An Alternate Look at Handgun Stopping Power

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An Alternate Look at Handgun Stopping Power

Post by Paladin1 » Sun Jul 15, 2012 8:40 am

This topic has been discussed at length, but I found this to interesting. It supports my opinion that with modern, quality ammunition, the performance gap between calibers in handguns is negligible.

We all know (well, most of us) that shot placement is king. The rub is that in a actual gun fight, your shot placement is going to be quite a bit less than optimal. So it falls, in my opinion, to the weapon you are most proficient with.

They way I determine that for myself, and I feel is a valid method, is too participate in events like IDPA, or 3gun. When there is some time/competition pressure, along with the running & gunning aspect you'll have a much better idea of your most effective weapon/caliber platform.

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"by Greg Ellifritz

I've been interested in firearm stopping power for a very long time. I remember reading Handguns magazine back in the late 1980s when Evan Marshall was writing articles about his stopping power studies. When Marshall's first book came out in 1992, I ordered it immediately, despite the fact that I was a college student and really couldn't afford its $39 price tag. Over the years I bought all of the rest of Marshall's books as well as anything else I could find on the subject. I even have a first edition of Gunshot Injuries by Louis Lagarde published in 1915.
Are any of these better than another?

Every source I read has different recommendations. Some say Marshall's data is genius. Some say it is statistically impossible. Some like big heavy bullets. Some like lighter, faster bullets. There isn't any consensus. The more I read, the more confused I get.

One thing I remember reading that made a lot of sense to me was an article by Massad Ayoob. He came out with his own stopping power data around the time Marshall published Handgun Stopping Power. In the article, Ayoob took his critics to task. He suggested that if people didn't believe his data, they should collect their own and do their own analysis. That made sense to me. So that's just what I did. I always had a slight problem with the methodology of Marshall and Sanow's work. For consistency purposes, they ONLY included hits to the torso and ONLY included cases where the person was hit with just a single round. Multiple hits screwed up their data, so they excluded them. This lead to an unrealistically high stopping power percentage, because it factored out many of the cases where a person didn't stop! I wanted to look at hits anywhere on the body and get a realistic idea of actual stopping power, no matter how many hits it took to get it. So I started collecting data.

Over a 10-year period, I kept track of stopping power results from every shooting I could find. I talked to the participants of gunfights, read police reports, attended autopsies, and scoured the newspapers, magazines, and Internet for any reliable accounts of what happened to the human body when it was shot.

I documented all of the data I could; tracking caliber, type of bullet (if known), where the bullet hit and whether or not the person was incapacitated. I also tracked fatalities, noting which bullets were more likely to kill and which were not. It was an exhaustive project, but I'm glad I did it and I'm happy to report the results of my study here.

Before I get to the details, I must give a warning. I don't have any dog in this fight! I don't sell ammo. I'm not being paid by any firearm or ammunition manufacturer. I carry a lot of different pistols for self defense. Within the last 2 weeks, I've carried a .22 magnum, a .380 auto, a .38 spl revolver, 3 different 9mm autos and a .45 auto. I don't have an axe to grind. If you are happy with your 9mm, I'm happy for you. If you think that everyone should be carrying a .45 (because they don't make a .46), I'm cool with that too. I'm just reporting the data. If you don't like it, take Mr. Ayoob's advice...do a study of your own.

A few notes on terminology...

Since it was my study, I got to determine the variables and their definitions. Here's what I looked at:

- Number of people shot

- Number of rounds that hit

- On average, how many rounds did it take for the person to stop his violent action or be incapacitated? For this number, I included hits anywhere on the body. To be considered an immediate incapacitation, I used criteria similar to Marshall's. If the attacker was striking or shooting the victim, the round needed to immediately stop the attack without another blow being thrown or shot being fired. If the person shot was in the act of running (either towards or away from the shooter), he must have fallen to the ground within five feet.

I also excluded all cases of accidental shootings or suicides. Every shot in this study took place during a military battle or an altercation with a criminal.

- What percentage of shooting incidents resulted in fatalities. For this, I included only hits to the head or torso.

- What percentage of people were not incapacitated no matter how many rounds hit them

- Accuracy. What percentage of hits was in the head or torso. I tracked this to check if variations could affect stopping power. For example, if one caliber had a huge percentage of shootings resulting in arm hits, we may expect that the stopping power of that round wouldn’t look as good as a caliber where the majority of rounds hit the head.

- One shot stop percentage - number of incapacitations divided by the number of hits the person took. Like Marshall's number, I only included hits to the torso or head in this number.

- Percentage of people who were immediately stopped with one hit to the head or torso

Here are the results.

.25ACP
# of people shot - 68
# of hits - 150
% of hits that were fatal - 25%
Average number of rounds until incapacitation - 2.2
% of people who were not incapacitated - 35%
One-shot-stop % - 30%
Accuracy (head and torso hits) - 62%
% actually incapacitated by one shot (torso or head hit) - 49%

.22 (short, long and long rifle)
# of people shot - 154
# of hits - 213
% of hits that were fatal - 34%
Average number of rounds until incapacitation - 1.38
% of people who were not incapacitated - 31%
One-shot-stop % - 31%
Accuracy (head and torso hits) - 76%
% actually incapacitated by one shot (torso or head hit) - 60%

.32 (both .32 Long and .32 ACP)
# of people shot - 25
# of hits - 38
% of hits that were fatal - 21%
Average number of rounds until incapacitation - 1.52
% of people who were not incapacitated - 40%
One-shot-stop % - 40%
Accuracy (head and torso hits) - 78%
% actually incapacitated by one shot (torso or head hit) - 72%

.380 ACP
# of people shot - 85
# of hits - 150
% of hits that were fatal - 29%
Average number of rounds until incapacitation - 1.76
% of people who were not incapacitated - 16%
One-shot-stop % - 44%
Accuracy (head and torso hits) - 76%
% actually incapacitated by one shot (torso or head hit) - 62%

.38 Special
# of people shot - 199
# of hits - 373
% of hits that were fatal - 29%
Average number of rounds until incapacitation - 1.87
% of people who were not incapacitated - 17%
One-shot-stop % - 39%
Accuracy (head and torso hits) - 76%
% actually incapacitated by one shot (torso or head hit) - 55%

9mm Luger
# of people shot - 456
# of hits - 1121
% of hits that were fatal - 24%
Average number of rounds until incapacitation - 2.45
% of people who were not incapacitated - 13%
One-shot-stop % - 34%
Accuracy (head and torso hits) - 74%
% actually incapacitated by one shot (torso or head hit) - 47%

.357 (both magnum and Sig)
# of people shot - 105
# of hits - 179
% of hits that were fatal - 34%
Average number of rounds until incapacitation - 1.7
% of people who were not incapacitated - 9%
One-shot-stop % - 44%
Accuracy (head and torso hits) - 81%
% actually incapacitated by one shot (torso or head hit) - 61%

.40 S&W
# of people shot - 188
# of hits - 443
% of hits that were fatal - 25%
Average number of rounds until incapacitation - 2.36
% of people who were not incapacitated - 13%
One-shot-stop % - 45%
Accuracy (head and torso hits) - 76%
% actually incapacitated by one shot (torso or head hit) - 52%

.45 ACP
# of people shot - 209
# of hits - 436
% of hits that were fatal - 29%
Average number of rounds until incapacitation - 2.08
% of people who were not incapacitated - 14%
One-shot-stop % - 39%
Accuracy (head and torso hits) - 85%
% actually incapacitated by one shot (torso or head hit) - 51%

.44 Magnum
# of people shot - 24
# of hits - 41
% of hits that were fatal - 26%
Average number of rounds until incapacitation - 1.71
% of people who were not incapacitated - 13%
One-shot-stop % - 59%
Accuracy (head and torso hits) - 88%
% actually incapacitated by one shot (torso or head hit) - 53%

Rifle (all Centerfire)
# of people shot - 126
# of hits - 176
% of hits that were fatal - 68%
Average number of rounds until incapacitation - 1.4
% of people who were not incapacitated - 9%
One-shot-stop % - 58%
Accuracy (head and torso hits) - 81%
% actually incapacitated by one shot (torso or head hit) - 80%

Shotgun (All, but 90% of results were 12 gauge)
# of people shot - 146
# of hits - 178
% of hits that were fatal - 65%
Average number of rounds until incapacitation - 1.22
% of people who were not incapacitated - 12%
One-shot-stop % - 58%
Accuracy (head and torso hits) - 84%
% actually incapacitated by one shot (torso or head hit) - 86%

Discussion

I really would have liked to break it down by individual bullet type, but I didn't have enough data points to reach a level of statistical significance. Getting accurate data on nearly 1800 shootings was hard work. I couldn't imagine breaking it down farther than what I did here. I also believe the data for the .25, .32 and .44 magnum should be viewed with suspicion. I simply don't have enough data (in comparison to the other calibers) to draw an accurate comparison. I reported the data I have, but I really don't believe that a .32 ACP incapacitates people at a higher rate than the .45 ACP!

One other thing to look at is the 9mm data. A huge number (over half) of 9mm shootings involved ball ammo. I think that skewed the results of the study in a negative manner. One can reasonable expect that FMJ ammo will not stop as well as a state of the art expanding bullet. I personally believe that the 9mm is a better stopper than the numbers here indicate, but you can make that decision for yourself based on the data presented.

Some interesting findings:

I think the most interesting statistic is the percentage of people who stopped with one shot to the torso or head. There wasn't much variation between calibers. Between the most common defensive calibers (.38, 9mm, .40, and .45) there was a spread of only eight percentage points. No matter what gun you are shooting, you can only expect a little more than half of the people you shoot to be immediately incapacitated by your first hit.

The average number of rounds until incapacitation was also remarkably similar between calibers. All the common defensive calibers required around 2 rounds on average to incapacitate. Something else to look at here is the question of how fast can the rounds be fired out of each gun. The .38 SPL probably has the slowest rate of fire (long double action revolver trigger pulls and stout recoil in small revolvers) and the fewest rounds fired to get an incapacitation (1.87). Conversely the 9mm can probably be fired fastest of the common calibers and it had the most rounds fired to get an incapacitation (2.45). The .40 (2.36) and the .45 (2.08) split the difference. It is my personal belief that there really isn't much difference between each of these calibers. It is only the fact that some guns can be fired faster than others that causes the perceived difference in stopping power. If a person takes an average of 5 seconds to stop after being hit, the defender who shoots a lighter recoiling gun can get more hits in that time period. It could be that fewer rounds would have stopped the attacker (given enough time) but the ability to fire more quickly resulted in more hits being put onto the attacker. It may not have anything to do with the stopping power of the round.

Another data piece that leads me to believe that the majority of commonly carried defensive rounds are similar in stopping power is the fact that all four have very similar failure rates. If you look at the percentage of shootings that did not result in incapacitation, the numbers are almost identical. The .38, 9mm, .40, and .45 all had failure rates of between 13% and 17%.


Some people will look at this data and say "He's telling us all to carry .22s". That's not true. Although this study showed that the percentages of people stopped with one shot are similar between almost all handgun cartridges, there's more to the story. Take a look at two numbers: the percentage of people who did not stop (no matter how many rounds were fired into them) and the one-shot-stop percentage. The lower caliber rounds (.22, .25, .32) had a failure rate that was roughly double that of the higher caliber rounds. The one-shot-stop percentage (where I considered all hits, anywhere on the body) trended generally higher as the round gets more powerful. This tells us a couple of things...

In a certain (fairly high) percentage of shootings, people stop their aggressive actions after being hit with one round regardless of caliber or shot placement. These people are likely NOT physically incapacitated by the bullet. They just don't want to be shot anymore and give up! Call it a psychological stop if you will. Any bullet or caliber combination will likely yield similar results in those cases. And fortunately for us, there are a lot of these "psychological stops" occurring. The problem we have is when we don't get a psychological stop. If our attacker fights through the pain and continues to victimize us, we might want a round that causes the most damage possible. In essence, we are relying on a "physical stop" rather than a "psychological" one. In order to physically force someone to stop their violent actions we need to either hit him in the Central Nervous System (brain or upper spine) or cause enough bleeding that he becomes unconscious. The more powerful rounds look to be better at doing this.

One other factor to consider is that the majority of these shootings did NOT involve shooting through intermediate barriers, cover or heavy clothing. If you anticipate having to do this in your life (i.e. you are a police officer and may have to shoot someone in a car), again, I would lean towards the larger or more powerful rounds.

What I believe that my numbers show is that in the majority of shootings, the person shot merely gives up without being truly incapacitated by the bullet. In such an event, almost any bullet will perform admirably. If you want to be prepared to deal with someone who won't give up so easily, or you want to be able to have good performance even after shooting through an intermediate barrier, I would skip carrying the "mouse gun" .22s, .25s and .32s.

Now compare the numbers of the handgun calibers with the numbers generated by the rifles and shotguns. For me there really isn't a stopping power debate. All handguns suck! If you want to stop someone, use a rifle or shotgun!

What matters even more than caliber is shot placement. Across all calibers, if you break down the incapacitations based on where the bullet hit you will see some useful information.

Head shots = 75% immediate incapacitation
Torso shots = 41% immediate incapacitation
Extremity shots (arms and legs) = 14% immediate incapacitation.

No matter which caliber you use, you have to hit something important in order to stop someone!

Conclusion

This study took me a long time and a lot of effort to complete. Despite the work it took, I'm glad I did it. The results I got from the study lead me to believe that there really isn't that much difference between most defensive handgun rounds and calibers. None is a death ray, but most work adequately...even the lowly .22s. I've stopped worrying about trying to find the "ultimate" bullet. There isn't one. And I've stopped feeling the need to strap on my .45 every time I leave the house out of fear that my 9mm doesn't have enough "stopping power." Folks, carry what you want. Caliber really isn't all that important.

Take a look at the data. I hope it helps you decide what weapon to carry. No matter which gun you choose, pick one that is reliable and train with it until you can get fast accurate hits. Nothing beyond that really matters!

You may also enjoy this Greg Ellifritz story: A Parent's Guide to School Shootings

Greg Ellifritz is the full time firearms and defensive tactics training officer for a central Ohio police department. He holds instructor or master instructor certifications in more than 75 different weapon systems, defensive tactics programs and police specialty areas. Greg has a master's degree in Public Policy and Management and is an instructor for both the Ohio Peace Officer's Training Academy and the Tactical Defense Institute. "
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Re: An Alternate Look at Handgun Stopping Power

Post by jamoni » Sun Jul 15, 2012 11:02 am

Very interesting. I especially like the point about the faster firing weapons "requiring" more hits to stop. You're basically just shooting during the lag between them getting shot and them giving up.
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Re: An Alternate Look at Handgun Stopping Power

Post by Aircobra21 » Sun Jul 15, 2012 11:34 am

personally I take into account what type of surroundings I will be going into to help determine what caliber bullet would suit it best. urban,woodland,open field of view or restricted field of view, and what type of cover each area has that can be used. I applaud your investment of time on your effort in research, one should always further there own knowledge in all areas. keep up the good work!

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Re: An Alternate Look at Handgun Stopping Power

Post by northernxposure » Sun Jul 15, 2012 11:35 am

I've always like the 357Mag. Even the data likes the 357Mag - makes you wonder why other than the 357Sig no one tried to modernize the caliber as technology has marched on.

Also makes me wonder why the 357Sig isn't more popular.

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Re: An Alternate Look at Handgun Stopping Power

Post by Paladin1 » Sun Jul 15, 2012 2:08 pm

jamoni wrote:Very interesting. I especially like the point about the faster firing weapons "requiring" more hits to stop. You're basically just shooting during the lag between them getting shot and them giving up.
That stood out to me also.

It was pointed out that there seems to a psychological stop as well as a physical stop, of course when faced with a threat you will never know what will stop them. Personally I'm going for the physical stop.
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Re: An Alternate Look at Handgun Stopping Power

Post by jor-el » Sun Jul 15, 2012 2:27 pm

Rifles and shotguns are easier to aim and aim well. Any firearm should be aimed to acheive a hit. Most handguns have a short sight radius where an error in aiming won't be easily seen. Most pistols/revolvers have a radius of 6-8 inches or less. In a rifle/shotgun that radius shouldn't be less than 16-18 inches (discounting SBRs/SBSs).
With a shoulder stocked arm there's also cheek/facial placement that puts the eyes in a more or less consistent position for aiming purposes.
Compare any service revolver in .357 Magnum with a Marlin 1894 also in .357 magnum, a more common combo in real life then some realize and a few on this board already advocate.


Rifles and shotguns offer more raw power than a pistol, even when common ammo is used for each. The sixteen inch plus length barrel of a rifle will boost the performance of a pistol caliber round, adding anywhere from 100 fps to 200 fps to the muzzle velocity. Now that's with .357 factory ammo, with similar results in 9MM +P/+P+. Other cartridges will vary, particularly those not normally chambered for rifles.
When you bring back full or intermediate power rifle cartridges into the game there's simply no question they have an advantage.

1986 Miami shootout, the event that had the most to do with starting this debate.
One man nearly defeated eight veteran LEOs armed with a mix of early SW 459 pistols and .38 revolvers and a Rem 870, and did it with a Ruger Mini-14.
FBI agents of that time used .38 Spl +P 158 gr lead hollowpoints and 9MM 115 Silvertips, of Winchester vintage. Don't know the brand of buckshot for the 870, nor the brand of .223 Rem.

Michael Platt in short, took multiple hits in the torso from the above listed pistol rounds and was only incapacitated by internal bleeding. Two agents were killed from shots to the head and chest from the Mini-14. Five other agents received serious wounds from the Mini, two I believe retired from disability from the injuries. Two agents were wearing body armor but it was ineffective, believe the rating was I+,
I don't think anyone uses that protection level willingly anymore.
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Re: An Alternate Look at Handgun Stopping Power

Post by williaty » Mon Jul 16, 2012 12:37 am

The one other thing that he doesn't address, which I think may be because he hasn't had to do lab data analysis and so he doesn't see the "clue" that something interesting is going on, is the very, very interesting numbers in the central tendencies. If you look at the average-shots-per-encounter and the one-shot-stop percentages, it clues you in to the fact that the total distribution of shots-before-stop has a really, really long tail. In other words, given the one-shot-stop percentage, to get the average up above 2, some of those gunfights are going out to a LARGE number of rounds. I'd be very curious to know if this represents the people who have a TERRIBLE hit-percentage (36 rounds fired, 2 hits, etc) or if this represents that, for those incidences where you don't get a "psychological stop" on the first round or two, you basically have to dismantle the person or let them bleed out (which gives you time to take a lot of shots) before they stop. That detail in this data is something that caused me to start thinking about the tactical implications of single-stack weapons like the Shield.

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Re: An Alternate Look at Handgun Stopping Power

Post by MacAttack » Mon Jul 16, 2012 1:21 am

He mentioned he only counted head and torso shots. Not misses or extremity shots.

Thats why the sample is so low for so long of a study that even includes the military.

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Re: An Alternate Look at Handgun Stopping Power

Post by forthewolf » Mon Jul 16, 2012 1:33 am

Here is a pic that I saw a while back, I just posted it on another topic for someone asking about ammo, maybe it will be of use for this.

Image


To me there does seem to be a difference between calibers, with the .357 and the .40 being the most similar and falling between the 9mm and .45
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Re: An Alternate Look at Handgun Stopping Power

Post by TDW586 » Mon Jul 16, 2012 2:22 am

Forthewolf, look up "temporary cavity" and why it doesn't really mean anything for handgun rounds. M4Carbine.net has some good articles.

The temporary cavity is where you're seeing the difference in that photo.

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Re: An Alternate Look at Handgun Stopping Power

Post by Kutter_0311 » Mon Jul 16, 2012 5:07 am

I think the big take-away is still "shoot them to the ground" and carry a gun that lets you do that well.

Put lots of bullets through the vital bits of your attacker, head and/or torso are best, as fast as you can.

High-capacity autos with quick reload times will do better than revolvers, clearly.
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Re: An Alternate Look at Handgun Stopping Power

Post by Manimal2878 » Mon Jul 16, 2012 9:45 am

The idea of stopping power makes me cringe. I wish people didn't use the term. It makes me think of old timers that still think a .45 will knock a man clean off his feet and into the wall behind him.

I imagine if they did a study that showed where the rounds hit, not just torso, but things like spine, heart, lung, or brain. The difference between caliber would mostly disappear. Torso isn't a granular enough description to differentiate between a shot to the gut or one where the bullet passes through the spinal column. A hit to the spine with any caliber would be more effective than a hit to the intestine with any caliber.

I think that's why a minimum penetration depth is key; can it reach the vital organs? .22 probably doesn't do this consistently, most bigger calibers probably do, after that it's all shot placement.
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Re: An Alternate Look at Handgun Stopping Power

Post by Manimal2878 » Mon Jul 16, 2012 9:47 am

TDW586 wrote:Forthewolf, look up "temporary cavity" and why it doesn't really mean anything for handgun rounds. M4Carbine.net has some good articles.

The temporary cavity is where you're seeing the difference in that photo.

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I have usually seen that photo used on other forums to point out that the penetration depth is pretty much equal, as well as the permanent wound channel between caliber. I think that's probably his intent as well. (edit: or not.)
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Re: An Alternate Look at Handgun Stopping Power

Post by TDW586 » Mon Jul 16, 2012 9:56 am

Manimal2878 wrote:
TDW586 wrote:Forthewolf, look up "temporary cavity" and why it doesn't really mean anything for handgun rounds. M4Carbine.net has some good articles.

The temporary cavity is where you're seeing the difference in that photo.

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I have usually seen that photo used on other forums to point out that the penetration depth is pretty much equal, as well as the permanent wound channel between caliber. I think that's probably his intent as well.
If you'll read his post you'll see that that is not the case.
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Re: An Alternate Look at Handgun Stopping Power

Post by Vicarious_Lee » Mon Jul 16, 2012 10:06 am

williaty wrote:The one other thing that he doesn't address, which I think may be because he hasn't had to do lab data analysis and so he doesn't see the "clue" that something interesting is going on, is the very, very interesting numbers in the central tendencies. If you look at the average-shots-per-encounter and the one-shot-stop percentages, it clues you in to the fact that the total distribution of shots-before-stop has a really, really long tail. In other words, given the one-shot-stop percentage, to get the average up above 2, some of those gunfights are going out to a LARGE number of rounds. I'd be very curious to know if this represents the people who have a TERRIBLE hit-percentage (36 rounds fired, 2 hits, etc) or if this represents that, for those incidences where you don't get a "psychological stop" on the first round or two, you basically have to dismantle the person or let them bleed out (which gives you time to take a lot of shots) before they stop. That detail in this data is something that caused me to start thinking about the tactical implications of single-stack weapons like the Shield.
That's been suggested in other studies concerning the "average" number of shots fired in a shootout. The FBI has a lot of interesting data on light-level, number of assailants, and number of shots fired that is very scary.

That said, that's a razor-thin slice of an extremely small pie, the other side of which can be seen with the advocates for pocket pistols or pocket carry in the "pee pee hurt" thread.

This study, to me anyway, seems to most loudly state that the main rule is "hit them where they're biggest and hit them more than once", or opposed to "make every shot count" one should "make lots of shots count!"
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Re: An Alternate Look at Handgun Stopping Power

Post by iron_angel » Mon Jul 16, 2012 10:18 am

williaty wrote:The one other thing that he doesn't address, which I think may be because he hasn't had to do lab data analysis and so he doesn't see the "clue" that something interesting is going on, is the very, very interesting numbers in the central tendencies. If you look at the average-shots-per-encounter and the one-shot-stop percentages, it clues you in to the fact that the total distribution of shots-before-stop has a really, really long tail. In other words, given the one-shot-stop percentage, to get the average up above 2, some of those gunfights are going out to a LARGE number of rounds. I'd be very curious to know if this represents the people who have a TERRIBLE hit-percentage (36 rounds fired, 2 hits, etc) or if this represents that, for those incidences where you don't get a "psychological stop" on the first round or two, you basically have to dismantle the person or let them bleed out (which gives you time to take a lot of shots) before they stop. That detail in this data is something that caused me to start thinking about the tactical implications of single-stack weapons like the Shield.
MacAttack wrote:He mentioned he only counted head and torso shots. Not misses or extremity shots.

Thats why the sample is so low for so long of a study that even includes the military.
It strikes me that these two things, taken together, seem to imply the latter hypothesis about the long tail - that while your first one or two shots will probably cut the mustard, if they don't it'll take the rest of your magazine, and possibly more. The lag effect he observed may be relevant in creating that effect, too. What I'd take away from this is that beefier rounds do improve your odds of a stop, but only just so much.

I'm a bit annoyed that he doesn't separate out the .357 results - if lag is a factor, I'd expect to see a greater mean number of rounds to incapacitation for the .357Sig versus the .357 Magnum, since you can almost certainly bang off shots from an autoloader faster than from a revolver. I wonder if something similar is at work in the .32 results, which are otherwise odd. (Specifically, better one-shot stop percentage than .22, but a higher failure rate? What gives with *that*? Is it that a .22 generally holds more ammo?)

Another article by this same guy points out some rather massive differences with shotgun stopping power, too - while buck and slugs perform fairly closely, birdshot is drastically less effective. I'll see if I can dig up a link.
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Re: An Alternate Look at Handgun Stopping Power

Post by raptor » Mon Jul 16, 2012 10:36 am

Interesting article and data.

The key take away for me is to reinforce the old expression...if you have a choice of weapons to bring to a gun fight...bring a long arm.

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Re: An Alternate Look at Handgun Stopping Power

Post by Manimal2878 » Mon Jul 16, 2012 2:24 pm

There is a ton of stuff on the firearmstactical website about ballistics and wounding.

A few quotes from a page on there brings into question the whole practice of one shot stop studies to determine stopping power.

Fackler's article above explains why the professional wound ballistics community isn't interested in performing a study of "street shootings" in a manner similar to Marshall. The concept and methods are so flawed that such a study is meaningless in context.

and

The professional wound ballistics community does, in fact, investigate actual shootings. But these studies do not attempt to quantify the wound effectiveness of any particular bullet, because "effectiveness" is a consequence of the bullet's wound track through the body. Shot placement is a critical aspect in producing an effective wound, and this factor is entirely independent of, and is more important than, any attribute that can be ascribed to bullet performance, except penetration. To reliably be "effective" a bullet must pass through vital cardiovascular organs or damage the central nervous system.

and

Instead, the research examines the physiological mechanisms that produced, or failed to produce, incapacitation based upon damage to anatomical structures. Terminal performance observed in actual shootings is compared with terminal performance observed in standard ordnance gelatin, to answer the questions: Did the bullet(s) perform as expected? If not, what factors inhibited expected performance?

According to the opinion of that author, a study like this is inherently worthless. quotes taken from: http://www.firearmstactical.com/briefs24.htm" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

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Re: An Alternate Look at Handgun Stopping Power

Post by Czechnology » Mon Jul 16, 2012 2:35 pm

Manimal2878 wrote:a study like this is inherently worthless
Agreed. It's interesting, but even modern expanding projectiles are only as effective as where they hit. Find a firearm in a caliber from .380-10mm that you can afford and shoot accurately, and carry modern JHPs in it. If you ever have to use it, shoot until they stop.
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Re: An Alternate Look at Handgun Stopping Power

Post by Doctorr Fabulous » Mon Jul 16, 2012 3:18 pm

Czechnology wrote:
Manimal2878 wrote:a study like this is inherently worthless
Agreed. It's interesting, but even modern expanding projectiles are only as effective as where they hit. Find a firearm in a caliber from .380-10mm that you can afford and shoot accurately, and carry modern JHPs in it. If you ever have to use it, shoot until they stop.
I'd like to add that no two people react the same to getting shot. My dad took one to the upper torso and one to the face, and only went down because he wanted to "play dead" whereas my mom took one to the neck and passed out from the pain. I had a SAW gunner get his back ripped up the long way by a Mosin, roll over, and use the other shoulder to keep firing, a machinegunner take three rounds to the torso and arm and keep fighting, and an NCO take a flesh wound to the face and go into shock.

That's not even getting into the basic problem of one 9mm round bouncing off a rib and exiting with only minor damage, and a .22 that opens the aorta and gets lodged there. Ballistics are great for figuring out where a bullet will go, but terminal ballistics are more magic than science.
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Re: An Alternate Look at Handgun Stopping Power

Post by Sen » Mon Jul 16, 2012 3:31 pm

Kutter_0311 wrote:I think the big take-away is still "shoot them to the ground" and carry a gun that lets you do that well.

Put lots of bullets through the vital bits of your attacker, head and/or torso are best, as fast as you can.

High-capacity autos with quick reload times will do better than revolvers, clearly.
I disagree with the remark about revolvers based entirely on the data presented. Specifically the data points "% of people who were not incapacitated".

Discounting the .357 which is both Sig and magnum, we can consider the .38 and .44 the revolvers of the bunch, and the 9mm and .40 the high-capacity autos. From these the "% of people who were not incapacitated" was somewhat uniform with the .38 sucking marginally more than the rest. What I take away from this is that at the end of a firefight your opponent is about as likely to be incapacitated if you're using a revolver as he/she is if you're using a high-capacity auto.

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Re: An Alternate Look at Handgun Stopping Power

Post by Sen » Mon Jul 16, 2012 3:37 pm

Doc Torr wrote:
Czechnology wrote:
Manimal2878 wrote:a study like this is inherently worthless
Agreed. It's interesting, but even modern expanding projectiles are only as effective as where they hit. Find a firearm in a caliber from .380-10mm that you can afford and shoot accurately, and carry modern JHPs in it. If you ever have to use it, shoot until they stop.
I'd like to add that no two people react the same to getting shot. My dad took one to the upper torso and one to the face, and only went down because he wanted to "play dead" whereas my mom took one to the neck and passed out from the pain. I had a SAW gunner get his back ripped up the long way by a Mosin, roll over, and use the other shoulder to keep firing, a machinegunner take three rounds to the torso and arm and keep fighting, and an NCO take a flesh wound to the face and go into shock.

That's not even getting into the basic problem of one 9mm round bouncing off a rib and exiting with only minor damage, and a .22 that opens the aorta and gets lodged there. Ballistics are great for figuring out where a bullet will go, but terminal ballistics are more magic than science.
I think all three of these posts show a general misunderstanding about statistics. That being said, the number of data points in this study may not be enough to completely disregard your concerns.

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Re: An Alternate Look at Handgun Stopping Power

Post by TDW586 » Mon Jul 16, 2012 3:44 pm

Sen, I think you missed the point of why studies like this are useless in determining the "effectiveness" of a given caliber. Simply put, a statistical analysis cannot account for the specific wound path created by each and every bullet, which is the only significant factor in whether the person being shot is incapacitated or not.

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Re: An Alternate Look at Handgun Stopping Power

Post by lokifz1 » Mon Jul 16, 2012 3:48 pm

Sen wrote:
Kutter_0311 wrote:IWhat I take away from this is that at the end of a firefight your opponent is about as likely to be incapacitated if you're using a revolver as he/she is if you're using a high-capacity auto.
Not quite, they are about as likely to be incapacitated by hits from ammuntion used in those weapons. With the same proficiency of shooter a higher capacity semi auto will give the shooter more chances to obtain those incapacitating hits before having to reload.

In before the +p, +p+ penetration crowd with - Bullet mass and design equal penetration not velocity.
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