This is a discussion on Stopping Power Of Ammunition within the Defensive Ammunition & Ballistics forums, part of the Defensive Carry Discussions category; Simply put: one hit with a .22 is better than 6 misses with a .45. No matter what you are shooting, it comes down to ...
Simply put: one hit with a .22 is better than 6 misses with a .45.
No matter what you are shooting, it comes down to two things: Shot placement and volume of fire.
I don't really believe in the "one shot" stopping power per caliber issue that many debate about. That said, I believe one shot can stop someone with proper shot placemeent, which as already been stated by many, somewhat regardless of caliber. By "somewhat" I mean if shot placement is right on then a small caliber is enough; but bigger is better in that the extra energy from larger calibers will contribute to the chance that one shot will stop an attack even if the shot is a little off "right on".
To answer your question though, IMO a .357 Magnum is at the top for a one shot stop from the list of guns that can carried easily.
10mm (challenges the easy carry ideal) and .357Sig are also very close to the energy one can get with a 357Mag.
This is not a smart#@! answer, but seriously if you want a handgun and one shot stops is what your going after, a 500 S&W Magnum is the king! 500 Magnum Corbon hunter ammo with better than 4 1/2times the energy from a .357Mag. You can get a 2 1/2 inch barrel on the S&W 500, The Bear Gun.
Regardless, do not train, practice, or expect to get a one shot stop, as there are too many variables to consider. Unless your CCDW is a 500 Mag, then yeah, pretty much one shot will do it no matter where ya hit'em, as long as you hit them. If your packing a 500, get a good lawyer because this might raise some questions in a shooting
about "over kill".
This always a enteresting question/debate and all my response is IMO.
Cliche ahead warning-"anything is better than nothing" and "hit what you are aiming at" gets it done.
repeat after me," The only perfect bullet is the one that you practice with" By practicing rapid fire it will improve your follow up shots. But placement UNDER STRESS is what will save your life, people have been know to be put down by a 22LR. Placement, placement, placement
“Those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom must, like men, undergo the fatigue of supporting it.” Thomas Paine
"He who is prudent and lies in wait for an enemy who is not, will be victorious". Sun Tzu
I want to thank everyone for the advice offered.
It's a straightforward exercise to comparatively test a variety of firearms, ammunition and target media (ie, ballistic gelatin blocks, denim-encased chopped+pressed hams, and so on), as to primary characteristics: barrel length, pressures developed, muzzle speed & energy, at-target speed & energy, depth & volume of the wound cavity, etc. That assumes all else is held constant. Works very well.
The variables will always be: type of actual target, the angle of the target to the shooter (ie, did the perp turn away at the moment of the shot), the clothing on the target (which varies), the placement of the bullet on the target, the specific ammo/barrel used (in terms of terminal ballistics). Every perp doesn't shop at Macy's, and no shooters' skills and ammo/gun selections are exactly the same.
Controlling for the shooter, ammunition, barrel, wind, and target composition, the actual results of a given shooting will tend to approximate the test results, on average. This assumes proper testing of simulated circumstances that approximate reality. Many would argue that ballstic gel blocks don't come close to reality. As would I. However, a variety of test media would show the varying performance of a given load across situations as compared to others under the same circumstances. That's the beauty of a scientific approach. If done properly, it is indeed a fair representation of the likelihood of seeing similar results in actual situations. (As is obvious, though, likelihood and certainty are different.) That said, the "tests" we've seen are woefully deficient, given that they don't go very far in terms of varying the conditions. For example, many (most?) tests simply use blocks of gel and call it "good."
In reality, shooter "A" might have a Glock 19 with Winchester Silvertips in 124gr 9mm and be a marksman, while shooter "B" might be a 1911 guy with pie-plate accuracy and 230gr ball 45ACP, and the target criminals will vary as to clothing, density of their bodies, location and angle where the bullet struck, etc. In practice, how to gauge comparative results? Almost impossible. IMO, it's this simple reality that causes the endless debates.
It'll always come down to one thing, though, and it's something that you cannot know: what will be enough against the specific target that you're facing at the moment? Dunno. But it's nice to know that, comparatively speaking, a given ammo/gun combination held up well or poorly in controlled testing. At least that provides a yardstick against which to measure one's personal ammo/gun selection.
Doubt it? Look to any controlled testing ever done and consider the power of prediction from those simple tests. Works well, for comparing automobile performance and likelihood of outperforming a given car on a track; for determining the relative performance of a given tennis ball versus others; for determining the useful life (in MTBF hours) of a spring; and, countless other things. Assuming, of course, a controlled experiment was done that incorporated the relevant variables.
Me? I'm happy enough with the mix of characteristics provided by: a high-cap 9mm, good controllability, good repeat shot placement, performance of the round in actual shootings, excellent availability, good selection, low cost. I tend to value the ergonomic aspects far more than simple would ballistics. Can't shoot most other calibers better. Haven't found a better mix of traits.
Which is best? Under what circumstances, at what point of impact, against what type/density of target, etc.? Depends.
You can check out some of the various 10mm ammo that doubletap sells.
I would like to get a 10mm for a woods gun with this load.
You can see a table of "one shot stopping power" at http://www.alpharubicon.com/leo/calloadgoshin.htm
What it told me is that .40 S&W is so close to .45 ACP in actual performance that I would prefer to carry the smaller .40 and more of it in the same size frame.
9 mm is a fine defensive caliber but you should plan on using multiple shots. With anything less than 9 mm, there are compromises made in stopping power in the name of concealability and controllability of the gun.
You could have an bottomless magazine filled with thermo-nuclear tipped hollowpoints and it still wouldn't matter if you can't hit SQUAT with 'em!
Why Ike, whatever do you mean? Maybe poker's just not your game Ike. I know! Let's have a spelling contest!
Proverbs 27:12 says: “The prudent see danger and take refuge, but the simple keep going and suffer for it.”
Certified Glock Armorer
NRA Life Member
I'm glad to see the large number of very reasonable answers to this question.
Let's state, for the record, one thing which ought to be held to be incontrovertible, but isn't (for one reason or another): There is very little difference in performance in living beings between various service-pistol cartridges. What little differences do exist are, at best, academic.
Please read that carefully, before coming back with some argument about 10mm in comparison to .380ACP.
We can hypothesize based on performance in jello, rehashing of "fishing stories" (including those told by a Colonel in Arizona and taken as gospel by altogether too many people), mathematical calculations, and hare-brained conjecture; but these are mere hypotheses. They're theories.
Common sense (and experience) tells us that whether you're shot with a .38 or with a .45, you're just as dead if it hits some parts of you, and not dead if it hits other parts of you. Under the conditions under which one would actually use them, they're too comparable to distinguish one over others.
The brainstem and central nervous system are pretty well protected by being encased in bone. If we want to kill someone, we need to penetrate this bone, which is surprisingly good at resisting or deflecting handgun bullets. How do we increase the chances of shattering through the bone and damaging the central nervous system? Basic physics: increase mass, increase velocity or both. That means that not all service handgun rounds are created equal, and makes the choice of caliber important.
So what about the blood supply? Well we've got to put a hole in the heart or major artery and we've got to get the blood out. Penetration is still important (major arteries tend to be buried in the middle of the body) but not as important as a brainstem/central nervous system shot. We've also got to make a big enough hole that the BG will bleed out quickly. It doesn't matter if he's going to die in five minutes if he kills me in the next 30 seconds, so we want to make bigger holes. So how do we increase the chances of hitting a major artery and creating a large hole? Basic geometry: a bullet with a larger frontal area is going to carve up a bigger hole going through the bad guy, making it more likely that it will hit a major artery and more likely that it will rip a big hole in the artery. Again, not all service handgun rounds are created equal, making the choice of caliber important.
To stop a bad guy you do need to hit the right parts, but "common sense" indicates that some calibers are going to be more likely to hit those parts than others.