Mythbusters is hardly a unimpeachable source. As i understand it, the Mythbusters program used 6 pounder shot. Java
was equipped with 18 pounder long guns, and 32 pounder carronades. Constitution
was equipped with 24 pounder long guns, and 32 and 48 pounder carronades. There is a huge distinction to be made between the effect of a 24 lb. solid shot and a 6 lb. solid shot, never mind the effect of 32 or 48 pound solid shot from carronades at close rang (carronades could only be used at close range). There's a hell of a difference between the effect of a tennis ball size projectile and one the size of a bowling ball.
I did say "lethal," which was ill advised. But the accounts of battles at sea, which all Royal Navy and United States Navy officers were required to submit, show that splinters accounted for the majority of casualties in their engagements. I acknowledge that they weren't necessarily more lethal
than solid shot (leaving aside post-trauma sepsis). If one wishes to discuss lethality--grape shot, bar shot and chain were very likely the most lethal.
And, by the way, all ships mounted splinter netting immediately behind the hull on the gun deck, and over head. All ships also used bar shot with the specific intend to inflicting splinter damage. Those boys at Mythbusters usually show a profound ignorance of their subject. If i recall correctly, they were talking about pirates. It may well be true that pirates used 6 pounder guns (although such guns were uncommon--four pounder or eight pounder were more likely). But Java
was rated for 38 long 18s, and Constitution
was rated for 44 long 24s. Neither ship, however, necessarily went into battle with their rated armament. Constitution
, for example, usually mounted 30 long 24s and 20 32- or 48 pounder carronades, with two 24 pounder bow chasers. Both ships used swivels mounted on the taffrail and in the fighting tops.
There's a world of difference between the effect of a six pound shot and the 32 pound shot of a carronade.