FBI 9MM Justification, FBI Training Division


Below is a very interesting read from the FBI Training Division, FBI Academy, Quantico, VA. from a few months ago. This was a PDF file that was sent to me by a coworker. I want to emphasis this is not mine and I did not create it/the content. I simply copied the text and placed it in this format, here on Loose Rounds, so it was easier to see.  It is an executive summary of justification for law enforcement agencies on 9mm for duty carry. If you have followed us here, you know I have been talking about numerous agencies switching back to 9mm over the last few years, as well as the FBI testing for their switch. Great strides in bullet technology have been made in the past decade and 9mm is on the top of its game. With a select few rounds in 9mm, that have been tested for duty carry, 9mm is fast becoming one of the best options for duty carry. This goes into some detailed history of testing, common caliber myths and justification for 9mm use over other calibers. The picture below has absolutely nothing to do with the content below. It is  a very old picture that most are familiar with. I put it in to give others a frame of reference, on the type of rounds being discussed below.  Enjoy!

Update 11/9/2015: Link to FBI 9mm Justification FOIA: 2015/11/09 FBI-9mm-Justification-FOIA


“May 6, 2014

FBI Training Division: FBI Academy, Quantico, VA

Executive Summary of Justification for Law Enforcement Partners

  • Caliber debates have existed in law enforcement for decades
  • Most of what is “common knowledge” with ammunition and its effects on the human target are rooted in myth and folklore
  • Projectiles are what ultimately wound our adversaries and the projectile needs to be the basis for the discussion on what “caliber” is best
  • In all the major law enforcement calibers there exist projectiles which have a high likelihood of failing LEO’s in a shooting incident and there are projectiles which have a high ting incident likelihood of succeeding for LEO’s in a shooting incident
  • Handgun stopping power is simply a myth
  • The single most important factor in effectively wounding a human target is to have penetration to a scientifically valid depth (FBI uses 12” – 18”)
  • LEO’s miss between 70 – 80 percent of the shots fired during a shooting incident
  • Contemporary projectiles (since 2007) have dramatically increased the terminal effectiveness of many premium line law enforcement projectiles (emphasis on the 9mm Luger offerings)
  • 9mm Luger now offers select projectiles which are, under identical testing conditions, I outperforming most of the premium line .40 S&W and .45 Auto projectiles tested by the FBI
  • 9mm Luger offers higher magazine capacities, less recoil, lower cost (both in ammunition and wear on the weapons) and higher functional reliability rates (in FBI weapons)
  • The majority of FBI shooters are both FASTER in shot strings fired and more ACCURATE with shooting a 9mm Luger vs shooting a .40 S&W (similar sized weapons)
  • There is little to no noticeable difference in the wound tracks between premium line law Auto enforcement projectiles from 9mm Luger through the .45 Auto
  • Given contemporary bullet construction, LEO’s can field (with proper bullet selection) 9mm Lugers with all of the terminal performance potential of any other law enforcement pistol caliber with none of the disadvantages present with the “larger” calibers

Justification for Law Enforcement Partners

Rarely in law enforcement does a topic stir a more passionate debate than the choice of handgun caliber made by a law enforcement organization. Many voice their opinions by repeating the old adage “bigger is better” while others have “heard of this one time” where a smaller caliber failed and a larger caliber “would have performed much better.” Some even subscribe to the belief that a caliber exists which will provide a “one shot stop.” It has been stated, “Decisions on ammunition selection are particularly difficult because many of the pertinent issues related to handguns and ammunition are firmly rooted in myth and folklore.” This still holds as true today as it did when originally stated 20 years ago.

Caliber, when considered alone, brings about a unique set of factors to consider such as magazine capacity for a given weapon size, ammunition availability, felt recoil, weight and cost. What is rarely discussed, but most relevant to the caliber debate is what projectile is being considered for use and its terminal performance potential.

One should never debate on a gun make or caliber alone. The projectile is what wounds and ultimately this is where the debate/discussion should focus. In each of the three most common law enforcement handgun calibers (9mm Luger, .40 Smith & Wesson and .45 AUTO) there are projectiles which have a high likelihood of failing law enforcement officers and in each of these three calibers there are projectiles which have a high likelihood of succeeding for law enforcement officers during a shooting incident. The choice of a service projectile must undergo intense scrutiny and scientific evaluation in order to select the best available option.

Understanding Handgun Caliber Terminal Ballistic Realities

Many so‐called “studies” have been performed and many analyses of statistical data have been undertaken regarding this issue. Studies simply involving shooting deaths are irrelevant since the goal of law enforcement is to stop a threat during a deadly force encounter as quickly as possible. Whether or not death occurs is of no consequence as long as the threat of death or serious injury to law enforcement personnel and innocent third parties is eliminated.

The concept of immediate incapacitation is the only goal of any law enforcement shooting and is the underlying rationale for decisions regarding weapons, ammunition, calibers and training.1

Studies of “stopping power” are irrelevant because no one has ever been able to define how much power, force, or kinetic energy, in and of itself, is required to effectively stop a violent and determined adversary quickly, and even the largest of handgun calibers are not capable of delivering such force. Handgun stopping power is simply a myth. Studies of so‐called “one shot stops” being used as a tool to define the effectiveness of one handgun cartridge, as opposed to another, are irrelevant due to the inability to account for psychological influences and due to the lack of reporting specific shot placement. In short, extensive studies have been done over the years to “prove” a certain cartridge is better than another by using grossly flawed methodology and or bias as a precursor to manipulating statistics. In order to have a meaningful understanding of handgun terminal ballistics, one must only deal with facts that are not in dispute within the medical community, i.e. medical realities, and those which are also generally accepted within law enforcement, i.e. tactical realities.

Medical Realities

Shots to the Central Nervous System (CNS) at the level of the cervical spine (neck) or above, are the only means to reliably cause immediate incapacitation. In this case, any of the calibers commonly used in law enforcement, regardless of expansion, would suffice for obvious reasons. Other than shots to the CNS, the most reliable means for affecting rapid incapacitation is by placing shots to large vital organs thus causing rapid blood loss. Simply stated, shot placement is the most critical component to achieving either method of incapacitation.

Wounding factors between rifle and handgun projectiles differ greatly due to the dramatic differences in velocity, which will be discussed in more detail herein. The wounding factors, in order of importance, are as follows:

A. Penetration:

A projectile must penetrate deeply enough into the body to reach the large vital organs, namely heart, lungs, aorta, vena cava and to a lesser extent liver and spleen, in order to cause rapid blood loss. It has long been established by expert medical professionals, experienced in evaluating gunshot wounds, that this equates to a range of penetration of 12‐18 inches, depending on the size of the individual and the angle of the bullet path (e.g., through arm, shoulder, etc.). With modern properly designed, expanding handgun bullets, this objective is realized, albeit more consistently with some law enforcement projectiles than others. 1 Handgun Wounding Factors and Effectiveness: Firearms Training Unit, Ballistic Research Facility, 1989.

B. Permanent Cavity:

The extent to which a projectile expands determines the diameter of the permanent cavity which, simply put, is that tissue which is in direct contact with the projectile and is therefore destroyed. Coupled with the distance of the path of the projectile (penetration), the total permanent cavity is realized. Due to the elastic nature of most human tissue and the low velocity of handgun projectiles relative to rifle projectiles, it has long been established by medical professionals, experienced in evaluating gunshot wounds, that the damage along a wound path visible at autopsy or during surgery cannot be distinguished between the common handgun calibers used in law enforcement. That is to say an operating room surgeon or Medical Examiner cannot distinguish the difference between wounds caused by .35 to .45 caliber projectiles.

C. Temporary Cavity:

The temporary cavity is caused by tissue being stretched away from the permanent cavity. If the temporary cavity is produced rapidly enough in elastic tissues, the tensile strength of the tissue can be exceeded resulting in tearing of the tissue. This effect is seen with very high velocity projectiles such as in rifle calibers, but is not seen with handgun calibers. For the temporary cavity of most handgun projectiles to have an effect on wounding, the velocity of the projectile needs to exceed roughly 2,000 fps. At the lower velocities of handgun rounds, the temporary cavity is not produced with sufficient velocity to have any wounding effect; therefore any difference in temporary cavity noted between handgun calibers is irrelevant. “In order to cause significant injuries to a structure, a pistol bullet must strike that structure directly.”2 DiMaio, V.J.M.: Gunshot Wounds, Elsevier Science Publishing Company, New York, NY, 1987, page 42.

D. Fragmentation:

Fragmentation can be defined as “projectile pieces or secondary fragments of bone which are impelled outward from the permanent cavity and may sever muscle tissues, blood vessels, etc., apart from the permanent cavity”3. Fragmentation does not reliably occur in soft tissue handgun wounds due to the low velocities of handgun bullets. When fragmentation does occur, fragments are usually found within one centimeter (.39”) of the permanent cavity.4 Due to the fact that most modern premium law enforcement ammunition now commonly uses bonded projectiles (copper jacket bonded to lead core), the likelihood of fragmentation is very low. For these reasons, wounding effects secondary to any handgun caliber bullet fragmentation are considered inconsequential. 3 Fackler, M.L., Malinowski, J.A.: “The Wound Profile: A Visual Method for Quantifying Gunshot Wound Components”, Journal of Trauma 25: 522‐529, 1958. 4 Handgun Wounding Factors and Effectiveness: Firearms Training Unit, Ballistic Research Facility, 1989.


Any discussion of stopping armed adversaries with a handgun has to include the psychological state of the adversary. Psychological factors are probably the most important relative to achieving rapid incapacitation from a gunshot wound to the torso.5 First and foremost, the psychological effects of being shot can never be counted on to stop an individual from continuing conscious voluntary action. Those who do stop commonly do so because they decide to, not because they have to. The effects of pain are often delayed due to survival patterns secondary to “fight or flight” reactions within the body, drug/alcohol influences and in the case of extreme anger or aggression, pain can simply be ignored. Those subjects who decide to stop immediately after being shot in the torso do so commonly because they know they have been shot and are afraid of injury or death, regardless of caliber, velocity, or bullet design. It should also be noted that psychological factors can be a leading cause of incapacitation failures and as such, proper shot placement, adequate penetration, and multiple shots on target cannot be over emphasized. 5 Ibid.

Tactical Realities

Shot placement is paramount and law enforcement officers on average strike an adversary with only 20 – 30 percent of the shots fired during a shooting incident. Given the reality that shot placement is paramount (and difficult to achieve given the myriad of variables present in a deadly force encounter) in obtaining effective incapacitation, the caliber used must maximize the likelihood of hitting vital organs. Typical law enforcement shootings result in only one or two solid torso hits on the adversary. This requires that any projectile which strikes the torso has as high a probability as possible of penetrating deeply enough to disrupt a vital organ.

The Ballistic Research Facility has conducted a test which compares similar sized Glock pistols in both .40 S&W and 9mm calibers, to determine if more accurate and faster hits are achievable with one versus the other. To date, the majority of the study participants have shot more quickly and more accurately with 9mm caliber Glock pistols. The 9mm provides struggling shooters the best chance of success while improving the speed and accuracy of the most skilled shooters.


While some law enforcement agencies have transitioned to larger calibers from the 9mm Luger in recent years, they do so at the expense of reduced magazine capacity, more felt recoil, and given adequate projectile selection, no discernible increase in terminal performance.

Other law enforcement organizations seem to be making the move back to 9mm Luger taking advantage of the new technologies which are being applied to 9mm Luger projectiles. These organizations are providing their armed personnel the best chance of surviving a deadly force encounter since they can expect faster and more accurate shot strings, higher magazine capacities (similar sized weapons) and all of the terminal performance which can be expected from any law enforcement caliber projectile.

Given the above realities and the fact that numerous ammunition manufacturers now make 9mm Luger service ammunition with outstanding premium line law enforcement projectiles, the move to 9mm Luger can now be viewed as a decided advantage for our armed law enforcement personnel.”

If you want to know more about FBI test protocols for duty ammo, the premium line law enforcement projectiles the FBI is talking about and what rounds to select for self defence, here is a related article: looserounds.com duty/defense-carry-ammunition-selection


  1. Nothing us in the business have not been talking about for years. The more progressive crowd believes in the science as much as the experience (21 years for me). Remember a former SEAL team Commander saying something to the effect, “…I hear this 9mm vs 45 shit all the time. Well let me tell you something, if I put two in your heart and one in your forehead, you will not give a shit what size it is…”.

    As people often do, too much time is wasted arguing about the hardware vs upgrading the software.

    Also, if you have the opportunity to ask ammo reps what performance they build the “big three” caliber a to, they will tell you to that same FBI spec regardless of caliber. So if they are building all three to go the same depth, and even surgeons can’t tell any more damage from one caliber than the next, choose what you can shoot the fastest without giving up accuracy.

    • I read the same Navy Seal comment. I am not a Navy Seal. Are you? No doubt his comment would apply to just about anything from a .22 up if he were the shooter. But in the “fog” of a home invasion or street gun fight, how many of us can count on putting “two in the heart and one in the forehead?” Especially from a few yards away?

      • Some read, some do. Point is that in the discussion of pistol caliber “debate”, training triumphs all… Which goes toward your (sarcastic) comment about a SEAL and a .22 whether you intended it or not (unlikely).

      • That’s why you train and practice and train and practice and train and practice. Buying a pistol, taking it to the range, and going through a couple of boxes of ammo is at best a familiarization with that particular weapon. My old SCA buddy who was an NCO with Delta under Charlie Beckwith, and who was on the Iran hostage rescue mission, used to say you hadn’t really learned to shoot a given pistol until the armorer had to replace the barrel for the first time. They would sometimes go through a couple thousand rounds per operator a week in training.

      • “But in the “fog” of a home invasion or street gun fight, how many of us can count on putting “two in the heart and one in the forehead?” Especially from a few yards away?”

        All of us if we train to that standard and stop believing that head shots are impractical. That’s some bullshit put out by instructors who don’t possess the skill to push their students to that level of performance.

        With handgun bullets it’s about switches and timers. Unless you hit a switch (Central Nervous System/Brain) you’re starting a timer (blood loss) and the speed of that timer depends on how fast blood loss occurs and how fast blood pressure drops, is going to determine how long the threat can continue to fight and remain a threat. A shot to the brain is the ONLY definitive “stop” of threatening behavior. So why not train to get those hits?

        • Understanding your point on headshots, and it’s well intentioned and much heard.

          But – Think of this as a spectrum – a new shooter needs a set of techniques that work for them, and they can develop and practice yet still defend themselves with confidence. While an ex-SEAL will have a different set of techniques because their skillset is so different. One of my biggest beefs with trainers is their “one size fits all” training systems which often need many hours of training to develop, and even more for upkeep. That’s a lot to ask a new shooter to load on-board and often results in training scars that then need to be undone later on.

          If I were teaching a newbie how to defend themselves within their house (and I’m not), I would likely instruct them to have a clear plan for the family to take cover first, call 911, know where everyone is (more important than shooting anyone.) Then if you have to shoot, do it from a knee, fire two into the pelvic girdle area (like the WWII training), and one (or two) towards the head, without rising. This way, the girdle shots have a high degree of hit probability and instant incapacitation, while the headshots (if missed) should be contained within the dwelling at least, and exhibit less fatal results for any innocents behind the target due to the shot angle. But that’s just one technique to practice – used only if necessary, along with a tactical plan for escape. As skillsets rise, so to the tools in the toolbox.

          Once they master this, maybe start discussing things like EDC and room-clearing techniques with a Carbine… Just saying…

      • Then it really won’t matter because all pistol rounds suck.. you have a better chance of controlling those shots by using a lower recoiling round, such as the 9mm. You also usually get more chances with a 9mm to make those shots because the capacity is usually higher in a 9mm. Simple logic.

    • This has been going on for decades; and cases are made from moving from the 9mm and moving back to it. It’s basically BS. People who are shot with a 45 caliber will be more “damaged” and go down quicker than a person shot with a 9mm. Older people know from experience this is true and no amount of “scientific” BS can deny it on humans. Now if you’re shooting gel, then it might hurt the same but humans/animals aren’t gel.

      • Bigger is always better if it doesn’t affect your ability to shoot accurately especially at hand gun velocities bigger hole more damage.

        • Two 9mm holes are bigger than one .45 hole. It’s not just accuracy, but also speed of reaquiring the target and number of rounds one can deliver on that target quickly. Yes, unquestionably one .45 hole is (only very slightly) larger than one 9mm hole. But if you can deliver three 9mm holes in the same amount of time it would take you to deliver two .45 holes? The 9mm is better in that case. I’m 6’3″ and weight 275 pounds. Recoil from a handgun doesn’t faze me. But I can still shoot a 9mm faster than I can shoot a .45. Basic physics.

        • Of course, this “older people wisdom” completely ignores critical facts that have changed.

          Current “top shelf” JHP bullets are designed to hit an objective performance level that the FBI has determined to be as near ideal as possible. *ALL* of them.

          Which is why, in “service calibers”, there is only an insignificant difference in terminal performance between then. They go just about as deep, and expand just about as large, with the differences between them being in the single digit range in terms of wound volume. That’s smaller than the differences in effect caused by normal shot to shot variation in the hands of a superb marksman. In other words, bigger bullets *do not* make bigger holes anymore – the differences are imperceptible between a 9mm hit and a .45 hit, if both are using modern quality JHPs.

          That’s a game changer. While it made sense to argue for larger calibers back when the difference in volume could be 30% or even 50%, offsetting the corresponding 30% to 50% loss in ammunition capacity, and the greater recoil of the larger bullets meaning you needed more time and money (larger bullets not only take more training resources because it takes more shots to properly train them to deal with it at an equal level, but the ammunition *costs more*) to train folks to an equal level of accuracy, but the additional recoil slows down their ability to shoot as accurately, as quickly. Plus, more recoil and pressure means more wear and tear on guns, which means even if the ammo cost exactly the same, and you only fired exactly the same number of rounds, it will still be more expensive, because of the cost of maintaining the guns.

          Lastly, this isn’t a “one size fits all” study. This is a “one size fits *most*” study. It is geared towards *departmental* needs, looking at the average. If you, personally, shoot a .45 better than an equivalent 9mm, have a blast. On the other hand, if you’re buying guns, ammunition, and training for a dozen, a hundred, or a couple thousand officers – almost all of them will shoot faster, more accurately, and cost less in training, ammunition, and fun maintenance if you select 9mm. And the individual round terminal performance will be basically the same – so it makes no sense whatsoever to handicap them with extra recoil and reduced capacity while simultaneously increasing cost in all aspects.

          Now, some will insist they can shoot .45 faster and more accurately than they can shoot 9mm. I will grant that such outliers do exist… but I’ll guarantee they are a lot rarer than they think. And comparing your tuned $2000 1911 to an out of the box G19 count – try comparing it with two pistols that, aside from caliber, are identical, with a shot timer and carefully compare your center to center shot groups. I suspect you’ll be shocked. I say this as someone who has been shooting a 1911 since 1982, was on my brigade pistol team with 1911, and whose primary carry weapon was a 1911 Commander for almost twenty years – I’m not exactly some shrinking violet who can’t handle anything bigger than a 9mm (I shoot 300gr hot loads in .44 Magnum for *fun*, and giggled like a Japanese schoolgirl when I first touched off a .460 S&W Magnum.)

      • Regardless of a bigger caliber or not two shots from a 40 or 45 in a NON vital organ or artery is as useless as a 22 in the same spot train to shoot accurately myth #1 the bigger the bullet the more the damage this evidence is not conclusive based on hypothesis its based on thousands of actual shootings and autopsies. 45 caliber junkie’s your personal opinion won’t necessarily save your life

      • ugh. older people (I am one, by the way) are too damned set in what grampa told them. Sorry but a 45 aint going to stop anyone any better than a well placed 380 shot.

  2. i am guilty in that i know that speed creates cavtation (temperary wound channel) and can move vital organs out of the way. but the article brings up a good point in that it needs to exceed 2000 fps for this occur. so all things being equal (bullets) and the fact that your “hit” rate while engaged is very low, i would see the need for the higher capacity that the 9mm provideds. one note tho, nothing beats bullet placement. so train, train, and re-train.

    • Alot of this has been known for some time, but just seems to be taking hold now, with newer bullet designs. Re: the 2000fps threshold- look at the .30 Carbine vs. 7.62×39. Same caliber, roughly same weight, difference is a few hundred fps.

      • The 30 Carbine especially with soft point ammo is a btter man stopper than any pistol. Its bad reputation came from being compared to the M1 Garand firing a 30:06 of course. The M1 Carbine was meant to replace the 1911 pistol for rear echelon troops. But it was much more widely deployed. I agree that a lot is lost and displaced by ‘new” stuff and mythology arises.

        The 1911 got its reputation versus the .38 special in the Pacific finishing off half starved and dehydrated Japanese soldiers. But the physics and track record just do not support it as a number one man stopper at all. Especially with FMJ and you can’t get a 230 grain bullet moving fast enough for the TSC to do reliable damage. My reserach suggest that 1350 to 1450 can achieve a meaningful TSC.

        Now the FBI says 2000 fps, that is ‘rifle velocity territory’ so why aren’t they issuing FMJ if that were true?

  3. This doesn’t cover the amount of force on impact. People aren’t necessarily arguing the lethality of a bullet but more on the lines of will it knock them on their ass to stop the action. With constant training anyone can effectively manage recoil of any caliber, increasing accuracy and reaction efficiency. The 9mm seem to be an excuse to avoid proper constant training after all time is money thus leading to financial just cause.

    • Andrew, I suggest you read the subsection: Understanding Handgun Caliber Terminal Ballistic Realities, again. It flat out answered the questions you are posing. Time and again it has been proven, in real gun fights, even well trained people miss a lot in the dynamic environment of a deadly force encounter.

    • Andrew, its like you took the thoughts right out of my head. often the 9mm is used as an excuse for more lax training. we would all be able to put an entire magazine in the head if we used 22Lr. and a lot of people use and like it for that. most of the so called “disadvantages” are simple training issues and ways to cut cost. not always, but most of the time

    • Andrew & Shawn, you’re both missing the point. Take me for example. My two favorite pistols are a Walther PPQ in 9mm and my full sized 1911 Kimber in 45 ACP. Shooting from a rest, the 1911 will hands down out shoot the Walther in group size. My standard practice routine consists of drawing from a concealed carry rig and engaging a paper target at 7 yards with two shot to the center mass followed by one to the head. Once I bring the pistol on target I’m able to fire faster and more accurately with the PPQ in 9mm versus the 1911 in 45 ACP. Yes, you are correct by saying more practice will make me faster and more accurate with the 1911. However, the increase in speed and accuracy I got from practicing with the 1911 will also apply to the PPQ and make me that much faster with it. That is the point the author is trying to make. With a fixed skill level, an individual will be better with a 9mm versus a 40 or 45.

      • Not true. With that logic…I can shoot a .45 with .16 second splits…therefore I should be able to shoot a 9mm with .14 second splits and a .22lr with .11 second splits. Guess what…I can shoot all of them with .16 second splits. There is a lower barrier you will NOT get below regardless of caliber. My point is, with enough practice, you can shoot a .45 as fast as a 9mm.

        • Yes you can shoot any semi automatic as fast as any other. If its is 1911 with .45 ACP, a 9mm from a 92F or Ruger MK2 with .22LR. It does not take much if any practice to accomplish this either. It just takes a quick trigger finger.

          But that is not the objective in using a gun for SD is it? The objective is to stop the man trying to kill you before he can kill you. Now this might be accomplished with any of the handguns and calibers above. It might even be accomplished with one shot, say one that enters the brain case. Caliber would be irrelevant then.

          Yet with Beretta 92 F I have 15 chances to do that , a 1911 only 7 or 8 and MK2 10 or 11. Since there is no evidence really that any of these calibers is consistently more effective than the others, why not give yourself that edge with more shots?

          Also when being shot at its hard for many people to even shoot back well if at all.

          Frankly even with a Ruger MK2 with say CCI Stnigers I would not feel under-armed even if the enemy is blasting away at me with a 1911. The only shots that count are the ones that hit an effective spot on either of our anatomy.

          The best he can do is kill me but he too will be killed as well. Handgun bullets just do not stop a person as a rule so fast he can’t return fire even if fatally shot already. No caliber can assure that.

      • “My point is, with enough practice, you can shoot a .45 as fast as a 9mm.”
        And….you will be out of ammo in half the time.

    • Andrew I think you’ve seen too many movies, no handgun is ever going to “knock them on their ass”. The article makes it very clear that they are NOT talking lethality but stopping aggression. Sorry but handguns don’t knock people down, shotguns don’t either, and no firearm is going to blow anyone through a wall.

      • No, you have been watching to many movies and not observing real life situations enough. The 45 caliber, or 40 caliber, in situations with humans (not gel) will stop an individual quicker than a 9mm. Read about what these mass killers have used and it clearly shows that when they use 9mm they have more wounded, less dead, than when higher calibers are used. And to say a shotgun doesn’t knock people down; that’s ridiculous.

    • Andrew,
      Based on the laws of physics…no handgun round will knock anyone on their ass. The energy required to do so would also knock the shooter down…Every action has an opposite and equal reaction…

    • Andrew, regarding force of impact, and knocking someone “on their ass”, Newton’s third law of motion states that for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. Therefore, any round with enough power to literally knock someone on their ass would also result in knocking a similar sized shooter on THEIR ass at the same time. No only would a round that powerful be difficult if not impossible to train with and employ effectively, it would result in a vulnerable shooter if they missed, since they would then be knocked on the ground by their shot while the target would be unharmed.

      • This “equal but opposite” factor is the problem with the “momentum” theory of stopping power. If momentum were a meaningful measure then firearms would be more lethal at the rear than at the front since recoil momentum is always greater than projectile momentum. Like it or not kinetic energy is the only valid measure of a ballistic projectile’s ability to do work. Now that is NOT to say it offers a quantifiable measure of stopping power, there simple is no such thing, but energy is more meaningful than momentum.

        • Yes, kinetic Energy is more important than momentum. How that energy is distributed in the body is also very critical to stopping power. Take two same size watermelons. Shoot one with .45 ACP JHP and you will see only a whole through the watermelon. Shoot the other with a .357 JHP from 2 inch bbl and the watermelon explodes into fragments. The kinetic energy of the .357 is simply much greater than the .45 ACP because of it high velocity. On a lighter note if your attacked by watermelon, use the ,357!

      • BH, because a fighter allows the energy to travel through their body and into the ground. For this reason alone, a fighter with a strong base and good balance can throw harder punches.

    • “…will it knock them on their ass…”

      Physics 101. The kick felt in your hand is roughly equivalent to if not more than the kick felt by the person shot.

      1st: think about Newton’s laws; equal and opposite, etc.

      2nd: remember, when a bullet hits tissue, not bone, the resistive force, the frictional resistance – which transfers the energy – determines the kick. If a bullet’s energy is dissipated in the shooter’s hand/body with the gun moving only ~1″ inch, and the bullet travels 12″ into tissue, the distribution of energy is dissipated and the ‘kick’ felt is lessened. If the bullet hits a major bone, e.g. hip bone, then the transfer of energy takes place much more quickly, and will then mimic more closely the ‘kick’ felt by the shooter.

      The only time a bullet has a chance, a chance, to ‘knock them on their ass’ is when the gun is powerful enough to knock the shooter on their ass.

        • “How do you prep the shot? Ask a question, “Is that your car in the street, with a flat tire?””

          Great minds think a like I guess! I have been teaching this as hostage (home invasion) situation for 23 years now at stresshooting. WE use varying phrases of course. The point is to engage the more self-aware mind so it drops out momentarily from the Amygalda frog brain response non self aware mind.

          One guy even said “Ok, kill the bitch we can split the insurance money, but I get 75% you get 30, is it a deal?” Then he took the shot. In this hostage scenario drill we sue rubber bullet a low velocity and the instructor and hostage wear claer face shields. A good many people have an initial difficulty with this scenario. stresshooting.com


  5. Well I think that the kinetic energy transfer is what matters most, and I don’t believe the crap of handgun stopping power is a myth. Why cant I take down a deer cleanly with a 9mm when I can with my 357 if that is true.If you want to stop somebody its the shock of the bullet hitting them that stops them, hence the reason why people who are on bath salts or meth can take multiple gunshots and keep going. I may be wrong but that is how I see it.

    • How you feel, I feel or anyone feels is irrelevant. We must take emotions and round loyalty out. We must look at the facts and known factors. There is nothing wrong with choosing the caliber you want. As the article states, all duty caliber handgun rounds are just not that effective. But you should set yourself up for the best chance of success in relation to your skills. Also, we are talking about full size duty weapons here and how they are intended to be used. Shot placement is key in these encounters no matter what round you carry.

    • An NRA magazine carried the case of a woman who shot a big home invader NINE TIMES with her .22, and then he DROVE HIMSELF to the hospital, and lived! I guarantee that it won’t take 9 hits with my 165 grain .40 S&W to put him down, even if he is on meth or pcp. By the way, the .40 S&W caliber isn’t “short and weak” but has similar ballistics as .45acp, and only about 10% less than .357 magnum (what I used to carry). It is VERY DIFFICULT to hit an immediate knockdown spot, and you can’t count on that. Firepower is the answer.

  6. Wow, I have ALWAYS shot 9mm for fun, and shot .45 for practice and carried it for protection. This article really makes me think that I should reconsider my choices! But I have a question….. Often the rounds that are available to LEOs aren’t available to civilians in some states. I see that the rounds tested were LEO’s rounds. Were they similar to the rounds available to most civilians in most states? thank you again for your interesting, and informative article!

    • Rick. any advantage high performance 9mm rounds gives you, needs to be looked at against the same bullet tech applied to the 45ACP. the gap will exist when compared apples to apples, a premium HP 9mm round will always give better results than a ball 45 round. but when both have equal bullet tech, the gap is still there. I would strongly advise using the corbon +P 185 grain solid copper hollow point for the 45ACP for superb performance

    • The rounds they tested are basically the same as any top shelf, off the shelf, defensive JHP from any major US manufacturer in those calibers.

      When you’re dealing with modern premium JHPs from major US manufacturers, they’re all about the same. Because the same laws of physics and same basic technology applies to all of them.

      Now, ammo from smaller or foreign manufacturers (unless they use premium bullets purchased from a major US manufacturer), and the “economy” loadings even from major US manufacturers (for example, Winchester doesn’t use their latest and greatest bullets when making Winchester White Box) are *not* at the same performance levels.

      • Shawn, not to be a jerk about your reporting comment but you clearly state in your introduction paragraph that you did not compile and write the summerising report above. Actually you state that you copied and past from a PDF emailed to you the information. I would think that having your column shared, thus giving your page more exposure, would be welcomed.

        • I did not post the article above. that is why Duncan’s name is at the top of the article and not Shawn. but it does contain some new content from the writer who did post it. I do not mind people sharing. But I do appreciate at least the courtesy of being asked first. I was not trying to be a jerk to you either. but I would not share your content without asking you first. I would not have denied you. But we do appreciate being asked first instead of doing it anyway and then telling us you did it.

  7. Shawn,

    While you may request that another blog request permission before they reblog your post, and they might do so out of courtesy, there is no way for you to enforce that request. As long as the “reblog” is a link to the original site, and only a small portion of the original post, doing so falls under “Fair use” and does not violate your Copyright.

    Now, if someone reposts your entire post, that is a violation of Copyright and you could pursue a DMCA takedown notice against them. (It could still be a Copyright violation even if they don’t copy/past the entire post. There is no hard and fast rule on “how much is too much” as to when the Copyright violation has definitely occurred. It largely depends on the length of the original article and how much is reprinted.) But, a reblog that consists of a simple link to the original site and the first paragraph or two of a longer article is not a Copyright violation. This is what Josh did in this case.

    Remember, at heart, a reblog is simply a link to your post. You can’t control who links to your work on the web. Trying to do so is impossible. And, trying to do so frankly makes you look foolish.

    For instance, I posted a link to this very well written article on my Facebook page. Is your policy that I should have asked permission first? If not, what’s different than that than a reblog? (And if your policy is that I SHOULD ask permission first, how in the world would you ever enforce that? (The military saying, “Don’t give orders you know won’t be obeyed” is relevant here).

    I’m against people stealing web content as much as you are. The difference is I understand the difference between people stealing my content and people sharing it with others through links and reblogs.

  8. I recently became a convert to and carrier of an FN 5.7. I get some grief from both the .45 and hi cap guys, but I have 21 rounds that I can put on target very quickly and accurately with the same penetration and wound diameter as a hot 9mm or average .40. Plus the gun weighs less loaded than my “backup” Boberg 9mm.

  9. If this is the “FBI’s testing” why was their duty weapon, the 10mm, not listed? And on the same note, why would they carry 10mm if they agreed with this?

  10. Well I have several issues with this article. One, just saying FBI impress some people, falsely I might add, but just because they say it, does not make it so. With that being said, I don’t think you should discount what is being said, just because of who is saying it.

    I am big .45 guy, over my 30 plus years in LEO, FBI Instructor and carry a gun my entire life, I am firm believer that bigger is better and faster is better. I also know that cops miss between 80 to 90 percent of the time and they train more than most. I call it the Oh shit factor, cops have to react to others and action is always faster than reaction. So it may cool to quote a Navy Seal, the idea that when you get into an unplanned violent rapidly evolving deadly encounter, that you will be able to stop, thinks, set up and put two the heart is unreasonable. I know rounds on target are good and precise hits are better, but facts, studies and experience tells you that you will be doing good just to hit your target, much less hit your target in the heart or head. So my theory is, if I may only get one hit, I want the biggest bullet I can have to be the one that hit. Not saying that you should not practice and be as proficient as you can, but here is a link to a picture of guy shot 33 times with a 9mm before he stopped his attack.

    I have seen 9mm and 40 bounce off car windshields when .45 punched a hole and went through. Bigger, heavier, faster is what I go for and a .45 plus P is what I carry.

    • Pertaining to your example of the guy that took 33 shots and wasn’t stopped. As a paramedic I’ve seen more than my fair share of shootings and have to say there doesn’t seem to be a lot of rhyme or reason as to when somebody is going to go down. I’ve seen head shots walk to my unit on their own power, and a seemingly “non vital” area shot turn into a life threatening incident. I’ve seen people take numerous rounds and be in fair condition, and I’ve seen someone be literally stopped dead in their tracks with a single .22 round. So for me as a lay person, it comes down to what size i can reasonably carry, and how many rounds i can hold. So I’m going to stick to my 9mm.

      • With all the controversy here on caliber,John experience agrees with mine as well. My main point is the reason I do not carry .45 ACP (and I still have my ‘liberated’ service pistol) is because I know the 9mm JHP is going to give me a better chance to stop the guy trying to kill me before the .45 will. There are two reasons
        1) The .45 in in +P and even with a light bullet weight does not expand as reliably as 9mm JHP and
        2) I can fire 15 rounds at the man while I am moving and I must kill before he kills me.

        I can tell you 9 mm ball is generally better than a .45 ACP ball all other factors being equal.But is this really relevant?

        The complex truth is also that I have seen a .25 auto FMJ from zinc frame cheap striker fire Raven pistol drop a large guy immediately too.On the other hand a guy was hit 4 times with .45 ACP by an LEO and only two days later was he arrested when he checked into the emergency room complaining of abdominal pain. These things are why there is a ‘controversy’ and also people love their pistols and thus its caliber. Love is not rational of course.Unlesss its what you feel when start you vintage Harley of course.

    • I would argue the reason why most LEO are so inaccurate is because they are not well trained. Most state and local LE qualify once or twice a year and for most of the officers that is as much as they shoot (I won’t call it training because it’s not). The Mozambique drill is pointless in my mind because we know most are very inaccurate in a gun fight. The thought should be to move whole shooting and shoot the threat to the ground. Dry fire training should be done several times a week combined with live fire training as much as your budget allows. Point shooting and moving while shooting is incredibly important and the vast majority of LE don’t do any of it.

    • 1) The FBI can use whatever round it wants –but I think the author of the cited report was either an idiot or palming a few cards. There is a THIRD source of stopping power he failed to mention — a sucking chest wound/tension pneumothorax. The reason why military medics carry Hyfin seals and decompression needles.
      2) The lungs are huge targets and a big 45 hole through one lets the air out a lot faster than than a 9mm. The size of the hole is proportional to diameter SQUARED — 9mm times 9mm gives 81 — whereas 11.4mm (.45 inch) squared gives 131. I.e, it takes three 9mms to make the same hole as TWO 45 slugs. A 45 hit gives an instant blowout , esp if it is passes out the back. A 9mm gives a slow leak because its icepick wound seals. And the talk of miracle rounds is a crock — a 9mm hollow point often closes up and fails to expand if it goes through denim or a heavy jacket. Which may not be a problem is you can get the bad guys to take off their clothes before you shot them.

      • Pneumothorax doesn’t generally stop *fast enough* to be considered.

        It is more likely to be *lethal* than a hit that doesn’t involve the CNS, heart, or major artery, but it is a slow stopper.

      • So a few thoughts: First, yes, a .45 makes a bigger hole than a 9mm. How much bigger? 1/10 inch. One tenth of an inch. So honestly we aren’t talking very much difference at all.

        But to get back to the point of the article: neither the .45 nor the 9mm bring one-shot stopping power unless we are talking upper central nervous system hits like spinal column in the neck or shot to the brain. The reality is that neither round carries enough power to just knock a target over by brute force.

        Instead, accuracy matters, and the thinking is that the 9mm lets you get more shots into a target more quickly than a heavier caliber does. So for instance, let’s say you can get 5 shots off from a 9mm in the same period of time that it takes you to get 3 shots off from a .45. Further, let’s say that your hit rate is higher than that of the typical FBI shooting engagement, so let’s pretend that you hit your target with 50% of your shots.

        Assuming those statistics, which makes the bigger hole in your target in a live shooting incident? The 9mm or the .45?

        The answer is that unless you are dumping more than one magazine into a target, getting even one more hit on target from a 9mm than from a .45 leaves a bigger “hole” (collectively) in your target. And because the 9mm has higher capacity and is quicker getting to the next shot, a 9mm shooter is going to make a bigger “hole” than a .45 shooter in the same period of time, all other things being equal.

        My EDC is a Glock 26. I carry it in a 12+1 configuration. A similar configuration in .40 (Glock 27) is 10+1. A similar weapon in .45 would be an XDS which carries 7+1, if I recall correctly.

        Of these, the Glock 26 is the weapon capable of making the biggest collective “hole” in the target, and it also gives me the greatest number of chances of stopping a threat because it has the highest number of rounds and can be brought back on target the quickest.

        If you are comparing single-shot ballistics – meaning one round fired and one round only, then the .45 is superior to the 9mm, no questions. But only marginally so. But in an active shooting situation, hopefully you are planning on (or training for!) a single shot. When you start thinking in terms of shot recovery and target acquisition for firing multiple rounds into a target, the 9mm takes over as a superior choice.

        • David your logic is well founded. But It also explains and communicates very clearly what I ave written about for years in journals and taught in my classes. Yet you express in a way that does not demand people understand either physics or hydro static shock affects, the role of penatration vs the distribution of the TSC etc. So I salute your explanation.

          I do not favor striker fired pistols however and si I maybe a fossil, but each to his on

        • David, I agree with you 99%.

          There is *one* misunderstanding I would like to clear up. Don’t confuse the minor increase in *diameter* with the relative amount of tissue destroyed. Similar JHP bullets in .45 end up with about 50% more *frontal surface area* (πr^2 multiplies differences exponentially, not mathematically), so the bigger bullet destroys roughly 50% more *volume* of tissue.

          OTOH, it’s still a small hole, either way, and whether there’s something important in the way of the bullet is more a matter of shot placement than wind track size – so while 3x 9mm hits “only” destroys roughly the same volume as 2x .45 hits, since they aren’t hitting the same spot, there’s actually about a 50% better chance you’ll hit something the target really cannot do without.

          Precision in speech improves the strength of the discussion. 😉

    • “Most of what is “common knowledge” with ammunition and its effects on the human target are rooted in myth and folklore”

      Secondly, you cannot both allude that the FBI doesn’t know what it’s talking about, and then claim to be credible because you were an FBI Instructor.

      • I get tired of hearing those buzz words too! I mean I have seen ads for “tactical toilet paper”! But ‘Force on Force’ has become buzz word too and some programs are referred to as such when in reality they are not. I use the term “Asymmetric Training” for some elements of my program. I hope that does not become buzz word too becasue as you suggest once they become popular phrases they lose their meaning.

    • This is precisely the type of word-of-mouth that the FBI justification addresses. Yes, some people can take a large number of rounds before going down, but unless you hit the brain or spinal column directly, a person can keep going until they bleed out. If there are multiple officers firing, someone could easily absorb 33 rounds before actually going down. The fact that it happened to be 9mm doesn’t necessarily mean anything. I’ve seen people lit up with multiple 5.56 rounds in combat scenarios who didn’t go down right away, and that hits harder than any handgun round. Likewise, saying you’ve seen 9mm and .40 bounce of a windshield doesn’t speak to mitigating factors. Were all those rounds modern top-shelf defensive rounds that meet FBI standards for penetration? The full FBI standards test rounds with more than ballistics gel; automotive glass is one of the materials a round has to pentrate to pass. What specific rounds were being fired in the situation you refer to? At what angles? From what ranges? Anecdotal accounts like this muddy the water; it’s ironic that the FBI points out the flaws with anecdotal “data” over the years and people refute their scientific investigation with more of the same!

  11. When I was on the board of IALEFI, 20 years, resigned in 2004. I coined a phrase, “More is better, always” Aimed at the 9mm Glock 17.

    We had lots of revolver is perfect, people around then “Jam a mattics” “Spray and pray” was heard a lot then.

    I taught trigger control, gun at eye level, when you could.

    Now live in Orlando, am also a US Citizen, carry a Glock 19 4gen. With 147g Ranger Win. Ammo.

  12. “For the temporary cavity of most handgun projectiles to have an effect on wounding, the velocity of the projectile needs to exceed roughly 2,000 fps. At the lower velocities of handgun rounds, the temporary cavity is not produced with sufficient velocity to have any wounding effect; therefore any difference in temporary cavity noted between handgun calibers is irrelevant. “In order to cause significant injuries to a structure, a pistol bullet must strike that structure directly.”

    This is word for word what the FBI said more than 24 years ago after their agents were tragically killed in Miami by armed robbers they knew had Mini 14” in .223. They felt a need to blame the 9mm silvertips over the failure of their antiquated training procedures and poor tactics of going after guys with .223 carbines with pistols. The formulae they ca,me up with for stopping power had correlation of 51% with actual documented shootings. IN other words worthless in predicting anmything.

    There is also some truth in this guys opinions though that warrant observation and though but he skews it a lot with an FBI (we are the professionals here) bias. Tell that to the widows of the dead agents they trained. He also leaves out the heart, left ventricle as the other medical reason for a near instant stop. This is more reliable really than the brain/ CNS hit.

    But all that is academic as ‘bullet placement’ is the factor we have the least control over in a gunfight. The SEAL is right too a ,45 acp or 9mm in the center of mass and the head (El Presidente technique) will work just as well. Yet I have studied police video through FIA and seen people hit multiple times with 45 aqcp,00buck anmd .223 and not fall down and continue to fight.

    And if you are being shot at and you think you can use the sights of your pistol? Well then you have just never been in a gunfight.

    • While I agree that velocity is critical to the temporary wound cavity I cannot agree with the 2000 fps threshold. I have taken many deer and a couple of elk with rifle and handgun loads at black powder velocities and the permanent wound channel was always larger than the bullet. Even with the 45/70 loaded down to subsonic velocities there was a certain amount of “blood-shot” meat around the wound channel, not so much as with a 30/06 but still some permanent damage beyond what meat the bullet actually touched.
      Of course the most obvious rebuttal of the 2000 fps number is the fact that I think no one would dispute that the .357 mag is a much more effective round than the .38 special. The only difference between the two is velocity and that velocity is still well under 2,000 fps. By the logic of the FBI increased velocity would make on difference until it passes 2,000 fps and the old .38 S&W from a 2″ Iver Johnson would be as effective as a 125 jhp from a 6″ .357 mag. I don’t think so!

      • Quite correct sir. Experience, especially repeated experience in the real world always trumps ‘authority’ like ‘the FBI says this’ or academic research tainted by a political agenda such as the FBI has had for decades over the failure of its training program and choice of tactics in the filed.

      • I think that’s a slight over simplification of what they are saying.

        No, biology is not digital – the 2kfps is a rough benchmark between “reliably significant” and “unreliable or insignificant” damage beyond the immediate confines of the bullet track. But the difference between 1950fps and 2050fps is still smaller than the *other* variables in any two bullet wounds.

        Much below the 2kfps threshold, however, and there is *generally* little to no *significant* damage that will *significantly* assist in rapid disability. Tissue is generally too stretchy – whereas high velocity hits do not cause minor breaks on capillary continuity, but rather detatch hunks of meat and render them nonviable and nonfunctional. (How big those hunks are depends on a lot of variables, but all other things being equal, more velocity means more destruction.)

        The real takeaway is something I’ve been saying for years: “*ALL* handguns suck. Some suck more than others. However, all the major US ‘police service’ calibers tend to suck about the same when using comparable modern JHP ammo.”

        Keep in mind, my favorite carry piece is still a .45ACP Commander, and I roll out my M2HB layout chart in the direction of Ogden, UT five times a day. But *objectively*, and when using premium JHP ammo in the right bullet weights (I tend to try to stick near “service ball” weights, out of a gut feeling they will be a skosh more reliable by more closely matching the slide cycle the gun was engineered for), I realize the 9x19mm is just as good, especially when you consider I can land three equally good hits in the time I can land two hits from the .45 – and any minor difference in effectiveness is MORE than washed out by getting 50% more hits in the same timeframe.

      • It’s called POLITICS and FACE. The Bureau felt the need to explain why they had to dump the 9mm after The Shoot-out. And it was a valid point re: penetration thru barriers, which required more bullet weight, at the time, to handle weight loss ( this prior to bonded bullet tech which came years later). And with the advancements in defensive handgun ammo across calibers 9mm gained improvements as well. Now they are explaining the ”Need” for another change. Ultimately because of officer gun handling needs, which has always been a factor for them and all other agencies. But lesser stature officers have been getting it done for 30 years. This time it’s the top law enforcement agency in the world following the flock, which has been defecting back to the 9mm. Or eventually the FBI might be behind the times politically with their sidearm… They made their argument in the 90’s,convincingly enough, to make the change sound good. And they’re doing the same thing now…. Ultimately it’s about the officers ability to shoot, PERIOD! Caliber,bullet tech/tweak, w&t, opinion or season won’t change hits on target, mindset or survivability with more rounds. It’s the same dilemma of trying to turn a good guy into a shooter, who will always overcome and terminate the threat.

        • Inre to Joe.
          We rely too much on technology. The two agents in the 1986 Miami shootout were carrying 15 shot 9mm S&W stainless versions of their Mod 59; the latest technology. One of the two agents fired 30 shots, the other was half way thru his 2nd magazine. Bullets aren’t ‘willed’ to the target. Boys and girls, you have to hit a target for any bullet to matter. Blaming their failure on 1 single solitary 9mm Silver-Tip HP is, well . . . kind of silly. The real failure is ‘they simply couldn’t hit their 2 targets.
          If you look at the ‘other’ automatic ctgs in the FBI ‘gelatin tests’ the 357 SIG penetrated just as far/deeply as the 9mm rounds tested. However, the 357 SIG also created a wider cavity! So why are we wanting more rounds and using a ctg that came out in 1902? So we can duplicate the FBI episode of 1986? In early 2017 I spoke with a retired PO about his 4 gunfights. In only, his last one did he fire 3 shots, and he was embarrassed to say the 3rd was unnecessary (he got rattled). His sidearm, a 4 inch Combat Magnum firing 357 JHP (didn’t name the weight or brand). The other 3 were solved with 2 or 1 round. How he prepared: trained on the range by placing FRONT SIGHT on chest area, two shots, STOP. Re align FRONT SIGHT, two shots, etc. If you are on target, you hit. If you aren’t you will continue to miss! He never missed.

    • I have been in gun fights and most certainly did use the sights, rifle and pistol. Sorry to burst your bubble, but people can an do use their sights in gunfights, just because you can’t does not mean it is not possible or does not happen. Training and proper mind set is the key with dedicated practice is needed (point shooting included) the caliber used to poke holes in the bad guy is nearly irrelevant when the shooter is prepared mentally and physically for the event.

        • When you produce a Pistol from a holster, under extreme stress, you still go through the same draw process, you normally use.

          Every one I have trained, to train, teach, and use the same punch draw.​

          This means when your hands stop moving, the pistol is at eye level.

          You might not consciously focus on said sights, but you see them! A split second? Who knows.

          But the first shot triggers that flash sight picture all the old guys talk about. Just like the flash of a camera.

          Two of my students were in gun fights, they both saw the front sight of their issued S&W mod 65 Revolver sights.

          One of my students same weapon, could see the lines, painted over with white fridge paint, as she pointed between the eyes of a person who pretended to have a pistol in his bulky coat pocket.

          He wet himself.


          • OK! Now we are really communicating! Terminology like “flash picture’ or ‘front sight” etc means different things to different people. What you describe is what I call “not using the sights”. Hence that is where we differ, not in substance but simply in semantics.

            I teach the punch out to eye level as well. The metaphor I use is both your eyes are open and on what you must hit and like laser beam. Then the weapon punches out and stops on that imaginary laser beam but the front sight is registering unfocused in your vision.You fire when that occurs at eye level. when possible.

            If its an upper body struggle for example you must fire without raising the weapon.I uee armored assailants (armor we developed over 27 years now and it is expensive to make but unparalleled )so full force striking is possible. Under the adrenal dump the trainees will often knock the attacker offf his feet in such a situation. Or kneee him into the groin so hard both his feet leave the ground.

            Aimed fire for most people means using both sights, rear and front.

            I use laser guns that fire a laser for 1/100th of a second when the hammer strikes the switch primer. This way even novices learn to point shoot quickly. The is lasers on attackers so they learn body positioning and getting off the attack line. Next its blanks on the instructors so they get used to drawing and making a shoot/don’t shoot decison understress and with flah and bang and slight recoil.

            Finally the instructors wear light armor and we go to the rubber bullets.

            I think we are talking about the same thing just using different terms here, ‘flash picture’ etc. I can see how that might be thought if as ;using the sights”. But I menat lining up both sights as you might in target practice situation of a range.

          • In working with Israeli Security Officers, in Toronto Canada, for 16 years (I rented them a range) a question I asked more than once “Why do you stand still to shoot?”

            The reply was “Our job is to kill the terrorist, not to avoid any chance of being shot” you hit better when you are a stable platform, in fact one exercise, was to draw, step left, aim and fire 3 rounds at a target 15m away.

            Then advance at speed, to shoot a 6″ balloon, taped to the concrete surface, under the target. They even had a way of stopping their forward momentum, a rapid foot stamp.
            No one walks away.

          • I had an identical experiencing training with IDF people. You are shooting or you are moving not doing both”. For their environment and objective it makes sense because this is the fastest way to take out the terrorist with a minimum potential for hittng innocents.

            But the US is different I teach move and shoot. I have heard the Israeli’s have modified this practice (I saw the foot stomping break your forward speed concept too) but I have not been in contact with those men in years and do not know.

    • As an expert witness in terminal ballistics while there is nothing new to me here I do feel it is very well laid out and economically explained.

      I have some reservations though as I know from personal experience that the FBI statistics are often biased by the nature of the institution itself. They even totally dismiss the affect of hydrostatic shock in say the .357 Magnum moving at 1350 FPS.

      Yet having interviewed so many traumatic surgeons who have worked on hundreds of gun shot victims I know hydrostatic shock is indeed a factor in stopping power, just not a consistent one.

      I wonder why the 55grain M193 5.56 mm does not appear here. I know very well it is a far superior load than the SS109 62 grain round. This is why the Soviet advisers in Nam took the M16 and M193 ammo back to Mother Russia and developed the AK74 using an almost identical round.

      THere is lot of folklore and mythology about handgun stopping as really one would expect. People naturally get attached to their guns and loads. It is all but heretical to point out the faulkts of the .45 ACP for example. BUt a 9mm JHP on the rop of the list here will beat a .45 ACP FNJ for sure stopping power wise.

      In any case no handgun is sure immediate man stopper no matter what the caliber or bullet design.

  13. After reading the article and all the comments up to now, there is one thing I have not seen brought up. The article states that bullet fragmentation is of no consequence because fragments are small and don’t travel far from the bullet path. This ignores the bullets purposely designed to break into three or four large and heavy fragments which will deviate far from the bullet path and in effect become multiple projectiles taking divergent paths. What about that?

      • Serious question: What about those “frangible” rounds? Do the FBI studies address this kind of ammunition? Would it be good to load my 9mm S&W with a few of those frangible rounds at the top of the magazine for home defense? Please do not tell me to get another caliber. I have trained with this gun for 12 years, and I am satisfied with it. I currently carry 17 Federal HST 124 gr. JHPs in this gun, and I have practiced for 10 years with handloads that are loaded to approximately same velocity. BTW, I am not law enforcement or FBI or military. I’m just a 60-year-old guy with severe arthritis, who has been shot at several times and robbed at gunpoint. In my mind I carry a handgun because I almost EXPECT to be attacked, not because it is a remote possibility. Thanks in advance for your responses.

      • I have a question about the part the article that deals with fragmentation. I will post it and read any replies. It is only a question. I don’t have any expertise to offer.

        QUOTED FROM ABOVE ARTICLE: “. . . Due to the fact that most modern premium law enforcement ammunition now commonly uses bonded projectiles (copper jacket bonded to lead core), the likelihood of fragmentation is very low. For these reasons, wounding effects secondary to any handgun caliber bullet fragmentation are considered inconsequential.”

        THE QUESTION: Would frangible ammunition be a good choice for the first few shots in the event of a home intrusion?

        Currently I carry Federal HST 9mm 124 grain standard pressure hollow points. I’m not law enforcement or military. I’m just a 60-year-old man with severe arthritis, who has been robbed and shot at. I live in Indianapolis, where the violent crime rate is the highest it has ever been in history, and is getting worse, with several shootings during a typical week. I’ve been carrying the same gun for 12 years, and I train once or twice a month at the range down the road from our house. Thanks in advance for your replies.

      • Frangible rounds, by and large, do not penetrate deeply enough, reliably enough, to pass the FBI minimum penetration standards.

        Yes, I’ve seen xrays of a head shot from a Glaser, and, yes, it looks like a snow globe.

        But that is an atypical hit. If you plan for worst reasonable case, you need a heck of a lot more reliable penetration than the bare minimum necessary for a perfect hit at the best possible angle and aspect.

  14. Think outside the box.

    True, the 9mm allows more rounds in the magazine than the .40 or .45. First time I fired a .40S&W, I thought there was no advantage in perceived recoil between the .40 S&W and the .45ACP. But true, you can get more rounds in the box with the .40 than the .45, especially in a double-stack magazine

    I’ve been shooting the .38 Super in IPSC competition, using a ‘race gun” for the past 10 years … and also using 10mm and .45ACP from time to time.

    Note that magazine capacity (which allows for more more misses) and perceived recoil (which allows the LEO to feel more comfortable about actually shooting the gun, are important factors of acceptance by LEOs.

    Can’t they include a compensator, which also allows faster return to the target? (Less “muzzle flip”/)

    The .38 super, loaded to velocities of about 1500 FPS in 115 – 126 grain bullet weight, is soft-shooting, safe, reliable and low-recoil .. with a compensator.

    Add an electronic dot-sight, initiated by a grip pressure device which turns it on only when the pistol is actually presented at a target. The downside is that it’s battery operated; the upside is that with practice, it makes aiming MUCH more intuitive, and simpler; if the dot shows up on the target, that’s where the bullet will strike, given a good grip and smooth trigger-pull.

    The round can be engineered with whatever weight and bullet design works best for 9mm Luger, with the added advantage that it is likely to be delivered at a higher velocity and .. with a dot-sight (the likes of which are currently being used to good effect on long-arms in war zones by American users if the M4-type rifles) the accuracy is likely to improve, as well.

    Forget the controversy between 9mm, .40 and .45. Ignore the problems of sight alignment, and perceived recoil. America is considering a ‘new side-arm” for its military this year. Why not use the same technical advances in sidearms design which have worked moderately well with the M4?
    As far as perce.

    • With respect sir IPPC has nothing to do with using a gun for self-defense purposes. It very, very rare in any real shooting that a person can even know the pistol has sights much less use them. This is just physiological reality.

    • Compensators work best with high pressure rounds – their efficiency is asymmetrically biased towards high pressure. Which means, to get any practical advantage out of them with a bullet heavy enough to penetrate deeply enough with reliable and consistent adequate expansion, means you are talking about a *really hit round*, and you end up in diminishing returns.

      IPSC race guns (and ammunition) are designed the way they are because of IPSC scoring rules, which are ultimately based on a scientifically discredited theory of terminal performance. Just as a Formula 1 or NASCAR race car isn’t suited for use as a police interceptor (despite the fact that they are fast as Hell, compared to the vehicles cops are chasing), IPSC guns are a bad idea for general use as a “street” pistol.

      Although, if you’re a master IPSC shooter, going to slide lock with 18 or so rounds (even your match major loads with nonexpanding bullets) *will* get the job done. The perp’s chest will look like someone used a posthole dogger on the center of his sternum. 😉

    • This is good report but again it has some misleading information due to the political nature of the FBI in such reports. They have published research that was clearly a reaction to their own failures in training and tactics before to put the responsibility on the rounds used.

      That said this is more balanced view than their earlier ‘research’. They should qualify their statements better of course and avoid speaking in absolutes. One can conclude for example that there is no point in using hollow point ammo over FMJ because the velocity of handguns won’t make the TSC strong enough to tear tissues. This is patently false, but it is also true that JHP often doed fail in this regard.

      Fragments from the bullet can cause a contribution to stopping power, but again the affect is not consistent.

      I suspect they are trying to make the Marshal and Sanow empirical research methodology seem wrong since it directly shows and documents the errors in the Miami shooting report the FBI issued decades ago.

      Personal bias and agendas will always be present in such research and conclusions. How could it be otherweise really especially given this topic.

      • Of course, the M-S study somewhat agrees with the Jello Junkies, in that the differences between *quality* JHPs in the standard “service” calibers is *very* small.

        I’d say a modern, state of the art, .45 JHP has a *slight* advantage, on a 1:1 basis, over a equivalent 9x19mm. The key fact in the FBI report is that is that the reduced recoil of the 9mm means it *isn’t* a 1:1 deal; all other things being equal, you’re likely to get more good hits in the same timeframe with the 9mm, so any theoretical single round advantage of the bigger bullet is more than offset.

        Plus, reduced training costs with the cheaper 9mm ammo. Which means either more training, or more money for *other* training. And it’s generally faster to get the same Kevel of accuracy with 9mm with new shooters (like most LEO new hires).

  15. There are times in shooting people, that calls for a very accurate shot. The dreaded “Domestic” call.

    A deranged/drug crazed/drunk? Whatever they are on, holding his significant other, in the corner of the kitchen, knife in one hand, other arm around the Lady of the house.

    You can see half of his head (the husband holding wife) distance just over 5yds. target, the eye socket, a roughly 2″ circle. You don’t need sights? Sure you don’t.

    How do you prep the shot? Ask a question, “Is that your car in the street, with a flat tire?”

    As he answers, press the trigger! Try it on your local range, service weapon (or CCW pistol,) 2″ circle target, run 10yds to warm up! Draw and aim, ask the question, fire the shot!

    Me, I am using my Glock 19 Gen 4. Truglo fiber optic sights. 147g Ranger T.9mm.

    • This is me, Mike, just come across this from the date stated.
      No change in my thought pattern, in any way. No new information has gone into my brain pan, that changes what I said!
      When I first got voted on to the IALEFI Board, in 1984, till I quit in 2004, twenty years. I felt this way then, and now.
      Some one on the board used the Spray and Pray comment a lot (Bob Hunt?) then President. That was the year I bought my first Glock 17.
      I had info./experience with 9mm then, from an earlier activity I had. Sten gun ammo, from a Browning Hi-power.

      I taught for 25 years, just me, my Company. Approx. 600 students a year. Toronto Canada.

      I coined a phrase mid 80s, ‘MORE IS BETTER ALWAYS” and still believe it, I have small pistols, .380 and 9mm.

      I have never, and will never carry anything at all, but my Glock 19 4th gen (Till 5th Gen?) 16 rounds of none +P 147g Ranger. Goes deep.
      Manageable recoil, very accurate. And one spare magazine, G17.
      If only 2/3/ or 4 rounds are fired? What’s left do not eat anything.

  16. “Point shooting and moving while shooting is incredibly important and the vast majority of LE don’t do any of it.”

    Absolutely true and my courses in scenario based training where the instructor appears ( suddenly and unexpectedly as a rule) and is firing Hollywood blanks has even has proven this. The trainee or student if you will is using a real gun firing with low velocity rubber bullets so hits are felt by the instructor ( who is in very light armor) and he respondss accordingly to where he has been hit at that instant.

    If he is hit in the head he falls, if in the gun hand his gun drops (it hurts enough that this happens automatically to him anyway most times). If the instructor is hit anywhere else like and arms or leg or grazing wound most times he keeps shooting.

    If he is hit in the kneecap or in the leg (and he falls from the actual pain of the hit) he falls but might keep shooting from the ground.The trainee thus has to keep firing to the threat is stopped and he is moving all the time as he fires.

    Good people if you just train like this realistically rather than using sights on paper in the comfort of the range there is no need for ‘theory’ or ‘opinion’.

    That is why we call the program Stresshooting and for decades it has reflected the statistics of actual shootings, only the people learn to do better than those statistics and that is why it is real training as that is what training is supposed to do, give you and edge to live and not just ‘pass’a periodic ‘range qualification test’. And many or most people who come here to Colorado to take the course are not even police but civilians. But some of the cops who come have already discovered the weakness of their training program they survived. No matter how you look at it being an LEO is dangerous so be prepared for realty and live.

    • Force-on-force with *physical* feedback is an unmatched tool. There is no way to simulate it, and in conjunction with other techniques such as both “square* and ” dynamic ” range work, yields good results very quickly.

      As I learned many moons ago, learning both hand and weapon skills, *pain* (although not actual injury, so much) is a fantastic learning indicator. People are usually fairly good at learning to avoid pain, even mild stinging.

  17. Asymmetric Training is now a buzz word! Dam, how about my phrase “The Interview”? is that a buzz word too now? You know with some understandable disagreements there is surprisingly lot of good thinking and experience on this board.

  18. Gov mil went from 38/9mm size rounds due to poor effectiveness during the Boxer Rebellion in China, then went to the .45 fo its stopping power (results). Our Military is limited to FMJ. SIZE DOES MATTER with this limitation. Arguable the Military has shot more people with handguns then all LE combined. All US ground forces have or are in the process of moving away from the 9mm. That folks sets the caliber and 45 ACP is it. The feds should follow them. Now LE can select the best projectile. The FBI study is actually a list of excuses. You read them. Train and train more, under stress and phisical exertion. Mag capacity issue is two faced. The FBI issues smaller frame versions (less capacity) to those with small hands. I’m suprised no small handed agent has suied for handicap accomidation to get full mag capicity in there small frame pistol as they obviously need the extra rounds to make thar 20 to 30% hit ratio. Need a thin grip 45ACP with 20 round mag? Throw out the money an companies will build it, but you got to pack it. Funny there was no mention of the high vel. Necked down rounds. The elephant in the room the study did not mention is the wonder 9mm “flesh” projectiles verse the FBI’s barrier requirements. The 9mm is a poor proformer there. Flesh, auto doors and angled windshields pose different challanges. Lastly “WEAR” is a claimed issue! Wear to the point of unreliable or accuracy falls below standards? Check your guns owners manual. They often list a round count for slide and barrel replacement. Some high dollar pistols say to change at as little as 5000 rounds. LE changes out their cars ever few years, why expect a handgun or caliber to last longer. The debate goes on an on. Don’t take a knife to a gun fight and don’t let some bean counter sway your departments firearm choice or yours. Stager your mag rounds between FMJ and the flesh eater of your choice. Always fired until you get the desired result. Duty handgun rounds I have carried are 38 Spl, 45APC, .22LR, 357 Mag. 9mm, 10mm and 40 S&W. My favorite doesn’t matter, your does!

    • I ahve to agree with your basic premise here.

      On another note however:

      “Don’t take a knife to a gun fight ”

      Remember a guy 25 feet away can rush you witha knife and kill you beforer most LEO’s or anyone else can draw and fire to stop them.

    • Your argument is underscored by the fact you don’t understand that LEO face VASTLY different challenges and situations. They also have the luxury of being able to use premium ammunition that has been developed since the .45acp won its reputation as a “man stopper” in the pacific vs. the .38. As for military, I still don’t know that the minor offset in permanent wound track justifies the offset for mag cap and follow-up shots, but i don’t know. As far as LEO, I can 110% understand the desire to go to 9mm for all of the reasons listed above. Also I’d like to know what department allows duty carry of .22lr?

      • I said “Duty handgun” as it covers more then a single Dept, Service or Agency. It was a High Standard HDM (if I remember correctly). Obviously only used on special occasions that I have no knowledge of and surely I was never there.

  19. A few more points of interest. Absent was any mention of +P and higher velocity loadings which enable many of the speciality 9mm bullets to function as designed and in turn add to “precieved” recoil and wear. If the shooters have twig arms there are comps, brakes, porting and pistols like the Walther SSP with an internal dampening system. Did they delete Shotgun Qual from FBI’s requirements. I guess the same FBI logic will apply and they will switch to 410 AK variants. Since no cartridge will detox a person on PCP or provide instant angar management shouldn’t you deliver the most energy into the goblin? This is very important with their stats of only 20-30% hits. You must understand that the LE stats include 9mm shootings. READ THE DATES ON THE MAIN STUDIES: 1987 & 1989. THE WONDER NINE ERA. They flipantly dismiss other extensively wound balistics studies. There was a U.S. Dept of Wound Balistics at one time. There are many more up to date and unbias studies easily found on the Net.

    • Nothing new here really, and if the .40 expanded it could not have penetrated only one inch. The .40 SW is decent handgun round, slightly superior in terminal balistics to quality 9 mm JHP. It is true shot placement is the key factor in stopping an asssilant, but it is also the factor we generally have the least control over too.

  20. Another Miami shootout and the FBI will be scrambling again. I say BS that weight doesn’t matter. Shock factor. Keep in mind that the newest whizbang fancy 9mm bullet manufacturer has the same thing available in 45 ACP. If I hear “shot placement” one more time…as if everyone can be that good in the heat of battle. And now there’s a jackleg on youtube doing studies for law enforcement that claims there’s no difference between any caliber. Even 380.

    • I agree. a lot of people have been killed with a 22 cal. handgun. Most murders in this country are with either a 22 or 38. In the heat of the moment I dare anybody to stand there and worry about shot placement. We had an incident where a man was waving a handgun around and threatening. 7 Patrol officers showed up and tried to talk the person down. He pointed the gun at them. 42 shots were fired. only 3 or 4 hit him. One of the officers had a 223 rifle and shot at the person and missed. When it was over they found that the gun was a bb gun. Which tells me that when the shtf training has to kick in. It has to be automatic to survive. I really like these people that say why didn’t they shoot to wound.

      • Read and understand what Rick Randall is saying above. No one is questioning than an individual .45 or .40 round is bigger than an individual 9mm round. The point is that as “man stoppers”, all handguns are equally weak, so you are better off delivering more rounds more quickly. What’s that you say? You don’t have any issues with .45 or .40? Yes me neither. I can handle them just fine too. But even as comfortable as I am with .45 or .40, I can still deliver more 9mm on target in a shorter amount of time than I can deliver the same amount of .40 or .45, and since the terminal ballistics are so close to identical, volume and speed matter more than bullet weight and terminal performance. All things being (very nearly) equal, carry the round that lets you get back on target more quickly and carry a higher number of rounds. There is no advantage to the .40 or .45 over the 9mm… all require a CNS or pulmonary hit to produce a reliable stop, and compared to a rifle, all of them suck almost equally.

        • Being 6 and been in combat I too have heard this same debate over .45 vs 9mm and the newer SW .40 for some time. In addition to being hired as forensic expert witness, I have to say from what I see in these posts quite happily is far more educated, scientifically shooter group here than ever in the past. This is displacing many of the old ‘Handgun stopping power mythology so often repeated in the past. 🙂

    • Simply summarized:

      For general law enforcement use (where modern JHP ammo is authorized and used), .40S&W, .357Sig, and .45ACP do *not* provide *any* significant advantage over 9x19mm, but do have the following drawbacks:

      1. They cost more, round for round, than similar 9mm ammo. So 9mm saves money on ammo for training, without sacrificing *any* significant advantage in terminal effects.

      2. They have reduced round counts in similar sized pistols. So 9mm increases ammo available to the officer at the beginning of a firefight, without sacrificing *any* significant advantage in terminal effects.

      3. They have higher recoil (and in the cases of .40 & .357, significantly higher slide velocities) than equivalent 9mm pistols. So 9mm is easier to train shooters on (especially the vast majority of LE recruits who have *never* fired a handgun before joining), and in the cases of the .40 & .357, the guns wear out faster and need more maintenance than equivalent 9mm pistols, again without the 9mm sacrificing *any* significant advantage in terminal effects.

      4. In the case of the .45, the grips are larger than equivalent 9mm pistols. So the 9mm is ergonomically easier to handle (thus reducing traoning costs) for a wider range of officers, without sacrificing *any* significant advantage in terminal effects.

      Since 9mm does as good a job stopping threats when comparing pistols loaded with modern JHP ammo, is easier to teach people to shoot accurately and rapidly due to lower recoil and smaller grips (meaning fewer rounds required to bring all shooters to a reasonable baseline), the ammo costs less (further reducing ammo costs), the guns tend not to need as frequent armorer support and parts replacement (thus further reducing life cycle costs), the guns hold MORE ammo (thus providing an advantage to an officer stuck in a protracted exchange of fire), why would *any* agency involved in general law enforcement scenarios want to bother with other rounds? (I’ll grant that specialized employments may call for specialized solutions, such as alternate calibers, but we’re discussing general LEO use.

  21. An interesting exercise, I invited a Dr. to one of my classes, I had picked up a styrofoam torso thrown out from a store.

    Set this up on a table, and used a long knitting needle you guessing what was hit inside this torso.

    The difference of the torso turning 2″ caused huge difference of what was hit.

    So the major thought hit the middle, guess where was the middle , based on guessing where the center was. Not hard really.

  22. If caliber doesn’t matter then why do people carry large caliber handguns in bear country. I don’t see anybody carrying a 22lr or a 9mm in bear country unless they are brain dead.

    • Your argument has no comparison and very flawed. It completely out of the context in this discussion. We are talking about the effects of rounds on a human, on average a 170 lbs. animal, that is debatable. A bear is a 500 to 800 lbs. animal, caliber matters on huge animals. You carry a large caliber handgun in bear country to buy yourself time to get away, it does not mean it will stop a bear either.

      • Heh. I always figured the point of a handgun for bear defence was to shoot the vear in the face every time he climbed up within six feet of your branch or so.

        If, during a bear attack, you can keep cool enough to take a *stopping* shot on a bear with a handgun, you are a better man than than I, Gunga Din. Bear skulls are tough, bear shoulder blades are tougher, and it’s a real small target window to get a CNS on a charging bear. 🙂

        • Eh, almost any centerfire cartridge will rupture the cranial vault and paint the landscape in a delicate shade of brain. 😉

    • A. This only concerns what are considered in the US as “service calibers”, I.e., the calibers commonly selected for duty pistols by US law enforcement agencies – so, 9x19mm through .45ACP. (And only in modern top of the line JHP loadings.). .22LR isn’t even on the list. That’s one straw man down.

      B. This only concerns using them against human targets, not bears. That’s two strawmen down

      The fact is, ammunition companies have pretty much standardized terminal performance within the specific range the FBI had identified as being the best performance range for effectiveness in this role.

  23. Brian (Mike) Hargreaves.

    Some very interesting individuals have posted here. One issue that very rarely surfaces, when talking, calibre, handguns, et al, The 40 S&W cartridge, and the .45 ACP are straight walled cases, the 9mm tapers, 11 thousands of an inch, from front to back, much better to feed, especially in Sub Guns, the MP 5, for instance. But just in the ability to feed better than said .40, makes the 9mm a better choice in a life-saving instance, as in a gun fight. It feeds better.

  24. “The Ballistic Research Facility has conducted a test which compares similar sized Glock pistols in both .40 S&W and 9mm calibers, to determine if more accurate and faster hits are achievable with one versus the other. To date, the majority of the study participants have shot more quickly and more accurately with 9mm caliber Glock pistols. The 9mm provides struggling shooters the best chance of success while improving the speed and accuracy of the most skilled shooters.”—-No mention of a .45 or .357 sig being tested by the facility, just .40 and .9mm. And what does “majority of the study participants” equate to? Does that mean 51 percent? 56 percent? 65 percent? 90 percent? The study refers to “struggling shooters” having the best chance of success with .9mm vs .40 ( while still ignoring the difference in perceived recoil between those cartridges and the very different feel if the slower .45 round, but I digress); how does the study quantify a “struggling shooter?”

    • Struggling shooter – no prior military experience, no familiarity with firearms ((women )) and probably the most likely to fail to complete the program.

      This has the smell of the Clinton sponsored study which lead to a directive to remove urinals from ships

      Political correctness = death

  25. While huge advanced have been made in 9mm bullet technology the same huge advances have been made in the .40 and .45 caliber bullets. It seems that law enforcement should focus more on marksmanship rather than thinking switching to something they think will have magical powers.

    • That’s the point. The difference in performance between various service caliber rounds has been reduced to the point where it doesn’t make any sense to accept the logistics and training downsides of the larger, harder kicking, rounds, reducing costs and increasing accuracy.

      It’s simply cheaper and easier to teach 100 students to shoot *well*, and to support their training (including in service maintenance and training once they are on the street), with a 9x19mm than it is with cartridges like the .40S&W or .45ACP. And since the advances have all been to reach the same basic standards of terminal performance, the fact that it’s easier to get new shooters to shoot the 9mm more accurately and faster, means there is no reason to accept the downsides of the larger cartridges.

      Of course, this is all specific to what they are looking at – “What is the most efficient, effective, caliber choice for a ‘fleet’ purchase, when you can use these modern JHP designs?” It may not apply to each individual, nor does it necessarily apply to people forced by policy, law, or circumstances to use older or less effective bullet designs.

  26. I used to be in the “carry as many rounds as you can” camp (aka 9mm).
    And still believe it’s a very viable option, especially if it’s the largest round you can shoot effectively.
    However, after much testing with a shot timer, I have found I am faster with a G30 (with standard pressure 230 gr. HST rounds) than I am with a G19 (with +P 124 gr. rounds).
    I think most people would agree the 230 gr. standard pressure rounds are the most effective all round for the .45 and the +P (or +P+) for the 9mm.
    When you load both calibers with the most effective rounds the amount of recoil becomes much closer, maybe really, really close.
    Three things that do matter, IMO.
    1) you need to hit something critical, and you have a better chance of hitting it with a larger diameter bullet.
    2) recoil does matter, because that’s the amount of time it’s going to take you to get the weapon back on target.
    3) you may, according to the circumstances, only get one shot. Watch the video (at bottom) and ask yourself if that’s the round you would rather put into the person that’s trying to harm you or your family.
    Yes, I am giving up a few rounds in the mag, but that’s okay with me. Especially with performance like this, IIRC, .86″.
    Just watch it…

    • THe video shows that the .45 HP failed to generate a decent TSC. The reason is it’s low velocity at less than 900 fps. A bullet needs to be moving at 1150 fps or greater in order to generate a TsC (Temporary Stretch Cavity) of decent applitude. This maximum amplitude of 1 inch shows a failure to propagate an effective TSC. A TSC 9mm will often have TSC of 3 and 1/2 inches or more in 10% ballistic gelatin.

      The expansion of the bullet itself (mushrooming) does not itself contribute to greater stopping power. It is the HYDROSTATIC SHOCKWAVE that this expansion creates that does contribute significantly to stopping power.

      This hydrostatic shock wave can and reasonably often does damage or rupture organs or arteries not hit by the bullet itself. On the other hand a well designed 9mm at say 1175 or 1200 FPS can and often does generate a effective TSS through hydrostatic shock. If you load a .45 ACP to this high velocity (and I have for test in my old lab) the recoil becomes great enough to increase recoil and recovery time greatly. It may not even be safe to load the .45 to this velocity.

      If the hollow point is filled with clothing or leather (like leather jacket) when it hits the enemy will not expand in any case.

      Finally we just have to realize any handgun is not an ‘instant manstopper’ regardless of caliber and bullet design. A .22LR that enters the brain case or one that ruptures the left heart chamber will most always top an attacker. But these are the only two locations why for medical reasons a person will collapse from a bullet strike nearly immediately. But ‘bullet placement’ is the factor we have the least control over in real shoot out. In fact it is almost neurologically impossible to use the sights in real gunfight. Your brain won’t let you look at anything but the guy trying to kill you. My late friend Jim Cirillo who had been in more than a dozen gunfights as NYPD homicide detective acknowledged this fact too and that man was a virtual magician shooting a handgun.

      In my work I also noticed that the .357 Magnum 158 grain JHP fired from at least a 4 inch BBL (1350 fps), has the best stopping power apprently that any handgun can achieve. The same round fired from 2 inch BBL is not effective as the velocity is not achieved need for a good TSC. You just get more recoil and muzzle flash.

      In the ER it is as rule immediately obvious if the victim were shot with expanding ammunition (if it expanded) rather than FMJ.

      The Geneva convention outlaws HP ammunition in war., THis si why NAVY SEALS ( and I have trained some) are designated for “conflicts other than war”. THis is so they can and they do use JHP ammo.
      Peace be with us all good people.

      • Cirillo’s experience shared in print and video, was the exact opposite of what you state. He claimed to see his front sight so clearly and in such detail that he could count the ridges in it. The reality is you can train your body to do almost anything under stress, provided you train enough. Certain things are easier than others to do under stress than others, that’s all. Cirillo, as well as the FBI, point out that “hydrostatic shock” (it should really be called hydrodynamic) only comes into play beyond the 1700-2000 fps range. The vast majority of handguns just don’t fire projectiles fast enough to take advantage of that effect. And finally, it’s the Hague convention, and the US is not a signatory to it so we can use hollow points if we please. The military is finally starting to do exactly that.

  27. But didn’t the Obama administration buy billions of .40 through friends.

    There is the danger that those writing the study understood the intent of the bosses was to get the adoption of a gun which was more within the capabilities of small law enforcement officers

  28. I enjoy the banter. Have been reading this argument since I was 14yrs old and began the serious preparation process of my shooting and tactical career. In 50+ years of experiencing, observing, and studying this dilemma I have come to the following conclusion:

    There is the perfect weapon and perfect firearm caliber for each personal threat scenario. The challenge is having the most appropriate piece of that entire arsenal at your disposal when presented with your unique threat scenario.

    I have quickly dispatched a rattlesnake, about to make a pin-cushion out of my calf, with a single action 22LR pistol (Move and shoot!). However, I felt significantly under prepared when carrying a 1911 when my assailant was over 100 yards away and delivering rifle fire from high ground.

    If defending my home from 2-3 intruders, the 870 shotgun could suffice. If in a fire fight with an assailant in a car at the carwash, perhaps the 357 Sig or 10mm to penetrate the car door or windshield. If just me and said bad-guy mano a mano with handguns, my Wilson Combat 45.

    Now, if it were a dozen internet radicalized ISIS pinheads with AK’s at the local mall and all I can conceal on my person is one handgun (and of course a spare mag) then the Glock 17 for sheer round count alone…head-shots being the flavor of the day.

    The key I believe is to pick the weapon you feel will be able to address your most likely individual threats, the most often, and the one that you will be able to deliver the best response, and with the greatest accuracy. After that it’s all muscle memory and mental preparedness for the confrontation. There is absolutely no substitute for proper tactical and mental training and correct repetition of the movements you will engage in when defending yourself or assailing your target.

    You will know you are properly armed and prepared when you have successfully fired 1000 rounds of ammunition through the weapon you are carrying at the moment, after having spent days on the range with thoughtful instruction and practice. Your goal should be 1000 rounds a day for 5 days once a year in tactical shooting, and 50-100 rounds a quarter in accuracy drills. Anything less and you have to hope your assailant is less prepared than you, because you are under prepared.

    Buy the gun that suits you, practice with it like you mean it, prepare your mind to meet as many possible threats as you can conjure up and some that others have conjured up or experienced, and most importantly carry that weapon you have become intimate with so it will be with you when you, your family, or some innocent sheep needs it.

  29. All these experts act like the 9 mm is the only round that will benefit from “new bullet technology”. Whatever you decide to carry, practice practice practice.

    • You act as if they disregarded that fact in the testing.

      They didnt. The testing that caused the FBI to come to these conclusions was based on bullets utilizing this “new bullet technology” in *all* the calibers tested.

      The simple fact is, when comparing defensive loads with modern JHP bullets, *all* of the “service pistol” calibers (9x19mm, .40 S&W, .357 Sig, .45 ACP) perform close enough to each other that terminal performance is the *least* significant difference when selecting a caliber for departmental issue. They *all* penetrate deep enough, expand fast enough, and expand enough, to do the job about the same.

      At which point, the fact that the 9mm has less recoil, can (all other things being equal) fit more into the same size magazine, is cheaper, and puts less stress on the pistol than most other choices, pushed the 9mm to the top spot, when comparing equivalent loads and guns.

      For no statistically significant loss in individual round terminal effectveness, you can issue a pistol that most personnel can shoot *faster and more accurately* for the same amount of training (and, generally speaking, personnel will *never* be able to shoot the other choices as fast as they can shoot the 9mm, in similar guns – using similar guns, most people can get off 3 or 4 shots with equal accuracy with a 9mm in the same time they can get 2 or 3 shots with the other “service” calibers), allows them *more shots before reloading* (anywhere from about a quarter more to twice as many rounds), and costs less for training (due to reduced ammunition and armorer costs).

      Why would you select a gun for a department that costs more to support, costs more to feed, requires more training for equal accuracy, is slower on follow up shots, and still doesn’t give any *measurable* increase in terminal performance?

      • Just for total disclosure – I’m the same guy as Geodkyt – I just sometimes lose track in drawn out threads whether I started using my real name or my long time internet handle…

  30. Obviously ballistics technology has evolved over the last 100 years. However, if the type of handgun round doesn’t matter then why did the U.S. Military switch from a .38 special to .45 acp when occupying the Philippines?

    • 1. Nonexpanding ammunition is different from JHPs. The advances that make “service caliber” cartridges with modern 21st Century JHP designs roughly equal in terminal performance to each other have absolutely nothing to do with how nonexpanding (or very limited expansion, like RNL) rounds perform – nor were such *21st* Century advances available, obviously, at the end of the *19th* Century.

      2. The relative advantages of smaller rounds in terms of firepower and ease of shooting were not a significant issue at the close of the 19th Century – the .38 and .45 caliber Colt Army revolvers both held the same amount of rounds, and I certainly cannot say that .38 Long Colt is that much easier to shoot than .45 M1887 (which is what the actual Army .45 revolver round was, *not* .45 Long Colt – it’s a .45 Schofield with the smaller rim of the .45LC). In the applicable Army revolvers, both are roughly similar in ease of shooting, especially using the one handed stance of the time.

      3. The decision to adopt .45 was based more on anecdote and really sketchy “experiments”. Now, I believe they got the answer right *for nonexpanding ammo*, but that was more happenstance than solid evidence (somewhat like the apocryphal stories from Korea about how useless the .30 Carbine supposedly is).

      Remember, this FBI study is specific to ammunition that is *not* Hague compliant, because cops aren’t subject to Hague, even in signatory nations. Nor does it have anything to do with ammunition choices from almost a century and a quarter ago.

      • The FBI ‘study’ after the Miami shooting and death of the FBI agents made for nearly totally a political effort to try to put the blame on the FBI’s ammunition rather than on their very poor tactics (Ruger Mimi 14’s vas 9mm pistols, who would you bet on?)

        I read the study very closely and more than once. It is totally flawed and does not employ the scientific method. If you compare the FBI’s formulae for stopping power to well documented actual shootings it has predictive value equal too a coin toss (that is about 50/50) THis means it has no predictive value at all as one would expect when the FBI’s objective was to ‘show’ the 9mm JHP silvertips were no working and caused the tragedy. The FBI ‘study’ is the laughing stock of professional terminal ballistic people who work for the major ammunition manufacturers.

  31. The 9mm is a great round to shoot–very easy going and pretty accurate. My 80# daughter can shoot a M9 (or whatever the civilian nomenclature), and I expect with a little practice she will even have decent groups. That an its high capacity (q.v. the abysmal rate that LEO hit targets) which lets you spray-and-pray make it a reasonable choice for LE.


    There are a lot of agencies (Secret Service Protective Detail, Air Marshals, etc.) switching over to 5.7.

    As a former Army officer, recreational shooter, and emergency physician, I can tell you the honest to goodness truth.

    Rule #1: First guy hit looses.
    Rule #2: The most important factor in terminal injury is where you hit. People have died from .177 pellet guns, and some foreign government secret services have effectively silenced their foes with a .22.
    Rule #3: Know your firearm. Practice, practice, practice. Practice breathing technique when you are dodging and ducking. You ARE going to see cover if someone else is shooting at you, right?
    Rule #4: Know the law.
    Rule #5: Never, ever, threaten or brandish. Only draw your weapon as an absolute last resort. Better to retreat than spend the rest of your life regretting killing or maiming someone. Taking a life is a very, very hard thing to life even if you did so for the most noble (and legal) reasons.
    6. Consider non-lethal personal protective measures. Pepper spray truly sucks, and tasers usually make short work of most attackers. While technically a violation of some federal rule, a big can of bear spray hits out to 30 feet with a crapload of capsacian.
    7. If you are in a position where you might need to use a gun, buy good body armor. The shit works, use it and see your family at the end of a terrifying day.
    8. (most important rule): Outside of my military service, I have been in situations where I was shot at twice, have had a half dozen crazed/high/desperate patients pull weapons on my. In every case, being calm, speaking in a low voice, and trying to understand why they felt threatens allowed a peaceful solution. When confronted in the street, the same thing goes. In almost every situation peaceful and thoughtful people don’t need to use a gun.
    (final and last rule): people chiefly die from the damage done from the temporary cavity. This depends on velocity squared times 1/2 the mass. Higher velocity and accuracy are much more important with close range than the weight of the bullet. The .40 S&W is a great round not because it is a bigger round than a 9mm, but because it has a significantly higher velocity. Its easy as pie to shoot well. If you want to carry a BFG, get a .357 mag or .45 from Coonan Arms. Accurate, can shoot the damn thing w/o cleaning for a thousand rounds or so. But, you only get 8 rounds to hit your target and you will want a lot of practice to get good with the .357 mag auto. Good thing it is built to take the abuse.

  32. Last thought. It doesn’t matter what caliber/muzzle velocity you buy. If you are going to do concealed carry, you need something small and light. That means 6 rounds. So practice dropping an empty mag and sticking a spare in. Again, back to the many comments on marksmanship and practice, the little dinky Taurus TCP I can conceal in a Speedo is pretty damn accurate at 30 feet. I sacrificed muzzle velocity, bullet mass, and bullet size so I could have something which I can comfortable carry a dozen different ways (tucked into the pocket of a dress shirt, in my sock, under a hat, disguised as a cell phone (cell phone have become obscenely large), etc. etc.

    The key point everyone reading this forum should walk away with is that caliber, muzzle velocity, or bullet type/weight is a tiny, tiny factor compared to keeping your shit together, breathing, and training. Shoot enough you know how often your weapon will misfire/jam/hang and practice clearing these jam. If you cannot cover the holes in your 30′ target with your hand, you need to go buy another box of practice ammo and have someone video you on your phone so you can review your stance, breathing, etc, etc. Then go buy another box of bullets.

    • Why would you reference something that has been completely discredited for decades, doesn’t apply to the ammunition in question (wholly different projo styles with entirely different terminal ballistics), and was never conducted in a scientific, measurable,or even objective, fashion (and those facts are clearly apparent if you actually read the original Thompson-Lagarde report… it was the equivalent of a couple of YouTube Bubba’s blowing up watermelons with guns to “evaluate” the effectiveness of various guns).

      Frankly, referencing the Thompson-Lagarde “tests” in this context causes you to forfeit all credibility on the subject at hand.

  33. The .357 sig,.40 and .45 all have wider wound channels as well as less penetration, which equates to more internal damage. Just look at the gel. For every special round of 9mm there is one of the others. The Federal bureau of investigation want’s to save $$$ on ammo. Simple as that. It may be small but anything helps when downing the enemy. I dont need science to tell me that. If you cannot put a .45 or .40 on target at pistol distances, you in fact need to train. TRAIN. FIGHT. WIN

    • .357 Sig is a 9mm, FYI. It’s a 9mm round in a necked-down .40 casing. Basically a hotter 9mm. And this discussion isn’t about whether you can put a .45 or .40 on target at pistol distances – it’s about effective stopping power. All handguns of reasonable carry size are poor ‘manstoppers”, and the difference in the size of hole a .45 makes vs. a 9mm is so small as to be inconsequential – about a tenth of an inch in diameter. Both rounds require a CNS or CPS hit in order to stop a target in its tracks anyway. So the argument goes like this: all other things being equal, if you can fire 3 rounds of 9mm in the same amount of time it would take you to fire 2 rounds of .45 (or .40, or whatever), which choice gives you the best change of a CNS or CPS hit that will stop your target? 3 rounds of 9mm make a bigger hole than 2 rounds of .45, if you are interested in comparing wound channels.

    • They didn’t compare “special rounds” in 9mm versus “regular rounds” in the other calibers.

      These tests were of similar type rounds compared to their counterparts in other common US police calibers.

      The point is simple, unambiguous (if you actually read the report with an open mind), and clear:

      Since the various “service calibers”, *when using top shelf, modern JHP ammunition*, perform so closely to one another that the differences are *statistically insignificant*, instead of chasing mythical magical calibers to improve results, *when making departmental choices*, you might as well go with the option thaf:

      1. Is easier to shoot for almost *all* shooters, most critically novice shooters. (This reduces the time and expense necessary to reach an equal shooter performance level, or the same resources can be used to reach a *higher* level.)

      2. Allows a selection of guns that fits a wider selection of normal adult human hands. (After all, we can almost always make a gun *bigger* or select the next size up for the guy who can palm a basketball, but it’s harder to go the other way for the shooters with smaller hands if the magazine size requires a larger circumference to achieve capacity parity.)

      3. Costs less per round. (This, again, allows you to reduce cost for the same amount of training, or increase training for the same cost.)

      4. Costs less in weapon life cycle maintenance, especially compared to .40 and .357 Sig. (See above – dollars spent t on replacingparts are dollars not available for training or better gear. Plus, although generally overlooked, there is a *time* cost to more frequent parts replacement – a gun in the body and fender shop isn’t on the street.)

      5. Is generally more controllable for almost all shooters, which means for the same level of skill, they can either get equally good hits in less time, or get *better* hits in the same time. (Since shot placement is *the* most critical factor that it outweighs any other single factor of terminal performance between these choices to the point they become statistically irrelevant, “shooter better just as fast” or “shooting faster just as good” makes magic caliber choices meaningless.)

      • great argument for the Ruger 22 Charger pistol or Mark IV chambered n 22LR. These are easier to shoot, including for people with arthritus and carpel tunnel. For that reason, man-stopping CNS hits should be a breeze. And 22LR ammo is inexpensive. And there have been tremendous strides in the reliability of this ammo by CCI and others. Furthermore, the 22LR ammo is less loud than 9mm, which is significantly higher pressure ammo. Who wants to bo permanently deaf from using a 9mm indoors—that’s hardly self-defense in the full sense of it.

  34. I was an IALEFI Instructor, and board member for twenty years. Known as Mike. The comment way back here, of asking a question about “Is that your car in the street with a flat tire?” Might work in the USA, the equivalent question I used, whilst working on the door of the Cavern Club, in Liverpool, in the early 60’s, which worked every time, below.
    “What time is your last bus?”
    You are dealing with a group of hard cases, between 2 to 4 normally.
    Standing in the narrow doorway. The leader of the pack is in front.
    My hands are up, along side my face, moving a bit, like a French Man.
    His first blink, after the question, sends a short right cross, with a twist at the hips, as hard as you can hit, impact at the lower left side of the jaw.
    Quite often a knock out punch, at least a knockdown.
    Sometime in 1984, our fledging gun company brought the first ten Glock 17s into North America (17 plus 1) Practical Pistols Inc. Toronto.
    At a Board meeting of the IALEFI board, I introduced this concept, the same amount of rounds, as the common Police load out, S&W Revolver in 38 Special, with two speed loaders, but requiring two re-loads.
    The President at the time, Bob Hunt, stated Spray and Pray and discounted the concept. He was big into S&W. This was 1984, or five.
    I also around this time, replaced my IPSC Pistol, a Colt 45, with a Glock 17, after missing a safety catch in a major match, down grade to minor calibre, but faster. Holster made in Buffalo. A bit before my time?

  35. Why one cop carries 145 rounds of ammo on the job
    At the core of his desperate firefight was a murderous attacker who simply would not go down, even though he was shot 14 times with .45-cal. ammunition — six of those hits in supposedly fatal locations.

    Gramins routinely carried 47 rounds of handgun ammo on his person, including two extra magazines for his Glock 21 and 10 rounds loaded in a backup gun attached to his vest, a 9 mm Glock 26.
    Now unfailingly he goes to work carrying 145 handgun rounds, all 9 mm.


  36. The focus on the FBI testing was on penetration not power and all the factors that work for them. Everyone brings up the heavy clothing gel test but that was only one of five gel tests that the FBI did with each round. They need a round that offers barrier penetration. Hollow points don’t expand through barriers so the smallest caliber penetrated the most after passing through the barriers. I think that the 9mm is the best one-size-fits-all duty round without a doubt. For personal defense in a micro or subcompact size gun the bullet choice is very important, only a few 9mm loads expand reliably to 1.5X original diameter in heavy clothing/gel tests. Duty sized guns its a different ball game but how many of us dress around a duty sized pistol every day.

  37. Wow people…bottom line. Handgun rounds SUCK for self defense or stopping someone from bad behavior. I use my HK P30 in .40 as my EDC but it is merely there to allow me to fight back to my AR-15 or one of my other rifles. My Navy SEAL brother is right, it doesn’t matter what size if I put two in your chest and one in your head. Personally it’s backwards, I will put one between your eyes and if I miss by a couple of inches then you receive the JFK headshot and I don’t stop shooting until the dirtbag is no longer standing and has stopped breathing. I think most missed the huge red flag about the LEO fire to hit ratio. 70 to 80% of shots fired are misses. That my good people is just freaking God awful and it clearly shows a lack of training. If I ever get caught between a bad guy and a police officer during a firefight you bet your butt I will take my chances and get clear enough to return fire on the perp!!!

  38. Before there ever was an FBI to gaslight people into disarming themselves, during the 18th & 19th centuries nobody complained about pistol stopping power. That is because large caliber ammo was commonplace.

    Consider this, IF caliber is meaningless, then that means a low tech Civil War solid lead cannon ball (6lbs. x 3.50″) moving at, say, 700fps is less effective stopping power than a new hitech bullet from a 9mm Glock pistol.

    12ga. slugs are a lot smaller caliber than a cannon ball. The slug caliber is .72″, which is merely twice that of the hi tech 9mm. Factory 12ga slugs velocity is similar to 9mm ammo. Ballistic gel tests on youtube suggest 12ga slugs are SIGNIFICANTLY more destructive than a hi tech 9mm ammo because the 12ga slug usually blows the block off the table and oftentimes shreds it into pieces and sometimes breaks the table itself. Nothing comparable happens with the hi tech 9mm ammo.

    Consider the velocity of hi-energy particles from the sun. They have undefined (zero) caliber but they travel at a velocity significantly higher than hi tech 9mm ammo. They have large sectional-density because their caliber is undefined but they do have mass. Hence, they penetrate an animal body easily. And talk about capacity! Huge quantities of these particles rain down upon men every day in the sunshine. … Yet these have no discernable stopping power. However, if they were of larger caliber, because of their velocity, then they would have a terminal effect perhaps similar to an asteroid hitting earth, which is what stopped the dinos.

    Caliber does matter.

  39. Nothing us in the market have not been talking about for years. The more revisionist crowd believes in science as much as the occurrence (25 years for me). Memorize a former SEAL team Head saying something to the effect, “…I hear this 9mm vs 45 shit all the time.

  40. Hey There! It was an informative giveaway.
    9mm can not be able to damage like 50BMG. But 9 mm is perfect based on a number of factors together including “stopping power”, availability, and weight. A study has shown that the 9mm round can penetrate far enough. It also allows shooters to carry more rounds.
    But the laws talk differently. Bigger is better is not true at all. FBI decides 9mm as their number 1 choice and they have tons of science behind their decision.

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