"Stopping Power" article
1.-Terms like "stopping power" are arbitrary. Nobody does
ballistic "stopping power" ratings.
2.-IMHO, you really need to shoot solid targets at a private range,
to get more conversant about "stopping power".
Also, the knowledge you develop while reloading, from the manuals,
I can speak to penetration of 9mm, 45ACP, and 44 Magnum in
tests shooting "OTP", (other than paper) but I'm a poor boy
and can't afford the extra calibers, like .25,.32, .38, .357, 10mm, and
What I have found from the limited tests I have done, is the 9mm
has been around so long, because it gets the job done.
The .45 has woefully poor penetration, by comparison, but it appears
to be "powerful" enough to penetrate a body, and spend it's
terminal energy in the body cavity, which appears to be more of
a psychological stop; the attacker isn't literally "knocked down"
but pain, and perceived inability to continue attacking give it
an apparent "stay down" value.
The penetration of the larger pistol calibers, while they don't come
close to rivaling a true rifle round, are still a eye-opener.
The .44 Magnum literally has 4 to 6 times the penetration force of the
slower .45, in my penetration tests.
But this is all stuff you need to try for yourself. With your
pistols, your ballistic test media, at your private range.
placement is the key, but I agree the 9mm will do the Job and has.:D
"Stopping power" is more dependent upon shot placement than it is upon the size and shape of the bullet used. Some of the calibers that are ridiculed by big-bore enthusiasts can kill ("stop") as well as the big macho calibers. Just as one example, it took the ever-(un)popular Curtis Reeves one shot with his subcompact .380 to kill the dastardly texter who disturbed his enjoyment of the movie previews. A typical Mafia execution would be done by a single .22 short round to the back of the head.
And it only took one 9MM to save the life of George Zimmerman.
Still, no handgun is going to have the knockdown of a high velocity rifle round.
True stopping power would be the ability to stop myself before wading into this confusing subject . No such luck !
Some points worth considering :
1. Years of research by Evan Marshall went out the window after being debunked by writers who found errors of math and methodology .
2. The government spent millions of dollars ( Surprised ? ) and ended up rating the .22 LR superior to the .45 ACP - because they factored in people's ability to shoot the various cartridges accurately . So the Relative Incapacitation Index went out the window .
3. Jeff Cooper quoted Herbert McBride as writing in his book, A Rifleman Went To War, that the 9mm failed to stop but the .45 was dependable . The problem this time is that I've read the book and there is no such statement in it .
And even if McBride had written that in WWI, he'd have been talking about ball ammo ; Massad Ayoob writes that 9mm is far more effective with modern hollow points .
Another shakey Jeff Cooper claim is that Sergeant York stopped a squad bayonet charge with a .45 . I read a detailed account in a WWI history book that seems more believable : That York shot five of the Germans with his Enfield rifle while keeping his .45 at the ready, hanging by its trigger guard from his little finger . When the Enfield went dry, York flipped the .45 up and shot the last German at close range .
4. A textbook called The Pathology of Homicide , said velocity is the key to lethality but did not discuss stopping power . Alex Jason's video, " Deadly Weapons " discounts the importance of velocity in pistol stopping power , saying that a .45 beats a 9mm because a bigger hole means more chance of hitting something vital and more damage . Sounds reasonable, but how often does that slight difference in diameter make a difference in the real world ?
It may be that most stops are psychological and that someone who will stop for a .45 will also stop for a 9mm .
5. Fairbairn and Sykes, according to their book, Shooting to Live, held a ballistic shield while various calibers were fired at it but only succeeded in proving the efficacy of the shield .
6. The old Thompson Legarde tests were not very scientific but Julian Hatcher's tables, derived from them, seem valid ----but might not translate into real world stopping power differences .
7. The Moros in the Phillipines wouldn't stop after being hit with the .38 Colt Army cartridge but they weren't stopped by the Krag rifle either .
It may be that sometimes a bullet stops someone by shutting down the central nervous system by hitting the brain or spinal column but that must be rare because those areas are small and protected . It may be that a shock effect disrupts the central nervous sytem remotely in some cases .
Temporary cavitation ? Permanent cavitation ? Bullet expansion ? Penetration ? Designer bullets with sharp cutting points ? Velocity ? Caliber ? Who knows ?
I just read Marcus Luttrell's Lone Survivor, which tells the story of 4 Navy SEALs who were wounded with rifles but continued to put effective fire on the enemy . If these men could function with multiple rifle wounds, what is the likelihood that a single pistol bullet will stop a determined individual ? BTW- The book's action starts about halfway through the book ; Much of the first half is run-of-the-mill war memoir stuff detailing Luttrell's upbringing and rigorous training . The book would be better if a professional writer had not helped write it .
Part of the myth about the .45 ACP and it's "stomping power" (spelling intentional) came from peacetime service men in the late '40s and the late '50s who never shot anything with their 1911's except paper targets. And from the drill instructors who told them what a badass weapon it was.
I recently was at a local shooting range pokin' holes in some paper with one of my .45's, and an old guy came up to me and asked me what caliber my gun was. I told him .45 auto, and his eyes got really big and he said, "Man, them thar thaings kick like a mule".
I just smiled. The recoil I was feeling was pretty much nonexistent. I don't know how people get that impression.
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