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By James England via

A common question a lot of concealed carriers and gun owners ask is how many rounds are fired in a typical gunfight. This is such a broad question that the only way to begin to tackle it is by breaking it into pieces. Another big problem in trying to find the answer to this question is that statistics aren’t uniformly kept for all incidences involving self-defense. More specifically, it’s difficult to find reliable (read: independent) statistics on self-defense by law-abiding citizens and not law enforcement officers. That’s why we’re going to start with law enforcement. While the model for self-defense shootings for concealed carriers will be very different than law enforcement officers, law enforcement is likely the nearest correlation we have. Thankfully, the FBI tracks those stats . . .

Using Law Enforcement As A Model For Gunshots

As discussed, we’re going to examine this model to try to find out a rough number.  Let’s stress that this is a rough number because in self-defense situations, it’s a matter of the courts to decide how many rounds and that would entail digging through hundreds of thousands of court cases and drawing stats from that — which no one has independently done.  There’s also shootings that are either not recorded, reported, or documented properly.  So… Let’s look at police.

The 2015 report on Law Enforcement Officers – Killed & Assaulted from the FBI is still being tabulated because the year is young.  Examining old stats from 2012 has yielded an interesting picture of officer-related injury.


Updating that to 2014, we’re seeing that the most common point of entry for officer-related deaths are the armhole, shoulder area of the bullet proof vest.  The most common ammunition type — so far as handguns is concerned — is 9mm.  The most common point of entry resulting in an officer death was the front of the head or front of the upper torso.  Unfortunately, no where in the stats is there an accurate accounting for the number of rounds required to get that result.  And, to be honest, these stats only reflect armed criminals and are not really reflective of a law-abiding daily carrier.

Examining these FBI statistics even farther, we can get down to the distances at which these officers were shot and killed.

The conclusion?  Sorry, there’s no definitive statistically backed, verifiable answer.  The only other place we could possibly go is to Department of Defense statistics on the average number of rounds expended in a firefight.  But, again, that information wouldn’t be accurate either because concealed carriers don’t get into protracted offensive operations like military units would.  That, and we’re not hauling a fully automatic SAW on patrol.

Why The Number Of Gunshots Doesn’t Matter

If you ask different experts, whether they be former or even current military, law enforcement, private security, they’ll all give slightly different answers.  Let’s not give into the hype that anecdotal information is going to yield a reliable answer.  What’s important is that you train and practice with the gun you carry everyday.  If your gun only has two shots in it but you feel confident you can defend your life adequately with just two bullets — that’s your choice.  I’m not going to tell someone carrying a 5-round concealed carry revolver that he’s not doing right.  If that man feels confident that his revolver will help him get through a self-defensive shooting, good deal.

As someone who’s gone through A LOT of news reports dealing with self-defensive shootings, I will say one thing: very rarely does the attacker just collapse immediately.  The location of the bullet is actually more important than the caliber.  Just recently outside a nightclub in Texas, two brothers self-defensively shot a mugger seven or eight times and he still ran away.  I don’t doubt some or even many of those shots were “center mass”.  It didn’t stop that guy from running.  Other incidences I’ve reviewed show a single gunshot was sufficient to stop the attacker.

Here’s some realities we’ll be facing: each incident will be unique to you and your training.  Stress on the training.  Train with the gun you most reliably feel will get you through a gunfight.

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  1. This is something that people will spend a lifetime studying and debating, and that will also have a litany of exceptions to the rules. While always a good discussion to consider, it’s not likely to be resolved any time soon.

    • As something of an expert on this topic (I’ve been binge-watching reruns of Law and Order during the off-season), it is incontrovertible that a single shot center mass with a Raven Arms .22LR is all that is necessary in 99% of cases.

      • And don’t forget that when you hit the bad guy, he will be blown back thru the air, off his feet, at least 6′ or more from just a single shot!

  2. “and he still ran away”

    Didn’t stop the guy from running, but it seemed to have stopped the attack. That’s what most of us are after. Now, I suspect that even one “center mass” shot probably meant that he didn’t run far…

    The best gun/ammo/carry technique is the one you can reliably, consistently and willingly control. And the number of rounds fired should be equal to however many were required to make the attack stop… period.

    I’m a pretty good shot, but I carry 33 rounds – just in case, and especially just in case there are multiple attackers.

    • I’m close to that at 31… .45acp Baby Desert eagle, 10+1 in the gun, +2 more mags. If 31 rounds of .45 don’t get the job done it was my time to go anyway.

      • Wow, you must be one of those lucky ones that got a good functioning Baby DE in .45. Mine was a jam o matic on multiple ammo types and different mags. I should have got the 9mm because I haven’t seen many complaints on them. I traded it with a few other things for a SCAR. It still felt great and when it did shoot, was accurate.

      • I don’t remember where I heard it, but someone once made the sage comment, “If you find yourself in a situation requiring combat reload, you are at the wrong address.”

  3. Why look at all those stats and try and draw conclusions from them? Everyone knows the answer is 7. Everyone in NY that is to say.

    7. That’s all you need.

  4. Interesting posting. Calls into question the 3-3-3 formula that gets passed around. If there are no reliable stats available, where did the 3-3-3 come from?

    • Most instructors that say that did a 5 minute google search and looked at the first half dozen results for defensive shootings and used that to make the 3-3-3 claim.

    • don’t know. Had a shooting instructor who said LAPD (LASO?) has a saying 9-11 – a person can travel 9 feet in 1.1 seconds. The average distance in a shooting (I am told by multiple instructors – who may have all read the same book, though I believe it’s true) is “Within 10 feet or less”. So most people open fire when a person is about 10 feet away from them – and 10 feet looks a long way away when you don’t want to pull the trigger. (thus my worry about ‘over penetration’ and the odds of co-lateral damage. I’d use words LONG before I ever used ANY firearm.

      And if you DO want to pull the trigger, perhaps you should not own a defensive firearm.

      Most folks don’t know that a short shotgun with bird shot (#7 or so) is FAR more effective and deadly than a hand gun. When I get spooked the ‘go-to-first’ firearm I go for is a 12 ga with 2 rounds of 7 1/2 shot followed by a slug followed by two more 7 1/2’s, etc. THEN it’s my sig 226. The idea is to STOP THE THREAT – and there are VERY few people who don’t know the rack sound of a 12 gauge. (click-click). Close up, the bird shot will do FAR more damage to a person that a load of buck – you NEVER want to argue you wanted to kill anyone – ANYONE. EVER. You can argue that you thought bird-shot was a better load. — and it is. And if the person you disabled died, less chance of a law suit from the person or family – bird shot is meant for birds, buck shot is meant for bucks. So close range bird shot is better than buck shot, right? (remember F=ma).

      • Bird shot will get you killed!!! If you are justified in pulling the trigger make sure you have a load that will stop the threat. It is not a question about killing, it is a question about weather you want to live.

        We do not shoot to kill, we shoot to live!!!!

        • Don’t tell that to a cop. You shoot to DISABLE, NEVER – EVER – TO KILL. Shooting to kill is Murder, shooting to defend is to ‘disable your opponent’ – if they die in the process, it’s a shame. Thus you PRACTICE your 3 round burst – so when you ARE a witness and asked ‘why 3 rounds?” — you can say – “That’s how I practice”. Even under re-cert, I fire my 15 rounds in 3 round bursts. There is NEVER a doubt that I fire in 3 round bursts. EVERY instructor from the first who taught me that has seen me in action.

          HINT: While working with the USMC in ‘Nam, I learned ‘slow is fast’ — meaning in a stressful situation (down range from the NVA/VC) your adrenaline starts to pump, and if you practice fast, you can out-think your muscles. Thus you eject your mag and swivel it while it is still in the well, fumbling it — you are thinking faster than your eyes and feelings let you know that your mag has cleared the well – “SLOW IS FAST”.


      • Bird shot for defense:. Yes, you shoot to stop the threat, but a motivated armed intruder high on drugs sporting a winter coat may not be stopped with just bird shot. Yes, it causes horrible-looking damage to flesh at extremely close distances, but you need your projectiles to be able to get to the vital organs underneath that clothing… and skin… and muscle… and bone… to more effectively stop a high two-legged threat that does not have wings. Use the bird shot on birds. Use buck shot on young “bucks” intruding on your home.

        You can get away with using bird shot because you at least back-up your bird shot loads with real projectiles. Some folks run a full mag of spit wads (bird shot) in their HD shotguns with the Hollywood mindset that it will “clear a room and explode heads with one shot whilst not penetrating the walls and killing their little princess sleeping in the next room.”

        I highly recommend reading the following article/experiment that backs my words:

        Semper Fi!

        • Hellbilly — watched the video several times. As you may have read I served with the 2/5 and 3/5 for 3.5 tours as an FMF IDC Corpsman in ‘Nam. It was my job to save lives, YOUR life if you were a ‘Marine Down!’ or the call came for “Cropsman up!’– That’s what I did. Just wanted to put that up front so we are on the same page.

          People die because they ‘bleed out’ — except if you hit the heart which stops pumping, or the brain so it doesn’t send messages to the rest of the body. 98% of the rest die from a bleed-out that takes from 1 to 15 minutes or more, unless medical aid comes to the rescue.

          MY philosophy is to STOP the threat. Bird shot, up close WILL penetrate far enough into human flesh, which is far from the density of wall board – I’d like to have seen the test done in ballistics gel – with and without clothing — THAT would be a valid test. The video shows wall board – FAR more dense than human flesh – being blasted by various sizes of Buck shot, and a mention of bird-shot. Bird shot PENETRATED one layer of drywall and stopped in the paper at the second. That tells ME which my experience as a Corpsman and Paramedic that Bird-shot WILL inflict enough damage to render the person(s) threatening my life to think twice since, in my experience, people who are hit tend to become afraid (as one lady who used a .22LR and 9mm pointed out). And for every action there is a reaction – the force of the bird-shot WILL be felt even if it does not penetrate thick winter clothing. (and then there’s the head . . . . .)

          With thin clothing enough blood will be lost in a short enough a time to make ME feel safe, and if not, I have a slug as the third round — that WILL do enough damage if I hit either leg (better up high near the pelvis) to make the person sit down, and bleed out unless medical treatment is there in less than 2-5 minutes – unconscious is no threat, and that can happen in 1-3 minutes. That’s kinda fast. People don’t ‘fall down go dead’ – they bleed out.

          People say ‘Hit vital organs’? Can they name those organs other than the heart and brain? I doubt it. It’s ALL about blood loss and how rapidly it happens.

          So — for ME — and MY belief system — my aim is to disable the threat. If the threat dies, OK. It’s a bitch, but I’ve seen too much death for a lifetime. I’m not an arm chair wannabe killer dreaming of how I’ll ‘kill’ some ‘perp’ who breaks into my house. I’m a old man who just wants to be left alone, but not defenseless. Life has value – even ‘bad’ guys. MOST property is not worth a life — or the stain it puts on your soul – or the thoughts and feelings you carry for the rest of your life.

          Working with Marines – Remember I was a NAVY Corpsman, not a ‘real’ Marine – FMF doesn’t make you a Marine – it integrates you into their life style and modes of operation and codes of conduct. But after awhile the bonding becomes enough that you sometimes think like a Marine – until you always think like a Marine — until you are Navy again. Here is what I learned: 1) I have a DUTY to come to the aid of another. No exceptions. So I carry, and practice with a good pistol (Sig) – 2) I have a CHOICE as to my own fate as long as it doesn’t adversely affect others. Corpsmen have an ‘oath’ on top of those choices.

          YOUR job was to return deadly fire with accuracy – MY job was to run INTO that fire and fix or drag you back to safety so you would ‘live to fight another day’. Remember the ‘order of fire’– and then remember where a Corpsman is on that list.

          THAT is ONE reason I load 2 birds and a slug, I can always eject the slug if I need more bird – and bird WILL rip and tear it’s way through a body with enough force that it can be VERY lethal because it nicks a LOT of vessels and arteries – and yeah, it WILL take a very long surgery to fix those wounds.

          I’m not going to shoot through walls, though it might be handy at times, in my home the longest shot possible is about 2-5 meters that’s pretty damn close – either of my sigs would do the job if my job was to kill – and if I heard a person at night, the Sig’s and the Rem are right next to my bed and the sigs are brass hot ALL the time.

          So, there’s my philosophy– and reason for bird shot — MY conscience is clear that I used the least amount of force – deadly or other wise — to render myself or another ‘safe’. – Another person commented that he had a SAA in his hand just by accident when trouble approached, saw the .45 Long (I’m guessing) and walked away – THAT was a good outcome.

          I figure 1) Dial 9-1-1
          2) get their attention (rack the shotgun)
          3) give a command to stop or leave (get the f out of here!)
          4) Repeat #3 and remind them it’s not worth their life or my life – engage in conversation
          5) Remind them I’m a ‘Marine’ and they ARE in the WRONG house so MOVE
          6) and if by that time there is no movement – fire around somewhere safe and easy to repair
          7) Second round to the threat if they are still there and are STILL a threat

          BUT that is ONLY how it plays out in my head.

          I once had renters who were stealing me blind – they stole about 15 firearms by taking the entire safe, and 90% of my engraving tools. Finally a sofa and bed and that was it. When I went over after I had evicted them and knew they were there – I took a side-by-side coach gun in 10 gauge and walked over there after calling the cops – the meth heads were sleeping on the floor. I woke them up – and the coach gun got one guy who had a foot and 100 pounds on me very nervous when I said, “Don’t worry I’m not going to shoot to kill you, I’m going to shoot your legs out so you can’t move by hitting your groin and pelvis. You’ll probably be sitting down for a long time though, and I wouldn’t plan on any children. The SO arrived as they were rolling up their sleeping bags. No big confrontation – just a ‘big stick’ and a few words and 5 meth heads moved out and never came back that I know of.

          It COULD have turned out FAR differently — but there’d have been more than one person ‘sitting’ on the floor, but having played it out in my head as a non-life-taking event – it turned out that way. Yes, I COULD have shot the guy who stood up and clenched his fists – but why? The bore of a 10 gauge coach gun at full bore is a VERY big hole, and I don’t even think I had to raise it off the ground – the rounds on the stock told the story.

          Things play out differently in our heads than they do in realty – but to be certain that you are not a wanta be murder looking for a place and way to commit the ‘perfect crime’ — just pause and think what it would mean to you – FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE. Keep it real – would you brag to your friends over drinks about how you killed this ‘poor mo-fo’? OR would you carry it as a well kept secret that you want to lock away in a box so you don’t think about it all the time.

          I know you are a Marine, and likely have been in multiple fire-fights – so I’m preaching to the choir a lot here – but I’m also trying to make a point to others that life at home is NOT life in the bush – Yet I live where I can see danger a mile or more away, I keep 3-5 dogs to double and triple check my perceptions about shadows moving in the dark – and I keep brass-hot Sig’s right by my bed, and I keep a Rem next to them so I can strap on a duty belt, and have my Sigs, grab the Rem and be ready in about 10 seconds. With no cell service it’s a land line call to the SO for back-up – and off I go – I can always cancel the back-up – But that’s how it plays out in my mind. — NO LOSS OF LIFE. And if there is, it’s necessary. Not by MY choice but because the OTHER GUY made the choice.

          Sempr Fi Bro — Hurrrrah!

      • What in the sweet hell are you going on about? If you use deadly force you say thus: “I was in fear for my LIFE (key word) and fired until i was certain that threat was removed.” That is purely defensive language and maintains your ability to use deadly force.

  5. That’s why you carry .45acp and not inferior calibers.

    That guy who took 8 rounds and ran off? Probably got hit with some 9mm

    • That’s why you carry .45acp and not inferior calibers.

      That guy who took 8 rounds and ran off? Probably got hit with some 9mm

      9mm is a superior SD round. You get a lot more bullets, for pretty much equivalent performance. More rounds = more attempts to get good shot placement, which is much more important than the marginal-to-practically-nonexistent advantages of a bigger caliber.

    • Dan,

      You do not understand ballistics than my friend. Handgun rounds including the 45acp do not have sufficient velocity to create a terminal wound cavity, unlike a rifle round. With handguns it all about shot placement and nothing more.

  6. I carry a 6 shot Rossi .357 snub.(hey it’s an improvement over the 5 shot .38 I carried for 10+ years Charter arms) I catch grief from all the “experts” on DGU. After reading on here and giving in to the paranoia I now carry a speedloader as well. I do not use hollowpoint ammo. I use 158gr soft point wadcutters. This is based on MY belief that hollowpoints from a 2 inch are useless. I’ve hunted and killed deer with this same round BUT using a 6 inch barrel so that really dosen’t help. I figure if I can’t get a HP that works right I’ll use a heavy bullet and make two holes in the target for blood to fly out of. I wish I could carry my Super Redhawk in .454 but it’s just too damm big! My state does have open carry though…..hmmmmm… 🙂

    • The main reason to use hollow points is to prevent overpenetration. If you hit a bad guy, the bullet expands and delivers its energy load completely to the bad guy that is what you want. If the projectile passes through the bad guy and hits someone else you WILL have legal troubles on top of the moron’s family suing you saying “he should have just handed over his wallet…” The reason most departments are going back to JHPs is due to advancements in bullet design. Do your research and stop relying on “I believe.”

      • I understand the “Idea” behind it. I just don’t see the “proper” ammo. Unless I back it down to .38 S&W or .38 special power levels. I don’t know of any HP loadings in .357 that don’t go thru.(+14 inches) from a 2 inch barrel? @ 3-6 feet. Maybe there is something new I haven’t seen? I guess I better go look.

        • I would suggest that you drop down to a .38 or .38+P in your 2″ revolver. The short barrel does not give the additional powder of a chance to burn so you wind up with more noise and a bigger flash. Also you will get better terminal performance from your bullet. I carry a different round in my 3″ 9MM than in my 4″ 9MM. the ammo is made by the same manufacturer and is of similar design and outward appearance. Jell test show that the lesser round from the lesser gun is a better mix.

          Take your guns out in the dark and fire them, or better yet have someone else fire them. The larger the flash the more powder that is burned outside the barrel therefore serving no benefit.

        • Caribou, that response is wrong on multiple levels.

          A full-power .357 load will ALWAYS give you more velocity in a given barrel length and bullet weight, over a .38 or .38+P. ALWAYS. The fact that some of the powder burns out in front of the barrel doesn’t change the fact that some of it burns INSIDE the barrel, and that ALWAYS increases the bullet’s velocity over a .38. You can argue about whether or not that needed, or whether it’s a good thing for the bullet (expansion vs fragmentation), but you can’t reasonably argue that it doesn’t happen.

          The amount of muzzle flash is HIGHLY dependent on whether the gunpowder was treated with a flash-reducing additive. Cheap practice/training ammo doesn’t have flash retardant added to the gunpowder, for cost savings. Premium self-defense loads do. You can get a huge flash from low- and medium-powered .38 ammo, and very little flash from full- or near-full-powered .357 ammo, which is CLEARLY more powerful. Smart people don’t judge effectiveness/power by muzzle flash, as it can be affected by things other than the raw power of the load, such as the performance of the bullet.

      • He may be right about a hollow point being useless out of a 2 inch barrel in that there may not be enough energy generated for the bullet to expand as designed. If this were to happen, the round would perform no better than an FMJ although not useless. There may be some hollow points out there designed to expand at the reduced energy from a 2 inch barrel though.

  7. As an army medic, I had a patient take 3 rounds from an AK47 to his chest at less than 50 yards. Probably way less. He walked to my clinic holding a scarf over his barely bleeding chest and told me about the attack.
    I had a patient take 17 9X18 and 9X19 rounds to the back. Most of those hits were from within arms length distance. I saw him, fully conscious, about 30 minutes after he was shot. I was his first medical care.
    Both patients lived.
    How many rounds do you need to stop the attack? All of them. You need all the rounds.

    • You can see a lot of patients survive some horrible wounds in the sandbox, I’m convinced that part of the earth is just cursed. I had a guy shot 5 times in the chest with an M9 ask me for some water, my Marines wondered why Doc wanted to carry a SAW after that. The human body is fairly robust when it comes to dealing with trauma, not always and not in every situation, but I’ve seen some people survive things that they shouldn’t have. You need as many rounds as it takes to stop the attack, you need the best ammo you can get your hands on, you need the best firearm you can carry, unfortunately no one can agree on what works all the time because nothing always works as advertised in every situation.

      • Only from the range NCO when I was serving in the 25th ID. We ruck-marched out with the ammo, so we had to shoot it or carry it back. Quite a few full auto sessions after qualification.

    • jwtaylor and Robert,

      I am reasonably confident that two important factors were at play with respect to the people you treated with multiple gunshot wounds. First, military ammunition almost exclusively has pointy, full-metal-jacket jacketed bullets that do not expand on impact. They make relatively tiny holes. Second, young men at peak physical fitness would have a much greater ability to survive gunshot wounds — especially wounds from military full-metal-jacket bullets — than an average person.

      Combine those two factors and it isn’t all that surprising that your patients survived. Had they been average adults (with poor muscle mass and cardiac health) hit with expanding bullets, the outcome would probably have been substantially different.

    • I was a FMF IDC Corpsman in ‘Nam attached to the 2/5 did 3.5 tours. One day we had a bad day. M-60 guy took 3 rounds to chest, 1 abdomen, and 1 leg graze. 7.62 (.308 cal). He stayed at his weapon with his assistant gunner laying on top of him to keep pressure on the bandages (Marines have no brains). If I recall we also had about 5-6 more multiple chest/abdomen 7,62 wounds that were 2 – 5 per person. Each lived to Medivac. No DOA’s that day.

      I’ve also seen, as a paramedic back home, people with multiple (5+) wounds to chest, back, abdomen, limbs – all end up walking away from the hospital. Name a Caliber, I’ve probably seen it. from 38’s, 9mm. .45, 357 (sig and S&W) .44 mag – not all lived — of course, but you’d be VERY surprised just how amazingly resilient the human body can be.

      Here is all you need to know in a nut-shell: unless you have a head shot or heart shot, the person dies from ‘bleeding out’, not from any other reason, don’t hit a major vessel or artery, the person is going to live for at least a few minutes– often more – often enough to worry about it. People don’t ‘fall down go dead’ – In the words of that old folk song ‘Wild Bill Jones’ — they ‘ramble and they scramble all over the ground’ – and if they have a firearm, they will be putting a hurt load of rounds in YOUR direction. So listen up:

      The ‘favorite’ weapon, I’ve been told by many, for up-close and personal, is a .22lr to the head – by rifle or pistol – it will do the job. VERY well.

      The point here being – it’s WHERE you hit the person and WHAT TYPE OF BULLET you are using. I can kill you just as dead with a .22 short as with a .22 LR, and put my sig-226 (full frame, CCW, lower back) in my hands and I won’t miss your head or put a few rounds (3 is my practice rate) close enough to your heart you will not be a worry. And my Sig 220 .45 will blow your arm off at the arm socket. — because I use the RIGHT BULLET. — I’ll pay for the PPR’s off the shelf, and if I’m hand-loading I’ll +p my rounds, Sigs will take it just fine. HOLLOW POINTS ONLY FOR SELF DEFENSE. FMJ’s for at LEAST weekly many mag ‘plunking’ or ‘target’ practice. I try 1 mag a day 15 rds. 9mm, 10 rds .45. But I live rural, and I carry not out of fear of others save crazy desert rats, but for scaring off cats and bears that live on the edge of the Basins and Ranges when I walk my dogs after work to unwind. So daily practice is a 10 minute drive from work to be alone, and 5 min. if I want to shoot just off the road into a local ‘road side pull out road cut’, “The range just off the highway’ as known to the local LEA’s.

      It’s not the size of the firearm, it’s the correct placement of your rounds – quickly. Thus even a few rounds a day – I don’t even need a full mag to keep aim and ‘muscle memory’ in tact. OFF TOPIC: I have a friend who deer hunts every year, and puts in for bear tags and wild bore. He goes to the pull out up the hill from where I work, and takes his 45-70 Marlin and fires 3 rounds a day, for 7 days before he goes out hunting. He can bring down a Western Mule deer at 200-250 yards drop-dead without a jump — every year. I’ve seen him take down a 500 pound bear at about the same range and there is just a little stagger – then it drops, we’ve never EVER had to ‘track’ a ‘wounded’ animal. The secret? 1) his practice EVERY DAY – just a few rounds, and 2) correct bullet for the job. His son uses the old ’94 Winchester 30-30 carbine, he does the same – and he can drop a 150 pound buck in it’s tracks at 250 yards. And 2 -(seldom 3 rounds) for the bear Why? 1) he practices with his dad, and 2) he uses the correct bullet for the job. I use a ‘better’ rifle, rem 700 in .270, it’s got a longer-flatter trajectory that the .45-70, and more speed – but my deer will often jump when hit, then fall. I ‘Zen Target Shoot’ – 3-5 rounds during my lunch (dinner) break every day – pick a rock, use Kentucky windage and since the 700 I have loves ONLY 130 grain, that’s what I use – so call it across one or two gullies, I can fire, wait 2 – 3 seconds after recoil, and hear the ‘thunk’ if I hit the rock I was aiming at – 95% of the time or so. Right bullet, with practice. BACK ON TOPIC

      Don’t be taken in by the ‘caliber mentality’ – eg: 9mm are too small, ONLY the .45 works. Or ‘the bigger the round, the better the take down” myth. In fact, the bigger the round, the larger the caliber, the more chance you have of co-lateral damage and cops DO — repeat DO! — prosecute the person for at LEAST manslaughter for being so stupid that they used a S&W .357 (I can kill a deer at 100 yards with that round) at 10 feet to ‘stop’ a threat. That .S&W .357 hollow point is more likely than not to not even open up as it pokes a hole clean through the person, transferring nearly no energy (think of it as a very fast arrow) to the person shot, and hitting someone around them THEN opening up – even with half the velocity, a hollow point can do tremendous damage, deadly damage, to someone 20 feet away from the person you shot – it can also retain enough power to push through the wall of your house, enter the house next door, and if someone is in the home – cause a serious wound – or if in an apartment, end up inflicting enough damage to kill someone in THAT apartment –

      Also, for people who like to ‘trick out’ their firearm – THAT PROVES TO A JURY THAT YOU KNOW FAR MORE THAN THE AVERAGE CCW HOLDER THAT YOU ARE CLOSER TO AN ‘EXPERT’ THAN NOT — AND ***WILL*** BE USED AGAINST YOU. – So if you carry a pistol with more than a simple trigger job with the trigger kept at the factory shipped weight — you are borderline for knowing more than the ‘average’ gun owner about the care, feeding, use, and workings of a firearm. Thus while not an expert, you SHOULD know better. And that makes you MORE responsible.

      Why get a trigger job if your intent was not to make your firearm fire better? Why would you want a ‘better’ firearm? If not to shoot someone better? Why buy a +p or ++p round if you knew what the average gun owner doesn’t know that +p means the bullet goes faster? Why would you want a ‘faster’ bullet if not to inflict more damage when you shot someone? You mean you don’t know what ‘over penetration is’? See how easy something SO simple as buying a +p load can be? Remember faster can be badder. — The bullet goes faster than it can open-up. So even a hollow point doesn’t always work, and if you happen to have one with an open end (you can see the cavity) – that cavity can fill up with cloth and it becomes the same as a FMJ – and you are just shooting a very fast arrow through someone. And not a ‘hunting’ arrow – a plain target arrow with nothing but the solid metal end on it. I could shoot you 20 times with an arrow like that and you could still live. AND KILL ME.

      A SLOWER bullet might make more sense if you sit down and think through the physics of what happens when a bullet goes through some clothes then hits the body. I can kill you just about as fast by shooting you in your thigh and breaking your femur as by shooting you near your heart and rupturing a few middle sized arteries. IN FACT I **CAN** kill you faster by breaking your femur and femoral artery than by putting 3 rounds through your right (or left) lung.

      It’s not about the size, and it’s not about the speed, it’s about PRACTICE and PLACEMENT of your round. Ask JWTAYLOR. He’s seen what I’ve seen, only worse in many ways – and he’ll tell you exactly the same thing – people have lived good normal lives with few if any ‘disabilities’ after multiple rounds from high caliber rounds – and he’s seen people die from being hit in the head by a rock. I have.

      The US Navy SEALS use 9mm for a reason. They can chose ANY round and load they want – and it will be delivered to them on a silver platter. But they use 9mm for VERY good reasons. Even when they can get an FN FiveSeven built to penetrate Russian Body Armor. They prefer the 9mm. Even the lowest ranking SEAL is probably smarter than 80% of this entire forum put together. And HE would choose the 9mm – because there are MANY reasons – and size and velocity are not part of the thinking – take down is the thinking.

      This can become a Ford vs Chevy fight – the never ending 9mm vs. .45 that started in WWII and continues no matter what anyone says – just like the Ford v Chevy argument — the ONLY ‘better’ is that you don’t hurt anyone by accident or being stupid, and that your ‘take down’ is fast and lethal enough that you have DISABLED THE THREAT. — DISABLED NOT ‘KILLED’.

      And, last of all – ANY Medic or Corpsman will tell you the LAST thing you EVER want to live with is having killed someone — it’s not pretty to look at, it’s not pretty to smell, and it’s not pretty to live with. Anyone who tells you different is a liar.

      • It is truly all about shot placement and not how big a bullet your sending down range. Furthermore of those who are shot with a handgun caliber and reach an ER here in the U.S., they have an average of about 90 percent survival rate. Food for thought!!!!

      • Yes to all of the above.

        Last week I coded a 20 year old with a single point blank .22 LR to just above the umbilicus. Died on the table. Found the round nestled just below the skin on the medial part of the left shoulder blade.

        Shit happens, just remember to hit your target, again, and again, and again.

  8. That was very poorly written and didn’t reveal a damn bit of useful information. TTAG is much better than that.

  9. The vast majority of defensive stops with firearms require no shots to be fired at all. The next most common situation is a stop that requires only one shot to be fired. This is because the vast amount of defensive stops are psychological. The bad guy usually thinks to himself, ‘Oh shit, a gun!’ or ‘Oh shit, I’m shot’ and runs away. If you carry a derringer you’re good in 99.99% of defensive scenarios. The question is how many rounds does it take to stop a bad guy who’s so hopped up on jenkem or Allah (same difference) that he’s not about to decide to give up his attack. The answer to that is 3, 2 warning shots in the chest and one in the head.

      • Probably less than .001. All depends on what you’re tooling up for. If I were a LEO I’d want at least 50 rounds of handgun ammo on body and maybe 120 rounds for the AR. But I’m not going out to look for the bad guys, so I carry a 6 shot revolver loaded with Double Tap .357s and a speed strip. I also keep another speed strip and a speed loader in the truck along with a box of 25 rounds. I figure the odds of getting in a shootout that requires anything close to 49 rounds are probably one in a billion. Of course, if my number comes up I’ll be dead, but I’ve got more pressing issues to worry about.

  10. Human nature dictates, no one, good or bad, wants to be shot. With the possible exception of drugged or drunk. The mere sight of a gun is often enough to send bad guy beating feet out of there!
    Since I’m not going to war, My every day carry is LCR 22lr or LCR 9mm, very accurate with both and don’t feel insufficiently armed.

  11. Using LEOs, you know the jokers that have no responsibilities when discharging a weapon is a very poor choice for the statistics of a shot count. What mere mundane would ever get away with the BS of firing dozens and at times hundreds of rounds in an encounter, usually at the unarmed and the innocent. If at the ranges that shots are normally fired in these kind of situations, twenty feet or less, more than several means neither one of those involved should possess a firearm.

  12. I’ll give you the general rules. These rules are pieced together from FBI crime stats and CDC info.

    1. In general it takes 1-3 rounds to stop an attacker.
    2. In general you will face 1-3 attackers.
    3. In general the best you can expect to do is to put 1 out of 2 rounds on/in target.

    Very simply, expect to use six sounds to stop an individual. Be wary that their may be attackers you do not see.

    About as perfect as you can expect a use of force scenario to go.

    I do agree the most import thing is to have a plan and practice what you can.

  13. Didn’t Massad Ayoob cover this already decades ago? The frailty in this is the lack of subcategories in which the data is compiled.

    • They HAVE to, for ammunition replenishment requirements.
      Just ask the bystanders.

      “Double-tap” means two mags…

  14. For LEOs around here–and as far as I can tell, elsewhere–the number starts with the mag capacity of every officer who fires his weapon. More if they reload. Why is it that officers seem to continue shooting until slide lock?

  15. The location of the bullet is actually more important than the caliber.

    Assuming that a bullet can actually penetrate to vital structures, yes, location is far more important than caliber. The problem with many smaller calibers is that they cannot reliably penetrate to vital structures.

    • Saw a Cops! program many years ago where they responded to a “Stop & Rob” call. The cashier had a small red spot on the front of his T-shirt. He gave the cops a detailed description of the robbers and their get-away vehicle, then pointed to them driving away, no drama. Then he sat down on the curb and died before anyone even knew they needed to call an ambulance. Final result – .22LR to the left ventricle and about 4-5 minutes to bleed out.

  16. Typically, you only need a few rounds. I carry more in case I encounter a spree killer or even worse, multiple terrorists.

  17. The number of shots depends on the circumstances.

    The “average” concealed carrier will need zero shots, because the mere sight of a pistol in the good guy’s hand will (like the sound of a pump action shotgun being racked) cause the bad guy to suffer explosive diarrhea and faint dead away.

    The average police officer will need 100 rounds. Seventeen shots will actually hit the bad guy, and sixteen of those hits will impact the BG after he’s lying handcuffed on the ground.

  18. Statistics are just that- statistics. Statistics/averages will not save your life. Being as well trained and as well armed as you are able to be, is what you should do.
    If you are concerned about the number of rounds, look to the article mentioned about calibre. Placement is more of a factor than calibre, so if you prefer more rounds (like I do), consider going with 9mm vs. .40 or .45.

  19. There are very few high round count shootouts for regular folks. The police on the other hand have quite a few.

    • Actually, the correct answer is, “You can’t know. Keep shooting until he stops attacking or you are empty. If he hasn’t stopped attacking or turned to run by then, you should.”

  20. In most cases the presence of a firearm is enough to deter an attacker. Even groups of criminals are likely to turn tail when the firing starts or even before.

    What this article fails to address is the changing threat that terrorism presents. In a Paris style attack with multiple terrorists dropping one or two might not be enough. In an attack where they expect to kill until they die or run out of ammo and where they expect to see their friends die?

    Today things are changing. Over the last twenty years violent crime has diminished as more people carry. In recent years terrorism has increased and the current administration is importing them from Europe. I’m not suggesting that you carry a full battle load only that you factor in the changing threat.

  21. Tom Givens (RangeMaster, Memphis) would be a good source of information for both LEOs and private citizens. He is a retired LEO and an instructor whose students consistently win gunfights.

  22. Remember, folks. If you’re in a gun fight and it goes beyond the typical number of rounds, you’re fully entitled to stamp your foot and say, “Hey! This gunfight is using a lot more rounds than typical! I do not approve! This has to stop!” and everyone will just stop shooting and go home. So, no need to carry more than the amount of ammo used in a “typical” gunfight!

    (Seriously, though. I have no problem with carrying a five-shot .38. Only so many hypotheticals I can worry myself about). 🙂

  23. Welllll…the cop indicted for 1st degree(!) murder for shooting 17year old knifewielding Laquan McDonald in Chiraq pumped 16 boo-lits into the PCP addled punk. And he’s a white cop…not sure what they’d do to ME if I did likewise(lynch me???) I think just having a gun is #1. Whether 5 or 32 rounds…how many commenting have been in a gunfight not related to the military? Seriously…

  24. I think the question is this: How many times do you shoot your gun in a DGU? The answer is rather simple — until the threat stops.

  25. If I recall from Tom Givens class, he doesn’t consider the LEO statistics to reflect accurately the situation for CHL holders. Mostly, this is due to officers being engaged closely while walking up to/ at the car window during a stop. That’s closer than most people will see thus skewing the numbers a bit.

  26. An not trying to step on any toes, but if your whole defense strategy revolves around the theory of ” my shotgun makes a scary noise when a rack a round” good luck.

    • Behind that racking sound are 7 rounds of staggered loads. And a flashlight that blinds them and prevents ‘friendly fire’ incidents. The more you can do to stop a shooting the happier a person you will be. You do not want the years of therapy that go with shooting someone with a shotgun or sidearm. The bad guy’s body will be gone, YOU will carry him forever. Trust me. Anyone who’s been in a real firefight knows the truth of what I’m saying. Leave it be. If the rack of a pump is enough, good, if it takes a rack and some talk, that’s fine too — the LAST thing you want to do is kill someone and then have to clean up after yourself. It’s ugly, it smells, and it sticks to your brain like fly-paper to your fingers. AND it WILL weigh on your soul. Even if you are the ‘good guy’ you’ll find being ‘good’ and being ‘right’ are not all that they are made out to be by arm-chair rangers.

      • Thank you for a commonsense comment. There are too many would be Wild Bill Hickoks here, ready to blast away. Once when younger, I stopped a (minor in hindsight) threat by having a gun in my hand. A SAA with 7 1/2 in barrel. The guy saw it and walked away. Now, when ever I think about it, I realize how foolish I was, how horribly it could have turned out and thank GOD I didn’t cock and pull the trigger.

        Pulling the trigger has to be the absolute LAST resort, when you can’t run, can’t hide, can’t talk your way out of the situation. If you don’t exhaust those possibilities, you need to be ready to face the personal and legal problems coming your way.

        Thanks again.

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