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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I am very curious to get other peoples opinions on this subject, I will start by stating the following:
I do not believe any handgun round is effective more than 5-10% of the time, the "one shot stop" is the equivalent to saying that Elvis is still alive.
99% of what is printed on the subject both in the popular press and the media is a "Clintonism" at best and dangerously deceptive in reality.
More than 96% of the people you interview that have actually used a pistol to defend themselves will tell you that they train to fire more than three rounds per traget
since surviving the encounter.
The medical examiner in any large city will tell you that they cannot tell the difference between JHP rounds or FMJ when they are looking at handgun wounds.
Bullet design is only useful if it improves in order of importance:
1.reliability
2.accuracy
3.reduces overpenetration without reducing penetration.

Feel free to agree to disagree with me but lets debate it without the "shoot em all let god figure it out quotes" and the "Marshall and Sanow says" or quote anyone else that has never been involved in a real encounter.
 

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Entire books have been written on this subject, some espousing one particular theory or another, some just trying to explain why this is such a difficult and complex topic. I doubt I can do it justice in a post or two.

While I can't say that there is no such thing as "Stopping Power" (since handgun bullets do bring about incapacitation at some point if they hit something important), I tend to agree that at the very least most people have an inacurate impression or expectation of what their bullets will do to a determined attacker.

I dislike using statistics at all... 57% of statistics are made up on the spot (including that statistic) :smile: Having said that bear in mind that the overwhelming majority of attacks - or potential attacks - are thwarted almost instantly by the mere presence of a firearm (according to Dr. Kleck) - that is wihtout firing a shot. Another group of assailants are "stopped" (or convinced of the folly of their actions) by a shot being fired, with no hit. Another portion cease their actions when hit but the are not actually incapacitated they just make the decision to quit. This is what is so difficult about accumulating data. To compare pistol power you have to determine whether the subject quit because he wanted to or becuase he HAD to. I do not know of any studies that make that distinction except for one I tried to do over a period of about 25 years but I more or less gave up on it.

If we kick out cases in which people just quit fighting on their own accord (psychological stops) then we are left with the problem of determining just what caused actual incapacitation. Most data bases segregate head shots (and the head is not a very good pistol target) but do not note whether the spine was struck. My experience is that striking the spine a hard blow is about the only sure way to drop an assailant or dangerous animal in his tracks (barring a brain hit and some of those do not work).

After hard study I have reluctantly decided I must discount the figures of M&S outright. This troubles me as I consider Evan Marshall a personal friend and I trust his character and integrity. I have spent many enjoyable gab sessions with him at Second Chance Combat Shoots and in correspondence. Only after studying his work in detail did it dawn on me that data bases were flawed - or I should say the way we accumulate data.

This is turning into a book so I had better truncate it and simply relate what I think is important to achieving incapacitation with a pistol bullet:

1. What you hit... inside the subject.
2. The amount of damage done to important organs, realizing that only CNS hits are "instant", a man with his heart shot to ribbons can last 5 to 15 seconds and that is too long.

I ascribe to John Hall's 4 rules of Gunfightintg:
1. Have a gun! (to which I add 1a, "be sure it is loaded")
2. Have a BIG gun!
3. Bigger really is Better and More is more.
4. Pretty ain't important (to which I add, perhaps but it feeds the soul :smile: )

Sorry for being so long winded,

Cordially,
Jim Higginbotham



<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: Jim Higginbotham on 2001-04-11 22:35 ]</font>
 

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DD, You are too kind sir. I have about used up my brain cells for tonight... both of them :smile:

I am really looking forward to this section of the forum since I have beat my head against the wall so often trying to figure these things out.

Cordially,
Jim H.
 

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I have never shot a person, nor do I have an itch to. I have lost count on animal shots though, with a handgun, in calibers ranging from 22LR to 45-70.

In my experience, in calibers which are ordinarily carried as defensive rounds, the magnum class is excellent [.357, .41 and .44], and if you do your part, will kill quickly and cleanly on whitetail+ class animals, in one shot.

One thing that I feel is often overlooked, although Jim touched upon it, is the human desire [for lack of a better term] to quit, when badly hurt. Having experienced this in my ring years, it is one of the many things that seperate us from most animals, imho. So, while it may be a stretch, I think there is an excellent probability for the "one shot stop", when using the correct tool, as I have witnessed it on things more tough natured than humans [in general]. Where you hit though, is absolutely critical.

However, for every shot man that I am familiar with who stopped after 1 round, the exceptions are a multiple of it. This is through friend / client experiences, not personal.
 

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Hello all. I tend to value placement as THE determinant of "stopping power" in terms of pistol rounds. Some calibers likely are more effective than others and the same can be said some loads within each caliber.

Being familar with a case in which a felon took a load of buckshot centered in the chest from a distance of less than 2 feet while getting a .357 125 gr JHP through the neck at the same time and his being able to say, "I didn't think you'd shoot me," before slowly sitting down, leaning against a wall and dying has given me great pause to reflect on the "instant stop" from any pistol round.

Yet, another bad actor took a round from an officer's 9mm in the heart and dropped instantly; go figure. One got a hole in his heart and instantly stopped. One got his heart shredded and had time for a comment and sat himself down!

So: Use what you can hit with and use more than a handgun if possible. If you must use a pistol, make your shots as good as you can and keep shooting til the "problem is solved" and maintain cover.

Best.
 

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Jim,

Finally someone with the guts to say it like it is! I agree wholeheartedly with your statements. Thanks for sharing them.

LW
 

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Jim and Bruce make great points!

Bruce with his point about mindset is something that can't be explained by anything--the pyschological stop from being shot. Which is a good thing if you merely "winged" someone with a light flesh wound and they quit.

Some folks continue on through pain, some folks don't (those are the democrats! :wink:) Man (some of 'em) and canine (certain breeds) are two "animals" that will continue through grevious injury.

How does Clint Smith (I think) say it? "Little guns are comfortable, big guns are comforting." Bigger is better as long as you can control it!

Derek
 

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It's good to see this topic banded around by people who have the sense not to belive the popular idea of gunshot wounds. A pistol is a piss poor tool to use to STOP someone or something if its intent on doing whatever it was doing when it got shot.
Bruce made good sense when talking about animals. I too have taken a lot of game during leagal hunting seasons and know what happens when stuff is hit with bullets.
A persons mindset when shot is so vitally important to this topic, I don't know how to explain it. If a person thinks,belives,feels like you should fall down,stop,die,take your pick, when shot,they most likely will. I always think in terms of if I get shot and I know that its possible, I WILL NOT DIE, I WILL FIGHT BACK, I'LL KEEP ON KEEPING ON AND DO WHATEVER IT TAKES TO GO HOME TO MY FAMILY!!!
Foot lbs. of energy is a poor figure to use but its conveniant to make you think.
A 30-06 has in excess of 3000 ft-lbs of energy in regular hunting loads.Here in Fl where our deer rarely go over 125 lbs, I've seen and shot deer in the heart and lungs with loads like this and have had them go several hundred yards before falling and ALL THEY WANTED TO DO WAS GET AWAY!!!
Now your going to take your handgun that with the best loads seldom exceed 500 ft-lbs of energy and STOP a 200lb plus individual who is intent on doing you sever bodily harm. Thats just one example why you wouldn't want to select a pistol for stopping something. With that said, CARRY THE BIGGEST,MOST POWERFUL PISTOL THAT YOU CAN GET REPEATED HITS WITH AND TRAIN FOR WORST CASE SENARIOS,AND DON'T EXPECT THINGS THAT FACTS HAS SHOWN JUST ISN'T LIKELY TO HAPPEN.
Don't beleive me fine, go hunting with your carry pistol,shoot some small game,deer size animals see for yourself. Just don't beleive what they show on the tube. Sorry for the length of this, I tend to get carryed away with this kind of stuff. JS
 

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Good points by all - you have all summed up nicely the way I feel.

Good posts guys - thanks for sharing!
 

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Hello. I don't want this to come out wrong, but I feel that if I do my part, my handgun will do its! Frankly, I can hit and I'm more than a little certain that authors of the above posts can, too. Pinwheel a bad actor with a 9mm JHP or a .45 in practically any loading and I think you "win." Insofar as Mr. Marshall's data is concerned, I see it as a useful "indicator" and nothing more.

Placement is the key. Consider this:

According to M & S, .45 ball is somewhere between 60 and 65% OSS...if I remember correctly.

Do you think it might "show" better if being fired by Clint Smith in each of these scenarios from which the figures came? (This assumes that we could get Mr. Smith to fire but once!)

Best.
 

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.38 Super- Jim did write part of a book on this. He wrote a section on stopping power in my book, Fighting Smarter.
Jim and I have been studying this for three decades. For years, I was an investigator working shootings, and both Jim and I have shot a lot of things with handguns. I firmly believe that the reaction of people who are shot with handguns breaks down just about like this:
50% will fall down
20% will run away
15% will scream and run around, beg for mercy, etc.
15% will do evrything in their power to kill you.
Any of the first three reactions is acceptable. Plan on running into the last 15%. A hit in something(s) vital, and a bigger hole(s) in something vital, applied continually until a desirable result is obtained is the best bet.

Tom Givens
 

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Excellent post by everyone. Tom summed it up perfectly. If I was force to shoot someone, I ain't stopping until he's down on the ground and lights out. Even then, I keeping a loaded mag ready.
 

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Here's my standard for handgun rounds, which is also my rationale for 45 ACP JHP:

Does it go bang? (Quality Control)
Does the next one too? (Feed Reliability)
Does it make holes? (Decent Penetration)

If yes to those three, then I believe that big holes are better than small ones*, and a hollow point MIGHT make a bigger hole.

I also remember the first time I ran through a FATs simulator - 2 COM and assess training turned into shoot till he stops REAL fast.


*Small holes may ultimately work better if the goal is to have the BG eventually die - hence all the stories about the .22lr being so lethal because the wound track is so hard to follow and make sure you stop all the bleeding (which could be BS, but they are stories). But I think we are looking at "stopping" the determined BG, and a bigger bullet has more chance of hitting something inside that is important.
 

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Great topic. First let me say that I have never been involved in a shooting and hope to never be. I am a reserve police office in my spare time and have spoken extensively with several 20+ year police police officers that have been involved in shootings. The clearest message I get from them is this:

1) Don't get lulled into the standard two round response dictated by competition rules. Shoot until the threat has ended. You probably won't know how many rounds you fired anyway.
2) Each situation is unpredictable, but larger calibers tend to do better. My friend who has been involved in several LE shootings and a few in Viet Nam typically carries an N frame smith in 44 magnum or 45 colt for example.
3) shooting a large dog is an interesting test of your defensive ammo. If you are in LE and live in a town with no veterenarian or animal control officer, you get to do this fairly often. It's not fun, but you can learn something.
 
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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Good posts so far everyone, it is interesting to note I had the exact same type of post on the Spec Ops board in Germany under the heading of "Handgun Stopping Power" after M&S released thier first book under the same title.
The responses ranged from "DiFabio has lost his mind, to(Handgun Stopping Power) are you kidding? to only a fool would take a handgun to a fight. One respondent stated that he carried only an 11" fighting knife and an M14 for three tours in Vietnam after he emptied 7 rounds of .45acp at less than ten feet into the center chest of an NVA sapper.
John Plaster responded to my conversation by saying that on two occasions that he shot enemy soldiers with a 9mm it did not go well.
He reccomends a .45 acp "until something larger comes out in an reasonably sized autopistol".
Jim's comment on mindset really deserves an entirely seperate section but I will reiterate a shooting that happened as I have first hand knowledge and confidence in the truth of the story.
Marine LCPL assigned to Recon team as a forward observer identifies a hostile T.O.O. he notifies squad leader and a two man team is assigned to track the target to observe for further contact.
A secondary security detail is backing up the target as he engages in an meeting with six individuals (two of which were id'd from photos as verified terrorists) spots the marine observer and from a distance of approx. twenty meters fires on the marine team, they quickly fall back to cover and are flanked by responding B.G.'s, LCPL Anderson is hit twice in the rear panel of his vest and spins as he is covered with water from his hydration unit. B.G. fires a third long burst and Anderson is hit in the right arm, shoulder, forarm, and two rounds go under and through his armpit penetrating his chest cavity and the first round is later removed from his right lung, the second round exits above his diaphram and is retained in the outer- inside layer of his vest. He notifies his observer that he is in fact hit but it's only a flesh wound and he will in fact be fine. His partner has already neutralized the three B.G.s with his M4 carbine. Both men travel at a dead sprint for over 2 miles and rendevous with the main squad whereupon Anderson learns he is hit bad by the team medic and promptly collapses. His blood loss is high, his breathing becomes shallow and he is medivaced to the hospital where he recovered, petitioned the CMC to return to a Recon or Fast unit and went on to serve in Bahrain, then Bosnia-Herzegovina, Kosovo. I know the story well as he is my best friend and we golf together on weekends, the lesson here is not that he is exceptional the moral is that he still says he was fine until he saw the massive bleeding and the medic told him with a gasp
"man you are hit bad" then he passed out.

My point being that I believe the other persons mindset will determine the outcome unless you hit them accurately and hard with multiple rounds that shut down thier necessary organs and you believe you will survive.
Mindset makes it nearly impossible to quantify stopping power statistics and those that try to research such things find it increasingly difficult.


<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: David DiFabio on 2001-04-16 06:40 ]</font>
 

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I'm not an expert on this subject by any stretch of the imagination, probably don't even have an original opinion of my own. But I am a pretty good observer, reader and thinker and have read, observed and thought a lot about this subject over the years and I feel that I'm qualified to say this to anyone just getting into this forum and reading this thread: THE ABOVE OPINIONS/INFORMATION ARE SOME OF THE VERY BEST I HAVE EVER READ.

But having seen more shot people (not all deceased)than I care to remember, I fully agree with Tom's percentage breakdowns and the statement he made in his last sentence.

By the way guys, keep up the good work, ya'll doing a heck of a job.
 

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A very informative and interesting book I recently read is Dr. J.M. Di Maio's GUNSHOT WOUNDS (ISBN 0-8493-8163-0).

If you get a chance or can purchase it ($85.00), do so.

Denny
 
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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Dr. Di Maio's book is indeed a very good resource, I believe Denny is referring to the second edition.
It is published by:
Elsevier Science Publishing co.
655 Avenue of the Americas,
New York, NY 10010
For those folks in the crime enforcement business (LE)they also offer a very good set of investigative resource books including Gun Shot Wounds as listed above in the Paractical Aspects of Criminal and Forensic Investigations series.
 
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