Ammunition Gel Test Stopping Power Doesn't Matter
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By Connor Hayes

If you work in firearm sales like I do, then you’re bound to cater to plenty of new shooters. And when you do, you’re going to encounter a particular question very quickly: “Which is better? X MM, XX S&W or XX ACP?” My initial answer is usually short and while it may be confusing at first, most customers find it liberating.

I look at them and tell them “It doesn’t matter. What is important is the gun itself, how it feels in the hand as well as your ability to manage it and shoot it accurately.”

Usually I encounter some resistance to my advice at first and the customer will tell me about their brother/cousin/uncle who’s a law enforcement officer/veteran/self-proclaimed gun expert who has told them that their preferred cartridge is better because it has more stopping power and can therefore stop a threat more efficiently.

Then I explain that stopping power, while an interesting theory, is not very significant or, more accurately, doesn’t even exist.

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To begin, let’s look at physical concept of stopping power. Simply put, the stopping power of a cartridge is measured by its ability to stop a threat. There it is, that’s all stopping power is. It makes a lot of sense that many shooters would be concerned about their cartridge choice and its ability to protect them since putting your trust in a firearm and its chambering can literally be the difference between life or death.

This idea, however, can be debunked by considering several possible self-defense scenarios. To begin, let’s consider a single caliber and loading as a control group. Let’s start with the Federal HST 147 grain 9mm round. All things equal, this particular round should perform nearly identically each time it’s fired.

Now let’s consider a self-defense scenario: It’s a poorly lit alley, an individual dashes out from behind cover holding a weapon attempts to assault you. You draw and fire while following all of your training and appropriate firearm handling rules. The shot was successful and the threat has been stopped meaning that the round had an appropriate amount of stopping power.

Now let’s change the scenarios a bit and look at two of them side by side. Keep all things equal, setting and shot placement, except that in one scenario your assailant is 5’2” and 120 lbs. In the other, your assailant is 6’4” and 260 lbs. The cartridge remains the same.

Will be there a difference between how successful the round is against each attacker? I would absolutely think so. Now let’s make a couple more changes and say that the 5’2” assailant is only wearing a T-shirt whereas the larger assailant is wearing a leather jacket over a hoodie and sweater.

Does the gap between effectiveness of the round grow again? It sure will.

Let’s consider one last change and make some alterations to the physical health of the assailant. Imagine the 5’2” attacker is sickly and fatigued whereas the 6’4’ individual is enhanced by a narcotic such as PCP. Your gap grows yet again with the round performing drastically better on your shorter, weaker, less protected assailant.

At that point I receive more discontent from those I am speaking with. They say something along the lines of ‘I can understand how one cartridge can perform differently against targets but as a rule of thumb, shouldn’t XX ACP perform better than Xmm Luger or XXX ACP?’

Sure, it definitely can. However let’s head back to our scenarios. Keep the 5’2” assailant and 9mm 147gr HST round, however in the scenario with the larger attacker let’s replace the 9mm round with a Federal HST 230 grain 45 ACP +P round. The situations have now evened out more with the heavier bullet moving at a similar speed and having more energy. Now switch the scenarios with the 5’2” assailant going against the 45 ACP round and the smaller round against the larger perpetrator and the effectivity of each cartridge changes yet again.

Explained more simply, the idea of stopping power is the attempt to apply quantitative data to an event instead of scientific figures. This is an exceptionally difficult task since it’s hard to quantify the merits of a cartridge when your potential targets are always changing.

Countless more scenarios can be run using many cartridges and sizes of assailants, even considering wild animals as small as dogs or charging grizzly bears. In one situation, one caliber will perform better and in another situation their success may be flipped. More in depth tests can be done using scientific formulas to determine the exact amount of energy of both projectile and charging attacker and factoring in Newton’s laws of motion.

My point remains the same; stopping power as a measurable characteristic of a self defense cartridge simply doesn’t exist because it continually changes and cannot be quantified. How can you state that one cartridge has more stopping power than any other when you consider all possible self-defense situations and realize that different calibers will perform differently with different levels of success in different situations?

Once I’ve said what I need to say, I explain that what’s more important is how comfortable the gun feels in your hand and how comfortably and accurately you can shoot it. Once a quality, reliable handgun platform has been selected, then you can make your determination on caliber choice and select a reliably performing hollow point that has a tested penetration between 12” and 18″.

Once those choices have been made, I always remind the customer what”s just as important — investing plenty of time at the range practicing and in training courses taught by good instructors.

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    • It can still jam. Or have a low battery. Or get hacked. Or, given pocket carry, accidentally be slipped into “overload / grenade” mode in the pocket as it bounces against that packet of KlingMints you keep meaning to finish. (And THAT would make for a bad day.)

    • Long Wait! Because nobody seems to be interested in developing a “Phased Plasma Weapon”. Probably due to the Research Cost of Development…

    • I’m waiting for Selma Hayek to call me up and tell me she is finally ready for me to go to town on her money and her a$$…

    • If you meant a Star Trek phaser ,a Star Wars Blaster, or a Star Wars lightsaber. If the DemoCommies win…My guess is YOU’LL be lucky to see one on TV. Most certainly prohibited from civilian ownership. like a machine guns, etc….

  1. This is why we fire until the threat is stopped or we run out of ammo. Or the gun jams.

    Which in turn is why we want magazines capable of holding a decent number of rounds (capacity limits favor the evildoer), and to carry spare magazines / reloads.

  2. 1. All handguns SUCK. They just do. It is irrelevant whether you shoot 9 mm, .40 SW, .45 ACP, or 10 mm. The clinical results on the human body will be the same given good shot placement (the most important thing). I carry 9 mm because it is the easiest to shoot, has the cheapest ammo, has the greatest selection of defensive ammo, has the best capacity, and has the best gun model choices (who doesn’t make a good 9 mm handgun these days?).
    2. If you can, use a long gun in the home. In spite of popular belief, a good 5.56 mm NATO round will actually penetrate LESS through walls than 9 mm.

    Handguns suck. Rifles and shotguns don’t. Period.

    • I don’t think handguns suck but if I were in a gunfight where I had a choice I would chose a rifle first then a shotgun and lastly a handgun

    • On this very site, within the past week, we have read about multiple instances where people have been rendered deceased by handgun rounds, including one poor guy who was shot by his 92-yr-old mother.

      Handguns don’t deliver the magnitude of energy found in long guns, but they don’t suck. People get killed by handgun bullets every day, and most often the bullets are cheap FMJ in the hands of the local gang banger.

      • “On this very site, within the past week, we have read about multiple instances where people have been rendered deceased by handgun rounds, including one poor guy who was shot by his 92-yr-old mother.”

        The lesson there is, ‘Don’t mouth off to your mother.’

        If you insist, do what someone I know did when their parent was armed and had Alchizemer’s.

        One day when mom was at a doctor’s appointment, a gunsmith came over and removed the firing pin in the little .380 she kept…

      • “killing” is not the same thing as “stopping”. Hell, a cup full of hemlock will kill someone, but it makes a pretty stupid self defense choice. A .22lr to the gut will kill someone if left untreated, but not before they beat the hell out of you and steal your stuff. Instead they’ll die 3 days later, from septic poisoning.

        “Killing” is completely irrelevant in discussions of self defense. “Stopping” is what you should be concerned with.

      • Because a 9mm with the right ammo can consistently penetrate deep enough to hit and disrupt vital circulatory system organs. The .380 often doesn’t.

        The whole argument starts and hinges on enough penetration in the first place. 9mm is pretty much the weakest caliber that can consistently reach that mark.

        So caliber does matter, up to a point. All handguns suck, but some suck too much to be considered a reasonable choice (.22, .25, .32 and .380)

        • A 22 WMR round is reasonably close to a .38 or 9mm in pounds of energy produced , because of velocity , nearly every report on these subjects does not give enough importance to velocity and the amount of increased velocity of a 22 magnum from a 4.5 or longer barrel pistol over any 22 LR is worth reporting and consideration for anyone willing to consider a .38 or 9mm a defensive round . The reliability issue with a rim fire bullet can be arguable but a 40 grain HV 22 magnum round has repeatedly been shown to produce very favorable in jell test .

        • Mark s. – though I don’t argue that 22 WMR may be a fine choice for some people for self defense, it isn’t even close to 9mm as far as power. 22 WMR from a rifle may be close, but not from a pistol. Shoot hanging steel plates with them side by side, as my cousins and I happened to do this past weekend by coincidence, and you will see a substantial difference in effect.

          Again, I’m not saying it may not be a viable choice, but don’t be the “just as powerful” guy, it is demonstrably untrue. Watch Paul Harrells “how to spot a fake expert” video where he lays out all the “just as powerful” claims he’s heard which, as a whole, come out to 22lr is just as powerful as 30-06.

        • Drew R. ……………… you should not compare the ding of a steel plate or the movement it makes in a side by side contest with a 22 WMR to real world physics . The bigger grain slug will make a louder ding and move the steel more , but the human torso is not a steel plate .
          I understand 9mm guys not wanting to equate what they have chosen for personal defense with a 22 rim fire. I myself was a 9mm guy for many years and still would be had I not allowed myself the long trial of the PMR pistol and personal convincing through many different test that it’s efficiency for self defense was equal to what I carried with confidence for many years .
          I read all the journals and follow all the newest technologies in ammo and understand the caliber wars updates so I’ll give you the argument that newer defensive 9mm ammo has changed equations back in favor of the 9mm over my 22 magnum , but this is not proven by a steel gong test .
          The two factors that have changed the equation are velocity and controlled fragmentation . Basic physics has shown that smaller grains at higher velocities produce better results in rendering stopping an agressive attack .
          The percentage of impact damage on human tissue is greatly influenced by velocity .
          I understand the increases are smaller from a 4.5 inch barrel than a rifle , but they are still significant enough to be a strong factor in testing . Therein the great success and popularity of the new defensive 9mm ammo .
          I do not mean to be argumentative , your choice of 9mm is great and should leave you confident and protected if you needed as will my PMR 30 , with my 30 , 22 magnum rounds . We actually have each others back .

        • For all of the .22 rimfire haters, I can tell you this. A .22 hollow point filled with any kind of hot pepper covered by superglue will not only stop the attack, but will leave the bad guy having the worst day of his life. If you doubt my word, touch any open wound you have with just a bit of hot pepper. Now that you have done that, think how it would feel inside all that unexposed body tissue! I learned this will cutting hot peppers with a knife and accidentally cut my finger. Trust me not anything you’d want inside your body other than in a meal.

      • 9mm is readily available and cheaper than .380. The 9mm is the worlds choice for handgun chambering. I like .38, myself. But I pay a premium in ammo costs for that choice.

        Nothing at all ‘wrong’ with the .380. But if all a person wants is one gun for self defense its hard to beat the 9mm.

        • *hugs his .40s&w* “Don’t listen to the mean man, you are just perfect the way you are.”

        • You are obviously an enabler. Tell your S&W .40 the truth. Its fat. Don’t sugar coat the truth because your gun would eat that too! 🙂

          But there is hope. Rechamber your handgun in 6.5 Creedmoor.

        • wikiarms currently has 9mm at the cheapest at $0.14 per round, 380 at $0.17 per round and 38 special at $0.17 per round.

          So, marginal.

          Personally, I carry all of them (sometimes at the same time). I tend to step up to 9mm/.45 in the winter when I’m better able to conceal a larger pistol and I’m more likely to encounter more layers worn by an aggressor.

    • Re your second point … Agreed so long as you don’t use one of the “penetrator” rounds: M855/SS109, etc. As always, choose the right ammo for the situation.

    • Exactly. Handguns just make holes to leak blood. Only a central nervous system hit will stop the fight immediately. Carry a gun that
      1. You will carry always
      2. You shoot well
      3. Has good capacity (yes I meant to put that 3rd)
      4. Has stopping power(pretty far down the list isn’t it)

      • Only a slight disagreement, but I would put that list as:
        1) is reliable
        2) you will carry
        3) you shoot well

        If the gun and ammo don’t perform, everything else is academic.

      • not a bad list . mine is :
        1. have gun that is reliable . center fire preferred due to ignition and trigger pull
        2. hit . only hits count .
        3. round must penetrate.
        4. more power is better, but only after the above has ben achieved .
        long gun is always way better than a handgun , but who carry’s one?

    • Handguns do suck, but only in comparison to the ability to maximize a cartridges potential. They are easier to carry and easier to deploy than a rifle or shotgun. With the exception of a SBS or SBR. Basically, you wouldn’t carry a rifle around all day, while you wouldn’t use a pistol to take down a deer. As with all natural rules, there are exceptions.

    • “2. If you can, use a long gun in the home. In spite of popular belief, a good 5.56 mm NATO round will actually penetrate LESS through walls than 9 mm.”

      This, right here.

      I don’t understand why we don’t see this argument more often, especially in light of the constant refrain of “there’s no legitimate purpose for an AR-15 other than mass murder” from anti-gun activists. To me, a lower grain .223 soft-point or hollow-point (if you can find ’em) is, by far, the premier home defense round on the planet. It’ll overpenetrate less than any worthwhile pistol round, but more importantly, it’ll also overpenetrate less than a shotgun loaded with anything other than birdshot, and I would love to see the Joe Bidens of the world, who love to extoll the virtues of a shotgun for home defense, try to stop a determined attacker with birdshot. At the same time, it’ll cause more tissue damage, and thus be more likely to stop an attacker, than a significantly heavier pistol round, despite the pistol round penetrating further. And best of all, you’re more likely to hit the target in the first place, since rifles are so much easier to aim. (Though, I guess shotguns with buckshot have a slight advantage here, but only a slight one.)

      It really is the best of all worlds when it comes to a home defense scenario.

      • My only thought is NOISE from 5.56mm in a room. Yes, better than being dead, I even have a suppressor on mine. I use a suppressed .45 carbine for home defense.

    • Lots of people been killed with handguns. Far more than rifles and shotguns combined in the US, statistically, the past century.

      • So? We don’t carry rifles (nor do criminals) in our day to day life obviously. Handguns still suck compared to long guns. Better than a knife or a fist though.

  3. My response to the caliber debate, starts like this “ well what would you like to be shot by”

    After usual a period of awkward silence

    “Yeah just what I thought, you don’t want to be shot by anything, therefore making any caliber effective”

    Then I often here “blah blah blah”

    My response is “ well how bout I shoot you with xxx caliber then if you recover , I’ll shoot you will abc caliber” then so on and so on.. “after all that if your still alive and able you can write me a report on what caliber worked best “

    Another period of awkward silence

    “Yeah just what I though, don’t want to be shot by anything, therefore making all calibers effective”

    • The counteroffer is that if you expect them to get shot by whatever dinky little round you’re defending, then you should be okay with that person running up to stab you in the neck twelve times while you do it.

    • What I want to get shot by is irrelevant, because I’m not a rage-filled, drug-fueled psychopath bent on taking from you.

      Hell, I’d prefer it if no one even twanged a rubber band towards my eyes, but (as mentioned already), that doesn’t mean a rubber band is my carry weapon.

    • It’s a silly argument. As the one guy said, I’d rather not get shot by an airsoft gun either.

      This is roughly equivalent to arguing a small hatchback car is good for hauling construction equipment because it CAN be done. I would rather have a truck.

      Anyway, actual science and stuff matters, and please refrain from giving this kind of “free advice” out to people at the range. It’s why you find some women for example running around carrying .22s. Some goober whom I guess looked the part told them that was all they needed.

    • I always come back with “would you rather be shot with 1 45 or 2 9mm? Because 9 mils pretty much always have higher capacity, if you shop around for it.” It’s a bit of a tendentious reply, because it’s usually not a 1:2 advantage, but it’s still valid – SOMEBODY is gonna take that extra round or rounds.

  4. I agree with article, however; I do know that bigger bullets make bigger holes, was wondering what information was posted about the .44 special

    • Anyone who thinks bigger bullets make bigger holes would, I suppose, favor the .308 over the 6.5 Creedmoor. To each his own.

      But to ignore such things as cavitation, penetration, and the expansion of hollowpoint bullets might result in a less than optimal decision.

    • If we are only using simple logic, you could also say that slower bullets must then penetrate less, making the .45acp the fattest, slowest dog in the fight.

      Fortunately there’s more to it than a simple quip allows for.

  5. A buddy while in Iraq was using a Mk. 19 in an urban environment when he was met with enemy fire at a very short distance. Without a second thought he returned fire with the Mk. 19 and hit the assliant square in the chest with a round at such a close distance that the round had not even armed. The man fell dead in the street with the round never going off. That is stopping power…

  6. Only a round like a NATO 50 cal has any real stopping power where even a non fatal hit will stop someone dead, abet alive and missing an arm or so. Its a stupid term as even 22lr can kill and even faster then any other round hit in the wrong place i.e. 50 cal to the arm. If you can’t shoot straight your stopping power is zero as in the threat stops zero feet on top of you.

    • I would say that 12 ga. .00 at close range has pretty good stopping power. Take that shot anywhere and you are going to be in world of hurt. It’s hard to imagine someone taking that to the chest at close range and not going down.

  7. I’m sorry, but this article is crap. A bigger / faster bullet is always going to be more effective. The more destructive energy you can dump into you assailant, the more “stopping power” there is. But energy wise, there is not a lot of difference between 9mm and .45 auto. You are just switching velocity for mass (with the complication of penetration).

    Now with 10mm / .357, we are playing a different game. But there are issues with more “stopping power”. And that is what the article should be titled, “Stopping Power is not Everything”. The article should be that everything about any firearm is a compromise. And the trick is finding the best overall compromise.

    My carry gun for summer in the North West Suburbs of Chicago is NOT the same for driving through the West Side. And both are not the one for the Rocky Mountains.

    • I have to agree with this sentiment. The article is poorly reasoned. Essentially, the article says that you shouldn’t care about “stopping power” because the “stopping power” of a particular cartridge can’t be reduced to a single number due to its varying effectiveness on different types of targets. However, the author admits that against any given target, the “stopping power” of a round with more energy will be greater than a round with less energy.
      All things being equal, I would rather hit the same target in the same location with a bigger, faster bullet than with a smaller, slower bullet. However, all things are not equal. A more powerful caliber is generally more expensive to practice with, has heavier recoil, and has a lower magazine capacity. As a result, that caliber will likely result in fewer, slower, less accurate shots.
      So the reason a person shouldn’t care so much about “stopping power” isn’t because you can’t quantify it. Instead, it’s because there’s far more to consider when choosing a caliber than how much energy it has on target.

      • Right. This article fails to recognize the objective fact that bigger and faster bullets have benefits that apply in *any* defensive scenario. There definitely are better and inferior choices when it comes to choosing a chambering for your gun.

        Still, the writer is right about the most important thing — which is that stopping a threat depends much, much more on how the shooter performs with the gun than the “stopping power” of the cartridge.

    • If your cervical spine is severed with a well placed 22lr round, you are stopped. If your cervical spine is severed with a 44 mag round, you are stopped. The point the author is making is that “stopping power” cannot be accurately quantified given all the other variables present. In the scenario listed above for example both rounds would be equal in stopping power, as they both stopped the threat.

    • This is why the comparison is spurious; we don’t defend ourselves with ammo, we defend ourselves with loaded firearms. So taking the guns out of the conversation makes for a pointless argument.

      I’d always rather have a 9mm with two extra rounds over a 45, and you pretty much always get two or more extra rounds of capacity in a 9mm, so 9mm handguns have more firepower, case closed.

      • “…9mm handguns have more firepower, case closed.”

        Threats have been “stopped” (whatever you take that to mean) by a single hit with a 9mm bullet, and a single hit with a .30spl. What did ammo capacity have to do with that?

        “High capacity” handgun magazines do not inevitably lead to greater success at “stopping the threat”. If one to three hits from any caliber can do the trick, what is the advantage to 33 rounds in a magazine?

        • your right I bragged about my prowess with my G20 sf I dressed up ,but your right I practice with my EDC triple handed high velocity +p bearing load I practice both are in isoclies stance strong armed week armed and 1 armed if I cant hit my neighbor Mr.Wilson with anything past 25 yards I d better pack it up and call it quits

        • I had too many beers last night, and came up with the .30 spl bullet. Meant to state .38spl.

          If a one-shot stop can be made with any caliber, the actual magazine capacity is irrelevant. If you look at the chart related to number of rounds for incapacatation, none of the shootings appear to have gone beyond seven rounds. Again making the actual magazine capacity irrelevant to “stopping power”. Stance is also irrelevant. As is one or two-hand grip on the handgun. Or a rail for accessories. Or training, even.

          Depending on caliber or capacity to keep you safe may put you at an unexpected disadvantage if shot placement is ignored. As noted, we have evidence of a perp being hit fourteen times with a “high capacity” .45 caliber handgun….and surviving (at least for a little while)

  8. I’m going to agree with binder here. Among the big 3 defensive handgun loading (9,.40,.45) there is little enough difference that round count and shot placement virtually negate the actual differences In performance of the rounds. That being said, tons of information, much of it even reliable, exists demonstrating superior performance in specific situations. For example, 9mm, given speed of shot placement and capacity in most pistols makes a great choice for an urban environment, but lacking mass and penetration, sucks in the mountains of Alaska where bears are a consideration, everyone is bundled up, and ranges open up to crazy distances. Here a 10mm or magnum revolver might be more worth their drawbacks.

    Don’t dismiss the differences between loadings and calibers, just realize that most are adequate for most situations, then make choices based on your situation.
    The question starts with “what do you intend for the pistol to do?”

  9. This is why I reload .45acp to the brim with H110 and a 130gr bullet I cast out of a special lead alloy I call Swisscheesium. Then you get a big hole moving real fast.

    … don’t actually do this.

    • I have been playing with loads in my 625 using Starline 45 super. I don’t want to cut the cylinders for .460 and the rounds go onto moon clips so I don’t do something stupid. (My Rocky Mountains Gun)

      Not quite a 44 Mag, but WAY faster reloads 🙂

    • But do buy some Lehigh Defense rounds. Light, fast, and non-expanding but designed to make big wound channels.

      I think Underwood and now Black Hills also make rounds using Lehigh bullets.

  10. Stopping power means nothing. The caliber of the weapon means nothing. The only thing that matters is handling ability.

    Can you as the gun owner handle your gun. There are many older people who can’t handle a 44 mag. Or a 357 mag. Nor can they handle an 45acp.
    But these older people can handle a 22 caliber quite well, or a 38 special.

    They have made many a home burglar, home invader bleed quite well out of several holes, and run away in Terror.

    A 22 is not as good as a 6.5 creedmoor. But not everyone can afford or even handle a 6.5 creedmoor pocket gun. (Smile)

  11. So the article’s argument is that since the assailant and situation changes, there is no round that works best in all situations.

    Bullcrap. The obvious solution is carry the caliber that is likely to work better than other calibers in ALL IMAGINABLE situations. Obviously there can be outliers where the round won’t work (Threat Level V body armor on the assailant, for example.)

    While you plan for outliers (in the case of the armored assailant, you train for head shots if your initial rounds do nothing to stop him), you don’t use the fact that there are outliers to throw up your hands and declare there is no solution – or no issue at all, like this article does.

    No one carries .22s for self-defense (except a few people who are either idiots or super-damn accurate with them even under stress.) Yes, we’ve all heard how Mossad uses .22s for assassination – but assassination is not self-defense, and those boys undoubtedly carry a backup higher caliber firearm should the assassination go awry.

    “Stopping power” merely means carrying the most powerful firearm you can reasonably carry and use effectively. That varies by person – small frame women find it hard to carry a .44 Magnum whereas a power-lifter might treat the same gun like a .380. Nonetheless there are calibers that are pretty much universally considered “under-powered” for self-defense.

    No one should carry a firearm firing a cartridge starting with a number less than 4 for self-defense (an exception might be .357 Magnum.) No 22s, 25s, 32s, 380s, or 38s. .40s, .44s, .45s, 9s and 10s are pretty much it (I assume .50s are too powerful for most people except weightlifters.)

    Now when it comes to selecting which caliber in that list, it gets a bit trickier. Does a fast-moving, well-designed 9mm equal a heavier, slower moving .45? At this point, I’d still favor the .45 but the difference these days is – allegedly – less significant than it used to be due to improved bullet design – which, however, begs the question of why said bullet design isn’t being done for the .45 if it’s so good for the 9mm. And if it is done for the .45, does that swing the argument back to the .45?

    In any event, if the rule today is to “mag dump” until the perp is done, i.e., inflict maximum damage rather than the old “two the chest and one to the head”, then the difference in cartridge stopping power between one self-defense caliber and another is mitigated to a certain extent. But that doesn’t change the basic concept of carrying the most powerful cartridge you can control.

    In other words, “stopping power” is a COMBINATION of caliber and tactics. But it’s not “either-or” – both are important.

    Bottom line: suggesting that “stopping power” – i.e., caliber choice – is not relevant is another one of these articles I can’t stand that suggest that a significant issue in self-defense is not important. It’s all important and needs to be considered when your life is on the line.

    • “No one should carry a firearm firing a cartridge starting with a number less than 4”

      He says and then spends the rest of a paragraph laying out exceptions and changes to the rule.

      That advice is silly macho horseshit that hasn’t been accurate for 50 years. Today’s 9mm isn’t your grandfather’s. Hell, today’s .380 isn’t your grandfather’s 9mm.

      9mm is fine. .380 is fine. .22 is fine if you accept the odds of a misfire because it’s rimfire.

      Stop acting like anyone who isn’t carrying your pet He-Man round is unarmed.

      • Agreed, this super macho crap is idiotic at best. The fact is that every handgun caliber averages between 2 and 3 hits to stop a threat. Every single one. Though an identical shot with a 40 or 45 may arguably be better than the same hit with a 9, the difference is negligible- a central nervous system hit with a 9 will drop them just as fast as a central nervous system hit with a 40. Shot placement is everything.
        Will a 40 generally penetrate more? Yes, though the difference is mostly irrelevant inside of 50 yards, in which a frontal shot from either will punch through front and back ribs just fine, and expand nicely too, with quality ammo from a four inch barrel. I haven’t tested or seen tested the same distance from shorter barrels.
        As far as 45, it is a great defensive load out to about 25 yards, though many loadings will drop below expansion threshold at around that distance even from a full size pistol.
        All of these are fine choices, assuming you can hit what you are aiming at.

  12. There is no such thing as stopping power. There is something called lethality, i.e., the probably that a wound in location x is fatal in time t.

    Example:. We all know that getting your femoral artery severed is highly lethal so here is an example of how to calculat differencial caliber lethality. Suppose you hit a threat in the leg with a 45 auto ball round that just ruptures the femoral artery. That means that a 9mm round in the exact same spot leaves the artery intact. We can say that the 45 is more lethal than the 9mm. The way you calculate actual lethality would be build a mathematical model of the thigh, including the effects of bone spall and then run a large sample of paths through the model and see what percentage of paths rupture the femoral artery. This will describe the lethal area. The round with the higher area is the more lethal round. This is done for entire body.

    Differential lethality is largely irrelevant outside of the military or rural environment. When you have access to immediate trauma care few wounds are fatal in the time before help arrives.

  13. Isn’t “stopping power” the somewhat inelegant measurement of determining how easily a bullet makes our fleshy vessels “stop”? Itself, it’s not an amazing way to articulate the concept that “bigger is better.” That said, bigger bullets going faster expand better and transfer more force. Whether or not the difference in performance matters is up to you. Make an informed decision based on the cartridge information available to you and carry what you’re comfortable with. If in doubt, carry a 10mm as it will drop virtually anything man-sized in this country with a good shot (or two).

  14. ““Which is better?”

    I agree with the old line “the one you have WITH you.” trumps all other theories.

  15. A 12 gauge magnum slug will stop anything in North America. Too big to pocket carry so I’ll stick with 9mm. I’m concerned with 2 legged critters around here(NE ILLinois). Interesting article nevertheless…

  16. The most important thing is BULLET PLACEMENT! The late Mel Tappen even mentioned a circus elephant that was killed by a .22 short through the eye and into the brain. The best gun is one that you can handle effectively and shoot accurately. If you go then to a bigger caliber and it doesn’t do the two things I mentioned then you have too much gun and need to go back down in size.

    • Exactly, there isn’t anything wrong with carrying a bigger gun if you can hit what you are aiming at in a timely manner. If someone wants to carry a .500S&W and they can put two rounds in the A zone from the holster in 2 seconds more power to them. If someone can’t do the same thing with a 9mm they should consider carrying one of the larger 380s like the Walther P380 or the S&W EZ instead.
      Just like how you can’t miss fast enough to stop a threat, you also can’t miss powerfully enough to stop it either.

    • Up vote!
      The biggest caliber that you can consistently and accurately hit your target with is going to be the most effective one.

  17. Great article. If a criminal Is breaking in to my home which gun will I use to end them ? Probably my AR-15. Or maybe my win 30/30. Maybe Ruger 9mmpc. If I have only my Ruger 10/22 carbine nearby , they will still be leaving in a body bag. Point being : do not break & enter the home of a POTG , your day will probably end with a bang !!

  18. These days the number of assailants is also a major consideration in choosing the gun and the ammo. One on one encounters are becoming rarer every day. It’s often 4, 5, or more you may have to deal with. Capacity counts.

    You go to war with the weapons you have, not the ones you wish you had.

  19. Next time someone asks about stopping power point them towards the ridiculous clown car magnums. .45-70 .460S&W .454 Casull .50Beowolf .50AE .500Mag etc.

    Frankly we need more high octane big bore fans in the world.

  20. THIS… is why I carry a .357 magnum.

    Problem with ‘stopping power’ is that people are always using the term to compare nearly identical rounds. A 3″ 12ga buc kshot load has a lot more stopping power than a .22LR. There’s just not much difference between 9 mm, .40S&W and .45acp, to the point where choosing the right load is more important than choosing the right caliber. To get significantly more stopping power you need to step up to something with significantly more recoil, or weight to tame the recoil. But most people have a hard time concealing a 44″ shotgun, so they make a compromise in power.

  21. The chart exposes the author’s ignorance. He is NOT “keeping all things equal”, it is obvious to even a casual observer that the energy and velocity data are bogus. Comparing cartridges shot from different guns in different configurations from barrels of vastly different lengths renders ALL of his conclusions as fantasy.

    As a simple example, a 25 ACP has more muzzle energy than a 22LR when fired from the same length barrel. The 22LR figures are from a rifle – Duh!

    Let us not even begin to consider different manufacturers, loadings, powders, bullets, etc, ad nauseam.

  22. This is very stupid. Stopping power does exist, and it is one of several factors to consider. A .44 magnum obviously has more stopping power than a 9mm. The 9mm has other advantages that make it the better choice for some situations. The trick is to find the best balance for your abilities, budget, and circumstances. I think the fact that many 9mm people won’t admit this reveals a lack of confidence in their choice.

  23. Stopping power, it’s what I don’t want you to have, or care about.

    Stopping power (stopping political power) is also what I believe should be done to the evil POS (D), before they accomplish the necessitating (of the rest of us) of forcefully stopping their respective breathing and pulse.

  24. That’s why I use the new S&W Revolver in 6.5 Creedmoor! But seriously, clothing is a big issue here in Detroit both for how you carry and ammo selection. Winter clothing is thick and heavy, and can alter how quickly you can get your gat. Your gun doesn’t do you any good if you can’t get to it, and heavy winter clothing can make a huge difference in stopping or deterring a bad guy. Admittedly I don’t change from the .38 special +P hollow points which are my goto.

    I would love to see an article on the various types of training that are available for both new and experienced shooters. What training is helpful and what can give you really bad habits for self defense? How can we quickly identify quacks from someone who can really help? What kind of training is ideal for those interested in self defense across various scenarios?

  25. Google search indicates .22LR is the most deadly caliber. The math dictates that .22LR does not generate enough energy. So, how is it the .22LR tops the list?

    Maybe the mythical “energy dump”, .45ACP, and connonesque 6.5 grendel are, well, mythical?

    Found these articles to be interesting: (stopping power, caliber, energy dump)

      • Are you referring to .22 cal weapon as in rimfire (S, L, LR, WMR) or center fire (5.56, .223)? Specifics, please.

  26. Handguns stop people by damaging the body. The more energy a bullet has, the more damage it does. Just check out the difference in damage (9mm vs 40SW) done to the meat target in this video:
    I always tell people who ask to carry the most powerful caliber they can carry and shoot effectively.

  27. Quote: “The more energy a bullet has, the more damage it does”.

    Here – I’ll fix it for you: The more energy a bullet has, the more damage it can or might do – depending on what the bullet hits.

    • The problem for your brain is .45 ACP is not superior to .40 or 9 mm in real world results. They are all equivalent. But you can certainly believe what you want and pay more for an expensive round with less capacity and more recoil.

      • What about a .460 Rowland (.45acp with attitude)!/? Muzzle Velocity is ~1,544.75’/s with a 230-grain bullet and ~1,062.68-ft/lbs of applied force…

        • I have no idea. I can only speak to common real world handgun calibers for which we have data (9/40/45).

      • “combat tested means something…especially when it extends back over a hundred years”

        So, you’re thinking 9mm is from, like, the last decade?

        I would refer you again to the incident where the bad guy lived through fourteen hits from a .45 handgun, and survived (for some time afterwards).

  28. This article is just trolling the site under the guise of a contest entry. No rational person would claim there is no difference between a 25 ACP and a 44 Magnum in terms of stopping power.

    “Pick a gun you can control and shoot comfortably enough to practice with regularly, that is at least a 9mm (maybe a 380 or 38 Special), and get some basic safety and self defense training”, is how you should advise a new shooter.

    • “This article is just trolling the site under the guise of a contest entry. No rational person would claim there is no difference between a 25 ACP and a 44 Magnum in terms of stopping power.”

      Well, there’s this:

      [Of course, as POTG we are all too aware facts, data, logic never triumph over emotion.]
      # of people shot – 68
      # of hits – 150
      % of hits that were fatal – 25%
      Average number of rounds until incapacitation – 2.2
      % of people who were not incapacitated – 35%
      One-shot-stop % – 30%
      Accuracy (head and torso hits) – 62%
      % actually incapacitated by one shot (torso or head hit) – 49%

      .22 (short, long and long rifle)
      # of people shot – 154
      # of hits – 213
      % of hits that were fatal – 34%
      Average number of rounds until incapacitation – 1.38
      % of people who were not incapacitated – 31%
      One-shot-stop % – 31%
      Accuracy (head and torso hits) – 76%
      % actually incapacitated by one shot (torso or head hit) – 60%

      .32 (both .32 Long and .32 ACP)
      # of people shot – 25
      # of hits – 38
      % of hits that were fatal – 21%
      Average number of rounds until incapacitation – 1.52
      % of people who were not incapacitated – 40%
      One-shot-stop % – 40%
      Accuracy (head and torso hits) – 78%
      % actually incapacitated by one shot (torso or head hit) – 72%

      .380 ACP
      # of people shot – 85
      # of hits – 150
      % of hits that were fatal – 29%
      Average number of rounds until incapacitation – 1.76
      % of people who were not incapacitated – 16%
      One-shot-stop % – 44%
      Accuracy (head and torso hits) – 76%
      % actually incapacitated by one shot (torso or head hit) – 62%

      .38 Special
      # of people shot – 199
      # of hits – 373
      % of hits that were fatal – 29%
      Average number of rounds until incapacitation – 1.87
      % of people who were not incapacitated – 17%
      One-shot-stop % – 39%
      Accuracy (head and torso hits) – 76%
      % actually incapacitated by one shot (torso or head hit) – 55%

      9mm Luger
      # of people shot – 456
      # of hits – 1121
      % of hits that were fatal – 24%
      Average number of rounds until incapacitation – 2.45
      % of people who were not incapacitated – 13%
      One-shot-stop % – 34%
      Accuracy (head and torso hits) – 74%
      % actually incapacitated by one shot (torso or head hit) – 47%

      .357 (both magnum and Sig)
      # of people shot – 105
      # of hits – 179
      % of hits that were fatal – 34%
      Average number of rounds until incapacitation – 1.7
      % of people who were not incapacitated – 9%
      One-shot-stop % – 44%
      Accuracy (head and torso hits) – 81%
      % actually incapacitated by one shot (torso or head hit) – 61%

      .40 S&W
      # of people shot – 188
      # of hits – 443
      % of hits that were fatal – 25%
      Average number of rounds until incapacitation – 2.36
      % of people who were not incapacitated – 13%
      One-shot-stop % – 45%
      Accuracy (head and torso hits) – 76%
      % actually incapacitated by one shot (torso or head hit) – 52%

      .45 ACP
      # of people shot – 209
      # of hits – 436
      % of hits that were fatal – 29%
      Average number of rounds until incapacitation – 2.08
      % of people who were not incapacitated – 14%
      One-shot-stop % – 39%
      Accuracy (head and torso hits) – 85%
      % actually incapacitated by one shot (torso or head hit) – 51%

      .44 Magnum
      # of people shot – 24
      # of hits – 41
      % of hits that were fatal – 26%
      Average number of rounds until incapacitation – 1.71
      % of people who were not incapacitated – 13%
      One-shot-stop % – 59%
      Accuracy (head and torso hits) – 88%
      % actually incapacitated by one shot (torso or head hit) – 53%

      Rifle (all Centerfire)
      # of people shot – 126
      # of hits – 176
      % of hits that were fatal – 68%
      Average number of rounds until incapacitation – 1.4
      % of people who were not incapacitated – 9%
      One-shot-stop % – 58%
      Accuracy (head and torso hits) – 81%
      % actually incapacitated by one shot (torso or head hit) – 80%

      Shotgun (All, but 90% of results were 12 gauge)
      # of people shot – 146
      # of hits – 178
      % of hits that were fatal – 65%
      Average number of rounds until incapacitation – 1.22
      % of people who were not incapacitated – 12%
      One-shot-stop % – 58%
      Accuracy (head and torso hits) – 84%
      % actually incapacitated by one shot (torso or head hit) – 86%

      • You have to condsider firing doctrines. Most people use a shoot-shoot- lock doctrine. That makes it hard to determine what a one shot stop looks like. Did the first shot stop the threat; the second or both? The reason revolvers typically average fewer shots is that the rate of fire is slower and capacity limits the number of outlying data points.

        • “You have to condsider firing doctrines. Most people use a shoot-shoot- lock doctrine.”

          “Doctrine” may have something to do with specific shooting incidents, but the count per incapacitation seems to tell the story. Not a “yuge” difference between calibers. Depending on caliber to solve the problem may not be prudent.

          Myths are tough to kill; when the facts don’t support….print the myth.

        • If you read the linked article he explains his methodology, which accounts for what you are asking about as well as anything could, as far as I can tell. Also, your argument doesn’t really change anything insofar as if people are all using a shoot-shoot-look tactic, and all rounds are performing similarly, then all rounds still would be similarly effective. The only way it would matter is if some people were consistently shooting 4 or 5 shots with a given caliber while others were consistently firing 2 with another to get the same result. If everyone is shooting 2 shots anyway and getting the same results then it is fair to say that the different calibers still performed essentially the same.

        • Not true. The only certainty is one hit, one stop. Anything else is guess work. Aversge number of shots is meaningless. 1-1-4 is the same average as 2-2-2.

        • “The only certainty is one hit, one stop.”

          Correct, but since no handgun caliber has ever been demonstrated to be one hit-one stop, the point is still moot. This article and it’s methodology is about the best data we have on the subject I will continue to agree with the author, Greg Ellifritz, that no handgun should be expected to produce a one shot stop regardless of caliber, as all evidence contradicts that notion. In this study one shot stops occurred slightly over half the time with any caliber, however if you read the article you will see that many, if not most, of the one shot stops were “psychological stops,” i.e. the person stops due to being shot, period, rather than due to critical injury or death.

          Data on this subject is inherently difficult to obtain, and short of going full Samurai and taking thousands of prisoners and shooting them with a variety of handguns under a variety of circumstances we will never have solid empirical data with which to determine the truly “best caliber” for self defense. the data we do have indicates there is very little difference between the common defensive calibers in terms of stopping a threat, and therefore the entire debate is essentially academic.

          Are 40 or 45 more powerful than 9mm? In terms of ft-lbs of energy, yes, though only by about the power of an untrained persons punch. Are they enough more powerful to have any real world effect on stopping a threat? Not in any of the data I’ve seen.

          If you want to carry a 40 or 45 or whatever that’s fine, they are all effective calibers and you certainly aren’t undergunned with them. However if you want to claim that they are objectively more effective at stopping a threat in real world conditions then you need to produce that data, because I’ve never seen it.

          All this makes me seem like I’m a champion for 9mm, but if anything I’m a .357 Magnum guy since it’s about the single most versatile round out there. I’m just trying to make the point that the claim “real defense starts with a 4” simply isn’t supported by the available data.

      • Thanks for linking this, I’ve been looking for this article for awhile now, if I had remembered it was from Greig, I would have found it a long time ago. You aren’t half bad, even if you do cosplay as 2ASux from time to time.

        • “Never trust your life to a handful of statistics”.

          When the facts don’t fit the myth, print the myth.

          The statistics are what they are. Trusting you life to an unfounded belief that a particular caliber bullet will always result in immediate termination of a threat is trusting to a “statistic” borne of tall tales and wishful thinking. That can get you killed.

          The only bullet that will instantly vaporize the threat, and the threat’s entire family is the .500 S&W magnum.

  29. Energy or power is potential work. What the bullet is made from and how it’s constructed and what structures it damages determines how it stops. The actual work we’re trying to accomplish to get the end result we desire. Which is the cessation of hostilities in our favor. A knife or sword moving at 20 fps will do the same or more damage as a bullet. That’s why swords got smaller. They realized the point was more important than the edge. Deep enough penetration destroying important things is how you stop an attacker whether human or animal. Guns give us stand off distance whuch gives us time whuch might give us other options.

  30. Carry the biggest caliber that you are comfortable shooting in the biggest gun you are comfortable carrying, and make sure you practice with your carry gun regularly. Don’t listen to that capacity-whore who carries a Glock 17 (GEN3!) with 10 backup happysticks in his cargo pants, and don’t listen to that one old guy who wears a shoot-me-first vest 24/7/365 to cover up his .44 Ruger Blackhawk. Try before you buy and find what works for your personal needs.

  31. And youre manning the gun counter? No wonder newbies listen to friends/family and Internet boards, then go buy online instead of from the LGS. Sheesh.

    If you really want to get into it, why don’t you just tell customers that an unloaded firearm has the most stopping power. After all, the vast majority of defensive gun uses do not entail actually discharging the firearm. Ballistics and even shot placement are moot in most real world scenarios.

    Save the pedantic lectures and give your customers some decent, actionable information to assist in their decision making. Otherwise, get out of the business and quit giving the impression that the industry is dominated by unhelpful, dismissive prigs.

    • “Otherwise, get out of the business and quit giving the impression that the industry is dominated by unhelpful, dismissive prigs.”

      Agree. Sell ’em what they want; take the money and run. It is abusive to inform potential customers about gun myths (might cause them to buy nothing at all). Crazy people trying to do right by customers are the cause of all the unrest in the country!

  32. Quote: “Shotgun (All, but 90% of results were 12 gauge)
    # of people shot – 146
    # of hits – 178
    % of hits that were fatal – 65%
    Average number of rounds until incapacitation – 1.22
    % of people who were not incapacitated – 12%
    One-shot-stop % – 58%
    Accuracy (head and torso hits) – 84%
    % actually incapacitated by one shot (torso or head hit) – 86%”

    What a load of hogwash. I have personally been shot in the torso by a 12 gauge. Some of the pellets hit my face, some hit my legs. Not a mark on me, nor was my t-shirt penetrated.

    I’m guessing there is some data missing in that fabricated spreadsheet.

    On the other hand, My father and his brother have both shot and killed bear with a .22 short. Guess what – more interesting data missing here as well

    • Was it buckshot you were hit with? Because I’m pretty sure nearly all defensive shootings with shotguns are using buckshot, not birdshot. And since buckshot will easily punch through a 2×4, it will easily punch through a person. If you read the linked article and the authors methodology, I think you might rethink calling the chart a fake, since it is merely collected data from over 1800 actual shootings.

    • LOL you’re right, they should have annotated your case in there
      *except for Jim here, who is so manly no gun can hurt him*

  33. Ok, not everyone is a tactical operator operating tactically. Some people are aged or infirm. A 22 might be all they can handle safely and accurately. If it is, then it still beats a sharp stick.
    Most people are not going to be hanging out in dark alleys or biker bars.
    Most people are not going to have a drug gang looking to settle scores over a deal gone bad.
    In nearly every account I have read or seen video of, once the bad guy is shot, he tries to unass the premises if he is still able to move.
    Don’t fool around with someone who is married or has a crazy ex.
    Use the firearm that you are comfortable with and can shoot well.
    Think ahead. If you are drawing your firearm it probably means you have already made at least one mistake to be in the situation to begin with.

  34. Caliber actually does matter, depending on what your goal is. Caliber wars are always focused on cartridges that as someone mentioned above, aren’t that different. Everyone always cries about 9mm vs .45, then someone comes along and throws up there hands and says “well caliber doesn’t matter anyway!” This is infantile. If you don’t understand why there’s different calibers then it’s time to hang it up.

    • “Crap iam giving my 10mm in favor of a slingshot now !”

      If you can handle the grip, get on target fast, control recoil so as to ensure fast and accurate follow-up shots, and practice ammunition is cheap, then why not move to a slingshot. In a fight, a slingshot in hand is better than one in a drawer back at the house.

  35. lol if it matters I shoot about 200 rounds weeks because I handload and I use full load 155 grain xtps for practiceand. my carry load of hornady critical defence 170 grain kick a lot less than my hand loads ,but I still ain’t giving up my slingshot with a triple band red tactical laser and flash light I have lol

  36. I always figured the best handgun for a person is the one he or she can afford to buy, afford to practice with, be able to manage and shoot well until empty, be able to carry routinely. If that’s a big caliber hand cannon, well so be it. If it’s a .380 pocket gun, well that’s what it is. Quality should be the highest you can afford while meeting those other needs. Not much point if you have to save up a couple of years to buy the custom gun you dream of, then can’t afford to practice with it.

  37. What is the minimum caliber that will stop a threat? How ’bout, what is the minimum caliber that will stop a person, period?

    For those who proclaim, “I won’t go with less than point four oh”, have a look at a little story just posted on “Bearing Arms”

    B-B gun. Yes, B-B gun. Read about the damage to the brain. Yes, damage to the brain, as in penetrated and damaged. Taking the tragedy out of the equation, maybe it really is about shot placement.

  38. I care less about the arguments and no stopping power isn’t real on live targets. Just carry the best you are comfortable with and carry all the time

  39. TTag is quickly becoming the Yahoo News for true lack of quality or anything informative please quit writing just to hear the sound of your own voice and get back to some facts and “real” articles.

    • Your comment is very detailed and informative.

      WTH are you talking about?

      What, specifically, is missing?

  40. The main thing I’m really tired of is talking about ammo stopping power in a vacuum; ammo doesn’t shoot itself. It’s fired from a gun. Guns vary widely in capacity, ergo, capacity is a key factor in firepower/stopping power.

    This is my eternal refrain when discussing calibers. A 9mm with 15-18 round capacity has a LOT more firepower than a single-stack .45 with 7 round capacity. People will sit there and jaw back and forth about “round for round, bla bla bla,” but it’s usually meaningless because for the same model gun, a 9mm pretty much always has at least one more round of capacity than the equivalent .45.

    One extra round makes the whole conversation moot. 9mm wins.

    • “…ergo, capacity is a key factor in firepower/stopping power.”

      The phrase “stopping power” is commonly understood to be related to the impact of a particular bullet caliber. Which is why the handgun type (single/double stack) is inconsequential. Why? Because if a bullet has sufficient stopping power, capacity is irrelevant beyond a single shot that hits the target. Two at most. “Stopping power” traditionally has nothing to do with the ability of a particular handgun to put a dozen or more rounds on the target. To clarify, would you judge these two examples as demonstrating equal, identical “stopping power”: fifteen 9mm bullets center mass in a human body; two .4O caliber rounds that effectuate a “stop”?

      • If one enters into a self-defense shooting scenario, I would NEVER suggest relying on a “single shot, two at most,” defense firing plan. When we teach our officers how to shoot in an active response scenario, we always have them train with the idea of a 3-5 round 3 inch group at 27 feet. For civilian self-defense scenarios we teach to continue firing until the forward advance of the attacker stops then run and yell for help. NEVER EVER depend on one or two rounds! Unless you are a gun duelist, this is ineffective and dangerous thinking since a knife-wielding attacker can close a 30ft gap in roughly 1.5-2 seconds. Outside of 30ft you don’t have a self-defense plea unless the attacker is armed with a firearm. If they have a firearm, I’d suggest you fire until they breathe their last since one well-placed round can still kill you instantly even after they are down… just my two cents on “stopping power.” If you can master the “3 to the chest, 1 to the head,” method at a range with silhouette targets, I would even more greatly suggest that, but it requires much more practice and is world’s different with a moving target.

        • Point remains that if magazine capacity indicates “stopping” power, nothing short of a belt-fed weapon should be considered and adequate stopper. In the actual case of a police officer who hit a perp fourteen times with a .45 double stack handgun, using over 50 rounds in the gun fight, then neither the .45APC, nor the double stack handgun had sufficient “stopping power”. Which may explain why said cop claims to now carry 150 rounds of ammunition.

  41. “Stopping power,” the phrase that makes me cringe… Being a long running “gun guy,” I hate this idea. When people ask me about it my response is similar. “How does it feel, how well can you control it, and after putting a few hundred rounds down range, can you maintain a 3 inch group with 3-5 rounds on target?” It doesn’t matter if you are firing a 22 revolver or a Desert Eagle .50, if you can group 3 to 5 rounds in rapid succession to the center body mass of a target, or the “3 to the chest 1 to the head,” method — you can consider virtually any target officially stopped. If not, your target is the six-billion dollar man, in which case running was your better option.

  42. Bullet placement is the most important factor in stopping an assailant, regardless of caliber. However, real-life scenarios have shown that many shots have been fired that have missed the assailant completely. And this has happened to well trained LE officers. Why? Because of the extremely high level of stress associated with facing an assailant intent on stopping you!

    Thus it boils down to two factors: bullet placement and the number of rounds you can get down range in the shortest amount of time in order to stop the assailant. Bullet placement, of course, depends upon the gun that you can confidently shoot, not caliber. Number of rounds is dependent on magazine capacity; the more in your magazine, the more you can shoot in the short time span you may have allotted to you by your assailant. You may state that you can reload real quickly, but have you timed yourself doing that when bullets are whipping around your head? Bottom line, get as many rounds down range as quickly as you can in the shortest amount of time, hoping that you’ll stop the assailant before he stops you!


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