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Ranger Talan Overview

Ranger Talan Overview (Firearms Tactical):

Winchester Ranger Talon (formerly Black Talon and Ranger SXT) bullet depart from conventional expanding hollow-point bullets. Ranger Talon adds an additional wounding mechanism: cutting.

1. When Ranger Talon expands, its copper jacket peels back to form six sharp claws. These claws protrude outward slightly beyond the smooth outer edges of the mushroom-shaped lead core shoulder.

Upon impact with flesh Ranger Talon performs identical to conventional hollow-point bullets. However, as it penetrates and slows it does not suffer a decrease in effective bullet diameter. This is because tissue that stretches and flows around the smooth shoulder of the mushroom-shaped lead core comes into contact with the sharp copper jacket claws and is lacerated.

These lacerations contribute to overall wound severity. If Ranger Talon happens to pass very close to a major cardiovascular structure, instead of merely shoving it aside as it passes by, one of the six claws might be in position to cut the wall of this structure to cause profuse bleeding.

This additional cutting mechanism gives Ranger Talon the potential to be approximately 5% more effective than other expanding bullets of the same caliber. In one out of every 20 shootings, Ranger Talon might make a difference.

In order for Ranger Talon's increased wounding potential to be realized, at least two conditions must be met: 1) the bullet's wound track must pass close enough to a major blood vessel to physically touch it, and 2) one of the talons must be in the right orientation to physically contact the wall of the blood vessel as the bullet rifles past. If one of these two conditions are not met, the wound will be no more severe than any other JHP expanding bullet.

This slight advantage could be just enough to save the life of a police officer who has to shoot a psychotic, enraged or chemically intoxicated attacker who is oblivious to being shot.

* Winchester designed the Ranger Talon with what they call a "reverse-taper" copper jacket. What this means is that the copper jacket on the Ranger Talon is thicker at the tip than at its base, and this is the opposite of conventional hollow-point bullet designs. This thickness is necessary to provide stiffness to the talons after expansion so they remain in ideal position to cut tissue that flows around the mushroom skirt.

Contrary to the pronouncements of gunwriter Ed Sanow, who claims that the Ranger Talon bullet slowly expands during its first 8 inches of penetration, the thick copper jacket requires the bullet to rapidly expand after impact when velocity is highest. Once the bullet begins to slow, the forces acting on the copper jacket and lead core which cause the bullet to deform, decrease. His absurd claim that this bullet gradually expands as it penetrates simply defies the laws of physics, and is based on fantasy.

The Black Talon bullet came under intense negative media scrutiny after it was criminally misused in a shooting rampage in a San Francisco office building in July 1993. Nine people were killed and six wounded by gunman Gian Luigi Ferri. The news media reported falsehoods that Black Talon's "razor sharp claws" created particularly ghastly, devastating and unsurvivable wounds.

The forensic pathologist who performed the autopsies of the fatal shooting victims gave a detailed presentation about his findings at the 1994 IWBA Wound Ballistics Conference in Sacramento: "The 101 California Shooting: The Black Talon Bullet," Boyd Stevens, M.D., Medical Examiner, San Francisco, CA. He stated that the wound trauma produced by Black Talon was unremarkable, meaning the wounds were no different nor any more severe than wounds produced by typical JHP handgun bullets. Each of the victims incurred fatal injury because a bullet passed through a vital structure.

Generally, a handgun bullet penetrating soft tissue permanently damages only the tissue it comes into direct contact with. The bullet damages this tissue by crushing it.

1. A temporary cavity is formed in soft tissue by the transfer of kinetic energy between the penetrating bullet and the tissue it contacts. Soft tissue is propelled radially outward away from the wound track at a speed no greater than one-tenth the velocity of the penetrating bullet, causing temporary displacement of these tissues by stretching them.

Unless the bullet passes through non-elastic soft tissue, which has little tolerance for stretching, such as kidney, liver, pancreas and spleen during the first few inches of penetration (these inelastic tissues often tear, split and rupture), the temporary cavity does not reliably increase wounding effectiveness.

The resilient, elastic-like tissues of blood vessels, bowel, heart, lung, muscle and nerve can easily absorb the stretching and transient displacement of temporary cavitation without sustaining very much damage.

When elastic soft tissue has stretched to the point where all the energy transmitted to it by the penetrating bullet has been dissipated, the displaced tissue rebounds to its original configuration, causing the temporary cavity to collapse. The hole that remains after the bullet has passed is the permanent cavity.

Temporary cavity is comparable to the splash produced by a rock thrown into a pool of water. The water near the surface and directly in the path of the rock is pushed aside as the rock penetrates, then quickly rushes back in to fill the void after the rock has passed. Temporary cavity has been sometimes referred to as "tissue splash."

Some handgun bullets fragment as they penetrate. The detached fragments produce their own wound tracks, usually straying no farther than half an inch from the main path of the bullet. Fragmentation of hollow-point bullets does not contribute to any substantial increase in wounding effectiveness.

With handgun bullets, penetration and permanent cavity are the only mechanisms that can be relied upon to produce rapid incapacitation of a criminal attacker. The bullet must penetrate the attacker’s torso deeply enough to reach and crush a hole in critical blood bearing soft tissues, and produce rapid fatal hemorrhage.

A bullet that expands to increase its diameter is able to contact and crush a greater area of tissue as it penetrates than a bullet which does not expand. This is the concept behind hollow-point bullets.

Hollow-point bullets are designed to expand upon impact with flesh. Hydraulic pressure from the fluids in soft body tissues presses against the internal wall of the hollow cavity, causing the wall to peel backwards around the bullet shank, increasing bullet diameter. (The mechanics of hollow-point bullet expansion are entirely analogous to cuffing a shirt sleeve.) Bullet expansion acts like a parachute to slow and stop the bullet as it penetrates dense soft tissue.

If a hollow-point bullet is propelled too quickly, it will either overexpand and not penetrate deeply enough, or it will fragment. If the bullet fragments, it defeats the purpose of using an expanding bullet.

It’s best to think of a hollow-point bullet as being similar to a broadhead hunting arrow. The arrow damages only the structures its blades come into direct contact with. It has less kinetic energy than a .22 Short. A bullet that overexpands and fragments is comparable to a broadhead hunting arrow that jettisons it blades immediately after impact. The resulting permanent cavity is no greater in diameter than the diameter of the arrow shaft, resulting in decreased wounding effect.

In police action and civilian self-defense shootings, excepting disruption of the central nervous system by a hit to the brain or the cervical spinal cord of the neck, blood loss in sufficient quantity to produce unconsciousness is the only reliable mechanism to stop a determined criminal attacker.

An adversary whose heart has just been destroyed may not collapse for up to a dozen seconds afterward due to residual oxygenated blood remaining in his brain. He remains able to perform willful post-fatal injury activity until blood loss affects the ability of his central nervous system to function.

The advantage of using a bullet that expands to increase its diameter is because it might contact and rupture the wall of a major blood vessel that would have been barely missed by the smaller diameter of a nonexpanding bullet following the same penetration path.

As a bullet penetrates soft tissue, it loses velocity, and this affects its "effective diameter." When the bullet first penetrates and expands, it is moving so quickly that it crushes almost all soft tissue it comes into direct contact with. However, as velocity begins to slow, soft tissue is then able to stretch around the smooth outer edges of the mushroom-shaped lead core shoulder to move out of the way. As the bullet slows further it plows more and more tissue aside instead of crushing it.

Near the end of the wound track, the diameter of the permanent cavity might be less than 60 percent of the expanded diameter of the bullet. The last few inches of the wound track are the most important because this is where the vital cardiovascular structures are located that you’re trying to damage.

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