Caliber failure, or user failure?

Caliber failure, or user failure?

This is a discussion on Caliber failure, or user failure? within the Defensive Ammunition & Ballistics forums, part of the Defensive Carry Discussions category; 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 ...

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  1. #1
    VIP Member Array glockman10mm's Avatar
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    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.


  2. #2
    VIP Member Array SIGguy229's Avatar
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    User failure.....failure to properly place the shot...whether it's a .22, .380, 9mm, .45ACP or .50AE
    Magazine <> clip - know the difference

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  3. #3
    VIP Member Array rammerjammer's Avatar
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    Very true. Carry what you can or will and make each shot count.

  4. #4
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    You mean all that Hollywood stuff and a handgun bullet sending people flying ain't real? I am sooo thoroughly disappointed.
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    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.
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    Yes shot placement and caliber chosen are two major factors in stopping the BG from causing you harm. There is a third factor that Archie touched on that will determine how the situation ends and that is the suspects determination to live or to cause you harm.

    To me a firearms, handguns especially, are pain compliance tools on the upper end. We shoot, it causes them pain and or injury and they stop their aggression either by choice, they don't want to get shot anymore, or by sheer physical trauma. The human body of a determined individual can take tremendous amounts of pain with seemingly no ill effects. A trained individual can seem indestructible to pain inflicted and that is before any narcotics or illegal substances are introduced. Once you add the chemical pain killers the only option is to physically break the body so it can no longer cause you harm.

    We must train for the times when COM shots that "should" stop the BG don't. Sometimes the BG did not get the memo of statistics that he should be dead or dying after you shoot him.
    If you have fired COM and he keeps coming now is the time to fire into the pelvic girdle to mechanically break him and to put him to the ground. This does not mean the fight is over it simply means he now has to crawl to get to you. Is a wounded suspect on the ground still armed and able to fight any less of a threat? No they aren't but now is your chance to get away from the situation, if you can do so safely. If your abilities allow it head shots are pretty hard to recover from but are also difficult to make under stress so we must practice them until we can increase the odds of making the shot when needed.

    No matter what caliber or your marksmanship ability you have to consider that you may run into that one person who will take all you dish out and keep coming, you better train now for it.
    "A first rate man with a third rate gun is far better than the other way around". The gun is a tool, you are the craftsman that makes it work. There are those who say "if I had to do it, I could" yet they never go out and train to do it. Don't let stupid be your mindset. Harryball 2013

  7. #7
    Distinguished Member Array INccwchris's Avatar
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    this is when we get into triple taps and coup d'etat style shooting, the more rounds it takes to drop a threat, the more you have to dig yourself out legally, but like the saying goes, rather be judged by 12 than carried by 6
    "The value you put on the lost will be determined by the sacrifice you are willing to make to seek them until they are found."

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    As long as you can articulate that the threat was there in the first place and continued to be a threat even after you have engaged it makes no difference if you have to fire 1 or 21 rounds to end it.

    You engage the threat with force to stop the actions of the threat not to kill, wound, maim or anything else except to make them stop what they are doing to you by whatever means you have at your disposal be it knife, firearm, pen or your bare hands and do not quit that action until the threat is neutralized.
    "A first rate man with a third rate gun is far better than the other way around". The gun is a tool, you are the craftsman that makes it work. There are those who say "if I had to do it, I could" yet they never go out and train to do it. Don't let stupid be your mindset. Harryball 2013

  9. #9
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    Just a reminder of a related thread. We discussed at length, if there was any viable evidence that one caliber was advantageous over another. I even specified the calibers of interest in the opening post. In the many, many, many responses, other than the very contraversial Marshal and Sanow study, no one could offer any evidence that one caliber was more effective than another. But, that pertained to 'major' calibers.

    It is interesting that the reason I saw this thread is because I was just about to post a related thread regarding the significance of bullet expansion when I saw this thread. With regard to the subject of this thread, I think we have to address the questions: Is a hit that is poorly placed any more effective with a larger caliber than a smaller caliber and is a well placed hit more effective with a larger caliber than a smaller caliber?
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  10. #10
    VIP Member Array Cuda66's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tangle View Post
    Just a reminder of a related thread. We discussed at length, if there was any viable evidence that one caliber was advantageous over another. I even specified the calibers of interest in the opening post. In the many, many, many responses, other than the very contraversial Marshal and Sanow study, no one could offer any evidence that one caliber was more effective than another. But, that pertained to 'major' calibers.

    It is interesting that the reason I saw this thread is because I was just about to post a related thread regarding the significance of bullet expansion when I saw this thread. With regard to the subject of this thread, I think we have to address the questions: Is a hit that is poorly placed any more effective with a larger caliber than a smaller caliber and is a well placed hit more effective with a larger caliber than a smaller caliber?
    I would put forth that in either case, they would be close to equal...a well-placed shot is a well-placed shot, and while the larger caliber may--may--have an advantage here, it wouldn;t be a huge one. As for poorly placed...likely not.

    However, with a marginally placed shot, a larger caliber could make the difference between hitting something important and missing it.
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  11. #11
    VIP Member Array ctsketch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by INccwchris View Post
    this is when we get into triple taps and coup d'etat style shooting, the more rounds it takes to drop a threat, the more you have to dig yourself out legally, but like the saying goes, rather be judged by 12 than carried by 6
    Can work both ways, if you kill a man with one shot whats to stop the prosecution from saying you used KILLER BULLETS!!!!
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  12. #12
    RKM
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    I think caliber only REALLY matters when it comes to hunting. And I don't hunt, sooo whatever. You wouldn't try to take down a charging elephant with a .17 would you? You wouldn't use a 1oz slug on a chipmunk, would you? Well, the last one may be interesting, but I would never trust a 17 to stop an elephant.

    When it comes to the more intelligent, two legged creatures, the lighter calibers will work with good placement. Placement is the most important thing. But when it comes down to it, compare the extremes. .17 vs .50 BMG COM hits. In that case, yeah caliber matters. When comparing calibers that are comparable, like 9mm, .40 and .45 they're basically all the same. Differences are negligible. You have fast, small, light (9mm).... medium, medium, medium (.40).... and slow, big, heavy. All that would matter if the speed and sizes were drastically different, but they're not. When it comes down to it, is the 1100 fps vs 900 fps between 9mm and .45 REALLY that big of a difference? is that .10 of an inch REALLY that big of a difference?

    I've learned that once you start to GREATLY increase size or speed (either or), effectiveness will greatly improve. But 9mm, .40 and .45 aren't drastically different, when you compare calibers are ALL kinds.

    Just my opinion. My opinion may be crap. I'm no ballistics expert.
    Last edited by RKM; October 21st, 2010 at 11:07 PM.

  13. #13
    VIP Member Array Guantes's Avatar
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    While I also am not a ballisitcs expert, I am inclined to agree with this. I recall reading that some attributed the performance of the 357 mag to its level of velocity which was believed to have crossed some invisible line to increased effectiveness.
    "I do what I do." Cpl 'coach' Bowden, "Southern Comfort".

  14. #14
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    The .357 is incredible compared to its smaller brother the .38 that was used prior.

    For most other calibers putting out 350 ft lbs of energy or more, I would say that failures of the shooter are much more frequent than failures of caliber when used on people.
    Just remember that shot placement is much more important with what you carry than how big a bang you get with each trigger pull.
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