They say there are three things you don’t talk about: Religion, Money, and Politics. The logic behind this is that these three topics are very sensitive to people and they become very passionate about them, as we hold them all dear.
However, I am would like to propose an amendment to this phrase, to include, Caliber selection! If you are itching for a good old fashioned heated debate, go to a group of “gun guys or gals” and state matter of factly what caliber is the best. Then, stand back and watch the show! We all have a preferred caliber for one reason or another.
The one phrase that comes up constantly is: stopping power. “.45 ACP is the best because of the stopping power!”; “.380 is junk because it has no stopping power!” I can almost guarantee that you will here these two things said.
That begs the question what is stopping power? Well, we will define it as follows for this discussion: Stopping power is the ability to end a threat with the minimum amount of effort or rounds on target.
Ok, so now that we know exactly what we are talking about, why does this matter? I’m glad you ask! It doesn’t! Yeah! I said it! Stopping power, as it is used is a statistical farce for the most part. I guarantee you I can find 5 cases of a single shot from a .22lr neutralizing a threat, and 5 cases of a .45 ACP not stopping the threat in just a few minutes.
A couple years back an older gentleman shot and killed 1 of three intruders in his home with one shot, from a .22lr rifle he uses for squirrels. This happened in the town over from me. Well, how about that for stopping power!
Let’s take another look at our definition above: Stopping power is the ability to end a threat with the minimum amount of effort or rounds on target. I think that .22 has plenty of stopping power, wouldn’t you agree.
Stopping power has become a buzzword among the gun community, often misused and misunderstood. Too many people believe that stopping power looks like Hollywood depictions of a guy getting shot with a shotgun and flying backwards through the wall… Newtons 3rd law of physics tells us that for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. So, in order for the “bad guy” to go flying backward, the same amount of force would be placed on the one pulling the trigger. So, even the .45 acp only hits as hard as you feel in the recoil. Granted, the .45 has a lot more recoil than a .22, but nothing that will stop a man in his tracks.
Here is what is important. Forget stopping power, think shot placement. What stopped the intruder in his tracks in our story above, was shot placement. The round was perfectly placed, right in his heart. One officer shot a man 14 times with a .45 acp, six of those rounds were supposed to be fatal, and he kept coming! This is an extreme case but, it drives home the point: Shot placement, not stopping power. Had one of those rounds struck his heart, or ended brain activity, that would have been the end of that.
What can we learn?
Next time you hear someone say something about stopping power, remind them that shot placement far supersedes “stopping power”
The only way to stop a threat “dead in his tracks” is to turn out the lights. Shut the body down and prevent it from functioning.
This mythical illusion that shooting someone with a .45 acp will knock them backward and kill him instantly regardless of shot placement is a farce and should be ignored.
Larger calibers have their advantages, as do smaller calibers. However, it is not all about calibers. If you only can carry a .22 lr or .380 acp, than go for it, it is better than nothing. Be sure to use top quality ammo and practice practice practice!
We discuss choosing a handgun here: https://strategicdefenseblog.wordpress.com/2015/10/23/what-gun-is-the-right-gun/
And here: https://strategicdefenseblog.wordpress.com/2015/10/28/how-to-choose-a-handgun-for-self-defense/