Most Lethal Handgun Round

Discussion in 'General Handgun Discussion' started by User1953, Jul 27, 2007.

  1. User1953

    User1953 Guest

    What is the most lethal handgun round out of the following in your opinion (or if you can prove it with facts thats better?)

    41 mag
    44 mag
  2. BLS33

    BLS33 New Member Supporter

    A slower moving large projectile does more damage then a faster moving small projectile. So it makes sense to infer that the larger the bullet the more lethal it will be especially since the velocities will be relatively close. There is a variable which vastly affects this logic however. Different types of bullets are designed to expand and increase the cross section at a greater rate, a good example of this is a hollow point. There are all sorts of different bullet types which can increase or decrease lethality. For the most lethal I will go with the .500 S&W Magnum, high velocity and large projectile, the best of both worlds.

  3. shipwreck

    shipwreck Member

    I'd probasbly say the 500 S&W too.

    However, shot placement counts for more I think - although, that round is so devastating, it would hurt U no matter where U got hit I think.
  4. BLS33

    BLS33 New Member Supporter

    You are right. Shot placement is key when using lethal force, you can have the most advantageous handgun with the most velocity and size but if you don't hit in the right spot you are still in trouble.
  5. Jay

    Jay New Member

    This question will be debated until there is no more ammunition.

    All of us have been exposed to the varying theories regarding which type of handgun bullet is best for defensive purposes. Some proponents (Dr. Julian Hatcher) believe that "bigger is better" while the National Institute of Justice performed a "computer man" study a number of years ago which suggested that light and fast bullets achieved the most lethal results.

    As more and more data becomes available, theories change. Evan Marshall wrote definitive studies in 1992, 1996 and 2000 after examining the results of thousands of actual shootings. His conclusions came as a result of actual shootings and not from firing bullets into wet newspaper, gelatin or some other artificial medium.

    His data is based on "one shot stops". This is defined as: 1. a single hit to anywhere on the body not counting the head, neck or extremity shot: 2. when a subject stops shooting or striking blows if that was what he was doing and 3. runs no more than 10 feet before collapsing. In other words, Marshall’s studies examine what happens in the first few seconds after a shooting.

    In the past decade, major advances have been made in bullet design which adds to the lethality of the projectile. Every major US bullet manufacturer has their own proprietary projective which they claim is best for the job at hand. New calibers such as the 357 SIG have appeared on the scene while more data has been accumulated on relatively new bullets such as the 40 Smith & Wesson. Marshall’s newest study takes these events into consideration.

    32 ACP - Most of the smaller caliber firearms such as this caliber and the .380 ACP are carried as "back-up" guns by law enforcement thus the increase in data from actual police shootings. The CorBon 62 gr. JHP round was involved in 17 shootings with 11 one shot stops which achieved a 65% rating followed closely by the Winchester 60 grain Silvertip which was fired 162 times and caused 104 stops for a 64% rating. The Federal 65 grain Hydra-Shok and the CCI 60 grain Gold Dot achieved one shot stops 63% and 60% of the time.

    380 ACP - The top rounds in this category were the Federal 90 grain Hydra-Shok and the CorBon 90 grain JHP+P which both rated a 70% one shot stop rating. While Federal 90 grain FMJ ammo was used in a whopping 245 shootings, it only achieved 55% one shot stops.

    38 Special - With the introduction of semi-auto pistols, this caliber was relegated to secondary status. This data is from 2 and 3 inch revolvers which limit muzzle velocity & therefore results are less than other comparable calibers. Both the Winchester and Federal 158 grain LHP+P offerings were involved in 158 shootings with the Winchester round making 121 single shot stops for a 68% rating and the Federal loading making 120 one shot stops for a 67% rating. Most all of the 16 loadings examined fell in the 60 percent range with the Federal 125 grain Nyclad LHP+P round earning a 61% rating. It’s clear than the long-used 158 grain lead hollowpoint pushed to +P pressures is the best round for this caliber.

    357 Magnum - Once the king of law enforcement handguns, this caliber has also been replaced by large capacity auto-pistols. The data collected for this caliber came from 2 and 3 inch revolvers, not the longer barreled type. The top round was the Remington 124 grain JHP followed by the same loading by Federal. Both loads achieved a 91% one hit stop rating. Most other loads ranked in the 80% area with the Federal 158 grain Hydra-Shok achieving a 78% rating.

    357 SIG - This is the most current law enforcement cartridge and therefore, shooting data is limited. The top rated cartridges were the Remington and Federal 125 grain JHPs. Both were rated at 91% one shot stops. Of the 9 loads evaluated, the poorest was the Federal 158 grain Hydra-Shok which was involved in 41 shootings with 32 one shot stops for a 78% rating.

    9mm - This was the first semiauto pistol to be used extensively by police agencies and replaced the 38 Special and 357 Magnum round. Early loadings of the 147 grain round caused major stopping problems however current 147 grain designs are vastly superior. Clearly the best 9mm loads are those driven to +P+ pressures. Of the 20 loadings evaluated, the top load was the Federal 115 grain JHP +P+ involved in 209 shootings with 190 one shot stops for a 91% rating. The Winchester 115 grain JHP +P+ and 127 grain Ranger SXT +P+ both had 90% one shot stops. All five loads driven to +P+ pressures ranked in the top 5 followed by all bullets loaded to +P pressures. Rounds manufactured to standard pressure ratings comprised the bottom 12 loadings in the study.

    40 S&W - This caliber has become extremely popular with law enforcement agencies due to the perceived deficiencies of the 9mm round. All manufacturers have at least 2 loadings of this caliber and it has served very well. The Remington 165 grain Golden Saber was used in 311 shootings and made 292 one shot stops for a 94% rating followed closely by the CCI 165 and 155 grain loadings and the Federal 155 grain Hydra-Shok bullet. These 3 loads made 93% one shot stops. Other manufacturers loads in the 90% range were the Federal 155 grain JHP and the CorBon 135 and 150 grain JHP bullets. Thirteen other loadings were evaluated with the poorest being the Winchester 180 grain FMJ that was involved in 134 encounters and made 95 (71%) one shot stops.

    45 ACP - This caliber has been around for almost 100 years and is still the top rated round. More police agencies are using this round due to its proven stopping ability. The large diameter, heavy bullet is the basis for the "momentum" theory of stopping power however actual results in shootings show a mix of "light and fast" and "slow and heavy" rounds. The Remington 185 grain Golden Saber was involved in 148 shootings and caused 142 one shot stops for a 96% rating followed closely by the Federal 230 grain Hydra-Shok which caused 200 one shot stops in 211 shootings for a 95% rating. Eight of the 16 loadings examined rated above 90% one shot stops while 5 others rated in the 80s. The poorest stoppers were the Remington, Federal and Winchester 230 grain FMJ rounds which achieved 62% one shot stops.

    It’s difficult to say that one type of bullet is best for all calibers and, in fact, these study results show that the best results come from a mix of heavy to light bullets which defy most theories. It is clear however that some loadings are much better than others and the decision is ours with respect to which we choose.
  6. FALPhil

    FALPhil Member

    I don't think that "one shot stops" is a valid way of interpreting cartridge lethality for two reasons:

    1. Most of the data used with this methodology is from police shootings. The criteria, that the perp ceases and desists activity, does not necessarily mean that the perp is incapacitated, it merely means that the perp was quiesced. It could be something as inconsequential as crease across the bicep, but it still counts as a stop, if the perp stops.

    2. Most of the data used with this methodology is from police shootings, and police are notoriously poor shots. There was a local case recently where two DEA agents expended over 40 rounds in a Waffle House parking lot without a hit. Let's say that in the 9mm Para statistic, there were 10% light flesh wounds and the perps were not quiesced. This figures into the statistic. But if you took that 10% out, what would the incapacitation index be?

    I am still looking for a methodology that makes sense. Until I do, I will probably continue to use the "large diameter" approach.
  7. JoeLee

    JoeLee Guest

    All of the above will kill a man,fact.
  8. ranger_sxt

    ranger_sxt New Member

    .22 lr

    Statistically, it has the most kills to it's name.
  9. robocop10mm

    robocop10mm Lifetime Supporting Member Lifetime Supporter


    I believe the .25 acp out of the Raven MP-25 has top honors. Lots and lots of shootings.
  10. pioneer461

    pioneer461 New Member

    Most lethal

    You're kidding, right? The Raven .25 is favored by pimps, drugies and hookers. I've been to many homicide scenes where the dead guy had a Raven near-by, most with a jammed action. Yeah, every once in a while there is a fatality, but for the most part they are useless self defense rounds. The old saying is; "If you shoot someone with one of those, and if they find out about it, they're really gonna be pissed off."
  11. cnorman18

    cnorman18 New Member

    Thanks for all the good info. The initial poster was asking the wrong question, of course; lethality is not the issue, but stopping power. I think Marshall himself pointed out that more people have been KILLED by .22s than by any other caliber, but if the guy doesn't die for days or weeks, it doesn't really address the issue of defense.

    Personally, I think it's worth considering the tradeoff between power, weight, and concealability. I find a .45-70 revolver a bit inconvenient, though I suspect it would outclass everything listed in terms of sheer power. If that's your only issue, carry a 10-gauge shotgun. Good luck finding a holster...
  12. wowbagger

    wowbagger New Member

    Re: deadly round

    Hello, all of the listed are deadly. I think one point being missed is situation. As a former law enforcement officer I had the bad luck of encountering a practical application of this issue. I have always had the mantra " rather place well with a .22lr then miss with a .44. It is my opinion that the deadliest round is the one you can place well under high stress situations (training, training, and then more training). Yes, a S&W .50 is devastating, but not if you miss. The target reacquisition time for the above weapon is poor. My department used 1911's and so I became very skilled with it. I know from personal experience that it is a very deadly round, and used by many military and paramilitary organizations. As a backup I used a SIG .380. I like it for two main reasons, size and simplicity. In most situations, by the time one has to use the backup, the situation typically has not gone well. I did not need to worry about frills, just point and click. I also liked that the small recoil allowed my shaking hand (yes I'll admit it) to stay on target. Sorry that my reply is not totally on subject, but I find that data collected from a bench test does not mean much when a deadly force situation arises within 3 meters of you. Back in civilian life I carry a 15+1 S&W 9mm for two reasons : 1. I can't afford to buy anything else 2. I have used it so long I can hit the head of a dime with it.

    Thanks - Mark
  13. ninjatoth

    ninjatoth New Member

    in this order.500,454,44mag,41mag,10mm,357mag,45,40,9mm.But,availability for a long time and the number of deaths so far would probably make the .357,.45,or 9mm as most deadly.I will say .357 as most deadly,but the most death by a certain round is probably 9mm because those scum bags Nazis used that caliber in WW2
  14. c3shooter

    c3shooter Administrator Staff Member Admin Moderator Lifetime Supporter

    Well, there is lethal, stopped, and DRT (Dead Right There) Fast heavy bullets tend to produce all three. Yes, shot placement counts. What kills animals (including people) is shutting down the brain. I know of 2 ways that can happen- disrupting the brain (head shot, high spinal cord shot) or depriving the brain of blood (heart/lungs/ etc) Fast heavy bullets tend to cause greater injury to systems, causing those effects to have a quicker onset.

    Of course, there are the Uber caliber pistols- .460, .500s, etc, that are more suited to VERY large game and small vehicles. Wanta take it to the extreme? Try one of these loaded with a Dual Purpose Improved Conventional Munition round! Yep- a 40mm M-79 PISTOL.

  15. OC357

    OC357 New Member

    Out of those....all of them. But the most lethal one would be the one you can hit the target with. (proper shot placement is what matters)

    Just throw all the ballistics out the window because they don't mean anything if you don't hit the target. Don't go by caliber or ballistics. Go by what you can hit something with. So it doesn't matter which one of those you are using.

    Even the lowly .22 will kill you.

    Just my opinion.

  16. JohnnyLoco

    JohnnyLoco New Member

    I'll still take a 357 mag with 180gr meta , shotshell, or a 125gr HP any day of the week for most stuff I'll encounter.
  17. 7point62

    7point62 Lifetime Supporting Member Lifetime Supporter

    Your first two rounds doubletap to the face.
  18. hogger129

    hogger129 Guest

    Depends. Anything can be lethal if it is a hollowpoint or you get a good headshot. But just a regular old body hit, I'd say anything .45 or larger will take somebody down in one shot.
  19. cosmok

    cosmok New Member

    10mm has brutal stopping power and was ahead of its time 15-20 years ago.
  20. cpttango30

    cpttango30 New Member

    Why do noobs always have to drag up OLD DEAD threads.