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lynnl
03-16-2006, 11:18 AM
In a spy novel I'm reading the author (Robert Littell) develops what strikes me as a questionable scenario.

One of the characters wishing to commit suicide only has a very small caliber (unspecified) handgun available. So she fills her mouth with water, inserts the muzzle, pulls trigger, and head explodes from (I presume) the hydraulic pressure.

Would seem to me that her lips would simply be forced open, thereby spewing water out and relieving the pressure, and the bullet would simply do whatever damage it could.

...OR, is the idea that it would create a directional shock wave toward the back, so fast that the damage is done before the lips can open.

Any thoughts on this?

(as you might imagine, I'm reluctant to test it out. http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net//biggrin.gif))

Wirecutter
03-16-2006, 11:54 AM
I'm no expert, nor do I play one on TV, but...

Seems to me that if a "small caliber" handgun doesn't have enough power to kill with a well-placed point-blank headshot, it certainly wouldn't have enough ass to blow up someone's head.

Are there many handguns out there, aside from toys, that have "cartridges" (the shell, like a 38, a 9mm, etc) smaller than a 22 cal? Don't certain organized crime elements prefer point blank .22 head shots for executions? Or is this all TV-generated folklore?

If I wanted my head to explode, I'd try to read the licensing agreements to all the software on my computer. http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net//biggrin.gif

Evan
03-16-2006, 12:08 PM
I suppose if someone is willing to try it we probably won't get a report on the effectiveness.

Rex
03-16-2006, 12:12 PM
Robert Kennedy was killed with a single .22 short to the back of the head

lynnl
03-16-2006, 12:14 PM
Yeah, that's my take too, that the .22 is the weapon of choice for executions. That's what we used for killing hogs when I was a kid.

This book was set in the period after WW II. There may have been a .17 caliber back then. ...maybe even smaller.

Frankly I couldn't see the author's purpose of using that idea. It didn't seem to contribute to the story. But it did arouse my curiosity.

panchula
03-16-2006, 01:02 PM
I'm guessing it's not the bullet that does the damage in this scenario, but the column of supersonic gasses that follow the bullet. The pressure of the increasing volume of gas would soon exceed the tensile strength of the skull. The water would provide a seal around the barrel. It's a gruesome topic, but break it down into physics and mechanics and it's interesting.

Kansas_Farmer
03-16-2006, 01:09 PM
.22's are perfect for this type of work due to their small size and lack of energy. The bullet will penetrate the head, but can not come out the back, so instead of exiting the skull, it rattles around in there until it's outta energy, and makin mush of any grey matter it touches

Rustybolt
03-16-2006, 01:21 PM
My gut tells me that the pressure would force your mouth open first. There are plenty of thin areas in a human head that can accept a small caliber bullet without resorting to such nonsense.

Wirecutter
03-16-2006, 01:33 PM
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by Evan:
I suppose if someone is willing to try it we probably won't get a report on the effectiveness.</font>

Upon reflection, I doubt there are many cartridge-primer-powder-bullet type guns that weak. Does anybody remember the soap opera actor that died by firing a "blank" at his temple? It was a suicide scene for a TV shoot, and the paper wadding entered his brain and killed him. I think this was in the '80s.

Yuck. I'm done with this thread.

Dick Plasencia
03-16-2006, 01:37 PM
I have an uncle who is a surgeon with a specialty in abdominal surgery. He says that the worst possible injury is getting shot in the stomach with a .22. It just bounces around perforating intestines and his last case had 17 holes he had to find and sutture. Much better one or two holes from a .38. Much more surviable since sometimes you can miss one of the holes from a .22 and peritonitis sets in.
Ditto on gangland head shots with a .22. It's the prefered weapon for low noise and destructive power. You don't suvive one of those like Jim Brady did from a heavier weapon.

I think the water shock wave effect is valid. It doesn't take much to push the soft palate up and crush the brain stem. As for lips opening-- there wouldn't be time before the shock wave does its thing. The only problem I see is how do you keep the mouthfull of water from draining down the gun barrel? Stick the tongue in it? Now the shock wave looses some of the shock value.
We need a vounteer to test this.

Tinkerer
03-16-2006, 01:53 PM
Na I doubt the whole scenario. A woman that can keep her mouth shut for that long... no way. http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net//biggrin.gif

Hey maybe it only looked like water but was in fact Nitro... now that would make your head pop. http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net//eek.gif

A 22 will kill ya just as dead as a 44 just might take twice as long for the lights to go totally out.

Tinkerer
03-16-2006, 01:55 PM
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by lynnl:
One of the characters wishing to commit suicide only has a very small caliber (unspecified) handgun available. So she fills her mouth with water, inserts the muzzle, pulls trigger, and head explodes from (I presume) the hydraulic pressure. </font>

Now here's one for the Myth Busters.




[This message has been edited by Tinkerer (edited 03-16-2006).]

debequem
03-16-2006, 02:00 PM
No, thanks!


<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by Dick Plasencia:

We need a vounteer to test this.

</font>

Your Old Dog
03-16-2006, 02:15 PM
Generally speaking women don't use guns for suicide and men don't use pills. That's one of the profiles used in determining if a suicide is in-fact a suicide. Not to say it can't be done, just saying that in 99 cases out of a hundred women use pills and razorblades and men use guns and vehicles.

Besides that, a woman screwed up enough to cough up the scientific methode of enhancing hydrostatic shock with water in the mouth would be one tough assed broad! Kind of Dirty Harry type !!

CCWKen
03-16-2006, 03:04 PM
I can see it happening. Ever see what a 22LR does to a watermelon? Barely leaves enough to eat. http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net//biggrin.gif

In most small caliber head shots, the bullet whizzes around the skull shredding everything inside. A 22 may not knock you down but you'll be just as dead and probably quicker. Big caliber bullets have a lot of shock but move internal organs aside. Small caliber bullets go straight through unless they hit a bone.

Sorry to be so graphic. Law enforcement training says shoot the guy with the shotgun first, then the small caliber holder then the big gun.

pgmrdan
03-16-2006, 03:42 PM
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by Dick Plasencia:
The only problem I see is how do you keep the mouthfull of water from draining down the gun barrel? </font>

If she's on her back (where she belongs?) then the water stays in her mouth.

rkepler
03-16-2006, 03:43 PM
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Does anybody remember the soap opera actor that died by firing a "blank" at his temple? It was a suicide scene for a TV shoot, and the paper wadding entered his brain and killed him.</font>

Jon-Eric Hexum. It wasn't during the shooting or practice for a scene, he was messing with a prop gun loaded with blanks. To some extent it was the weapon master's fault - you really can't leave anything around actors. In this case a subsequent autopsy did show some brain matter present, so he may have been a (partial) exception.

[This message has been edited by rkepler (edited 03-16-2006).]

lynnl
03-16-2006, 03:50 PM
I think there've been quite a few killed or maimed by shotgun shell wads, fired after removing all the shot.

Carl
03-16-2006, 05:58 PM
This'll do it...but the water and dentures will probably need to be removed first:

http://www.modelguns.co.uk/images/MKIIA1a.JPG

Fasttrack
03-16-2006, 06:03 PM
"Now here's one for the Myth Busters."

Exactly what i was going to say!!

matador
03-16-2006, 06:19 PM
Surely the water would simply be forced down her throat,if you were to believe this could be done in the first place.(Which I don't http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net//biggrin.gif).

------------------
Hans

wierdscience
03-16-2006, 09:30 PM
I know a surgeon who hates the .22lr round,he says it travels.He told me of one case where a boy accidentaly shot his brother hunting.The round hit him in the shoulder and exited near his belly button.

JRouche
03-16-2006, 09:30 PM
As a kid didnt you ever get a drink from the garden hose? Did you put the nozzle in yer mouth and try to stop the water from exiting the hose. Just shot water out around yer lips, if you had a tight grip (lip gripper http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net//biggrin.gif ) then the water might come out the nose. Never did see any ones head pop though....Myth busted http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net//biggrin.gif JRouche

Boomer
03-17-2006, 08:17 AM
My uncle used to work at a meat packing plant years ago and he gave me some .22 concusion rounds that were used to kill (or stun?) livestock. They looked like a birdshot cartridge with the crimped end but there was no shot or slug, just powder. As I recall they were used with a special gun that had a "cup" at the end of the barrel and was held in contact with the head when used. I fired them in my old Remington single shot, they made a very impressive report.
Bruce

Evan
03-17-2006, 09:23 AM
They also use those rounds for training bird dogs not to be gun shy.

railfancwb
03-17-2006, 09:43 AM
Are those concussion rounds what they use in the powder actuated nailers (for fastening wood or metal to concrete, etc.)? Charles

railfancwb
03-17-2006, 09:44 AM
Is it the video games or something else which seems to cause novelists to devise ever more gruesome detailed methods of killing off people? Charles

JCHannum
03-17-2006, 09:45 AM
Those rounds are are power rounds, the same as the Ramset type. The stun guns used in slaughter houses are similar to a Ramset nailer, they just have a big lump on the end to knock the animal out.

They replaced the guy with the sledge hammer.

Blanks are used in training dogs. They are made for noise, not power, but look the same.