The drop shot.

Hunters, snipers, even amateurs know that occasionally, by intent for the professionals, it is possible to drop a person or animal with one shot where it is standing.

Only I’m not talking about animals (except bunnies do get a mention later).

If you hit a vital organ i.e. the heart, lungs, the spinal column stem, the medulla oblongata, or the central brain mass itself with enough force, that target will drop.
(Why the red?)
These may be enough to terminate the threat except that’s a pretty small target to hit at range.

Except there are a few little tilts that can get in the way of that statement.
This is one of them.
Take out the heart or a major blood vessel and a common quote is “the brain will have 10-15 seconds worth of oxygen in it to allow you to function”.

10 seconds?
That’s about one full magazine in your general direction.
Ever had that happen to you? You hit top central mass and the bastard keeps on firing at you? I’m pretty certain a few of you will know this as true.

Scary term for beginners. “The triangle of death”.
This is a visual triangle drawn from tit to tit and up into the chin. In an adult that pencils in at around 10 inches a side. About 43 square inches. Not that small an area is it.

3 MOA (average shooter) should do that nicely out to 300 yards yet some military ‘schooling’ 😉 works to 1 MOA aka 1″ drift over 100 yards.
Only do you need that accuracy at urban ranges?
I contest not, especially in the world of semi automatic weapons.

Anyway a hard enough hit within that triangle will generally cause enough ‘hurt’ that a person may just drop. Looking closely at the anatomy you may see why that’s been said.triangle

Only here is the problem.
It’s not often that people stand like my two in the picture just waiting to meet their maker. They often do really sneaky things like run, hide behind cover, turn sideways, lie down, the whole gambit of positions which rather limit their expose to your ‘skills’. Not to mention wear body armour.

Close but not exact is often enough.
I’m a firm believer that you don’t necessarily need to cut or shred loads of organs or blood vessels to disable a target. Just smacking them hard enough to stop them working for a short time while may be enough. Yep, I believe in power of hydrostatic shock to achieve a knock down in addition to a massive blood loss to achieve a kill.

Why both? Just because you’ve been shot doesn’t mean you are incapacitated and if you aren’t down and out cold, you are still a potential danger.

Hydrostatic shock?
Energy transferred as a shock wave through the central mass and into the spine with enough force to temporarily shut down the brain. (aka they drop on the spot).
It’s rather like a good fist pummeling into the chest can floor a person.
Only you are talking a powerful round, or multiple quick succession hits in the central mass area.

Then, and this is important, BEFORE they regain consciousness, it’s blood loss that does the killing. Only sometimes it doesn’t quite work that way.

This effect was first described to me by a poacher as the bunny effect.
You hit them hard, they fall, then just as you are going to pick them up, they jump up and run away. Stunned by the impact, they recover before the blood loss is sufficient to send them to bunny heaven (i.e. the stew pot).

So by hitting a target hard, multiple times in quick succession, the shock alone will disable them? You wish.

What it may do is put them down long enough for you to release a well-aimed CNS shot. Hydrostatic shock, although disabling, needs that massive blood loss.

Probably another reason why sensible bear hunters hold back and send in a safety CNS shot. Something you may like to consider.

Understand that bullets only kill in five ways when impacting a body.

  1. By destroying the central nervous system (that includes the brain)
    Yet stunning the CNS (aka. knocking you out) for long enough may kill if,
  2. There is massive unstoppable blood loss.
  3. By destroying vital organs, by shredding, or concussive force.
  4. Preventing breathing by destroying the lungs or airways
  5. By causing irreversible infection. The slowest way of dying.
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11 Responses to The drop shot.

  1. Rifleman III says:

    Reblogged this on .

  2. Rifleman III says:

    The way I understand it is, the higher the velocity, the greater the hydrostatic shock. I handloaded for a 7mm Remington Magnum that I once owned. Loaded the maximum charge of IMR-4350 with Nosler boat-tail, and it chronographed 3,300 fps. Shot a buck (Whitetail deer) with round from the loading batch, and it gelatinized the blood. Buck fell dead. Since the flood, I have not handloaded but am considering doing once again if I can obtain some place to hunt within three hour drive. I believe a bullet such as a .30-06 caliber, with velocity of 2,600 fps, just as deadly, and depends upon shot placement. Same for an arrow, black powder maxi-ball, a knife, a pellet, everything is accurate shot placement rather than gimmicks or a need for hyper-velocity, which, fragments the projectile. Even then, whether or not the projectile expands, is secondary to accurate shot placement. In a pistol, I prefer the heaviest and slowest projectile, to obtain the “baseball bat” strike reaction. Energy transfer, rather than hyper-ballistics. That’s my personal opinion.

    • Slow, broad, and full of smack.
      Your friend the 1911 I think.

      An acquaintance I ‘worked’ with crossed his rounds. It wasn’t until I saw the effect that I fully understood why.

      Not the fastest of rounds or the heaviest but the conversion from mil FMJ to crossed regularly made mince out of meat. Hydroshock and bleeding.

      • Rifleman III says:

        1911, you know it. Hits wonderfully. The civilian versions of the O-frame Colt 1911 in Series-80 (for street carry), was accurized but never shot a man with that one. Military 1911, was not great on paper, last batch purchased by US Dept. of Defense was in 1945, and armorers, constantly worked on them to keep them going, shot a few overseas. They never said, “Mama”. Nice positive reactions.

  3. Animals, including humans, are a lot tougher and weaker than most people think. In the US, this is partially due to the fact that we tend to get our information on lethal force from Hollywood. As a result we tend to think that people can take beatings that would actually be fatal and get back up and win the fight. They also tend to think that firearms are like death rays and that one hit anywhere is enough to knock people down or fly back into walls. This is not the case, from what I have seen.

    Greg Ellifritz’ excellent studies on handgun stopping power show one thing; handguns suck. Ignoring the psychological stops (I don’t want to get shot so I will stop threatening this person) it took an average of just under three shots with center mass placement to stop an attack…regardless of the caliber. If you want “stopping power” a rifle or shotgun is required. One shot stops were mostly the norm with center mass hits…mostly. One of the biggest training problems (I have heard) that the US military encountered in our recent wars was the expectation by many soldiers that an enemy would fall down and stop fighting once they were hit. I heard an interview with a US Marine who was wounded because of that faulty misconception (brought on I am sure from being indoctrinated to think that way by Hollywood).

    I have no direct experience with stopping an attacker with a firearm. The one time I needed a firearm to defend myself the fact that I had one was enough to make the wanna be gangbanger look for another victim. I do, however, hunt game that is roughly human sized. Local deer run between 125 and 175 pounds with the very rare giant beyond that. Feral hogs get much bigger but don’t taste as good once they get past 250. Based on that I don’t believe any shot is 100% guaranteed to be a “drop shot” unless it shatters the spinal column or does massive damage to the brain. The last deer I shot made it 30 yards before falling down dead from a heart shot with a .30-06 at 200 yards. I shot a 175 pound pig several years ago at around 100 yards. The shot hit both lungs and tore a chunk out of the heart. She charged me at a dead run, changing direction at least once and made it 130 yards before she fell dead. Fortunately I was in an elevated stand or she would have caught me and I am sure inflicted bodily harm.

    From a self-defense perspective, with a handgun, I have been taught you shoot until the threat stops. You aim for upper central mass (if you can) because it is an easier target to hit than the head and you shoot as quickly as you can reacquire that target. More imperfect shots in a shorter period of time is better than one perfect shot that allows the attacker to send more rounds your way…

    Just my 2 cents.

    God bless.

  4. Smitty says:

    Great article with good information. I have a 338 Lapua magnum for the long shots and a 40 cal for up close. I hand load all of my ammo and use a chronograph to maximize velocity. The reliable 45 is a devastating round as well. I have both but carry my 40 cal on a daily basis. One must practice often to keep the skill level up. Bullet placement is vital as you stated in your article. I go out often with friends and use silhouette targets to refine round placement. You can’t go wrong with multiple rounds to center mass.

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