Stopping Power Is a Myth…Mostly

Double Desert Eagle Green Hornet

courtesy everydaynodaysoff.com

We have all heard that stopping power doesn’t exist and for all intents and purposes, it doesn’t. The force with which a bullet hits the target is equal to the force that’s directed back into the shooter. A far smarter guy than any of us (Isaac Newton) figured that one out. He went on to develop calculus pretty much on a dare and then, later still, according to rumor, invented the pet door.

So, if a round doesn’t pretty much knock you over when you fire the gun, it’s not going to do that to a live target that weighs about the same as you, and certainly not one that’s a lot bigger. There is a sort of upper echelon of firearms that do have that kind power…but chances are pretty good you don’t have one.

Let’s flesh that out a little more.

The only ballistic attribute that has anything to do with “stopping power” is muzzle energy, since the amount of it has to do with the relative ability a bullet has to pulverize flesh and bone provided an efficient transfer of said energy. The more force it hits with, the more things go “squish” and “crunch.” Therefore, rounds with great muzzle energy have greater potential in this regard to cause traumatic injury.

It goes without saying, of course, that a shot with such a weapon must be well-placed or else it does naught but wound or miss the target entirely. That is how a target as large as a grizzly bear or an elephant can be downed at close range. When put into the skull, a large, very powerful bullet causes sufficient trauma to down the animal.

Placement, of course, is pretty much everything and that will never change.

However, the greatest potential for causing said trauma with a bullet belongs to the most powerful of rifles and rifle cartridges and there just aren’t too many people who have them.

The modern shooter does most of his or her shooting at a range. Some, of course, are into long-range rifle shooting and some severe rounds exist for that purpose, such as .408 Chey-Tac, .338 Edge, .338 Lapua, .416 Barrett and, of course, .50 BMG. However, you’ll have to do some spending to acquire one of those rifles, let alone the ammunition. The typical long-range shooter these days, however, has a .308, a 6.5mm Creedmoor or something along those lines.

After all, why blow your shoulder up if you’re just punching paper?

Additionally, those rounds with incredible energy are usually dangerous game cartridges such as .416 Rigby, .416 Remington Magnum, .458 Winchester Magnum, .460 Weatherby Magnum and so on. Muzzle energy varies, but is often between 4,000 ft-lbs to 8,000 ft-lbs. There is virtually no application outside of dangerous game hunting for these rounds. Get tricky with handloads all you like; you won’t turn any of them into a fast, flat-flying long range magnum.

You can get a wonderful rifle for long-range target shooting for reasonable prices these days. Some dangerous game rifles can be had for “affordable” amounts (meaning several thousand dollars) and others require both a fitting and a price tag equal to the price of an average house.

That cuts into the amount of “pew” that you can do.

Krieghoff double rifle big five large game dangerous

courtesy krieghoff.com

Now, some guns with what could actually be called stopping power — meaning enough to knock you over — were devised in the 18th century, such as the two bores and four bores. They were known to be especially unforgiving. Today, “bore” is called “gauge” which should give you an idea of the projectiles being used. At the time, they were muzzleloaders but a few cartridge models have been made over the years.

A two bore cartridge, for those curious, is 1.326 caliber. Velocity is moderate, at less than 2,000 feet per second…but with somewhere between 10,000 ft-lbs and 17,000 ft-lbs of energy. The .50 BMG comes quite close; typical muzzle energy is between 13,000 and 14,000 ft-pounds of energy…but like a 2 bore, you’re gonna want a bipod.

As you can imagine, shooting one would be…unpleasant. Sir Samuel White Baker, a professional hunter and explorer, used a two bore rifle nicknamed “Baby” for elephant hunts in Africa and India. He always fired it from a rest, but only managed to do so about 20 times in his whole life because it was that unpleasant.

It spun him around whenever he shot it. When he let his gun-bearers (he was definitely a Great White Hunter) have a go, it usually put the man firing and the man standing behind the shooter for support on the flat of their backs.

So, while there theoretically is something like stopping power, it’s really only on the rarest and most powerful of rifles. Any sort of gun owned for defensive purposes…doesn’t even come close. Yes, this means you 10mm guys, too.

comments

  1. avatar Sal Chichon says:

    Damn, that’s a whole mess of words just to tell us 10 mm guys that you are jelly of our stopping power.

    1. avatar Havoc says:

      👍 😂 LoL. Perfect response. Thanks!

    2. avatar Leighton Cavendish says:

      Nope…not what was said at all…he said the lack of stopping power applies to 10mm as well…sorry you have such limited reading abilities. LOL

      1. avatar Sal Chichon says:

        The Joke.

        ….

        You.

    3. avatar Jay in Florida says:

      Im as happy as a clam with my EDC Commander sized 10mm 1911.
      Its the smallest gun I can still control doing double taps using some nice full power 700 ft lb plus load. Although I do wonder sometimes what Im getting out of a 4.25 inch barrel??

      1. avatar Sal Chichon says:

        Who manufactures your fine sounding weapon?! I am looking for a carry pistol, and would prefer it in Best Millimeter. 🙂

      2. avatar DrewR says:

        I’m with Sal, inquiring minds would like to know.

  2. avatar Ralph says:

    I’ve always defined “stopping power” as the ability of the firearm to immediately incapacitate the target by causing ballistic damage.

    “Stopping power” doesn’t mean the power to knock a BG ten feet backwards. If that’s the OP’s definition of “stopping power,” it’s a brand new one to me.

    I think the OP is conflating “stopping power” with “knock down power.” The latter is scientifically impossible in a handgun and impractical in a shoulder-fired weapon.

    1. avatar Havoc says:

      👍

    2. avatar John in TX (Was CT) says:

      I started writing a comment nit-picking the fact that muzzle energy has little to do with “knockdown power” if the target isn’t immediately in front of the muzzle, also.

      You have to worry about the energy at point of impact, and as velocity is squared in energy calculations, aerodynamics can have a pretty big impact on the end result.

      As such, a 7mm Mauser and a .444 Marlin Mag have very different muzzle energies, but are pretty similar in energy once the bullet reaches 100 yards.

      1. avatar Phil Wilson says:

        The amount of energy delivered to the target would also depend on penetration. If the bullet sails right through a considerable amount of energy is not delivered to the target.

    3. avatar Jim Wilson says:

      Recoil momentum = bullet momentum
      Recoil energy << bullet energy

      525 foot-pounds of energy is equivalent to a 200 pound man running 13 feet per second – enough to knock someone down.

      1. avatar Gov. William J Le Petomane says:

        That’s also the energy of the impact of a 525 pound weight dropping one foot.

      2. avatar 11B4X in another life says:

        Not so much. You have to remember Newtonian effects. Tissue and bone cannot resist a bullet’s energy which cause the wound cavity. To actually knock back, the bullet would have to expend much of it’s energy against a surface that can resist it.

        Think of gel blocks and rifle bullets. Holes, not knockbacks.

    4. avatar TexTed says:

      Ain’t no “knockdown power”, and as the article correctly gets it, the concept of “stopping power” is stupid too.

      Bullets stop people by physically damaging their bodies so that they don’t work anymore. No bullet does that every time. A .308 shot through someone’s lower could theoretically pass straight through, causing little damage; or it could blow a gigantic hole in that leg, causing rapid bleed-out.

      Which will it be? Do you feel lucky?

      Same story on the other side of the spectrum: a .22LR is almost certainly not going to stop someone cold. But, theoretically, it’s possible — if it punctures the brain stem, they’ll drop like a sack of potatoes. Or if it punctures the heart, it will eventually cause bleed-out.

      So which one has more “stopping power”? Neither. “Stopping power” is not an inherent characteristic of any cartridge. It’s the damage done to the body that “stops” someone, and that all comes down to shot placement, bullet design (FMJ or tumbling or fragmenting or hollowpoint), bullet energy, and bullet size, pretty much in that order.

      1. avatar Phil Wilson says:

        Yes. In addition, most attackers will probably bug out once their target starts shooting at them, so in a way “stopping” power also depends on the attacker’s will. For a determined attacker, just about anything you can carry will only stop them with a CNS hit. Almost anything else depends on the target bleeding out, which takes a bit of time even if a major artery is hit.

  3. avatar Nj2az says:

    The way I always looked a lot it:

    Ability to cause damage ~ kinetic energy (.5mv^2)

    “knockdown power” ~ momentum (mv), of which a bullet has very little compared to a person.

    1. avatar Sal Chichon says:

      That’s a fair way of looking at the difference, I’d say.

  4. avatar David says:

    FBI testing showed that for at least the big three (9mm, .40 cal, and .45 ACP) the wound profiles and “stopping” ability are indistinguishable for practical purposes. They concluded that the 9mm was the best choice due to magazine capacity and low recoil. They further stated that shot placement was key, and a non-lethal shot vs a incapacitating shot in either of the three calibers would be identical. Massed Ayoob wrote a good article about a police officer who put 14 rounds of .45 (everything in his Glock 21) into a suspect without incapacitating him.

    The only stopping power from a handgun is caused by nervous system disruption, pain, fear, trauma to vital organs, or shot to central nervous system.

    1. avatar WhiteDevil says:

      At least someone’s get it’s. You should check out rathcoombe.net. It’s wtitten by an engineer with a focus on ballistics. He essentially invalidates all of the long-held dogma that people in the gun community continue promoting. “Stopping power,” “Kinectic energy,” the silliness that is “hydrostatic shock.” It’s a great read if anyone will take the time.

    2. avatar ozzallos says:

      Another roll-out of the FBIs ‘ye ole modern bullet technology’ trope that somehow doesn’t apply to any other caliber but 9mm. From there, you might as well go with the next justification that there is only 1mm of difference between calibers… until you multiply that down the length of the wound channel. Bigger, heavier calibers equal better odds of tissue destruction, period. The FBI had to justify a cost based decision somehow and “modern bullet technology!” was it.

      My personal formula is big rounds moving fast. Kinetic energy dump plus surface area.

      1. avatar WhiteDevil says:

        The only measure of a wounds lethality is its permanent cavity. Not “kinetic energy dump.” Two rounds with vastly different muzzle energies can produce an identical cavity resulting in identical lethality. The round with the higher kinetic energy is no more lethal simply because it imparted more kinectic energy to the target. Educate yourself instead of pontificating pseudoscientific nonsense. Also, yes a larger wound cavity will produce more damage and could potentially be more lethal but the difference is negligible with respect to modern JHP ammunition.

      2. avatar Mikial says:

        Agreed. They also had to justify going to a 9mm because their agents couldn’t handle a 10mm, and the .40 that was created specifically for them didn’t do any better than a 9mm.

    3. avatar Phil Wilson says:

      That’s what I believe as well.

    4. avatar Dusty says:

      Funny thing; when pressed, the FBI won’t actually release the math/graphs/data to prove their assertion. However, when you look at the FBI’s formal gel tests that they HAVE released (1989), the 45 was leaps and bounds ahead of the 9MM and 40SW. Compared to today’s LuckyGunner standardized tests, the 45 ACP +P is leaps and bounds ahead of all the other auto-loading calibers.
      how do I know all of this FBI Business? I actually did a FOIA for the FBI data, and they refused to provide it.

      As far as the Mayoob article, I would reference Thomas Baker’s MoH citation; 8 rounds of 45, 8 dead enemies.
      We should never judge a solution by the tail ends of a bell curve; we judge it by the center of the bell curve….where the 45 ACP shines.

    5. avatar Nowr2run says:

      You believe the F. B. I. REALLY ? They say this crap because female agents can’t handle anything else but a 9mm if that ? After all the truth has come out lately I can’t believe anybody believes any alphabet agency.

  5. avatar John in TX (Was CT) says:

    I found a chart of data from police shooting several years ago which seemed to indicate very little difference in the number of hits required to stop a threat regardless of caliber (2-3 rounds, I seem to remember, was the average, and this was consistent between all calibers, even those as different in energy as .38 special and .357 magnum, about a 2-fold difference in muzzle energy).

    That said, I do want to pick up a big single-shot rifle at some point to entertain friends, family and self. Not a 2-bore or .50BMG by any means, but something in the 4000 ft-lb range, just to provide a nice gentle shove at the stock end.

    1. avatar uncommon_sense says:

      John in TX,

      If you want a nice “shove” for “entertainment” purposes, acquire a simple 12 gauge pump-action shotgun and shoot Hornady’s SST slugs. They launch a 300 grain bullet at 2,000 fps. You WILL feel that when you shoot it. And you will feel it the next day as well.

      For reference I compared the recoil of a Mossberg 500 pump-action shotgun shooting Hornady SST slugs out of a rifled slug barrel to a 28 pound bolt-action rifle chambered in .50 BMG with a muzzle brake shooting 750 grain bullets at 2,820 fps. According to the recoil calculator that I found, felt recoil would be about the same at the shooter’s shoulder!

      1. avatar jwm says:

        Put those same slugs in a single shot shotgun. They are normally about 2 pounds lighter than a pump gun and the stock isn’t usually equipped with any sort of pad.

        That will get you close to the African Big Gun Experience. With a lot less cost.

        1. avatar Unrepentant Libertarian says:

          H&R break open with high velocity loads. Black and blue shoulder for days!

        2. avatar rtw1951 says:

          Did About 10 SST’s between two of us one day. never again. At the time, Hornady and Winchester also made 3 1/2″ versions at 400 grains. 2 3/4″ 300 grain was bad enough. 10 was plenty, gave the rest to someone I was pissed at.

        3. avatar uncommon_sense says:

          Yes sir, 12 gauge Hornady SST slugs out of a break-action single shot shotgun — which is even lighter than a pump-action shotgun as jwm so aptly mentions — will leave a mark (most likely a black and blue mark on your shoulder).

          The most that I ever managed to shoot was 12 of those SST slugs in one session before I threw in the towel.

          Thankfully, I don’t have to shoot those any more: I now shoot a .44 Magnum (the handgun caliber) rifle for deer season which is more than adequate for dropping deer out to 150 yards. The recoil is much nicer and even the report is substantially quieter.

        4. avatar Big Bill says:

          I frequently shoot slugs out of my SxS 12g shotgun, without any black and blue marks.
          I will admit to having a Limbsaver on it, though.
          It’s amusing to watch others shoot it.
          “Holy Sh!t! How can you shoot that?”
          It’s easy, really. I know how to hold it.
          The closest other gun I have is a Mosin Nagant, and it’s no contest, really.

      2. avatar Toni says:

        i got a chance to fire a .50BMG once. the rifle itself was about 40lb with a muzzle brake that would have been close to 10lb. i could not shoulder and bring the rifle to level free standing and i am no weakling. for the onlookers the muzzle blast coming back from that muzzle brake would almost knock the ear muffs off their head. as for the recoil due to the sheer weight and that muzzle brake….. it was like shooting my howa 1500 in .223.
        i would however one day if i get the chance be willing to give some other not as heavy and without a muzzle brake a go

      3. avatar Nowr2run says:

        This guy gets it SLUGS even with any type of vest on will cause so much internal damage by just the crushing effect. You can shoot pretty far & accurate with these bolt action designated slug guns. Just go to TarHunts website & see all the GREAT GUNS THEY OFFER OR CONVERT YOUR’S.

    2. avatar DrewR says:

      Here’s that article:

      https://www.buckeyefirearms.org/alternate-look-handgun-stopping-power

      One good Thumper to look at, if you can find one, is a single shot rifle in .500S&W. Double Tap makes a load that produces more energy out of a rifle than a .375 H&H.

      My favorite is probably my 18.5 inch single barrel 10 gauge. 5 rounds from that feels like 5 mags from a Marlin 4570.

      1. avatar Nowr2run says:

        That funny, my dad has a double barrel 10 gauge, I think it weighs 15 lbs. or more. Yes it shoots those BIG GREEN BANANAS. Never shot a slug out of one but2’s & 4’s for turkey & it still kicks weighing that much, BIG HURT.

    3. avatar mark s says:

      Thompson center Encore in 500 Win Mag @ $575.00 has been tested to produce kill energies out to 600 yards and over 4000 Foot pounds muzzle energy .

  6. avatar Paul McMichael says:

    Every homicide I worked involving a firearm the victim usually fell forward. I want some of that ammunition that I see in the movies where the guy that’s shot flies back into the big boxes or 55 gallon drums.

  7. avatar uncommon_sense says:

    I am with Ralph above. In my mind “stopping power” has always meant the ability of a firearm to incapacitate a human or animal attacker.

    In that vein, there are five ways that a firearm can stop a human attacker:
    (1) Central nervous system destruction
    (2) Exsanguination (blood loss)
    (3) Debilitating pain (including passing out)
    (4) Fear of injury
    (5) Hydrostatic shock (shock wave to spinal cord or brain)

    A handgun of almost any caliber can produce any of the first four stopping mechanisms. Common handgun platforms cannot produce hydrostatic shock stopping mechanism. Only rifles (perhaps .243 Winchester caliber and up) at modest ranges (perhaps less than 350 yards) can produce hydrostatic shock stopping mechanism.

    I have to wonder if 20, 16, and 12 gauge shotgun wounds close to the center of the torso at close range simply create massive trauma and shock (especially when shooting slugs) which shuts down human attackers immediately. And I have to wonder if that is simply a version of hydrostatic shock or debilitating pain that causes the recipient to immediately pass out (and then promptly die from blood loss).

    When it comes to animals, it seems that the only two “stopping power” mechanisms are central nervous system destruction and exsanguination (blood loss). That requires a firearm platform that delivers a “large enough” bullet, at a “minimum” velocity, with “adequate” penetration and tissue destruction suitable for the animal that you expect to encounter. And that means relatively small calibers for small game, on up to huge calibers for huge game.

    1. avatar WhiteDevil says:

      There is no such thing as “hydrostatic shock.” Shock cannot be static. It is a dynamic physical phenomenon. The only way to induce shock in tissue is to impact it with something faster than the mediums speed of sound.

      1. avatar Dusty says:

        Incorrect. Hydrostatic shock has been evidencedin multiple occasions, in labs and parochial instances.

        As to how it happens, speed is only about 1/3of the equation. Other factors are mass and resistance in tissue.
        A 300 grain hollow point, at 1100 fps, expanding toan inch will Provide 900+ psi of cardiovascular overpressure. It only takes 500 to start seeing probabilities of hydrostatic shock. 1000psi it is almost gauranteed.

        A top tier 45 Super will provide roughly 800 psi

        1. avatar WhIteDevil says:

          Once again, there is no such thing as hydrostatic shock. SHOCK IS NOT STATIC. It was a term coined by two “scientists” Marshall and Sanow to promote certain rounds over others. Also, you are confusing it for a phenomenon whereby a round impacts a target the moment systolic pressure in the heart is highest, thereby creating ruptures in bloods vessels in the brain. This happens extremely rarely. “Hydrostatic shock” has never been reliably produced or verified. Go and check out rahtcoombe.net if you would like to educate yourself instead of continuing ages-old silly dogma.

        2. avatar Dusty says:

          So, it appears you’re confusing several things. Hydrostatic shock exists. Hydrostatic, by terms of mechanical (hydraulic, specifically), means to transfer force using fluid as a medium. That’s why there are ‘hydrostatic drives’ in tractors and such. “shock” is a medical term, used to describe a host of symptoms deriving from physical damage. The physical description of hydraulic shock didn’t come from M&S, it originated from as early as 1898….used to describe the death of fish from remote trauma.
          The term hydrostatic shock is also described as TBI, blast wave, ballistic pressure wave, etc. This includes what you would describe as systolic pressure peaks.

          As far as it happening rarely, I would suggest you do some actual research. Several MIT/Westpoint scientists have demonstrated it, along in the past from Harvey, Oschsner, Robinson, Zajtchuk, Suneson, Seeman, Liu, Wang, etc. Through various observational experiments and data review, the presence of hydrostatic shock has been demonstrated. I know you want to point at Rathcoombe.net…but it’s woefully unprepared. It’s analysis method is unduplicatable, and unmodeled. A critique set of work at best. I would point you towards the works of Michael and Amy Courtney, MIT/Westpoint researchers who have thoroughly documented and repeatably demonstrated the concept.

          Their actual work, used by the military and in academia, is free to download and study on http://www.btgresearch.org

        3. avatar WhiteDevil says:

          I’m confusing nothing Dusty. You are conflating a physical concept, hydrostatics, with an outright non-existent one. Shock itself does not occur unless a missle passes through a medium, at or faster, than the mediums speed of sound. Muscle tissue ranges anywhere from 44k-45k. Now either you are shooting such projectiles everyday, which would explain why you say it is highly repeatable or I’m just missing something. Remote wounding effects are also not attributable to hydrostatic shock, but, rather to the larger temporary cavity produced by the greater energy and velocity of certain cartridges. The rupture of blood vessels in the brain that you acknowledged, are the only instance of remote wounding effects that have been seen and contrary to your statement that they are not rare, cannot be relied upon for wounding and death. Dr. Martin Fackler did similar research into this decades ago and Rathcoombes observations and research are confirmations of Dr. Fackler’s research and they themselves are highly reproducible.

        4. avatar WhiteDevil says:

          Also, you do realize that hydrostatics deals with fluids at rest, right. A bullet passing through flesh, muscle and/or brain matter is not a static event. It is DYNAMIC. Hydrostatic shock was not used as a term back in 1896. It was first used as a term by gun writers, such as Jack O’Connor and various other firearms pundits, and yes, M&S. You have got this so mixed up it’s beyond laughable now. Now, the appropriate descriptor would be hydraulic or hydrodynamic shock, but, even then they are still suspect. The fact that you confuse a static and obviously dynamic event and their respective terms shows how suspect everything you said is.

  8. avatar Clogger says:

    “That cuts into the amount of “pew” that you can do.”

    Shoulda seen the amount of “pew” I just did.

    I gotta eat more fiber…

    1. avatar Dusty says:

      It’s clear you’re lost in the subject. I forgive you. Remote damaging by fluid percussion is EASILY demonstratable understanding Pascal’s law and Periorbital ecchymosis caused by compression of chest during compression. Fluid percussion (hydrostatic shock) is a function of MV, post-impact bullet ballistic coefficient, and post-impact frontal area, not merely speed. It is observed that even ultra-fast bullets (think 200 Swift) traveling at 4,000 FPS may not create remote damaging because they grenade too early and/or do NOT deform in anyway and transfer very little MV as they travel through the body. Notice I said MV, and not KE. The advantage of some pistol caliber bullets is that they are fairly heavy (45s up to 260 grains) and open to massive diameters (1”) which is 20X the frontal area as a FMJ 5.56. As far as Fackler and Rathcoombes, I’ll trust the previously quoted scientists. “large temporary cavity” – That’s pascal law. It’s fairly simple to mathematically model. Once again; MV causes displacement, which is that ‘temporary cavity’. Fackler’s research is fairly dated, and wasn’t aware of research by Breeze, Haass, Grauer, Hollriger, Gorcs, SUneson, Sturtevant, Taylor, etc.

      Silly. Hydrostatic drives that you see transferring power via hydraulic movement are…..moving fluids. Thus, dynamic. Pascal’s own experiments (that provided the foundation of hydraulics) was about MOVING fluid.
      Hydrostatic shock = NYT, 1898, November 27, Page 14.
      It’s pretty simple, kid, you’re out of your league here. Apparently, tractors with hydrostatic drives are now doing it with STATIC fluid! That what you’re telling me? You can use either MacPherson’s PSI data from chapter 7 or Courtney’s data, and any number of medical researchers who documented arterial rupturing between 15 and 45 PSI to validate the possibility.

  9. avatar Omer says:

    What? No 6.5 Creedmore comments? What’s going on here?

    1. avatar Ironhead says:

      6.5 creedmoor doesnt need knock down power. It just vaporizes the target the second it leaves the barrel. No ballistics are involved. Its better than a phased plasma rifle in a 40 watt range.

    2. avatar rosignol says:

      We’re saving the good ones for next Creedmas.

  10. avatar Jackass Jim says:

    A Louisville Slugger has great knockdown power.

    1. avatar DJ says:

      I’m with you on that.

  11. avatar Curtis in IL says:

    You’re all wrong.
    Indiana Jones proved it.

    1. avatar Chet says:

      Shot placement from that .38. Guy shouldn’t have brought a knife to a gunfight. Also, didn’t they explain the Tueller Drill to that man?

      1. avatar MLeake says:

        I thought Indy’s guns in that movie were a pair of cutdown S&W 1917s in .45acp, and a HiPower 9mm (briefly, in the Himalayan bar fight scene).

        IIRC, he had a .38 in Temple of Doom, and a Webley .455 in the last two.

    2. avatar Nowr2run says:

      I read an article about that scene in the movie. It wasn’t suppose to happen like that, Harrison was suppose to fight the sword guy originally. Harrison went to the actor who was playing the sword guy saying how sick he was from some type of illness he caught. He told the sword guy & apparently nobody else what he was going to do, just shoot him not fight him he was so sick. They both agreed & it became one of the best scenes ever, it was all set up by Harrison because he was so ill.

  12. avatar Chris T from KY says:

    I have a list of attackers who stopped attacking their victims when they were hit with a 22 caliber bullet.
    The attackers weren’t knocked down. But the “stopping power” of the .22 was enough to stop the threat.

    I also have a list of terrorist attacks that killed hundreds of people with only .22 caliber weapons.

    1. avatar mark s says:

      I practice head / stomach shots with my PMR 30 and I’m pretty confidant a head shot from a 22 WMR will create a little disorientation , enough to give me time for a few careful follow ups . Just sayin .

  13. avatar Richard Steven Hack says:

    I think the appropriate comment for this article is…duh…

    As others pointed out, “stopping power” is about physiological effect on the body, not kinetic energy.

    People have been hit with 33 rounds of 9mm and still managed to run 100 yards before collapsing.

    However, talk to soldiers about shooting people with 5.56mm vs .308. All said and done, a bigger bullet tends to do more damage at the receiving end. Which is what you want when you actually DO good bullet placement. Placing the bullet is only half the job – doing the damage is the other half.

    That said, there is something to be said for carrying a firearm with higher capacity, so that under the stress of combat, you don’t HAVE to do perfect bullet placement but settle for riddling the opponent sufficiently to cause him to stop.

    Which is why high-capacity 9mm and higher-capacity .45s and 10mms are the handguns of choice. It’s always a trade-off between bullet size, bullet velocity, bullet design, magazine capacity, and ability to shoot the weapon quickly and accurately.

  14. avatar tdiinva says:

    Amatuers talk stopping power, professionals talk lethality. These are two different concepts. Lethality can be described as how fast do you die from a wound in a given location. An untreated wound by a 22 in the abdominal cavity is lethal. It might take a couple of days to die from sepsis but you will die without treatment. Taking a 500 S&W in the exact same location will probably kill much quicker and probably from blood loss instead of sepsis.

    1. avatar Toni says:

      what you said about .22 in the stomach is why it is often a favorite tactic of guerrilla troops. the excruciating pain of it creates what they call a warbler which at least in green troops demoralizes the troops. in seasoned troops it can actually harden their resolve

  15. avatar Joe R. says:

    “Effects” of bullet impact vary with momentum of the mass of the respective bullet. Power of the round is with regard to momentum at any distance greater than zero. That power relates to the amount of propellant and the physical properties of the firearm (e.g.: length of barrel, properties of bore, etc.) it’s shot out-of.

    You can ‘stop’ almost any living thing by killing it. You can kill almost any living thing with a firearm. IF SHOOTING IN THE SAME PLACE AT THE SAME DISTANCE, you can kill living things (that are killable with a firearm) faster, with a firearm that shoots bigger projectiles, faster.

    That, is ‘stopping power’.

    1. avatar tdiinva says:

      Right idea, wrong term. See above.

  16. avatar Unrepentant Libertarian says:

    20mm Solthurn ATR for the win.

  17. avatar DaveM says:

    12 gauge 3″ slugs have enough stopping power that after firing 2 of 5 round box I stopped shooting them from my 590.
    Shot lower recoil rifles the rest of the day.
    Shooting 2 3/4″ leaves me with a slight black and blue, with 3″ it was purple
    I left the box of 3 on the bench.

    1. avatar DrewR says:

      My first shotgun was a Mossberg 500 with a pistol grip (I was young and dumb.) I sot it a bit with birdshot and thought “that’s not too bad.” Standard buckshot, “That’s a bit stout.” 3″ Magnum Slugs actually split the web of my right hand between the thumb and forefinger and I thought “Okay, I’m getting a stock!”

      1. avatar John Q Public says:

        Yes! That’s how I ate a Mossberg receiver! I was shooting with some friends and we had a Bright-Satin nickel plated coast guard style Mossy 500 with a pistol grip. I had shot it with the pistol grips and was able to manage buckshot, etc…Without to much of a problem. Until unbeknownst to me, my shooting partner had loaded it with 3 inch *German* magnum slugs…I believe they were some kind of sabot round…I fired to close to my face–sighting… The shotgun bucked so hard it slammed into my face…The receiver hit me like a near knock out punch from Mike Tyson! I had to take a rest after that…I suffered a bloody nose, a split lip, and some bruises…..

    2. avatar Toni says:

      lol you sound like my dad. he fires half a dozen rounds out of his Bentley side by side and complains of a sore shoulder for a month and it is only buckshot he is using. i once snapped it up only ended up with the butt on my upper arm instead if shoulder (yep i was young being about 17 at the time) and let loose both barrels loaded with 00SG. i said ouch, reloaded and let both go again this time with the butt placed correctly into my shoulder. have fired shotties loaded with 3″ magnums here before though they are hard to get now and would rather fire them all day than my 8X56R without the slip on rubber on the butt and that is if they also did not have a recoil pad on

  18. avatar Big Al says:

    Stopping power being what it is (not?). For sure and certain a 9mm projectile may expand, thus creating a larger wound. However a 45 caliber projectile sure as hell “ain’t gonna’ shrink”!!!

  19. avatar samuraichatter says:

    I generally agree with the above but I am thinking that a 10 gauge slug at short range falls in the “stopping power” category 🙂

  20. avatar Ranger Rick says:

    I miss my gun bearers.

    1. avatar jwm says:

      Wasn’t enough room up the tree for you and them?

  21. avatar Scott says:

    Stopping power is totally a myth. Unless you run into one of Chuck Norris’ fists.

  22. avatar former water walker says:

    A whole rambling article with no mention of the lowly shotgun slug. I bet I can knockdown my share with a few Brenneke Black Magic’s from my lowly Maverick88😎

  23. avatar Carguyreadinggunblog says:

    If you’re really looking for stopping power check out some cross drilled rotors and dual piston calipers from Wilwood.

    1. avatar tsbhoa.p.jr says:

      you’ll have more swept area without the holes.

  24. avatar New Continental Army says:

    “Knockdown” power I think is what this article was going for. I was always under the impression that stopping power was about the ability of the round at stopping the threat. Bullet size and velocity does come into play with that. If it didn’t, we could use .22s for everything from self defense, to war, to bears. .22 is not adequate for any of those things.

  25. avatar Sam Hill says:

    OF COURSE none of the above applies to the new wonder rifle the Army wants.
    “It puts the power of a A-1 Abrams Tank in every 11B Infantryman’s hands!”

    1. avatar Big Bill says:

      “It puts the power of a A-1 Abrams Tank in every 11B Infantryman’s hands!”

      Which of course is not what it does, but on FB I’ve seen that quote with the rather obvious, “What the hell?”
      What’s being discussed there is the chamber pressure; it’s the same in the proposed rifle and the Abram’s main gun.
      Those who read the article know that.
      Those who looked for a TL:DR (and didn’t find it) do now.

  26. avatar Rudy Verdin says:

    dang it there went my feeling of. invincibility in just a couple of paragraphs .my 10mm iant a big stopper (sob)But I saw no reference to the 300 win.weatherby or rum ?Are they not big stoppers with an excess of 4000#s of me?I own two the 300 weatherby and rum a d but my they do a number on our small feet miles and white at loonnggg ranges,if tou use the right bullet.

  27. avatar Gov. William J Le Petomane says:

    Not that Newton had anything wrong, but the force applied to the shooter is NOT the same amount of force applied to the shootee (unless he/she is a long way away). The energy that needs to be absorbed by the shooter must first be absorbed by the weapon. Typically the weapon will weigh at least about 100 times that of the projectile in handguns and several times that in rifles. The shooter absorbs the same amount of energy minus the amount it takes to overcome the inertia of a firearm at rest. Further, in semi-autos the energy it takes to work the slide or bolt must be subtracted. In revolvers, the area around the forcing cone acts as a muzzle break of sorts, capturing some of the energy and using it in the opposite direction. The rifling also creates a forward force.

    That said, a .45 Colt powerful enough to blast a bad guy through a plate glass window would certainly be powerful enough to embed the hammer into the good guy’s forehead.

    1. avatar BR says:

      And something that everyone seems to be forgetting is that if you are firing a gun you expect the reward force (recoil) so you brace yourself against it by proper grip and such, which is why you give your friend who you’re introducing guns to a .22lr or something and not a .45-70.

      The badguy who got shot doesn’t expect the force of the bullet. Think about it, if you suprise somebody with a light shove you could knock them over, I’ve done it and I’m far from a body builder.

      And plus look at some documentaries of war. My favorite is”My War Diary”. You’ll see some soldiers shot by an unknown weapon (presumably inho a SVD or Mosin Nagant variant in this particular instance) but the vest protected the soldier though it took him off his feet.

      Basically what I’m saying is that there is more to (I agree with others about terms) knockdown power than just one number. And knockdown power is independent of stopping power.

  28. avatar Gun Owning American says:

    45 acp still steals souls though.

  29. avatar Jeffrey Hunt says:

    Then there’s explosive rounds. Not much recoil but lots of “stopping power” when the target’s chest explodes. Or their head.

  30. avatar Sora says:

    10mm Auto is about damage power. Damage through penetration, cavity, and number of rounds quickly coming out of the Auto portion. At 740 ft-lb each and 10 + 1 on a 1911 with Tripp Research Cobra Mag (new version), you’re looking at 8,000+ ft-lb total going quickly into the target.

  31. avatar Kap says:

    proven fact bigger diameter bullets and slugs make bigger a diameter hole!

    1. avatar Curtis in IL says:

      Proven fact: Size of entry hole has zero correlation with size of exit hole.

      1. avatar Big Bill says:

        Proven fact: an exit hole means there is energy wasted that could have been imparted to the target.
        IOW, an exit hole is a bad thing when considering how much damage is done to a live target.

        1. avatar Nowr2run says:

          What about a bow ? You ever shoot any animal with a broad head from a bow ? You want clean pass through so it bleeds out both sides. I’ve shot a lot of animals with a broad heads & most of them died right there or less than 20 yards. Squirrels are a bugger to get a clean pass through on though, they move around too much & their hide it very tough.

  32. avatar EnoughWithThePseudoScience says:

    Nice strawman, but who the heck ever said that stopping power is purely and solely the result of the initial impact of the bullet on skin or fur? Stopping power is also what happens after the bullet enters the body — IOW, how much damage does the bullet do ***after*** it enters the body and starts interacting with tissue and nerves and blood vessels? As far as Isaac Newton, you conveniently forget that much of the recoil energy goes into moving the gun, not the shooter. But if you want to lie down on the ground and have half a ton or more of weight dropped on you from a foot or two high, be my guest.

  33. avatar Aaron M. Walker says:

    The most powerful rifle I fired was a heavy-hand loaded .458 Wincester Magnum safari rifle. WOW! Arms length muzzle flash in broad daylight during one July day! KABOOM! Me looking straight ahead and then suddenly I’m looking at the sky…. and a nice bruise on my shoulder like I was kicked by a freaking horse… and even with hearing protection the concussion ring my ears and I felt it in my chest. But Hell, I fired it 4 more times! Even into different targets to see what kind of power it had….I do know that hard lead bullets will leave a quarter sized dent in a D2 tool steel bulldozer blade a about 20yds! And the .458 projectile will be about the size of a half dollar flattened out and intact! Large melons—Disintegrated into a pulpy mess….Could be used for hunting Bigfoot—-maybe…..

  34. avatar Aaron M. Walker says:

    But for handguns…I think we all know the research by famous LEOs/G&A magazine reviewers, and famous handgunners…That the .357 magnum with a 125 gr. SJHP at 1400 to 1500 fps has a 90 to 98% chance of a one-shot stop….And has always been at the top of the food chain for pistol stopping power….Even manufacturers trying to duplicate this in the 357 Sig Auto cartridge….

    1. avatar Anymouse says:

      All the one shot stop articles and books are provable BS. They never released the raw data sets, just claiming X incidents with Y stops. Between books, some the deltas would have required more than 100% stops.

  35. avatar Mikial says:

    Placement, placement, placement. Police are notoriously poor shots. The reality is that if you pump 4 or 5 rounds of anything 9mm or above into a vital area, it will usually take the fight out of an assailant.

  36. avatar coolhandluke says:

    What you are saying is pretty darn accurate! But, “stopping power” has a definition i think we disagree on. If you think of stopping power as some sort of knock you on your butt, or flying out of a window then yeah! I agree. To me, stopping power is the sweet spot between penetration and kinetic energy transfer. That definition to me means that ALL firearms have stopping power, the question is how much?
    I noticed on small game (hunting rabbits) that my .22lr was zipping right through, allowing the rabbit to run, sometimes a good distance before succumbing to its wound. Whereas, my .22 pellet rifle, with a lighter pellet, travelling slower, did a better job, due to a more complete transfer of it’s energy, not being wasted my excessive penetration. It penetrated just enough to enter vital tissue, and stop, expending all of its energy. That to me, is what stopping power is all about.

  37. avatar coolhandluke says:

    I’m not trying to get into any caliber debate here, so save us all “the this is better than that” type of argument. I find it telling that many hostage rescue teams, and counter terrorism units in our military and beyond use handguns chambered in .45 ACP. I know that part of the reason is it’s naturally subsonic for suppressor usage, but also, from my experience shooting all types of critters big or small, heavy projectiles moving *just fast enough* seem to stop everything in it’s tracks, unceremoniously, and quite reliably, while with even the same hold with the “fast and light” type cartridges, i have not experienced the exact same. It’s almost as is if you are swinging a hammer, versus a quick jab with an ice pick. Of course either with a strike to the head or heart does the same damage (resulting in death) a stab to the leg is not as serious as it being smashed with a hammer…maybe I’m off track…

  38. avatar Drake_Burrwood says:

    That is odd I never actually figured stopping power as knock down. I always thought it was the ability to deliver hydrostatic shock to the human system.

  39. avatar Bruce Clark says:

    In so many words, practice and placement is the most important aspect of self defense. Learn to shoot a smaller caliber, and place it where the bullet will do the maximum amount of damage and you’ll do just fine even with calibers as small as .380. I have never seen any reason to justify anything larger than a .45 230 g caliber in a pistol or 5.56 62 g bullet for a rifle. If you know what you’re doing and know your limitations why would you need anything any larger than that? Maybe sophomoric bragging rights? When was the last time you were attacked by or even seen a Grisly Bear in the wild?

  40. avatar Bruce Clark says:

    P.S. I carry, and have carried an Interarms Walther PPK in .380 since 1994. I have bought many semi-auto’s since then but none have ever been able to replace it. It is more than adequate for self defense with a good defensive hollow point. Nothing I’ve carried is as comfortable and so they were all relegated to range use and safe queen status.

  41. avatar American Patriot says:

    I think the writer is confusing stopping power with knock down power. I’ve carried a Glock 19 for about the last 10 yrs & I have stopped someone just by brandishing my weapon (knock down not reqd) No body really needs knock down power for the most part in the civilian market, however stopping power will be different on different targets & shot placement is what is really needed. Case in point will you need the same power to stop a 6’8” 440lb hyped up dude as you would to stop a 5’1’ 90lb 65 yr woman?? Just sayin……If everything was a constant it would be easy to calculate….Since it’s not then sometime good enough IS good enough so I’m good with 9mm 124 gr +P with 16 rds for everyday use.

  42. avatar Zebra dun says:

    Bullet placement is stopping power. Not caliber or muzzle enrgy/velocity. If it penetrates deep enough in the vascular regions and central nervous system then it will stop the target.
    Of course once you hit about .50 Caliber anything it will do enough damage to make the target stop using the GOLLY! I been blowed up Factor.
    Short of bullet placement caliber then figures more, yes .357 magnum and anything in the .40/.45 range then again as in the large magazine weapons multiple hits help.

  43. avatar Gunr says:

    Didn’t read all the posts, but I didn’t notice anything about “shock effect” This effects different folks in a different way. A light bullet traveling at high speed may go right through you, and eventually kill you, but not cause much shock.
    A heavy slower bullet will probably cause more shock. enough for you to spit out your false teeth! If this bullet does not hit a vital area, and does not cause heavy bleeding, you will probably live to see another day.

  44. avatar Gunr says:

    Think back 73 years on this day (August 6th) and the first atomic bomb drop.
    Now that is “STOPPING POWER”

    1. avatar American Patriot says:

      @Gunr
      That’s the stopping power we need to use on “ISIS, TALIBAN, IRAN & N.KOREA”…..I mean we haven’t had a problem with Japan since. Also now that I think about it maybe “CA & NY” too.

      1. avatar Gunr says:

        Make it CA first, and be sure it’s on a windy day with the wind blowing to the south, so the fallout can take out a few drug cartels at the same time!

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