What Preppers Need to Know About Gunshot Wounds in 3 Minutes

gunshot wounds

Gunshot Wounds are easier to understand than you’d think! In this post we’ll show preppers how to quickly gauge the tissue damage handguns, rifles, and shotguns are likely to produce.

These broad generalizations might help some select firearms for personal use, but are presented here to help estimate the amount of tissue destruction to expect when someone in your group has been hit. (God Forbid!)

Temporary and Permanent Cavities

Two types of tissue damage occur in every bullet wound – at least in those of modern design. The first is caused by something called the permanent cavity. It’s the track created by the bullet as it crushes through tissues while punching through the body. It’s width is simply the width of the bullet, and the distance it travels before stopping. Handgun ammunition causes most of it’s tissue trauma, by creating a permanent cavity.

Gunshot Wounds GSW

Next is the temporary cavity, and it’s a different animal altogether. Here, destruction is caused by the stretching and tearing the bullet produces. In a wake directly behind the projectile, the walls of the permanent cavity are temporarily stretched radially outward, then quickly contract back toward the permanent tract. To better picture how this works, the permanent cavity, and maximum lateral tissue displacement caused by the temporary cavity, can be captured for study in ballistic gel:

Handgun Ballistics

Note how the 10 mm handgun round produces most of its damage by cutting a permanent cavity. Contrast this to the temporary cavity created by a rifle bullet shown below:

.308 Caliber

To the left on the image above, you can see a .308 caliber rifle bullet entering the gel from the right and traveling to the left. Notice how at first, only a permanent cavity is visible, as it begins cutting a tract through simulated tissue. As it advances, an extremely large temporary cavity follows in the shock-wave of its path. A large temporary cavity is characteristic of high velocity rifle rounds. Temporary cavities are most problematic when the bullet travels through dense tissue. Think of a liver for instance, as acting as the ballistic gel shown above. A permanent cavity cut through it is bad enough – and what you’d expect with a standard handgun bullet. But a temporary cavity, like one from a rifle, would destroy it by stretching and tearing it completely apart.

A gunshot wound to the liver made by a handgun might be survivable, but if made by a rifle it would be game over.

The following illustrations are from AMEDD Center and School under the government publication Emergency War Surgery. The entire book can be download free from their site by clicking here.

Summary Images of Popular Calibers & Cartridges Preppers May Encounter!

Handgun Cartridges


Notice how soft, hollow point, and other non-standard ammunition can be used in handgun calibers to cause the formation of a temporary cavity, whereas in standard forms, they usually only create permanent cavities.

.357 Ballistics

Watch the Permanent and Temporary Cavities Form in Real Time 1:30



AK 47 Ballistics


Gunshot Wounds

AR-15 .223 5.56 NATO

AR 15 Gunshot Wounds


12 Gauge

Shotgun Ballistics

shotgun blasts

Various Shotgun Loads in Ballistic Gel 6 min

Assault Rifle Summary

summary of bullet wounds

Take Home Message: Having a general knowledge of popular rifle and handgun cartilages can help you predict the amount of damage they produce. It will also help preppers new to firearms understand the logic behind using special ammunition like hollow points. It’s an ugly business for sure, but increasingly necessary to know about in today’s world.

Two medical items that every prepper should have on hand to control bleeding in a Doomsday survival situation are Celox and Israeli bandages. Celox can quickly control heavier bleeding wounds (like from knife punctures or gunshot wounds) with an application of Celox along with a pressure dressing. There is even one version of Celox with an applicator plunger made specifically for deep penetrating wounds. Israeli bandages can also be used to help stop heavy bleeding such as from gunshot wounds. Used together, Celox and Israeli bandages are a great way to stop bleeding.

See the two links below for more information and where to buy these two must have medical items.

Celox Blood Clotting Granule Applicator and Plunger Set

Israeli Bandage Battle Dressing

Want to know more? Click the image below!

Best Survival Medicine Guide



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