Back in the late 1940's, many of America's Highway Patrol departments were concerned about a rash of shootings across the country where officers were targeted. Supremely aware that their officers were all alone and far from aid if attacked, the powers that be were trying to find a way to increase the efficiency of the sidearms that were carried. In fact it was some Highway Patrol departments that first adopted the .357 Magnum revolver back in 1935. But even this powerhouse of a cartridge was considered to fall short of the goal.
It had long been known that automatic fire was very efficient at stopping an attacker, even if the wounds received would normally be far from fatal. It seems that having two impacts occur in less than a second creates opposing shockwaves in a target, which increases the damage done. To try and create this effect with a revolver, the double tap method of firing was developed. It was nothing more than training the officer to fire a second shot in to the body of an opponent as quickly as possible. It worked, but only if the attacker was really close.
There's another way to do this. The development of more effecient powder meant that handgun cartridges were mainly empty, with a thin dusting of propellant at the bottom of the case and a bullet perched on top. Why not use that empty space?
The idea is to take several wadcutter bullets and load them in the case on top of the powder. On top of that would be a normal round nose bullet. This way the officer would be firing three, four or even five rounds with every pull of his trigger. Think about that for a minute. A regular six-round revolver would actually be loaded with thirty bullets, and each time a perp was shot it would be like being peppered with a sub-machine gun burst.
I've seen articles in old gun magazines from before WWII that talk about Army experiments with this new method of loading cartridges, but I've never seen any follow up articles that reported on the results. I came across an ad in one magazine from 1980 that advertised for a company that sold pre-loaded multi-round defensive ammo. The name of the company was "Multi-Round" (big surprise), and near as I can tell they went out of business in 1984. I didn't know why, since it seems like such a neat idea. Everybody who's serious about self defense should have been buying up their ammo in bulk lots.
In 1995 I came across 500 rounds of Mutli-Round .38 Special ammo at a gun show, and it was being sold at bargain basement prices. I bought the lot and took some to the range.
The box said that the case held three 124 grain wadcutters topped by a 160 grain jacketed round nose. Total lead weight was then 532 grains, which is about twice the weight of the heavier .45 ACP rounds. I aimed at the target down range and....
WHAM! What the heck happened? It felt as though the gun had exploded!
After making sure that my gun was alright I tried it again. Same thing. An incredible blast and the perceived recoil was worst than anything I've felt before or since. A guy at the range had a chronograph and he kindly let me check the velocity. 945 fps, about what a .38 +P would produce. I figured up the muzzle energy and found it to be 1055 ft/lbs, about what a .44 Magnum has. But there's just something about all that weight of metal flying down range that really pushes the gun back at ya'.
Now I know why this deadly, extremely effecient handgun ammo hasn't been adopted by every law enforcement agency and military in the world. It's just too uncomfortable to shoot. I suppose we'll just have to stick with the double tap method.
Or we could all buy sub-machine guns.