Thursday, November 14, 2013

Question on stopping power‏

Relative to stopping power, if worst comes to worst, what are your thoughts re. a .40 or .45 vs. a 9mm hollow point? Would they have roughly the same stopping power, even though the latter is a smaller bullet (at least a the point of leaving the gun!)
Thanks, Jim

Hi Jim,
These days you have very well made JHP ammo. With quality hollow point ammo, shot placement is FAR more important than if hitting with a 9mm, .40 or .45.
9mm is usually the most reasonable choice because it allows you to shoot cheaper ammo for lots of practice, it is readily available anywhere where ammo is sold, guns that chamber 9mm have greater capacity and when loaded with premium ammo 9mm is enough to get the job done.

Now, as important as shot placement is, and it is the key factor, I wouldn’t really want to go for less than 9mm. Good 9mm JHP will work when putting enough rounds in the right place, but smaller rounds may fail to penetrate or do enough damage even with relatively good shot placement. Some people that don’t understand much about ballistics and haven’t done much research as of what to expect from each caliber think that as long as you put the round in the right place, that’s all that matters. Such people have told me they carry a 22LR because they will shoot to the head, and it doesn’t matter the caliber, a shot the head means you’re going down. Well… that’s not entirely correct. There are plenty of cases in which 22LR, and .32s failed to penetrate the skull, especially when impacting at an angle.

At the same time, and even if the difference is small, more power is usually preferred. While I would go for a 9mm as may first and only handgun, if I could get to choose I would rather carry something a bit more powerful, in my case 357 SIG or 40 S&W if I cant go for the SIG. Shot placement is still important, but experience tells us that with a bit more power, in average, you will have better one shot stop rates. Sure, handguns are all underpowered when compared to long arms, but 357 Magnum 125gr. JHP sure has better one shot stop rates than 9mm ball.

45ACP is a great round, but the difference is marginal when compared to premium .40 JHP ammo one shot stop rates, and you can have it in a smaller gun with more ammo capacity and less recoil.


Jose Garcia said...

This article settled it for me a long time ago. I still carry a 9mm for practical reasons, but my night stand gun is a 45. I'm not recoil sensitive, but I have never liked the snappiness of the 40 S&w.

Anonymous said...

All "stopping power" research is bullshit. All pistols suck at killing people compared to rifles. The choice of caliber and particularly bullet type is far, far less important than simply having a gun, a reliable gun, training with it so you can fire with it accurately, scoring a hit (the most important factor of all), hitting a vital spot (almost completely OUT of your control) and hoping that the attacker isn't hopped up on drugs or adrenalin and/or doesn't manage to kill you back in their few remaining minutes of life or activity.

The other thing is that one of the main reasons to choose hollow points isn't because of increased terminal ballistic effectiveness (there are no controlled studies in existence proving hollow points are deadlier or better at "stopping") but rather to prevent over-penetration and reduce the risk of accidentally shooting an innocent bystander behind the attacker.

All that being considered, 9mm is the smallest caliber to consistently meet the FBI standards. Choose a good quality JHP and worry about other things.

Anonymous said...

Shot placement is the key. I've seen people killed by a .22 and survive a .45. Shot placement is what you need to worry about.

Don Williams said...

I'm not really knowledgable or experienced on this subject , but some observations:

1) One of the US Military's requirements for their new Modular Handgun System is that the replacement for the Beretta 9mm must shoot a cartridge that makes a larger permanent wound channel than the NATO 9mm.

2) This based on multiple reports from Iraq and Afghanistan that the 9mm has inadequate stopping power. The NATO 9mm is full metal jacket, not hollow point but is +P.

Marine SOCOM has already gone back to the 45 ACP. I've seen reports that Delta Force uses 40 S&W but haven't been about to confirm.

3) A memoir by a Navy Seal indicated that while he used the Sig 226 w/ 9 mm when using the MP5 silenced machine gun
(probably due to ammo compatibility) he used a H&K in 45 ACP when he carried an M16 and that that was most of the time.

4) Civilians can use JHP and the 9mm in JHP may have better wounding ability than the military's 9mm FMJ
but tests show that hollow points often clog when going through heavy material (e.g, denim or leather jackets) -- at which point they become FMJ.

5) At the same time, it is hard for people with small to medium hands to hold double stacked 45 ACPs and the single stack 1911 only has 7 rounds.

That may have been adequate before body armor became common but it can take 3 to 4 rounds to deal with someone wearing body armor (two shots to pelvis plus 1 or 2 to the head). That's 12 rounds if you have 3 assailants.
You can see drills for this in the qualification courses for armed officers in the various US
federal departments.

6) Overall, the 40 S&W seems to hit the sweet spot between high number of rounds versus large permanent wound channel and penetration.

It will be interesting to see what the military chooses for MHS and why.
The Smith and Wesson M&P and the Glock 22 seem to be the leading candidates.

Anonymous said...

I would also add that 9mm has a softer recoil impulse and therefore follow up shots, or misses can be repeated faster than the larger recoil impulse rounds such as .40 and .45ACP.

Anonymous said...

Those in the military who matter have already made their choice. Delta Force use Glocks in .40, not only are they probably the best combat handgun shooters in the world, but they probably also have the most handgun related combat experience in the world.

Granted they are still forced to shoot FMJ's and not hollowpoints, considering that +P 9mm hollowpint ammo sounds ideal for civilians who aren't forced to carry FMJ.

Angel Alvarez said...

Full metal jacket truncated cone bullets is the way to go. Reason is the flat point tend to act as a cutter when hit flesh. The late 185 grain 45 ACP. used by Socom proved it.
Anonymous is correct, hitting the vital spot repeatedly is what count. And a gun/caliber combination that allows that. Guns are like shirts, they need to fit the shooters' hand.

Angel Alvarez said...

A quote, "Two North Carolina police officers while wearing body armor, were killed by a suspect using a .32 Cal revolver at close range. The suspect fired five shots during the fight striking each officer in the side of the head!. This determined attacker who was willing to take a headshot.!" The willingness is was count.