Wednesday, 18 May 2005
|0856 - Duh, you think?|
| You scored as Pistol. Easy to hide, easy to draw, capable of rapid shooting. You can't miss it! Old good autoloading pistol at your service!|
What Firearm Fits You Best?
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FWIW, I've always been a pistol shooter. My eyes aren't good enough to shoot a rifle at any distance, and while I firmly believe that single aimed shots will win over spray and pray any time, running out of ammunition in the middle of a fight is a Bad Thing. I'm willing to trade a bit of stopping power for dramatically increased capacity, too (see above). I've pretty much settled on autoloading pistols in .40 S&W caliber as my weapons of choice, since they fit my philosophy best.
current mood: satisfied
current music: Dire Straits - The Bug
Stopping power's a myth, anyway. If you want to stop someone, the ways to do that are to cause massive exsanguination, or to poke holes in vital organs, and the difference between any two handguns is insignificant compared to the difference between a handgun and a rifle. In other words, worry about hitting your target, anything else is gravy.
Although, that said, I really dislike .40. I simply don't see what it has to offer.
To me, .40 S&W is a good tradeoff between power and capacity. I originally switched to it from 9mm Parabellum when I was shooting IPSC, as an easy way to get to major power factor without sacrificing too much capacity, making the grip larger than I could comfortably hold, or having to handload all of my own ammunition. It's a significant improvement over 9mm Parabellum in power. I find IPSC's power factor (bullet weight in grains * muzzle velocity in fps / 1000; major power factor is a minimum of 170) to be a useful measurement, and 9mm Parabellum just doesn't stack up. IPSC rules used to prohibit loading 9mm Parabellum to major power factor for safety reasons (keeping chamber pressures down to something real guns can handle safely).
No, power isn't everything; as you point out, shot placement is important. However, if you aim for center of mass (as all defensive shooters are trained), you need the bullet to reach the target with sufficient kinetic energy to penetrate his clothing and still expand reliably once inside. There's no substitute for power for that purpose.
Wasn't stopping power an issue that the US Army considered in adopting the old M1911, based on experience in the Philippines? It seems to me that the experience in that war at least takes the issue out of the realm of myth. Debatable, perhaps, myth no.
Let's talk terminology.
"Stopping power" is purported to be the ability of a round to, well, stop someone. The Army was distressed that angry oncoming Moro tribesman with machetes would keep oncoming even after they'd been shot with rounds from the .38 revolver. This is understandable.
They decided to replace this weapon with a larger round, a .45, and the M1911 won the competition. As a result, the .45ACP has been accorded mythical status in discussions of stopping power, with stories being told how, even if you just hit someone in the arm with .45ACP, you'll put him down on the ground.
That's nonsense. Wound ballistics research demonstrates repeatedly that if you want to stop someone reliably, you poke holes in his brain or his heart, or make him dump a good quantity of his blood onto the sidewalk in short order. To do the former, you want good penetration. To do the latter, you want a large primary wound channel. Those who talk about stopping power blather on instead about things like 'energy transfer' or 'hydrostatic scock' or a bunch of other things that don't have anything to do with putting an assailant on the ground.
All handguns are pretty marginal in terms of bringing a human target to a rapid stop. That's why stopping power is a myth.
and 9mm Parabellum just doesn't stack up. IPSC rules used to prohibit loading 9mm Parabellum to major power factor for safety reasons (keeping chamber pressures down to something real guns can handle safely).
Bah, that's not the fault of the cartridge, that's the fault of 9mm buyers. Complains about recoil led to underloaded cartridges, which led to guns that couldn't handle the chamber pressures of real 9mm, so we end up with a round that purports to be '9mm Luger' firing a 115 grain round at under 1200 fps.
I don't disagree that that's not acceptable, but real 9mm NATO is an entirely different beast. If I fire that weak-ass stuff in my 90 year-old arty Luger, it won't even cycle properly. The standard 115g 9mm is 35,000 psi, 9mm +P is 38,500 psi, and NATO-spec 124g 9mm is 42,000 psi, something approaching 1300fps. It's an entirely different round. I wouldn't consider anything that couldn't chew on 9mm +P all day long to be a "real gun," by the way.
124 grain +P at 1250fps is 434 ft-lbs. The 135 grain .40 Federal Hydrashok (used by the FBI, so probably a good choice) at 1190fps is 420 ft-lbs. So just going by power, I'd go with a real 9mm, and I'd lean that way even more now that hi-caps are back, so again, I'm not sure why .40 even exists as a caliber, except that so many anemic loadings have convinced lots of people that 9mm doesn't have "stopping power," so they look for a larger round that gives them more shots than a .45.
But 434 vs. 420 is in the final analysis pretty insignificant. Gunshot injuries are highly idiosyncratic, and a difference in muzzle energy of 3-4% isn't likely to make a reliable difference one way in the other, assuming the rounds hit. Far more important is being able to get the muzzle back on target for followup shots. If you can carry it easily enough to feel like carrying it, and shoot it well enough to hit, it's good enough.