Caliber failure, or user failure?
Over many years of being a part of the gun culture in this great land, and having read and studied many articles written on the subjects such as shot placement, stopping power, caliber wars, and statistics, I have come to some conclusions, as many of you may have, about self defense.
Now, to properly define self defense, let's proceed with the idea that it is to simply stop an attack on your self and either kill the attacker as a result of self defense, or stop the attack until you can make an ecscape from said attack.
Much has been done in the way of research on caliber, bullet design, shot placement, ect over the years, with research ranging from field analysis to lab testing, and still people disagree as to proper caliber.
Many times this arguement raises it's head when discussing sub calibers such as 25,32,380 or even rimfires for self defense. The general consensus is that these calibers are not powerful enough for serious work, yet everyone agrees they are better than throwing rocks. And, at one time or another, those of us who like and swear by big calibers will carry them from time to time, due to circumstances that fit our requirements that a large gun cannot meet at the time.
With this in mind, we have to be willing to accept their limitations and be able to employ them in a manner where they WILL be effective. We must accept and understand the compromise they offer, and use it effectively within these limits.
If we choose to stand and fight an armed attacker with a 22 caliber, and expect one or two well placed shots to center mass to be as effectective as a double tap from a large caliber , we are not thinking correctly. We must be willing to accept the facts here. The 22 will do the job, but we must be willing to shoot and move, go for head shots, neck shots , and get the hell out of dodge as soon as possible.
When carrying what we know is a compromise, to make it work, we must be able to understand it's limits and adapt accordingly.
There has been much documentation of failures to stop by 38,9mm,45, and even 44mags. But I cannot buy into the failure of the caliber thing. A bullet has no mind of it's own. It simply goes where aimed, and destroys what it makes contact with. Many times the so called failure involves error on the shooters part, or, just circumstances that noone can forsee or control.
Can you stack the odds by a bigger caliber? To a degree yes. Will it always work? No.
Sub calibers, when chosen for whatever reason, must be used according to the compromise they bring to the table. If you do not keep this in mind, and are ready to employee it effectively, it is the users failure, not the caliber.
Carry the bigest caliber controllable.
Despite all the arguments and studies and claims, two factors exist that must occur in order to stop an attacker.
The shot must be delivered to a suitable part of the anatomy of the attacker, AND, the shot must deliver enough of a wound to prevent a further attack.
A larger caliber bullet increases the likelihood of causing damage enough to stop the attack. A larger caliber bullet will not replace the need for marksmanship; but marksmanship will not remove the need for a serious blow.
Most of the 'failures to stop' listed in news accounts are user failures; "... forty-one shots fired resulting in nineteen hits..." and so forth. Accessing the effectiveness of various handgun cartridges is a difficult task as the mechanics and injuries sustained in a typical gunfight are pretty chaotic.
Sometimes, it's just a bad day. In the Miami shootout, the first shot fired by an FBI agent killed Plante. However, Plante didn't die for several minutes and killed a couple agents and wounded several others in the meanwhile.