Thompson–LaGarde Tests

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The Thompson–LaGarde Tests were a series of tests conducted in 1904 to determine which caliber should be used in American military handguns.

Caliber internal diameter of the barrel of a gun

In guns, particularly firearms, caliber or calibre is the approximate internal diameter of the gun barrel, or the diameter of the projectile it shoots. It is measured in hundredths or thousandths of an inch or in millimetres. For example, a ".45 caliber" firearm has a barrel diameter of roughly 0.45 inches (11 mm). Barrel diameters can also be expressed using metric dimensions. For example, a "9 mm pistol" has a barrel diameter of about 9 millimetres. When the barrel diameter is given in inches, the abbreviation "cal" can be used. For example, a small-bore rifle with a diameter of 0.22 inches (5.6 mm) can be referred to as a ".22" or ".22 cal"; however, the decimal point is generally dropped when spoken, making it a "twenty-two" or a "two-two caliber". A ".45 caliber" would be a "forty-five", or "four-five caliber", etc.

Contents

History

The Army had previously been using the .38 Long Colt, and the cartridge's relatively poor ballistics were highlighted during the Philippine–American War of 1899–1902, when reports from U.S. Army officers were received regarding the .38 bullet's inability to stop charges of frenzied Moro juramentados in the Moro Rebellion, even at extremely close ranges. [1] [2] [3] [4] A typical instance occurred in 1905 and was later recounted by Col. Louis A. LaGarde:

Philippine–American War Armed conflict between the First Philippine Republic and the United States

The Philippine–American War, also referred to as the Filipino–American War, the Philippine War, the Philippine Insurrection or the Tagalog Insurgency, was an armed conflict between the First Philippine Republic and the United States that lasted from February 4, 1899, to July 2, 1902. While Filipino nationalists viewed the conflict as a continuation of the struggle for independence that began in 1896 with the Philippine Revolution, the U.S. government regarded it as an insurrection. The conflict arose when the First Philippine Republic objected to the terms of the Treaty of Paris under which the United States took possession of the Philippines from Spain, ending the short Spanish–American War.

Moro people ethnic group

The collective term Moro people refers to the 13 Islamized ethnolinguistic groups of Mindanao, Sulu and Palawan. As Muslim-majority ethnic groups, they form largest non-Christian majority population in the country, and comprise about 5% of the total Philippine population, or 5 million people. Most Moros are followers of Sunni Islam of the Shafi'i madh'hab.

Juramentado, in Philippine history, refers to a male Moro swordsman who attacked and killed targeted occupying and invading police and soldiers, expecting to be killed himself, the martyrdom undertaken as a form of jihad, considered a form of suicide attack. Unlike an amok, who commits acts of random violence against Muslims and non-Muslims alike, a juramentado was a dedicated, premeditated, and sometimes highly skilled killer who prepared himself through a ritual of binding, shaving, and prayer in order to accomplish brazen attacks armed only with edged weapons.

Antonio Caspi, a prisoner on the island of Samar, P.I. attempted escape on Oct. 26, 1905. He was shot four times at close range in a hand-to-hand encounter by a .38 Colt's revolver loaded with U.S. Army regulation ammunition. He was finally stunned by a blow on the forehead from the butt end of a Springfield carbine. [5]

Col. LaGarde noted Caspi's wounds were fairly well-placed: three bullets entered the chest, perforating the lungs. One passed through the body, one lodged near the back and the other lodged in subcutaneous tissue. The fourth round went through the right hand and exited through the forearm. [6] So the Army began looking for a solution. The task was assigned to Colonel John T. Thompson of the Infantry, and Major Louis Anatole LaGarde of the Medical Corps.

John T. Thompson United States Army officer

John TaliaferroItalian pronunciation: [ˌtaljaˈfɛrro]Thompson was a United States Army officer best remembered as the inventor of the Thompson submachine gun.

Infantry military service branch that specializes in combat by individuals on foot

Infantry is the branch of an army that engages in military combat on foot, distinguished from cavalry, artillery, and tank forces. Also known as foot soldiers, infantry traditionally relies on moving by foot between combats as well, but may also use mounts, military vehicles, or other transport. Infantry make up a large portion of all armed forces in most nations, and typically bear the largest brunt in warfare, as measured by casualties, deprivation, or physical and psychological stress.

Medical Corps (United States Army) U.S. Army Medical Corps

The Medical Corps (MC) of the U.S. Army is a staff corps of the U.S. Army Medical Department (AMEDD) consisting of commissioned medical officers – physicians with either an M.D. or a D.O. degree, at least one year of post-graduate clinical training, and a state medical license.

Testing

The tests were conducted at the Nelson Morris Company Union Stock Yards in Chicago, Illinois, using both live cattle outside a local slaughterhouse, as well as some human cadavers. To consider different combinations of factors, several different calibers were used during the tests: 7.65×21mm Parabellum (.30 Luger), 9×19mm Parabellum (Germany), .38 Long Colt, .38 ACP, blunt and hollow-point .45 Colt (US), .476 Eley (UK), and the "cupped" .455 Webley (UK).

Union Stock Yards

The Union Stock Yard & Transit Co., or The Yards, was the meatpacking district in Chicago for more than a century, starting in 1865. The district was operated by a group of railroad companies that acquired swampland and turned it into a centralized processing area. By the 1890s, the railroad money behind the Union Stockyards was Vanderbilt money. The Union Stockyards operated in the New City community area for 106 years, helping Chicago become known as "hog butcher for the world" and the center of the American meatpacking industry for decades.

A cadaver is a dead human body that is used by medical students, physicians and other scientists to study anatomy, identify disease sites, determine causes of death, and provide tissue to repair a defect in a living human being. Students in medical school study and dissect cadavers as a part of their education. Others who study cadavers include archaeologists and artists.

7.65×21mm Parabellum cartridge

The 7.65×21mm Parabellum is a pistol cartridge that was introduced in 1898 by German arms manufacturer Deutsche Waffen und Munitionsfabriken (DWM) for their new Pistol Parabellum. The primary designers were firearms designers Georg Luger and Hugo Borchardt, who developed the round from the earlier 7.65×25mm Borchardt while working at DWM.

The first day of testing involved eight live cattle; seven were shot through the lungs using different caliber rounds, and the effects recorded. The remaining animal was shot through the intestines with the .476 Eley. If the animal took too long to die, it was put down by a hammer blow to the head. Results were highly variable due to differences in shot placement, round types, animal size, and the number of times the animal was shot, according to Day/Velleux. [7]

For the second day, the test procedures were changed so that each animal would be rapidly shot in the lungs until the animal had died or 10 rounds had been fired. For this test, five to ten animals were used (LaGarde said sixteen cattle and two horses were shot, [8] Day/Velleux says thirteen cattle [7] ). Again, results were highly variable, and weapon jamming also contributed to the variability this time, according to Day/Velleux.

The cadaver tests were conducted by suspending the body, and measured the sway caused when the body was shot from different distances. As the suspended body constituted a ballistic pendulum, this measured the relative momentum of the rounds to some extent.

After the tests, Thompson and LaGarde stated: [8]

the Board was of the opinion that a bullet, which will have the shock effect and stopping effect at short ranges necessary for a military pistol or revolver, should have a caliber not less than .45. ... None of the full-jacketed or metal-patch bullets (all of which were less than cal. . 45) showed the necessary shock effect or stopping power for a service weapon. ...

We are not acquainted with any bullet fired from a hand weapon that will stop a determined enemy when the projectile traverses soft parts alone. The requirements of such a bullet would need to have a sectional area like that of a 3-inch solid shot the recoil from which when used in hand weapons would be prohibitive. ...

Finally the Board reached the conclusion that the only safeguard at close encounters is a well-directed rapid fire from nothing less than a .45-caliber weapon. With this end in view soldiers should be drilled to fire at moving targets until they have attained proficiency as marksmen.

Criticism

The Thompson–LaGarde Tests have since been criticized as being "highly unscientific" and producing a recommendation unsupported by the test results. [7] Others, notably Julian Hatcher [9] and Jeff Cooper [10] regarded the tests as well conducted, and the recommendation as fully supported by the evidence available to the board, and empirical evidence subsequently available concerning stopping power and handgun effectiveness.

Related Research Articles

Luger pistol semi-automatic pistol of German origin

The Pistole Parabellum—or Parabellum-Pistole, commonly known as just Luger—is a toggle-locked recoil-operated semi-automatic pistol produced in several models and by several nations from 1898 to 1948. The design was first patented by Georg Luger as an improvement upon the Borchardt Automatic Pistol and was produced as the Parabellum Automatic Pistol, Borchardt-Luger System by the German arms manufacturer Deutsche Waffen und Munitionsfabriken (DWM). The first production model was known as the Modell 1900 Parabellum. Later versions included the Pistol Parabellum Model 1908 or P08 which was produced by DWM and other manufacturers such as W+F Bern, Krieghoff, Simson, Mauser, and Vickers. The first Parabellum pistol was adopted by the Swiss army in May 1900. In German Army service, it was adopted in modified form as the Pistol Model 1908 (P08) in caliber 9×19mm Parabellum. The Model 08 was eventually succeeded by the Walther P38.

.38 Special Cartridge

The .38 Smith & Wesson Special is a rimmed, centerfire cartridge designed by Smith & Wesson. It is most commonly used in revolvers, although some semi-automatic pistols and carbines also use this round. The .38 Special was the standard service cartridge of most police departments in the United States from the 1920s to the 1990s, and was also a common sidearm cartridge used by soldiers in World War I. In other parts of the world, it is known by its metric designation of 9×29.5mmR or 9.1×29mmR.

M1911 pistol semi-automatic pistol polla

The M1911, also known as the "Government" or "Colt Government", is a single-action, semi-automatic, magazine-fed, recoil-operated pistol chambered for the .45 ACP cartridge. It served as the standard-issue sidearm for the United States Armed Forces from 1911 to 1986. It was widely used in World War I, World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War. The pistol's formal designation as of 1940 was Automatic Pistol, Caliber .45, M1911 for the original model of 1911 or Automatic Pistol, Caliber .45, M1911A1 for the M1911A1, adopted in 1924. The designation changed to Pistol, Caliber .45, Automatic, M1911A1 in the Vietnam War era.

Semi-automatic pistol type of pistol

A semi-automatic pistol is a type of pistol that is semi-automatic, meaning it uses the energy of the fired cartridge to cycle the action of the firearm and advance the next available cartridge into position for firing. One cartridge is fired each time the trigger of a semi-automatic pistol is pulled; the pistol's "disconnector" ensures this behavior.

Colt Single Action Army revolver

The Colt Single Action Army, also known as the Single Action Army, SAA, Model P, Peacemaker, M1873, and Colt .45 is a single-action revolver with a revolving cylinder holding six metallic cartridges. It was designed for the U.S. government service revolver trials of 1872 by Colt's Patent Firearms Manufacturing Company—today's Colt's Manufacturing Company—and was adopted as the standard military service revolver until 1892.

.40 S&W cartridge

The .40 S&W is a rimless pistol cartridge developed jointly by major American firearms manufacturers Smith & Wesson and Winchester. The .40 S&W was developed from the ground up as a law enforcement cartridge designed to duplicate performance of the Federal Bureau of Investigation's (FBI) reduced-velocity 10mm Auto cartridge which could be retrofitted into medium-frame semi-automatic handguns. It uses 0.40-inch (10 mm) diameter bullets ranging in weight from 105 to 200 grains.

.45 ACP Pistol cartridge designed by John Browning

The .45 ACP , or .45 Auto (11.43×23mm) is a handgun cartridge designed by John Browning in 1905, for use in his prototype Colt semi-automatic pistol. After successful military trials, it was adopted as the standard chambering for Colt's M1911 pistol, being named .45 ACP.

.357 SIG cartridge

The .357 SIG pistol cartridge is the product of Swiss-German firearms manufacturer SIG Sauer, in cooperation with American ammunition manufacturer Federal Cartridge. The cartridge is used by a number of law enforcement agencies and has a good reputation for accuracy.

.357 Magnum cartridge

The .357 S&W Magnum (9×33mmR), or simply .357 Magnum, is a revolver cartridge with a .357-inch (9.07 mm) bullet diameter. It was created by Elmer Keith, Phillip B. Sharpe, and D. B. Wesson of firearms manufacturers Smith & Wesson and Winchester.

9×19mm Parabellum cartridge

The 9×19mm Parabellum is a firearms cartridge that was designed by Georg Luger and introduced in 1902 by the German weapons manufacturer Deutsche Waffen und Munitionsfabriken (DWM) for their Luger semi-automatic pistol. For this reason, it is designated as the 9mm Luger by the Sporting Arms and Ammunition Manufacturers' Institute (SAAMI), and the 9 mm Luger by the Commission Internationale Permanente pour l'Epreuve des Armes à Feu Portatives (CIP). The name Parabellum is derived from the Latin: Si vis pacem, para bellum, which was the motto of DWM.

.45 Colt cartridge

The .45 Colt cartridge, which is sometimes called .45 Long Colt, .45 LC, or 11.43×33mmR, is a handgun cartridge dating to 1872. It was originally a black-powder revolver round developed for the Colt Single Action Army revolver. This cartridge was adopted by the U.S. Army in 1873 and served as an official US military handgun cartridge for 14 years. While it is sometimes referred to as .45 Long Colt or .45 LC, to differentiate it from the very popular .45 ACP, and historically, the shorter .45 S&W Schofield, it was only an unofficial designation by Army quartermasters. Current catalog listings of compatible handguns list the caliber as .45 LC and .45 Colt. Both the Schofield and the .45 Colt were used by the Army at the same period of time prior to the adoption of the M1887 Government version of the .45 Schofield cartridge.

.38 Long Colt cartridge

The .38 Long Colt[9.1 x 26mm] is a black powder cartridge introduced by Colt's Manufacturing Company in 1875, and was adopted as a standard military pistol cartridge by the United States Army in 1892 for the Colt New Army M1892 Revolver. It is slightly more powerful than the .38 Short Colt, or .38 SC. The .38 SC and .38 LC differ in case length, bullet diameter, weight, and design.

.44 Magnum cartridge

The .44 Remington Magnum, or simply .44 Magnum (10.9×33mmR), and frequently .44 Mag, is a rimmed, large-bore cartridge originally designed for revolvers. After its introduction, it was quickly adopted for carbines and rifles. Despite the ".44" designation, guns chambered for the .44 Magnum round, and its parent, the .44 Special, use 0.429 in (10.9 mm) diameter bullets.

.455 Webley revolver cartridge

.455 Webley is a British handgun cartridge, most commonly used in the Webley top break revolvers Marks I through VI. It is also known as .455 Eley and .455 Colt.

Stopping power is the ability of a firearm or other weapon to cause a target to be incapacitated, and thus stop the target. This contrasts with lethality in that stopping power pertains only to a weapon's ability to incapacitate quickly, regardless of whether or not death ultimately occurs. Which gun cartridges have the greatest stopping power is a strongly debated topic.

The Colt SCAMP was conceived in 1969 as a replacement to the aging Colt M1911A1 pistol.

Snubnosed revolver

A snubnosed revolver is any small, medium or large frame revolver with a short barrel, generally 3 inches or less in length. Smaller revolvers are often made with "bobbed" or "shrouded" hammers, and there are even "hammerless" models, all allowing the gun to be drawn quickly with little risk of it snagging on clothing. The shrouded and hammerless models may even be fired through a coat or jacket pocket. The design of these revolvers sacrifices power and range for maneuverability and concealment.

Handgun short-barreled firearm designed to be fired with only one hand

A handgun is a short-barrelled firearm designed to be fired with only one hand. The two most common handgun sub-types in use today are revolvers and semi-automatic pistols.

Colt Walker revolver

The Colt Walker, sometimes known as the Walker Colt, was a single-action revolver with a revolving cylinder holding six charges of black powder behind six bullets. It was designed in 1846 as a collaboration between Captain Samuel Hamilton Walker and American firearms inventor Samuel Colt.

Colt New Service

The Colt New Service is a large frame, large caliber, double-action revolver made by Colt from 1898 until 1941. Made in various calibers, the .45 Colt version with a 5½" barrel, was adopted by the U.S. Armed Forces as the Model 1909.

References

  1. DK (2 October 2006). Weapon: A Visual History of Arms and Armor. DK Publishing. pp. 290–. ISBN   978-0-7566-4219-8.
  2. Green Muse Writers Collective, The (December 2008). Keep Calm Carry on: A Survival Guide. iUniverse. pp. 138–. ISBN   978-1-4401-0249-3.
  3. http://www.manilatimes.net/juramentados-and-the-development-of-the-colt-45-caliber-model-1911/107609/
  4. http://www.bagongkasaysayan.org/saliksik/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/13-Artikulo-Lasco.pdf
  5. James, Garry, Colt New Army & Navy Revolver Archived 2010-07-04 at the Wayback Machine ., Handguns Magazine
  6. James, Garry. Colt New Army & Navy Revolver
  7. 1 2 3 Velleux, David (1998). "Background Information on the United States Pistol Caliber .45 M1911". The Sight M1911.
  8. 1 2 LaGarde, Louis Anatole Gunshot Injuries: How They are Inflicted, Their Complications and Treatment, (New York: William Wood and Company, 1914), pp. 67-89
  9. Julian Hatcher, Textbook of Pistols and Revolvers, Their Ammunition, Ballistics, and Use (Marines, N.C.: Small-Arms Technical Pub. Co., 1935)
  10. Jeff Cooper, Cooper on Handguns (Petersen Pub. Co., 1974)