejection of brain material and skull fragments, just as shown in the Zapruder movie in frame 313 and subsequent frames (Fig 25).  This difference in reaction after impact on bone, in contrast to the impact on soft tissues was consistent.  It happened dependably in our replication (Fig 25).  

Backward retro-recoil of the skulls, towards the gun, then occurred in our simulations, just as in JFK’s case….

Extract from “Wound Ballistics Misconceptions.” (Duncan MacPherson, Wound Ballistics Review, 2(3): 1996; 42-43)

When a bullet is penetrating any material (tissue, water, air, wood, etc.), the total force the bullet exerts on the material is the same as the total force the material exerts on the bullet (this is Newton’s Third Law of Motion).  These forces may be represented as a combination of shear forces and inertial forces (don’t be concerned if these words sound too technical – the concepts are easy).  Shear force may be thought of as the force that resists deformation; if you push on a wall you are creating shear forces in the wall material that resist your push.  If you push your hand down very slowly on a water surface, you feel no resisting force; this is true because a liquid cannot support a shear force….

You can fan your hand back and forth in air quite rapidly because there seems to be no resistance, but a similar fanning motion cannot be done nearly as rapidly underwater because moving the water can take all the strength you can muster.  The forces that resist the movement of your hand in water are inertial forces…. 

A bullet penetrating a soft solid (tissue or a tissue simulant like gelatin) meets resistance that is a combination of shear forces and inertial forces….

…Anyone who has worked with gelatin knows that a finger can be pushed into gelatin with a force of only a few pounds; this force is similar to the resistance to a finger poked into the stomach, but the tissue does not fracture as easily as gelatin does.  A finger poked into water does not meet this kind of resistance, which is due to shear forces.  Penetration of a 9mm bullet at 1000 ft/sec is resisted by an inertial force of about 800 pounds; it is obvious that the presence or absence of a 3 to 5 pound shear force makes no practical difference in the penetration at this velocity.  This also explains why the fact that gelatin fractures more easily than tissue does is not important.

The extension of these dynamics to soft tissue variation is obvious.  Different types of tissue present different resistance to finger probing by a surgeon, but the surgeon is not probing at 1000 ft/sec.  Different tissue types do have differences in the amount of shear force they will support, but all of these forces are so small relative to inertial forces that there is no practical difference.  The tissue types are closer to one another than they are to water, and bullet expansion in water and tissue are nearly identical at velocities over 600 ft/sec where all bullet expansion takes place (See Bullet Penetration for a detailed explanation of bullet expansion dynamics).

Since inertial forces depend on accelerating mass, it makes sense that these forces should be lower at lower velocities (because the penetrated material cannot be accelerated to a velocity higher than the bullet).  Shear forces have little velocity dependence, and as a result, shear forces are a much larger fraction of the total when bullet velocity is below the cavitation threshold.  This low velocity effect is the reason that total bullet penetration depth is much different in water and in tissue or a valid tissue simulant.

As a result of the penetration dynamics, most soft solids with a density very near soft tissues (i.e., near the density of water) are satisfactory tissue simulants when shear forces are not important.  However, total penetration depth depends significantly on dynamics at velocities below 400 ft/sec, so most materials do not properly simulate penetration depth.  The total bullet penetration depth in tissue and a valid tissue simulant should be the same; standard practice is to use calibrated gelatin to insure this.  In effect, gelatin calibration is done to ensure that the shear forces in the gelatin are the same as in typical soft tissue (as described in Bullet Penetration, the technical parameter used in the dynamic is viscosity).

Extracts from “The Wound Profile & The Human Body: Damage Pattern Correlation.” (Martin L Fackler, MD, Wound Ballistics Review, 1(4): 1994; 12-19)

The test of the wound profiles’ validity is how accurately they portray the projectile-tissue interaction observed in shots that penetrate the human body.  Since most shots in the human body traverse various tissues, we would expect the wound profiles to vary somewhat, depending on the tissues traversed.  However, the only radical departure has been found to occur when the projectile strikes bone: this predictably deforms the bullet more than soft tissue, reducing its overall penetration depth, and sometimes altering the angle of the projectile’s course.  Shots traversing only soft tissues in humans have shown damage patterns of remarkably close approximation to the wound profiles.

The bullet penetration depth comparison, as well as the similarity in bullet deformation and yaw patterns, between human soft tissue and 10% ordnance gelatin have proven to be consistent and reliable.  Every time there appeared to be an inconsistency…a good reason was found and when the exact circumstances were matched, the results matched.  The cases reported here comprise but a small fraction of the documented comparisons which have established 10% ordnance gelatin as a valid tissue simulant.

Additional comment by Shawn Dodson

JHP handgun bullets are designed to expand in soft tissues.  In a defensive shooting the kinds of tissues we’re trying to destroy are all soft tissues.  These are reasons why bone isn’t normally used to test JHP bullet performance because: 1) JHP bullets aren’t designed to expand in bone – they just deform, and 2) the bullet’s terminal performance characteristics are entirely dependent on factors that cannot be controlled by the shooter (what bone is hit, where it is hit, angle of impact, depth of location along the wound track, bone density/thickness, etc.).  The only terminal performance desired in bone, at least that I can think of, is for a bullet to blast through to reach vital tissues.  Quite simply, performance in bone is what it is.

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