I haven't seen the 127-grain +P Ranger come across the autopsy table so in all fairness I can't comment on it. Granted, velocity-wise it's pretty similar to the .357 and with the 127-grain bullet they seem to be about the same here also. But as I've said in many posts on this thread I just don't trust the 9mm for self-defense. The .357 Magnum and the .357 Sig, yes, but not the 9mm. No, I haven't seen the .357 Sig at autopsy but from all accounts it's pretty much a semi-auto version of the notoriously deadly .357 Magnum.
The front surface is very broad and flat and the bullet retained over 99% of its mass, making as large a cavity throughout its depth as any bullet conceiveably could at that impact velocity.
Although most of these loads produce similar velocities, the two 403 gr Trophy Bonded bullets (an old design very similar to Barnes copper tubing bullets) exhibit the same penetration with different impact velocities, consistent with the observed behavior of .308 caliber bullets.
Necessarily these .458 caliber bullets typically produce wound tracks larger in diameter than those produced by small-bore projectiles, but not evidently than medium-bore bullets when the effect of generally higher velocities is considered (and compare the .458-300 grain Barnes X-Bullet at 1930 fps with the .284-150 grain Swift Scirocco described earlier).
Look, I've tried to do one thing and one thing only here. I've tried as best I can to summarize my observations from what I've seen in the morgue. I've seen 9mm rounds fragment before reaching the vital organs and I don't think I've ever seen a .45 do that. That's all I've said, nothing more. I've never claimed that this was research, just observation. I'm fully aware that wound ballistics are complex and that penetration is due, in part, to an interaction of bullet type, velocity, and a few other things. All of that is interesting but that was never the thrust of this thread. Let me say it once again. All I've said all along through the past 15 pages or so is that I've seen the 9mm and .380 often fragment or stop short of reaching the vitals but I don't think I've ever seen a .45 do so.
Barring shotguns, use a rifle. And like the shotgun, it doesn't make much difference which as long as it's bigger than a .22 rimfire. The other day I saw a head shot with a .204 Ruger that was just beyond belief! An itty bitty bullet moving at .220 Swift velocities (about 4100 fps) is most impressive when it fragments inside the noggin. I've seen just about all rifle calibers used at one time or another, and they were almost all impressive. Unlike handguns, rifles have the velocity to drive smaller, lighter bullets deeply into the body cavity. Expansion (and often fragmentation) is complete, and damage is magnified. Often, on x-ray a "lead snowstorm" is seen in which lead (and copper from the jacket) separates from the core and tracks tangentially from the main trajectory of the bullet. These can and often do inflict their own damage, such as opening arteries or lodging in vital organs that were completely missed by the main path of the bullet. Also, if hydroshock exists to the extent that it will cause significant damage, I think it's almost certainly with rifles, not handguns. I once saw a woman who committed suicide with a 7mm Magnum to the chest. Not only did it blow out the spine, it turned the vicera in the chest cavity into mush. No matter what rifle or bullet you use on the BG, it will usually be more effective than your handgun.
Hydroshock is something I've never been quite sure of, at least with handgun bullets. Seeing the wound cavity in ballistic gelatin is really impressive, and the theory is that even if the bullet doesn't actually make contact with something vital, the shock wave created by the passage of the bullet will inflict its own damage. Maybe, maybe not. I can tell you that when one of the BGs comes in with multiple gunshot wounds it can be extremely difficult to determine the paths of each. We use steel probes to try to follow the path of each bullet in an attempt to determine the angle and trajectory of the wounds, and many times it's almost impossible. Unlike ballistic gelatin, the body is not translucent so the course of the bullet can't be seen. Also, unlike ballistic gelatin, which stays open allowing the damage to be analyzed, human tissue closes back up. Many times it comes down to making small scalpel slices along the wound path and trying to follow it that way. And from this I can safely say that I've never seen anything that approximates ballistic gelatin. Yes, there is damage along the course of the bullet, but usually it's due to the bullet itself, which is ripping tissue along the way and fragments of the jacket or core that are spalling off and creating their own trajectories incidental to the main path of the bullet. As I've said several time in other posts, I just don't believe that ballistic gelatin is a realistic representation of what actually happens, and I'm afraid that folks are placing their faith in a bullet that looks impressive in ballistic gelatin although the results are markedly different in the human body.
After re-reading some of my previous posts on wound ballistics and how bullet weight and velocity affect wound characteristics, I'm not sure I did as good of a job of explaining it as I might have. Let me see if I can rephrase some of this stuff and reduce it to something useful (I hope). I'll try to keep the scientific end of things to a minimum, but some of it is necessary to get the gist of it. Anyway, the kinetic energy imparted by a bullet as it enters the body depends on two things--the weight of the bullet and the velocity at which it is traveling. Of the two, velocity is more important. Doubling the velocity quadruples the kinetic energy; doubling the bullet weight only doubles it.
In the first place what Sciuchetti's results indicate (which I ought to have made clear earlier) is that a bullet of any given construction and impact velocity may have significantly varying performance depending upon the part of the game struck and the shotline through the target.
When a bullet strikes tissue the kinetic energy begins to create a temporary cavity behind it, sort of like the videos you've seen of space capsules re-entering the atmosphere. Maximum expansion occurs some time after passage of the bullet (measured in milliseconds) and the diameter of the expansion depends largely on velocity (as well as tissue density and cohesiveness, but we've already touched on that), with higher velocities producing larger temporary cavities. The temporary cavity is extremely important in that it is largely responsible for producing injuries to arteries, veins, organs, and nerves that are not directly struck by the bullet or its fragments. In fact, it's possible for the bullet to strike nothing vital at all but still produce incapacitation or death by the temporary cavity that does.
Because of the relatively low velocity of most handgun projectiles, the temporary cavity produced is generally quite small, extending only a short distance into the surrounding tissues. With high velocity bullets, such as with rifles, the picture changes dramatically. Because of the quadrupling of kinetic energy, this temporary cavity is GREATLY enlarged and subsequent damage to surrounding nerves, tissues, blood vessels, and organs is GREATLY enhanced, and fractures to bones incidental to the temporary cavity can occur even without the bullet directly striking them.