Medical POV: Rifle vs Handgun Wounds

Here is an interesting video. WARNING GRAPHIC MEDICAL CONTENT.

The video is of a Doctor explaining various wounds and how the body reacts to being shot by a gun. He talks about some statistics from 2008 and then goes into comparing rifle wounds versus handgun wounds. Hopefully you will find some of this educational.

Again some of this content is EXTREMELY GRAPHIC. There are images of severe bullet wounds so view at your own discretion.

Nicholas C

Co-Founder of KRISSTALK forums, an owner’s support group and all things KRISS Vector related. Nick found his passion through competitive shooting while living in NY. He participates in USPSA and 3Gun. He loves all things that shoots and flashlights. Really really bright flashlights.

Any questions please email him at


  • Verner

    Oldie, but goodie.

  • Kivaari

    Good. Some of the computer images are from Dr. Fackler, MD done at Army expense.
    I urge everyone to obtain them and actually read the literature. One thing that this doctor said can be misinterpreted. The big bullet causes more damage. Except bullets like the .45-230 FMJ will do less damage due to its shape. It will literally shove blood vessels and nerves to the side without much damage. Same with a 9mm or .40 that doesn’t expand. The expansion, creating ragged edges, will cause more damage. As he points out the loss of blood is the death causing component. With FMJ bullets of 9mm-11.25mm the wounds are indistinguishable.
    His mention of body angle is also important. Spokane Valley Police officer shot W. Creach with a .45. The bullet track was downward from the sternum to lower belly. People said Officer Hirzel had “executed a kneeling Creach”, when Creach was bent over. This doctor at Harborview in Seattle sees many gunshot wounds. It would be nice to have a clear record of this fuzzy video. What he is saying is well documented in medical venues. Pistols don’t knock people down. So, no more talk of knockdown power, please.

  • Kivaari

    Don’t forget CNS damage. That kind of wound is the one where the GSW recipient will drop fast. With bleeding out the suspect can remain quite lethal. Like the Miami shootout in the 80s. One shooter kept going for 4.5 minutes if I remember correctly. In that time he did most of his damage to the FBI agents.

    • Don Ward

      To be fair, that was a VERY unusual situation that literally only happens once every other decade or so and was brought on by a comedy of errors by the agents involved.

      • dan citizen

        The specific type of incident was rare, people receiving mortal wounds and still providing effective resistance is not so rare.

  • Tassiebush

    Excellent video!

  • gunsandrockets

    Old but good video. I’ve seen this before and it caused me to do some rethinking when it comes to handgun ammunition.

    I now value bullet penetration more than before, even at the cost of expansion if necessary. I even think that over-penetration is better, because the target may bleed out faster because of the addition of an exit wound. Now I only prefer hollow point bullets in the most intensive higher pressure handgun cartridges.

  • Don Ward

    Hey. I figured out what to do with the prisoners at Guantan…

    *Is silently dispatched by the TFB “No Politics” Commissar.*

  • Hoff

    #12: If you ‘take six hundred identical men, shoot them all the same number of times with the same weapon and ammunition with them at the same distance, angle, pose’, you’ll end up behind the bars or even worse.

    • noob

      unless you’re the government

  • dan citizen

    I wish this knowledge was more common. I have no patience for talk of high performance ammunition, guaranteed stopping power, etc.

    Shot placement, staying cool headed, and luck… These will get you home.

  • Ya good stuff:-)

  • noob

    just out of curiosity, how massive a bullet would you need to have the momentum to move a 210lbs standing man 2ft backwards? or to knock him off his feet?

    hmm and what speed would you choose for it to be moving for the recoil to be practical, yet the projectile still lethal?

    at what point is it less of a bullet but more like a huge thrown rock, if you want the fabled knockdown power?

  • DIR911911 .

    “this is a shotgun injury which luckily we don’t see many of” . . . that’s because the coroner usually picks those ones up

  • DIR911911 .

    @12:50 ” a small caliber handgun 22mm” I think your german is showing , who wants to fire that handgun? once 🙂