Firearms Stopping Power

Frost

Active Member
Found this on another forum where it had been reposted.
No telling how many times it has been reposted before I saw it.
Worth the time to read though.

Posted by stevewonderful
Originally posted by Greg Ellifritz

NO part of this is mine.



Copied from another forum. Good info. (keep in mind this data includes any type of ammunition used.)

This was posted by Greg Ellifritz, TDI Instructor/Staff

Firearm Stopping Power?a different perspective.
I?ve been interested in firearm stopping power for a very long time. I remember reading Handguns magazine back in the late 1980s when Evan Marshall was writing articles about his stopping power studies.
When Marshall?s first book came out in 1992, I ordered it immediately, despite the fact that I was a college student and really couldn?t afford its $39 price tag.
Over the years I bought all of the rest of Marshall?s books as well as anything else I could find on the subject.
I even have a first edition of Gunshot Injuries by Louis Lagarde published in 1915.

Every source I read has different recommendations.
Some say Marshall?s data is genius. Some say it is statistically impossible.
Some like big heavy bullets. Some like lighter, faster bullets.
here isn?t any consensus.
The more I read, the more confused I get.
One thing I remember reading that made a lot of sense to me was an article by Massad Ayoob.
He came out with his own stopping power data around the time Marshall published Handgun Stopping Power. I
n the article Ayoob took his critics to task.
He suggested that if people didn?t believe his data, they should collect their own and do their own analysis.
That made sense to me.
So that?s just what I did.

Over a 10-year period, I kept track of stopping power results from every shooting I could find.
I talked to the participants of gunfights, read police reports, attended autopsies, and scoured the newspapers, magazines, and Internet for any reliable accounts of what happened to the human body when it was shot.
I documented all of the data I could; tracking caliber, type of bullet (if known), where the bullet hit and whether or not the person was incapacitated.
I also tracked fatalities, noting which bullets were more likely to kill and which were not.
It was an exhaustive project, but I?m glad I did it and I?m happy to report the results of my study here.

Before I get to the details, I must give a warning.
I don?t have any dog in this fight!
I don?t sell ammo. I?m not being paid by any firearm or ammunition manufacturer.
I carry a lot of different pistols for self defense.
Within the last 2 weeks, I?ve carried a .22 magnum, a .380 auto, a .38spl revolver, 3 different 9mm autos and a .45 auto.
I don?t have an axe to grind. If you are happy with your 9mm, I?m happy for you.
If you think that everyone should be carrying a .45 (because they don?t make a .46), I?m cool with that too.
I 'm just reporting the data.
If you don?t like it, take Mr. Ayoob?s advice?.do a study of your own.

A few notes on terminology?
Since it was my study, I got to determine the variables and their definitions. Here?s what I looked at:
? Number of people shot
? Number of rounds that hit
? On average, how many rounds did it take for the person to stop his violent action or be incapacitated? For this number, I included hits anywhere on the body.
? What percentage of shooting incidents resulted in fatalities. For this, I included only hits to the head or torso.
? What percentage of people were not incapacitated no matter how many rounds hit them
? Accuracy. What percentage of hits was in the head or torso. I tracked this to check if variations could affect stopping power. For example, if one caliber had a huge percentage of shootings resulting in arm hits, we may expect that the stopping power of that round wouldn?t look as good as a caliber where the majority of rounds hit the head.
? One shot stop percentage- number of incapacitations divided by the number of hits the person took. Like Marshall?s number, I only included hits to the torso or head in this number.
? Percentage of people who were immediately stopped with one hit to the head or torso

Here are the results.

.25ACP-
# of people shot- 68
# of hits- 150
% of hits that were fatal- 25%
Average number of rounds until incapacitation- 2.2
% of people who were not incapacitated- 35%
One-shot-stop %- 30%
Accuracy (head and torso hits)- 62%
% actually incapacitated by one shot (torso or head hit)- 49%

.22 (short, long and long rifle)
# of people shot- 154
# of hits- 213
% of hits that were fatal- 34%
Average number of rounds until incapacitation- 1.38
% of people who were not incapacitated- 31%
One-shot-stop %- 31%
Accuracy (head and torso hits)- 76%
% actually incapacitated by one shot (torso or head hit)- 60%

.32 (both .32 long and .32 acp)
# of people shot- 25
# of hits- 38
% of hits that were fatal- 21%
Average number of rounds until incapacitation- 1.52
% of people who were not incapacitated- 40%
One-shot-stop %- 40%
Accuracy (head and torso hits)- 78%
% actually incapacitated by one shot (torso or head hit)- 72%

.380 ACP
# of people shot- 85
# of hits- 150
% of hits that were fatal- 29%
Average number of rounds until incapacitation- 1.76
% of people who were not incapacitated- 16%
One-shot-stop %- 44%
Accuracy (head and torso hits)- 76%
% actually incapacitated by one shot (torso or head hit)- 62%

.38 Special
# of people shot- 199
# of hits- 373
% of hits that were fatal- 29%
Average number of rounds until incapacitation- 1.87
% of people who were not incapacitated- 17%
One-shot-stop %- 39%
Accuracy (head and torso hits)- 76%
% actually incapacitated by one shot (torso or head hit)- 55%

9mm Luger
# of people shot- 456
# of hits- 1121
% of hits that were fatal- 24%
Average number of rounds until incapacitation- 2.45
% of people who were not incapacitated- 13%
One-shot-stop %- 34%
Accuracy (head and torso hits)- 74%
% actually incapacitated by one shot (torso or head hit)- 47%

.357 (both magnum and Sig)
# of people shot- 105
# of hits- 179
% of hits that were fatal- 34%
Average number of rounds until incapacitation- 1.7
% of people who were not incapacitated- 9%
One-shot-stop %- 44%
Accuracy (head and torso hits)- 81%
% actually incapacitated by one shot (torso or head hit)- 61%

.40 S&W
# of people shot- 188
# of hits- 443
% of hits that were fatal- 25%
Average number of rounds until incapacitation- 2.36
% of people who were not incapacitated- 13%
One-shot-stop %- 45%
Accuracy (head and torso hits)- 76%
% actually incapacitated by one shot (torso or head hit)- 52%

.45 ACP
# of people shot- 209
# of hits- 436
% of hits that were fatal- 29%
Average number of rounds until incapacitation- 2.08
% of people who were not incapacitated- 14%
One-shot-stop %- 39%
Accuracy (head and torso hits)- 85%
% actually incapacitated by one shot (torso or head hit)- 51%

.44 Magnum
# of people shot- 24
# of hits- 41
% of hits that were fatal- 26%
Average number of rounds until incapacitation- 1.71
% of people who were not incapacitated- 13%
One-shot-stop %- 59%
Accuracy (head and torso hits)- 88%
% actually incapacitated by one shot (torso or head hit)- 53%

Rifle (all Centerfire)
# of people shot- 126
# of hits- 176
% of hits that were fatal- 68%
Average number of rounds until incapacitation- 1.4
% of people who were not incapacitated- 9%
One-shot-stop %- 58%
Accuracy (head and torso hits)- 81%
% actually incapacitated by one shot (torso or head hit)- 80%




Shotgun (All, but 90% of results were 12 gauge)

# of people shot- 146
# of hits- 178
% of hits that were fatal- 65%
Average number of rounds until incapacitation- 1.22
% of people who were not incapacitated- 12%
One-shot-stop %- 58%
Accuracy (head and torso hits)- 84%
% actually incapacitated by one shot (torso or head hit)- 86%

Discussion

I really would have liked to break it down by individual bullet type, but I didn?t have enough data points to reach a level of statistical significance. Getting accurate data on over 1800 shootings was hard work. I couldn?t imagine breaking it down farther than what I did here. I also believe the data for the .25, .32 and .44 magnum should be viewed with suspicion. I simply don?t have enough data (in comparison to the other calibers) to draw an accurate comparison. I reported the data I have, but I really don?t believe that a .32 ACP incapacitates people at a higher rate than the .45 ACP!

One other thing to look at is the 9mm data. A huge number (over half) of 9mm shootings involved ball ammo. I think that skewed the results of the study in a negative manner. One can reasonable expect that FMJ ammo will not stop as well as a state of the art expanding bullet. I personally believe that the 9mm is a better stopper than the numbers here indicate, but you can make that decision for yourself based on the data presented.




Some interesting findings:

I think the most interesting statistic is the percentage of people who stopped with one shot to the torso or head. There wasn?t much variation between calibers. Between the most common defensive calibers (.38, 9mm, .40, and .45) there was a spread of only eight percentage points. No matter what gun you are shooting, you can only expect a little more than half of the people you shoot to be immediately incapacitated by your first hit.

The average number of rounds until incapacitation was also remarkably similar between calibers. All the common defensive calibers required around 2 rounds on average to incapacitate. Something else to look at here is the question of how fast can the rounds be fired out of each gun. The .38spl probably has the slowest rate of fire (long double action revolver trigger pulls and stout recoil in small revolvers) and the fewest rounds fired to get an incapacitation (1.87). Conversely the 9mm can probably be fired fastest of the common calibers and it had the most rounds fired to get an incapacitation (2.45). The .40 (2.36) and the .45 (2.08) split the difference. It is my personal belief that there really isn?t much difference between each of these calibers. It is only the fact that some guns can be fired faster than others that causes the perceived difference in stopping power. If a person takes an average of 5 seconds to stop after being hit, the defender who shoots a lighter recoiling gun can get more hits in that time period. It could be that fewer rounds would have stopped the attacker (given enough time) but the ability to fire more quickly resulted in more hits being put onto the attacker. It may not have anything to do with the stopping power of the round.

Another data piece that leads me to believe that the majority of commonly carried defensive rounds are similar in stopping power is the fact that all four have very similar failure rates. If you look at the percentage of shootings that did not result in incapacitation, the numbers are almost identical. The .38, 9mm, .40, and .45 all had failure rates of between 13% and 17%.

Now compare the numbers of the handgun calibers with the numbers generated by the rifles and shotguns. For me there really isn?t a stopping power debate. All handguns suck! If you want to stop someone, use a rifle or shotgun!

What matters even more than caliber is shot placement. Across all calibers, if you break down the incapacitations based on where the bullet hit you will see some useful information.

Head shots = 75% immediate incapacitation
Torso shots = 41% immediate incapacitation
Extremity shots (arms and legs) = 14% immediate incapacitation.

No matter which caliber you use, you have to hit something important in order to stop someone!

Conclusion

This study took me a long time and a lot of effort to complete. Despite the work it took, I'm glad I did it. The results I got from the study lead me to believe that there really isn't that much difference between most defensive handgun rounds and calibers. None is a death ray, but most work adequately...even the lowly .22s. I've stopped worrying about trying to find the ?ultimate? bullet. There isn't one. And I've stopped feeling the need to strap on my .45 every time I leave the house out of fear that my 9mm doesn't have enough ?stopping power?. Folks, carry what you want. Caliber really isn't all that important.

Take a look at the data. I hope it helps you decide what weapon to carry. No matter which gun you choose, pick one that is reliable and train with it until you can get fast accurate hits. Nothing beyond that really matters!






A "little" about Greg...

Greg Ellifritz is a 16-year veteran police officer, spending the last 11 years as the fulltime tactical training officer for his central Ohio agency. In that position, he is responsible for developing and instructing all of the in-service training for a 57-officer police department. Prior to his training position, he served as patrol officer, bike patrol officer, precision marksman, and field training officer for his agency.

He has been an active instructor for the Tactical Defense Institute since 2001 and a lead instructor for TDI?s ground fighting, knife fighting, impact weapons, active shooter, and extreme close quarters shooting classes.

Greg holds instructor, master instructor, or armorer certifications in more than 75 different weapons systems, defensive tactics programs, and law enforcement specialty areas. In addition to these instructor certifications, Greg has trained with most of the leading firearms and edged weapons instructors in the country.

Greg has been an adjunct instructor for the Ohio Peace Officer?s Training Academy, teaching firearms, defensive tactics, bike patrol, knife defense and physical fitness topics. He has taught firearms and self defense classes at the national and international level through the International Association of Law Enforcement Firearms Instructors, The American Society of Law Enforcement Trainers and Ohio Association of Chiefs of Police. He has a Master?s degree in Public Policy and Management and has written for several publications including: ?The Firearms Instructor?, ?Ohio Police Chief?, ?Combat Handguns?, ?Concealed Carry Magazine? and ?The Journal of the American Women?s Self Defense Association?.

One of the responses, a fair critique:

I tend to agree. In most circumstances, even a .22 will probably work.

In his statistics, he shows that .32 has better results than a .45 but look at how many people were shot with .45 compared to .32... 209 vs. 25. For instance, you could have 5 people hit with .32 and 4 of the people died or were immediately incapacitated. That's 80%. You could have 586 people hit with .45 but 425 died or immediately incapacitated. That's 73%. Does that mean .32 is superior? No, it just means .45 has a higher failure rate (if that's what you want to call it) because it's used more often. But it also shows .22 has better results than 9mm. I'd say that 9mm is certainly superior, to .22 despite his statistics. Heck you could have 2 failure to stops in 2 shots with .308 (yes, .308, not a typo), that's 0% stoppage and then 2 successful hits out of 3 with .25ACP (about 67%). Would that mean sniper's should have rifles chambered in .25ACP? Of course my "statisics" are not real, but ANYTHING can happen. It's all subjective, really.

I'm certainly not trying to talk down on his research, just throwing my opinion into the mix. I find his research and dedication to be pretty impressive. I defiantly agree with him.... caliber doesn't REALLY matter.... We've all heard it 895347634586450869 times.... shot placement!

I still agree with Ayoob saying, carry the biggest caliber you can. Then, IMO, find the best (in your opinion of course) carry ammo, whether is be a fancy JHP or even FMJ.


One thing that stood out to me. If you want the best, get a 12gauge.
 

fordnut

Active Member
I think this article is some serious information to think about.

I understand that this was not a "Laboratory Test". but. it was pretty interesting...

I was kind of surprised in a few cases...

Steve
 

Pops

Administrator
I think Schultz was being ironic since there was so much data provided.
That is a real good piece of writing based on a lot of research.
I've read plenty of articles with charts, fragmentation/expansion, flowering, statistics. Greg's research was not based on controlled statistical data, but tons of real life shootings. It must have taken a strong stomach to gather some of this information. I found it most interesting that the .357 did as well as it did compared to the .45 and .40.

I can't help but wonder how the missing variables would have affected the results. For example: would most people carrying a revolver be older, therefore more experienced marksmen? Would the smaller calibers being primarily "pocket pistol calibers, be more likely closer range confrontations? It is always easier to hit a target as it gets closer. I've often said I can shoot pretty well at 300 yards as long as I can do it in 25 yard increments. :lol:

I would bet the missing variables could shed a light on some of the things that seem unexpected.

Good article!

thanx!

Pops
 

Midnight Raver

Active Member
The numbers are very surprising, true enough.

However- simple numbers can not convey circumstance, accuracy, or even dumb luck. I once read a story a long time ago about an Indian woman killing a Grizzly Bear with a .22 rifle. Sure, stranger things HAVE happened- but would you hunt one with a .22? Don't think so.

A good firearm, good ammo and LOTS of practice would serve you better in lowering the chance variable.
 

Schultz

New Member
Pops your part right, Ironic well sort of but I'm curious how he stacked up his data. For instance I'll use these two which I carry, Summer .32 ACP, Winter/Summer .45: According to this the .32 had a 72% incapacitation rate of 25 people shot compared to 51% of 209 shot with a .45. Now to me thats saying the .32 has more stopping power than a .45 and to me thats not right

.32 (both .32 long and .32 acp)
# of people shot- 25
# of hits- 38
% of hits that were fatal- 21%
Average number of rounds until incapacitation- 1.52
% of people who were not incapacitated- 40%
One-shot-stop %- 40%
Accuracy (head and torso hits)- 78%
% actually incapacitated by one shot (torso or head hit)- 72%

.45 ACP
# of people shot- 209
# of hits- 436
% of hits that were fatal- 29%
Average number of rounds until incapacitation- 2.08
% of people who were not incapacitated- 14%
One-shot-stop %- 39%
Accuracy (head and torso hits)- 85%
% actually incapacitated by one shot (torso or head hit)- 51%


I still agree with Ayoob saying, carry the biggest caliber you can. Then, IMO, find the best (in your opinion of course) carry ammo, whether is be a fancy JHP or even FMJ
Call me old school but I read a lot of articles by Massad Ayoob and learned a lot from him. Training, Training, Training.
 

ConditionOne

New Member
Schultz said:
Call me old school but I read a lot of articles by Massad Ayoob and learned a lot from him. Training, Training, Training.
Agreed. My CWP instructor said to carry what you're comfortable and good with, since "it's better to hit with a .22 than miss with a .45."
 

Chili

Member
Not to throw a monkey in the wrench, but I am curious about the mindset of the person(s) who were shot.

Was it "Oh crap, I'm shot!" and they croaked or was is it "Oh crap, I'm shot!" and they got the adrenalin rush and were able to continue to fight for a little while longer requiring a follow up shot.

But, no matter what it is some very interesting info. Thanks Frost for sharing.
 

russell97ta

New Member
A good read.

He did state in his conclusion that the data for the 32, 25, and 44 mag were probably skewed due to insufficient sample size.

Honestly, there are just too many variables in the equation to name one caliber the best. Subjectively, physics can tell us energies, velocities, and F=Ma. But there are still too many variables. Every situation is different. Saying a torso or a head shot is still a very vague. Getting hit in the gut is definitely different that getting hit in the heart, but both a torso shots. A .22 can kill you, but it may take a few hours (bone bouncer). Was it summer or winter? FMJ or HP's? +P or no? Any comparison will be in my opinion invalid (apples and oranges).

I see too many caliber wars on other boards. I (usually) refuse to read any of them. There are people who want to think what they have is the best b/c of ________. It's no different that people saying Glock is the best or a 1911 is the only gun to shoot. I personally don't like Glocks. I respect Glock, but I don't think they are the cat's meow. They are not for me. I'm more of the middle of the road opinion on guns and ammo. A gun is better than no gun, even if it is a .22. An RPG would make a good defensive weapon, too (even if it take a bit too long to deploy). I wish people would use common sense rather than wanting to feel superior due a choice (bigger is better, etc.)

Carry what you can hit the bullseye with.....and keep shooting till they stop.
 

rasj

New Member
Thanks for posting that, it was an interesting read.

I read an article several years ago that was supposedly written by a coroner or a medical examiner who had collected a lot of data from his "clients" so to speak. I can't remember all of the findings, but one of the things I remember is that he said he has seen more deaths from small caliber (.22 or .25) than any other and he figured it was because they were smaller, cheaper, and so more people carried those calibers (think gangbangers).

I think both articles are a great argument for capacity in the "capacity vs caliber" decision. The data says I will likely have to hit someone more than once before they are no longer a threat, and there is a good chance I may miss some depending on the circumstances. So the more chunks of lead I have to throw seems more important than how big those chunks of lead are. The most important point of all however is there just isn't a good replacement for lots and lots of "quality" practice.
 

thebrasilian

New Member
The old addage "It's better to bring any gun to a fight than no gun."

It drives me nuts when people say that I'm looking at the wrong guns for conceal carry. The point is to at minimum "Stop the Fight". That can be done with a dust bunny and making the attacker choak on it. Rather have a .22 short than a dust bunny, though.
 
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