Handgun Stopping Power – Another View

Though I do not think THIS is valid evidence to support the notion that the caliber and load you choose for personal protection does not matter, it does somewhat coincide with several things I have learned over the years, particularly when it comes to testing in ordnance gelatin.

1. There is not a tremendous amount of difference when it comes to the terminal performance between modern loads for the 9, 40 and 45.

2. There are many things that influence if and why a single shot from a handgun is successful at stopping an attacker.

3. Shot placement has a lot to do with it.


I’ve been working with Tim Sundles at Buffalo Bore to develop loads for the 9, 40 and 45 that meet my personal minimum terminal performance standards with regard to velocity, expansion and penetration. This easy to shoot, high velocity, 95 gr. 9mm load is one that has surpassed that minimum. I’ll let you know when they become available.


About gunwriter

Born and raised in the West Virginia hills, Richard literally grew up in the woods. He has chased coon hounds until daylight, waited out whitetails perched high in an oak, canoed the New River and hunted from the Montana Mountains to the Green Hills of Africa. During service in the Army and later as a municipal police officer and Special Agent with the railroad police, Richard obtained numerous certifications in small arms instruction. He has trained military personnel, law enforcement officers and civilians in the application of firearms for defensive, competitive and recreational use. Richard won the West Virginia Governor’s Twenty Award for law enforcement, the West Virginia National Guard State Pistol Competition and earned his Distinguished Medal with pistol. Badge turned in, Richard is now a contributing editor for several magazines. He was the compiling author of the book, Rifle Bullets for the Hunter and conceptualized and contributed to Selecting and Ordering a Custom Hunting Rifle. Richard also contributed a chapter to the John Velke book, The True Story of the Baldwin-Felts Detective Agency. Richard has patents on a riflescope reticle and a revolutionary bullet testing media. A hillbilly at heart, Richard lives on Shadowland - his shooting range in West Virginia - with the most understanding wife in the world, their three kids and a very protective ridgeback hound.
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6 Responses to Handgun Stopping Power – Another View

  1. Jon says:

    Extremely interesting and bears out what I have been thinking for some time. Modern ammunition along with placement have eroded the need to carry a 357 or larger for adequate defense. Carry the firearm you are going to practice with and have confidence in

  2. David Hicks says:

    In a recent interview on the Personal Armament Podcast, an emergency room doctor said that with modern expanding ammo, he couldn’t tell the difference between a 9mm and a 45 wound unless he located the bullet.

    • gunwriter says:

      Its only logical. You cannot tell the difference by looking inside a deer if it was hit with a .243 or a .308.

      • JonP says:

        The exit wound might be the only difference. Dead is dead and the size of the wound channel does not matter if it is a clean kill. Like yourself I’ve been fortunate to take a number of deer with different calibers including 30-30, 35 Remington, 308, 243 and 6.5×55 SM (my personnel favorite for some reason) and a Ruger 357 Mag Handgun. I have made one shot kills with all of them. Bullet placement in these cases was far more important than size of bullet with the modern ammunition now available. It is true that with a less than perfect shot the larger bullets would incapacitate the animal to a greater extent allowing more time for a follow up but this can be mitigated by staying within your range.

  3. Jim Dodd says:

    Listening to the folks who study such things I hear that it takes 1+ rounds of .45acp, a few hits of .40 and many hits with 9mm to end a gunfight. The exact numbers are not exact of course, but the proportions are the topic de jour on the Gunsite List…

  4. jonp says:

    @Jim: Did you read the article? It’s quite interesting on this point. I wonder what the magazine size might have to do with it. If you have 6 rounds of 45 and 15 or so of 9mm would a person be more likely to aim carefully with the 45 and think “I can just let off multiple rounds of the 9mm because I have tons of them”?

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