ABC News and the Telegraph (and, yes, even Brady once again, recycling the term and misleading claims they did so much to create) are once again reveling in articles shouting about the evil power contained in Major Hasan’s “cop killer” gun. But the simple fact of the matter is that there is good reason to believe that at least some of those wounded in Thursday’s shooting are alive today because of the 5.7 cartridge’s dubious capabilities. It may seem counterintuitive to many, but the high velocities that enable the Five-seveN’s .22 bullet to drive through soft body armor are thought to be mostly wasted on unarmored targets. The 5.7 is a relatively new cartridge with limited distribution and so actual “real world” ballistic performance is anecdotal at best, but high-velocity pistol bullets like the .38 Super noted earlier and the 7.62×25 Tokarev have been around almost 80 years. Their established track record is that of bullets with excellent penetration characteristics but with questionable stopping power. The 5.7 round uses a far lighter bullet at higher velocities and the high velocity gives the bullet the distinct possibility of fragmenting. But even then, a high-velocity bullet that only weighs 40 grains (as does the legal SS197SR bullet Hasan used) is at a distinct disadvantage when compared to other pistol cartridges. Instead of dumping the bullet’s energy into the body of the person shot, these high-velocity rounds typically stab a long narrow wound channel completely through a human-sized target, or they erupt into fragments that cause narrow wound channels.
Posted by rlssec