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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.

Comments (218)

Displaying 1 - 218 of 218

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" 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

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


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.

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.

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 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

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.

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.

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.


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.

Joseph P @ 9/2/2014 5:14 AM

With concealed carry becoming more popular the .38 Super has made a very big comeback with the ladies. It is also the most common round in Latin America. As for comparing it the .357 magnum, NO. Ballistics of a .38 super 130 gr (8.4 g) FMJ 1,305 ft./s (398 m/s) 492 ft·lbf (667 J) Ballistics of a .357 125 gr (8.1 g) Bonded Defense JHP 1,600 ft./s (490 m/s) 710 ft·lbf (960 J) It is a very popular competition (IPSC) round due to the fact that is a controllable round especially on 1911s with a muzzle brake. It does not have nearly the stopping power of a .357 but actually placement is key. IWO better to get two hits center mass then one and a miss. It is at about the same power of a 9mm but most 9mms in full size carry 17+1. The .357 magnum is legal to use as a deer hunting round, the .38 super is not. It is mostly a competition load. If it works for you then great. As for the last two posts this blog has just gone way down hill. I suspect it's that Pompeo guy. More nonsense from him.

Jeffrey T @ 9/6/2014 9:21 PM

I understand shot placement will always be important, but what about other factors when we talk about stopping power. If you have a subject in Alaska, middle of Winter, 4 or 5 layers of clothing. Then lets add any number of drugs like crack, ice, or any other thing they might be able to lay thier hands on. Maybe what we need then is that Apache the Doc was talking about. So from my understanding there are so many variables that in the end it will be a crap shoot and all we can do is really hope that we don't have to find out if we made the correct choice.

David T @ 9/8/2014 3:05 AM

Regardless of the caliber of your primary sidearm, you choose your ammo for your expected conditions. In the Midwest where we see hot summers to arctic winters, your ammo should change. Example: 90 degree days and nights, Speer Gold Dots. Middle of January -10, perhaps an non expanding or less expansive round. Some LEOs use stacking, HP-FMJ-HP-FMJ but most do not because sometimes you can have feeding issues. The moral is you load for conditions and remember that your sidearm is for use until you get to your shotgun or rifle. Then I don't care what the perp is wearing, the 556 round is going through you into the Grizzly Bear behind you who is tweaked on meth. That part is a joke from someone who has a 30mm round on their desk as a paperweight. It is not a spent uranium round but is one of the souvenirs I brought back from Iraq. You are right about the last part, you don't want to be in a gunfight-firefight ever. It is nothing like the movie/TV scenario that everyone thinks it is.

Cyle @ 9/15/2014 8:50 PM

[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.-Chuck Haggard]

The 9mm creates a smaller cavity than a .45, for example. Say the difference in cavity circumference is 1cm. If a 9mm were placed in a location that rendered the cavity .5 cm away from hitting "'instant-kill-spot-X", a .45 round placed in the same location would hit "instant-kill-spot-X."

Shot placement being equal, increasing cavity size increases potential effectiveness, by definition.

David T @ 9/18/2014 7:58 AM

Well actually we were talking about penetration through clothing. One of the main issues with this forum is people have no idea how an actual gunfight goes down. It isn't the wild west where two people stand still and trade shots.
It's complete chaos, usually the "bad" guy is going to shoot first, you have to react in a semi rational way which is much harder then most are led to believe. Your first instinct is to grab your sidearm. Then what? You have just been shot or shot at. Where did it come from? Where is solid cover? Who are the "bad" guys and how many? Usually the perps are running at this point and so are you. The moral here is forget about Chuck Haggard and his ONE firefight because all this went down in one second. God forbid that you do immediately realize who shot at you and they are now running away, back to you. Shoot them in the back and the whole neighborhood is going to come out and tell wonderful stories about how they were good people. Basically get to your long gun.

Joeseph P @ 9/20/2014 10:26 AM

By definition some of the people on here are a little off. Quoting Chuck Haggard, a Topeka Kansas cop. Bet he saw a lot of action compared to some of the Chicago cops on here or people who have fought in the Middle East. With equal placement you cannot compare a .357 to a .38+P. Am I biased towards the .357? Yes because NO .38 round passes the FBI Ammunition Test Protocol. When you start taking clothing, bones, body build into consideration, well that's why Chuck Haggard is really not considered "all that". It's one thing to be on a SWAT team in a small city, it's quite another to be on gang task force knocking down doors and clearing rooms in Chicago or Detroit. "'instant-kill-spot-X" sums up the ignorance of the entire post. It sounds like Pompeo is at it again. We have heard your babble and await your article to get published. Here's the instant kill spot trick. CNS. That simple. Take out the CNS with any caliber and the person is dead. That or blood loss which can take some time.

Phil @ 9/22/2014 5:29 PM

Well, I will slip in another opinon I don't think anyone has mentioned. Pure luck! I agree shot placement is King, but I have personal experience in the likely hood that you will hit pricisely where you won't to or aim. Where I work we had a angry husband shot his wife in the parking lot. Mick G. he was shooting a 357 magnum. This was not a crazy drug hyped up 300 lb man, it was a 140lb quiet lady. He shot her, then stood over her and emptied his weapon. Put six shots at 2 feet away into her critical mass area and she never even passed out! She was back at work in 6 weeks. So most of this whole discussion is a total waste of time. So those of you that have said, I never heard of anyone getting shot 2 or 3 times with this and that caliber and contunue on. Now you have!

Mick G @ 9/23/2014 7:42 AM

My statement was I have never seen it and I still haven't. Not with a .357 magnum. I will agree that Luck trumps all. IMO if this is true then he was probably using a non expanding round. The response was quick and they cracked her open and stopped the bleeding. She lived. I have seen a perp shot by another perp DEAD CENTER mass with a 7.62. This guy was shooting blood out like a garden hose on high coming out front and back. He kept shooting back at the people who shot him, I personally was in awe and he went almost 2 minutes before he dropped. The autopsy showed he had been shot right through the heart and aorta. I have even brought up Gabrielle Giffords, no way should she have lived but she did. Luck, quick response and she makes it. The thing that you don't hear about are the other 6 who were not as lucky. On any given day you can wake up and fall in your bathroom and die. You are much more likely to die that way unless you are in the military or law enforcement.

David T @ 9/23/2014 9:51 PM

"I have never seen anyone get hit center mass with a .357 or 10mm twice and keep fighting." - Mick G. So Phil what you are basically saying this a true statement. The 140lb quiet lady was shot once and went down. Then the angry husband shot her 5 more times. Basically she went down, unable to fight back which is what this discussion is about. It isn't about killing, it's about stopping power. Basically she was stopped with one shot from a .357 and all she could do was lay on the ground and pray. Then LEOs get involved. You never did say what happened to the angry husband. Did he surrender? Did he reload and shoot himself in the head? Did the police show up and take him down? I agree that most of this discussion is a huge waste of time, this is supposed to be a POLICE discussion and from experience I don't agree with Dr. Vail or Chuck Haggard except the post from "Chuck Haggard". The Speer Gold Dot does reliably expand but only if there is not heavy clothing involved. A great round.

Joe S @ 10/17/2014 1:31 PM

My opinion, shot placement is #1, # is kinetic energy on target (achieved if the round stays in the back guy). There is no magic round, even so, I still prefer something 9mm/38 special or bigger. If one round doesn't stop the attacker, put 4 more into their center of mass. That's what the 15rds mag is for any way, place a bunch of rounds in the center of mass and the attacker will usually stop, especially with using a quality JHP that expands. I carry 9mm because I'm pretty fast/accurate with shot placement and it has a decent amount of kinetic energy. Whatever you carry, make sure that you can shoot accurately, precise, and fast with it, that's what matters most! If you put a 44mag JHP into a guys shoulder and he puts a 380 ACP into your noggin, he wins you lose. Practice with your equipment.

Andy M @ 10/20/2014 2:46 PM

The above post is the misconception that most people have. Gunfights DO NOT happen like in the old west as mentioned in other posts. You are not going to STAND there and exchange shots. Your flee or fight instinct is going to kick in. Your mind explodes from the adrenaline pumping. "If one round doesn't stop the attacker, put 4 more into their center of mass."- just plain stupid talk. I mean really? Most cops empty their magazines, a good example of that is what happened in St. Louis. Vonderrit Deondre Myers shot at a cop 3 times, the officer returned fire by emptying his pistol scoring 7 hits to the legs and one hit to the head. Now tell me how much training you have compared to a police officer Joe S. Typical shootout = empty magazine. Shooting at paper targets WILL NOT prepare you for a gun fight. Until you have been in an actual life or death situation, you won't know. Lets see how clearly you think when you are ACTUALLY in a real gunfight. As for the 44mag vs. .380, you both lose.

Drew G @ 11/7/2014 7:05 PM

Lots of good information in here from the doctor and others. Being a veteran and law enforcement officer, I see both sides of the argument. A handgun is and always has been a secondary weapon. You aim "center mass" where the heart, lungs and liver are. Yes a rifle and shotgun are preferable, but if you carry those in public you may be the one on the autopsy table. I do believe in "size matters" especially in rifles. The .223 was developed for shooting matches and I know from personal experience that a .30-06 is WAY better for downing bad guys than the 5.56mm. That's where your kinetic energy comes in. This is just my personal opinion, but with real world experience behind me I wanted to add my two cents. As far as the person that wrote, "why use a 1911?" Because of the all steel manufacturing, weight and reliability, not to mention a 230 gr FMJ does stop the bad guy, if you run out of ammo, it's as great to use as metal pipe. Doubles as a hammer too.

Rob S @ 11/9/2014 5:09 AM

I agree 100% except if you are a cop, you can carry anything in public. Who is going to stop you? Second a 1911 is a great weapon for a sidearm. With the newer .45 expanding rounds, you don't have to go with just the 230 FMJ. A 180 gold dot or equivalent is a great substitute. I had an argument with my neighbors over the .556. It is a varmint round. Look if a .30-06 doesn't put someone down, they weren't alive to begin with. For those who don't know, a .30-06 is a 7.62 X 63 and your typical AK round is a 7.62 X 39. Both are far more powerful then the .556, basically a souped up .22 magnum. It might sound twisted but if the recent mass shootings were done with ANY 7.62, the damage done would have been MUCH worse. America loves the AR-15. Great for shooting up to a coyote and then pretty bad. In the Middle East, 250,000 rounds fired for ONE kill. WW2 - .30-06 10,000. 25X more and its not spray and pray anymore. 3 round burst max on the M4. A good 1911 is unbreakable compared to plastic.

Erv @ 11/10/2014 6:25 AM

Great article. I'm a firm believer in 45ACP 230GR HP. For home it 45ACP, .357 and 12 ga 00 buck. Having a plan and shot placement is everything and using the zipper drill can't hurt. As far as I'm concerned all gun owners should shoot IPSC and maybe even 3 gun to get acquainted with their weapon for home defense. Anything other than shooting at a still target will help. Having someone shooting back is an entirely different animal.

Mick G @ 11/15/2014 3:44 AM

Erv, finally someone who makes complete sense. We aren't allowed to use the zipper drill in my department, the brass feel that it is too much like being out of control. I feel that it is excellent as most LEOs forget everything they are taught the first time they are in a real firefight hence the empty magazine syndrome. If I were not grandfathered into using a 10mm, I would use a .45ACP. It's comparable to getting hit by a Mack truck and some of the garbage about it that has been said on here is just that, garbage. Here's something to ponder. A .45 shot down a Zero in WWII. Look it up. I have been in more then a few firefights and I use the PC failure drill aka mozambique drill. I have used the zipper drill just not on U.S. soil. Don't go to a CC class and think in anyway that you are prepared for a gunfight. IPSC is a great way to learn. For your home nothing beats the 12 ga. The shear stopping power of a .357 is perfect. BIG HOLES from a pistol just not enough capacity for LEO use.

Randy NARON @ 11/15/2014 8:45 PM

lots of confusing comments here. The Dr. Is a little out of his league here, looking at bullet wounds in a clinical setting, it's almost impossible to tell the difference between say, a 38 spl. lead round nose wound and a .357 mag. 125 gr. Federal hollow point wound. The latter having the best stopping results of any handgun load in history and the former having one of the worst. Of course "placement" is important but since 80% of all handgun wounds are survived, placement to a vital, "life threatening" part of the body doesn't appear to be the most important factor. I believe "energy dump" plays a role in stopping an assailant who is bent on doing harm. Picture, if you can, this hypothetical scenario, two perps are rolled into the ER, both with ice pick wounds to the chest, one of which had Mike Tyson's fist in the same location as well. On autopsy they would appear to have identical wounds, take a wild guess which one dropped his violent attitude first. Energy dump plays a role.

Mick G @ 11/17/2014 5:14 AM

The doctor is a whack job. It's very easy to be Monday morning quarterback
(M Baden) but let me tell you something from firsthand experience. You are NEVER going confuse a .38 LRN and a .357 magnum Federal HS wound. Beyond the obvious that one is going to be all lead and the other looking like a evil copper coated flower, there is the sheer difference in energy. The .357 can easily hit 700 ft-lb and the .38 is going to be around 250 Ft - lb. The key is 80% of handgun wounds are survived, that includes ALL calibers and shooters. Give me a ex military LEO trained in shot placement and that number plummets. It isn't about bleeding out anymore, it's about the CNS being taken out. Survival rate for no CNS? 0%. Basically placement is key. Scenario: Mike Tyson is rolled in to the morgue with a severed spinal cord and a round through his head. The cop who shot him is standing there looking at the guy he just took out UNHARMED. Guess which one is no longer a threat? The one on the table. Tyson

Ava @ 12/15/2014 6:52 PM

If someone is shot from less than twenty feet with a 9mm hollow point in the heart, how will they land on the floor? Will it be face down or face up? Also, approximately how long will this person live? Finally, if this person was holding a knife in his gloveless hand above his head how would he land on this knife and would he leave fingerprints or DNA on the knife? Please reply as I don't know where else to turn to and find truthful answers.
I enjoyed reading your article but it just didn't have all of the information that I am seeking. Thank you.

Gabe @ 12/16/2014 12:16 AM

Good article, the good doctor is telling us there are far too many variables for us to expect stopping power out of any particilar handgun caliber.

Phil @ 12/16/2014 12:30 AM

Why all the confusion? A 357 Sig will out shoot either a 9mm, or a 45acp, while holding twice the shells of the 45, and almost as much as a 9mm. Using 125 gr ammo it has the ballistics of a 357 mag which is much better than the others.

Bob @ 1/3/2015 10:35 PM

The 357 Sig is over hyped. It is a souped up 40S&W and has nowhere the ballistics of a 357 mag. The plus is you have more ammo but the downside is you are shooting a weaker round. Do a little research before you make blanket statements. While many actually got suckered into a 357 sig or 10mm out of pure hype, there are plenty of necked down auto rounds that are far more powerful. The 357 Sig is on par with a hot 9mm load. Out of the four mentioned , the order of sheer power is .357mag, 10mm, 357 Sig and then the 9mm. They will all get the job done. It's an alright carry round but it's not all that. It isn't "much better than the others", do your own research and post facts not opinions. It's a niche caliber, that's all. For Ava, yes there would be DNA all over the place from blood. Which hand has the glove? More facts are needed for your answer.

jeffrey l smith @ 1/4/2015 6:22 AM

I have spent the last hour and a half reading the article and the numerous responses,very enlightening. I have shot american and foreign large game animals with a 44mag but NO people.I have shot feral hogs up to 175 pounds with my springfield 1911 using 220 grain ballistic tip Hornady up to 25 yards and found 1 shot to be adequate if placed in heart or brain. swine are tough . make mine a 200 to 230 grain jacketed hollow point, 45 230 grain plus p revolver or pistol. And spend plenty of time at the range. 1000 round break in and 500 rounds per month.

Tacmed1 @ 1/5/2015 6:31 AM

The good doctor spells it out plainly. E=MxV2. That being said, if I'm going to make a well placed shot, I would rather make it with a larger caliber. If the site of impact, organs affected and number of shots are all made as controls and the only variable is caliber, you stand a better chance of taking down a person on coke/meth/pcp with one well placed, large caliber, high energy shot.

Jefffff @ 1/10/2015 4:06 PM

DOC I get it, you are smart, but that was the worst blurb I have read in a long time. Do some research on the shooting the prompted the FBI to change from 38 wheel guns to 10mm auto...BIGGER HOLES ARE BETTER HOLES...... Things like range, penetration of car doors or windows are also very important in the real world. Can't believe people would forward or promote this article.

GaKracker @ 1/10/2015 5:30 PM

Recent military studies have indicated that only about five percent of our combatants are considered super soldiers, those who perform very well under combat, in a manner consistent with how we all erroneously think we can perform under extreme distress. High numbers of combatants are unable to even return fire while under fire. Many are unable to perform simple tasks, such as manipulating safeties and other weapon functions. If you are able to engage the fight you are in better shape than most people BUT do not make the mistake of thinking you will be able to shoot them in the eye! Select your weapon and its ammunition based on independent testing, practice center of mass, not pinpoint targeting, and stay with the target and trigger until the threat is over. OH, and pray every night that it doesn't happen to you.

wolfstar @ 1/11/2015 8:37 AM

Unfortunately the doctor, although very intelligent on the subject matter made a common mistake. He did not fully research his subject matter before jumping to a conclusion. There have been actual studies done by the medical community using various rounds as well as thousands of victims. Please research the findings of the US Army Wound Ballistics Laboratory as well as the works of Dr Fackler US Army and others such as Hatcher and Cooper. The type of round does impact the stopping power of the wound as does shot placement. The 45acp has routinely along with the 357 mag revolver round come out on top for effectiveness in actual gunfights rather than gelatine or ammo makers and shade tree experts ravings. As a police instructor and chief armorer with 30 years experience I will always go with the factual data.

Mike Check @ 1/11/2015 8:52 PM

What about my 38 Super Auto? <g>

Eric @ 1/12/2015 3:52 AM

Article is right. Still others debating ballistics gel. Once shot a deer at close range using a 12 gauge slug. Deer did not drop. Ran away. Found it about 130 yards from me. Perfect shot placement through the lungs and heart. Did not drop. Do not think anyone in the world would claim a 12 gauge slug at 15 yards would not have incredible stopping power. So, the debate is is correct.

Nate Fellows @ 1/12/2015 5:23 AM

Lets all keep in mind that it was a few rounds of .380 ACP that started WW1.

mitch rapp @ 1/12/2015 6:51 AM

take into consideration the shock and adrenalin of the victim. Some good post here. In combat, shock and adrenalin can result in even a fatal wound, giving the victim more fight than one would epect, before death. EACH victim is different. good write up, however, with that said, I will stick with the 45 for my personal preference, as its penetration through brush and other obstacles can reach the target, leaving a mushrooming punch.

Doug Kollar @ 1/13/2015 10:00 AM

I carry .40 as my duty round and .45 for personal carry. I agree, where the bullet hits has more effect than what, or how big that hunk of lead you are shooting. I had a friend and his wife both killed with the attacker using a cut off .22 rifle. Both died of their wounds and stopped defending themselves after being shot.
Having said that, we do need some way to determine how a bullet will react to various tissue and barriers. But after all the research it matters little if you cannot hit what you are aiming at.

mac @ 1/13/2015 2:58 PM

I am retired LE. I have read about a million articles on ammo and Stopping Power.
I now believe in shot placement. Nothing else matters. A 45 acp hardball round will function almost at 100% reliability in a 1911, so a well placed center mass hit is all you need. I also load 160 grain cast 38 special, cheap, and a center mass hit is all you need. $30 bucks a box of 20 for ammo and then told to fire 200-300 rounds to make sure your 1911 will work is crazy.

Luke Weatherford @ 1/14/2015 8:51 AM

All of the deer I have shot before last season dropped in their tracks, that was with at .270 and .308. Last season I shot a buck with 325 grain 45-70 @ 40 yard distance, double lung and through the opposite shoulder which split in half, it ran 50 yards and dropped. Needless to say I was in awe.

Bob @ 1/15/2015 3:10 PM

One of each comes to mind...daily it's a 380...weekends45 acp..fancy dress 22 mag derringer

Douche mcdoodoo @ 1/15/2015 5:04 PM

Logic Fail.. Only the Human Body is "like" the Human Body, there is no evidence needed to prove that gel is NOT LIKE the human body, because it's GELATIN, that is universal truth. I'm searching for a way to put this nicely, but I'm at a loss.. You would expect an adult human being to understand some basic facts about human anatomy.

James @ 1/26/2015 7:00 AM

Shot placement only applies to police officers???? I'm sure there are several Soldiers, Marines, Sailors, professional comp shooters etc, that would disagree with that b.s. Doc maybe be an expert on medical aspect, but obviously is not nor has ever been a shooter.

richard @ 1/27/2015 8:46 AM

Shot placement boils down to training and muscle memory. Practice on the range and other situations where you must focus on a center mass hit. Rapid fire of your weapon and then reload and repeat. One and two shot firing situations won't train you for a real gunfight that could and most likely will only last seconds.

Brian @ 2/17/2015 4:31 AM

While i definately agree with you "TECHNICALY WISE". There is absolutely NO WAY that anyone one would not be able to agree with -- ROBERT-- regarding a
" REAL WORLD" scenerio !!!!
While myself has been trained for bad intended situations, how would a woman thats being attacked ...untrained...weapon in purse...with stock hard trigger pull react?
Probably not well! If she was able to have shotgun in hand , most likely better.
Therefore , despite not wanting to claim a specific round for c/c pistol. So with all varibles to consider...what would YOU have one of YOUR family members have to stop a criminal 5-10 ft away while on thier back?

WILLIAM @ 2/17/2015 8:50 AM

The reality is this..shot placement and penetration are the ONLY factors that really matter when using a handgun to stop an attacker.
FBI agents years ago died for ONE reason...their attackers bullets hit critical areas while the agents did not.
A bullet MUST be on target and MUST penetrate enough to hit that target in order to be effective.
I knew a woman who died from a SINGLE 22lr handgun shot...and I have an uncle who was shot point blank with a shotgun more than 40 years ago who is alive and kicking today and in very good health for his age.

Penetration and shot placement.
If you think its anything other than that you are seriously confused.

WILLIAM @ 2/17/2015 8:54 AM

"The 45acp has routinely along with the 357 mag revolver round come out on top for effectiveness in actual gunfights rather than gelatine or ammo makers and shade tree experts ravings. As a police instructor and chief armorer with 30 years experience I will always go with the factual data.
You go ahead and rely on that magic bullet.....I will rely on accuracy and penetration.

WILLIAM @ 2/17/2015 8:55 AM

"Picture, if you can, this hypothetical scenario, two perps are rolled into the ER, both with ice pick wounds to the chest, one of which had Mike Tyson's fist in the same location as well. On autopsy they would appear to have identical wounds, take a wild guess which one dropped his violent attitude first. Energy dump plays a role."
Then didnt you just refute any position you may have that carrying a gun is better than just using your fists ONLY for self defense?

WILLIAM @ 2/17/2015 8:57 AM

Another thing...for you gents arguing your case using OLD FBI data I suggest you get with the times. The NEW UPDATED FBI data shows pretty much exactly what this author is showing...that the size of the bullet doesnt really mean a whole lot in handgun calibers. Penetration and placement are what counts.

chris @ 3/1/2015 4:33 AM

I've done a lot of reading on this subject and have come to my own conclusions. I believe kinetic energy and size play a very big roll in stopping someone dead in their tracks. sure shot placement plays a big roll. But in a lot of situations your best bet is center point of mass. this is why i feel kinetic energy plays a very important roll. The kinetic energy will have enough power to push the bullet through all the good stuff in the way. My personal preferences are .357 sig or magnum Or a 10mm. I once heard somebody say they use a 45 ACP because it lets more air in and more blood out.

JW @ 3/15/2015 12:06 PM

From the Doctors article, a .22LR Hollow Point, or a .22 Mag well-placed would offer protection better than a .45ACP wrongly placed!

Detective @ 4/28/2015 1:04 PM

SHOT PLACEMENT: I've been in multiple real life shooting situations and can testify to the fact that in many cases precise shot placement is impossible due to poor lighting, fast moving target, bad angle, etc. That's why I want a caliber/bullet that will penetrate all the way through a BIG bad guy regardless of where he is hit and regardless of auto glass, auto metal and other common barriers. Why? Because in my experience insufficient penetration is the #1 cause of failures to stop both on the street and in the woods.

MIAMI FBI SHOOTOUT: Lt. Dan's comments are correct. Not to put the FBI guys down, but they were just cruising around not really expecting to locate the bank robbers or get in a shootout so were not really prepared when it happened. They made multiple mistakes, including not having rifles or shotguns readily available, and unfortunately several paid with their lives. The agency blamed it on the 9mm round, but that was the least of the problems.

Hunnyrun @ 4/30/2015 9:04 PM

THE TRUTH... Qiuck stops are a combo of the target s menality/aggression level and shot placement. Central nervous hits spine/brain are key. Breast bone puncture with artery or heart hits is second best but still could take some unforgiving seconds depending on the mindset of the target. If you blew through the sternum well enough you should get a good spine shot depending on ammo performance and shot angle. The word " should" is funny) every thing else is the target reaction card game; you could hit em in the shoulder and cause immediate shock...bullett energy s effect on people is another card game with multiple decks.. Body weight and proportion, MINDSET, shot angle s a hugh factor

Hunnyrun @ 4/30/2015 9:54 PM

Get a 40 cal or 10mm and practice. They re new age and didn t save grandpa in the phillipines so no one likes em. REALLY REALLY,some how some way, take a 9, 40 and 45, all the same barrell length, with their heaviest hp and fmj ammo, go to an outdoor range with misc. targets, barriers ect and see what 40 does compared to 9 and 45. See what a 165g bonded and 180g fmj 40 does from 4.5-5" barrel. 9 and 45 are fun! But have performance set backs...

Dusty @ 5/5/2015 4:10 PM

I agree with Detective completely, the FBI Shootout was a failure of tactics & mindset. Any hairy legged old STREETcop of that era could see the failure of tactics & mindset was the #1 problem that day. No offense or disrespect intended to those BRAVE FBI Agents, but they were out of their league that day.
The FBI has changed tactics and training for the better over the past 29 years.

SRG @ 5/15/2015 7:57 AM

Last time I checked, "shot placement" isn't always practical, or even possible. Many officers will have gone years without even needing to use their weapon, and when under duress, their "shot placement" training may have a diminished effect, especially if their target is also alert and moving.

Consequently, it DOES matter of how much "stopping power" their bullets have; it's a measure of how well bullets perform independently of training and pinpoint aim, and it's highly relevant. However, it isn't all about bullet size, as in certain situations, larger bullets aren't always better.

For example, although larger bullets create bigger holes in unarmored targets, the increased surface area causes greater deceleration, making them less effective at a distance, and generally less likely to penetrate body armor, given the same initial energy. The only reason larger bullets might penetrate armor more is because they tend to have much more gunpowder behind them, e.g. greater initial energy.

Bill Randall @ 5/31/2015 3:06 PM

shot placement is a crock. When someone is shooting at you or swinging at you, you'll be lucky to hit the chest with half of your shots. Not any particaular part of the body. If you CAN hit the 4" circle of the heart, you should INSTEAD hit the 4" circle of the brain, because there's nothing about a heart hit that is instantly incapacitating, while the brain hit IS instantly effective (with a high velocity rd). This is true because the violent displacement of the mostly liquid brain is enough to tear apart that organ and nobody can do diddly once their brain is pulped

Bill Randall @ 5/31/2015 3:08 PM

the sternum is MUCH wider than the spine and bullets often change course as they penetrate the torso. Spine hits are pure luck, forget about them.

Seth @ 6/10/2015 9:29 AM

I was told by a long time to date officer that anytime he has ever had to firw a weapon to incapacitate an offender he would absolutely aim for just inside of the lower hip! High velocity large round will fold u up and smaller decent round will stoo that side of you wether u want to or not! Just thought that was some of the best advice ive gotten! Unless your aiming to kill, head shot! Dont pull it if you dont mean it!

TobieW @ 6/11/2015 8:23 AM

The original question was, which ammunition has the most stopping power? Of course a .380 with good shot placement into a vital organ should have a better stopping power then a .357 magnum into a non-vital area. Then again, if you shoot say 10 shots randomly at a person, then the .357 Magnum should have a better overall stopping power result then the .380

Therefore, if you all are accurate enough with the same caliber, then use the bigger caliber, else use the smaller caliber. Furthermore, you have to consider factors like magazine capacity, size, weight, concealability, speed, availability and other factors before making a final decision on which ammunition to use.

In conclusion, use the biggest caliber you can comfortably shoot accurate with.

ENIGMA6 @ 6/21/2015 5:22 PM

Had occasion to have aconfrontation with a very angry pit bull at approximately 20 feet. I struck him exactly in the center chest while facing me dead on with a 180 gr Gold 40 S&W. The only response was to shudder slightly and yip. He was still standing in attack mode with lips pealed back and angry look in his eyes. My second round struck a bit to the left on the first. He staggered and commenced arterial bleeding. After about 5-6 squirts he laid down and became a neutralized threat. I am presuming the bullets performed as intended as thery did not exit. I cannot say if the second round killed him or if the first did and he just didn't know it. Shot placement is ultimate, and you must use a round with sufficient power to reach in and touch your threat where he lives, so to speak.Even so, my threat took several seconds to become neutralized ( It seemed like several minutes). An armed human could still have been a threat. Head shot was not considered due to possible rabies.

Chad @ 8/23/2015 9:55 PM

I shot a fox with a 44 magnum with a bear load. went right through the fox; it got back up, dusted off and took off. Im guessing not far. Need the right bullet for what you are shooting.

Bruce Davis, Chief of Pol @ 8/29/2015 8:20 AM

I conducted research on going to a better weapon when multiple incidents showed the failure of the 9mm in actual shooting incidents. When reviewing the work of Martin Fachler of the Army Wounds Ballistics Laboratory who studied thousands of real world incidents I went with his conclusion that the bigger the bullet the better. We went with the 45ACP and had no problems qualifying females with this caliber. Ask yourself if you were hunting dangerous game would you use a 22LR or a 460 magnum, despite some who had success with small calibers. Unless you are mentally impaired you go with the biggest caliber you can handle. The same rationale goes for people and is why many elite military units have returned to using the 45ACP. As a police chief and SWAT commander I always went with a weapons caliber bigger than the 9mm, Invariably under real conditions I have personally seen the 9mm is not as effective. In my own shootouts the 45ACP did one shot drops.

Yuk @ 9/16/2015 12:07 AM

Re. Dr. Martin L. Fackler:
Most of his research was conducted using data in which military, ball ammo was used. Although accurate when this context is understood, it cannot be extrapolated upon to pass judgement on expanding ammunition. None of his research negates the effectiveness of modern, 9mm expanding ammunition. Elite military units utilize .45 acp loads where they are mandated to the adhere to the 1899 Hague Convention. Where the Convention is not enforced, the military happily uses 9mm hollow points.

Jah @ 10/15/2015 9:05 PM

I hate discussions about stopping power and shot placement with people who have never killed anyone before. All you boys need to keep your traps shut and listen. Until you've killed a man you have no idea what might work or might not work let alone what you will do in the situation. Want to know what works? Ask a gang banger who has killed 20 men..... that's your real data everything else is pure unadulterated BS. Criminals know what works. Ask one sometime. Police and military are constrained by laws and budgets. Real killers are not so constrained... this entire discussion is pure crap... ya'll are a bunch of snippy arguing women.

k-sar @ 10/19/2015 2:22 PM

You lost me when you tried to compare a 22 caliber to a 45.


There is no way a 22 who's effectiveness can be significantly reduced by thick clothing is comparable to the stopping power of a 45 caliber.

Due to lucky circumstances maybe, a skinny guy normal-thickness clothes, running towards the gun

The thing that really bugs me about this is I'm NOT asking,
"Is there any circumstance upon which a 22 out-performs a 45?"

And that's really the question you're answering. However, hey, the same is true for a pellet gun, a sling-shot, a bow and arrow, and your fists. There are circumstances that can be found where any one of those would also outperform a 45.

The question I'm asking, and I assume most who come here, is this:
"All other variables being the same, which one has the greater stopping power?" I can minimize the variances of all other variables with practice. I'm not looking for the lucky shot where a 22 happens to be more effective than a 45. Assume luck is NOT with me.

Lynwood @ 12/2/2015 2:11 PM

I'm the average civilian just wanting to protect myself without having to kill someone.

Lynwood @ 12/2/2015 2:14 PM

I'm just the average civilian that is wanting to protect myself without having to kill someone.

Lynwood @ 12/2/2015 2:52 PM

I am trying to find out what caliber would be best to stop an attack without having to hit a vital organ. Every time I ask that question, I get lessons on shot placement or a ton of type of bullets etc. I would only want to incapacitate an attacker and not kill.

Eddy @ 12/6/2015 9:09 AM

Lynwood - The point of using a firearm is to render lethal force. If you don't intend to kill someone, use a different tool. Your assumed non-vital shot can be very vital if you hit a major artery or can't render medical attention to the person you just shot before they lose too much blood. Your non-vital shot philosophy goes against the grain of the cardinal rules of firearms handling as well; don't point a firearm at what you don't intend on destroying.

Gregory sapp @ 12/6/2015 4:22 PM

Exactly butter placement

keith oneal @ 12/11/2015 2:00 PM

Practice and placement is very important

dook @ 12/15/2015 4:59 AM

Linwood, i live in south africa, i will get a tazer, rather then a gun, here it works like this, if you shoot a intruder at 3 in the morning, caring a half a meter masjete, in your house, while protecting, your family, you will go jail, because as a white man you shot, a black man, im not racist thats just the way, things work here. You would have to shoot to kill, because, if your attacker, survives you will pay, compensation for ever, rather go for the humane aproach, tazer, your would be killer, he falls like a sack of shit, call the cops, see no mess no fuss

Lester House @ 12/19/2015 6:07 PM


Lester House @ 12/19/2015 6:07 PM


KRR @ 12/22/2015 10:35 PM

Off the original discussion but like Lt. Dan & Detective & others point out, can't we all just drop the Miami Shootout BS. The story is damage-control politics trying to cover up a bad situation & very terrible L.E. work. The 9mm was not the culprit! Apparently no agents returned controlled-accurate-fire. They were faced with military-trained, experienced, equipped & fit offenders using combat suppresive-fire. Likely we'll never hear the 'full true' story.

Alexander Fernandez @ 1/26/2016 5:41 PM

Placement ! Placement ! Placement ! My father , now deceased , retired from the D.E.A. after 27yrs in law enforcement . He was a Police-Officer for the 1st 7yrs of his career . In that time span he carried everything under the sun in regards to HandGuns and Long Arms . From 1972 -1992 , a Federal Agent could carry what ever gun and caliber he felt comfortable with as long as they qualified every 6 months at the range regardless of the weapon used for qualification . I remember him telling me of the unfortunate events in which he had to use his firearm(s) in the line-of-duty . As a cop in the late 60s he killed a man with a single .38spc 200gr round to the head . In another incident a single 12ga OOBuck shotgun blast to the head and neck . During the '68 riots a single .30carbine round through the chest of a rioter ended the threat . So , the old man was right. Placement ! Placement ! Placement !

Matt @ 3/2/2016 8:10 PM

Did that guy in 68 riot have a gun or was that "crowd control"

Jerome9 @ 3/4/2016 11:30 PM

The article aint right. The only calber thats a 1 shot kll is the 9mm. It has the most knockdown power its a fact look it up.

Richard @ 3/5/2016 5:12 PM

Jerome9, you probably hold your "9" sideways when you knock men down with just one shot. Amirite?

I asked my dog- who isn't a genius, but has a lot of common sense...
He said shot placement with the biggest damn bullet you can send downrange is the best way to neutralize a threat.
FN FNX .45acp, 14 +1, ships with 3 mags. 32oz, low recoil, dead reliable.

Charles Sorensen @ 3/11/2016 10:06 AM

This debate was continue. But I think we can all agree on shot placement.

Darryl Rogers @ 3/18/2016 10:12 AM

I witness a very lean man take a single 25acp GSW to the chest right above the heart and die very fast due to fluid build up in the lung.

I also witnessed a 400+# biker take a single GSW to the abdomen from a 25acp and never knew he was hit. His abdominal region was huge, excessive beer belly if you will. He is survived.

Shot placement is probably the most important factor IMO. Does that mean I won't carry my G22? No! But practicing shot placement is always top priority when I practice.

Nathan @ 3/22/2016 6:00 AM

Wow, lots of opinions here. No doubt shot placement kills ask any hunter it supersedes caliber for sure. What about One Shot Drop?? Data derived from actual gunfights If you believe the source and data One Shot Drop only evaluates outcome not physics. The .357 mag has a high if not he best one shot drop, but it's not for everyone.

Hector @ 3/31/2016 4:47 PM

Screw it I'm getting a 44. Magnum. Theirs no debating the stopping power from that shot.

Hector @ 3/31/2016 4:49 PM

Screw it I'm getting a 44. Magnum. Theirs no debating the stopping power from that shot.

Kirk @ 5/2/2016 8:39 AM

As an RN, I saw a fair number of GSW's. The surgeon didn't care what caliber it was. Provided the victim lived long enough to get to the facility, he only wanted to know how fast the bullet was. At 1000 fps he got ready at his normal pace. At 1500 fps, he got ready faster. Anything above 2000 fps, he was in "overdrive", and wanted everything done 'stat' (immediately).... He was not a firearms aficionado. His approach was based on his experience with treating GSW's. So, Dr. Vail is eminently correct. Shot placement is the true key, and while kinetic energy, momentum, energy dispersion, penetration, etc., etc. are all factors, they are only that - factors.
So keep that round 'on target' for true stopping power.

Toby @ 6/15/2016 9:18 AM

Momentum is always conserved - in the target if the bullet stops, proportionately to the amount the bullet slows if the round passes through, and in the shooter when the round is fired Momentum= mass x velocity.

Energy = mass x velocity (squared)
Energy is conserved but can be changed into heat or deformation.
So a 100 grain bullet at one velocity has half as much momentum and a fourth as much energy as one with twice the velocity. Since momentum is always conserved, the difference in energy in the faster bullet is changed to heat and deformation. I think I remember that right, but you should double check, Wikipedia likely has the info.

Ben Garrison @ 6/27/2016 8:37 PM

Ay yo sum bitch azz nigga removed my last comment. Dafuq homie, I thought we was here to learn about shit and all that shit. Inquiring niggas want to know

Ben Garrison @ 6/28/2016 6:18 AM

How come a nigga get shot when he fight police but he can't shoot back? U crackaz tryin ta kill this nigga for some shit u ain't had nuthin to do with. #BlackLivesMatter #FukkThaPolice That's why yo wifes are suckin nigga dick wen u out beating on niggas who ain't do nuffin. So what I got a gun nigga? I ain't shoot at YOU fuck u care for? That's y Obama need to be king 4 lyfe bcuz he gon set u crackaz str8 and u scared of the black man. We wuz kings n shit until the white police came and stole afrika. Pharaohs nigga. Beethoven was black

Nancy Garrison @ 9/18/2016 6:31 PM

Ben!!! How many times do I have to tell you to stop talking like some stupid nigger!?! You're white damnit!!!! Fucking idiot wannabe M&M.....

Richard p. Chapman @ 9/24/2016 12:39 AM

What was that last rant about. If you think that way do the world a favour and leave it.

Richard p. Chapman @ 9/24/2016 12:40 AM

If you believe the rant you put out than do the world a favour and leave.

anon @ 10/3/2016 3:26 PM

Hunnyrun @ 4/30/2015 9:54 PM nails it:

"Get a 40 cal or 10mm and practice. They re new age and didn t save grandpa in the phillipines so no one likes em. REALLY REALLY,some how some way, take a 9, 40 and 45, all the same barrell length, with their heaviest hp and fmj ammo, go to an outdoor range with misc. targets, barriers ect and see what 40 does compared to 9 and 45. See what a 165g bonded and 180g fmj 40 does from 4.5-5" barrel. 9 and 45 are fun! But have performance set backs..."

This. .40 still better than 9mm and .45, regardless of any recent FBI communist propaganda. Out of midsize Glock, 450 ft lbs vs 350 -- .40 has more bone crushing momentum. What if your shot goes through a shoulder or humorous bone first? Hmmm?

Steve @ 11/6/2016 2:25 AM

There is way to much ego in a lot of these comments,I guess thats to be expected but its then hard for a newby to get an idea of what gun to buy. First of all lets make one thing very very clear,there is no magic bullet. So that kind of puts the 40 vs 9 vs 45 idea to bed. Second most guns sold today are more accurate than the person shootng them. So get the gun that feels good in your hand and you can operate. That can be a 45,40 or a 9mm. The 40 which is basically a hopped up 10mm short often produces barrel flip but can be managed by technique and practice. One of the advantages to the 9mm is often less barrel flip. Lastly only two things stop a human 1) shock to the central nervous system and 2) blood loss with damage to internal organs. Once you find the gun you like ( most good ranges rent guns) then choose one of the three calibers. Next start shooting regularly and keep shooting. Shot placement, shooting till threat stops, and practice will save your life.

billrandall @ 11/15/2016 11:43 AM

this just completely overlooks the fact that 2200+ fps velocities CAN be safely and controlably attained in duty handguns.. It's just a question of using a much lighter bullet. Such loads, however, pierce soft armor so nobody talks about them. While pshchological factors are not 100% reliable, they ARE (very often) a huge factor. The more shock and destruction you lay on an attacker, the more likely he is to psychologically QUIT, which is irrrelevant to how much he was actually, physically incapacitates. A 70 gr Split nose, solid copper hollowpoint, segmented bullet, with a huge base cavity, can be safely driven to 2200 fps from a 4" .45 auto, if shortened .460 Rowland cases are used and if the barrel is fully supported at the feed ramp. That's 750 ft lbs. At impact, 2 full length segments yaw and sometimes even tumble as they diverge from each other and penetrate. THAT is a LOT more likely to stop a man than a 300 ft lb, 230 gr jhp .45 bullet (which doesn't expand in flesh, fired fr

John Harris @ 12/31/2016 12:49 PM

A friend of mine had to defend himself with a .357 and shoot the assailant twice to put him down. His attorney informed him that his only mistake was having to shoot the second time. His lawyer told him that one shot is self- defense and that multiple shots are premeditaded murder. What are your thoughts on that?

Bob Van Elsberg @ 1/2/2017 8:43 PM

I spent 5 1/2 years in Germany during two tours of duty with the U.S. Army. During my first tour (1975-77) the German police carried Walther .32 ACP semi-automatic pistols, a 9mm submachine gun and lead-loaded Billy club that was a real bone-breaker. As far as the pistol caliber, it wasn't until terrorism became a problem that they moved up to the 9mm. European .32 ACP ammunition would be considered +p for that caliber compared to American ammo. The Germans told me it got the job done quite well in criminal confrontations. I tested Dynamite-Nobel .32 ACP ammo and it out-penetrated Winchester 95 grain .380 ACP by a considerable margin and tumbled during the process. The one time I was faced with a terrorist incident I was armed with a Beretta Model 70S in .32 ACP. I was about to bail out of the driver's seat of my car, using the door and the hood for cover when German police took the assailant down. I was ready to pump all 9 rounds into him if needed and didn't feel under-gunned at all.

redneck @ 1/17/2017 8:27 AM

a 45 does good penatration on bears

John Daniels @ 1/18/2017 4:03 AM

It's not about stopping talking about stopping power, but discovering when men began to talk about stopping power whatsoever in the first place.

Real doctors say: only the sick are self-conscious of their health.

So, when it was that men began yearning for stopping power? Answer: they began in the very beginning of the 20th Century when they quit using large bore firearms and heavy ammo at 'slower' but momentous velocity.

That's how the .357mag revolver got invented. It worked. But with the advent of semi-auto pistols there again is a lot of concern with stopping power no matter how many technologically intriguing bullets are invented.

So, get a .357mag revolver, or better yet and for less recoil get a 480 Ruger Alaskan loaded with 370gr. BuffaloBore lower recoil rounds. That's your backup to a BFR 45-70 loaded with 500gr. blackpowder equivalent" rounds. Or BFR 500JRH. Aim for the pelvis.

Or just keep on with your ugly Glocks and bitch about stopping power.

Shyboy67 @ 1/18/2017 7:31 PM

I agree alot of what the Dr says. He is in the ER/Trauma center, and he sees first hand what a gunshot looks like and does. Im sure he sees all holes, destruction made by all calibers. But, I do agree very much with shot placement, with any caliber you choose to carry. Shot placement is critical to stop someone/shut them down. May take one shot, may take multiple shots. it depends where that one shot hits. I have many guns in many calibers. 22, 22 mag, 380, 9mm, 40, 45. I swap up alot. I carry what I want to, when I want to. Good Gosh! I am so tired of hearing knock down power, which caliber is the best, blah blah blah. Carry what you are comfortable with, whether it be a 22, or a 45, or 9, or 40, or whatever ever. Who cares, just carry, and practice, train, practice, train, all the time. Thats what really matters....

James Hunter @ 4/1/2017 10:05 AM

For me I carry a simple 9mm pistol. My training has showed me that your pistol is the omg I have to shoot on a surprise attack. AND that's why you pull your pistol, in other words if I knew I was coming to stop a bad guy I would have brought my rifle. AND that's true all automatic pistol are about the same . AND if you intend to stop a person bring a rifle. AR15 or 12gauge will work fine , 2 things to remaber is shot placement and the human body especially on drugs or adrenalin rush can take a great but of pain. So carry whatever pistol you want to make it to safety or to get to your rifle ..... the real man stopper...but fact is 357mag or 357sig. AND 40cal has proven itself over and over that it is better than 9mm . But my opinion is like I said before shot placement. The 9mm will hold more rounds, make easier for back up shots and better for your gun less wear . And low price ammo and that mean more range time and practice is perfect.

Tim @ 7/14/2017 7:21 PM

One fact left out of this story. If a different bullet tracks the same exact course, a .22, a 9mm, a .45 with the same type bullet going at their normal rate of speed. Which is going to do the most damage? So we all agree a brain shot will kill but a lung shot may not. But there would be more damage by the .45 than the .22.
Stopping power must hit something vital but when you hit that you want to do the most damage possible. That means big and fast.

5WarVeteran @ 8/6/2017 9:03 AM

Wow excellent use of Common Sense (a super hero power these days).
Stopping power is not guaranteed. Shot placement is most important. Slower bullets tend to do more instant damage.
Anxiety and fear cause mistakes. If you never shot someone not have been shot you cannot know how you will react in the situation.
Range time is most important but there are factors to consider. If you repeat 5 shots every time, MUSCLE MEMORY will dictate 5 shots spent in situ. What if there are multiple assailants and you blow through 5 shots on the first one?
One shot one kill is not just a book or a story. it should be a goal, a practiced goal.
Practicing head shots are all fine and dandy but not in the dark. Center of mass shots are easier but not guaranteed. How about moving targets? Be assures the assailant will be moving. Find a range that allows that kind of practice. (good luck) Always be aware and pay attention to what is behind the assailant you miss. Hollowpoint is safer than ball.

Bob @ 12/14/2017 2:38 PM

During the Philiipino Resurrection, the enemy being doped up on drugs took many hits to stop or slow them down. Then the U.S. Army switched to the 45acp which did solve quite a bit of this being over run problem in combat. Sorry for any misspelled word,s.

SteveDawg @ 1/25/2018 1:27 PM

In 1995 I got into a firefight with a bank robbery/murder suspect. I was struck twice with 9mm Hydra-Shok rounds. The first one struck me inside the neck opening of my body armor, as I bent low to make a smaller target. That round nicked my lung, broke some ribs, and exited my back. The second was in the right buttocks. Neither round expanded, and both were through-and-through strikes. I still have the recovered "chest round". It has slight deformation from my ribs, and is still plugged-up from my uniform. The second round was never recovered. I shot the suspect with two .40 S&W (Golden Sabre I believe). I struck him, in profile, in the right hip and thigh areas. Due to blood loss and gangrene, he lost his right leg and testicles. I stayed on my feet until he went down and crawled back to his car. I went another 13+ years for a service retirement. I still carry .40 S&W as a reserve Deputy Sheriff in Boundary County Idaho.

Fred E @ 2/4/2018 6:30 AM

Best article I've seen on this topic. The doc is not disparaging FBI gel testing. He's just saying you should pick one of the rounds that performs well in gel and that YOU can control in a gunfight, then train with it. In my case, that means 9mm. If I could shoot a .45 ACP or .357 as well as I shoot a 9mm, I would certainly carry the hotter round. But I know I can't, so I carry the round that allows *me* to quickly place multiple rounds on target.

Fred E @ 2/4/2018 7:28 AM

One more thought: I would argue that the "stopping power" requirement for a peace officer is greater than for a civilian because their reasons for carrying a firearm are different. The LEO's mission is to enforce the law and bring the bad guy to justice. My "mission" as an armed citizen is to escape from danger. It follows that one role for my firearm is to create the time and space I need to get the hell out of Dodge. Running away is not an option for law enforcement, so s/he must have more firepower on tap. Now you may ask, "what about the threat posed by terrorists and active shooters?" My response is that you, personally, are more likely to get hit by a meteor than to be confronted by a jihadi on American soil. Now that I have undoubtedly pissd a lot of people off, let me add a disclaimer: I love revolvers and I carry one as my CCW. If six shots are not sufficient to extricate myself from danger, I'm screwed. The foregoing could therefore be seen as self-justifying. : )

Dan @ 2/23/2018 4:58 AM

the real test was done 20 years ago with one shot police shooting's. It all boils down to 2 things. Speed and weight of bullet. 1000 feet or more per second and 125 grain or more bullet. Remember 1 well placed 22 is better then 10 missed 45's.

Eugene @ 3/28/2018 6:49 AM

Back when the Dirty Harry movies were causing people to buy model 29s by the truck load, a woman was shot with a 44 magnum, but I don't know the type bullet, but the wound was directly through the heart from about 3 yards away. This woman took off running and crossed a four lane street and also walked up the block for about 50 feet and into a bar where she collapsed in the doorway. I guess even if that was a full metal jacket it would seem there would be some kenetic energy involved there, I mean the heart must have been obliterated. I guess you never know about the human body, after all, the woman's ardrenalin must have been pumping, you really can not be certain about any hand gun bullet cartridge combination.

Mike A. @ 7/17/2018 10:42 AM

Placement and energy. Similar to the comparison above, 2 well placed 9mm rounds are more effective than 6 missed .44 mag runs.

But if you place that 9mm perfectly and it fails to have appropriate death of penetration, we are back to square one.

Bob @ 8/10/2018 8:30 PM

Great article. Everybody has an opinion on caliber and stopping power. Real life contains many more variables than found in a uniform block of gel. I go for the middle ground in that gel helps us compare differing calibers and bullet designs, but it is a controlled environment that will not always reflect reality - It is only a tool. Two huge factors are shot placement and penetration. Another big one, is how the individual responds, if not physically incapacitated. Lots of variables.

wefwef @ 9/15/2018 2:45 AM

At the end of the day animals are designed to be resilient enough to fight and kill their attackers unless hit in critical spots. Thats why animals go for throats and backs of the neck, etc, to kill their quarry.

Alexander Martin Fernande @ 9/27/2018 9:44 AM

My father was a career Law-Enforcement Police Officer in the mid 60s thru 1972 , then after he graduated with a degree in Criminal Justice he became a Federal Agent for the D.E.A. . Despite owning a huge selection of every firearm and caliber you can imagine , the .357mag was what he carried approx. 75% of the time throughout his years in Law-Enforcement . Every shooting he was involved in , except for (1) one in which he used a .45acp , ended favorably on the side of Law-Enforcement . However , I remember asking him (He passed-away in 2009) if he thought that the .357mag was the ideal Law Enforcement cartridge (?) ; his answer was not what I expected . He said , "NO , a 12ga. Remington 870 loaded with 00-Buck is the best medicine for that , that ails you" !

Alexander Martin Fernande @ 9/27/2018 10:01 AM

There is but one(1) true "Man-Stopper" .......... a 12ga oo-Buck round to the face !

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