A NEW Study of Zodiac's Weaponology

Zodiackiller.com Message Board: General Zodiac Discussion: A NEW Study of Zodiac's Weaponology

By Scott Bullock (Scott_Bullock) (spider-ntc-tb042.proxy.aol.com - on Wednesday, December 26, 2001 - 02:20 am:

I honestly believe that there is a lot to be ascertained from NEW studies regarding Zodiac's familiarity with firearms. Because this discussion will necessarily include the reappraisals of all of Zodiac's crimes, I felt a new thread should be created in which to specifically discuss these matters. I hope everyone concurs with this thought.

Let me start things off with a couple of hypothetical nuggets.

First of all, with regards to LHR, how do we know positively that Zodiac used a semi-automatic pistol instead of a .22 caliber revolver? Because of the number of shell casings accounted for at the crime scene? Well, let's pretend for a moment that Z is/was as clever a guy as some people speculate him to have been. Why not spread some empty shell-casings about that had been fired, picked up, pocketed, and saved from a prior murder/shooting session where an entirely different gun had been used? I believe that it's entirely possible that Zodiac used a .22LR revolver the night of the LHR events. He would not have to have emptied the cylinder of its expended casings. Instead, all he would have to have done is plant "false clues" by distributing a given number of previously expended shells. Furthermore, it is much easier to attach a pen light to the barrel of a revolver than too most semi-automatic .22LR pistols. If you discount the idea of attaching such a device to the slide of a semi-automatic (which I'm in 100% agreement with), then the number of applicable semi-autos available at the time drops considerably.

Secondly, as I've stated before, the lack of a "tight grouping" on BLJ doesn't mean that Zodiac was a poor marksman, or a poor "combat shooter," either. There exists a tremendous intangible in this line of thinking. How can we say for sure that Zodiac didn't know exactly where he was aiming, and intended every shot to exact as much agony to the "female" victim as possible? After all, didn't Zodiac always inflict more damage to his female victims than to his male victims? Wouldn't this idea, in fact, be more congruent with what we know about Zodiac?

As you can see, there are, perhaps, more questions than answers here. Is it crazy to conduct field research this late in the game? I believe it is likely that a new study of Z's weaponology will lead too all kinds of new revelations about Zodiac himself. My God, the original police report for the LHR murders is less than 2 pages! If Vallejo PD had known at the time that they would be dealing with one of the most infamous serial killers of all time, that friggin' report would have filled volumes! Isn't it time that someone go back and fill in the blanks?

I, and Ray N, (almost) have the resources to do exactly that. I urge the members of the board too contribute what you can; information, keen observations, independent studies of your own, etc. I truly believe that it is up to us, the people who give a dime about the future of this case, to go back and do all of the "legwork" that the law enforcement agencies in the past neglected to do. In some instances, it will be much harder than in others (I don't know of a way, for example, to ascertain supposed DNA samples). However, with that which is readily available to us (Thanks Tom!), isn't it possible to shed new light on decades old information? If it is possible, then Ray N. is right, it will require much more than sitting in front of the computer and talking about it. Anybody else out there who can contribute some sort of NEW research?

Yes, I already know that there are plenty of people who are already doing this and my hat is off to them. Let's just say that I've been inspired with a new resolve to be much more proactive in such endeavors; time permitting, of course.

Okay, I'm off my soapbox now. Who's next? (A mediocre "Who" album, btw.)


By Joe (Joe) (adsl-63-204-74-99.dsl.scrm01.pacbell.net - on Wednesday, December 26, 2001 - 09:59 am:

I admire your tenacity but not your logic. If your reasoning for a revolver at LHR is that it is easier to attach a penlight to one than it is a semi-auto, take a look at a JC Higgins Model 80. I agree that attaching a pen light to a slide is ridiculous. However, as stated in previous threads, a model 80 can easily accommodate a pen light on it's barrel with no interference to the slide's action.
Time being what it was out there on LHR, and given Zodiac's tendency toward a quick or "blitz" style of attack, I doubt Zodiac placed the rounds into Betty Lou's back with any degree of premeditated torture in mind. You are right in saying that his accuracy doesn't prove he was a poor shot but death was the only thing on his mind that night, not torture.
As for Zodiac spreading rounds belonging to another gun to leave fake "clews?" I doubt it. I don't believe he was THAT organized.

By Scott Bullock (Scott_Bullock) (spider-ntc-ta071.proxy.aol.com - on Wednesday, December 26, 2001 - 01:55 pm:


You wrote, "a model 80 can easily accommodate a pen light on it's barrel with no interference to the slide's action."

Yeah, I know that. What I'm asking is if the opinion of law enforcement at the time -- that the weapon used at LHR was a semi-automatic -- was purely based upon the number of empty shell casings found at the crime scene. In other words, is there any other evidence which would support this presumed fact? It may become a complete non-issue and that's fine; all I was doing was creating a hypothetical to demonstrate that the use of a revolver was possible. It doesn't mean I actually believe that Zodiac used a revolver at LHR, just that I'm fully aware that the possibility exists, even if that possibility is remote.

Additionally, you wrote, ". . . death was the only thing on his mind that night, not torture."

I agree with this comment. Again, I was simply using a hypothetical to demonstrate that, with regards to Z's marksmanship, we don't have enough information (IMHO) to be certain of his abilities. Was the grouping on BLJ deliberate, the result of poor marksmanship, or good markmanship given the circumstances? I have no idea. But I'll have a much better idea once I've had the opportunity to conduct a field test. I have the basic logistics laid out already, my biggest problem at the moment is that I don't currently own any .22LR guns, so I'm trying to work that out. In fact, I'd love to field test the J.C. Higgins model 80, but the problem is finding one.


By Douglas Oswell (Dowland) (79.philadelphia01rh.16.pa.dial-access.att.net - on Wednesday, December 26, 2001 - 02:37 pm:

Scott, Kaczynski owned a .22LR H&R model 930, a 9-shot revolver, found in his cabin when he was arrested. I've always discounted the possibility that this could have been used at LHR because the consensus seems to have been that it had to be a semi-automatic. What's the possibility that the crime could have been committed with the model 930 H&R?

By Ray N (Ray_N) (user-38ldd8q.dialup.mindspring.com - on Wednesday, December 26, 2001 - 02:39 pm:


I can't say how glad I am that others are also interested in doing something tangible with regard to forensic investigation on the case.

My thoughts on the revolver and accuracy questions are as follows: I think we should be trying to narrow things down a bit using the evidence that is available. The thought that a revolver might have been used is kind of curious. I concede that it is possible, but isn't supported by any evidence that I am aware of. If we entertain the thought that he did, then we have to acknowlege that he probably did this at all of the shooting scenes. I don't think the time lines will support this hypothesis because at LHR and BRS Zodiac narrowly missed being apprehended. I think you may be putting to much concern into the flashlight taped to the barrel of an auto pistol. Have a look at these pictures. Theres a J.C. Higgins Model 80 in there and some others. The Ruger is also similar in design. BTW, J.C. Higgins was actually a wide range of different types of sporting equipment sold by Sears & Roebuck, Co. and the Model 80 pistol was in fact manufactured for them by High Standard.


As far as the hit pattern on the body of BLJ, I have a hard time seeing that the bullets all went exactly where Z wanted them too. You are in effect saying that if he had wanted to, Zodiac could have put all the bullets into her heart, but that he chose to spread them around a little. That in my view describes an unattainable level of accuracy under the conditions which existed. This is borne out by the fact that he missed twice, and that does not support your theory of super accurate fire. Of course, I could be full of it, hence the upcoming fun!

I'm glad you brought this up, though. It seems that there are those here who take every opportunity to infer that Zodiac was trying to torture his victims as he killed them. Again, this is possible, but I don't see it. I don't see Zodiac intentionally doing more damage to the girls, either. I know it may seem that way at first glance, but look at it like this:

LHR - DF goes down with a head shot. Dead right there. Not any need for further shooting, especially with BLJ running for her life. She was shot more times because he was unable to score a kill shot on a target running away. This is more evidence against the super accuracy theory.

BRS - Attempted head kill shot to MM. This would have been a repeat of LHR. Both victims shot multiple times. MM survives by pure luck because he moves his head at the instant Z first fires.

BRS - Both victims stabbed numerous times. Both left for dead. BH escapes death by a fraction of an inch.

PS - No female present, but the head shot is employed again.

I don't see close range head shots as evidence that Z intended to go easy on his male victims. Of course, you all may well be right. This is just how I see it. I fully agree with Joe on this.

Here is what I plan to do. I am going to make a target frame which is suspended and stabilized on a cable pulled taut between two posts. I am going to have one silhouette target on the frame and another static silhouette target right next to it which does not move. This will be DF. I will fire one shot into the head of this target at contact range. At the sound of the report, my assistant will begin running one direction pulling a cable through a set of pulleys which will move the BLJ target along the cable in the opposite direction at the exact speed at which he runs. The distance which the target can traverse will be mechanically limited to 28.5 feet. I will then turn and fire 7 rounds at the moving target before it gets to its limit of travel. I will also do some chase scenarios and experiment with firing different numbers of shots. Also, I'll try to get a shell casing to eject into the passenger side of a car with the door open while shooting DF. This will be done in both daylight and night conditions, using a similar weapon and a small Maglite taped to the barrel for the night trials. I will also take one target and mark out the hit locations described in the autopsy report and compare the patterns of hits. I don't know jack about pathology, so if someone could draw this out for me I'd be grateful. I'm also going to do some penetration tests and some powder residue tests, which is why I'd like to know the material her dress was made from. Everything is going to be documented on video. This is turning out to be quite an undertaking.

If anybody has any other tests they'd like to see made while I'm doing this, let me know and I'll incorporate them if I can.


By Ray N (Ray_N) (user-38ldd8q.dialup.mindspring.com - on Wednesday, December 26, 2001 - 02:43 pm:


On page 11 of Zodiac, Graysmith quotes a CI&I report which describes extractor markings at 3 o'clock and faint ejector markings at 8 o'clock.


By Ray N (Ray_N) (user-38ldd8q.dialup.mindspring.com - on Wednesday, December 26, 2001 - 05:07 pm:


We were posting at the same time earlier. I see now that you were infering that there was possibly little basis for the police to assert that a semi-auto pistol was used, sort of like my stance that the assertion that a FN35 was used at BRS doesn't seem to be chipped in stone either. I guess I should have known better than to think that's what you believed happened. Good idea bringing it up, though.


By Mike (Oklahoma_Mike) (csdu-2418.communicomm.com - on Wednesday, December 26, 2001 - 09:26 pm:

Reading the autopsy report for Betty Lou Jensen we find she was 5'3" and 115lbs., fairly petite in other words. I have not been able to find out if she was considered athletic or not, i.e. ran track . If anyone knows, or if I have missed the information, please correct me.
This data means she was a small target, and the groupings of the bullet wounds as described on a person of that size means the pattern of shots would not be overly large. Considering the conditions, Z was an above-average pistol shot, though perhaps not an expert. As to why she was shot 5 times: while a .22 long-rifle cartridge is plenty deadly, it does not usually kill instantly unless there is a direct hit on the brain, spinal cord or heart. The autopsy report indicates one slug penetrated both atria of the heart, going right to left. This was most likely the cause of death, as the wounds to the lungs and kidney would have caused lots of bleeding but would not have been fatal for some minutes, if at all. Since whe was likely pumped on adrenaline in the fight or flight response the lung shots might not even have stopped her completely. The autopsyn report makes no guesses as to what order the wounds occurred so if the heart wound was not the first or second she could possibly have kept running until the heart was hit. Z shot her 5 times because that's what it took to bring her down.
One final interesting item: the report lists the heart shot as going RIGHT TO LEFT which it would have to in order to hit both atria. That means either she was turned partway to her right, Z was shooting from her right, not directly behind, or the slug first hit other tissue and was turned towards the left to hit the heart (the report does not mention the latter but it is not very detailed).
If we've got any EMT's, Paramedics, ER docs or nurses on the board, I would love to hear your input on these issues as I am far from expert.

By Peter H (Peter_H) (pool-141-154-40-58.bos.east.verizon.net - on Thursday, December 27, 2001 - 05:08 am:

On the JC Higgins Model 80: In another thread, (Zodiac Weapons, by Scott on Dec 21) there is a quote from a DOJ report finding that the shell case markings were consistent with that model. So we have both the direct evidence of the markings and the circumstantial evidence of the penlight compatibility.

By Scott Bullock (Scott_Bullock) (spider-ntc-ta034.proxy.aol.com - on Thursday, December 27, 2001 - 02:29 pm:

Wow, a lot to catch up on since I last posted. I only have a small amount of time right now, so I'll address what I can until later.

Doug asked, "What's the possibility that the crime could have been committed with the model 930 H&R?"

Given the hypothetical situation I described above, I'd say it would be very possible. But remember, that's only if you buy into the idea that the empty shell casings found at the scene could have been "planted." The H&R model 930 is a double-action revolver that's available in a variety of barrel lenghts and barrel styles. A pen light could certainly be attached too its barrel and it does have a capacity of 9 rounds. Do you, by chance, happen to know the barrel length of TK's particular gun?

Ray wrote, "I think we should be trying to narrow things down a bit using the evidence that is available. The thought that a revolver might have been used is kind of curious."

Yes, if we go strictly by the evidence that is available to us, then I have no problem relinquishing the revolver idea. Like I said, I was merely pointing out that it is possible, though perhaps not probable.

Mike wrote, "As to why she was shot 5 times: while a .22 long-rifle cartridge is plenty deadly, it does not usually kill instantly unless there is a direct hit on the brain, spinal cord or heart."

I agree completely. The .22LR IS NOT an ideal man stopper/killer. That's why it strikes me as curious as to why Zodiac employed such a weapon, especially if he had other guns that were just as tactical and better suited for the job? I don't know, just seems weird to me. If I was a serial killer, and used guns as a primary method by which to perpetrate my crimes, I simply wouldn't feel comfortable using a gun chambered for .22 caliber.

Peter wrote, "So we have both the direct evidence of the markings and the circumstantial evidence of the penlight compatibility."

Yes, very true. All I was ever asserting is that what is considered "direct evidence" in that DOJ report doesn't mean squat if said evidence was "planted."

More and more people are dismissing the possibility that a revolver could have been used at LHR. I'm wondering, why? Granted, the evidence indicates otherwise, but the evidence can be manipulated, remember? It's really not that much different than the idea of a cop carrying a "drop gun," you know, "just in case." I agree, this is more than likely not the case here. But it's not as if the concept is so outlandish as to be considered anywhere near impossible. It was just a thought, that's all.

Gotta go,


By Ray N (Ray_N) (user-38ldf4c.dialup.mindspring.com - on Thursday, December 27, 2001 - 06:58 pm:


These are exactly the kinds of questions which must be asked and answered in this inquiry. Also, very nice input on .22 ballistics.

To recap the autopsy on BLJ:

"Multiple bullet wounds to the chest and abdomen; there are 5 bullet wounds of entry on the right side of the back: three on the posterior chest cage and two over the right lower posterior lumbar areas. From up downward the first is located in the fifth ICS 3&3/4" right of the midline; the second is in the 8th ICS 5 1/4th" from midline;the third in the 9th ICS at 1 1/2"from midline; the fourth in the tip of the right 12th rib at 3 1/2"from the midline: and fifth over the crest of the posterior right iliac bone and 5 1/2" from the midline; there are three exit wounds; Heart: A bullet wound penetrates right to left through both atrium; Lungs: There are three through and through bullet wounds corresponding to the three bullet wounds of entry on the right posterior chest cage and one bullet wound through the left lung in line with the wound through the heart; they are associated with extensive hemorrhages of both lungs; a bullet wound penetrates the liver;a bullet wound penetrates the right kidney..."

I would have expected there to be a description of an entry wound under her right arm initially, but the description of the top wound (to the right of the fifth ICS) potentially makes sense as the entry point for the bullet which did the heart/lung damage. I think the area described is in the area of the scapula, or shoulder blade. A bone of this size would likely turn or deflect a .22 bullet sideways through the heart and into the left lung. Maybe a pathologist should be consulted on this. I feel it is important to resolve this issue with expert opinion otherwise we might start thinking that she was shot laying on the ground. I'm not saying she wasn't but we need to determine what the evidence indicates removing as much fodder for speculation as possible.


The H&R 930 has a nice long barrel. It is kind of styled after the old west Colt SA revolvers. It could easily be fitted with a penlight.
However, I think there is evidence that a revolver was not used. In addition to the ejector-marked shell casings, there is the rapid fire requirement vis a vis BLJ. Just off the cuff, I'd predict that the H&R 930 is a single action gun(?) not suited for such use (I'm guessing on this, something I hate doing.)

Ed N:

I have been reading some of your posts on the other related thread. Consider this: Just because someone attacks from close range doesn't mean they are incompetent. Does that mean that you would expect an expert to engage the target from far away? This only increases the chances of failure regardless of the skill level. In fact, the more you shoot, the more you recognize the value of getting as close as you can. The way I see it, the fact that Z attacked from so close could just as easily indicate experience with guns as it could the opposite. I feel that you are jumping to a conclusion on this.


By Ed N (Ed_N) (acb6c3c0.ipt.aol.com - on Thursday, December 27, 2001 - 10:48 pm:

Ray: I was exaggerating somewhat (OK, quite a bit). My point was that it's been incorrectly believed for years that Z was somehow an incredible marksman (no thanks to Graysmith and Penn); he did not shoot BLJ in a tight pattern or whatever. Quite the contrary, she was sprayed with bullets (just as Z said he did), which the autopsy report also indicates. I was not certain I believed the "expert marksman" bullpucky when I first read Zodiac, considering that in every other instance he did not demonstrate any particular skill with his weaponry. True, he could have been skilled and just wanted to make it look like he wasn't, but that's not what I get from my understanding of the crimes. That's not to say that he didn't know his way around guns; I just happen to think that, even if he did, he wasn't particularly skilled with their use. In other words, he couldn't hit a bull's-eye 9 times out of 10 (I can), and so chose to attack from close quarters to make sure he did hit his mark. Even then, he did leave four survivors, two of which later died, and the other two were dead-to-rights and he failed to kill them.

By Scott Bullock (Scott_Bullock) (spider-ntc-tc021.proxy.aol.com - on Friday, December 28, 2001 - 01:10 am:

Ray, you wrote, "I think there is evidence that a revolver was not used. In addition to the ejector-marked shell casings, there is the rapid fire requirement vis a vis BLJ. Just off the cuff, I'd predict that the H&R 930 is a single action gun(?) not suited for such use . . ."

Actually, the H&R 930 is a double action revolver, although I don't imagine that its breaking point is very crisp or clean. Also, this firearm can be had in a variety of barrel lengths ranging from 2 1/2" to 10" or, at least, this is what I was told by the two gunsmiths that I consulted today. Small bore guns do not fall within my area of expertise, that is why I'm still debating on which gun to use for field testing. Actually, it's not that I'm not familiar with them, it's just that I don't tend to buy them (.44 magnum, 50 AE, .454 Casull, .480 Ruger, .475 and .500 Linebaugh, are samples of some of the calibers kept within my inventory). I'm curious, which gun/s are you planning on using for your field tests? Personally, I'm giving seious consideration to the Ruger Mark II, especially the "government model" because its barrel is straight and not tapered like the "standard model." Also, there are plenty of .22LR guns to choose from that are manufactured by High Standard and also Browning. Unfortunately, my testing will have to wait until I can purchase one of these guns. Any suggestions?

ED, you are right. The marksmanship skills of Zodiac, as described by Graysmith and Penn, are grossly exaggerated. That is why I contend that we don't really know how skilled Zodiac was with them. All the more reason to put these ideas to the test, right?


By Lapumo (Lapumo) (p209.as1.clonmel1.eircom.net - on Friday, December 28, 2001 - 06:43 am:

There's something about BLJ running and the position her body was found that does not quite fit,in my mind.One would think that the force of the shots would have propelled her forward,leaving her either face down or face up!
Yet she was found on her right side.Would this not be more conducive with her (possibly), falling to her knees first? Would the position of the bullets indicate that Zodiac was shooting as she was falling,maybe overcompensating as she went down?

By Scott Bullock (Scott_Bullock) (spider-ntc-ta042.proxy.aol.com - on Friday, December 28, 2001 - 12:37 pm:

Lapumo, very good questions. However, at the moment, I don't have any good answers for you. Personally, I don't find it all that odd that BLJ was found on her right side. I mean, isn't it simply possible that she rolled onto her side before passing away? In my opinion, this seems like the easiest explanation.


By Ray N (Ray_N) (user-38ldd9e.dialup.mindspring.com - on Friday, December 28, 2001 - 05:51 pm:

I also agree that the lying on the right side thing is not really a big sticking point. She may have tried to get up after she fell and fell over again, or Z may have rolled her over partially to inspect the body. As far as the shots propelling her, I don't think there's that much power in the small slugs, it would probably take a larger caliber to produce that effect.


I also like the Mark II or the new Ruger 45/22 I think it is called with the bull barrel. I feel that these guns are nearly identical to anything Z may have actually used, but since they are new they will probably work well and not cause problems on the range. They are all 10 shot pistols.

I guess I am going to have to buy one as well. The new ones are also cheaper than the older ones which are becoming expensive collector pieces.


By Classic (Classic) (spider-th061.proxy.aol.com - on Friday, December 28, 2001 - 07:52 pm:

Lapumo, A human body does not move from the force of a bullet. That is a common fallicy perpetuated by the movies and T.V. I saw a video once of human cadavers suspended so that they could move when hit by bullets. None of the rounds fired into them caused any motion whatsoever. I was amazed at the total lack of movement. This was a video of a testing session to see which bullets bullets caused the most damage to human tissue. Classic

By Mike (Oklahoma_Mike) (csdu-24116.communicomm.com - on Saturday, December 29, 2001 - 12:16 am:

If the weather here remains tolerable I'll try some shots at about 28 feet distance. I have a Ruger .22 MkI with 6" tapered barrell which works like a charm. If not too cold tomorrow night would be perfect as I have a moon for illumination. I'm somewhat out of practice with this weapon but it is the closest to the High-Standard anyone else has.

Classic, I have not seen the cadaver films you describe but there is a large body (pun intended) of evidence to indicate bullets DO move a human body. If they expend many ft.-lbs. of energy into the body physics requires a reaction.
As to Betty Lou Jensen being knocked down by the shots, I doubt the .22 would hit hard enough to do so, even in a small woman such as she.
The question as to position of her body as found does have ONE important implication: the autopsy lists the bullet which hit the heart came from right to left. If she was on her right side, it could NOT have been delivered as she was in that position.

By William Baker (Bill_Baker) (lsanca1-ar16-4-33-173-245.elnk.dsl.gtei.net - on Saturday, December 29, 2001 - 01:32 am:

Let me briefly address a couple of points on issues that have been raised:

With respect to the sheer foot-pounds of energy impacting the body, I, too, am aware of studies done on "bodies" (never heard of using human cadavers, only animal carcasses)that demonstrated no discernible movement. A variety of weapons was used, ranging from .22 cal to .44 magnums to 12 ga rifled slugs. The conclusion was drawn that the movement was the result of reflexive response to the traumatic effect of the impacts. I have seen people shot, mostly on film/tape, and more often than not there is no appreciable reaction, other than flinching and collapsing.

As for BLJ's position when found, I haven't heard if her legs were drawn up. Often, when a person has been mortally wounded, they will gather up into a fetal position in response to the pain and in an instinctive effort to shield their vitals from further harm. Theoretically, after Z had fired the shots into her, believing both victims were dead, he left the scene. BLJ, still alive, assumed the fetal position on her side and then expired.

By Douglas Oswell (Dowland) (82.philadelphia01rh.16.pa.dial-access.att.net - on Saturday, December 29, 2001 - 07:27 am:

If you look at people getting shot in authentic war films you'll see that the bodies never move in response to being hit. In virtually every instance I've seen, the victim simply collapses. There's never any indication that he's been struck. The one that springs to my mind is the Stalingrad footage, in which a group of soldiers is attempting to move out of cover. There's a brief instant of confusion; all three start running, and one of them suddenly drops. It's interesting to compare that scenario with what occurs in dramatic cinema productions, namely, a lot of overacting and histrionics on the part of the "victim."

By Lapumo (Lapumo) (p130.as1.clonmel1.eircom.net - on Saturday, December 29, 2001 - 08:06 am:

I guess Ive been watching too many films.However my point went more to William's comments.That being the reaction of a living body in full motion
to being shot.Is it possible for BLJ to stay up long enough to get hit five times? It all goes to Ray's timing and covering that 28ft in 2 seconds.I also wonder which one Zodiac shot first.
The indication is that David was shot first and then he turned his attention to BLJ.Which would mean that Betty was already on the move before and during the shooting of DF!.If it was Zodiac's intention to force them out one side of the car,one might think that the first one out would have been shot first.The scenario I had in mind is that,perhaps,he did shoot BLJ first(not five times)turned shot DF once in the head and then finished with more shots into BL.

By Classic (Classic) (spider-mtc-tl033.proxy.aol.com - on Saturday, December 29, 2001 - 02:33 pm:

There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to bullets hitting a living being. Sometimes one shot from a .22 will kill a person like he was hit by lightning and the next person takes multiple rounds with little effect. A famous gun writer's(I think it was Jack O'Connor) wife killed an elephant with one shot from a .22 to the brain. James Brady took one to the brain and lived. Why? Who knows? That is the nature of firearms. Classic

By Scott Bullock (Scott_Bullock) (spider-ntc-tb073.proxy.aol.com - on Saturday, December 29, 2001 - 10:42 pm:

Classic wrote, "There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to bullets hitting a living being."

Well put, Classic. The way in which a human body is effected by a bullet depends entirely upon how the bullet's energy is effected by hitting the body. In other words, if an object (human or otherwise) offers little or no resistance to the bullet, the bullet will pass cleanly through the object without any physical response from the object. It's just like shooting a paper or cardboard target; the target doesn't move because it doesn't have enough mass to alter the energy of the bullet.

On the other hand, if the bullet is offered substantial resistance, there will often be a violent reaction in the object it hits. Let's use me and a hypothetical man we'll call "Bob," as an example. I weigh 300 lbs. and we'll say that Bob weighs 150 lbs. If we were both to be shot by the same, let's say, .44 magnum bullet that weighs 180 grains, is a semi-jacketed hollow point, and has roughly 1025 ft.-lbs. of energy at the muzzle, I would be more physically effected by the bullet because my body has more mass than Bob's and therefore would offer more resistance to the bullet than Bob's body would. In fact, it's very possible that the hollow point could remain pretty much intact and pass relatively cleanly through poor Bob's body leaving nothing behind it but a nice clean hole. My body, however, might offer enough resistance to expand the hollow point completely, in which case it may or may not leave an exit wound. If it doesn't leave an exit wound, that means that every ft.-lb. of the bullet's energy has been expended into my body and my body would respond quite violently. If it does leave an exit wound, it will be much more massive than the exit wound on poor Bob simply because the mass of my body would retard more of the bullet's energy before exiting.

Whew! I hope that helps to shed a little light on this issue. So, how does all of this apply to BLJ? Well, she obviously had much less bodily mass than I do, so it's possible that the three bullets that passed through her body may have been the first three shots to hit her. Because her body offers very little -- all things being equal -- resistance to begin with, it's going to offer even less resistance the closer she was to the muzzle. The farther she got from the muzzle as she was running away (if, in fact, this is how it happened), the more her body began to resist the impacts of the bullets. Therefore, instead of passing through her like the first three bullets did, the last two may have expended all of their energy into her body. The bullets that stayed within her body are far more likely to have forced her to the ground than the bullets that passed through her. However, the autopsy report states that the three bullets that passed through her body left larger exit wounds than entry wounds. This indicates that her body provided resistance to all of the bullets, but more so to the bullets that didn't exit her body.

Granted, the above stated does not take into account the way in which mass is distributed throughout the body, so it is not a perfect indicator that the 3 bullets that completely penetrated her were the first 3 bullets fired at her. For example, the first bullet might have hit a region of her body that has more mass than the area where the second bullet hit, so the first bullet might have stayed in her body while the second one might have completely traversed it. See what I mean?

The fact is, we may never know for sure the exact order in which the bullets hit her, but with the aid of scientific reasononing, we can certainly make some educated guesses.


By Mike (Oklahoma_Mike) (csdu-24100.communicomm.com - on Sunday, December 30, 2001 - 12:27 am:

As to Lapumo's question, would Betty Lou Jenson have been able to stand or run long enough to get shot 5 times before falling the answer is absoloutely yes. I would be willing to bet she fell right after the shot to the heart but had not fallen during the first 3-4 hits. I suspect the shot to the heart was the 4th or 5th. The autopsy lists 200 cc of blood in her throacic/abdominal cavities. A person her size would have at least 3500-to-4500 cc. of blood, so there was only moderate internal bleeding before she died. Her
heart could not have kept beating for long or there would be more blood in the cavities. In other words, there was not enough damage other than the bullet to the heart to guarantee death or even incapacitation. Pumped on adrenaline she may not have felt the shots hit her. My father related his reaction bo being shot in the Battle of Salerno in WWII, probably by a 7mm rifle bullet. He was thin at the time, at most 150 lbs. and DID NOT KNOW HE HAD BEEN SHOT FOR SEVERAL SECONDS. He related: he was charging up a gently sloping hill with his platoon when just about halfway he suddenly felt incredibly out of breath and tired. He remembered feeling surprised that the hill hadn't looked that big, but he was so tired he would just go to one knee and catch his breath for a moment, which he did. He was like that for several seconds when a fellow soldier stopped and said to lay down, he would get a medic right away. When my dad responded he just needed to rest a minute his buddy said, "you're hit". He looked down and saw the blood and finally realized he had been shot! He was shot through the right kidney with a jacketed rifle bullet which punched clean through. He recovered and went on to fight at Anzio and Brenner Pass. He didn't even lose the kidney and lived to the age of 80! Just a personal anecdote on how gunshots don't necessarily knock down, kill, or even incapacitate at once. While 3 bullets through the lungs and another in the kidney and liver would cause LOTS of bleeding given time, Betty Lou Jenson might have kept going for a fair distance without the shot to the heart.

By Ray N (Ray_N) (user-38ldfmt.dialup.mindspring.com - on Sunday, December 30, 2001 - 08:26 am:


The basis for my theory as to who got shot in which order is based on deduction after the assumption that they did not know they were going to be killed. The way I have it figured is that Z was doing some talking as he was walking around the car firing, and after they exited they remained obedient to his commands until the first shot was fired. In other words, since BLJ was running away, DF must have already been shot. If BLJ had been shot first it would probably not have been possible for Z to shoot DF at contact range since he would presumably be running away. So the first shot in my scenario was dispensed after coming up behind DF and, at the shot, BLJ fled.

I can't prove this is the way it happened, but it is the only way the thing makes sense to me. I have looked at it other ways, but major problems always seem to quickly surface.


By Classic (Classic) (spider-mtc-tk013.proxy.aol.com - on Sunday, December 30, 2001 - 10:23 am:

Scott, A .44 is going have more effect on a 150lb, man than a 300 lb man. Lots of people hunt deer with a .44 but nobody hunts Brown bear with it.

The is nothing at all special about the number of shots BLJ took or their location. Analyzing why it took more than one chest shot from a .22 is like analyzing why one person loves another person. There is no answer, it just is.

There is nothing exceptional or abysmal about z's shooting ability at LHR. BLJ took off running and z put the light on her and kept squeezing until she fell. Just an average, everyday workmanlike performance. Nothing great like Graysmith said and not so poor as to be inept. Classic

By Scott Bullock (Scott_Bullock) (spider-ntc-td052.proxy.aol.com - on Sunday, December 30, 2001 - 12:00 pm:

Classic wrote, "Scott, A .44 is going have more effect on a 150lb, man than a 300 lb man. Lots of people hunt deer with a .44 but nobody hunts Brown bear with it."

Sorry Classic, this time you are absolutely wrong. A 300 lb. man, such as myself, will suffer more damage from a .44 magnum than someone who is half my size. Like I stated in my previous post, my body offers more resistance and therefore more of the bullet's energy will be expended entering my body than in somebody's body who is half my size. That's just the laws of physics. There is nothing speculative about it; science provides all the proof we need.

As for hunting with such a caliber, a .44 magnum will kill anything that breathes in North America. The famous handgun expert, Elmer Keith (now deceased), who is often referred too as the "father" of the .44 magnum (he'd been reloading .44 special rounds to roughly the same specs as a .44 magnum years before S&W and Remington teamed up to create the mighty .44 magnum), killed plenty of black and brown bears with his now famous hand loads. See if you can find his excellent book, "Six Guns," and you'll see exactly what I am talking about.

When my brother and I were teenagers growing up in Colorado, we were often hired by farmers to kill varmits on their property. We shot grounghogs, rock chucks, coyotes, and jack rabbits. I remember one specific incident when we were hired to kill a bunch of diseased chickens. My brother and I were each using a .44 magnum to shoot and kill these chickens. However, once we started shooting, we noticed something very peculiar: the shots from the .44s wouldn't even knock the chickens off of their feet! Why? Because the chickens didn't have enough mass to retard any of the bullet's energy. All we were doing is popping nice clean holes right through those darn chickens; a .429 diameter hole going in and a .429 diameter hole coming out. (Note: .429 is the actual diameter of a .44 caliber bullet.) When the farmer saw our dilemma, he suggested using, ironically enough, a .22LR hollow point bullet instead of the .44 magnum bullets we were using. The difference was amazing! The .22LR bullets violently knocked the chickens off of their feet and killed them almost instantly. That incident was mine and my brother's first lesson in the ballistic capabilities of various calibers, and what a shocking lesson it was!

Anyway, I said all of that to say this, I stand by every comment I made in my previous post. I wasn't doing any armchair speculating. Everything I wrote was based on actual field experience. I can't put it any more plainly than that.


By Classic (Classic) (spider-tr063.proxy.aol.com - on Sunday, December 30, 2001 - 10:04 pm:

Anyone who knows anything about firearms knows that the bigger the animal, the bigger the cartridge needed. Gee, that is why most professional guides specify a minimum caliber of a .338 Magnum for hunting the big bears instead of a .30-06 or .300 win./Norma/Weatherby Magnum.

For anyone who doesn't know much about ballistics and doesn't know who to believe, spend $3.95 and pick up a hunting magazine. Then post an unbiased opinion. This hypothetical crap is too much! Anyone who knows anyhting about ballistics knows that there is no such thing as actual knockdown power. Signed by the one in the know, Classic

By Douglas Oswell (Dowland) (163.philadelphia01rh.15.pa.dial-access.att.net - on Monday, December 31, 2001 - 07:31 am:

Big guns; small bores.

By Ray N (Ray_N) (user-38ldcsq.dialup.mindspring.com - on Monday, December 31, 2001 - 01:13 pm:


I'm very interested to know if you got out the other day and if you did, what exactly did you do and with what results?


By Mike (Oklahoma_Mike) (csdu-24159.communicomm.com - on Monday, December 31, 2001 - 08:57 pm:

Sorry, I haven't done any tests, weather turned
cold and we even had some snow. I live in the
country so I can target practice anytime. I need
tom take a couple of days to practice with the pistol in question before trying to shoot at night. I am not real fast at acquiring a target, my greatest weakness as s shooter, so I doubt I can match Z's efforts, but I'll see. I am used
to practicing from 50' so 28' won't seem very far!
Happy new year to all!

By Scott Bullock (Scott_Bullock) (spider-ntc-tc042.proxy.aol.com - on Tuesday, January 01, 2002 - 01:03 pm:

Classic wrote, "For anyone who doesn't know much about ballistics and doesn't know who to believe, spend $3.95 and pick up a hunting magazine. Then post an unbiased opinion. This hypothetical crap is too much!"

Classic, I'm not arguing that a .44 magnum is more suitable than a power-house rifle cartridge for big game because that is simply NOT the case. All I was arguing is that many handgun hunters use .44 magnums to hunt large game. What is so difficult to understand about that?

Furthermore, I have no idea what "hypothetical crap" you are referring too. The "diseased chicken" story that I relayed in a previous post is fact not fiction; my brother and I experienced it first-hand. BTW, what kind of shooting experience do you have that makes you so qualified?

Also, you wrote, "Anyone who knows anyhting about ballistics knows that there is no such thing as actual knockdown power. Signed by the one in the know . . ."

I'm not sure what you mean by "knockdown power" because I've never heard of such a thing. However, if you are referring too "Taylor's Knock-out Formula," then you are absolutely, 100% WRONG! I found some reference to John Taylor's formula on a website constructed by John Linebaugh. Ever heard of him? I think it's safe to say that Mr. Linebaugh knows more about firearms than you and I put together.

Here is some of the info that I copied from his website and have pasted here:

"Everything I had read led me to believe the biggest and best sixgun could only approach a .30-30 rifle. Malarky! I do not believe that anymore.

The "industry" give us foot-pounds of energy figures to ponder over on cold evenings. We could shoot phonograph needles at the speed of light for, say, "20 tons" of energy and never stop anything bigger than a bull pack rat. Or we can shoot heavy .44 and .45 caliber slugs and do things very few would believe. I long ago quit using the foot-pounds formula ( using it only now to figure pressures ) and went to the most perfect formula by the late John "PONDORA" Taylor of African fame. Taylor’s formula that he called "Knock Out" is figured this way:

Caliber in diameter times bullet weight in grains times velocity divided by 7000.

Don’t ask me how he came up with such a formula or what the "7000" figure comes from. I do not know. But I do know that the resulting figures you get are a very accurate example of what your gun and load will do on game. Taylor claimed that while shooting his big critters that could hit back, that the big guns offered KNOCK OUT over the little guns even though exact shot placement was not accomplished. Example: a charging bull elephant taken head-on in the forehead with .416 and .470 bore rifles. I quote from African Rifles and Cartridges page 12 ..author Taylor says, 'If you take a frontal head shot at an elephant with a .416 and miss the brain by a small amount, you will probably not knock him out. His hindquarters will give way and he will squat there like a huge hog for a few moments, then, if you don’t finish him off at once, he will heave to his feet again, slew around and clear off. But if you had taken the same shot with the .470 and missed the brain by the same amount, that elephant would have been knocked entirely unconscious, and would have remained down for anything up to five minutes - yet the theoretical energies of the rifles are the same.'

Now Taylor was hunting Elephant, Rhino, Cape Buffalo and other dangerous game, plus was using rifles of immense power compared to our sixguns. This I will agree on. But by using this formula, that I believe is absolutely as perfect as humanly possible, to measure a projectile’s effect on a critter, one can realize the power and potential the big bore sixgun possesses. This formula will also show how the said sixgun with it’s big-bore and heavy slugs rates with the popular rifle caliber’s used by many hunters today. Here is a quick comparison:

.44 Magnum 240 gr. slug at 1400 fps : .430 X 240 X 1400 divided by 7000 = 20.6 Knock Out (KO)

.270 Winchester 130 gr. slug at 3100 fps : .277 X 130 X 3100 divided by 7000 = 15.9 KO

Interesting huh! It was shocking to me too. Now, you say, there is a bug in the works here ‘cuz you’re comparing a fast high-speed expanding slug against a heavy slow solid type slug. I agree, there are some variations we can argue ‘til the end of time and never solve the problem. But of the dozen or so deer and antelope I have taken and seen taken with a sixgun, the results compared to a comparable rifle are disgustingly similar. The front area on the big slugs do things I don’t think anyone, no matter how much game he shoots in his lifetime can explain fully or accurately." (All emphasis is mine.)

Gee, I guess Mr. Taylor and Mr. Linebaugh must know nothing about ballistics, huh?

At any rate, I will not argue the vices and virtues of ballistics with you anymore because it is obvious that, for someone who claims to be "in the know," you don't know anything.

BTW, I too welcome any unbiased opinions. However, instead of picking up some cheap glossy by which to make comparisons, I suggest taking a look at a Nosler's, Lyman, Hornday, or RCBS reloading manual. They are much more informative and cover every type of cartridge imaginable.

Also, one of my best friends, whom I have been running all kinds of information past in the last couple of weeks, is a member of the Army's 10th SFG and has been a weapons specialist with an ODA for the past eight years (he absolutely laughed his butt off when he read your last post, Classic). He will be helping me (hopefully) when I take my testing into the field. His experience, combined with mine, and the writings of such gun experts as Elmer Keith, John Taylor, Brian Pierce, and John Linebaugh, will prove to be extremely valuable when it comes time to conduct these tests.

Now, having said all of that, I refuse to spend any more time devoted to arguing with people who claim to be "in the know" but obviously know nothing at all. I started this thread because people such as myself, Ray N, and Mike feel that there is still information to be gleaned from such discussions and experimentation. If you don't have anything positive or, for that matter, realistic to contribute, then don't contribute at all.


By Peter H (Peter_H) (pool-141-154-20-98.bos.east.verizon.net - on Wednesday, January 02, 2002 - 11:44 am:


Nope: Big bores.

By Classic (Classic) (spider-mtc-tj052.proxy.aol.com - on Friday, January 04, 2002 - 06:25 pm:

Scott, I have been shooting firearms for some 25 years. My collection numbers close to triple digits. I have all the loading manuals you mention and a few more because I have been reloading 12 different rounds for over a decade. I have read taylor's work. There are plenty of esteemed gunwriters who do not agree with his formula. It most certaintly isn't perfect or even close. Is it useful? Maybe. Linebaugh hasn't cornered the market on the truth either. Both have impressive credentials ,but also have there biases. What I took exception to was your statement that a .44 was more potent on a 300lb man than a 150lb man. Neither Taylor or Linebaugh would agree with you. As for knockdown power, you stated that .22's knocked down chicken. It may have killed them instantly,but there is no such thing as knockdown power. Bullets cannot knock animals or people over by sheer force alone. This is where things have always gotten a little sticky for Taylor. None of the authorities believe in actual knockdown power. Classic

By Scott Bullock (Scott_Bullock) (spider-ntc-tc073.proxy.aol.com - on Tuesday, January 08, 2002 - 03:43 pm:


You wrote, "What I took exception to was your statement that a .44 was more potent on a 300lb man than a 150lb man."

No, dude. That is not what I wrote nor what I intended to imply. What I wrote was, I would be more physically effected by the bullet because my body has more mass than Bob's and therefore would offer more resistance to the bullet than Bob's body would. In fact, it's very possible that the hollow point could remain pretty much intact and pass relatively cleanly through poor Bob's body leaving nothing behind it but a nice clean hole. My body, however, might offer enough resistance to expand the hollow point completely, in which case it may or may not leave an exit wound.

I never meant to imply that a .44 magnum wouldn't kill me just as quickly and swiftly as it would poor Bob, because it would. What I'm saying is that my wound/s would be more ghastly because my body offers more resistance to the bullet. That's a fact.

"There are plenty of esteemed gunwriters who do not agree with his formula."

Name two.

"It most certaintly isn't perfect or even close. Is it useful? Maybe."

As long as the "hunter" keeps in mind the practical and effective range of the weapon he/she is using, this formula will never serve them wrong. Guaranteed.

"Bullets cannot knock animals or people over by sheer force alone."

That's absolutely ridiculous, completely unrealistic, and contrary to every single thing that I, personally, have ever experienced with firearms. The physical effect is not always the same, and is often very minimal, but there will be an effect, ranging from zero to absolutely violent. The variations in-between are incalculable.

"None of the authorities believe in actual knockdown power."

Again, give me some examples of said "authorities" and the evidence that they have to refute Taylor's formula. Knockdown power? Again, I've never heard of such a concept. Taylor's Knockout Formula . . . you can hang your hat on it.


By Ray N (Ray_N) (user-38ldcb3.dialup.mindspring.com - on Tuesday, January 08, 2002 - 09:21 pm:

I have seen actual films of buffalos being shot in the 1800's using .50 caliber Sharps rifles and large rhinos being shot in Africa with the old British double rifles which also approach .50 caliber. In both cases, so much energy was transfered to the animal that not only were they knocked over, they were actually lifted slightly off their feet, in other words, they were not in contact with the ground. Also, there is a passage in a sniper's journal which relates the assasination of a 300+ pound French civilian assisting the NVA and describes how a 178 gr .30 cal projectile impacting the center of his chest took him right out of his sandals at about 500 meters. Anyone who has ever felt the recoil of a big rifle knows intuitively that there is going to be a very significant effect downrange if anything of any mass at all impedes the progress of that bullet! For such a round to strike a paper target, would have no effect other than to put a hole through it, as virtually no energy would be imparted to the paper.

You know, all of this relates back to Lapumo's question of whether or not BLJ could have been propelled forward by the bullet strikes. This was a tiny little bullet, and information provided by Det. Baker and others indicates that it probably did not occur, and if it did, the effect was probably immeasurably small, and there are several other explanations as to how she ended up on her side which make just as much if not more sense.

So, maybe now, in the interest of moving things along a bit, we can put this question to rest as having been asked and answered adequately? Judging from the recent comments, my sense is that the board is growing more than a little weary of this.

By Peter H (Peter_H) (pool-141-154-19-52.bos.east.verizon.net - on Wednesday, January 09, 2002 - 06:33 am:

Ray: Don't believe everything your read and only half of of what you think you see. I will grant that I don't know much about the specific application of ballistics, but I do know general physics. It is a fundamental law ( at least at the energy levels we are talking about) that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. Sound familiar? In the case of a firearm, the opposite reaction is the recoil, which by this law carries precisely the same energy as does the bullet at the muzzle. Since the bullet cannot impart more energy to the target than it carries, the total momentum it can transfer to the target body is equal to the recoil minus friction loss to air resistance between muzzle and target. Since the mass of the hunter and the rifle absorb the recoil, the total energy imparted to the target can never be greater than that absorbed (or imparted) by the hunter. So unless these weapons were fired by men capable of lifting a buffalo or rhino off the ground, or knocking a 300 lb Frenchman out of his sandals, you've been had. You may also want to check up on the chronology of the use of the Sharps (first model, 1848: 1874 was the premier buffalo rifle), the invention of film (first public demonstration: Paris 1895) and the extinction of the 4 North American buffalo herds (1884).

By Ray N (Ray_N) (user-38ldfnk.dialup.mindspring.com - on Wednesday, January 09, 2002 - 10:05 am:


Laughingly, I concede that that's a very curious chronology, indeed.

You continue to impress me with your grasp of the particulars of many things. The laws of physics in fact do not support what I thought I saw. Perhaps the same people involved in that production also made Bigfoot films?

As it was explained to me today, the equal and opposite reaction describes forces, such as if one were to press against an object with a certain force, the resistance felt would be equal to the force applied. Another way of saying it is for every applied force, there is an equal and opposite force in reaction. This is not the same thing when one relates the concept of kinetic energy, which can be converted into a force, but is not a force in and of itself. Energy is computed as mass x velocity squared. So the force with which the projectile is forced out of the barrel equals the force of the gun against the shoulder of the shooter according to the equation F=MA; or mass of the projectile times its acceleration = mass of the rifle times its acceleration. However the kinetic energy imparted to the projectile increases exponentially over and above that imparted to the rifle due to the velocity^2 factor. This will give the bullet the power to penetrate, but in order to knock the hapless Bigfoot over, the energy must be reconverted to a force as the result of the deceleration of the projectile. The resulting force could never be greater than that felt by the shooter, in fact it would have to be less, since energy is lost in the form of heat and sound as the bullet is fired and travels through the air, and in the reconversion of energy back to force.

This is further evidence that there was no propelling forward of the body of BLJ.

BTW, do you think that an exhaustive, pseudo-statistical analysis might shed some light on why she came to rest as she did? I would be happy to provide weeks of discussion on this.
(just kidding)


By Peter H (Peter_H) (pool-141-154-17-86.bos.east.verizon.net - on Wednesday, January 09, 2002 - 11:52 am:


Well, we agree on the key conclusion: that the force imparted to the target must be something less than that felt by the shooter. A couple of details, however:

Sure it begins with force, but equal force over equal time, such as in the period of acceleration down the barrel of a rifle, means equal energy.

F=MA does not describe the conversion to energy: it says force equals mass times acceleration, and is used to derive any one of these from the other two.

Energy, in this case kinetic energy is represented by E=1/2 MVsq. Or, Energy equals 1/2 mass times velocity squared. The action, reaction law tells us that the energy of the bullet is the same as the energy of the gun and shooter at the moment the bullet is moving down the barrel and the gun and shooter are moving the opposite direction from the "recoil". This is because equal forces are applied over equal times. 1/2 of the mass of the gun and and shooter times the recoil velocity is the same as 1/2 of the mass of the 170 gr bullet moving at muzzle velocity. Stated more qualitatively, the energy of the little bullet traveling very fast will be the same as that of the big shooter traveling very slow. Ergo, therefore, henceforth and consequently . . . as we both have stated, the force imparted at both ends of the rifle will be roughly equal, give or take heat, sound and air resistance.

As for a statistical study of how she came to lie on her side, uh, she has two sides, a front and a back, so we begin with one in four as the random constant.

Your move

By Scott Bullock (Scott_Bullock) (spider-ntc-ta043.proxy.aol.com - on Wednesday, January 09, 2002 - 02:06 pm:

Here is a legit question that I have for anyone who cares to answer it:

Which would create the louder noise, a .22LR bullet travelling roughly 1.5 X the speed of sound, or a .45ACP bullet travelling at subsonic speed, say 700fps?

By Esau (Esau) (12-246-187-137.client.attbi.com - on Wednesday, January 09, 2002 - 02:33 pm:

I'm not much of a physicist but I would think that part of the reaction the projectile would give would be the flight itself. I find it very hard to believe that rifle recoil equals the energy of a travelling bullet.

By Scott Bullock (Scott_Bullock) (spider-ntc-tb021.proxy.aol.com - on Wednesday, January 09, 2002 - 08:37 pm:

Esau wrote, "I find it very hard to believe that rifle recoil equals the energy of a travelling bullet."

You and me both, Esau. If that were the case, wouldn't it stand to reason that the shooter would be killed? I'm not a physicist either, but there appears to be something missing in the above posts by Ray N and Peter H. "Felt recoil" cannot be the same as "knock out" power downrange otherwise, like I already stated, firearm shooters would consequently be killed, right?

Please explain to me how, for instance, a 300 grain 454 Casull bullet, which still has roughly 1400 ft-lbs. of energy at 50 yards from the muzzle, is effecting the shooter via recoil in the same way that it is effecting the target that it hits? I promise you, that is enough energy to effectively kill anything in North America. So why doesn't the recoil kill the shooter?

By Douglas Oswell (Dowland) (37.philadelphia01rh.15.pa.dial-access.att.net - on Thursday, January 10, 2002 - 12:59 am:

I'm not a physicist, but it seems to me that the recoil would be equivalent to the energy released by the ignited powder. It might seem like a lot of energy, but consider that in a rifle it's propelling a very light object.

By Peter H (Peter_H) (pool-141-154-17-109.bos.east.verizon.net - on Thursday, January 10, 2002 - 08:21 am:

Esau and Scott: The energy has to be the same, just as the energy of a traveling rocket has to be the same, not greater, than the expended thrust from its engine. No one said that the shot "affects the shooter in the same way" that the bullet affects the target. It is simply that the force exerted and therefore the energy expended are the same. They are obviously not exerted or absorbed in the same way in both directions, only in equal quantities. The reason the shooter is not killed is very simple: its not the energy that kills the victim, its the damage done by the penetration. Penetration is possible because the energy of the bullet delivers a force over a very small surface. Even in the case of a .45, that's just over 1/7 of one square inch. The recoil, on the other hand, is partially absorbed by the inertia of the weapon, then distributed over several square inches, perhaps 30 to 40 times the area of the slug, to the shoulder of the shooter. Easily absorbed. Very much like the difference between trying to penetrate something like a phone book with a fist versus a needle. As for the energy of the travelling bullet: (1400 ft.lbs assumes a velocity of a hair under 1450 fps. Is that correct?) But try firing your 300 gr. 454 Casull, or any other round, at a 1400 pound block of concrete, or better yet, a 200 lb of concrete, (sitting on a pair of sandals), and see how much the target mass moves. You might get some penetration, even some fracturing, but movement? About the same as the shooter was moved by the recoil? Blown off the sandals? Same effect is demonstrated by the effect of a round on body armor. Penetration is prevented by the kevlar, but the energy is absorbed by the body behind it. Ask someone who has experienced it. Feels like a hammer blow (or maybe a recoil?) at the point of impact, but were they knocked down?

By Ray N (Ray_N) (user-38ld86l.dialup.mindspring.com - on Thursday, January 10, 2002 - 12:37 pm:


Right, I miswrote it, it's 1/2MVsq.

As far as why the shooter is safe, isn't it also a function of time? Since the gun moves rearward at a much slower speed than the bullet moves forward (due to the mass of the gun), can we not say the rearward energy is applied over a longer period of time as well as over a greater surface area, just like the airbag in a car? So the body absorbs the energy much slower and over a greater area than does the bullet (and target), sparing the life of the shooter?

Scott & Esau:

Peter is correct on this one. It is a basic fact that energy cannot be created, only changed in form. There cannot be more total energy downrange than was released at the time of the shot. The force produced as the round strikes the target will also be proportional to how fast the bullet decelerates, according to F=MA, up to a maximum were the bullet to be stopped instantaneously, but even then this would be less than that felt by the shooter because of the energy losses which have already occured.

F=MA: It's not just a good idea, it's the LAW!


By Peter H (Peter_H) (pool-141-154-20-23.bos.east.verizon.net - on Thursday, January 10, 2002 - 02:00 pm:


Right you are. Well, not a function of time exactly, but of acceleration, of which time is a component (Acceleration is expressed as meters per second per second).The acceleration of the recoil happens over the same period of time as the acceleration of the bullet, ideally during the entire period of travlel down the barrel (with a correctly loaded round). It is just not as great as that of the bullet. This is explained by F=MA. Since the mass M of the weapon and shooter is far greater than that of the round, the acceleration A rearward is (proportionately) far less than that of the round, given the same force. Which is precisely what we observe in a recoil. A large mass accellerating to a not very great velocity but in a very short period of time. And guess what: its exactly what we observe on the other end: a large mass accelerating to not very great velocity in a very short period of time.

By Scott Bullock (Scott_Bullock) (spider-ntc-ta043.proxy.aol.com - on Sunday, January 13, 2002 - 02:29 pm:

Peter, Ray,

Almost everything you guys have written makes complete sense, afterall, we can't ignore the laws of physics. However, I still think that there is a small bug in the thinking here.

The bullet's energy and recoil are not a 1:1 correlation. They would only be 1:1 if you were to torch off the bullet in your bare hand in which case you would likely be killed. You have to remember that "actual" recoil and "felt" recoil are two entirely different things. Actual recoil can be mathmatically determined whereas felt recoil cannot. Recoil is but one of a few factors that equate to the total energy of the bullet. Other things that need to be thrown into the equation are the weight of the gun, barrel length, the ways in which the gases are expelled (if it is a revolver, an emense amount of energy is expelled between the chamber and the forcing cone, if it is a semi-automatic, much of the energy is being used to throw back the bolt and slide so that another round can be chambered), the amount of gas being expelled from the muzzle end of the barrel, and the amount of energy being absorbed by the brass casing (this is why brass can only be reloaded a certain number of times before it begins to split or crack).

To say that recoil equals the energy of the bullet is not a correct statement. Look at it this way, my 4" S&W model 29 will have greater recoil than my 8 3/8" model 29, using the exact same load, but the bullet from the 8 3/8" barreled gun will have more energy downrange. Why? Because the longer barrel length equates to two things: greater weight (less recoil) and greater velocity (more energy).

And Peter, the .454 Casull bullet would absolutely knock you to your ass if it weren't allowed to penetrate the Kevlar. It would also probably break a few ribs and perhaps even crack your sternum. But let's not dwell on the morbid. I understand exactly what you are saying about "actions and equal but opposite reactions." All I'm saying is that recoil is not the only thing that accounts for the "equal but opposite reaction." Also, a 200lb. cinder block is not the same as a 200lb. man standing 6 feet tall. So yes, depending on the caliber, this 200lb., Kevlar wearing individual could be knocked down, and knocked down hard. Hell, possibly even killed.

Okay guys, go ahead and rip me to shreds. I'm not a physicist, but my years of real world experience with firearms will prevail. I've seen chickens being shot with .44 magnums and not budging an inch, and I've seen elk hit the ground hard after being shot with a .378 Weatherby. Anyway, what got us started down this line discussion to begin with and what does it have to do with BLJ and DF?

By Ray N (Ray_N) (user-38ldejm.dialup.mindspring.com - on Sunday, January 13, 2002 - 04:15 pm:


You know, I initially thought as you do, but after having considered the physics aspects of things, I can't stay that course. There's simply no sense in trying to prove Mr. Isaac wrong. That isn't to say my intention is only to get on here and prove your statements wrong. I have great respect for you, Scott.

Neither Peter nor I said that the bullet's energy and recoil are the same. In the first place the bullet has kinetic energy, and recoil is actually a force applied to the shooter, so they are apples and oranges. The recoil force is the effect of the same force being applied to the bullet. So in effect, we can right off the bat say that some of the energy contained in the chemical bonds of the propellant is "wasted" in moving the gun rearward. There are countless other ways in which energy is wasted, including but not limited to, heat, sound, compression of action springs, gas leaking at the forcing cone, and about 468 other ways that I cannot think of. Basically, it's anything that moves, leaks, gets hot, or makes noise. These are all refered to as losses. If we had a way to fire a gun with no losses, recoil and felt recoil would increase. But remember the bullet suffers the most losses of all, because it is subjected to air resistance which is very significant at supersonic velocities. So you can't say it retains more energy because there are losses back at the bench. Once the bullet and gun part company they are seperate entities, from an energy standpoint.

You know, one of the things that is so confusing about these things is that we can make empirical observations about things, but not necessarily understand why things are the way they are.

I may have not stated everything above perfectly either. Wait until Peter posts before you render any judgement about what I've said. He's better at this stuff than me.

I think it all goes back to Lapumo's question as to whether BLJ could have been propelled forward by the impact of bullets. I think it has been more than adequately decided that this did not occur.


By Scott Bullock (Scott_Bullock) (spider-tr062.proxy.aol.com - on Monday, January 14, 2002 - 01:39 am:

Okay, I'll wait for Peter to post before getting lengthy; but a few quick points that may/may not aid in his response.

". . . question as to whether BLJ could have been propelled forward by the impact of bullets."

No way. Would never happen.

"I think it has been more than adequately decided that this did not occur."

I agree completely.

"There are countless other ways in which energy is wasted, including but not limited to, heat, sound, compression of action springs, gas leaking at the forcing cone, and about 468 other ways that I cannot think of."

That's all I was ever trying to say, though perhaps not as eloquently. There is a formula for determining "free recoil." I'll include it in my next post.

"But remember the bullet suffers the most losses of all, because it is subjected to air resistance which is very significant at supersonic velocities."

That's true. It is also being subjected to gravity from the very instant that it leaves the barrel. But I doubt that velocity is measured in a vacuum. Personally, I've always used a chronograph and the bullets I test are being subjected to air resistance, atmospheric pressure, and gravity. Therefore, if my chronograph is telling me that a particular load is propelling a bullet 1025 fps @ 25 yards then, by God, that's exactly how fast that sucker is travelling -- at least, at that particular point.

Okay, enough said. Peter?

By Peter H (Peter_H) (pool-141-154-18-15.bos.east.verizon.net - on Monday, January 14, 2002 - 10:34 am:

Ray summed it up well. Except that its "Sir" Isaac, not "Mr". As for the Casul: I have no doubt that what you say is true, if I am just standing normally at the moment of impact. The recoil from the rifle would also knock me on my ass if I were just standing normally at the moment of the shot, rather than in a proper stance. A slight push from my 8-year old daughter has exactly the same effect if I am not braced against it. As for the bruises and broken bones: its as I said: like getting hit with a hammer, if there's no penetration. As for the elk: sure it goes _down_ hard: its a very tall, heavy animal that loses all motor control almost instantly at the moment of impact. The question is whether its propelled horizontally any appreciable distance. Same with the cinder block. As I said, my daughter can apply enough force to knock a six foot tall, 200 pound object off balance, so it goes down hard, just like the elk. The question remains whether the mass can be accelerated horizontally appreciably. And yes, the relevance is whether BLJ would be propelled forward appreciably. A 40 gr 22 LR traveling at 1138 fps will carry something less than 1/10th the energy (about 115 ft-lbs) of the Casul. If the Casul could knock me on my ass, could 5 22 LRs in quick succession knock someone smaller off balance? Ever push someone in the direction he was already running? Or leaning, as in judo? Only take one finger, (3-5 ft-lbs) under the right circumstances. Not propelled forward, I agree, but knocked down? Maybe.

BTW: the effect of gravity on the Casul is negligible. It operates only vertically, not as resistance to the horizontal motion of the bullet. It decreases the kinetic energy slightly until the top of the trajectory, and then increases it for the rest of the ride. Whether this is a net gain or a net loss is determined by whether the muzzle or the target is higher. The total effect is no more than that realized by either dropping or lifting the bullet the total difference in the height of the two points. In the case of the elk, for example, betcha shoulder high on the animal is about the same as or lower than on the hunter firing off-hand.

By Scott Bullock (Scott_Bullock) (spider-ntc-tc051.proxy.aol.com - on Thursday, January 24, 2002 - 04:51 pm:

Okay, moving on . . .

I completed some preliminary field tests a couple of days ago. I'm going to go back and try the test for a second time during the day before proceeding to a test during the dark. The reasons for the second trip are as follows: I wasn't using a .22LR semi-automatic pistol. Instead, I was using a .40 S&W Sig Pro (still haven't purchased a .22 pistol yet). I conducted the test by myself, therefore I didn't bother to photograph or videotape the results. I conducted the test on an indoor range and had one of the range masters sending the target from approximately 2' in front of the muzzle out to approximately 10 yards via their mechanical pulley system. It worked pretty well, but I imagine that BLJ was able to traverse that distance faster than my target did. Also, I didn't like the fact that the distances were approximated. Finally, the range, not suprisingly, was very well lit.

Sure, these are all very good reasons to conduct the test again. In fact, this first session was really nothing more than a spontaneous hour at the range to begin working out some of the kinks that can only occur in the field and not necessarily on paper. However, despite all of the obvious differences, there was one thing that I found somewhat troubling.

I shot ten, ten round magazines and did an average of all ten groups. The average was 4 3/4" with the largest being 5 3/8". Though this is not, in my opinion, exactly Dirty Harry marksmanship (in fact, I was actually disappointed with myself; I'm clearly out of practice), it actually came as a bit of a surprise to learn that my groupings were as tight as they were. To the best of my knowledge, that's far tighter than that which was acknowledged in BLJ's autopsy report. I think it's safe to say that Zodiac did just as he claimed when he said, "all I had to do was spray her."


By Peter H (Peter_H) (pool-141-154-18-3.bos.east.verizon.net - on Friday, January 25, 2002 - 07:54 am:


What exactly are you testing for? Degree of Difficulty? Z's probable marksmanship rating? Something like that? If that's the case, it would be usefulr for us to now more about your experience, training and rating, and certainly to conduct the test under somewhat similar conditions. Like using the 22 lr semiauto, and maybe a flashlight sight or its modern equivalent, a laser sight. Seems to me that if the 22 lr is easier to group than the .40 (I would assime that it is far easier, allelse being equal) and the laser or penlight spot is easier to aim ( again, I would assume that it is) then Z's nonexistent grouping could be accomplished by just about anyone who ever so much as played caowboys and indians

By Scott Bullock (Scott_Bullock) (spider-ntc-ta083.proxy.aol.com - on Friday, January 25, 2002 - 02:49 pm:

Peter wrote, "What exactly are you testing for? Degree of Difficulty? Z's probable marksmanship rating? Something like that?"

I'm trying to find out something about Zodiac's knowledge of firearms. One could easily jump to the conclusion that he was a poor marksman simply by looking at BLJ's autopsy report. Then again, perhaps do to the conditions (the dark, BLJ was running, etc.), this was the best that could be expected. However, if it can be shown that, under similar conditions, a much tighter group could have been accomplished, then I might gain a better understanding of Zodiac's marksmanship abilities and his familiarity with firearms in general.

I've already explained in previous posts why I feel that a broader knowledge of such things will lead to a broader knowledge of Zodiac "the person." For instance, some claim that Zodiac was a tremendous marksman (Graysmith, Penn, Kelleher) while others argue the opposite (Ed N, for example). We know that Ed N, God Bless Him, is much closer to the truth. After all, BLJ's autopsy report clearly demonstrates the exact opposite of the claims made by G, P, and K, right? Still, others will argue that the sizable pattern is attributable to the various conditions that were present that evening. So, who's right? My opinion is that all of this is purely speculative and that we can answer some of these questions simply by putting them to the test. Doesn't that make sense?

Peter also wrote, "Z's nonexistent grouping could be accomplished by just about anyone who ever so much as played caowboys (sic) and indians."

See what I mean? Pure speculation. There's no need to speculate about things that can be field tested. Field testing leads to empirical data which, in turn, leads to a better understanding of the subject at hand. At least, it seems logical to me.

Like I said, the hour or so that I spent at the range the other day was strictly spur of the moment, and I don't consider anything I observed as actual data because there were so many differences. It was just interesting to note that my groupings weren't at all what I expected them to be. I'm open to any suggestions that will improve the quality of the testing.


By Peter H (Peter_H) (pool-141-154-20-251.bos.east.verizon.net - on Monday, January 28, 2002 - 07:10 am:


YOur gropupings may not have been what you expected, but it doesn't take any "speculation" to conclude that your four or five inch groups with a .40 outclass Z's .22lr performance by many orders of magnitude. I stand by my statement, and if I get the opportunity I will be glad to confirm it by trying it myself. I haven't touched a handgun in 30 years, and even then, my entire experience consists of some irresponsible desert botttle-plinking with a friend's .357. (With wadcutters at about 30 feet I think I could nail a Coors can maybe once in six shots, not exactly rapid-firing). I still think that with a light sight and a 22 auto I could do as well as Z. As far as grouping goes, that is. I am not so sure I could put one shot where it counts. Which leads me to suggest that even if I am correct, Z could have shot like he spelled: made the grouping look bad, but still got the one fatal shot, for which I presume he would have to be much better than the grouping suggests.

By Ray N (Ray_N) (user-38ldeuo.dialup.mindspring.com - on Monday, January 28, 2002 - 02:23 pm:

Peter H:

You have somewhat contradicted yourself by first saying that the range trials don't mean anything because they do not accurately reproduce the conditions under which the actual shooting took place, but then you turn around and draw conclusions based on these trials regarding Z's combat shooting ability and experience. Of course Scott outdid Z. He was firing at a well-lit range etc etc etc and had many advantages which Z did not, not the least of which is the lack of about half a gallon of adrenaline pumping through his veins. I think the whole idea here is to do some real trials and that is what Scott is getting ready to do. He's just letting us know what he is up to.

I don't know how you are so sure of what you or Z are/were capable of. If it was that easy to be sure, we wouldn't need to do these tests. I know I sure don't have any idea what the outcome would be firing a .22 at night, outdoors, at a target the right size and height moving away at the correct speed, using a penlight for a sight. I think our whole objective here hinges upon us admiting to ourselves that we really don't know what to expect, hence the upcoming tests.

There have been some others on this thread who don't really see the need for them, but hey, how does it affect you guys if we want to experiment? My point is, all we have done so far is talk about some tests and Scott did a little shooting, and already people are starting to form conclusions and opinions about tests that haven't even taken place yet.

As far as what is being tested for, I think everything from is it possible for what the police say happened to have happened, and what is the likely sequence of events based on things which may not yet have been discovered and may only be during a recreation to how close is this MO to the Santa Barbara homicides. If you haven't touched a handgun in 30 years, my guess is that firing seven rounds at a moving target in 2 seconds at night using basically a point shooting technique would net you one or two hits only. I could be wrong, of course. This is why we're taking it to the field.

By Ray N (Ray_N) (user-38ldff1.dialup.mindspring.com - on Monday, January 28, 2002 - 02:53 pm:

Obviously what we are seeking with all of this is insights.

One of the things I am expecting to be revealed is the time delay between the shooting of DF and when Z commenced fire upon BLJ (if this is indeed the way it happened). Assuming she started running when DF was shot, there would be a delay in my opinion of between .5 seconds and 1 second for Z to turn in the darkness and acquire his second target. If this is borne out, it will mean that the required rate of fire for BLJ will be nearly doubled, which would be 5 out of 7 hits in just over a second, putting Z's ability into near world class ranks. In fact, it may turn out that none of us can duplicate it. We may decide that it was so spectacular that it's unlikely that is the scenario which unfolded. This is what I personally am most interested in with these tests. This and other facts can only be revealed by recreation, however, i.e. pulling triggers instead of pressing down keys.

By Peter H (Peter_H) (pool-141-154-40-86.bos.east.verizon.net - on Tuesday, January 29, 2002 - 09:58 am:


I don't believe I ever said Scott's trials don't prove anything, much less than that the difference in conditions precludes any meaingful conclusion. I certainly did not intend that meaning. What I do maintain, however is that even under actual condiotions, what Z accomplished shows no great skill as far as his grouping goes. That, I believe is a foregone conclusion, even taking into account the conditions. What remains to be proven, on the other hand, is WHY the grouping was so bad. One possible explanation is that the grouping was staged, that is, he got the fatal shot he wanted and then "sprayed" the rest either to evidence poor marksmanship or to confirm his claim he used a light sight, or both. This would be consistent with your suggestion that his rate of fire and hit percentage could indicates great skill.

By Ray N (Ray_N) (user-38lddup.dialup.mindspring.com - on Tuesday, January 29, 2002 - 07:29 pm:


Yes, I can see where if you just look at the pattern of hits on the body one might tend to just say, "Hey, this guy isn't very good." But, there cannot be any foregone conclusions here. If we decide Z had no great skill based on that alone, we may be making a big mistake. What if, for instance, it turns out that a recreation reveals that it would have been very difficult to do what he did? Then the "bad grouping" might actually indicate great skill. Personally, I don't feel the "grouping" is all that bad considering it was done under combat conditions. Sure, from a marksmanship standpoint, tiny groups are possible under static conditions, but in combat , there's no real aiming going on, he just holds (points) on center-mass and keeps firing. The concept of groupings is not really even applicable to this kind of shooting - there are only hits and misses.

It might also be possible that Scott or I or somebody can duplicate this feat with ease. My only point is that now is not the time to be making conclusions, especially foregone ones. Why do we have to maintain anything at all? We can certainly have expectations, but why don't we just wait to see what happens first? The only thing I'm maintaining is that the results might be quite surprising...


By Mike (Oklahoma_Mike) (csdu-24118.communicomm.com - on Friday, February 22, 2002 - 10:46 pm:

In another thread commenting on a 'British" connection I commented that Z's use of the pistol brand-named the Browning Hi-Power hinted at a possible Canadian influence as that pistol was the
standard Canadian military sidearm since at least the beginning of WWII. That got me to thinking about the debate here re: Z's familiarity with weapons and realized the choice of the H-Power stronngly suggests more than a casual familiarity with weapons. If I have read the information on this board, another couple and Graysmith correctly, police believed TWO different Hi-Powers were used in two different crimes (Darlene Ferrin and Paul Stine shot with two different Browning Hi-Power guns. That means Z really liked this type of pistol to use one in a murder, presumably toss it and then use ANOTHER like it in another crime.
The catch is that in the time frame in question the Hi-Power was not as po;ular a gun as many others, at least in the Oklahoma, Kansas, Texas area where I grew up and have lived. Of the dozen-plus people I used to shoot with in the late 60's and 70's only ONE had a Hi-Power and he did not keep it long as he said it was harder to re-load for it than other guns. On the other hand, most of my gun friends had some variety of .38/.357 revolver or .45 automatic. I'm not saying the gun was rare or exotic, it wasn't. You could buy it or order it from any competent gun dealer. My point is that at least in my shooting circles most people did not choose it. In many ways the Hi-Power was ahead of it's time. Today many arms companies make automatic pistols that are chambered for 9mm, have double action, staggered loading magazines and a comparatively larger capacity of shells. But in 1969 there was only one, and Z chose IT! For Zodiac to show as much interest in the gun as he evidently did he may have been trained on it somewhere (i.e. Canadian Army?) or to have a well above-average interest and knowledge of firearms than the average citizen or even the casual shooter.

By Classic (Classic) (spider-wm044.proxy.aol.com - on Saturday, February 23, 2002 - 12:13 am:

In the '60's, early '70's the biggest deterent to the hi-power gaining wide popularity was it's price. It was expensive for it's time and still is. Classic

By Mike (Oklahoma_Mike) (csdu-24204.communicomm.com - on Saturday, February 23, 2002 - 09:18 am:

Good point re: the price of the Hi-Power. If the ballistic reports are accurate and Z did use TWO seperate high-price guns that tells us he REALLY liked that type of gun as well that he was ready to spend good bucks on weapons.
A curious twist is the .22 used in his first murder was opne of the less pricey guns of that type! This opens up lots of questions: Did Z wait from December to July between murders because he was saving up to buy a Hi-Power? Or 2 Hi-Powers? Did he come into some money in the interim? Did the police entertain the idea that any of the guns might have been stolen (I don't remember reading that anywhere)? Since the .22 2qw wo effective in his first murder why did he feel the need to go up in caliber and lots of expense? I'm very interested in hearing other's ideas.

By Douglas Oswell (Dowland) (54.philadelphia01rh.16.pa.dial-access.att.net - on Saturday, February 23, 2002 - 09:28 am:

The fact that he used a .22 in the first murder would indicate to me that he already owned the weapon and that the initial event was more-or-less an impulse-type thing, perhaps planned no more than a day or two in advance. He probably harbored a long-standing grudge (based on envy)against young people openly showing affection and might have toyed with the idea of murder for some time prior to the event. Some kind of stressor may have set him off on that particular weekend, and if the only weapon he had on hand was a .22 that's probably why he used it. Having taken so many shots to bring down Jensen he would have prepared himself better for the next, planned, event, and shelled out the money for a weapon that would accomplish his ends with less risk to himself.

By Ray N (Ray_N) (user-38lddn9.dialup.mindspring.com - on Saturday, February 23, 2002 - 06:06 pm:


Yes, that is a good point about the price of the Browning. Most guys like Zodiac are basically losers with loser jobs like busboy, president of Enron, etc., and shelling out a grand for 2 Brownings (a guess) is not what I'd predict.

However, I'll point out that although these are fine points all, they are all based on information of unknown to dubious origin, and that information is not necessarily the same thing as the facts of the case. VPD or Graysmith - I don't know which - got all excited about the number of shell casings at Blue Rock Springs and possibly jumped to a conclusion about the Browning. In Zodiac, Graysmith definitely seems sure a Browning was used at Presidio Heights. Something deep down inside of me suspects that RG just might have taken some literary license with that one. I'm fairly sure that information is not publicly released. I know I've never seen it on here that SFPD announced that it was a Browning. Jake seems to have insider information about the SF physical evidence eg the new fingerprint stuff. But so far, he's not saying much except that the police have it. If Jake or Tom had a statement to make on that I'd probably listen to them. I'd say the 2 different Browings theory would probably be right from the standpoint of Zodiac keeping a weapon used in a Z attack. Actually that's a big part of my argument against the Browning. Why buy two of those things for throwaways (or stowaways)? Pam Huckaby told me she has the entire, unredacted 350-plus page police file on BRS. There might be some information in there about how the Browning corner got turned. I'm sure there's a ballistics section in there, but I don't think the "public" version says anything about this of substance. Tom, do you have any input on this?

So I guess my whole point to this is that we should be careful about deciding what the evidence means and says about Zodiac's character before we know for sure what said evidence really is. Of course, there's no harm in chatting about what might be, but there's always the risk of something becoming a fact if it's repeated often enough, particularly if it emanates from Zodiac.


By Tom Voigt (Tom_Voigt) (12-224-63-186.client.attbi.com - on Saturday, February 23, 2002 - 09:17 pm:

According to my D.O.J. "Special Report: ZODIAC HOMICIDES" report, the possibilities are:

1) Blue Rock Springs (9MM semi-automatic):
Browning, Smith & Wesson, Star, Astra, Llama, Neuhausen, Zebrojoka, Husqvarna, Esperanza

2) Presidio Heights (9MM semi-automatic):
Possibly a new-model Browning, however not the same weapon as used at Blue Rock Springs

By Howard Davis (Howard) (ont-cvx1-38.linkline.com - on Monday, February 25, 2002 - 07:20 pm:

In your post of the 23d you wonder if Z came into some money.I can say that my suspect lost his father (whom he despised for years of abuse-he would not attend the funeral in TN.)in 1968, close to the time of the 12/20/68 '87 at LHR.He inherited about five thousand $ which he used to go to Great Britain and other countries.He left for this trip around the end of December '68.He was seen in Berkeley,CA December '68.My guy was a member of the NRA and had an 'intense interest in weapons ,shooting and read all the gun mags,etc..'Your 'money' comment made me think of his history at this period.

By Scott Bullock (Scott_Bullock) (spider-ntc-tb044.proxy.aol.com - on Friday, March 22, 2002 - 11:24 pm:

Okay, I'm ready to move forward with my re-enactment of Lake Herman Road. Well, almost ready. I recently obtained a Ruger Mark II chambered for .22LR. I feel that this is an excellent choice as a study weapon. It is dependable (not a lot of jams, if any at all), it will hold 10 + 1 rounds, and it is a very accurate .22 caliber pistol (there is absolutely NO WAY that I can "out shoot" the gun. For those of you who are familiar with firearms, you probably know what I am talking about. In other words, there is no way that I'm more accurate as a shooter than the gun is inherently).

I will be doing some field testing in the very near future. I have a feeling that I'm going to be surprised by the results. We'll see. I'll keep those of you who are interested informed. Ray? How's it comin' with your field tests? The more the merrier when it comes to research, eh? I hope that someone else will carry through with the same type of tests so that the results can be compared. Know what I mean?


By Scott Bullock (Scott_Bullock) (spider-ntc-td073.proxy.aol.com - on Monday, March 25, 2002 - 12:19 pm:

I guess everybody is done with this discussion, eh? Oh well, I'm still going to perform the field tests mentioned above because I still feel that, when all is said and done, we'll (I'll) discover something about the Zodiac that has never been realized before.

By Ray N (Ray_N) (user-38ldfoj.dialup.mindspring.com - on Monday, March 25, 2002 - 08:47 pm:


I'm not done here by a long shot. I've got my apparatus pretty much rigged, but unfortunately we live in some strange times. I need to find a place outdoors where I can set it all up and shoot to my heart's content without the men with the black hoods coming for me with their MP5s and stepping on my head. Things would probably only get worse from there if I told them what I was doing....
That's been the trouble for me.

I don't think I'm going to be satisfied with anything other than a faithful recreation, as far as my tests go. Not that I'm going to hold an indoor test against anyone else, though, I just feel strongly that if we don't know what to expect and we don't know exactly what we're looking for, which we don't on both counts, we're setting ourselves up to miss what we need to find if we're not as detailed as possible in our recreations. Plus, we have to shoot under night conditions for the real deal, the final tests. Night conditions are going to be about impossible to duplicate indoors. (I hope nobody suggests we just turn out the lights...). Other than a location, I'm ready to rock, as they say. I'm still looking.

I think your gun is the perfect choice for these tests, as it's doubtful Z had anything better. That way we can be reasonably sure he could not have done much better than us under the scenario described. This is important, because if we can't duplicate what Z did, in other words, if we find it's way beyond our abilities, we might have to conclude that something entirely different occured.

So, don't worry. I'm here for you, bro. I've been away for awhile due to this temporary computer virus I had. It seems that, for quite a while, whenever I tried to log on to zodiackiller.com, I got redirected to this other site which is eerily similar to artbell.com, where they were talking about nothing but this stuff called "reverse speech". I ask you now, have you ever even heard of such a thing? Anyway, the problem seems to have cleared up now all by itself. I hope I don't have to re-format my drive to make it stay away. Time will tell, I suppose.


By Mike (Oklahoma_Mike) ( on Tuesday, March 26, 2002 - 08:56 am:

Scott, I'm not finished with this subject either. I have wanted to try some night target practice with a penlight taped to a .22 barrell but runs of bad weather and other pressing needs have prevented me. I was all set Saturday night when I found the only litle light I have that will fit under the barrell had been damaged by old batteries! Mr. Murphy never lets up.
Congratsulations on the purchase of the Ruger Mk II.
I have had a Mk I for over 20 years and among the several pistols I own it remains the most fun to shoot! I agree with you on the inherent accuracy of the Rugur .22, my gun is definitely a "better shot than I am". It is also a close approximation to Zodiacs .22, though his probably was not quite as accurate or reliable. As I mentioned before, it is interesting how Zodiac went from one of the least expensive (but still reliable) auto pistols for one crime to one of the most expensive (and maybe 2 of those!) for later crimes!
Hang in there, We'll get our tests done one of these times.

By Scott Bullock (Scott_Bullock) (spider-ntc-ta043.proxy.aol.com - on Tuesday, March 26, 2002 - 01:40 pm:


Good deal! I know what you mean about finding a location, I'm having some of the same trouble myself. I've been scouting some spots in the National Forest areas; it's legal to shoot there and there aren't tons of distractions. However, it would be nearly impossible to stage a testing area for a sustained period of time which means that all of the testing would have to be done over a period of 2 - 3 days. I have some friends who own property in the mountains that I feel would allow me to conduct these tests. However, I won't approach them with the idea until I've got ALL of the logistics worked out.

BTW, reverse what? Art Bell who? Viruses? I have no idea what you are talking about but it sounds pretty scary!


Thanks! I've always wanted a Ruger MK II. I only bought it last week and I've already put over a hundred rounds through it without a single jam! I'm waiting for the weather to get better also. I was at roughly 8500' ASL yesterday and it's still snow-packed and cold. I'm afraid I'll have to wait another month or two before I can get down to some serious testing. Oh well, I love Colorado just the same.

". . . it is interesting how Zodiac went from one of the least expensive (but still reliable) auto pistols for one crime to one of the most expensive (and maybe 2 of those!) for later crimes!"

I've always found that to be a bit curious myself. Perhaps the reason he did so is one of the things waiting to be discovered? It certainly says something about Zodiac, I'm just not sure what.

I still haven't worked out a good penlight rig. Any suggestions, fellas?


By Ray N (Ray_N) (user-38lddad.dialup.mindspring.com - on Tuesday, March 26, 2002 - 05:21 pm:


In order to put the light on the gun, try this: Take a small block of soft balsa wood, square on the end and about 3" long. You can then carve out one side so it fits the contour of the barrel and the other side to fit the light. You can also use a small block of styrofoam and heat up the barrel and the light with a lighter to form them. Just take the batteries out of the light when you do this. Then wrap the whole thing with several wraps of duct tape. A more adjustable, but less stable way would be to use modelling clay between the barrel and the light and then wrap with tape. In order to get a good alignment, you can put a welding rod down the barrel and a wooden dowel in the light with the front end off. These two rods will then protrude a distance in front of the gun. It will then be easy to eyeball the alignment by adjusting until the rod and the dowel are parallel. If you want to take it easy on the finish of the gun, I think the best way would be to use the balsa wood to start, then to assemble it, hold them all together, and stretch a piece of bicycle inner tube about 3 or 4 inches long over the whole thing. With the rubber protecting the barrel, put two radiator hose clamps over the assembly instead of tape and tighten them slightly with a screwdriver. That's what I plan to use.


By Scott Bullock (Scott_Bullock) (spider-ntc-tc053.proxy.aol.com - on Tuesday, March 26, 2002 - 07:48 pm:


Excellent ideas, especially the bore/light alignment idea. And yes, I'm very interested in preserving the finish of the barrel and your idea about the inner tube is fantastic. You know what might work even better than an inner tube? Shrink-wrap. Place it over the barrel as you described, heat it up, and it will form itself perfectly. Very cool! I'll start working on it right away.


By Scott Bullock (Scott_Bullock) (spider-ntc-tb054.proxy.aol.com - on Tuesday, March 26, 2002 - 10:09 pm:

Whoops! A couple of minor oversights in my last post. First of all, it's called Heat-Shrink, not "shrink-wrap," duh! Secondly, "bore/light alignment," double duh! Of course, it's the exact same concept as scope/bore alignment, right? Sorry fellas, I've been putting in too many hours lately. BTW, Heat-Shrink can be had without glue or with glue. I'd recommend using the stuff without glue if firearm preservation is the goal. Keep up the good work and let's keep one another informed.


By Mike (Oklahoma_Mike) ( on Sunday, March 31, 2002 - 08:11 pm:

First tests completed! I used a Ruger Mk I .22 semi-auto pistol with 9 shot clip and 6-inch barrell. I taped a small Mag-lite (single AAA battery style) under the barrell with bandage tape
(the wife is an R.N.) and adjusted the 'aim' of the light to cooincide with the sight pattern during daylight but did not practice wtih flashlight attached until totally dark. I had practiced with the gun without flashlight earlier in the afternoon and, from among several tries, was able to put 8 of 9 shots into a 2.5" pattern in just under 4 seconds.
For the night tests I fired two seperate clips at
two targets from a range of approximately 30 feet. Each target was a 8.5"X11" piece of white paper. I paused and checked results and changed targets between tries. There was no wind and the night was clear and fairly dry. The moon had not yet risen.
Results: The first try yielded all 9 shots hitting the paper but one grazing an edge. The other 8 shots fit into a circle 7" diameter. The second try yielded 6 hits on the paper, but all 6 fit into a circle 5" in diameter.
Some difficulties: It was not easy to acquire the
sight pattern with the illumination. I could easily see the front blade sight but it took time to line up with the rear sight. The flash was not so bothersome as I thought, but the smoke was. The smoke was illuminated by the beam and temporarily made it impossible to see the target, especially with rapid fire.
Discussion: I did better than expected for the first try. A brighter light would have helped. Though I used the smallest Mag-lite it has a krypton bulb, not availible in 1968. A longer pen light, such as one using 2 AA batteries which was common in 1968, was TOO LONG for the 6-inch barrell and could not have been simply taped on as Zodiac says. It would work but he would need a barrell at least 8" or use a stand off attachment. If the front of the light proturded right under the muzzle I would worry about damage to the light and the bulb going out after a shot. This may be worth a future test.
I have not had a chance to compare the obtained patterns with a person of the correct size to make certain the pattern reported by autopsy would have been achieved but I believe it would.
What this does prove is a person who is very familiar with a specific gun and is current with practice could achieve sufficient accuracy on a WHITE, STATIONARY target from the reported distance. I am convinced that Zodiac would have had to practice with the gun quite a bit and would have had to practice regularly with the night-time setup in order to be able to hit a moving target (even direcly away from him, people wobble when they run).
One sideline, I earlier informed my neighbor what I would be doing some night practice so he would not be alarmed. All I had told him about was that I waned to experiment with a flashlight on a pistol and he said, "Tape it on the underside, not the top, that's what they taught us in the military."

By Peter H (Peter_H) (pool-141-154-19-46.bos.east.verizon.net - on Monday, April 01, 2002 - 02:50 pm:

Mike writes "It was not easy to acquire the
sight pattern with the illumination. I could easily see the front blade sight but it took time to line up with the rear sight."

Why bother to line up the sights? that seems to defeat the whole purpose of the "pencel light". If that's the process, then the light just becomes illumination of the target, not a sight. If you read Z's description of the process (see \ http://www.zodiackiller.com/ZLetter3.html{"pencel light" letter}) you will see he was looking at the light pattern itself. Why not try adjusting your maglite so that you get a recognizable feature at the point of aim. the head rotates to spread or focus the beam, and all kinds of features, sometimes relatively tight circles, go in and out of focus through its range of adjustment. No flashlight gives a smooth "spot" or beam as you will know if youve ever tried to read or do close work with one. Just pick out a feature at the centeer of aim and voila! You don't even have to lift the weapon to the correct firing position. It should be almost as accurate from the hip as raised eye level. Just look for the beam on the target, not the sights.

By Ray N (Ray_N) (user-38ldesg.dialup.mindspring.com - on Tuesday, April 02, 2002 - 09:42 am:


Outstanding effort, sir. Now, hopefully the board is beginning to see all kinds of things not anticipated before. This is exactly the kind of information we need and what I hoped would be brought to light.

I would like to offer some input at this point:

You have shown that it is possible to hit the paper a significant number of times under the test conditions. However, you were aiming with the sights, and although this is allowing you to hit the paper, I suspect it is also consuming enormous amounts of time to reaquire the sight picture after each shot with the smoke backscattering the flashlight beam and all. Also, you did not mention the time it took to fire these rounds during the night tests. You only have to fire seven rounds but I believe you fired nine. If we take into account the added difficulties you experienced at night with sight alignment, it's probably fair to say that it would have taken you at least four seconds (as you did in the day) to fire 7 rounds in this manner. The only problem with this is that according to my "running victim" tests, the target would be about 60 feet away by the time you fired the last round, twice the distance BLJ's body was found from the car.

I would suggest that you have proved a few things already:

1) Firing for accuracy using sight alignment at night with/without a light is not going to allow the required number of shots to be fired in the allotted time while scoring 5 hits. 7 shots in 2 seconds is what is going to be necessary to duplicate the "official" LHR scenario.

In order to achieve the above, I suspect that the light is going to have to replace the sights as a method of aligning the gun with the target (as Peter points out). Find a unique shape or point within the beam near where the bullet strikes, and use that for your aiming reference.

2) This method of alignment is inherently less accurate that using sights, although it allows more rapid target aquisition. Therefore, since your night trials resulted in a significantly larger group than the daytime tests (as was probably anticipated), we can probably surmise that because your group reached to the edge of the paper, firing faster and with the flashlight (viewed through smoke or not) as the sole method of aiming is going to begin to produce a significant amount of misses.

Thank you again, Mike, for taking the time and being the first to give it a try. Understand I am not trying to challenge your results or impune your marksmanship, neither is the case. I am, however, trying to find out what did/did not occur at LHR and if that means challenging the official versions of events, so be it. I think I'd be in pretty safe territory to suggest that the police have never done such a test.


Now, with Mike's preliminary results in, I feel it is time to come clean and let everybody know what I've been thinking about what may have happened. I have had an alternate theory about this shooting which I think has every basis in the evidence available to us. Personally, I have had doubts about Z ripping off 7 shots at a fleeing target and scoring 5 hits in 2 seconds. I say this because I feel fairly sure that I will not be able to do it. That's why I'm anxious to see Scott's results because he has significant competition pistol shooting experience.

I'm not saying this is what happened but I want to know if it can be disproved by shooting tests:

Z shoots DF at contact range. BLJ takes off running for her life, but Z anticipates this and turns quickly, firing at close range (maybe 5 or 6 feet from the muzzle) and hitting her in the shoulder on the first shot. The scapula turns the bullet which penetrates the heart and lungs, inflicting a fatal wound. Betty Lou does not go down immediately, but keeps running a short distance (another 1 to 1.5 seconds), during which time Z stands fast and fires only TWO more rounds, both of which MISS due to the increasing range. With her blood pressure dropping rapidly, Betty Lou loses her balance and falls prone. Z runs over and fires his 4 remaining rounds while standing over her. Z goes to his car and drives away. Betty Lou either tries to get up, or just rolls onto her side before expiring.

I am anticipating some feedback from the "grouping" section on this, asking why were the shots all over her back if he was standing over her as she lay prone. My answer is, "Why would someone try to get all the bullets in one hole in that situation?" It's not target practice at that point. If the inclination is to kill, the best thing to do would be to spread them around a bit and do damage to many organs. Of course, if he wanted a quick kill, he could have just leaned down and shot her in the head like DF. I must say that this would support the "infliction of maximum pain and suffering" theory, although I don't personally agree with it.

If accurate, this would be a nearly disastrous victim escape for Zodiac, and the second in a series if Z was responsible for SB! In my view, this may well have been the cause for him to both dispense with the penlight and step up to the nine for BRS. Notice how Ferrin/Mageau weren't even given the opportunity to get out of the car?

Anyway, my question is this: Can anybody think of a way to disprove this theory with the information we have? I haven't been able to think of a way. However, if nobody can duplicate the official version, will that not increase the possiblility?

My personal feeling is if the official version is correct, the Zodiac pulled off an incredible feat of shooting prowess. I guess it remains to be seen.


By Scott Bullock (Scott_Bullock) (edslppp241.dnvr.uswest.net - on Tuesday, April 02, 2002 - 12:48 pm:

I'll be posting some replies in the near future. I'm having to borrow a computer because mine is being worked on.


By Scott Bullock (Scott_Bullock) (spider-ntc-tc033.proxy.aol.com - on Tuesday, April 02, 2002 - 06:18 pm:

Okay folks, very cool information indeed! I'll address what I can in this post with more to follow later.


Excellent post! Very informative! Yes, by all means, adjust your sighting method just as Peter and Ray have described. Remember, this is "combat" shooting we're talking about here, not "target" shooting. I imagine that the 6" barrel had a lot to do with your groupings -- not to say that you aren't a good shooter because it seems evident that you are. However, the barrel on my MK II is 4" instead of 6" so it will be that much more difficult for me to produce the same results. Know what I mean?

You wrote, "I am convinced that Zodiac would have had to practice with the gun quite a bit and would have had to practice regularly with the night-time setup in order to be able to hit a moving target (even direcly away from him, people wobble when they run)."

That's a very interesting conclusion; very similar to what I've been thinking all along: I'm not sure that the size of the pattern on BLJ tells us squat about Z's marksmanship. Which brings up another VERY interesting point . . .

Ray wrote, "If the inclination is to kill, the best thing to do would be to spread (the shots)around a bit and do damage to many organs. Of course, if he wanted a quick kill, he could have just leaned down and shot her in the head like DF. I must say that this would support the 'infliction of maximum pain and suffering' theory . . . "

I'm pretty sure that I'm the one who originally proposed the idea of the "infliction of maximum pain and suffering theory," or, if not, I know that I have suggested such a concept in the past. Anyway, it does have some possibility, doesn’t it? I'm not sure that I agree with it either, but it does seem to explain the pattern of shots. Or does it? Thankfully, now that we are finally doing some testing, many of these questions will (hopefully) be answered.

I'm doing another "daylight" test tomorrow. The differences between this test and the one I performed previously are as follows: I'll be outdoors instead of on a range; I'll be using a .22 instead of my .40 S&W; my target will be stationary instead of moving; and the target will be at the EXACT distance that it should be instead of approximate. It will be another week or so before I get to the point where Mike is at with his testing. Nevertheless, I'll be keeping some exacting notes and will post them for what they are worth.

Ray, you asked, ". . . if nobody can duplicate the official version, will that not increase the possiblility?

I certainly think so. And I'm beginning to believe that Zodiac DID have the shooting skills that we've always assumed he had. However, I think that we are demonstrating that with more proof than has ever been offered.


By Mike (Oklahoma_Mike) ( on Tuesday, April 02, 2002 - 08:29 pm:

Guys, thanks for the feedback. I wanted to try the spotlight aiming technique but my light was not quite bright enough, plus with the smoke back-scatering the light towards the end of the shots it dimmed the light especially. I did not line up the sights for each shot, but put the front blade sight center on the paper and at what I thought was the right level. I just used enough of the sight pattern to try and line it up, and with fair success. I hope to get use a brighter light but need to make a standoff support for it due to barrell length as described earlier. Tha will be a while as this weekend I am out of town (at the Tulsa Gun Show!).
A couple of questions I have not been able to find the answer to: What was Miss Jensen WEARING? It it was a light color blouse or sweater, it would be similar to aiming at the paper. If her shirt was dark colored, Z was a very good shot, and had excellent night vision. I am an amateur astronomer and see in the darmk way better than average. I think Z had experience not just shooting at night but moving around in the dark.
The other question involves Miss Jensen's athleticism. Does anyone know if she was a sprinter or gymnast or such? If so, she would have got to moving fast and Z fired quick and accurately.
Ray, I don't know if the autopsy report supports your theory of Miss Jensen being shot while on the ground but I think your idea that one shot hit a bone, either scapula or a rib, and was deflected almost 90-degrees to the left,that being the shot that went through the heart is a very likely one.
I am anxious to await other trials.

By Tom Voigt (Tom_Voigt) (12-224-63-186.client.attbi.com - on Tuesday, April 02, 2002 - 09:09 pm:

How about a new thread?