I was a member of the Joint Service Wound Ballistic Integrated Product Team, the U.S. government study that gathered numerous experts from a variety of disciplines, including military and law enforcement end-users, trauma surgeons, aero ballisticians, weapon and munitions engineers, and other scientific specialists to conduct a 4 year, 6 million dollar study to determine what terminal performance assessment best reflected the actual findings noted in OCONUS combat the past few years. Courtney's "hydrostatic shock" was NOT found to be a valid or relevant factor. Likewise, I work at a large Level I trauma center and get to treat people who are shot in the face and jaws--guess what, NO remote CNS or other "hydrostatic shock" effects of the type Courtney espouses have occurred in ANY of these patients.
Currently I am qualified on .45 ACP 1911 and 9 mm Glock; if I ever go back to LE Patrol duties, I'll likely carry a .40 S&W M&P. I don't really care that much about which one I am issued, as ALL the handgun service calibers work similarly.
During the early to mid 1980’s, like many people, I was duped by articles singing the praises of the .357 Mag 125 gr JHP. I carried a 4” 686 and a customized 3” M13 loaded with Fed 125 gr JHP. However, after going on active military duty and being in a position to test ammunition at the Letterman Army Institute of Research with Dr. Fackler, it became obvious that the .357 Magnum 125 gr JHP’s tended to have relatively shallow penetration, frequently fragmented with resultant decrease in permanent crush cavity, and had temporary cavities of insufficient size to contribute significantly to wounding. In addition, these loads had a large muzzle flash and blast, as well as a relatively harsh recoil which inhibited accuracy and re-engagement speed. As the FBI established a science based ammunition testing program, their research data also showed less than stellar performance from the lightweight .357 Mag loadings, including the 125 gr JHP’s. For those individuals who doubt evidence based research and prefer “street results”, the CHP, the largest agency to issue .357 Mag 125 gr JHP’s on the West Coast, clearly reports significantly better results in their officer involved shootings since switching to .40 S&W 180 gr JHP loadings, based on officer perception, objective crime scene measurements, as well as the physiological damage described in the relevant autopsy studies. The CHP used a variety of .357 Mag loads, depending upon what was available via the state contract. According to the published CHP test data from 1989-90, the .357 Magnum load used immediately prior to the CHP transition to .40 S&W was the Remington 125 gr JHP with an ave. MV of 1450 f/s from their duty revolvers. I first saw the data when it was presented during a wound ballistic conference I attended at the CHP Academy in the early 1990's; I heard it discussed again at a CHP Officer Involved Shootings Investigation Team meeting in November of 1997 at Vallejo, CA. The information reviewed the differences in ammunition terminal performance such as penetration depth, recovered bullet characteristics, tissue damage and other physiological measurements and physical evidence detailed during forensic analysis.