A thought on Stopping Power

Deaf Smith

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We have been discussing stopping power and 'knock down power' over time here. Interestingly we have all felt, even me, that to knock someone down requires the power to also kock oneself down (or close to it.)

But lets think on this.

Have any of you knocked someone out? I have. Spinning heal kick right on the chin of a guy. Knocked him cold.

Well that kick, by itself, would not knock someone flat if it hit their body. So what knocked him out? What knocked him down?

Can it be that bullets do more than just make a person bleed out and if you hit them in certian ways (not necessarly location, but ways) they will drop?

An example is the .357 Magnum. This round, no matter who does the research, no matter if it's an autopsy or formula, is well known to have great stopping power, almost 100 percent if the 125 grain load is used! Does not do so well with other bullet weights. Yet there are many rounds with more energy or momentium, or size and they don't deliver the stopping power it delivers.

It's something to think about.

Deaf
 

Carol

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We have been discussing stopping power and 'knock down power' over time here. Interestingly we have all felt, even me, that to knock someone down requires the power to also kock oneself down (or close to it.)

But lets think on this.

Have any of you knocked someone out? I have. Spinning heal kick right on the chin of a guy. Knocked him cold.

Well that kick, by itself, would not knock someone flat if it hit their body. So what knocked him out? What knocked him down?

Can it be that bullets do more than just make a person bleed out and if you hit them in certian ways (not necessarly location, but ways) they will drop?

An example is the .357 Magnum. This round, no matter who does the research, no matter if it's an autopsy or formula, is well known to have great stopping power, almost 100 percent if the 125 grain load is used! Does not do so well with other bullet weights. Yet there are many rounds with more energy or momentium, or size and they don't deliver the stopping power it delivers.

It's something to think about.

Deaf

I believe that certain locations are more deadly than other locations. If a person takes a round in abdomen then that round can rip through all kinds of vital organs and spill more than blood. If a person takes a round in the forearm, they may survive, esp. if the bones protect the ulnar artery from impact.

When performing hand-to-hand contact, the nervous system can play an important role in getting to move the body to move a particular way, or even enhancing the effectiveness of the impact.

I'm not convinced that a bullet does the same thing. 3rd degree burn victims can't feel their burn because the nerves have been burned off. Paralysis (temporary or permanent) occurs when there is no feeling across certain nerves. There are many cases of people being shot or stabbed where they didn't realize how badly they were hurt. This isn't because a gunshot wound or a stabbing is a trivial injury, its because the nerves that ordinarly let the brain know that something is wrong are nerves that aren't working too well anymore.
 

Grenadier

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An example is the .357 Magnum. This round, no matter who does the research, no matter if it's an autopsy or formula, is well known to have great stopping power, almost 100 percent if the 125 grain load is used! Does not do so well with other bullet weights. Yet there are many rounds with more energy or momentium, or size and they don't deliver the stopping power it delivers.

I'd take what Evan Marshall and Ed Sanow wrote in their original Stopping Power statements, with a few grains of salt. They do have many good things to say, and I've had several informational conversations with Evan on other forums, but there are some flaws in the methodologies used.

In the end, it's bullet design that eliminates much of the differences between any of the serious calibers. In the past, there was the tried and true 125 grain .357 magnum JHP load (which we both agree is an excellent manstopper for a handgun, that in the old days where bullet designs were highly dependent on high velocities, would give much more reliable expansion than, say, the 158 grainers.

The .357 magnum gives an average velocity of about 1400 fps from a 4" barrel (give or take) when firing a 125 grain projectile, and with that much velocity, you would get some really aggressive expansion, while still having enough momentum to penetrate an appreciable amount.

Other combinations of old were excellent, too, such as the +P+ 115 grain 9 mm JHP loads put forth by Winchester, Federal, or Speer. These were loads that averaged about 1300 fps from a 4.5" barrel, and again, gave a good combination of penetration and expansion.

On the other hand, there are some bullet designs that were truly awful, such as the first generation 147 grain JHP in the 9 mm Parabellum caliber. With the subsonic velocities, and the poorly researched bullet designs of the time, the lower velocities ended up turning those 147 grainers into nothing more than glorified ball ammo.

At the other end of the spectrum, there were some oddball offerings, such as the 88 grain 9 mm JHP loads, that lacked any real penetration. While they would expand, they wouldn't go into flesh more than a few inches. Great for surface wounding, but that's not what's going to stop the bad guy.


These days, you have some excellent designs by all of the major reputable manufacturers, and the use of some previously verboten combinations has resulted in some really good performers. For example, the current generation of Remington's 9 mm 147 grain Golden Saber hollowpoints, are still subsonic, but they give reliable expansion, and good penetration. The same could be said about Winchester's SXT, Federal's HST, Speer's Gold Dot, etc.

This is where I must strongly disagree with those who follow Marshall and Sanow's first writings, since things have changed a good bit. I haven't read into much detail about their revised, recently released writings, and hope to see if I can take some time to do so.

I'd feel equally confident, for example, carrying 147 grain Remington Golden Sabers in my Glock 17, as I would carrying Winchester's excellent 127 grain +P+ Ranger JHP load, or Federal's 124 grain +P HST load. For that matter, I'd feel equally confident with any of those three loads, as I would carrying a Glock 21 (.45 ACP), stocked with 230 grain Federal HST (one of the premium loads, well respected).
 

Frostbite

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A .22 in the face has more stopping power than a .45 in the pinky toe. I would rate shot placement way higher than bullet caliber when measuring stopping power. I would feel comfortable with any of the "acceptable" SD rounds from .380 to 10mm as long as I knew I was accurate with the gun I was carrying them in.
 
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