After The Trigger Is Pulled: What Happens To The Bullets?

After the trigger is pulled

Experts are often asked about the kind and size of entrance and exit wounds produced by various ammunition. The rounds (bullets) in the photograph below are .45 caliber hollow-point bullets similar to the rounds fired from the Thompson sub-machine gun I’m holding.

The diameter of the .45 rounds is slightly larger than the diameter of the slim Sharpie pens many authors use to sign books. That’s pretty close to the size of most entrance wounds—the size of the bullet(s) that struck the victim.


.45 caliber rounds and magazine

The picture below is of one of the .45 caliber rounds after it was fired from the Thompson machine gun. The round passed through the self-healing wall tiles in the firing range, striking the concrete and steel wall on the the other side. Hitting the solid surface head-on caused the bullet to expand and fracture which creates the exit wound we see in shooting victims.

Many times, those bullet slivers break off inside the body causing further internal damage. The size of an exit wound depends on what the bullet hits inside the body. If the bullet only hits soft tissue the wound will be less traumatic. If it hits bone, expect much more damage. Easy rule of thumb—the larger the caliber (bullet size), the bigger the hole.

.45 caliber round after it struck concrete and steel head-on. Note the expansion and separation of the round

Bullets that hit something other than their intended target, such as a brick wall or a metal lamp post, can break apart sending pieces of flying copper and lead fragments, called shrapnel, into crowds of innocent bystanders. Those flying fragments are just as lethal as any intact, full-sized bullet.

FYI – Bullets don’t always stop people. I’ve seen shooting victims get up and run after they’ve been shot several times. And for goodness sake, people don’t fly twenty feet backward after they’ve been struck by a bullet. They just fall down and bleed. Well, they may moan, wriggle, and curse a lot too. And they might get back up and start shooting again.

*This is a repeat article. I decided to re-post it after attempting to read a book that clearly showed an author’s obvious lack of knowledge and research regarding shooting situations. Needless to say, I did not turn another page after reading the goofy scene.

3 replies
  1. Samantha Navrro
    Samantha Navrro says:

    It’s probably worth the repost. I used to think that if you were shot, you’d lay still because of the pain. Then I read a story about a burglar who was shot in the stomach as he broke into a home. He ran away, and a police officer walked around looking for him. The cop came up on a guy who was making a sloshing sound as he walked. It was the burglar, he was bleeding so badly his shoes were full of blood- but he was still walking!

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