Last weekend I tried an experiment. I wanted to check on penetration, and recover a fired hollow point to use as a part of my concealed firearms permit classes. For a variety of reasons, and after 6 months of research, I have switched from carrying a Colt Government Mark IV .45 ACP to using a Glock Model 19, a 9mm. Again, after much research I am using the Winchester Ranger SXT, the RA9TA round, in the 9mm. These 127 grain +P+ bullets go 1250 feet per second from a 4 inch barrel. A week ago I tried shooting into 3 one-gallon milk jugs filled with water. The Ranger went through them and I couldn't recover an expended bullet. On Saturday I soaked a bunch of phone books in the bath tub, then took them to the pistol range and Duct taped them together. From 10 feet I fired two RA9TA rounds into the lower left and right quarters of the phone books. Checking after each shot, I found the bullets hadn't exited the 4 phone books. Then I fired a practice round into the top third of the phone books. It was a 115 grain full metal jacket (FMJ), factory remanufactured, and sold through Cabella's in bulk. I have found them to be extremely accurate and reliable (3/16 inch, three-shot group at 25 feet). When I examined the phone books I found the FMJ bullet had punched right through and out the back.
Here's the point. The previous posting is correct. The Geneva Convention requires that military rounds be FMJ. That has some tactical advantage in war, as a wounded combatant takes three out of combat for a time, the person wounded and the two needed to carry him to help. I come from a law enforcement background and my family is still active in policy work. I know of no law enforcement agency that uses FMJ. There are two reasons for this. Law enforcement (and personal defense) often occurs in a cluttered environment, with a concern about what is beyond your target. A bullet that strikes a suspect, which then passes through, can be a danger to persons or things behind the suspect. The second reason is that a bullet that expends all of its energy in the target is better for stopping an aggressor's actions than a bullet that uses only a portion of its energy.
Back to the phone books. The two hollow point bullets were found in the books, at pages 3,262 and 3,186. This means they passed through the front and back covers of several books, and an average of 1,612 pieces of paper. Both bullets were expanded to about .60 caliber, and retained almost 100% of their weight (the bonded core worked, there was no separation). Tests I have read using ballatic gel indicate penetration of 12 to 14 inches, after having passed through denim, wall board, and auto glass.
Now to the "black talon." When I did the Utah Police Academy in 1974 we had to do a research paper. My subject was the police sidearm and ammunition. At that time, with what was available, I concluded that a reliable (and not all are) semi-automatic pistol was preferred. I also determined that the size of the wound channel and the "stopping power" were related, the bigger the better. I concluded a 1911 type pistol in .45 calliber was the best. At that time, a Smith and Wesson revolver in .38 or .357 was the standard. It is only in the past year I have been able to convince myself a 9mm with modern ammunition is appropriate. Not best, but appropriate. I have a 5 page paper that summarizes my recent thinking on that. As was stated correctly in a previous posting, the black talon is no longer available as black talon. The black part came from a lubrication put on the casing and bullet that gave it a blackened color. It is now marketed as SXT or Ranger. The bullet has a reverse cone hollow point design that expands leaving six very sharp, pointed hooks. When a bullet passes through tissue, it expands around the bullet and then collapses after the bullet is gone, leaving minimal damage. The nerve and blood vessels move to the side as the bullet passes through. If this weren't the case, then medical catheters would create a lot more tissue damage when they are employed. When Mr. Fakler helped Winchester develop this bullet, the hooks were designed to prevent some of this, as the hooks nick the tissues as it passes through. This creates more damage, hence more bleeding, hence less time before the brain starves for oxygen and the threat can no longer function to harm you and the ones you love. As was stated by Sgt. Jim Bryant, SLCPD retired, in a posting on DenfenseTech.org:
"There are 2 and only 2 factors involved in stopping an aggressor by gunfire. "Knock-down power" is a farce.
"The first factor is psychological. If the bad guy has the proper mind set, he will keep fighting until he is physically unable to do so. If not, he will fall down and/or quit when shot.
"The second factor is physiological. When his brain quits sending signals to his body enabling him to fight, he will stop being dangerous. That happens (a) when his central nervous system is damaged by a brain or spine shot, or (b) when sufficient blood loss has occurred to shut his brain down due to oxygen deprivation...that can take a while.
"The central nervous system is a small target. We should plan on blood loss as the fight stopper. Blood loss is accomplished by the most and/or biggest bleeding wounds inflicted. Makes no difference what the caliber is - there's only a tenth of an inch difference in diameter between a 9mm and a .45. SHOT PLACEMENT IS EVERYTHING!! SHOOT UNTIL HE GOES DOWN!!!"