Lee PrecisionInline FabricationRepackboxRotoMetals2
MidSouth Shooters SupplyReloading UKTitan ReloadingADvertise here

Page 1 of 6 123456 LastLast
Results 1 to 20 of 114

Thread: Handgun Stopping Power Revisited

  1. #1
    Boolit Buddy
    Join Date
    Oct 2018
    Location
    Powder Point Bridge
    Posts
    265

    Handgun Stopping Power Revisited

    A google search for "handgun stopping power" (without the quotes) reports "About 7,060,000 results". A google site search (site:castboolits.gunloads.com handgun stopping power) shows that about 800 of those results are from castboolits.

    In those 7 million internet pages (or even just in the 800 pages from this forum) there must be a lot of different opinions about "handgun stopping power." My own opinion is that the FBI probably got it right in 1989 when Special Agent Urey Patrick wrote "The critical wounding components for handgun ammunition, in order of importance, are penetration and permanent cavity."

    But that was some time ago. I'm curious not just about the current thinking, but also about the history of the idea. What theories have been proposed? What theories have been rejected and why? And what theories have been generally accepted? Any thoughts?

  2. #2
    Vendor Sponsor


    DougGuy's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Location
    just above Raleigh North Carolina
    Posts
    6,364
    Afaik, nothing "Official" has been changed much. It comes down to if it starts with a 4, it has MUCH more stopping power than if it starts with a 3 or a 9.

    The same 1911 that served our boys in two world wars plus a whole list of other armed conflicts still has the same stopping power it had when it was invented, and if the discussion of stopping power is limited to handguns, it then branches into two basic areas, stopping power against human assailants or stopping power against dangerous game. The first scenario hasn't changed much since WWI with the exception of some well engineered defense rounds. The second scenario has grown considerably with the advent of the big bore cartridges in revolvers.
    Got a .22 .30 .32 .357 .38 .40 .41 .44 .45 .480 or .500 S&W cylinder that needs throats honed? 9mm, 10mm/40S&W, 45 ACP pistol barrel that won't "plunk" your handloads? Click here to send me a PM You can also find me on Facebook Click Here.

  3. #3
    Boolit Master



    ddixie884's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2005
    Location
    Avery, Texas
    Posts
    1,100
    "They all fall to Hard Ball". Well about 85% any way...........

    Just kidding, ha ha ah.............
    JMHO-YMMV
    dd884
    gary@2texastrucks.com
    Gary D. Peek

  4. #4
    Boolit Buddy
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Location
    North Queensland Australia
    Posts
    344
    About 30 or so years ago I was show a book called body ballistics, it covered all sorts of bullet wounds from all manner of firearms I, have not seen the book since but that was the best book on the subject I have ever seen.

  5. #5
    Boolit Master
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Location
    Monterey Tennessee
    Posts
    1,846
    Quote Originally Posted by pettypace View Post
    A google search for "handgun stopping power" (without the quotes) reports "About 7,060,000 results". A google site search (site:castboolits.gunloads.com handgun stopping power) shows that about 800 of those results are from castboolits.

    In those 7 million internet pages (or even just in the 800 pages from this forum) there must be a lot of different opinions about "handgun stopping power." My own opinion is that the FBI probably got it right in 1989 when Special Agent Urey Patrick wrote "The critical wounding components for handgun ammunition, in order of importance, are penetration and permanent cavity."

    But that was some time ago. I'm curious not just about the current thinking, but also about the history of the idea. What theories have been proposed? What theories have been rejected and why? And what theories have been generally accepted? Any thoughts?
    Your asking people to write a book to answer all your questions when Mr Google already answered.
    Theories proposed? Rejected? Accepted?
    Give me a break.
    East Tennessee

  6. #6
    Boolit Master scattershot's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Location
    Denver, CO
    Posts
    1,205
    The reason the argument rages on, and on, and on, is that they all work. Put one in the right place under the right circumstances, and it will do the job.
    "Experience is a series of non-fatal mistakes"


    Disarming is a mistake free people only get to make once...

  7. #7
    Boolit Master
    Join Date
    Oct 2012
    Location
    Las Cruces, NM
    Posts
    2,842
    Quote Originally Posted by scattershot View Post
    The reason the argument rages on, and on, and on, is that they all work. Put one in the right place under the right circumstances, and it will do the job.
    And this has been true since the use of the first knife/spear.

    I still remember an article about how the .30-06 was underpowered. The author's hunting party shot a grizzly 6 times and it was still running. The 'mighty' .300WM was brought out and it ended the life. They only had to fire it THREE times. Therefore the .300WM was touted as the king of hunting rifles by the author. That is how myths are born.
    Last edited by charlie b; 07-11-2021 at 09:51 AM.

  8. #8
    Boolit Grand Master



    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Location
    Southwestern Ohio
    Posts
    8,419
    pettypace;
    I am not a former law enforcement person, but merely a cast bullet shooter and hunter of many, many years. I have no experience in shooting people (thank goodness!). However, using hanguns to shoot many different types of small game (significant numbers) and a half dozen large, corn and bean fed Whitetail Deer, I have come to some real conclusions. Oh, I have also been in on the "autopsies" of 30-35 Canadian Black Bear. Since we were hunting in Canada, no handguns were allowed so my bear was taken with a .375 H&H Magnum.

    At any rate, I have learned at least a couple things.

    1- All important is where you hit!

    2- Bullet nose shape (meplat) is EXTREMELY important!
    As an example is the great .45 Auto. It works extremely well in hardball shape but adding an effective meplat GREATLY increases the permanent
    wound cavity. You must keep in mind that when using an auto pistol, positive function is extremely important, too. So, a really good meplat must
    must be designed to also function reliably with YOUR particular auto pistol.
    A couple of examples here: the old, famous H&G #68/69 has a great functional design (proven over decades) and can be run, safely, to 1000 fps
    in a good 1911 and would work well. If you prefer the original bullet weight, the Lee cast bullet 230 gr. Truncated Cone functions well in every
    1911 I have tried it in (also available in a full metal case design commercially), and has a nice wide meplat that does a considerably better job
    than original hardball.

    3- The various popular revolver rounds, from .357 Magnum, .41 Magnum, .44 Special, and .44 Magnum, along with a good load in the .45 Colt and
    others work extremely well with a good Keith design bullet at the velocity that you prefer. For serious work, I, too, favor a caliber that starts with
    a ".4"!

    4- The various specialty commercial jacketed bullets can offer excellent field results, also, of course.

    NOTE: Keep in mind that the politically inspired round nose bullets forced onto Law Enforcement by those in power have caused many, many problems for GOOD people that NEVER should have happened. A perfect example is the round nose, lead, .38 Special that police were forced to use. A proper shape in .38 Special is MUCH more effective than the original round nose!

    FWIW
    Dale53

  9. #9
    Boolit Grand Master

    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Location
    Northwest Ohio
    Posts
    12,854
    When you dont need it they are all to big and cumbersome, but when you need it they could always be bigger

  10. #10
    Boolit Master

    Join Date
    Nov 2013
    Location
    East Coast
    Posts
    526
    I have a simple way of showing other shooters my take. We each get a silhouette at 10 yards. I take a decent combat 9mm, and I give them my Magnum Research in .500 Linebaugh. Who puts more, accurate shots where they count? Point being there needs to be a balance. If it takes you 2 seconds to get your sights back on target, or you flinch so much you can't hit COM, horsepower is a moot point. Fight with what you can carry and shoot well. For 90% of people that is a 9mm.

  11. #11
    Boolit Buddy hoodat's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Jefferson State
    Posts
    216
    I haven't really used them, but it looks to me like we have a lot of specially designed, self defense bullets these days which MUST greatly increase the lethality of standard handgun ammo. A lot of these bullets have been developed fairly recently, and for hunting as well as self defense.

    A familiar old cartridge like the 9mm, or 38 spec. might well be in an entirely different league, possibly even twice as lethal as it used to be, not because of it's power/velocity, but because of the "meat grinder" type of bullet it may be propelling. jd
    It seems that people who do almost nothing, often complain loudly when it's time to do it.

  12. #12
    Boolit Buddy
    Ural Driver's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2016
    Location
    Texas between Ft. Worth and Waco
    Posts
    363
    The "science" of ammunition manufacturing has change a lot in the last 20-30 years. The 9mm duty round of 1975, bears little resemblance to what is available today. That being said, I carried a 10mm for many years.......because it was the only pistol round (that I was allowed to field) that would reliably penetrate a car door.
    NRA Benefactor

  13. #13
    Boolit Master
    Join Date
    Jan 2018
    Location
    North Central
    Posts
    1,570
    The better shot you are, the better your ability to get multiple shots on target quickly, the more stopping power you have. I would not enjoy trying to stop a brown bear with my Super Blackhawk. Much rather have slugs in my 870.
    Yes, it's really this horrible;
    https://www.bitchute.com/video/ck1cZwIZK1ia/

  14. #14
    Boolit Master
    Join Date
    Oct 2012
    Location
    Las Cruces, NM
    Posts
    2,842
    Bullet selection is more important than caliber in many cases.

    https://www.luckygunner.com/labs/sel...c-tests/#45ACP

  15. #15
    Boolit Master
    Join Date
    Jan 2018
    Location
    North Central
    Posts
    1,570
    Quote Originally Posted by 44MAG#1 View Post
    It is always intriguing to see posts of those that thinks they are going into a firefight with the "enemy " and lay down a line of fire so they can hose down the "enemy" with no consequences like they have implied immunity. Just say "I was in fear of my life" after firing a magazine or two at the "enemy". All will be okay. Yeah right.
    Flag goes up, you pound the threat with well placed rounds. Always been the way to survive.
    Yes, it's really this horrible;
    https://www.bitchute.com/video/ck1cZwIZK1ia/

  16. #16
    Boolit Master

    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Location
    State of Denial
    Posts
    3,059
    The FBI did some minor revisions to the post-Miami '86 protocols, and as I recall, we've been running with the latest of those since about '93.

    Shot placement comes first, penetration second, and ONLY AFTER you achieve those two, do we want more diameter.

    More specifically 12-18 inches of penetration is the desired range (I think this is largely because a lot of folks still wet their pants at the idea of "over-penetration") and 1.5X original diameter after expansion is optimal - provided it does not compromise a suitable amount of penetration.

    The idea of energy transfer and hydrostatic shock have been largely rejected. Simple physics is the reason for the first - you can't knock someone down with a handgun bullet without generating so much recoil that it knocks you down as well. Hyrdostatic effects do not seem to influence permanent cavity size until your projectile strikes at over about 2000 feet per second, so that pretty much takes that capability off the market as far as useful combat handguns goes. Where this has REALLY improved things is that we have gotten rid of the super fast, super light bullets that were supposed to rapidly expand and "smack" the target to the ground - but in reality often failed to penetrate deeply enough to hit something important.

    Veral Smith's Jacketed Performance With Cast Bullets is well worth acquiring and reading as it contains a great deal of observations of field performance on live game. He's a big proponent of lots of penetration with a medium to large meplat that leaves a lot of torn tissue in the wound channel, but he does not put a lot of emphasis on making that channel wider than the bullet itself. I think that medically, there's a lot of wisdom here: the wound channel is effectively another vein or artery that the body will bleed out into, so if that wound channel pretty much mimics the diameter of the aorta or vena cava, you are probably not going to "drain the bathtub" a whole lot faster - at least not without stepping up into things much more impressive than any carry-worthy handgun, such as buckshot or slugs.

    Rejected also - at least largely in military and LE circles - is that it has to start with the number 4. The above science suggests that - within the available practical power levels - the big stuff is not sufficiently more capable than the 9mm-level rounds shooting proper ammo to offset the liabilities of added recoil and reduced capacity. The Marshall/Sanow studies put all of the major LE calibers in the 88 to 94% range for "one shot stops". Of late, my own personal theory on this is that the 9mm rated on the lower side of that NOT because it's less effective, but because its lower recoil more often allows a second shot to be accurately delivered before the officer can perceive that his first shot worked. This makes the bigger stuff look better on paper, but the practical result is the same.

    But of real interest to me is that we seem to be coming back around to desiring performance characteristics of ammo that was being produced in the mid-to-late 1800's. Somewhere out there on the Ether is data produced by shooting classic cap and ball revolvers into the FBI gelatin testing protocols. When you look at this, you will see that the 1858 Remington and 1860 Colt Army .44's will produce a wound track just about identical to what you'll see from the current 147 grain 9mm duty hollowpoints that seem to be doing a wonderful job of solving our problems on the street.

    Worth keeping that in mind, before we get TOO proud of how we've advanced.
    WWJMBD?

    "I'M MELLLLLLLLLLTING!" - Elphaba

  17. #17
    Boolit Buddy
    Join Date
    Oct 2018
    Location
    Powder Point Bridge
    Posts
    265
    Quote Originally Posted by Bigslug View Post
    The FBI did some minor revisions to the post-Miami '86 protocols, and as I recall, we've been running with the latest of those since about '93.

    Shot placement comes first, penetration second, and ONLY AFTER you achieve those two, do we want more diameter.

    More specifically 12-18 inches of penetration is the desired range (I think this is largely because a lot of folks still wet their pants at the idea of "over-penetration") and 1.5X original diameter after expansion is optimal - provided it does not compromise a suitable amount of penetration.

    The idea of energy transfer and hydrostatic shock have been largely rejected. Simple physics is the reason for the first - you can't knock someone down with a handgun bullet without generating so much recoil that it knocks you down as well. Hyrdostatic effects do not seem to influence permanent cavity size until your projectile strikes at over about 2000 feet per second, so that pretty much takes that capability off the market as far as useful combat handguns goes. Where this has REALLY improved things is that we have gotten rid of the super fast, super light bullets that were supposed to rapidly expand and "smack" the target to the ground - but in reality often failed to penetrate deeply enough to hit something important.

    Veral Smith's Jacketed Performance With Cast Bullets is well worth acquiring and reading as it contains a great deal of observations of field performance on live game. He's a big proponent of lots of penetration with a medium to large meplat that leaves a lot of torn tissue in the wound channel, but he does not put a lot of emphasis on making that channel wider than the bullet itself. I think that medically, there's a lot of wisdom here: the wound channel is effectively another vein or artery that the body will bleed out into, so if that wound channel pretty much mimics the diameter of the aorta or vena cava, you are probably not going to "drain the bathtub" a whole lot faster - at least not without stepping up into things much more impressive than any carry-worthy handgun, such as buckshot or slugs.

    Rejected also - at least largely in military and LE circles - is that it has to start with the number 4. The above science suggests that - within the available practical power levels - the big stuff is not sufficiently more capable than the 9mm-level rounds shooting proper ammo to offset the liabilities of added recoil and reduced capacity. The Marshall/Sanow studies put all of the major LE calibers in the 88 to 94% range for "one shot stops". Of late, my own personal theory on this is that the 9mm rated on the lower side of that NOT because it's less effective, but because its lower recoil more often allows a second shot to be accurately delivered before the officer can perceive that his first shot worked. This makes the bigger stuff look better on paper, but the practical result is the same.

    But of real interest to me is that we seem to be coming back around to desiring performance characteristics of ammo that was being produced in the mid-to-late 1800's. Somewhere out there on the Ether is data produced by shooting classic cap and ball revolvers into the FBI gelatin testing protocols. When you look at this, you will see that the 1858 Remington and 1860 Colt Army .44's will produce a wound track just about identical to what you'll see from the current 147 grain 9mm duty hollowpoints that seem to be doing a wonderful job of solving our problems on the street.

    Worth keeping that in mind, before we get TOO proud of how we've advanced.
    Well done, Bigslug! Lots to digest, there, and it's probably best digested in small bites. Thanks for taking the time to put all that together!
    Last edited by pettypace; 07-12-2021 at 05:06 AM.

  18. #18
    Curious Caster
    Daekar's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2020
    Location
    Virginia, USA
    Posts
    246
    I was going to chime in about how things have changed and how pretty much anything 9mm or larger performs the same nowadays, but I see Bigslug beat me to it.

    What we have learned in the last few decades is that handguns are bad, and that most of them are equally bad. Carry what you shoot well and load quality bullets with a good hp design or a large meplat... and don't worry about it.
    I'm a big fan of data-driven decisions. You want to make me smile, show me a spreadsheet! Extra points for graphs and best-fit predictive equations.

  19. #19
    Boolit Buddy memtb's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2016
    Location
    Winchester,Wy.
    Posts
    367
    My opinion on the subject may be a bit different than many. I think that caliber importance varies with the “subject of your affections” at the moment!

    As stated and well documented.....bullet placement is paramount! However, also stated, the bullet must have enough structural integrity to reach the vitals. Bullet shape is, as stated, is also important. It is very difficult to dispute any of these statements.

    Now comes the caveat! What is the threat that will be encountered?

    If human, as the “vast” majority of situations will be, the 9mm with good, proven bullets will work quite well. The firearms are easily controlled for accurate (semi accurate) fire under duress, by most competent shooters. A good, defense type 9mm bullet, well placed will generally end the aggression. Most humans, except those under the influence of drugs or having severe mental issues, will respond to most any hits from any firearm. The human also recognizes that the victim has the capability defending themselves....no longer a helpless victim. Most assailants will respond by leaving in search of easier prey! Often, the mere presence of a firearm by the intended victim, ends the assault!

    If the attacker is an animal, or a human with impaired thought processes (mental or drugs)....this offers a different situation. The humans may not show the typical human response of self preservation, and the drugs or mental impairment may slow the reaction to a fatal wound. In these situations, in my opinion, there is “no substitute for cubic inches”! Though, bullet placement, and bullet construction are still of paramount importance.....however, increased tissue damage (though permanent wound size and wound depth) are a plus. I don’t think that many of us, knowing without a doubt we would find ourselves in this scenario would choose a lesser cartridge over a large bore, much more powerful handgun!

    Given the above situations, and my innate ability to consistently prove “Murphy’s Law”, my assailant will be a 400+ pound, heavily muscled, “hopped-up”, biker dressed in a heavy leather vest.....I’ll choose my cartridge/bullet accordingly! memtb
    You should not use a rifle that will kill an animal when everything goes right; you should use one that will do the job when everything goes wrong." -Bob Hagel

  20. #20
    Boolit Master
    Join Date
    Jan 2018
    Location
    North Central
    Posts
    1,570
    Quote Originally Posted by 44MAG#1 View Post
    Do you really think that will go over well in the Walmart parking lot or inside Walmart or the local convenience store when you jerk out your handgun and hose down the assailant spraying and praying even though you are cool as a frozen cucumber and not scared one bit?
    Who said anything about spraying and praying? More like you take your time getting good hits in a hurry.

Page 1 of 6 123456 LastLast

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •  
Abbreviations used in Reloading

BP Bronze Point IMR Improved Military Rifle PTD Pointed
BR Bench Rest M Magnum RN Round Nose
BT Boat Tail PL Power-Lokt SP Soft Point
C Compressed Charge PR Primer SPCL Soft Point "Core-Lokt"
HP Hollow Point PSPCL Pointed Soft Point "Core Lokt" C.O.L. Cartridge Overall Length
PSP Pointed Soft Point Spz Spitzer Point SBT Spitzer Boat Tail
LRN Lead Round Nose LWC Lead Wad Cutter LSWC Lead Semi Wad Cutter
GC Gas Check