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Thursday, July 23, 2009

"Stopping Power"

I saw a bit on The Survivalist Blog about "Stopping Power" and I just had to put my 2 cents in on that topic.

I don't believe Evan Marshall's book is very good. I don't believe that a .357 magnum HANDGUN is as effective as a .308 RIFLE. I think all the numbers are grossly inflated in that study. I won't even attack his definition of a "one shot stop". I'll go for some other targets.

First, these are civilian shootings as opposed to military shootings. When a soldier is hit the best thing he can do to keep from being hit again is to move faster. If he falls down where he is he will probably be shot again, unless the enemy lets him lie there in hopes that his buddies will come out to rescue him and create more targets. When a creep is shot by the police or a private citizen the best thing he can do to avoid being shot again is to fall down. That is a big difference in motivation. The creeps in the shootings in the Marshall book have a good reason to fall down even when they aren't wounded that badly, while men and women in military uniforms have a strong motivation to keep going and complete their mission or save their comrade or get behind cover.

If you are interested in fighting and shooting and people that didn't fall down despite severe wounds then go read some Medal of Honor Citations. Men with arms and legs blown completely off that continued to fight. Men hit in the head with .308 class rifles that continued to function. Men that fell on grenades and after the grenade exploded they got up and continued to give aid to a wounded comrade.

You think a head shot will stop someone every time? Check out Saburo Sakai. The Martin Caidin book "Zero!" gives more details of the fight and his flight home. In that account he describes putting his fingers all the way into his head and not being able to reach the slug. He flew his damaged plane over the ocean for hours, found his base, and landed with a .30-06 slug in his head. If you look around you'll find other accounts of men shot in the head and through the brain that didn't stop.

Another thing from my own experience. I know that deer aren't the same thing as men, but is a deer that runs 150lbs on the hoof that much tougher than a man? I've shot or personally witnessed the shooting of 30 or more deer. All but one were shot with rifles and most of those were .308, .30-06, .270 or something similar. Almost all were good chest shots. About 1/3 fell instantly dead. About 1/3 flinched at the shot or did nothing and then stood or walked for up to 10 seconds. About 1/3 ran and covered at least 50 yards with some of them going a little over 100 yards. One in particular I shot broadside through both lungs with a .30-06 150gr. JSP from a range of about 7 yards and he covered 100 yards or a little more. I lost a lot of faith in rifles that day.

I think we can all agree that a round that puts a wider and deeper hole in things will be more effective than one that makes a narrower or shallower hole. Quantifying that is much more difficult than making the general statement.

I think men and women are far tougher than that study would indicate if they have the right motivation or they are on drugs. The highly motivated and/or drugged up individuals don't make it into that study because they usually have to be shot a lot of times even with a rifle before they stop being dangerous.

I think putting faith in that study (or others like it) can get you in trouble. You read in there that XYZ round makes 95%+ "one shot stops" so you load that round in your carry gun and start thinking you are carrying the Hammer of Thor. The problem is that when reality insists and the bad guy doesn't fall down after your first shot you are left wondering "what happened?" while the fight goes on.

Far better to plan that whatever you do won't work and always have a plan for what to do next. You might be pleasantly surprised. If you aren't pleasantly surprised at least you won't be unpleasantly surprised.

Don't put too much faith in a rifle stopping a bad guy with one hit and don't put any faith in a handgun doing it.


Bullseye said...

Nothing like a good old love tap to keep a man down, 2 to the chest and 1 to the head usually does it. Not many men I know will fall or lie down after just one hit. If placed right it may but not usually. Good prespective on the issue though, very good.

Code Name "Bullseye"

Wyn Boniface said...

That is why I have spare loads. ;)


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