Volume 34, Issue 6 (November 1989)
Wounding Characteristics of .38 Caliber Revolver Cartridges
Injury patterns in both artificial media and animal tissues were analyzed, and the results were then correlated with autopsy findings in subjects who died from gunshot wounds to determine the wounding characteristics of bullets from two standard .38 caliber revolver cartridges. The 150-grain round nose bullet, in comparison with a 110-grain semi-jacketed controlled-expansion round (hollowpoint bullet), was found to have greater penetration and a greater tendency to deviate from its flight path. The controlled expansion round was found to produce a wider bullet track with greater deformation and bullet fragmentation than the round nose ammunition in artificial media and animal tissue. Autopsy study of shooting victims indicated more through-and-through wounds with round nose bullets than with hollowpoint rounds, and overall survival in shooting victims was greater with roundnose bullets, but was modified by site of injury and availability of prompt medical treatment. Neither round appeared to differ in inherent “knockdown” power. Though distinct differences in wounding patterns can be demonstrated in artificial and animal media, the differences between round nose and controlled expansion round bullets are not marked in actual human subjects with gunshot wounds.