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I am very interested in what calibers and loads work and don't work. I'd love to hear your "War Stories" regarding your first hand knowledge on how well specific calibers and loads worked or didn't. Thanks to all !:bier:
You can leave names out of course.
 

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Any comprehensive list of gun incidents will reveal large calibers failing to stop and small calibers doing it in one shot. It's not about caliber (within reason), it's about shot placement. If I shoot a bad guy between the eyes with a 9mm, he will be just as dead as if I did it with .45. Considering all of the variables that one has to deal with in a shooting situation, the caliber of the gun should be pretty far down the list of priorities. There was just a story on the news about a guy who killed two people, one shot each with a .380. A story earlier this year had a guy getting shot an insane number of times with a .40 and living.

It's like real estate, location, location, location.
 

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At the end of the day it boils down to shot placement, as torgo1968 said.

The simple truth is that almost all handgun calibers simply poke holes in people. The only variables we can play with as far as handgun ammunition goes is controlling it's expansion, penetration, and accuracy after deflection. At the end of the day, they're just a hole poking round.

Rifle ammunition on the other hand is the real "bread and butter" when it comes to how well they work. Rather than just poke holes in a target, the rifle ammunition often absolutely tears up the target.

I'm sure this isn't exactly the type of reply you are looking for, but in a way it is. I hope you have a good day, and remember to practice often.
 

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Shot placement is King. Anything 9mm on up should have no problem penetrating normal clothing and making a deep enough hole to damage vital organs if well placed. The stories about 22 LR killing with one shot are around, and they do happen - but they are not the norm. I am pretty convinced that 9mm, .40 or .45 have a much higher shot to stop ratio than .22 LR in defensive scenarios.

Some people will tell you that .22 has killed more people than any other round in the US, I would imagine a very large number of those are hunting accidents and accidental shootings in the house.

Stick with 9mm, .38, .357, .40, .45 with a quality hollowpoint and you will be fine.
 

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There is a good study from the FBIs firearms training unit, the Handgun Wounding Factors and Effectiveness or HWFE, a study in handgun wounding factors. It covers the shot placement aspect, caliber and likelihood of actually hitting your target.

If you are not familiar with the document I highly recommend anyone considering carrying a gun to read it at least once. You can download a pdf copy at the link above.
 

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+1 for shot placement and a .380 in your pocket is better than a .45 at home any day.

Be Safe,

NosaM
 

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The above is a good read.

My take: any caliber can make a "1-shot stop", even a .22 short; any caliber can fail to stop with multiple rounds, even a .45. So very many variables...

Placement is king; penetration, however, is queen...doesn't do any good to perfectly place the round if the bullet doesn't get to vitals.
 

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Agree with shot placement. When I was deciding which shot shells to load my home defence shotgun with I googled " one shot kill " ; " best home defence shot gun loads " ; etc. What I came to the conclusion is that if you want to stop a 7 foot, 250 pound, high on pcp, charging at you attacker than your shot needs to disrupt the central nervious system. Brain or spinal cord.

I load my mossberg with OOO Buck.
 

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In Fact, it is even more complicated

torgo1968 said:
If I shoot a bad guy between the eyes with a 9mm, he will be just as dead as if I did it with .45.
This statement is true, but only AFTER the bad guy dies.

Dr. Vincent Di Mayo did a research study some twenty-five years ago about 'handgun effectiveness'. The study was based on his career as a Medical Examiner. Does anyone see the faulty premise here? All his information came from a dead body on a slab, not a live body in the process of a fight.

Someone mentioned the statistic regarding .22 long rifle being a greater killer than anything else. Part of that is due to a person being shot without much effect and ignoring the wound. The person later dies of gangrene or other infection; but because of being shot. That's not very comforting to the other party in the fight.

Much depends on the condition and attitude of the person being shot. Someone setting in a rocker after a good meal, watching a National Geographic travel show is much easier to take out than the same person enraged and intent on mayhem.

The standard self-defense scenario is to defend from an attacker. In the normal course of events, an attacker is excited and intent. Even without drugs or alcohol, adrenaline alone provides some degree of pain resistance and tolerance.

It is unquestionably true shot placement is a very key factor. However, in the turmoil and excitement of an attack and fight, perfect shot placement is not always possible.

One of the key factors in stopping an attacker (other than a perfect central nervous system hit) is blood loss. The more blood one loses, the weaker one gets. Big diameter bullets normally cause a greater sized hole and therefore more blood loss than a smaller diameter bullet. On this same thought, a sharp shouldered (or edged) bullet will tear more blood vessels than a rounded or smooth bullet. Therefore, an expanded bullet with sharp edges, or a large diameter bullet with sharp edges (think wadcutter or semi-wadcutter) are more useful in this regard than a smooth RNL or RNJ bullet.

Without writing a term paper here, the best choice for handgun self defense is as large caliber as one can normally handle. The rounds used should be either expanding or flat fronted. That type of round insures the greatest amount of blood loss and the best possibility of a CNS disruption.

A good hit with a small caliber beats a miss with a big caliber.
A good hit with a large caliber beats a good hit with a small caliber.
A mediocre hit with a large caliber is a whole lot better than a mediocre hit with a small caliber.

Small calibers do not guarantee good hits.

And read the tag line.
 

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stopping power

Yes, I agree that shot placement is the key and it needs penitration to get to the vitals.
The argument about calibers/bullet types/ammo capacity in the gun will go on forever.
The original "police special" was a smith in.32 S&W caliber with round nose lead bullets. Now days, this would be considered a "mouse"load. However, the cops shot bad guys and they died. Maybe had to empty it into the BG but they died.
Then the cops went to .38s. Again with pound nose lead ammo. A bit more power, and again, it sufficed.
Then, about in the early 70s, ammo manufacturers came up with better ammo for the existing .38s: Silvertip, hydrashok, etc. Now the 38 is a formidable weapon. Did the job.
But wait! Now the BG has a 9 with 18 shots in it and 2 more clips in his pocket, Vs the cops 38 with 6. Now all the cop shops have to have a 9 (or 40 or 45) with big ammo capacity. Everybody seemed to want a lot of shots available. Studies showed that the police gunfight scenerio is 2.2 shots at 21'. If you don't get the BG with the first 2, he can use the gun he took off your body for the other 16 shots.
Maybe a bit sarcastic, but the fact is: you gotta connect with the first 1 or 2, or he will get you. In my opinion, training of shot placement is more important than what you are shooting with.
I, personally, would not carry anything less than a 380 for SD, and load it with high performance ammo. Then go train and practice with it. Remember, you have to conceal it. ( I am only 5'7")
Lastly, what works for military or police combat situations is not necessarily what works for the average person CC for SD. A big gun on the hip of a cop is a deterant; we need something we can conceal, so the act of surprize is on our side. A big gun "printing thru" advertises that you have something the BG can take away before you can get it out.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
I AGREE that good shot placement greatly enhances the effectiveness of a bullet. However, I have noticed that in most fights people have a the odd habit of refusing to stand still and often hiding behind cover or concealment making placement very difficulty. I also know, from nearly pulling the trigger on a BG, that shot placement is much easier on a qualification range due to the massive adrenaline dump.
So, rather than theory, I am asking people what actually worked or didn't for them when they had to pull that trigger.
 

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Awhile back we had a thread started by a fellow who got into a gunfight with a shotgun wielding nut-neighbor. He went against the shotgun with a .45 and somehow lived to tell about it. The point of the story though was that several .45
hits didn't stop the guy.
 

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This is not theory: counting on someone "bleeding out" to stop hostilities is ridiculous. Blood loss takes time-even with large projectiles.
CNS damage and shock (not hydrostatic shock) are what stop people.
Therefore, almost any caliber can be sufficient with proper placement. A larger caliber/more powerful weapon gives you a tiny advantage, but not much.
 

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This is not theory: counting on someone "bleeding out" to stop hostilities is ridiculous. Blood loss takes time-even with large projectiles.
CNS damage and shock (not hydrostatic shock) are what stop people.
Therefore, almost any caliber can be sufficient with proper placement. A larger caliber/more powerful weapon gives you a tiny advantage, but not much.
You do realize that shock is defined as "a critical condition brought on by a sudden drop of blood flow throughout the body", right?

Major blood loss kinda causes that...
 

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I am very interested in what calibers and loads work and don't work. I'd love to hear your "War Stories" regarding your first hand knowledge on how well specific calibers and loads worked or didn't.
It's called a caliber "war" since it won't ever end, among other things. This question gets asked at least a few times each month. There won't be definitive answers, ever. Not while so much variation exists in situations.

Each incident is unique. A given bullet will follow a different path, go through different clothing, strike different bone/tissue, strike at a given angle, have more or less penetration to do, expand a given amount or not given all these variables, and so on.

You will find failures to stop with ALL calibers. You will probably find a good number in the smaller calibers, perhaps even a higher percentage than with the larger calibers. But it's so variable that really the most-important claims seem to come from those who have spent lifetimes studying the outcomes and results of such engagements (ie, Mas Ayoob).

What the others are suggesting is true: placement is one of the most important factors. You're not going to stop what you can't hit properly. Though, even if you do, a given shot could crud-up with clothing fibers, strike bone and be deflected or whatever else.

My thoughts: As important as shot placement is, determination to prevail and survive is highly important as well.

Read, read, read. Hundreds of "war" stories, anecdotes and references to other such compilations have made prior discussions for years, here. Then make your decision. Keep an open mind and reevaluate over time. That's about all you can do.

Me, I'm comfortable with 9mm primary, .380 backup. Many think one or both of these a ludicrous, ill-considered choice. But then, .XYZ caliber doesn't stop crime: your determination, will to survive, ability to manage a situation, people skills, reaction/strength skill with defensive weapons all play a role. The mix of criteria works for me, though: power, penetration, round count, concealability via the weight/size of the package, given what I'm able to achieve physically and mentally. YMMV, depending on the mix you're comfortable with.
 

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This statement is true, but only AFTER the bad guy dies.
A direct to the brain with any substantial caliber is going to end things the overwhelming majority of the time. Given what kind of situation we usually carry for, worrying about blood loss is silly. We're not getting involved in extended sieges. And the difference in size between the various major calibers is tiny in real terms; we're not talking about a hole the size of a thimble versus a hole the size of a baseball.

I AGREE that good shot placement greatly enhances the effectiveness of a bullet. However, I have noticed that in most fights people have a the odd habit of refusing to stand still and often hiding behind cover or concealment making placement very difficulty. I also know, from nearly pulling the trigger on a BG, that shot placement is much easier on a qualification range due to the massive adrenaline dump.
So, rather than theory, I am asking people what actually worked or didn't for them when they had to pull that trigger.
That's sort of the point. Caliber is not enough of a difference to overcome where you place the round. There is no magical solution that can be found in a box of 25. Sure, do a little research and pick a reliable brand of ammunition, but it's all about priorities. There are so many factors that are more important (placement, your ability to move, your ability to assess the situation, stay clear headed, not to mention the most important skill, avoiding dangerous situations in the first place).
 

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Emotional shock.
What about it?

Plenty of folks take hits without even realizing it...so if you're counting on that factor to stop a bad guy--think again.

Deep, penetrating trauma that either disrupts CNS or causes rapid bleedout...that's what it takes to have a reliable stop with a handgun.
 
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