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The World of Iniquus - Action Adventure Romance

Monday, July 22, 2013

Bullet Tutorial for Writers

.40S&W cartridge next to expanded hollow point...
.40S&W cartridge next to expanded hollow point bullet. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
DISCLAIMER - This is a non-political site that is geared to help writers write it right. I am presenting information to help develop fictional characters and fictional scenes. In no way am I advocating any position or personal decision

So things got pretty serious. Guns were drawn; a body sprawls on the ground. What the police find on the scene has a lot to do with what kind of bullet you as the author chose for this plot line.

If you need a tutorial about Step One - choosing a gun click HERE

Once your heroine has a gun in her hand, there are other things to consider. Let's begin understanding bullets and how they impact plot.


* The bullet is just the top piece of the round - the part that hits the
* A cartridge or round is the entire component 
   (brass + powder + primer) When the primer is hit by the hammer 
   or firing pin, it ignites the powder in the shell, forcing the bullet 
   in the only direction it can go - down the barrel of the gun.
* The caliber is a measurement of the bullet. (If the bullet has two
   numbers the first is the width of the bullet the second is the
   length of the round.)
* Another way to measure a round is by grain the higher the grains
   the more the bullet weighs - the slower it goes and the deeper it
   will penetrate.

INTERMEDIATE - How to read a bullet box:


*Full Metal Jacket (FMJ) - the entire case is encased in metal,
  offering the most penetration through your  target. The base is 
  exposed showing the lead.
*Total Metal Jacket - (TMJ) - The entire case including the base
  is covered
*Semi-jacketed (SMJ)- or just (J) for jacketed - the jacket only
  goes half way up the bullet.


.22 hollow point     9mm hydro-shock      9mm FMJ round nose/tip

Flat Point - (FP) has a flat tip (pictured below - left)

Round Nose - (RN) (below center) - This bullet will not expand in
      size with impact; it will continue on its trajectory. 

      This is an author's decision if she wants the victim to have an 
      exit wound, to die of impact/blood loss, or for the bullet to hit a
      secondary object or person. All of these would could result
      from a RN Click HERE to go to my blog article on Blood
A cut-through of a hollow-point bullet. The pr...
A cut-through of a hollow-point bullet.  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Hollow point -(HP) the tip is hollow. When it hits its

      target it will expand very quickly to almost 3x it's 
      original size. This means that the bullet expresses 
      the power inside of the body, damaging more 
      tissue than a round nose bullet. This expansion 
      also reduces the chance of a bullet exiting the 
      body and hitting someone nearby. This is safer 
      for self defense where innocent people are 
      nearby. This type of bullet creates massive pressure
      and the victim is likely to die of a brain embolism.
      Click HERE to go to my blog article on EMS and
       gunshot wounds.

Video quick study: First Science TV Round Nose v. Hollow Point (2:08)

Author's own picture. 9 mm pistol cartridge

9mm flat tip                     9mm round tip                    9mm hollow tip
 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

ADVANCED - Information about calibers

Baby Bear

.22 is cheap so it's good for target practice, but has minimal penetration - not great for defense.

Video Quick Study (5:56) This is a little in depth but shows him weighing the bullet (grains) and measuring the bullet for caliber, and also ballistic tests through testing medium.

.25 is used in small pistols it has a big kick - so a lot of recoil.
.32 penetrates a little deeper than a .380 and has less recoil  
.25 for a very small gun this is a good self-defense round

Mama Bear

38s and 9mm are the same size bullet. One is calculated in inches, and one is calculated in metric.The three kinds of 9mm  from smallest to biggest:

.380 Auto vs. 9mm Luger
.380 Auto vs. 9mm Luger (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
.380 and 9mm Short are the
   same (9x17) a little more
   power than the 38 special - 
   goes in a small pistol.
* 9mm Makarav (9x18)
* 9mm Luger is also known on
   the box as a
   9mm Parabellum (9x19)
   These are accurate far
   away, up close they are devastating. At 15 to 20
   feet your character might have to hit a guy 6 times
   to stop him if he's drugged up.
   (This is the bullet I shoot in my Springfield)

This is probably as big a caliber as your character needs. But if you are trying to make a decision between giving your character a 9mm or a .45 here is a good comparison video
 9mm v .45 bullet (17.31)

Papa Bear

.40 is the same as a 10mm. But a 10mm is really a .40 caliber magnum (I'll explain in a second) The .40 does not have the penetration of the 9mm because it is heavier and takes more power to shoot.

.45 is highly effective in dropping the target in one shot.

Video Quick Study: 10mm ammo energy test   (7:28) go to 3:50 mark

Rabid Klondike Mama Bear Protecting Her Young -or-What is MAGNUM?

A magnum round is a high powered round. So for example you can have .22 magnum or .45 magnum
* Lots of recoil
* Painful to shoot
* This is for hunting (a back up when an angry bear is running full
   tilt at the heroine) not usually for self-defense.
   The gun must be designed to handle magnum bullets unless of
   course you want your heroine to put a .44 magnum (name of a
   round) or .44 special (name of a round) and blow her gun apart
   because the gun couldn't handle the pressure.

Popular wisdom says, a bullet shot from any handgun at a distance of three feet will probably stop anyone. Most of the time a civilian is shooting, it is that close in range. Stopping power is not as important to a civilian as it is to a police officer whose range moves out to nine yards. So your gun/bullet choice depends on who is doing the shooting and why.

Sonic v. Subsonic Bullets Shot with a Suppressor - 

Brian Coates, U.S. Marine Corp., veteran

LINK Nottoway Shooting Sports

PLOT TWIST - One thing that I should point out is that just because a bullet will load into the gun, it does not mean that there will be success in shooting it. A particular round might misfire or jam. Once you know which gun is being used, research which bullets work best. Though, this could create a plot twist for you. Perhaps your heroine is new to the gun scene and buys a weapon for self-protection, purchases some bullets, loads it all up and there is a catastrophic failure. She could be hurt instead of the villain.

Image publicly distributed source unknown

VIDEO 1 - Bullet Basics 101 (8:01)

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  1. One thing I'm starting to notice is "everyone uses a 9mm"-- the "everyone" meaning a lot of fictional folks and real-life military. It seems like the most popular balance between power and the control to keep several shots on a target fast. There are still a lot of reasons to go lighter or heavier (especially if your heroine doesn't trust she'll have the reflex to shoot twice), but the 9mm seems to work as a default choice for smart shooters. Any thoughts on that?

  2. Hi Ken,

    A 9mm is my go to - I just don't like shooting a revolver; they make my elbows ache. And at the range I don't want to have to reload with such frequency.

    But in a story line, there are lots of considerations an author must weigh when choosing the handguns. Have you read this blog article?


  3. Awesome and informative, thanks!

  4. Dang! I thought it was a Ballet Tutorial. This was good too, though (and no tutus).

  5. Great information! My Dad taught me to reload bullets when I was a teen. I wasn't much interested, and promptly let it slip away. If I could go back, I'd sit there and pay full attention. Loved shooting the guns, but really wish I had listened. Really wished I had shown more interest in bluing and jeweling, too. Anyone have a time machine?

    *My Dad's reloader was at the end of the hall cabinets. Whenever guys came over Dad would sit there and reload. After pressing the tip on, he'd hold it up and then stare at the guy. Considering we lived in a small town and knew everyone, this was done more for ego than anything else. Still though, it threw a few a few guys. And no we didn't have a revolving door of boyfriends, just small town, you're friends with everyone. :)

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