For descriptions, high-velocity rifle bullets are usually more pointy as well as considerably faster than most handgun bullets, and they wreak more damage to flesh and blood. Revolver and pistol bullets—even the fabled .454 Casuls and .50 Action Express—pretty much drill holes.
What handgun bullets won’t do is probably more helpful for writers.
- Bullets won’t knock even small people off their feet, let alone throw them any distance. In fact, rifle or shotgun blast won’t either. If victims fall at all, they mostly crumple straight down like cutting the strings on a puppet.
- Even the most powerful handgun bullets won’t blow off hands, arms, legs, or hands.
- .22 rimfire bullets fired execution style won’t “rattle around inside” the victim’s brain. The myth stems from the .22’s lack of power to exit the skull. The rest is bogus press. A nail or even a needle in the brain can kill without ricochet.
- Except for special purpose bullets—for instance those designed by Kopsch, Turcose, and Ward in the 1960s and ’70s and available only to law enforcement and the military—handgun slugs won’t go through body armor or so-called bullet proof glass. On the other hand, almost any high-velocity rifle bullet used for hunting will breeze through both.
- As seen in the movies and on TV, bullets won’t spark off car bodies. To cause sparks while bouncing off windshields is laughable.