Okay so I have a world set roughly 50 years in the future. Guns are more efficient by use of liquid ammunition that solidifies when exposed to air (more ammo in a magazine). Bullets are smaller than typical bullets we see today.

I'm looking for potential gunshot wound options that would leave someone incapacitated--but not dead--for a number of hours with little to no medical supplies (i.e. clothing could be packed into a wound, but no IVs or real gauze).

So far from research, a shot to the abdomen would be difficult to manage. You've got blood loss, infection, and possibly losing organs out the puncture hole. Packing the wound could buy me time, but I don't think more than an hour (unless I'm wrong?). Regardless infection would set in within a day, and antibiotics can't be administrated before the wound is sewn up and healing. Is there a way I can still shoot someone somewhere in the abdomen (missing major arteries) and have them survive long enough to make it through the night? And what all would I need to do that?

My second thought is shooting them in the chest. A collapsed lung might let them live longer, but how much longer? Can a shot like this be treated with simple supplies and stabilize them until the next day? I read something about tension pneumothorax where air pressure is built up around the lung until it collapses and eventually pushes against the heart, causing cardiac arrest. It can be fixed by "venting" the lungs. Basically you can cut a hole between the 4th and 5th rib to allow the trapped air to flow out and reinflate the lung.

If neither of these work, is there a serious gunshot wound I can give someone that's potentially fatal but survivable for one night with minimal medical supplies?

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    – JBH
    Jul 23, 2018 at 4:08
  • $\begingroup$ Do you have any more info on the liquid ammunition, and exactly how small the bullets are? That could affect potential answers. $\endgroup$
    – Starpilot
    Jul 23, 2018 at 4:21
  • $\begingroup$ I am very much not a gun expert, so feel free to correct if I get something wrong on a physics level. I imagine the bullets wouldn't need a casing, but instead flow into the muzzle (I guess like a lethal water gun?) and eject small amounts at a time at a high velocity. Bullet sizes are something I struggle with....for simplicity's sake, I guess imagine if they're only slightly smaller than bullets from a typical handgun you'd see cops carry. $\endgroup$
    – Jay Dee
    Jul 23, 2018 at 4:44
  • $\begingroup$ Does the person have training? It would be easy for an untrained person to faint when subjected to a non-fatal wound. Also, who is around this person? As a general rule, incapacitated people are horrible at providing aid to themselves, so you really want another person around to provide the assistance. $\endgroup$
    – Cort Ammon
    Jul 23, 2018 at 4:59
  • $\begingroup$ I have to agree with all of the comments, you have to cite how incapacitated your heroine is, A man who had been removed of both his hand is severly incapacitated, but still alive. A man who is shot from all of his joints is also severly incapacitated, but is still alive. But both examples need to have someone to nurse them back to health. $\endgroup$
    – Mr.J
    Jul 23, 2018 at 7:02

1 Answer 1


You have a lot of potential options in just developing or looking at/developing your futuristic technology further.

What is the nature of these liquid bullets? Is it just for pure damage, or could the liquid be some sort of toxin? Potentially developed specifically to knock someone out, or cause extreme pain, or to do any number of secondary effects other than the bullet itself.

If your intent is purely that of "it's a futuristic version of a basic, normal bullet" then you would want to research more about gunshot wounds and anatomy. Different bullet types and different shells cause different damage (some bullets are specifically designed to fragment upon impact, damaging the person much more.) A wound to the abdomen could be REALLY messy and bad for the character (if you want them to end up surviving) but if the wound is a "clean" (non-fragmented) flesh wound (doesn't hit any vital organs, etc) it might not affect your character that strongly (adrenaline lets people do a LOT).

In terms of incapacitating, consider a leg wound perhaps? It would make someone stuck, but wouldn't be immediately fatal, but would hinder movement and could have serious amounts of blood loss.

Other than that, I would consider just further developing the "bullet" technology itself! It's futuristic, and you could potentially solve your problem through more worldbuilding development.

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    – Secespitus
    Jul 23, 2018 at 14:06

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