Friday, December 12, 2008

Meditations on stopping power

One of the Holy Grails of the gunny world is "stopping power".

Arcane formulas combining bullet weight, velocity and diametre in various proportions are proposed, established, fretted over and adopted -- or discarded -- in search of a pistol/round combination that will "guarantee" that the user will emerge victorious in an armed confrontation. And choices once made are defended with religious fervor.

*sigh*

To my mind, none of these formulas are capable of quantifying the most important part of stopping power.

This is not to say that your choice of sidearm and your choice of calibre aren't important in your search for "stopping power" ... but there is another variable that is much more important than bullet size and velocity.

You.

It doesn't matter how big a hole the bullet makes ... if you don't carry the gun that fires it.

It doesn't matter how fast that bullet is going ... if you never practice with the gun that fires it.

I see that I have lost some of my Gentle Readers. Allow me to explain.

One of my training officers carried a Colt Lightweight Commander in .41 Avenger. This round was -- and is, to the best of my knowledge -- a custom affair, involving a .45 Winchester Magnum case trimmed to .45ACP length and then necked down to .410 inches. From what I've read about the .41 Avenger, it is a perfectly adequate self-defence round.

This officer bought the pistol in the late 1980's, and fifty rounds of the bottle-necked ammunition came with it.

In 1994, he still had 36 rounds left of the original 50. In ten-plus years of carry -- patrol and otherwise -- he had only fired two magazines worth of ammunition out of that pistol.

Now, some of the canyons that dot the Panhandle caprock are full of prickly pear cactus. On slow patrol days, it wasn't unusual for gun-savvy officers to utilize these plants for impromptu shooting challenges of the "Right, ten yards, low, two fruits -- GO!" sort.

The one time we were able to chivvy this officer into shooting with us -- he was unable to consistently hit a prickly pear pad at seven yards.

Folks, .410 inches; 170 grains; 1100 feet per second looks almighty good on paper -- but if you haven't practiced enough to hit what you're aiming at ... what good are those numbers doing you, exactly?

Another gentleman of my acquaintance -- not a peace officer, but a gunny type -- had become enamoured of the 10mm. My paw to Freyja, the man had a ten-minute speech -- spiced with multiple quotes from Colonel Jeff Cooper (pbuh) -- regarding the merits of the 10x25mm.

Not being able to get his paws upon Messers Dornaus and Dixon's Bren Ten pistol, this gentleman had settled for the next best thing: a Smith and Wesson 1076 "FBI Special". And -- as with the round it fired -- he would happily opine at length as to the man-stopping abilities of that particular pistol.

The thing is, didn't matter where he was, what time of day it was, or what he was doing -- if you asked to see this wonder of gunfighting tools ... he'd go and get it out of the safe.

.400 inches; 200 grains; 1200 feet per second are "stopping power" stats you can't argue with -- but if they're in the gun safe at home when you're face-to-bad-breath with a critter in the mall parking lot ... what bloody good are those statistics doing you, exactly?

In contrast, allow me to introduce an older gentleman. He carries a three-inch Smith and Wesson revolver in .38 Special.

Now, most tactically-aware gunnies will be quick to tell you that the .38 Special is towards the low-end of the so-called "stopping power" spectrum. Matter-of-fact, most would tell you that .358 inches; 158 grains and 900 feet per second is the bare minimum.

Thing is, that old gentleman shoots a minimum of 200 rounds out of that pistol every month. He plinks dirt clods and charcoal briquettes with it; he hunts jackrabbits on his oil lease and turtles in his stock tank with it; he's taught his children, grandchildren and multiple acquaintances to shoot with it; and he shoots in several formal and informal matches each year with it.

That pistol is a part of him. He puts it on each morning, and takes it off each evening. The bluing has etched away from the thousands of draws from leather he's practiced; and the grips are worn to match his hands.

If the eco-friendly fertilizer hits the rotating, oscillating, vector-flow cooling unit that .38 is not going to be sitting useless in a gun cabinet: it's going to be where it's been for the past several decades -- because he carries it.

He's not going to flinch, he's not going to fumble his draw or muff his shot; and each round is going to go exactly where he wants it to -- because he practices with it.

That, Gentle Readers, is stopping power.

LawDog

52 comments:

fuzzys dad said...

Well said and to the point. Bravo

Angry Nurse said...

old saying:

Beware of the man who owns but one gun and shoots it a lot!

Joe Allen said...

Not to mention that that .38 is "no good" as a defensive weapon because it only holds 5 (or 6) rounds instead of 17 (+1).

Another problem with some of these hand cannon fanatics is that if they do try and carry the thing all the time they end up with a polymer framed 10mm, or a Scandium .44 mag. It's somewhat counter productive for a weapon to inflict as much pain on the wielder as the target. An aluminum framed Commander in .41 Avenger actually sounds like quite a handful.

Another issue with wildcat cartridges for defense: you can't resupply from any corner store that sells ammo, but have to rely on some bespectacled hermit in Idaho to turn down and trim european military cases and plug 'em with hand cast bullets on a single stage press because the gun's so pressure sensitive.

Harriet said...

Right on.

Larry said...

The major argument in favour of an AR-15 in .223 and a Glock 19 in 9mm?

If the SHTF in the good ole' US of A, all the good guys will have ammo and magazines compatible with yours. Ditto on any for the 'bad guys' in any principled resistance of the 2nd Amendment type. Either way.

Personally, I prefer the GLock model 22 with the .40 ammo: but this is partly because it is relatively common amongst LEO types. Who are also voted most likely to be the good guys I am trying to partner up with.

ditto said...

I have to agree with Larry the bastage. Anyone survivally motivated should maintain in their "locker" a sample of the most common caliber weapons.
I carry my 1911 when ever I leave the house.
Use it or lose it!

Noam Sane said...

Preach it, Brother.

As you train, so will you fight, and trigger locks or gunsafes will never be part of the equation.

hilinda said...

I often have to remind people that the weapon is not the thing in someone's hand, it's the person.

We get frequent questions where people try to compare weapons, of the "if one guy had this weapon, and the other had that one, who would win?" variety. Fascinating how often that is asked, and how challenging it is to get through to someone that they are missing the point.

A dangerous person, with a drinking straw, is more deadly than a non-trained person with any weapon.

Tim Covington said...

This is one thing I definitely believe in. You balance stopping power with shot placement. I carry either a Rock Island Armory 1911 or a Star BM. The manual of arms with both is the same, and I can maintain good groups with both at 20 yards. With modern ammo, both are excellent "man stoppers." However, if you can't hit the broad side of a barn under stressful situation with the weapon, it does you no good. I easily go through 200 rounds a month with both weapons. If I lived on a large piece of property, I would be shooting a lot more.

SpeakerTweaker said...

By far, the most elegant elaboration on two old adages in the gun world:

1. A .22 in hand is better than a .44 in the safe; and
2. A hit with a .22 is better than a miss with a .44.

Like it or not, both of the previous statements are unarguably true.

I carry a Beretta Px4 Storm in 9mm. I practice with it at least once a month (+/- 100rd), and I wear it AND a spare mag any time I'm wearing clothes.

They can call it underpowered, Europellet, 9 sillimeter all they want. I doubt any of them would be willing to stand downrange with a target on their t-shirt to test their "stopping power" theories.

Good post, Dawg.



tweaker

ASM826 said...

HUZZAH!

All you should hear is the roaring of approval from the main tables and pounding of fists and mugs throughout the hall.

Nothing as useless as the gun you don't have or can't use effectively.

Anonymous said...

And then there's Dog's ggg-uncle's pre-1900 .41 Cold revolver. That thing is not only classically handsome and beautifully balanced, but it blows a hole so big that if you hit someone in the little finger with it, he'd die of shock if the concussion didn't kill him first.
LawMom

Old NFO said...

Yep- practice and placement... Two keys well stated.

Moriarty said...

Well put, sir.

It it well to remind ourselves of the feats of Simo Häyhä, the Finnish sniper who accounted for some 500 Russians (including a Russian countersniper) in the Winter War of 1939-1940.

His primary weapon was an iron-sighted Mosin-Nagant 28, a weapon even then showing its age. After only about 90 days of action, Häyhä was sidelined by a severe wound in the face from exploding bullet. Even then, he retrieved his rifle and killed the man who shot him.

When asked for the secret of his success, he replied simply, "Practice."

Laughingdog said...

"1. A .22 in hand is better than a .44 in the safe; and
2. A hit with a .22 is better than a miss with a .44."

I teach something similar in my CHP classes. I know everyone in the class, at some point, will hear someone ramble on about the "perfect self-defense gun/caliber". So I make sure they understand that there is no single gun that fits every situation (i.e. you'll carry the small gun more, but the big gun has more power).

I usually sum up everything I tell them with "A .22 to the tear duct is worth 100 misses with a .45."

EgregiousCharles said...

Absolutely. The most important thing about carry is not caliber or capacity or even reliability but how soon you get the first well-placed hit in; obviously that's mostly training. In the little bit that gun choice is concerned it's a totally subjective matter of naturally it points for you and how the trigger feels to you.

That said, if you place the shots the same, a 10mm is better than .38.

To Joe Allen, you may not like the recoil from polymer-framed 10s but it doesn't bother all of us. Recoil is an almost entirely psychological phenomenon with most guns. You were probably trained into fear of recoil by starting on a .22 and thinking of that as normal and everything else as big or serious or something, and you can train yourself out of it if you really want. Why would you want, given that the ammo is more expensive and the change in effectiveness is marginal? No good reason, except magnums are fun! For example, I can keep my unported, uncompensated .454 Casull on target through two quick cylinders, using a speed-loader.

If you can, after you're done, honestly point out the places the recoil hurt your hand, and you're not being a wuss, then it's too much (the scandium magnums rotate in my hand and pull my trigger finger painfully upwards, for example.) Otherwise it's entirely a matter of your mental attitude toward the gun and act of shooting. Flinch happens BEFORE recoil, it's all in your mind.

OldCop said...

Well stated LawDog, I average 100 rounds a week in the winter and more than that when my son and I can get to the outdoor range in warmer weather allows.

The sad thing is that my brother Police Officers, almost to a man, only fire their duty weapons once a year a qualification time.

Joe Allen said...

EgregiousCharles, I agree absolutely. As you point out, high recoil platforms can generally be managed by proper technique and practice. I was pointing the hyperbole stick at those who insist on hand cannons but don't bother to learn how to effectively operate them.

I like 10mm just fine (except for the expense), although I much prefer it in a large steel frame Witness than a Glock, both are quite shootable platforms.

I firmly believe in carrying the biggest gun you can comfortably carry all the time and shoot well. If that's a .500 S&W go for it. If it's a .22, that'll do, if you will too.

Whenever a "that's too small a caliber" argument breaks out, I make my standing offer: I'll give you $100 for every time you let me shoot you with it at 50 yards.

So far, no takers.

sig94 said...

Great post. Whether it's self defense or hunting, no matter what cartridge floats your boat, you can't kill what you can't hit. My personal SD favorite? .45 ACP

Roger said...

Well said Dawg. I have and carry handguns from .32 acp (Seecamp) through .38 spl. and .45 acp. depending upon the weather and locale. All are regularly practiced with, all are well worn.

Roger

Chris said...

Lawdog!

I am completely unarmed except with Scripture. The 1 or 2 times where the world has nearly gone tits-up and a gun might have been appropriate were times when non-violence was the key to success. YMMV. In fact, I expect an LEO to be very concerned about issues such as caliber and stopping power. For myself, Scripture is far more deadly. A bullet can only take a life. The Word of God can send to Hell.

I am contemplating the purchase of a handgun, perhaps a small .22. I don't really need it except that my neighborhood is deteriorating, and street crime is increasing almost daily. I don't fear for my own life but for others.

If I purchase (or I'm given) a handgun, I really do not care much about 'stopping power'. If I pull the trigger one time while the pointy end is in the general direction of a critter, I will continue to pull the trigger until the critter is completely perforated & bled out, I run out of ammo, or am dead myself.

From a legal standpoint, if there is a crime involved on my behalf, the crime will involve only the first pull of the trigger. There will not be additional charges for emptying the magazine.

But there is little in my life worth dying or killing for. Only my loved ones qualify for that. But that alone may be enough to put me into the gun owners group.

Derius Thoran said...

Chris, if I may let me offer a bit of advice.

I myself believe in God, and was for a time bothered with the life-taking aspect of what we do. However, through my career as a Soldier, and subsequent life, I have learned a few things.

In my opinion, God gives us life, and he is the only one authorized to take it away. All others attempt it at their peril.

God has given me the authority and the duty to protect myself and my household, and I will do so until my last breath, or he calls me home. Period.

Even the Lord commanded his people to pick up the sword and use it when necessary.

I suggest starting with something easy to shoot, with cheap, plentiful ammo. I myself shot a .22 pistol and rifle, and still shoot them every single time I get the chance. The recoil is minimal, and they will teach you control, breathing, and a steady hand. Believe me, even the slightest wrong move can affect that tiny little bullet.

Practice until you start to feel comfortable having or using a firearm, then try a few others out before you settle on one to carry.

And your right, the world is getting worse. We may indeed be required to choose between our life and theirs before its over.

God Bless and good luck.

Anonymous said...

When my father-in-law (formerly on the army pistol team) was teaching me to shoot, the other people at the range were private detective trainees shooting .45s. I was using my fil's match grade 22. (I'm 5' 2" and wear child size medium gloves.) I expect they were sneering at me. But they were missing the sheet of paper, and I was getting within one or two rings of the center. Who was most dangerous to a bad guy? Me. My fil was quite proud of me.

SciFiJim said...

Chris, it does no good to keep pulling the trigger until the gun is empty if not a single shot connects. I am a new hand gun owner myself. My first purchase of a handgun was a .45 caliber because I have shot others' pistols and enjoyed them. I (full of self confidence) lined up at the 25 yard line to shoot at targets. In ten shots I only got one on the paper. So, I am learning to crawl before I can walk. I moved in to the 10 FOOT line and started from there. As I learn to keep the shots near the middle of the target I gradually move farther back. I can now reliable hit from 15 feet. 25 yards is still out of the question. On further reflection, the longest strait line distance in my house is about 45 feet from one end of a hall to the fireplace in the living room. If I learn to hit reliably (anything within a six inch radius of the bulls eye) at 45 to 50 feet I will be very happy. I always knew that TV gunfights were unrealistic when the hero can ALWAYS drop someone at the other end of the street. Now I have a new appreciation for just how ridiculous those shows are. The answer is to start with a small distance with a caliber you are comfortable with and work your way up and practice, practice, practice.
I like the .45 because it is fun for me to shoot; so that is what I am learning on. My kids (18 year old son and 16 year old daughter)love to shoot my pistol and will happily burn up a box of 100 rounds whenever given the chance (they don't realize how expensive that is yet. I have GOT to start reloading my own). They are also better shots than I am which was a blow to me ego, but an incentive to practice more.

TBeck said...

I opened my Jan ’09 copy of THE BLUE PRESS and what do I see on page four? A full-page ad for Para USA’s new “GI Expert” model. The ad copy reads “The 1911 that makes you an expert shot!” Well, where do I sign? That’s almost as tempting as “perfection” in a pistol. The hardware’s the easy part, it’s the software that takes work.

Years ago a friend purchased a shiny new DSA FAL rifle. It was his pride and joy, but he wouldn’t shoot it. One day I even showed up with two new boxes of Remington ammo so he couldn’t use the cost of ammo as an excuse. He told me that he didn’t know how to clean the gas bushing. I opined that any rifle that worked from the Sahara to the Cape of Good Hope could probably handle forty rounds of fouling. Besides, that’s why God gave us Gunscrubber, for all those hard-to-reach places. No go. This was his “GOTH” rifle that he would use to protect his home from the hordes of the zombocalypse and he hadn’t even fired so much as a magazine through it! He didn’t know if it even worked. A dewat with a dummy receiver would have been a lot cheaper and served the same function.

Then there’s the crowd that brags about how their 10mm with Glaser blue-tips will vaporize the goblin better than a phaser set to broil. The weapon is question is usually a Glock 20/29. I ask them how many rounds they’ve tested in the pistol. Six! Geez, who can afford that? How did the point of impact change at 15 yards? All I get is a bunny stare. Those rounds are loaded to very high pressures, so have you checked the brass for deformation around the unsupported portion of the chamber? Huh?

If you really want to get abstruse about stopping power, check out the research done on whether the hit occurs during the systolic or diastolic phase of the circulatory cycle. Even better is the literature on how long it takes for a lung-shot goat to slip into unconsciousness with a particular load. You can swear a blood oath and join the IWBA, but you’d better be prepared to drive a stake (the heaviest you can find) through the heart of any jello junkie or morgue ghoul you encounter.

I’d like to say that it’s the first accurate shot that wins, but even then the size of the fight in the dog comes into play. What’s the answer? I dunno, but I vote for preparation, practice, and luck.

wv: bubclans
I don't even want to know.

DW said...

I hae told a thousand people,"if you can hit what you are shooting at, anything will work, if you can't, nothing will work."

I carry a Sig P230SS in .380, I would prefer an 870 with an extended tube and #4 buck, but it's a little hard to conceal.

Anonymous said...

Well said Lawdog.

... and it got me to thinking.

I've got a SC - CWP (concealed weapons permit). Had one in Alabama before I moved to SC too, and back in Alabama I used to carry as well. Haven't carried since coming to SC in August - just not as familiar with the area or the people around here, even though the crime rates about 4x what it was back in Alabama.

Anyway, I used to shoot IDPA, used to do quite a bit.

My pistols are several .45 acps in either 1911 or Springfield XD45-- well, aside from the odd .41 mag revolver or two.

And every single one of them - right now, as I sit here typing this, is in my safe. With a big fireproof steel door and combination lock on the front.

If someone were to bash in my front-door right now, me, Mr. multiple .45s IDPA guy - would be defending myself with a hammer.

Nice post - and point well taken.

SC Reader said...

Anonymous:

IDPA is alive and well in SC. Come join us at the State Championship in Columbia at the end of April. It's gonna be a good match.

I'm also SC CWP instructor. As I'm typing this, I've got my carry gun on my hip. Why? Well, where else would it be?

Phillip said...

When I first started carrying concealed, I carried a .380 and didn't feel underpowered. Why? Because I knew that if I used it, the bullets would go where I wanted. Nowadays, my concealed carry pistol is a 9mm Ruger with a 15 round magazine, and I almost always have a second mag.

However, the pistol I always have on me, even doing stuff around the house? A .22 magnum NAA mini-revolver. I'm sure a lot of people would scoff, but I doubt that a bad guy would keep fighting if I closed with him and stuck it under his chin before pulling the trigger. It's an up-close and personal gun, but it's on me all the time it's legal except when I'm sleeping. It's a hideout, it's not something to try to scare anyone off with, but it will work.

And yes, I practice. And yes, it works. Since I grew up with guns, I knew from a YOUNG age that it only counted when you could hit what you were aiming at. My brother used to make me shoot at quarters on a fencepost a good bit away. If I couldn't do it, I was ragged on. Accuracy is the big thing, always.

Tam said...

Amen.

Put not your faith in magic swords. The most important word in "gunfight" is not "gun", it's "fight".

Anonymous said...

I would recommend that folks DO keep their guns in a safe in their house, other than a gun they're actually carrying. It would be a bummer to come home and find a burglar had armed himself with one of your guns while you were out of the house!

That being said, when you are home, you do want quick access to your guns if you need them.

chicopanther

Phil B said...

Yep - Firepower is hitting what you aim at, not spraying the landscape with bullets.

As for practice, try air rifles and pistols. Very little restrictions to purchase and own, cheap to buy and feed, you can shoot them in the house and the practice in shooting anything pays off.

But whatever you do PRACTICE and then practice some more!

Anonymous said...

And then there is the case of the .25 ACP - One Shot Stop

Joel said...

I don't suppose that old training officer still has that .41 Avenger, does he? Or that he'd be interested in selling it? Oddly enough, I had one of those, in a Combat Commander (steel frame) with some tweaking done at Cylinder & Slide. Traded it in a moment of weakness (for something else and cash for The Daughter's braces) but I still have the reloading dies, and load data. Would be cool to find another one.

njmedic1485 said...

Proof once again that guns don't kill people, people kill people.
Another informative post LD, thanks for keeping the blog going!!

Chris said...

Jim and Darius:

My first post was over-long, and so cut back some essential details. Yes, I am an evangelist by training and inclination. But when I was a teenager, I shot competitively and have several trophies to show for it. I have nothing against firearms; nor against the people who use them in their line of work, collecting, sporting/hunting, or just for the helluvit.

I know how hard it is to hit anything with any pistol at 25 yards. If I ever have to use a firearm on a human being (rattlesnakes are another matter) it will be at a distance no longer than the largest room in my house--a distance of 20 feet or so. I am also familiar with air pistols and rifles. If I must use a pistol, the target will be perforated, or I will be.

If I must, I will not hesitate to take a human life. I will pray for the critter while he exsanguinates on my living room floor. But I doubt that I would have many reqrets that I had to shoot him. Scripture is clear on this matter and so am I. This is like the story of the Quaker who opened his barn door to discover an intruder trying to steal the horses: "Brother, I would not harm thee for all the world, but you are standing where I am about to shoot!"

Mad Jack said...

Excellent post, LD. I'd like to add that whatever pistol you use, you have to feed it. Food costs money. At one end of the spectrum is the .22 and at the other end of the money tree is some kind of wildcat cartridge with custom Hydro Shock rounds that are so hot even I won't believe it, and I am very gullible.

Mikael said...

Great article, if somewhat of a preaching to the choir thing.

Bottom line is get something you're comfortable using, and train with it until you're good, and it's all muscle memory in a situation where you need it. So the major considerations for carry is: it should be easily/comfortably carried, that it suits you, and that it's reliable.

More stopping power is good, but mostly gravy.

To me, recoil is a minor consideration, having shot .45 polymer, and 9mm steel frame, and while I could see the .45 buck more, I couldn't feel a difference in the recoil. Then again, I'd shot rifles for years before I touched a pistol, so pistol recoil was nothing special to me(in a hey-this-doesn't-physically-hurt sort of way).

If the law around here let me carry, I'd probably go with something like a .357 snubbie, or a small pistol like a bersa thunder, simply for ease of carry, shot placement fixes the rest. Even if I'd prefer something like a 1911 .45ACP clark gun with the heavy slide, it'd be rough to carry.

Anonymous said...

I don't consider the 1911 a bad concealed carry gun at all - with a proper holster. (Milt Sparks Versa Max II comes to mind.)

I've always found that width was harder to conceal, and more uncomfortable than length. The 1911 and several other single-stacks are very thin, and don't cut in much at all.

For 1911-style, Dan Wesson makes a great little Bobtail Commander with a 4.25" barrel that's gotten several rave review. I don't have one of the commander-sized bobtails, but I do have a full-sized bobtail 1911 that I like quite a bit. In that Milt Sparks VM2 holster, it's very comfortable for all-day concealed wear.

Ed Foster said...

I'm kind of antsy about any of the big "Magnums" anyway as a duty cartridge. #1 son's department was considering a change of caliber, from .45ACP to 10mm, and decided to stay where they were.

It seems that scores fall off across the board, from novice to expert, in any department, when the switch gets made.

Yes, you can learn to handle the greater recoil and noise, but how much of the drop off in practice time is due to a less pleasant shooting experience? Plus much more expensive ammo.

To what extent does the financially and physically more punishing cost of pocket rocket ammo reduce or preclude the needed practice time?

And, virtually all of SonOne's numerous gunfights (narcotics detective Hartford CT PD) have happened in a low light environment.

An enourmous advantage the .45 ACP has over the hotrodded cartridges is the tiny muzzleflash. The shooter is less of a target, his/her vision is less effected, and, since HPD trains as it fights, in shadows and glare, the training is more effective.

Think about it. The larger the bore, the faster the powder's burning rate needs to be to get best efficency in those 4 or 5 inches it gets to push. The faster the burning rate, the less unburned powder there is following the bullet out the muzzle.

Add on over penetration and richochet problems, and the ".39Whizzbang" starts to look a lot more practical on the hip of a rural lawman who often has to dispatch suffering livestock, and who is likely to find himself deep in doo-doo fifty yards from his cruiser and the model 700.

Christmas presents for said heir always include a 1,000 rounds of .45 handloads, with plated 230 grainers at 900 fps. The brass is back in a month. And he's always asking if I want to go in with him and his buddies on a case of white box.

It's his life on the line, the future of his wife and kids, the chance of letting a fellow officer down, the sheer, sloppy unprofessionalness of not practicing, practicing, practicing.

I make my bread by designing and manufacturing guns. I've learned something about them in fourty years of carrying them or making them for a living.

Hydrostatic shock isn't a big factor below 2,000 feet per second, and none of the Wizzbangs get there in a reasonable sized (40 ounce or less) duty weapon.

If you're using a handgun in a defense situation, you're trying to screw the largest possible hole through a critical part of the badguy's anatomy, with a projectile heavy enough to penetrate well.
The lower velocity British Adams and Webley .455 rounds proved just as effective in the Phillipines at stopping drugged up Moros as the higher velocity .45 Long Colt, and I'll bet the recovery time between shots was far superior. They sure as hell reloaded faster.

Talk about your basic "Zombiepocalypse" scenario. How come in the movies the Z's are never carriying long two handed swords?

staghounds said...

And as Col. Cooper said, "No one wants to get shot, even by a .25".

And, "Owning a violin does not make one a musician".

I think we talk way too much about stopping power, and not stopping INTENT.

A lot of the magic gun conversation seems to be an avoidance of thinking about and preparing to take our defence upon ourselves.

"My gun can handle it" is only a couple of steps away from the antis' idea, to let the police handle it.

Verification word, FOOKERED

ExurbanKevin said...

Chris,

I've been to Bible school, I've been on the mission field, and I work at a Christian non-profit. I've trusted Christ for most of my life, but I also carry.

No one has the right to permanently take me away from my loved ones without my permission. My goods, my possessions, my life (when I choose) are forfeit, but God has tasked me with raising my family and watching over them, and if that means defending them with lethal force, so be it.

It sounds like you're working out a lot of this by yourself, but I'd like to point you in the direction of Augustine of Hippo and his theory of a "just war". What St. Augustine wrote about in the abstract (when is violence necessary?) can also be applied in the personal.

Good luck, God Bless and may you never lose track of the front sight. :)

Terry North said...

A few notes,

Although "stopping power" is second to shot placement, as the FBI learned in Miami in 1986, penetration does matter. I carry quality JHP's in 9mm, but FMJ in .32. If you carry, you might want to take the FBI's recommendations into account and carry a round that gets at least 12 inches of penetration reliably.

Ed Foster:

Hydrostatic shock isn't a big factor below 2,000 feet per second, and none of the Wizzbangs get there in a reasonable sized (40 ounce or less) duty weapon.

Le Mas makes a bullet that's supposed to go over 2000 fps. Personally, though, I wouldn't carry it, even if it were available. Frangible ammo has never seemed to work well in the past (except when engaging steel poppers).

Ed Foster said...

Terry: I followed the hyper link, and have more than a few reservations. As did the specially worded blurb.
"Reported" is a weasel word I've seen too often, and it's usually reported by the firm doing the manufacturing.
People have been making light weight, high speed bullets since the '30's by using zinc alloys (Thompson bullet, Zamak slug, etc.), and it all seemed like a good idea at the time. But, that light, fat bullet loses energy much faster when it hits something, and has less penetration than the book says it should. Also, as you mentioned, frangible sounds good, but usually falls flat in either penetration or transmission of energy.
Brittle more accurately describes any of the zinc alloys.
Some people want me to play around with a .22 Hornet case necked to .17 caliber and blown out to a sharp shoulder. Again, nothing new, Lyle Kilbourn did it back in the late '40's and called it the .17 K Hornet.
But these folks turned the rim off and cut an extractor groove, meaning you can pack 50 shots into a reasonable length magazine.
3,400 fps from a 12 inch barrel, with a needle tipped 22 gr. solid bronze projo designed specifically to slide through level III plus armor, now that I can see working, and I have a few preliminary sketches worked up for a holsterable police weapon that would carry well.
But again the trade-off. A small hole is better than no hole, but the amount of energy transmitted is miniscule.
I was nailed years ago by a fencing foil that snapped off it's button, and didn't notice the puncture wound until the end of the match. Adrenalin does funny things.
Physics is a constant, and sectional density times energy is it's most accurate expression.
At San Juan Hill, American soldiers were hit repeatedly with 7mm Mauser fire, fell down from the shock of being wounded, then picked themselves up again if the bullet hadn't punctured sonething important.
A 175 grain full jacketed bullet at 2,000 fps would drill right through, making a small diameter hole in passage, then wasting almost all it's energy on the scenery behind.
I'm told by ballistics boys that 2,300 fps is about where rifle bullets start showing serious hydrostatic shock (think 30-30). God knows the 1,900 fps M-1 Carbine had an embarrasing lack of "stopping power" unless, like Audie Murphy, you shot all your Nazis in the head.
With a wider pistol bullet at similar velocities and weights, presumably with a NATO style 40 degree truncated cone for a nose, I really don't know where the sweet spot would be.
Again, I'd probably go with the empiricle, and posit that anything putting out much over 400 foot pounds of energy has too much recoil for the average shooter to handle well in a reasonable duty weapon.
I would tell the potential shooter he has a choice in how to deliver that 400 fpe. The first choice is a skinny .35 caliber bullet moving faster, with better penetration and flatter trajectory, perhaps the ideal submachinegun round, where multiple hits are common.
The second choice is a .45 or .50 caliber round, with the ability (sectional density) of passing more of it's energy into a target, but with less penetration.
Choice three is a compromise in both velocity and caliber, falling in between the two extremes. But I think if we are serious about practical accuracy, the 400 to perhaps 450 foot pounds of energy is a needed upper limit, and the larger diameter bullets have an enourmous advantage at close range and in low light conditions if body armor is not a consideration.

Anonymous said...

There's a post I read, and really enjoyed several years back by a fella calling himself (humerously enough) "Deadmeat2" over at the S&W forums.

He was a state medical examiner in a big city, who claimed to do around 8 or so autopsies a day on average.

He also claimed to have seen hundreds, if not thousands, of homicide victims come across his slab over the course of his lifetime working as an examiner.

And of those homicide victims, he talked a bit about what he'd seen, where ballistics gelatin doesn't necessarily equal "real world" results, and how bullets can do funny things when they hit bone or various pockets of lesser or greater resistance within tissue.

He also talked about the gunshot victims he'd autopsied, with the caveat that he generally get to see the ones who survived the encounter.

I enjoyed the read so much I copied and pasted it over onto crater-outdoors in their ballistics section.

Basically - "Deadmeat2" wasn't there to debate stopping power, he didn't care about calibers of choice, or ammunition, or any number of things shootist-type folks like to discuss ad-nauseum.

What Deadmeat2 did discuss was of the folks he'd seen on the examination slab, -of handgun rounds - his opinion was a .45 acp, 230 grain bullet made folks dead with a single well placed hit more often than any other handgun caliber he'd run across. But he also mentioned the caveat that he didn't see a lot of the more exotic stuff because the gang-members and overwhelming majority of folks generally stick with the more mundane rounds like .45, .40, .9mm, etc.

It was a neat read.

What I find interesting here, and why I mention it, is in his dissertation on the subject - the medical examiner who did lots of autopsies on real bodies every day ... his advice basically sounded a lot like what the poster "Ed Foster" has been saying - almost lock step.

Deadmeat did mention a 12 gauge shotgun, or rifle, (in that order) were both a VASTLY better choice for stopping power vs. a handgun - any handgun. But that if one HAD to use a handgun for self-defense, use one of reasonable speed, that makes a big hole, and has enough lead in it to keep plodding along through whatever clothes or bone it runs into.

Anonymous said...

Oops:

This paragraph (above)

He also talked about the gunshot victims he'd autopsied, with the caveat that he generally get to see the ones who survived the encounter.

Should read:

with the caveat the he generally DIDN'T get to see the ones who survived.

be603 said...

Grandpa tol' me it used to be a .32 could kill a man. /heh

MrSpkr said...

Amen, LawDog. That's why my sons and I are joining a gun range club, and intend to spend several days a month at the range to hone our skills.

Because you never need to shoot straight UNTIL your life depends on it -- and then, you don't get second chances.

tom said...

I was lucky to become friends with the late Ray Chapman of Chapman stance fame, as he was a neighbor and became a good friend.

He remembers when IPSC was talking about "major" and "minor" power factors and Jack Weaver liked to shoot his .38s and opined "What difference does it make what power factor it is if I'm going to shoot him in the eye?"

True story, Col. Jeff was at that meeting too and he didn't really have a problem with the logic either. Was back before IPSC, PPC, and later IDPA became battles for non-carry guns, as much as anything else.

Ray, being a fan of 1911s spoke of my double stack .45ACPs (and truthfully the single stacks get carried and shot more often) "If you need more than seven or eight you should be f%$c(N# running and looking for cover, not standing there shooting.

Regards from Central Texas and thanks for the words over the years,
tom

gingerporter said...

My husband sent me here to read this. He has been getting concerned about the way things are going and wanted me to carry more. I didn't feel comfortable due to my lack of proficiency. He is remedying that by taking me out every weekend to practice. I linked this to my blog because of my Valentines present.Thanks!!

Oblio13 said...

Chris, you're scaring me.

James Foy said...

I'll be linking to this, it's well said.