The Best Handgun Caliber – A Real World Study ~ VIDEO

Opinion by Rational Preps via Youtube. All credit for video and transcript is the property of Rational Preps.

*Machine Transcript follows, [sic].
USA – -( Ammunition stopping power an important topic for anyone interested in armed self-defense. And it's especially important for preppers. The debate about which handgun caliber is best has raged for decades. It's hard to know what's real & what is a myth. To get anywhere close to the truth you would need to study hundreds of actual real world shootings.

Greg Ellifritz did just that.

He talked to the participants of gunfights, read police reports, attended autopsies and scoured newspapers magazines and the Internet for reliable accounts. All his data came from real world altercations with criminals or from military actions. Over the course of ten years, he kept track of the stopping power results for more than seventeen hundred shooting incidents and put together a solid fact-based report on his findings.

It provides real answers to a lot of big questions about stopping power and gunfights. Here are all the incidents he studied. Broken down by the number of incidents for each caliber or some calibers like the .44 magnum and the .32 APC. See the above video for the referenced graphs and charts.

There just weren't that many incidents to record throughout this video. Those bars are colored gray as a reminder that their stance may not be accurate. The data on .22 combines .22 short .22 long and .22 long rifle. First, let's look at fatalities by pistol caliber. Here Ellifritz only counts situations where the target was hit in the head or torso. A quick note about reading these numbers statistically a difference of five percentage points or less is nothing to get excited about. Details to fine to capture in the study could easily swing things a few points in either direction. For example, about half of the .9mm incidents used ball ammo. Had they all been hollow points instead Ellifritz thinks that the .9mm numbers would have likely been a few percentage points higher. You'll notice that when it comes to generating fatalities bullets size doesn't make any difference.

There is more to stopping power than just killing. If you're shot can immediately stop your attackers aggressive action that can be just as good. Ellifritz called this incapacitation. He defined it like this.

If the attacker was striking or shooting the victim the round needed to immediately stop the attack without another blow being thrown or shot being fired. If the person shot was in the act of running, he must have fallen to the ground within five feet. Here are the numbers for one shot incapacitations when the shots hit the head or torso. It does not look like bullet size makes any difference on this measure either. Ellifritz believes that the lower scores for the semi-autos on this chart are a bit misleading. He thinks that rounds fired from those guns may have actually been able to stop with one hit. But because the weapons fire so quickly the Target didn't have time to stop before the second round was fired. That brings up a good question though why are 56 percent of attackers stopped with only one shot. When 28 percent are killed by one or more shots. Don't you need to damage vital organs to stop someone? This chart shows one shot incapacitation with a hit anywhere on the body. Ellifritz calls these non-vital hits psychological stops.

On average, a full 36 percent of assailants give up the fight when a single pistol bullet hits any part of their body.

So is any handgun caliber better than the others? To figure this out, we need to look at one more stat.

Caliber Failure Rate

The caliber failure rate. That is the percent of incidents when a handgun caliber failed to stop an attacker regardless of the number of hits. On this chart, lower numbers are better.

Finally, a pattern emerges. The smaller mouse calibers fail almost twice as much as the standard defensive calibers. What's really interesting though is that all the standard defensive caliber rounds fail at nearly the exact same rate. Statistically speaking there's no difference between them. This tells you that not one of them is any better at stopping determined, crazy, or hopped up attackers. No matter what caliber is used 14 percent of attackers fight through the pain and damage, and keep on coming.

Now let's step back and look at handguns as a group. About a quarter of the time hits from pistol rounds result in a fatality. About half the time handguns stop attackers with one shot to the head or torso.

About a third of the time they stop attackers with one hit anywhere on the body, and one in five times pistols completely failed to stop an attack, regardless of how many hits landed.

Let's see how that stacks up against rifles, or shotguns even though their projectiles are rarely bigger than handgun bullets. Both types of long guns are about 40 percent more effective at generating fatalities. It's interesting to note that even these powerful weapons only cause a fatality about two out of three times. The rifle stats blend together the data collected for all calibers of centerfire rifle cartridges

The rifle succeeds because its cartridges generate much higher muzzle energies.

When it comes to one shot stops to the head or torso. The shotgun is the king. Each individual pellet fired from a double background has no more muzzle energy than a standard pistol round. The big difference is that there are nine of them hitting it once. With hits anywhere on the body rifles and shotguns are 20 percent better than pistols. This chart shows the average number of hits needed to achieve incapacitation for each gun. The averages for all weapons are under two hits.

Now that's a lot of information. So what does it all mean? For one thing, it means we can start to address some of those mythic gun facts with real-world data.

It's often been said that a “.22 rifle makes for a perfect bug out survival gun.” Here is the .22 caliber's lethality compared to centerfire rifles and shotguns. If you've already made the decision to take on the higher weight and non-conceal-ability associated with the long gun, why on earth would you choose one that is only half as effective at killing the real problem. When the .22 comes up, when we look at the failure to incapacitate numbers. Remember on this chart's lower numbers are better. Not only is the .22 the worst possible choice, it is the worst possible choice by far. Thirty-four percent means that .22 rounds failed to stop one in three attackers. Those are terrible odds when your life is on the line.

Stopping Power

Next up the common belief that the bigger the bullet, the more stopping power it has. Here. The data shows that the big old .45 is nothing but average when it comes to lethality and failure to incapacitate rates and even lags a bit behind the pistol average for one shot stops with hits to the head or torso.

On the flip side, it's often said that a .380 is too small to be an effective defensive round. The data shows that the lowly .380 actually beats the handgun averages for lethality in one shot stops to the head or torso. The difference in its failure rate is statistically insignificant.

So what caliber gun should you carry?

First. Stay away from the mouse calibers their failure rate is just too high. After that, there is no significant difference when it comes to the standard defensive rounds. They all have nearly identical incapacitation rates.

Once you get beyond the first shot, feel confident and carry the one you like the most. If you had to pick a best one, the .357 Magnum offers an almost unnoticeable advantage, and lethality in one shot stops to the head and torso.

But compared to long guns. That just means they're the biggest Chihuahua at the dog park.

The .410 Anomaly

Taurus The Judge Revolver
Taurus The Judge Revolver

There may be certain handguns that can perform significantly better although a lot of folks dismiss handguns that fire .410 shells as a gimmick. But these pistols do something categorically different from all of their handguns.

They fire multiple projectiles with each trigger pull, just like a shotgun.

Ellifritz did not gather data from .410 handgun shootings, but we can compare his data on shotguns with pistols and form some reasonable conclusions. A typical 12 gauge double-ought buck shell fires nine pellets. .410 triple-ought fire five pellets. Let's say the .410 shells are half as effective as their big brothers. Even then they would provide significant advantages in lethality, one shot stops to the head or torso, and one shot stops to the whole body. Without real-world data this is just conjecture. But if those rounds are indeed half as effective as the 12 gauge a .410 handgun would clearly be the best handgun caliber to choose by a wide margin.

Finally, here's the most interesting data point of all. From the Ellifritz study, it's the incapacitation success rate for all rifles shotguns and pistols.

What's shocking is that there is only a five-point spread between defensive handgun calibers and rifles. And only a two-point spread between handguns and shotguns. That's hardly any difference at all. All three weapon types fail and succeed at their most important job at nearly the same rate. Some just do it in one or two shots instead of three. For preppers thinking about bugging out on foot, this poses an important question. Given that long guns weigh considerably more, and have zero concealability, is it better to leave the rifles and shotguns behind and just bug out with a lighter weight handgun?

Is there any realistic defensive concern that only rifles can handle? In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Rogue police officers in body armor murdered innocent civilians.[unverified]

It's not just rogue officers that may be a threat. Level 3a body armor is a piece of equipment that every smart Prepper should have. The reason? They stop all the handgun rounds covered in the Ellifritz report, and shotgun rounds in none of those cartridges have the muzzle energy needed to penetrate it. Centerfire rifle rounds easily penetrate Level Three-A body armor because the muzzle energy their cartridges generate far exceeds 1000 foot-pounds. So if you want to be prepared for this credible threat that exceeds handgun and shotgun effectiveness, your only choice is to carry a rifle.

Unless of course, you could find a handgun that chambered cartridges as powerful as centerfire rifle rounds.

Rational Preps This video uses the data from Greg Ellifritz's 10-year stopping power study of real-world gunfights to shed the light of actual data on several common beliefs about handgun calibers including 22 rifles are the best bug out guns, 45s have the best stopping power, 380s are too small to be effective, 410 guns are gimmicks and more.

Here is the link to the original data and study by Ellifritz:

Background Music: – Tumbleweed Texas – Chris Haugen

  • 140 thoughts on “The Best Handgun Caliber – A Real World Study ~ VIDEO

    1. ‘Rational Preps’. This is the idiot prepper outlet that declares you don’t need more than one standard-capacity magazine’s worth of ammo in a SHTF situation. Frankly, I don’t think anyone takes anything RP says seriously. The best handgun caliber is the one that works best for YOU.

      Ammoland, you guys need to seriously stop insulting your readers’ intelligence with articles from Harold ‘fudd’ Hutchison, ‘ir-Rational’ Preps, and Negotiating Rights Away. Do that and your readership will increase!

      1. Personally, I feel you’re right. I, for one, prefer the .45 ACP because it’s slow, is reasonably short ranged and unlike a ‘357 Magnum Isn’t apt to kill some innocent bystander half a mile away. But as you say, it’s a matter of preference.

    2. Placement, Placement, Placement is what counts. I call it “fire control” e.g. you control what you fire instead of “spray and pray”. S & P may work if you have a MaDuce in .50 Cal but a .22 to the eye is as deadly as a .9MM to center mass. As a retired homicide investigator I discovered small calibers will kill but usually with less of a mess to clean up.

    3. Question: Why did you fire 64 times?
      Answer: Because 63 wasn’t enough.

      In the Military, Commanders keep their soldiers restrained for protection. Not theirs, the enemy’s.

      When in doubt, attack.

        1. No, they don’t. I went to a scene where a 22LR at point blank range against the skull (suicide attempt) zinged around the skin like a can opener and exited with the shooter still very much alive.

    4. And yet most defensive use of firearm involve no shooting. So add that to your stats. So many variables. But the number one variable is not the pistol caliber. It the person attacking. Some will give up before being shot. Others continue till shot dead. The flip side is the variable in the defender. The skills. The confidence and the ability to drop the trigger on another.

      1. Wrong. All the skill in the world will not save your bacon when you use a caliber that FAILS TO STOP THE LETHAL THREAT PRONTO. Said calibers include the 22LR, 25ACP and 32ACP.

    5. Articles like this sure bring out the firearm rubes. Sort of like that saying, “Hire the handicapped, they are fun to watch.”

      1. Sneak up from behind…..
        penetrate the neck …..cutting behind the jugular and carotid ….knife edge forward. ..push out !

        Messy ! but it is lights out for the enemy. No need for all that ammo weight…..

    6. I’ve done studying on what caliber is best fit for self defense. Overall 9mm offers best results for numerous situations and scenarios. Given the fact that the caliber is one element of various factors that one needs to consider when it comes down to it. What gun, what brand/variation of ammo; very important to ensure effectiveness in elimination of a moving Target.

      1. Except that your goal is not to ‘eliminate’ the target (whatever that means). Your goal is to STOP THE LETHAL THREAT PRONTO. Whether the suspect lives or dies is up to the ER docs.

    7. Well, all you guys sound brilliant with your backwards loaded bullets, howda pistols in .600 nitro Express, and staggered loads in your custom pistols, but I think that the FBI’s study on what works based on real world incidents has more credibility than all of your accidental barbeque shootings combined. It’s no wonder the liberals think gun owners are idiots.

    8. 12 gauge, 3 inch, #4 shot, 152 pellots moving to target every time you pull the trigger. ‘nough said.

      1. Amen my Brother…and I have made the move to increase my percentage of lethal hits by using those little 12 ga. 1.75 in. “shorties” , My Mossy Maverick 88 now swallows 8+1 and offers increased opportunities to register lethal hits…

    9. I have read this kind of argument too many times, it’s getting old. There are so many new people getting into firearm ownership now than ever. Why mislead the uninformed to sell an article that makes everyone feel warm and fuzzy about the handgun they bought that chances are wont do what they expect it to do. A handgun is a secondary weapon used to fight to your primary weapon which is a rifle in .30 caliber or better. Get a .45 colt revolver and a .30-30 lever rifle learn to shoot them like an expert and you would be well armed against anything less than tyrannosaurus rex.

    10. I can tell you one thing, when you hit them with a 45 acp you will hear them say one thing ( I want my Mommy )! And as Forrest says, that’s all I have to say about that.

      1. Handgun calibers are all essentially the same regardless of caliber, in terms of “stopping power.” The number of rounds fired in Law enforcement shootings has gone up dramatically with the adoption of semi-automatic sidearms. The only small arms that consistently offers “one shot stops” are rifles and shotguns. Thankfully, most law enforcement personnel go through their entire careers without firing a round. Most civilians have the same result. Avoiding the fight is the best strategy to adopt. Ask any martial arts expert. Shooting should be the last resort when no other options are available. For whatever it’s worth.

    11. Unless you train with it, doesn’t matter! I’m old school and carry a 1911 in .45 acp. It’s admittedly awkward to carry sometimes but there’s a reason the military used them for so long. I live in a state that limits your rounds and I’ll take my .45 over a 9 mm any day. I consistently out shoot guys at the range with their Glocks and that crap about equal stopping power is just that! Ask any military sniper today which sidearm he(or she) prefers, most of the time they’ll tell you “give me my 1911” .

      1. You cant be serious.
        1911 is a paper weight.
        Maybe in 1960 they would choose a 1911 but not in 2019, no chance.
        The only reason .45 is barley relevant these days, cuz Merica. Outshooting glocks is totally irrelevant. In self defense you dont need to hit a quarter at 100 yards.
        45 is low capacity due to size, its easily as snappy as a .40 in small platforms, and that stupid “makes a big hole” crap is just crap. A well placed bullet will kill no matter the caliber.
        I get you love the 1911 and 45, and that’s great, its America’s gun. Totally understand, but please stop with the gun shop commando talk. The 45 and 1911 are less relevant than ever in the real world

        1. You literally missed his point about living in a state with ammo caps. 10 rounds of 45 vs 10 rounds of 9mm. If we have the same exact model round, the 45 will have more kinetic force in your ” under 100″ self defense category. Why would you not take it? Is the recoil to much for you? Are you trying to use a concealed carry small itty bitty pistol? Or is it a full size carry handgun? If you had the option of twenty 9mm rounds vs thirteen 45 then that’s a logical point because I can make magic happen with 7 more rounds. Depending on the factors both have their place but to say 45 is irrelevant and has no use today is completely wrong on so many levels.

        2. The American military has been looking at the .45 again for a couple of years now, so it’s not less relevant today but actually making a comeback. Some unit’s opted for .45’s as replacements for their Beretta M9 pistols before going on deployments.

        3. “A reporter did a human-interest piece on the Texas Rangers. The reporter recognized the Colt Model 1911 the Ranger was carrying and asked him ‘Why do you carry a 45?’ The Ranger responded, ‘Because they don’t make a 46.'”

    12. The .50 S&W magnum new enough on the market that it’s probably never been used in any sort of serious social situation, but I’m pretty sure it’s been used to take deer, and probably some bears, if I remember correctly it’s muzzle energy is slightly more than a 30-30. So, it’s affective stopping power should be about the same plus it makes a much bigger hole.
      The Marines motto regarding solo gunfights with pistols goes something like: Never take a handgun to a gunfight who’s caliber does not start with at least 40;anything worth shooting once is worth shooting twice. They have many others, but space is limited.
      I did armed security work for many years and carried a 4″ .357 on my belt, and a .38 stringer in a jacket pocket. It was loaded with 148gr8. Wadcutters loaded. (Loaded by the who did most of the pistol smithing and reloading for the local P.D.) they were maximum velocity with gas checks and …loaded backwards. Not very accurate over about 40′. But less than that – they’d turn a plastic milk bottle inside out! I carried it for a couple of years, and only fired it four times, figuring that they weren’t called “belly guns” for nothing.
      I also kept a 12 gauge riot gun with me at night! 3 1/4″ buckshot. When I got out of the truck it got out too!
      Good article – I used to read Hatchers conclusions about every 2-3 mos. Also everything I could find by mossad (?) Iyoob, “Skeeter” Skelton &E Elmer Keith! Their conclusions were pretty much the same (reading between the lines) If you have to carry a handgun that MUST WORK EVERY TIME get a shoulder rig and a “Howda ” pistol in like .450 Rigby or .600 nitro! They were designed to stop a Tiger trying to get aboard your Elephant – for lunch! Again Very informative read. A study like this was overdo! Thanks again!

      1. Anyone who bothers to put gas checks on their cast bullets then loads them backwards has no business anywhere near a loading bench. The fact of the matter is that after you get to .357 caliber and larger, it doesn’t make much difference what you shoot them with as long as you shoot them where you should. High center of mass or head. Too many people get stupid, arguing about calibers rather than going to the range and developing the ability to hit the target. The use their “weapon” as a security blanket rather than a tool.

        1. Practice makes perfect. The point of a hand gun has been mentioned before. It is not always the gun but, where you have the bullet hit. A person can walk away from 7 rounds from a .45, (100 yards or so). My goal was to stop the person from their aggressive behavior. The .357 was my main carry and the .45 my backup. While I would use reloads when hunting on the job it was ordered to use factory rounds. This kept the lawyers from eating you in court. With the .45 two center of mass shots resulted in the need of the M.E. my partner hit two rounds center of mass from a 9mm the same results. The best gun is functional and ready for use with a trained operator directing where this machine will put the projectile the machine will not be effective if the operator does not practice properly with the equipment. (.22, .25 not included)

          1. I practice shooting instinctive, so I can draw and shoot tin cans about 90% of the time. I don’t have to stop to line up my sights to shoot. If you can’t shoot without using the sights, I’d say “Go out and practice”. Sure taking careful aim at a target is more accurate, but when attacked, you may not have time.
            Sure, I’d like to use my 12 gauge with “00” buckshot, but that’s just not practical.
            Luckily I’ve never had to shoot anyone. Hope I never do, but know I can and will if necessary.
            Neighbors know I can shoot well, I don’t think it hurts to not appear to be an easy mark.
            Criminals pick the easiest victim, usually. Those high on drugs you can’t tell what they will do.

    13. You cannot compare 450 people hit with 9mm vs. 200 with .38 special using percentages. The math will never add up correctly. (10 of 100 is 10%) (10 of 1000 is only 1%) there is no way this can be accurate with numbers of people shot So widely varied.

      1. Check fbi stats. The results are very similar. The fbi stats include shootings that include different types of wounds created by varying calibers all the way from flesh wounds to instant death.

    14. I’ve seen a lot of gun shot wounds in my career. The smaller caliber rounds fired out of the smaller easier to carry hand guns are the most common weapons involved. The majority of victims survive because the bullet(s) didn’t hit anything vital. It really doesn’t matter what size, type of weapon it’s fired from. Gunshot wounds are fatal when an arterie or major organ is damaged or destroyed and blood loss can’t be stopped. The same is so of stab wounds, makes no difference what type of blade, when you’re cute you’re cut, when you’re shot you’re shot. Research is valuable but like an opinion poll it depends on who you ask and what you ask. A fact of life is that the .22LR kills more people accidentally than all of the center fire rounds put together. Why? Because it’s the round in the most common use. As far as the answer to this very subjective question goes, it depends on what works best in you’re hands and how you use it at the moment. There is no magic bullet.
      Carry and use what you can hit what you’re shooting at. Keep shooting until the scumbag is down or runs away.
      I’ve been hit by a .38, 9mm, 7.62X39, .22LR and I’m still here. Because nothing vital was hit and got medical attention in time. There is only one man that I’ve shot that didn’t die. That’s because nothing vital was hit and he made it to the ER before he bled out.
      To sum up, use what works for you and train train train.


      1. Why does everyone fixate on capacity, when in the average SELF-DEFENSE situation, IF and that’s a big if shots are fired it’s EXTREMELY rare that more than three shots are fired. Now I did use the qualifier self-defence I am NOT including law enforcement or the military as their job is to capture or subdue not just survive, Studies have shown that caliper MAY ONLY BE AN ISSUE in 1% of the self-defence situations and placement is still king.

        1. No matter what anyone tells you, the 22LR, 25ACP and 32ACP are all WORTHLESS for self defense purposes. Why? Because they ALL FAIL TO STOP THE LETHAL THREAT PRONTO. Your goal is to STOP THE LETHAL THREAT, not the death of the suspect. Whether he lives or dies is up to the ER docs.

    15. To all the 9mm “nay” sayer’s out there… I have news for you… Underwood’s 147gr. +P+ BJHP (bonded jacket hollow point) at 1200fps and 460fps of muzzle
      energy out of my H&K VP9 is about as effective as any .357 magnum wheel gun, but with 10 extra shots without reloading. It will penetrate class II body armor, auto glass, or a bear’s skull. Functionality has been perfect, accuracy is incredible out to 40 yrds. Ballistic tests in gelatin proves this loading expands reliability, penetrates constantly and outperforms most .40 S&W, .45ACP loadings on the market today. Now the drawback…there are only a handful of 9mm handguns on the market today that will stand up to extensive shooting with this round, all of them are top end LE and military grade weapons and are pricey. I have ran nearly 400 rounds of this ammo through my VP9 to date. Wear is minimal but the H&K barrel is one of the best on the market. With that being said, I am completely confident with my proficiency, and in this load to stop any threat I may come across that might be wearing class II body armor or less. Moral to this comment is “there are always exceptions”.

      1. This comment is full of internet commando talk.
        If you want to talk defensive rounds then let’s talk apples to apples. Anything plus p in 357 will trounce your plus p 9mm. 9mm is not in the same league as 357 in any loadings. Range ammo or plus p defensive.
        The 500 rounds you shot from your vp9 is nothing, 500 rounds is a drop in the bucket for any gun.
        Settle down Mr tacticool.

    16. I have seen several people die from gunshot wounds. I saw a man, at a distance of 7 yards take a 12 ga slug in the chest and act as if nothing happened until he received the second slug. I have seen people fall forward and others backward when hit with large caliber guns. I have survived bullet wounds. The point is: Fast is fine but accuracy is final.
      Bullets kill due to vital tissue displacement, vital tissue destruction or loss of blood. All else being equal, the larger diameter, heaver bullet makes a bigger permanent wound cavity. Hydraulics of pistol bullets are minor when compared to a high powered rifle bullet. Temporary wound cavity will bruise and displace SOME flesh and hurt but what kills flesh is tissue (major organ) damage and blood loss. A 22lr in the brain is much more likely to kill than a 44 mag through the toe. But a 44 mag. through the brain is infinitely more likely to kill than a 22 lr in the same place. The volume if the wound cavity means something.

      There are specialty bullets out there that literally disintegrate just after impact. This causes major, instant organ damage and shock to the nervous system. Usually the victim is dead before they hit the ground. That goes for people, deer, elk, bear, prairie dogs, yotes etc. Jacketed, powdered metal bullets are among these types. You can usually find these in varmint loads in rifle calibers like Barnes varmint grenades but they are rarer in pistol ammo unless you can make them yourself. Thinly jacketed hollow point hunting ammo does about the same. Berger 140g, 7 rem mag @ 3380 fps does wonders on all flesh it touches.

      The moral of the story is shot placement is more important than size of the projectile. That being said, carry the biggest tool you can hit well with. Firepower will soon be of importance so add to the largest weapon you can hit with, a high capacity magazine–or two or three. A well aimed 45, with 14 more bullets behind it if necessary, should not be underestimated. 22 lr will work but give me the 45acp. Arm up, carry on.

      1. “….disintegrate just after impact.” Have to disagree that this ‘anomaly,’ except in, as noted “varmint loads,” is def not what you want for “people, deer, elk, bear, prairie dogs, yotes etc.” That Miami FBI shootout is the why their protocol wants “penetration” of at least 12″-14″ in order to get to those “vital organs.” Those ‘disintegrating’ pills look devastating on ‘fruit’ targets, just wouldn’t be trusting me own skin with them!

        I carry ‘one’ of these:

      2. “….disintegrate just after impact.” Have to disagree that this ‘anomaly,’ except in, as noted “varmint loads,” is def not what you want for “people, deer, elk, bear, prairie dogs, yotes etc.” That Miami FBI shootout is the why their protocol wants “penetration” of at least 12″-14″ in order to get to those “vital organs.” Those ‘disintegrating’ pills look devastating on ‘fruit’ targets, just wouldn’t be trusting me own skin with them!

        I carry ‘one’ of these: Go to YouTube and search – Cantaloupe 9mm vs 10mm

        I had the direct link, but Ammoland FAILED me;) Kanked me whole post.

      3. Just explaining what I have actually seen. You can test this for yourself. I use pork skin and ribs with internals with a backstop to catch the bullet should it over penetrate. It aint people or cadavers, I know, but it is the best, most accurate representation of people without actually being people. Back in the day, the U.S. Army did test on cadavers. They tested all available calibers. Their findings are that larger caliber bullets (pistol bullets) cause more damage than smaller ones. I would rather be shot with a bb @ 800 fps than a 3″ cannon ball at the same speed. By the way, the Army’s findings on live people who had been sentenced to death is the ONLY thing that will reliably knock a man “down” is a 3″ cannon ball to the hip. Look it up for yourself.

        I have actually used and seen the post mortem, when I was deployed or hunting of several 44mag hits on several different people, deer and elk. The load was 180grain H.P. over 29.5 g of H-110. That load runs about 1,935 F.P.S. in an 8 3/8″ barrel. The bullets did not exit and the targets did not even take another step. The bullet actually disintegrated in every case. I SAW this not just read about it or heard it someplace, I saw it myself. These days a semi auto with 14 rounds in the mag full of 185g 45 Super loads (185g @ 1370F P S) is the very best I have ever tested. It does almost exactly the same as the 44 mag load in the medium listed above and it holds 14 in every magazine. This is because 45 auto bullets are designed to expand totally at a velocity of 850 F P S. Liberty does make what THEY CALL a fragmenting bullet is several calibers. I have tested it in 40 S & W , 45 acp myself and found the bullets actually do fragment in my test medium. For a bullet that disintegrates on impact look into Glaser safety slugs–the ones w/ #12 shot in a bullet jacket with a plastic cap on top. You can make the same load yourself if you know what you are doing. You can also load a 357 hollow base wad cutter reversed and put a gas check on what was the top of it. I load a charge of 6,5g of 231. It also will demolish a water jug and fly apart in pig test medium. I have done the same with 240g hollow based wad cutters in 44 mag. This is not a factory load, you have to swage it yourself. All of these loads will penetrate through car glass. Test this for yourself and see for yourself if it is bull. It aint. If you want to ruin the ribs and roast you were going to have for dinner, try shooting the above pig test with roast inside with a 223 Varmint grenade round. You will not be able to deny what I have said without lying.

        I have been shot with a 9mm and I ran all the way back to the barracks-about 4 miles. Had 6 of 9 OO Buck hits at some distance and one 762 x 39 ( I think). I am still here. I served in the Army 6 years and yes I did deploy. I don’t have a lab to test stuff but I have seen things for myself and tested things in the above mentioned medium. Be my guest, test it for yourself.

        Arm up, carry on.

        1. Killing the suspect is NOT the goal of ANY defensive shooting. Your goal is to STOP THE LETHAL THREAT PRONTO so the suspect can’t kill YOU. Whether or not the suspect dies is up to the ER docs. Wise up, carry on.

    17. A well placed bullet to the head even a 22 would be better than 6 missed shots from a 500 Smith and Wesson. I read a article a while back that said about 38 percent of gun shot suspect survive a firearm shot, but if a second shot was placed on suspect only a 10 percent survival rate. Reason being to much tissue damage and blood loss.

      1. The issue is not the survival/non survival of the suspect. The issue is to STOP THE LETHAL THREAT PRONTO so YOU are not killed. Whether or not the suspect survives is up to the ER docs.

    18. I carry a .45 because I got shot with a 185 [email protected] 800fps once and it really got my attention.
      With a USP there are 12 to 18 more in the mag so if I’m hunting anything less than ISIS, I’m good.
      New .45 ammo(165 grains @ 1250fps) is on par with many 10mm rounds
      but anything that exceeds 1200 fps will get a bad dog’s attention.
      When in bear country- carry a bear rifle or risk finding out if a bear poops in the woods.

      1. In Asia we don’t have to worry about the USA gun madness….You guys live in a paranoid state with millions of criminals, mentally ill and other John Wayne and Clint Eastwood type of people.

        Mentally you are a very sick society.

          1. @JDM, How does a guy claiming to be in Asia get the name “Hansen Yang”? Why does his written English not contain errors common to non-native speakers? I am suspicious that this is not a Yang in Asia. Probably a Los Angeles libtard.

    19. 357 sig full power rounds are for me… of both worlds. Very under rated and rarely mentioned round.

      1. Own 15 Glocks. All are 40sw converted to 357sig in field. 40sw for practice. 1500fps 125g 357sig jhp & fmj mix for cars, walls & 200m shots.

    20. Looks like there was one 22 not mentioned, if you look at the stats of the 22 TCM, you will agree it is the perfect carry handgun caliber for both men and women. It is amazing what that little 22 can do moving at 2000 fps.

      1. Extremely limited bullet choice… 2 styles to be exact. Almost zero availability off the shelf for ammo. I have one, it’s a blast to shoot, I cast for it with a custom mold, so it’s cheap to shoot also, but it sits next to my FSN in the safe, and a 9mm sits next to my bed.

    21. This is what I have learned about caliber size. I Have three uncle’s shot 1 with a 12 gauge point blank in the leg survived basically a one legged man now, another shot in the head with a 38spl the bullet didn’t enter the skull no effect, the third uncle was shot in the back of the head point blank with a 25acp with ball ammo he is dead 1 shot. I had a cousin shot with a 9mm 5 times hollow point bullets he is dead another cousin was shot in the head with a 50 caliber muzzle loader with a Barnes expander he is dead. I myself have been shot twice once in the groin with a 9mm HydraShock and once in the chest with a 22lr the bullet rolled around a rib bone and exits. Conclusion 25acp TO 50CAL it takes a Headshot .

        1. I was in law enforcement but the 50CAL was a hunting accident, the 25acp was self inflicted, the 9mm 5shot was killed by the police, the 12 gauge was due to burglary, the 38spl was due to a drunken fight.

          1. A little better. Me 44 years LE. I prefer 38 to 45 well placed has worked for me. I now prefer the 357 conceal carry.

            I train 2 times a week at my private range to make sure the first 2 hits are thoracic 3rd shot head.

            Regardless what you carry, if you can’t hit the target quickly and accurately it could be your mistake.

          1. Every word is true and it gets a lot worse. I live in the deep south in a very violent part of the country were even law enforcement dare to tread.


        1. Amen Brother! My caliber of choice as well. Underwood bonded rules! Range ammo is now readily available and only about 4-5 cents per round more than .380!

      2. I think either you are related to a bunch of mentally incapable hillbilly’s or you are so full of crap that your eyes are brown. How can you claim to have anything but a very rudimentary clue compared to a study with over 1700 incidents?

    22. Confusion reigns Supreme but Confidence gets ‘er done. Love your neighbor. Whack the surly gremlin. Keep moving. (Not enough precise discussion and comparison of the .41 mag or the .380; I’ve read the lethality of the .380 is greater than the .38.)

    23. Weeell – on a “bug out” by foot- quiet stealth is the nature of survival as well as is weight to carry.
      A pocket full of .22 WRM’s could be easily in the 100’s(or more)- a light weight pistol + folding long gun combo would be a relevant choice for hunting + protection-having both subsonic+hi-velocity in 50gr as well as birdshot = lots of reasons why if you really think about it…

    24. I have to say what an outstanding article and video there is a key factor though you left out , it really doesn’t matter what you’re using . What matters is the tool that you are using have you practiced enough with it , to the point where there is muscle memory . I truly believe it doesn’t matter what tool you use it’s how good you are with that tool in a time of stress to be affective . Thanks

        1. Or use a 9mm and double tap 4 times. Smaller caliber but faster requisition of target after each shot. Fill ’em with lead is my philosophy.

      1. @12B, Hey 12B is Combat Engineer! We highly appreciate combat engineers, and thank you for your service.

    25. Interesting article and very informative. I had heard that a 22 is on the ER people do not want to see come in because it may not come through a person, it rattles around inside and causes damage. I agree the 12 guage is the best at stopping but is cumbersome to carry everyday. To each his own, shoot what fits you and what you are the most comfortable carrying. Any bullet that hits you is going to hurt.

      1. Nope. ‘Any bullet’ in the wrong caliber (22LR, 25ACP, 32ACP) is more likely to hurt YOU because you failed to STOP THE LETHAL THREAT PRONTO, giving the suspect plenty of time to beat/stab/shoot YOU.

    26. I have trained with 22cal 9mm ,45,38spc,357 mag, and some 44 and believe in them all. Its shot placement that counts first then the number of rounds.

      1. I agree that muscle memory and shot placement are the 2 most important factors…and not panicking.
        Great article. Still going to have thousands of arguments.

      2. Yep I agree. I use kaltec32 apc. Im a vet with excellent handgun control. If I plan to raise my pistol. It will be a head shot. It first if possible, I’ll use pepper spray. Then my 32cal. Dm

        1. Make sure you have a good life insurance policy. Your 32ACP won’t reliably FAIL TO STOP THE LETHAL THREAT PRONTO, period, end of story.

          1. You really harp on failing to STOP THE LETHAL THREAT PRONTO. It’s almost as if you know what you’re talking about.
            Yes, the goal really is to STOP THE LETHAL THREAT PRONTO. If your assailant flees without your having to fire a shot, that’s a victory, and one with less paperwork. If your shot causes him to fall down and die right after he kills you, it’s not so good. So the goal is stopping, not killing.

    27. Highest hit percentage of pistol calibers, .45ACP, probably due more to platform ease of shooting than inherent to the caliber. That figures.

    28. As a combat Marine I realize that incapacitation has a lot to do with stopping power emphasis on power of the bullet used. In Vietnam we put the M14 and the AK-47 in the same stopping power category. No contest because where you hit somebody if it wasn’t the perfect armchair practice at the range only headshot or center Mass shot, you incapacitated your target, end of story. So what do I use knowing that I’m not as good a shot as I used to be? A Ruger 454. But I don’t want anyone to assume I am unable to do a center mass or headshot but just in case combat circumstances don’t give you that time to zone in perfectly,, if I hit a arm or a leg or a hand I can guarantee you my target will be incapacitated to the degree necessary needed.

    29. My experience LE and military comports with Ellifritz, and is quite close to advice I’ve given for some years. This is not an entirely ‘scientific’ study, as sample size and randomness of sampling technique are not rigorous, but they are close enough for ‘government work’. About half my LE career was CSI/forensic lab work, and I have a couple hundred autopsies behind me. I’ve seen a victim shot multiple times with .45ACP, including a final near contact distance head shot, survive to testify against the shooter, and I’ve seen .25ACP one shot fatality (penetrating brain shot). There are always outliers, but effects in real life conform to this opinion, both as to numbers/percentages and as to effects observed. The only exception I might have is .32ACP effects. I would place it closer to .380 territory than to .22/.25. Still, that has the same caution that Ellifritz gave, the sample size is very small. I will use this video with students in the future. (That said, for full disclosure, my handgun calibers have been sifted down to .22LR, .32acp, .38spc, 9mm Para, .357mag, and .45 cap and ball. Don’t live in big bear country anymore, so the big boomers have been traded away.)
      Reference the Evan Marshall work in the 80s/90s, those ‘studies’ have been discredited among statisticians and serious researchers on numerous occasions. Marshall’s ‘data base’ was ‘too good to be true’ and never open to other researchers to verify, methodology was questionable at best, results were contradictory even within his own study, and results were not reproducible. All the above are the kiss of death to any serious research work or statistical study.

      1. You totally missed the boat. Killing the suspect is NOT the goal of ANY defensive shooting. The goal is to STOP THE LETHAL THREAT PRONTO. Whether or not the suspect dies is up to the ER docs.

    30. Its plain silly, we all know the best MRE was the franks and beans with the pound cake for desert. I prefer 357 mag but do to minimal rounds and gangs carrying guns with multiple rounds I carry a 40.
      USMC old school

    31. I have a Sig Sauer P938 loaded with hollow point bullets. If nothing else it will make someone stop and think before proceeding with my home invasion. That said I also have a 12Ga pump loaded with (5) 2 3/4″ .00 Buck. That weapon may just convince the invader. Then I have a “Mini-14 loaded with 30 .223mm. I can keep firing for quite a while. I do not like the magazine loading method of the mini. Too awkward trying to latch the mag. Needs a better mousetrap design. As to the weapons they are staged in various parts of the house. Hopefully handy.

      1. Buy a Kimber micro 9 mag for your Sig 938.
        They have an 8 round magazine available that will fit and functions perfectly in the Sig.
        Now you will have one more round in that Sig 938

    32. The handgun you are most comfortable carrying and shoot the best that goes “bang” EVERY time you pull the trigger is the one you should carry, regardless of the caliber. You can’t stop what you can’t hit no matter what the caliber.

      1. And you can’t reliably STOP THE LETHAL THREAT PRONTO using the 22lr, 25ACP or 32ACP. With your logic, most folks would be most comfortable carrying and shooting a BB gun.

    33. The best, most effective handgun caliber is……the one you are carrying, not the hand cannon you left in the safe.

      1. @MB, well said, and further asking which is the best handgun caliber is like asking which is the best golf club, which is the best MRE, or which is the best motorized vehicle.

        1. I was about to put in a new entry saying exactly that, the one you have is the best one–it is true and many times just pointing a handgun at a bad guy (regardless of caliber) will stop things–which is what you want most.

          1. @Jim, You are 100% correct, too! And if the talibs get your meaning and leave … then it brings new meaning to the phrase Paper Work Reduction Act.

          2. ‘Many times just pointing a handgun at a bad guy (regardless of caliber) will stop things’. Famous last words.….

        1. This article failed to mention the comprehensive work done by the F.B.I. and some points raised by N.Y.P.D. and why both agencies use 9mm, also current ammo technologies have improved hangun ammo performance to a great degree.
          So, you start with .380 ACP, not my favorite because of higher cost per round, it is a starting gate round, lots of small platforms that launch it.

          Then the Law Enforcement big three, 9mm, .40 S&W, .45 ACP, after all is said and done,
          9mm seems the best overall choice since it is almost always the chosen round.

          The author failed to mention 10mm, a stout performer, especially guns like the Glock 20, and 1911 clones or E.A.A. models etc

          Today’s ammo is far better than the old .38 special round nose lead 148 grain RP loads of Grandpappys day.

    34. I will stick with my 44 Remington magnum as I have seen what it did on one shot kills on elk and deer . I practice and am proficient with it . I would rather have it in my hand if I had to face down a angry Grizzley bear . A human hit with it will not fair any better than the deer or elk did.

      1. I carry a .44 mag too, because I commute alot and I wanted more hard barrier penetration than my .45 autos could offer because of that. What load do you carry if you don’t mind me asking? Not alot of data on carry loads out there for .44 mag and I know there are more than a few of us out there that carry it.
        Right now i carry the fiocchi 200gr xtps, 210gr WSTHP, and 240gr Hydrashoks. The silvertips sit in the cylinder and the rest are in speedloaders. This is for a 4″ and 6.5″ S&W 629.

    35. Here in North Carolina when you hike in the woods, you may encounter our largest carnivore, the black bear. Smaller than a grizzly at 500 a Papa black bear will look at a man with a 9 millimeter hand gun as an annoying part of a food chain. A Mama black will look at that same man as a threat to her cubs. So she may be 400 pounds, but hungry for lunch. When I see tourists stopped along the road taking snapshots of bears eating roadkill I usually call the ranger to come and admonish the tourists the get back in their car and go back to Sarasota still alive. Anything under a .45 will not stop a black bear.

      1. I read an article that discussed all the known bear attacks where the attacked had a firearm. There were not a lot but many were successful at stopping the bear if not kill it. The biggest surprise was how effective the 9mm was.

        1. @Keven B, It is your choice, of courts, but the 9mm is para bellum, not para ursus amaricanus. Always read the warning label.

        1. In the PNW black bear are not considered a danger despite being fairly common. 99.99% you just go your separate ways.

        2. @Grammarly, Yes, omnivore, which means that he would not pick the condiments off of his vegetable humanburger.

      2. I had always thought like you on the 45 but a few months ago there was an article on here about the nine mm with solid hard bullets and said how well they did because of penetration and because of this performed very well.

      3. Agree except for 40 cal, .41 mag, .44 rem mag. & maybe .357 with a good bullet design. A lever gun in 45-70 Gov’t is good for bear, and is one of the reasons why I own one. (in NC)

        1. I carry the 44 mag super red hawk, I’m from Montana and have shot a few grizzly with it to save a fish and game officer friend, one grid had Dave pinned to the ground and was tearing him apart, I pulled out the 44 mag fired one shot into the shoulder of the grid he dropped on top of Dave dead the round I use is a 310 gr hollow point, I shot the bear at 175 yards away that’s what the investigators said, Dave retired after that and thanks me every time he sees me

          1. @Chance B, Good for you. That is an account one does not hear from the source every day. It makes elbowing past the paid propagandists, trolls, and librard true believers worth the effort.

    36. A good study would separate head shots from torso shots. They are different animals and need to be treated differently.

    37. We know this, I mean , if we think about it…we know it. On the whole…. there are always outliers…No one likes to get shot. Adrenaline only does so much. Bullet strikes tend to shock people back in to reality, before they go into shock. 99% of people that get shot will have that instant thought of “oh crap, what just happened”? And pretty much fold. No one thinks they will actually get hit until it happens. The author mentions prepping and bug out situations a couple times. I do have a breakdown .22 in my go bag. It is primarily for hunting. Small game. In an extended situation it is the perfect gun. Accurate at close range, and quiet. As for 2 legged adversaries, my plan is to escape and evade. (I know, “everyone got a plan til they get punched in the mouth”).
      For the caliber debate… I gotta swing with capacity. I’m not training every day, not in combat once a week. 9mm for me.

      1. Lol. Funny qoute. In 8th grade there was a boy that was new to our school. He was a bit nerdy.
        One day we crossed paths and I decided to test him. I dared him to hit me. Before I could say it twice he popped me right in the kisser. It stunned me, I laughed, he laughed, we were friends. I had a swollen lip….

    38. I don’t think much of the article. Shot placement is a key factor no matter the caliber. Practice. As has been said, it’s better to hit the target 10 (?) times with a .22 than miss it 10 times with a .45 etc. The Army dropped the .38 in favor of the .45 to physically stop the Moro’s in the Philippines. Mass does matter. Perhaps think of a child punching you in the arm. Next a full grown adult. And last but not least…….a .22 is better than nothing. I personally carry a .380 Baby Rock.
      I practice and can shoot it rather well. It’s what you become proficient with.

    39. Evan Marshall wrote a couple of books about this in the 80s. Well, 80s fashion is coming back so why not caliber research that reaches the same conclusion.

    40. 410 handguns have very low velocity, hence low penetration. Watch Hickok 45 video reviewing them and you’d never use one of these.

    41. Ahhhhh, the dreaded .9mm again rears its ugly and non-existent head. And this time written by people(bloomberg’s many minions do not count as human) who should surely know better.

      1. The modern semi auto 9mm and ammo became the fbi choice after their agents were overwhelmed and murdered in Florida taking on several criminals using semiauto rifles. The new standards assured agents plenty of knock down power with loads of ammo in every extended magazine. Power in new powders plus speed of a semi auto plus minimal kick allowed the agents fast reaquisition of a target between shots equals more lead going into your target, provided you can shoot. Equals targets drop and agents survive. The general public enjoys these same advantages. Check out LEO studies on handgun shootings by F. B. I.. The advantages I listed are all there. No matter what caliber you use shoot straight, quickly reaquire your target and keep on hitting it in the vitals.

        1. That’s incorrect. The FBI went to the 10mm after Florida but due to early design flaws and the inability of smaller stature agents to handle the firearm reliably went to the .40 caliber. Many still carry it but the 9 is an option.

    42. What’s not mentioned is how well you think of your choice. Sure, we have the empirical analysis, but if you have selected a certain thing and have confidence in how you will use it then truly, don’t worry about the dog, worry about the man who knows how to use his weapons. I’d rather meet the Author with his .500 S&W in an alley than a SEAL in my home with a Bic pen.

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