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Stopping Power: Myths, Legends, and Realities

When it comes to claims about the effectiveness of handgun ammo, don't believe the hype.

January 16, 2013  |  by Sydney Vail, MD

Photo courtesy of Sydney Vail
Photo courtesy of Sydney Vail

As a trauma surgeon and a tactical medical specialist, I am often asked by law enforcement officers what caliber and type of handgun ammunition offers the most stopping power. I can't answer that question. Let me explain why.

The ammunition most commonly carried by law enforcement officers is a hollow-point configuration or expanding full metal jacket bullet, typically in one of five calibers, including .38/.357, 9mm, .357 SIG, .40 S&W,  and .45 ACP. Other calibers are used in some departments. But for the sake of this discussion, let's stick with the most common rounds. These handgun rounds perform very differently based on a number of key factors that I'd like to discuss.

At most agencies it is typical for either the rangemaster or lead firearms trainer to choose specific ammunition (caliber and/or bullet type) based on the results of ammunition being run through a series of ballistic tests, most commonly the FBI's ballistic laboratory testing. Marketing by ammunition companies also influences how agencies choose the specific ammunition for front line officers to carry.

Unfortunately, the information that agencies are using to choose the ammo for their officers is generally based on hype as well as the flawed standardized testing using ballistic gel and measurements of the depth of penetration into ballistic gel, degree of bullet expansion, and other factors. Usually, actual data on human body wound ballistics is not available to agencies when they are choosing ammo for their officers.

What is most unfortunate is that the testing of modern bullets does not give a complete picture of what a particular ammunition configuration will do in the human body to incapacitate it in a timely fashion, in other words, stopping power. The testing results "infer" or "simulate" what is believed to happen in the human body, but I can tell you that from my experience operating on gunshot patients that this just is not the case.

So back to the question at hand about determining stopping power. If you are expecting me to tell you which brand and which bullet caliber and type to use for the best or most reliable stopping power, you are going to be disappointed. But I will tell you about the factors that determine stopping power.

Kinetic Energy

Most officers think that a larger bullet and higher velocity equal more "kinetic" energy, yielding more stopping power than a smaller bullet with the same velocity. Here's the reality:

We know that the equation for kinetic energy is KE = ½mv2 (KE is kinetic energy, m is mass of object, and v2 is velocity squared). This equation tells us how much energy will be derived from a combination of bullet grain weight and muzzle velocity.

Now we need to go back a step and define stopping power. Is it the ability of a particular ammunition to:

  1. Immediately incapacitate a threat?
  2. Eventually incapacitate a threat?
  3. Slow down a threat?
  4. Render a person less able to remain a threat?
  5. Knock the threat to the ground?

I believe the definition of stopping power should be a particular ammunition's effectiveness to render a person unable to offer resistance or remain a threat to the officer, an intended victim, or self.

So how does ammunition accomplish this? You have two options. You can use a really large round at very high velocity like the 30mm cannon rounds from an Apache helicopter's M230 Chain Gun, which produces substantial kinetic energy, or you can place your shot where it has the most effect. Obviously, shot placement is the only realistic option for a law enforcement officer.

A .40 caliber bullet shot into the shirtless torso of a person causes a degree of injury due to the body absorbing the bullet's energy and dispersing it in front of and around the path of the bullet. The projectile also tears through the tissue. This means that the kinetic energy of this typically low-velocity (less than 1,500 feet per second) bullet will create both a permanent cavity and to a much lesser extent a temporary cavity.

But does this ammunition have acceptable stopping power? Only if it hits a vital structure that would "stop" the target from continuing the fight.

The Target Variable

Consider that the same ammunition shot into the torso of an officer wearing a ballistic vest involves the same forces, but they are dispersed over a greater surface area in order to dissipate those forces, which, hopefully, prevents penetration of the body and allows the officer to continue in the fight.

So is the stopping power the same or different for these two scenarios? The kinetic energy is the same, the tissue injury is different.

Another way to look at this is to think about a bowling ball as a projectile and how it might perform in two different scenarios. If someone shoots it out of a cannon into a brick wall, the large mass and high velocity will likely result in a significant hole in that wall. But if the same bowling ball is shot out of a cannon into a strong net made of Kevlar, it will likely have all of its energy taken up by the net and not allow penetration. It has the same energy to lose in its intended target but different targets yield different results. A bowling ball fired from a cannon has high kinetic energy and excellent stopping power that far exceeds any ammo you could carry on duty, but the effect it has on the target is still determined by shot placement and the nature of the target.

Real Gunshot Wounds

The point here is that no single ammunition that is typically used by law enforcement officers today can reliably claim to have superior stopping power.

I have seen a .22 caliber bullet completely incapacitate someone and a .45 ACP fail to achieve that result. People and animals shot with 10mm rounds and .357 SIG rounds have continued to run from the police. I have been on scene as a tactical medical provider when a suicidal person shot himself in the head with a .45 Colt round resulting in instant death. And I have seen the same results in suicides that used smaller calibers, including .22, .25, and .32. I have also seen people hit with 9mm, .40, and .45 without so much as staggering or slowing their verbal or physical activities.

So we come back to the original question: Which ammunition has the best stopping power? I can't answer that question. What I can say is that you should look for ammunition that reliably lives up to its claims of penetration and expansion but don't believe that these two factors alone are related to stopping power.

The ultimate stopping power rests with your training with your weapon system. Accurate hits in any reasonable caliber will "stop" a person if that person has experienced enough brain or spinal cord damage to interrupt regular neurologic impulses from reaching vital areas of the body or the person has hemorrhaged enough blood to lower his or her blood pressure where the brain no longer is able to function well. You can also stop a person if a major bone shatters after a bullet injures it, but does that stop the fight?

Stopping power is a marketing tool and should be dropped from our discussions of ballistic performance until such time as ammunition effectiveness is measured by more means than just the results of gelatin and barrier tests. When ammunition companies or regulatory agencies begin to use computer simulations, simulant tests, animal models, autopsy results, and trauma surgeon operation reports with hospital summaries to determine the effectiveness of their products, then we will know which ammunition can be labeled as having the "best stopping power." And this claim will be based on scientific data rather than incomplete ballistic testing.

Until then, shot placement with any commercially available ammunition will offer you the best chance of maximizing your duty ammunition's stopping power.

Sydney Vail MD, FACS, is an associate professor of surgery on the trauma faculty at Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center and Penn State College of Medicine in Hershey, Pa. He also serves as director of tactical medicine programs for the Arizona Department of Public Safety and Maricopa County (Ariz.) Sheriff's Office SWAT teams.

Tags: Ammunition, Ballistics, Tactical Medicine, FBI


Comments (111)

Displaying 1 - 111 of 111

David Shay @ 1/17/2013 12:51 PM

I beleive that is in the hands of the shooter and his or her shot placement. Just because you have 17 rounds in your mag does not mean you can stop anyone. The key is practise and be 100% sure of your first shot, that is the one that matters.

Doc @ 1/18/2013 1:22 AM

I use lighter & faster hollow points that expand well and tear up more tissue. Multiple hits are better and as long as you are hitting the target, just keep shooting. I test my ammo and I also check any autopsy info on my ammo, and I talk with ER Doctors that have seen the damage that has been done and can provide info. The FBI testing does provide some good info about barriers, but that is not nearly enough. The FBI is also known for deciding that the 147 grain 9mm was the best round to use, and Agents got killed. The FBI only tested the Sub-sonic 9mm ammo for accuracy, and I aslways wondered about that. Then another point that should be noted is that the mental condition of your target can be another factor.
I'm sure that some of you have fought with subjects, where they don't seem to feel any pain, and nothing seems to be working. I bent a steel baton on one subject, with 5 or 6 good solid strikes, that with other subjects only One strike was needed. The same kind of deal can happen in shootings, even with multiple lethal hits. That's why I teach officers to get rapid follow up shots, and if they go into a Hot situation, that a patrol rifle or shotgun should be deployed as they hit much harder.

D-Ray @ 1/18/2013 6:28 AM

While I agree with a lot of what Dr. Vail is saying here, I think he's leaving out some vital information. It is true that shot placement is a huge part of the "stopping" process. It is also true that a proper small caliber projectile (bullet) in the right place can be very effective. However, one must factor in the likelihood of a projectile of any caliber's ability to penetrate far enough, and expand enough to do maximum damage to organs that will achieve the goal of "stopping" an adversary. While a .22lr to the heart may very well be fatal, it has to get there first. Even if it does, will it do enough extensive damage to stop the fight quickly? Does anyone doubt that a modern .45acp shot into the same place would accomplish this goal more efficiently? I for one would welcome the ability to factor in the other variables that Dr. Vail has suggested, but what's the chance we'll ever be able to do that? Until then, the testing we have now is our best choice, and still has value in picking out defensive/duty ammunition. Just remember though, only a fool takes a handgun to engage an active shooter. That's what rifles are for. Stay safe.

Rob @ 1/18/2013 6:35 AM

Great article.

Mark @ 1/18/2013 6:43 AM

I was always taught that 9mm is the best because unless you are hitting the target, the type of round doesn't matter. Often times the officer does not hit the target with the first round. Recoil then starts preventing a faster sight acquisition then in the 9mm. 9mm allows faster sight acquisition due less recoil and more rounds of ammunition. .40 offers slower sigh acquisition due to recoil and an officer can carry less rounds. .45 is such a low velocity round that it sometimes cannot even penetrate a window or jean jacket (I haven't seen a jean jacket in a long while) and offer significantly less round quantity. Thank you, that is all! :)

John @ 1/18/2013 7:46 AM

Mark - I find it hard to believe that a .45 fails to penetrate glass and clothing unless it is a defective round. I'd have to see that to believe it. I once investigated an officer-involved shooting where a .45 hydra-shok hit the suspect in the spine and then struck a lung and the heart before ending up just below the skin on the chest. It was certainly an adequate round in that situation.

Dr. Vail - Thank you for a very informative article.

General comments: I carried a variety of weapons during my police career. Initially, it was a .38 special revolver but over the years, I carried a 9 mm S & W, a .45 Sig and finally a Glock .40 cal My favorite was the Glock because I found that the trigger pull was consistent and that the magazine capacity was exceptional. I never had to fire at anyone but found that I could score 100 % in tactical training. The Sig was my least favorite because of the long and heavy trigger pull on the first round. It was virtually a throw-away. Since the second and subsquent rounds were from a cocked hammer, placement was much better. My point is that a combination of an effective round, a weapon that can deliver it accurately and good shot placement all contribute to effectively incapacitating a suspect. That's my two-cents worth.

Thomas Horowitz @ 1/18/2013 9:48 AM

As a physican and a reserve officer, I think this IS the truth! One should have a "good" round, however: to put an end to the fight you must have a well placed round. We should not blame the bullet for an indifferent shot placement.

Greg Horton @ 1/18/2013 10:48 AM

Great comments and a very interesting topic. One of the things I think is important is the fact that most of the departments mandate what ammo you can carry on duty (and many off duty too). That means that the ammo discussion is a moot point and you had better work on your shot placement! Good marksmanship is, and always be one of the key issues. Get your gun and practice, practice, practice!!! Stay safe all.

Uncle Dave @ 1/19/2013 4:56 PM

I will not denie that shot placement helps. It is wrong to blame it on marksmanship. Often there is just too much stuff happening too fast to get the square range shot.

The next thing for the lack of better terms is that stopping power is directly inverse to the amount of "evil" some people have in them. The more evil, the more stopping power needed.

Thomas @ 1/21/2013 6:42 AM

Use bonded ammunition in your duty pistol and a heavy bullet for that caliber (more consistent penetration to the FBI standard of 12"-18"). Shot placement is king. If you can, bring a long gun and your friends with long guns to a gunfight!

Bob Aldridge @ 1/21/2013 3:53 PM

Sorry, just another in a long line of confusing "stopping power" articles that try to equate technology and training. Bullet terminal performance is a technology issue; whereas shot placement is in the training arena. They are independent. One does not affect the other. Think about it.

romansten9 @ 1/22/2013 8:38 AM

This why I have never believed the 45 ACP hype. No caliber is a guaranteed when it comes to stopping power. Some treat a 45 like a magic bullet but I mostly see bravado and "mine is bigger than yours" instead of actual evidence. Most handgun calibers are very similar when you compare them to something like a rifle. For me a caliber like 9 mm allows me to have acceptable recoil, plenty of magazine capacity and ammo that is low cost and available nearly everywhere. For most people it's cheaper to practice more and easier to return to the target after firing.

John Carp @ 1/22/2013 10:48 AM

It would appear that most modern controlled expansion Law Enforcement ammunition, is up to the task for stopping goblins from anti social behavior. This was not ALWAYS the case. Todays' top shelf ammunition is better then ever. Such as The CCI/Speer Gold Dot, The Federal HST, The Winchester Ranger "T" ect. Some calibers are more ammunition sensitive then others. Not every 9mm Luger JHP will expand in soft targets, and not every .45 ACP. But those bullets that do; perform spectacularly! The only real stand out as an iffy proposition, are the heavy for caliber 147 gr. JHP's in 9mm. After all, these were made for a very specific niche role! They were originally loaded for United States Special Opereations forces, to be used out of supressed submachine guns. In that role, they excell!
I believe it was a case of, "If it's good enough for * insert high speed low drag unit of your choice * then it's good enough for anytown Police Department" When...it wasn't. The latest crop of 147 Gr. ammunition is way better then even five years ago. But...a new barrier to projectile performance has made an entry to the LE arena.
The micro off-duty pistol. Most ammunition is loaded with a specific barrel length in mind. Typically at least four inches. The propellant charge and burn rate is optomized, then for that length. If you shorten the barrel, then you shorten the burn time for propellant and loose potential velocity. It is possible to turn the super goblin zapper that works well out of a duty sized weapon, in to a less effective round, out of the micro off duty pistol. There are a couple of exceptions in the Speer Gold Dot Short Barrel loads and Hornady Critical Defense ammunition. Having said that...I must however agree whole heartedly that it all boils down to bullet placement. If the goblin is not stuck in a critcal area, he or she may continue anti social behavior.
Most respectfully
john

captjsharp @ 1/24/2013 11:13 AM

One important point that I believe should be made here is that when selecting your weapon and the ammunition you will use, consideration should be given to the nature and elements of your duty or assignment. If you spend most of your shift in a vehicle working traffic, will your weapon caliber and the ammunition you are using allow you to effectively shoot through your windshield if you make a traffic stop and the suspect jumps out, runs to the front of your vehicle armed with a weapon and fires or prepares to fire at you? Do you spend time executing warrants or serving papers in apartment buildings or government built housing projects? If so, and you must fire your weapon, is your shot likely to over-penetrate, putting people in adjacent apartments at risk? If you work in rural county where wooded areas are prevalent, is your weapon and ammo suitable if you’re in a gunfight where trees and bushes provide cover, or will a twig likely deflect your shot? When selecting a weapon and ammunition, proper consideration must include not only the “stopping power” of the weapon and ammo, but also the ability/tendency of the weapon caliber and ammo to penetrate or deflect off of the type of obstacles you are likely to encounter during your shift. Your weapon caliber and your ammo selection may provide you with excellent stopping power, but if it will go “through and through” your suspect, and 3 apartment walls when your duty assignment regularly puts you in such environments, or if it won’t penetrate a car windshield, whether someone is trying to run over you or kill you before you can get out of your vehicle, you need to re-think your choice. Use what is best for what you do, even if it’s not the latest, greatest, baddest man-stopper available; this week.

Pastor Rick @ 1/29/2013 12:32 AM

THANK YOU

Things I have been telling people for a few years. It's nice to a Dr. a professional on the same page.

Be Safe Everybody.
www.AllOhioCCW.com

Chuck Haggard @ 2/11/2013 11:26 AM

I am saddened that this article has been publeshed since it is part of the very problem that it states.

There is quite a bit of misinformation in this article, most especially the parts dealing with the validity of FBI ballistic gelatin testing. This has proven to be the very best indicator of how a bullet will perform in tissue. The validity of these tests has been well proven through the years by comparing to real worl OIS and .mil shooting data and autopsies. The good doctor should be well aware of this information.

Chuck Haggard @ 2/11/2013 11:30 AM

I wanted to add that I STRONGLY agree with the doc that the term "stopping power" needs to be dropped from the vocabulary of all cops, especially police firearms instructors. There is no such thing and it gives our officers a false sense of what their bullets can and can not do.

We also need to dump the BS that any of the service caliber handgun rounds work any better than another. With equal placement, .38 +P, 9mm, .40, .45acp, .357, etc all work almost exactly the same.

Tedz @ 2/21/2013 8:48 AM

IIRC the 147 gr. jhp 9mm came about as a result of the failure of the Winchester 9mm 115 gr. silvertip to penetrate deep enough.The 115 gr. silvertips were used by some of the agents in the 1986 Miami shootout and one of these rounds stopped just short of Michael Platt's heart.(He was the robber armed with the mini 14 who caused most of the carnage).A shot penetrating the heart may have ended things quicker.The 9mm 147 gr. jhp was popular for many years due to the superior penetration of this 9mm loading.I believe is still used by some agencies using the 9mm.I am not LE just a student of small arms and ammunition.

Dr. Vail @ 3/13/2013 8:36 AM

Mr Haggard,
You are quite misinformed: the association of gel to the human body has beed discredited multiple times; they simply do not corrolate. Gel simulates human muscle tissue, end of story and proven fact. The body has a few more components to it trhat gel can not replicater. I have lectured nationally on this and everytime I am able to prove that statement to be factual. Do more research and speak to coroners, trauma surgeons and then decide if gel can predict performance in the human body.
Respectfully
sjv

john @ 3/25/2013 3:01 AM

The doc is wrong about the gelatin. Ballistic experts have found that ballistic gel does replicate what bullets will due in human tissue. He can not disprove it there is far more evidence proving the fact. The foremost ballistic experts in the world have found that how bullet perform in gel is similar to how they perform in human tissue. They have seen the autopsy photos, and reports. If the doc feels so sure about it maybe he should contact LAIR, FBI-BRF, RCMP, or Dr Gary k. Roberts. Who are you going to believe a tactical surgeon or a ballistic expert. You have presented no proof backing your claim that gel does not work to predict a bullets performance in tissue. All you have done is said its so because i said it is. Where's the proof you have presented at the speaking engagements. If you present it i will disprove what you present with facts along with where the info came from. Any ballistic info you present is not very highly regarded you were a witness to the live animal tests using le mas bmt ammo. Which test did not follow any of the standards for tests on live animals. Not to mention that your claims of the ammo were greatly exaggerated. You claimed the wounds you saw were much worse than what other bullets produce. They were just varmit bullets similar to v max bullets. So you are so experienced but have never seen what a fragmenting varmit bullet Will do. That is quite odd. A lot of departments issue similar bullets so there is less chance of the bullet passing through the intended target and hitting a innocent bystander.

Chuck Haggard @ 3/25/2013 9:54 PM

If we are being formal Doc, it would be LT.

Please explain what studies have been published that discredit the use of ballistic gelatin. I am unaware of any legit sources for this information.

In my observation of our OISs I have found that our chosen duty load, the 124gr +P Gold Dot, works exactly in real life bad guys in both expansion and penetration as one would expect from gelatin test results. The bullets look like they fell off of the Speer bullet poster.
Just one example.

john @ 3/26/2013 2:31 PM

Thanks chuck i recently heard about you, and how highly regarded you are in this field. This doctor is a snake oil salesmen. He wrote glowing reports of lemas bmt ammo. Which was found to be nothing more than varmit bullets. Im glad to see someone as informed as you call him out. He Will not ne able to present any independent material backing his claims. He may not even comment again.

William P @ 5/16/2013 3:03 PM

Witch weapon is better for home defense in urban areas
a 12 gauge shotgun or a 223 rifle

sixpacker @ 6/6/2013 6:18 PM

Bullet placement any calber # 1

Cutdawgent @ 6/10/2013 1:07 PM

This post is a bunch of bullshit. He is completely avoiding the question, and throwing in irrelevant variables. Shot placement, and target composition doesn't matter in this argument. You're basically saying that if you use a larger caliber, you can't be accurate. In the same situation, on the same target, at the same point of impact, larger calipers have more stopping power.

Chad @ 7/6/2013 7:26 PM

I don't understand the vitriol over "stopping power". There really is no such variable. You can measure velocity, foot/lbs of energy, etc., but it still won't give you this mystical factor. I tend to disagree with ballistic gel testing being what you base your defense round on. Go buy a half hog, hang it from a rafter, and shoot some rounds through it. You have bone, ligaments, fats, muscle tissue, and you can see the effects in all types of tissues. I always just understood 1 thing. Bigger bullet, bigger hole. If you really want to go big, magnum research makes a BFR that shoots .45-70.

king ed danson @ 11/11/2013 9:57 PM

My preferred weapon of choice is a 77 plymouth with snow tires. Flattens criminals out.

grendelizer @ 12/13/2013 5:22 AM

Ke=v2w/450240 where v is velocity in feet per second squared time weight in geains divided by 450240. Not half muzzle velocity squared times weight.

Dan @ 12/19/2013 8:50 PM

I don't think the doctor really said anything useful. We all realize that accurate shot placement is the key to dealing with a threat but much of the recent in-depth research on handgun ammo effectiveness was the result of the Miami incident when the FBI lost agents as the result of poor bullet performance.

The FBI, as well as others, have spent considerable time and resources researching handgun bullet effectiveness and i think any agency would be wise to use all info at their disposal. FMJ bullets will kill, as will a 22 rimfire but instant or near instant incapacitation is the desired goal when an officer has to respond with deadly force. My personal view is that most common calibers, 9mm, .40 S&W, .357 sig and 45 ACP utilizing modern LE ammo should handle the situation, as long as the officers can shoot the round accurately. My personal preference would be the .357 sig, as I find it the most accurate.

Tom @ 12/25/2013 12:12 PM

Excellent article. Can't deny the upshot of the good doc's premise: Shot placement trumps bullet design every time, provided you are loading your sidearm with some type of modern defensive ammunition designed to offer both adequate penetration and reliable expansion in most situations. Doesn't matter if you're preference is 38+P, 9mm, 40 S&W, 357 Sig, or 45 ACP. Each is designed to do the job , provided that we do ours---and that comes back to shot placement. Keep after your practice sessions.

Gerry Williams @ 12/28/2013 7:39 PM

As a RV'er what would any of you suggest as the ideal weapon to carry in a RV for protection, remembering that we cross State lines in our travels, and that each state may have different laws in effect, or permits to own or carry might vary. Talking protection from break in's and family protection and overall build of a travel trailer or motor home may restrict most hand guns.
Have been told by local sheriff's deputy, that shot guns , with a barrel length of 18" probably fits the RV life style better than most hand guns, and pretty much eliminates needing a permit in most states

Chuck @ 1/10/2014 3:04 PM

One thing no one seems to have touched upon is that the factor most directly relevant to whether the malefactor is immediately incapacitated is the malefactor himself. People differ not only physiologically, but emotionally and psychologically as well. Some people give up simply because they know they've been shot and don't expect to continue to fight. Others, even after receiving multiple individually mortal wounds, will keep fighting long afterwards. The emotional makeup of the other party is, in my opinion, the most important factor in whether a wound will be immediately effective at incapacitation - and there is no way to measure for that in advance.

JohnFairhope @ 1/24/2014 3:59 PM

I respect the doctor's comments and experience. As someone who's seen the end results of such encounters, he can speak with some authority. First, a direct shot to the heart is a kill shot as well. Ever seen a heart attack victim or another fatal trauma to the heart occur? I have. I once saw a runner on the last 10 meters of a 1500 meter race "stop," stand rigid, then fall forward - during a last sprint to the finish line. Your heart stops or is severely damaged, you go down.

Of course shot placement is key - whoever heard of anyone teaching "Bad Aim 101" as a virtue? But it's more complicated than the doctor mentions as well. If in an encounter I hit your hand first firing a .22, you might just wince and fire back - I hit you with a .40 caliber, 180g HP load in the same place, your hand flies a foot or so in one direction and then offers me a better aim & target, then like as not you will be killed. Think of variables and practice for both accuracy and the unexpected.

Lee @ 2/15/2014 1:59 PM

45 hype? all things being equal we but need to look back at our military and their experience with a 38 cal under combat conditions. Shot placement? shooting at someone that is shooting back is a different ballgame. A 12 gauge with #1 buck is a fight stopper.

Ric @ 2/15/2014 9:55 PM

Thanks Lee. Shot placement-Shot Placement-Shot Placement = bull-bull-bull 50% to 60% of shots fired by LEOs in a gunfight hit nothing but inanimate objects or the infrequent innocent bystander. In a SURPRISE gunfight - post fight interviews = a LEO with no memory of ever seeing his pistol sites (fact). When surprised LEOs & most everyone else point in gen direction and start PULLING. The stats are CLEAR - If our pistol shots don't consistently hit the entire human body - why train to hold fire for shot placement on a moving target = in size to < 10% of the area of human body vital to continue a gunfight (holding for good shot = dead LEO). A 12 gauge has awesome Stopping power and produces hits > 40% of the time. Otherwise 10mm D-Tap & BB hit hard >45ACP>40SW>9mm>38spl. Hard non-vital hits degrade combatant's ability to fight & aim - better than soft non-vital hits. If your 1st 9mm JHP lucky shot hits my left lung - I will return fire with my 12 gauge 00 and be the sole survivor.

Matt @ 2/22/2014 4:09 AM

What you fail to mention Ric is muscle memory. LEO is TRAINED for reactive/reflexive fire. This basically putting as many bullets down range as accurately as possible. Most deadly force engagements happen within 15 feet and fire superiority stactially wins the fight.

It takes 800-1,000 times to develop muscle memory. So, I would agree. Most LEO probably don't remember aiming down thier sights because it's muscle memory. Also, you have the startle factor to consider.

I am also tired of hearing about stopping power. Some people consider making up for thier lack of practice with bigger caliber bullet, which causes longer target reacquisition.

Harpo @ 2/22/2014 9:04 AM

Great article. My comment is intended for those who may carry a concealed weapon that aren't in law enforcement. LEOs should know their weapons inside out, front to back. They are require to qualify with their weapon on a regular basis and go through extensive training in how to use them. Those of us who aren't LEOs, on the other hand, aren't required to meet any real qualifications, etc. after we receive our cc permit. Now, with all this being said, my point is that LEOs will probably require less rounds and more lethal placement simply because of their training and continued competence in firing their weapon. Those with a cc permit that don't keep up on their training, such as drawing the weapon, shot placement, etc. May require multiple shots that still may not be enough to stop a bad guy regardless of the size or type of round used. Practice makes perfect, just one more thing to consider before you carry that weapon.

gym @ 3/12/2014 8:54 AM

If you hit them in the head, they fall down. This nonsense has been going on for 100 years. Everyone is different, some people get cancer and survive, some die in a week. If you shoot someone, make sure you hit them in a vital organ, heart, head, maybe liver, that should put an end to it quickly, but the best one is separating the brain stem, "spinal chord", from the brain, that drops them like a bag of potatoes, so learn how to shoot more accurately.

Billy @ 3/14/2014 9:02 AM

Stopping power is a myth. No bullet is 100% guaranteed to take a person down in one shot. Gun range accuracy in a self defense situation is a myth. With adrenaline flowing and no fine motor skills you are not going to have accuracy on your side. I seriosly doubt most people in a life or death situation are going to be calm enough to shoot with any accuracy. What you do have is the ability to fire more then one bullet. I would take a 9mm over a 45 anyday since I can double or triple tap quicker then I can reacquire the target with a .45. Bullets kill you by making you bleed to death. More holes =more blood loss. Higher velocity of a 9mm also means better hollow point performance.

Quick controlled double tap of 9mm hollowpoint trumps a single shot of heavier recoil .45 any day of the week in a self defense situation.

It's not about the caliber, its about putting rounds in the target... and a 9mm can do it faster then a 45.

savage1kj @ 3/24/2014 11:07 PM

Thank you.

mullannix930 @ 4/7/2014 12:24 PM

I chose the ammo used by law enforcement, then decide the one that best functions in my firearm. In that.... I still am a strong advocate for shot placement. I have seen many gunshot victims that were hit multiple times (in several different caliber rounds) that didn't cause a fatal injuries. I have also seen several that one shot from a .22 killed them.

mullannix930 @ 4/7/2014 12:29 PM

I chose the ammo used by law enforcement, then decide the one that best functions in my firearm. In that.... I still am a strong advocate for shot placement. I have seen many gunshot victims that were hit multiple times (in several different caliber rounds) that didn't cause a fatal injuries. I have also seen several that one shot from a .22 killed them.

I chose a .45 acp, but it is more because I like the round. I carry a 7 round firearm for defense. with the smaller round count in the magazine, I want the larger bullet.

I don't care what size the bullet is. The person shooting has more control over the effect it has on the target.

Lt. Dan @ 4/8/2014 10:37 AM

Great article. Its refreshing to see an experienced MD comment on ammunition performance from his perspective. Having spent half my career in CSI I had great (but disgusting) exposure and experience to firearms cases and their autopsy's. There is one thing that is predictable about bullets and that is nothing is predictable, ESPECIALLY when they encounter the various parts of the human body.

Gel tests are only a small test of bullet performance. People who love them and hang their hats on gelatin are ones that do not routinely have access to LEO files and CSI experience as well as actual medical intervention and performing autopsy's.

I have VERY strong opinions about the FBI's testing protocol and the REASONS behind it. In interest of space it boils down to FBI agents screwed up big time in Miami. Most of the many mistakes had their origins in FBI training or the lack thereof. The FBI cannot admit it is infallible so the blame was put on the Win SilverTip bullet's "failure".

88mmkrupp @ 4/26/2014 7:06 AM

I know the army switched from a 38 sp to a 45 acp during or after spanish/american war. I was always told a. 45 would knock a man down. I then at a gun range and on the military channel, saw two 300 lb. Steel human size targets on a swivel. The 9mm took 3 rapid shots to turn over the target. The 45 acp took one. I dont know about internal damage due to velocity. But when a man attacks putting him or it down is important to me. I dont care about ruthless internal damage. If i put an attacker down, i then control the situation.

88mmkrupp @ 4/26/2014 7:19 AM

Of course knocking down and one bullet kill are not the same. There is a reason the 45 auto was used by US military from 1911 to the 1980's. They only quit when wempy guys n gals complained of recoil. I understand gov. Forces are re evaluating the 45. 9 mm is a good round too. But people tend to waste ammo w hi cap mags. The luger was very nice. In fact a. 380 has some advantages for undercover or concealment and they make a 90 gr xtp that is very accurate.

LocknLoad @ 4/27/2014 7:30 AM

There are several good points here but some misconceptions also.
1. There NO bullets that will knock a man down. Zero. The Dirty Harry movies that showed people getting blasted through doors and windows was for entertainment purposes. Not even a shotgun will do that.
Through the years I have learned that the weapon with the most stopping power is the one that you or anyone is proficient with. Point in case, FBI statistics show more people die from 22LR than any other caliber.
That being said, I think it is a combination of several facts mentioned here that make the most impact.
1. Regardless of caliber, practice and become proficient!!!!!!!!!!
2. Shot placement is a huge factor. This can vary depending on what the target is wearing and what you can or cannot penetrate. A headshot is always effective but if someone is wearing a bulletproof vest maybe a hip shot would be better to get them on the ground.
3. A good quality round that you have confidence in.
4. Your mental preparedness

Jeepjon @ 4/27/2014 7:57 PM

The doc is right. I trained at an inner city knife and gun club level i trauma center. I continue to work in a non-trauma inner city emergency room. I have seen more GSWs than I care to remember. I have run the codes on men and women shot with "crap bullets" and "crap calibers" and I had to sedate men and women shot 5+ times with high quality 9mm, 40, and 45 rounds. I came to the same conclusion that this trauma doc did...
"Shoot the biggest caliber you are comfortable with, with the best quality ammo, and shoot until the threat stops". I think people get so caught up in the concern over 9 v 40, etc....they fail to realize that most of the time the bullet will do its job if you do. I have spoken with police officers concerned that they may move from 40 to 9 in their department. I say "good, you'll get two more rounds!" The opposite would also be ok. You get a bigger round if you went from 9 to 40. Life is about trade offs. Just don't trade away your training.

cavan @ 4/30/2014 12:02 PM

it is shocking how easy the subject of killing a human being with a bullet is talked about with such ease...are americans so bloody simplistic minded and gung ho about every thing...

Cal @ 4/30/2014 10:29 PM

Very interesting discussion here. Dont stop at just reading the docs comments. He has great points but so does most of the detractors here. All have valid points even if it is to believe some govt babble that nobody knows the motivation or money behind their decisions. All in all, the end factor of the entire discussion is stopping the bad guy. Shot placement is key as well as the target make up and mental attitude. Training is key also. For personal, non LEO situations most of our self defense situations happen at very close range. With this info, getting the first shot put in the bad guy is paramount. Which is very different than preparing for a street situation by LEO. I personally think that each situation you are in calls for very different rounds and weapons. Do your research for your personal situation. And for Mr. Cavan, most of these guys are emergency room doctors or LEO's. This isnt a discussion for personal defense. Thats why most of the questions abt home defense r ignored

CAL @ 4/30/2014 10:31 PM

Take into account all the factors involved in your situation; target, potential bad guy, type of walls, background target damage, children in the home or car, concealment, ability with your weapon, etc, etc... For personal decisions DO YOUR RESEARCH for your personal needs. For LEO applications, I think the guys harping on training have said all you need to know. Being comfortable with your weapon is paramount. Each situation is different and no one weapon or round is the beat all answer for stopping the bad guy short of an RPG round to the chest. I hope this helps someone stay alive.

RickM @ 5/1/2014 6:31 AM

One thing you have to remember about fbi stats is that for.22's being the rd. Used for most killings is that it is including suicides, which would be very misleading for this topic-Rick,medic,NRA instructor & ICCW instructor

jake h. @ 5/2/2014 7:34 AM

Wow, thanks for nothing. This is all COMMONSENSE! Summary of this article.... don't believe the ammo claims & work on marksmanship.

Wow, no shit!

jake h. @ 5/2/2014 7:37 AM

Oh..and for a surgeon... He doesn't exactly sound very intelligent... maybe he was dumbing it down fol dumb comprehension

Chris Brooks @ 5/2/2014 9:38 AM

I don't say this to critical, I agree with what was said here, but the term "stopping power" was laid to rest a long time ago.
Anybody still looking at ammo/calibers through that prism needs to read this article and the many others out there that explain this issue fully.
Handguns in general are basically toys when compared to carbines and shotguns. Handgun camibers only mechanism of tissue damage is direct crush/displacement , temporary cavitation is not a factor. And that's why anecdotes of large caliber weapons being better fight stoppers persist. Bigger bullet = more damaged tissue. While that's true the author makes a very important point here. All tissue damage doesn't have the same effects. The assertion that shot placement matters most is spot on! You can hedge your bets by using a bigger bullet, I do, but you still aren't off the hook for proper shot placement. Bottom line, less time researching caliber/ammo and more time on the range.

jeff Arnold @ 5/2/2014 4:11 PM

This guy is aparently a 9mm lover! Lmao!! Ive never heard of someon taking mire than 1 or 2 rnds from a .45 or .40 or 10mm? But alot of 9mm survivors? Why is that? Answer that riddle..

keith @ 5/4/2014 6:56 AM

Good read but horrible examples.you cant Compare stopping on bare chest vs body armor to find out stopping power. A better example would be shooting someone in the head vs shooting them in the leg or shoulder. Take the bowling ball, instead of shooting it out of a common into a wall and then into a Kevlar net, why not just compare your results from real bowling. If you bowl and hit the side of the first pin, that usually results in a strike, vs riding the gutter and hitting the very outside pin. Just saying

mike @ 5/5/2014 8:04 AM

This article is not for "gun savvy" people. Anyone who actually knows guns would know shot placement trumps stoping power any day of the week. That being said good write up

B @ 5/5/2014 12:03 PM

If there were an end all caliber, it would be the only one used... I personally carry a 9mm as I am in line with the shot placement theory. My full frame Sig allows 18+1 rounds (as I carry 1 in the chamber) which I would rather have than 7+1 rounds in a .45 or 12+1 in a .40. This should be straight forward for most people, but here goes... If your life is on the line and need to incapacitate a threat with a pistol, would you rather have 19 shots (with a 9mm) or 8 shots (with a .45)? People will do what they want, and I think it's pointless to try to argue what caliber is better. My opinion is based on having more ammunition readily available, not depending on a larger projectile!

xsexcess @ 5/5/2014 2:37 PM

Lots of room for error in this discussion. Maybe the Doc only sees the ones which weren't incapacitated immediately (killed). The article seems pretty pointless as was discussed, shot placement is a separate issue.

Kinda like a fireman standing up and lecturing 'I can't tell you what starts fires'. What was the point?

Gern Blanstead @ 5/5/2014 6:40 PM

So 12 Ga. buckshot improves odds?

Doug @ 5/5/2014 9:07 PM

I stopped reading the comments when I got to the one about the .45 sometimes not penetrating a jean jacket or a window.... Personally, I don't know what ammo that particular person was using, but my .45ACP carry rounds have powder behind the projectile and in front of the primer. The may only move at ~900fps, but at any realistic self defense range, they'll have little to no trouble penetrating clear through any window or exterior clothing out-there save for someone wearing half the JC Penny's catalog or installing bullet resistant glass in their homes, cars, etc... It's super annoying to read the seemingly non-stop commentary by keyboard commandos who type like they know something, but don't know dick about what they speak. - Holiday Inn Express has an entire string of funny-ass commercials dedicated to these very people. That commenter should have saved himself a lot of stupidity by just saying "I don't know dick about ammo, but I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night.".

James @ 5/6/2014 8:29 PM

Shot placement is more important than anything. The .45acp can deliver a larger wound but its useless like any other caliber if it does not hit your target in the right spot. I carry both 9mm and .45acp. I carry the 9mm more because its easy to conceal and I carry the .45 in steel framed 1911's during winter or OC. Just buy quality hollow points and invest in training because when it comes down to it training to effectively hit your target in the right spot is most important than bullet size.

Josha @ 5/7/2014 7:24 PM

Hey Doug, did you read the same article I did? I saw nothing about .45 not penetrating glass or jeans guy. I think you better stick to your holiday inn commercials. That seems to be more in line with your IQ level. LOL. It kinda stinks, but I'm sure Doug will never read this post.

This article sounds perfectly in line with what most pros (guys that protect lives with guns for a living) are saying. The only exception I know of is a confidence in .357 by some guys that work under cover as a "best stopping round". Perhaps a myth. I would like to research .357 more.

I have also heard that modern ammo is leveling the playing field here. Some high quality JHP 9mm is now making a .50 inch hole quite reliable and even penetrating well and expanding well after going through denim and/or car glass. No it's not the .72 inches made by .45 JHP, but you do have more shots to hit that critical zone if your attacker or attackers are still able to return fire.

The other consideration with a smaller, thinner 9 is that you can discipline yourself to carry it everyday and everywhere easier than one of the bigger caliber guns. I actually use a solo and carry a spare mag and it's so small it rides with me religiously. Beats a 1911 in your safe all day long Dougster : )

In final, most guys own multiple guns in multiple calibers. There just isn't one perfect gun for all occasions I don't think. But if you really think you could at some random point in your life need to defend your life you should have yours on you all the time to be prepared at all times. Otherwise you are trying to predict the unpredictable. And of course you should train to become proficient with your carry piece(s). Duh right? Well there ya have my opinion. Probably worth what you paid to read this comment : ))

Ben @ 5/8/2014 9:35 PM

Just one more surgeon (orthopedic) to generally agree with the article, as well as the emergency physician comment above. I'm also a Marine vet. I too have seen too numerous to count gunshot wounds. To summarize much (at least with respect to common handgun calibers), and to plagiarize someone "shot placement is king, penetration is queen, and everything else is fodder for endless internet circle jerks."

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Mick G @ 5/16/2014 6:25 AM

I agree that shot placement is everything. I was taught many years ago to use The Mozambique Drill aka The Failure Drill. I have never seem anyone get hit center mass with a .357 or 10mm twice and keep fighting. If they do, the third shot is key. I agree with Ric that if able use a shotgun with 00. Very few will survive two hits of those. Look a lot of LEOs have never been in an actual firefight, many have never even drawn their side arms. No offense to them but until you have been in an actual life or death shootout, you don't know how you will react. Many LEOs end up emptying their magazine, the perp does the same and you have 30+ bullets that hit neither one but they have to go somewhere. Does caliber really matter then? While I don't think that the answer is actually training them with shots being fired at them, the truth is there needs to a lot more stress put on them during training. Shooting at paper and a human are two different things. Especially when they are shooting back.

Mick G @ 5/16/2014 6:51 AM

Just to clarify one thing, when I said .357 I meant .357 magnum not the .357 SIG. 10mm as primary sidearm and .357 magnum snub-nose hammerless as backup.

Pompeo Scalorbi @ 5/17/2014 12:10 PM

Dear sirs, I am reading your opinions about a very important aspect for a man in a Dangerous situation, mainly for a law operator that has much more possibilities to risk his life than normal Citizen. I was recently reading the comments about the famous Miami shootout in 1986. The real situation was that Platt was seriously hitted from a 9 mm bullet in a vital area, but he was able to continue to fight and kill 2 FBI agents, if that bullet would be stronger and in condition to go ahead for 2-3 centimeters probably Mr.Benjamin Grogan and mr Jerry Grove would be still alive. The "stopping power" is the result of a bullet that hits the Target in a vital area with the power to knock it out inconsciuos immediately. It means big shock on muscles and bones and penetration in the vital area with sufficient energy. With a Virtual Model it is possible to simulate all these tissues and calculate how the bullet works.
Probably in the next months my studies will be issued on italian "Armi Magazine"

Mick G @ 5/18/2014 2:52 AM

With all do respect Mr. Scaloribi I will better explain things to you. A shootout is not a "Virtual Model". It is "reality"- life and death. If you have to make the decision to use deadly force then you kill the offender, there is no time to second guess. The harsh reality is you always shoot to kill once the decision to shoot is made. A virtual model is nothing more then an elaborate video game. I am talking about taking someone's life. One is playing on a computer the other is actually putting bullets into someone to stop the CNS. The problem is anatomy of people do differ to an extent, i.e. the strength and location of the sternum and ribs. The purpose of a double tap to the chest is very few will hit exactly in the same spot hence the chance of hitting something vital is greatly increased. If the person is incapacitated by blood loss to the brain, i.e. the heart is destroyed, end of conflict. If not then the CNS has to be taken out directly by a shot to the T zone of the head.

Mick G @ 5/18/2014 4:24 AM

Basically it still comes down to shot placement. People have been killed by a BB gun shot through the eye, others have had 3 .38 rounds not penetrate the forehead. The 10mm was put on the FBIs use list as a direct result of the 1986 FBI shootout. It has been taken off but many still carry it. You do have to watch what is behind the perp. The 1986 FBI shootout is what happens when you use handguns against a rifle. Both of the suspects were killed by shots from a .357 magnum to the spinal cord by a local LEO plus the 12 times they were hit by other bullets. About 150 shots were fired. The FBI had more firepower but the 6 agents who had it did not make it to the shootout in time. That how fast this happens. You had 14 FBI agents of which 8 were involved in the actual shootout. If you read the actual report it went down very quickly, the .223 rifle was devastating. That is the difference between "Virtual" and "Reality". By the way it was FBI Special Agents Grogan and Dove who were killed.

Pompeo Scalorbi @ 5/21/2014 12:04 PM

Dear Mick G, I agree with you that the field is different from the table, but you know that the car manufacturers are now building very safe cars, they test them using virtual models where they reproduce all the stresses before the production of the first frame. And when the cars crash the passengers can come out with their legs thanking these engineers. It is the same: if you can know how a bullet works, you can choose the best for your particular field of action. It is clear a 40 SW 180 grains SJHP can leave on the target (I intend suits, muscles and bones) the 66% more energy than the classic 38 Special Lead SWC HP with a greater muzzle energy only of 50%. A caliber 12 slug bullet leaves on the same target 4 time the energy of 40 SW. With a virtual model you can also check inch by inch how the bullet is working against the different obstacles it finds.

Mick G @ 5/21/2014 3:58 PM

Mr.Scaloribi,
It seems to me you are comparing Apples to Oranges. The .40 is basically a powered down version of a 10mm. The Pittsburgh Police were howling last year about the."40 Short & Weak" S&W. They were getting into firefights, putting .40cal bullets center mass and the perps were not going down. The Gary Indiana Police added the FN 5.7 to their carry list because some criminals were wearing body armor. True there are people who cannot handle the recoil of a 10mm. Most LEOs can. That all being said I cannot find any reference to you at all, you compare engineering cars to being in a life and death firefight and worst of all you disrespected a decorated FBI agent by having your facts screwed up. Your English has greatly improved and you still go on about virtual models which to me is just playing a video game. Will a .40 S&W put someone down with proper shot placement? Yes. As for most LEOs who carry the .40 they use Speer Gold Dots in 155 or 165 GR. Much more velocity and energy.

Mick G @ 5/21/2014 4:36 PM

Basically you are inferring that you are an engineer. I will gladly read your study when it is published. Most Police Departments have a list of approved firearms. Some local LEOs I know are forced to use sidearms and ammo they don't want to. While it is very easy for your superior to see what sidearm you are carrying, most will go with different ammo. It's against the rules but these are ACTUAL life and death situations. Since most LEOs have never fired their guns in a real world situation the chances of getting into trouble are slight. Besides I would rather get a reprimand and be alive then the alternative. I do not have that problem. I am allowed to carry a Glock 20 in 10mm because I was forced to give up my Colt Delta Elite. I will never sell my Colt. It's art. Trust me on this, you do not want got shot with any firearm center mass but in your VIRTUAL world you DO NOT want to get hit by a 10mm. Run that through your "simulation" and see how that compares to a 9mm or .40 in any GR.

LARRY D @ 5/22/2014 3:58 PM

A lot has been said in each article,some true some not so true.Yes shot placement is important in ending a gunfight.But if you carry concealed and all you do is go to the range and punch paper,you may not be doing what you need to.A gunfight seldom occurs where you and the agressor are standing exchanging shots.You must train as you would be using the weapon in a real fight.That means you have to be able to place your shot while moving,and at the same time looking for other aggressors and al,so looking for cover.If you carry,you should practice drawing,moving,acquiring cover,watching your attacker or attackers aqnd bystanders and at the same time being able to reload without getting shot in the process.To learn this you should take as many classes in gun use and tactics as possible.Just putting hole in paper day after day may hurt you without the other types of training.The main thing is there usually isnt a second place in a shoot out!

Mick G @ 5/22/2014 6:30 PM

I agree absolutely. This is not about punching holes in paper, I hit the combat range at least once a month. Like I said earlier, it all goes down very quickly. It is very hard to keep composed in a gun fight. It's complete chaos and regardless of how many times you actually been in a firefight, you are pumping with adrenaline and have to keep a cool head. Then there is the point of finding real cover as opposed to bad cover. If you are alone then you have to be very careful as to other shooters but that's what a partner is for. I have 15+1 so reloading has never been an issue. I try and stay composed and double tap center mass. As for bystanders , you really do not want shoot an innocent person but I'm not going to not take a shot because I may hit a bystander. I am also not pulling the trigger as fast as possible in a general direction. I try and keep controlled shots at the other shooter. Look I have been shot twice, thank God for my vest and yes second place is the first loser.

Mick G @ 5/22/2014 6:58 PM

The thing I completely disagree with is a "virtual" simulation. While my attitude my seem confrontational, it does not feel the bruises that I have had after being shot. A vest is great, it will save your life unless you are going against a high powered rifle or get hit in the head but really I don't want to hear about "virtual" simulations. Study some shootouts and you will see that technically people should have been dead but have kept fighting for minutes. That's without drugs fueling them. I also make it seem casual to get a headshot off after the double tap. It is extremely hard to shoot someone who is moving in the head unless you are within about 20 feet. That's where the double tap comes in. Hopefully it stops or stuns them and after the second shot you let the muzzle rise and hopefully you can get off the third shot if needed. A cool head is key, shot placement comes second. Power third.
People running and shooting is usually how it goes down. Bullets will fly.
IT'S CHAOS.

Pompeo S. @ 5/27/2014 12:18 PM

In Miami Shootout agents were able and their first shots reached vital points with a 2” 38 Special Snub: McNeill; and from 25 meters with a 459 SW 9 mm Luger: Dove. From study of Doc. Anderson, second wound to William Matix: “The bullet hit Matix just forward of his right ear, below the temple, shattered the cheek bone, hit and fractured the base of the cranium, and entered the right sinus cavity under the eye. This hit bruised the brain”. A minute later the first wound to Michael Platt: “one of Dove’s 9mm bullets hit his right upper arm, just above the inside crook of the elbow, the bullet passed under the bone, through the deltoid, triceps and teres major muscles, and severed the brachial arteries. The bullet exited the inner side of his upper arm near the armpit, penetrated his chest between the fifth and sixth ribs, and passed almost completely through the right lung before stopping. The bullet came to a rest about an inch from the heart”. With the right gun the fight would end

Pompeo S. @ 5/27/2014 12:21 PM

I studied these two shots with the Virtual model, and as Mike G. suggested I considered 10 mm Auto 175 gr Silvertip (Delta Elite 5”), 40 SW 180 gr FBI load, 175 gr TAP (Glock 23 4”) and 9mm 135 gr TAP (S&W 459 4”). The cartridges of the shootout 38 Special 158 gr SWCHP (S&W 19 2”), and 9 mm 115 Sillvertip (S&W 459 4”). It is not possible here to edit the chart of energy distribution but I can give the values in the critical points
Target Matix Energy against the base of cranium, 10 mm =180J 40 180 gr=110 J 40 175 gr=138J 9mm 135 gr=109J 38 sp.=36J. No word, the numbers are clear

Pompeo s: @ 5/27/2014 12:24 PM

Target 2 Platt Energy lost through the arm: 10 mm=406J 40 SW 180 gr=247J 40SW 175 gr=312J 9mm 135 gr=256j 9mm 115 gr=330J Energy to the chest: 10 mm=349J, 40 SW 180 gr=243J 40SW 175 gr=268J 9mm 135 gr=178J 9mm 115 gr=125J . Penetration depth into the chest: 10 mm=7”1/2 40 SW 180 gr=7” 40SW 175 gr=7” 9mm 135 gr= 6”1/4 9mm 115 gr=5”

Pompeo S. @ 5/27/2014 12:43 PM

Excuse me MicK, not Mike.

Mick G @ 5/27/2014 5:10 PM

Your numbers prove exactly how useless a virtual simulation is. First of all I do not use a Delta Elite anymore. Second I do not use the 10mm lite or the 10mm F.B.I. load. When you rerun your "simulation" in BF4 or whatever you are using take the following into consideration. It is a SIMULATION and nothing more. I know of nobody who uses a .38 SP anymore. As for numbers , they are just that. They are not REAL life situations. Frankly I find your nonsense offensive. Until you have actually been actively involved in an actual firefight, take your nonsense and get it published. You cant even get my name right. Doves 9mm round stopped closer to 2" from his heart. To shorten that point, it would have needed a bit more energy to travel through the heart and destroy it. Basically yes a more powerful round would have probably killed him dead. Duh! Just for arguments sake and a bit off subject, Gabrielle Giffords was shot in the back of the head with a 9mm, exiting through the front and lived.

Mick G @ 5/27/2014 5:52 PM

Basically how does that fit in with your "Simulations". It doesn't. She was shot at close range through the back of the head and is walking and talking. As for your "Simulation" those rounds did not exist yet. "Dr. Anderson’s publication neither addresses nor examines the tactical aspects of the confrontation and ensuing gunfight." Then there is this "Dr. Anderson’s report is the most thoroughly researched and documented account of the FBI-Miami shoot-out that has ever been made public." EVER BEEN MADE PUBLIC being the key phrase. It's very easy to be an expert after the fact from the internet. You didn't go looking for facts on the internet until you made an ass of yourself after getting the name of FBI Agent Gerald Dove wrong. While we can go back and forth on this, I choose not to. You go play on your X-Box and IF you get your work published I will read it. Post a link when that happens. Until then I will leave my home daily not knowing if I will return. Do a "Simulation" on that.

David T @ 5/28/2014 3:57 AM

Hey Mick G, did it ever occur that you are arguing with a teenager? This Pompeo guy is clueless as to what he is writing about. There are way too many variables to do an accurate simulation. What I have read on this forum is a joke. A .45 not going through a windshield or jean jacket? You sit in a car with a jean jacket on and someone shoots you through the window and you are unhurt? I say BS. As for the stopping argument, IMO shot placement is #1. A 155 Grain speer or xtp out of a Glock 20 10mm at 1550fps+ and 800 ft. lbs+ is nice if you hit something vital. As for the shootout, McNeill had a S&W M19-3 .357 Magnum loaded with .38+Ps so Pompeos numbers are not accurate. Had it been loaded with .357 rounds, Matix would have been dead. Had Platt been hit with a hot 10mm round, his arm probably would have been blown off with the bullet going through him, also killing him. Pompeos tests don't even have the right ammo. Expansion isn't even considered. You are in a argument with a troll.

Pompeo s: @ 5/28/2014 5:13 AM

David T. The model considers the expansion of bullets, so you can see that according to the Winchester design the fast Silvertip bullet of 9 mm expands very quickly in the arm and give 330 Joules of energy there.
This model is made for hunting ammunitions, to find the best bullet for a particular wild animal. So every phase of expasion is calculated. It is clear that simulation is theory, it means that you can calculate average values. Mick G.: each one real fact is different from the other, nobody can replace the courage and coolness on a man on the field. Each shot is different from the other, but what is sure like David T. says with a right ammunition much more police officers would be safe and alive. You must think that in Italy police can only use fmj bullets, the sidearm is Beretta 92S Model 9mm, against criminals that many time use AKM 47 rifles.

Pompeo s: @ 5/28/2014 6:24 AM

I am also sorry about my mistake on the name of Gerald Dove, but "Grove was a mistake of text generator. All Citizen should Honor him! A question for David T. from my information McNeill's gun was a S&W 19, loaded with 38 Sp. +P 158 grains semi wadcutter hollow point bullets? And was Dove's 459 loaded with Silvertrip 115 grains? please I am interested to know the true. Believe me every time I read about these courageus men I think that our lives are in good hands and generous.

David T @ 5/28/2014 5:12 PM

Just to be friendly I will answer your questions and point out your mistakes. McNeill had a S&W M19-3 loaded with .38+Ps. Your post and simulation said "38 Special 158 gr SWCHP" not +P. Dove did have a 959 with 115 Gr silvertips. Basically the conclusions of your simulation is that had the ammo been more powerful in this situation, then the shootout would have ended. In the USA we call that The Captain Obvious syndrome. The silvertip is an old round. Light, non bonded, expands well but lacks penetration. The reason for the FBI to do ballistic gel tests and call for 12" min penetration. There have been many rounds developed in the last 28 years that are much better performers. As for hunting, this is a discussion about handgun ammo used against humans, not animals. I know that many Italian Police carry MP5s and other subguns, I have no idea of what Mick G thinks. I think your simulations are a joke, your model should be based on what ammo LEOs carry and not hunters. 40 cal vs .458 mag?

Mick G @ 5/28/2014 9:41 PM

David T you are right, I got played by a troll. Rifugio Pompeo Scalorbi is a hotel in Italy. Some kid with a simple computer program just spitting out numbers. Notice how the grasp of English changes dramatically? At first it's Dear sirs and horrible English and spelling, then it's perfect grammar. Most likely some college student whose parents took him to Italy and stayed at Rifugio Pompeo Scalorbi. All his F.B.I information taken from the internet. His knowledge of the various Italian Police Agencies carrying some heavy duty firepower because he saw it on vacation with his parents. Yes I was played, so good for you kid. The main problem with your "Virtual" crap is the fact that all men are not created equal. A bigger, muscular guy is going to be harder to shoot through. A fat guy a little harder but when you hit big muscles and bones, it's a bit different then shooting a 140 pound man. Good one kid, you should join the Military and get a REAL understanding of firefighting. I'm done.

Pompeo s: @ 5/29/2014 5:11 AM

That's my name! I am glad that you know Rifugio Scalorbi, it is not an hotel, but an Alpin Hut at 1700 meters on the mountains near Vicenza. The name is of my grandfather, in the past president of Alpin Club of Verona. I am sorry with my english but I am no more used to speak or write it so if I write quickly it is bad, if I take time I can improve with vocabulary. Believe me i am not Young. I'd like. I'll inform you when the article will be published.

Pompeo S. @ 5/29/2014 5:26 AM

Thank you David T. for your answer. You confirm my information that off course come from Internet. Really I considered the 38 Special +P load for 158 grains ball with a speed of 750 fp/s from a 2" barrel at 10 meters.

David T @ 5/29/2014 5:56 PM

Looking forward to your article. Until then you can keep running simulations but do all of us in Law Enforcement a favor and just stop. Stop writing about your simulations. IF you get published, then by all means post again with your contact info. Until then just stop because you don't have any actual useful info and it's getting old. The Miami shootout has been studied more then any other shootout. You are not going to add anything. Dr. W French Andersons report was considered a joke and insult at Quantico, a pediatrician who wrote a report riddled with conjecture and mistakes. Try and find a S&W M19-3 with a 2" barrel. They only came with a 2.5" in snubnose.
The rounds that McNeil used were the classic FBI or "Chicago" load. They are 100% lead - LSWCHP and travel at 945 fps out of a 2.5" barrel which is 200 fps faster then your simulation. Redo your numbers and try and find studies by Stephen A Camp. His results will SCHOOL you in ballistics.
I'm also done with this BS.
Ciao

Don Russell @ 6/1/2014 5:55 PM

There's over 60 million gunowners in the US, and less than a million cops. Civilans don't get to carry around longarms. So telling people to bring a longarm is mostly bs. You can shoot animals and get real flesh and blood information about penetration and bullet expansion. And you'll find out that most jhp's don't expand worth a hoot. :-) Only the lightest, fastest jhp's (in a given caliber) will do so. 100 gr 9mm's, 135 gr .40s (in a long enough barrel) and 165 gr .45's (only the plus p rated ones). You've got to have 1000 fps in a .45, and 1300 fps in a 9mm or you wont get reliable expansion, after "clogging" the hp cavity with clothing debris.

David T @ 6/2/2014 4:22 AM

Exactly the point. You can run a million simulations and it means nothing. The FBI ballistic gel test is a joke because even though they run 8 separate tests, most HPs are not going to expand reliably. If they do without getting clogged with clothing, it doesn't mean the next round will. Basically your results may vary as they say. Plus expansion does not necessarily equate to a person being stopped. People have taken multiple hits center mass, every bullet expanded well and they kept fighting or ran away to die an hour later. No simulation will prepare you for an actual gunfight. Yes the proper way to deal with the situation is to get to your trunk and get out whatever nasty you may have. Some depts. have M4s, some have MP5s but it's kind of hard to grab one when somebody is trying to shoot you. You don't get to call a timeout. Love the people on YouTube shooting water jugs. People watch that and say that's the round I'm going to buy. It's water jugs, not a person trying to kill you.

David T @ 6/2/2014 4:40 AM

If Pompeo is for real then he has a different set of circumstances in Italy. Most of those cops carry subguns and expansion or not, take 30 rounds in a second and see if you have any fight left in you. As the animal part I disagree. People are built a bit different, every bullet depending on where it hits is going to act differently. Basically shooting a boar is not the same as shooting a PCP crazed maniac. The boar or deer is going to have a different result depending on where the bullet hits. Hunting is interesting because you get a clean shot on a dear, some fall down and others run for a while and drop. The same for the PCP maniac who is shooting at you. A shot may bring him down, the same bullet from the same gun hit a half inch away may have no effect. There is an element of luck. A lucky cop lucks into a headshot. That usually stops just about everything but comparing apples to oranges I have seen boars just shrug off a high powered shot to the head. Plus expansion is overrated.

Pompeo s. @ 6/4/2014 2:02 PM

I come back just to make clear a point about weapons supplied to the Italian Police.
The base is the Beretta 92 FS and SB 9 mm Luger, in particular places or activities of anti-terrorism some agents carry also a subgun Beretta M12s (designed in 1959), only few officers attached to the protection of main airports are equipped with subguns H&K M5, and special agents, some years ago received Revolvers Ruger 101 357 M. Only Nocs, the equivalent of SWAT have many different weapons like Mauser 66 for snipers, Shotguns etc. The patrolmen carry only their Beretta, with FMJ round nose 115 or 123 grains.

David T @ 6/5/2014 4:50 AM

Not that I don't believe you but when I was in Europe a few years ago I saw most of the Italian Police with subguns. The M12 maybe from the late 50s, early 60s and was redesigned in 1978. My point is it is a submachine gun with a capacity of 32 rounds that fly out at 550 Rds./min. I also saw them carry Beretta 84 and 92s which I thought was funny. They were also carrying MP5s and Benelli shotguns. As for the Berretta 92 (16+1) most of the LA police carry it, it isn't a bad gun, passes the FBI gel test with ease with either bullet you mentioned. We are limited to our sidearm, if a situation calls for it we have a Remington 870 shotgun in the front seat and depending on who you are dealing with something auto in the trunk. A lot of major depts went to the M4 in the trunk after The North Hollywood Shootout. There were 10 shootings last night in Chicago. When it gets warmer out that will double. The gangs are out of control, they cant shoot accurately which hurts the bystanders with strays

David T @ 6/5/2014 5:17 AM

They are getting well armed, the weekend numbers in the summer easily hit 30 or more shot on a weekend night. While they tend to shoot horribly, a tactic they use is to get right up on someone. Then they don't miss. Hit somebody in the leg and walk up and execute them. If we are close they shoot at us but about 99% of the time they run. If they keep the gun and turn, we shoot. Then we are called murderers. Your punk kid just shot somebody and then pointed a gun at us. We are not allowed to defend? The problem is the bullets flying and they don't care. They know prison and the only time it really hits the fan is when a child is killed by a rogue bullet. Then the community gets all up in arms, having a fit and we have to catch the shooter. The main problem is, What is a 10 year old doing out at 2AM? Prison is not a deterrent. It's a second home to them. They learn to be killers at 12 years old. Does this have anything to do with "stopping power or simulations?" No, its real life nightly.

Pompeo s: @ 6/5/2014 3:16 PM

Really I do not understand why in USA is so wide the use of pump shotguns, a good Automatic like Benelli M3 with 8+1 shots or the new Beretta 1301, they can fire 2 shots x second, you can fire with one hand, you can use buckshots, gummi (Benelli) or slugs according to the situation. I use an old Beretta 300 automatic for hunting, for the low it has only 2+1 shots but a jam is very rare, also in swamp or under the rain. You can tell me that the Street is a very different situation, but it is also very easy under stress to handle incorrectly a pump shotgun

David T @ 6/5/2014 10:28 PM

I'm with you on that one. Benelli is my personal favorite for Skeet and Trap. A funny story is my neighbor bought a Benelli and the instructions were in Italian. The shotgun shot low, it needed a different shim for the butt stock. It came with three. He was like "which one do I put in?" I said "How am I supposed to know, you're Italian." It was pretty easy to figure out. Anyway back to pump shotguns. I think the intimidation factor actually prevents some violence. There is no sound on earth like racking a shotgun. We are supposed to have the chamber clear in case of a collision. This is a widely debated policy. A lot of LEOs will tell you that it is the intimidation factor. Racking the shotgun is like a warning shot. There are few people who are stupid enough to not stop immediately because the next sound is a big boom. It will clear a angry mob and nobody gets hurt. That sound is terrifying to most people, especially if you are up to no good. In my house, chamber loaded.Warning? BOOM!

David T @ 6/5/2014 10:51 PM

Here is a quote from another LEO. "I tell you what, I once racked my shotgun on a group of 23 subjects. 21 hit the ground as ordered, and only two ran. So that's a 91% effectiveness on the racking effect." Nobody got hurt and a lot of paperwork was avoided. Plus it does prevent aftermarket sunroofs. Believe me I have and will shoot a perceived threat. That does not mean I like to. Most cops are not sociopaths. We are just doing our jobs and sometimes that means you have to shoot someone. If that happens, then you have to go to a mandatory psych exam among other things which is usually just a bunch of BS. Basically not shooting someone is preferred. Hence the racking of the 870.

JDP @ 6/30/2014 6:30 PM

Respectfully at all! I am only here to perhaps elaborate on some of the key notes from the article itself and from some of the comments posted. I do not know this doctor or probably anyone else for that matter. I am however a tactical operator with the specialized skill as a nationally certified tactical medic (test results pending). I have trained on sedated hogs, advanced technological machines and so forth. What I took from this article was that any weapon and ammo size can kill in the right hands. Straight from the mouth of a delta force specialist I trained under, while in Somolia they had issues with aggressors not going down bc of the excessive use of opiates and similar. They changed their tactics, not their weapons or ammo. Started using direct spinal cord, particularly upper neck and shoulder area, and they dropped without as much a another twitch. No communication coming or going to the brain, no more threat. Use whatever you like as it will do its job if you do yours...

CD @ 7/4/2014 9:18 AM

Yawn! What a wasted and disappointing article...I expected some real scientific evidence. Don't bore me with the obvious. In my oppinion you arm yourself with the largest weapon you can comfortably/accurately handle and load it with the most deadly ammo you can afford. Each person should perform their own scientific experiment only changing one variable at a time. So if you hold all variables and only look at calibre which is best. Then for each caliber which round is best and so on. Then it is a personal choice which can only be determined by shooting. I am a big guy and personally prefer .45 acp, recoil doesn't bother me, I am very accurate with it and rounds deliver massive impact. But, I would never recommend it for my wife. Enough said.

Mick G @ 7/9/2014 5:06 AM

This is for the both of you guys. Years ago I was trained the "Mozambique Drill". Where I was taught that is not important. My point is the same as yours. I am allowed and can comfortably shoot a 10mm. Two shots center mass, then a head shot BUT if on the 3rd shot you bring your sidearm down a little you severe the spinal cord. Severing the spinal cord works 100% of the time. The two shots center mass first kind of stand the aggressor up. Not always but most of the time they just stand there dazed. Third shot, through the head or spinal cord and fights over. Whatever drug the perp is on does not come into play. Whether it be Khat in Somali or PCP in Chicago, no nervous system, end of fight. I was not impressed with the doctors article, I was offended by "SIMULATIONS" on a computer. I will put it simply. Any day in Chicago can just as bad as any hotspot in the world. 51 shootings and 8 dead on the 4th of July. The "Mozambique Drill" has been taught for many years JDP.
10/3-4/93. Hint?

Joseph Johnston @ 7/15/2014 5:31 AM

I am a trial court judge and also an NRA Firearms Instructor. I carry a Beretta M9 with 135 gr. Hornady Critical Duty rounds. Most of you have great points.
On ammunition testing in gelatin, I have seen it, but do have doubts. One of my probation officers was arresting my probationer when he broke away and slipped his cuffs to his front. The probationer grabbed officer 1's .40 caliber Glock firing 1 round of a high quality law enforcement HP( can't remember which). The round went right through officer 1's neck, not a "graze", right through the flesh. It did not expand and looked almost new. Officer #1 was treated and spent the night in the hospital. Officer 2 emptied all of his rounds, 5 of which hit probationer, killing him.
Excuses:"the shot was fired from a few inches away, that is why it didn't perform ." Well, it still didn't perform in real life. Thank God it didn't, but just another reason to put more emphasis on shot placement and being the firstest with the mostest."

derek wall @ 7/17/2014 10:00 AM

what caliber was he shot with?

Jim @ 7/19/2014 4:21 PM

I am a retired mechanical engineer. I have two first cousins who are retired homicide detectives from a large urban city. The elder of the two has shot multiple threats. I have tried to explain to him that the 44 mag he was using ( pre antipersonnel rounds) carried way to much kinetic energy and therefore only endangered the public after piercing the intended shooter. Any energy not expended on the threat is dangerous and useless.

Ed @ 7/28/2014 11:35 AM

Of course the Doc isn't saying a .22 LR is statistically as good as a .45, otherwise LE agencies would carrying .22LR, as cheap as it is. The big three: .357's, .40 and .45 all work fairly well, so long as the shooter hits vital areas; the ambiguity and confusion occurs when only muscle or fat are hit by a bullet wound. The 9mm parabellum and .38 sp are just a notch down from the big three, the minimum in reasonably reliable self-defense rounds.
9mm short, .32 and .25 are only a lil more effective than .22 rimfires, if that. Of course, they can still kill people when perfect wounds occur.

Bob @ 7/28/2014 11:57 PM

Have you tried to get .22LRs lately? They are impossible to find. A perfect shot in the eye from a BB gun can kill but we are talking about putting somebody down so they cannot fight anymore. Basically the doctors report is rubbish, anything can happen when shot with any caliber. I personally would not like to be shot by any bullet but a .357 will certainly do the most damage, blowing through bone, muscle and fat. You underrate the 9mm, it is a proven stopper with proper shot placement, just slightly less effective then the .40. A .45 hits hard usually 180 to 230 Gr being totally absorbed by the human body. It has been said for years that a 9mm is more likely to kill you but a .45 will put you down, unable to fight. A .357 will blow a rather large hole through you doing both. As for the others they are considered mouse gun rounds and most will not penetrate a heavy coat. Hey if the attacker runs away though, you have accomplished what you wanted.

Matt Stacker @ 8/7/2014 6:25 PM

Hi Doc.

Question. All other things being equal, how does caliber effect the quantity of damage done per wound to a typical human body by a gunshot wound?

All things being equal meaning projectile brand and model and velocity.

Thanks. Interested in your observations and speculation.

Matt

ED @ 8/25/2014 5:35 PM

I am just a civilian shooter with some local competition experience and over 50 years of shooting & hunting experience. Within the last 2 years I have settled on the 38 super auto in 1911 full size as the best STOPPER of bad guys that you can carry concealed. Statistics show that of actual humans shot and stopped the 357 mag with 125 grain bullet with velocity of 1300 to 1500 fps stops 98% of aggressive action with one shot. The 38 super can deliver that same stopping power without the recoil of the revolver and is as accurate as the gun you chose and your gunsmith can make it. I can shoot my 38 super considerably faster than I can my 45 autos. It also can have a 10 rnd mag with 1 in the chamber. Considering all of this I have made my 38 super my self defense carry gun. It is just easier to carry than my 12 ga.

joe @ 8/27/2014 7:00 AM

Hitmen in my country always use 45acp. And they have a high success kill rate. Even cops swear that bad guys just cant fire back when hit will a 45 than with a 9mm. I have a friend cop who was assassinated and hit with 3 45 bullets. He never got a chance to shoot back. He was a good cop.

robert @ 8/28/2014 8:08 PM

9mm fragment bullets will stop on any torso shots 97% of the time within 12 seconds. Germany use them as assassin bullets. Two rifles where made just for them in ww2. I think there are some brave men in here you all have my respect.

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