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So, I ran across this article again today. I have read it a few times over the years, and may have even posted it here on MO before:

https://www.buckeyefirearms.org/alternate-look-handgun-stopping-power

Anyway...the upshot is that the author, feeling that most studies regarding ‘stopping power’ are either flawed (esp. the Marshall and Sanow study) or anecdotal, created his own (also admittedly anecdotal) set of data via interviews and published stats from various places.

His findings may be pretty eye opening for some, as they do not support the typical gun shop/gun show/gun rag rhetoric regarding caliber and things that start with a .4.

Frankly, his underlying philosophy is the same as my own: HAVE A GUN, preferably one that is reliable and that you can shoot well...all other considerations are semantic and/or bonus.

All else being equal, more power is certainly preferable. But all else is not always equal. Especially for those of us (most of us) who are not ‘operators’ or whatever...but are living/working in a professional environment or picking the kids up from soccer practice or whatever. You know....living a pretty normal life.

Anyway...I think it’s definitely worth the read, and a good subject for discussion.
 

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You have to be able to make the rounds count, and any underpowered hit still has infinitely greater value than an overpowered miss.

Much of the "rhetoric" on this topic is based on ball ammo and has little to do with the modern world.
 

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I’ve always thought the three most important pieces of firearm self defense were, in order
1. Have a gun that is...
2. Loaded and...
3. In your hand when you need it.

Now I can add
4. ... And can be shot quickly and accurately at least twice without reloading.

Most everything else is academic, as I’ve long suspected. Oh, I’ll still carry my 9s and 45s, and won’t bother to run out to buy a carry 22. But it’s nice to know whatever happens to be near at home should work just fine... as long as all 4 points above are covered.

It’s also enlightening to compare the numbers posted with rifles/shotguns versus handguns. In case you were ever tempted to do so, here’s actual data to convince you not to bring a pistol to a shotgun fight.
 

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In all of the self defense shooter videos how often does the perp get shot with the first bullet? second? Not many. All gunshots have the potential to be lethal no matter what the caliber. Placement is always key.
 

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Though handguns are not really my thing (I'm a rifleman) I do take great interest in the discussions about them. I have read many articles and posts about the so called stopping power and this is what I've come to understand. 99% of the time a 22 magnum pistol or 380 acp is enough stopping power because as soon as the would be assailant sees that their intended victim is armed, they run screaming like a little....

The chances of running across a 300Lb assailant all hopped up on PCP wearing 7 layers of clothing is pretty slim. You do not need a desert eagle to defend yourself, in most cases. If you live or work in da hood, well, you may want something with more stopping power because your chances of running across a meth head will increase.

It's basically a matter of risk assessment.

EDIT: Also forgot this tidbit. You are better off carrying the pistol you shoot best than the most powerful pistol you own. 4 well placed mouse gun bullets are better than one 44mag that grazes.
 

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Practice, practice, practice. Shot placement trumps everything else. Shoot what your comfortable and capable with.
As Bill Jordan said: "No Second Place Winners" in a gunfight. As far as power from a handgun---bigger is better always applies just like cubic inches for a performance car.
 

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OK, I'll play.

Rules #1, 2 and 3: Shot placement, shot placement, shot placement. You can't miss fast enough to be effective.

That having been said, I have read a couple of Evan Marshall's books back when researching my 1st carry gun purchase and reading everything I could get my hands on in an effort to do it right the first time. IF you read his data as just that--data, there is a lot of useful information contained therein. Even Mr. Marshall himself, in conversation, rather curmudgeonly insists that his data is just data (although the books DO seem to want to lead you to make some conclusions.) If you dig deep enough, you can get a feel for what calibers CAN be more effective than others and if you're looking at just your own caliber-of-choice, whose bullet may have a better track record. There is enough data presented to suggest there are better bullets within a given caliber than others and better calibers than others (all other things being equal, which they are not). Either way, it is interesting reading. Take from it what you will but don't take it all to the bank.

Tim
 

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Reading reports about the amazing penetration tests of the 380, and I can attest to the lethality of a 22 LR, many critters have fallen to my mighty 22. I like the whomp factor of the 45 acp and the muzzle flame of the 44 Mag but my main interest is in can I shoot the pistol well. If I can then bang, bang. bang... I just hope and pray I never have to use my pistol(s) in a defensive situation because it is going be between the eyes.

(I practice a series of triple taps with all my pistols. I am a believer in overkill.)
 

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That was an interesting article. A couple of takeaways for me:
1. If possible, don't take a handgun to a long gunfight and
2. When the crap hits the fan, it's better to have ANY gun than NO gun.

If I may offer a couple of provisos/quid pro quo's, whether the data from this article or Marshall's or Ayoob's or anybody else's, some factors just cannot be adequately quantified in these types of tables: human physiology, ie. size, weight, demeanor, determination. Then factor in any chemical "enhancements" and that adds a whole new set of factors.

My training included the "suits" using PC terminology like enough force to "stop the threat..." Never "shoot to kill/maim/wound," etc. So how can you be certain the "threat" has been "stopped" until you can be certain that all forward motion has ceased. Evan Marshall would say "shoot to lock-back." Perhaps only slight hyperbole... I know I can put 3 rounds down range accurately within 1 second (in a training environment anyway--who knows what the hell I'd do when pee-pee turns to ca-ca...). A 5-second incapacitation (threat stopped...?) IS lock-back in my California gun...

Anyhoo, I'd not recommend taking away from this or other articles like it as justification for carrying your granddaddy's favorite .22 short or .25 ACP. Those numbers don't tell the whole story. Again, ANY gun is better than NO gun but there are some calibers that indisputably increase your chances of "stopping that threat." Of course, you MUST do your part! Practice, practice, practice! Carry what you WILL carry. That Astro-blaster 9000 does you no good left at home. And carry what you can put into play quickly and accurately.

I love those articles, tho'. They make you think about what we do and why we do it.

Tim
 

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Humans are like any other species; they do not die easy. As long as an assailant lives they are a threat. Shoot them in a vital place and quickly place another round in a vital place, follow that up with additional shots until they stop moving. When they stop moving keep them covered until very sure they will not resume the attack.

My EDC is a .45 ACP And a 22 Mag NRA pug (sometimes a 9mm Kahr PM9 replaces the 22 Mag). I am just as comfortable with either one of my carries because I am confident I can place rounds where I want them.

I guess what I'm trying to get to is, I agree. Placement, training, and attitude trumps caliber every time.
 

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Over the years have noted deer hit with one or two pieces of buckshot in a vital zone can go on for awhile, where when hit with three or four or more pellets, they generally fall immediately. Sometimes the additional three or more pellets are the result of second quick shot. Which is to say, stopping power can be vastly increased due to the effect of muliple strikes if they arrive more less at the same time. On pistols, prefer the most powerfull caliber I can shoot very fast and accurately, which for me is a +P 9mm..
 

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Why do I carry a 45? Because they don't make a 46!


 
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