The “Center Mass” Myth and Ending a Gunfight -Triggernometry

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The “Center Mass” Myth and Ending a Gunfight

By Jim Higginbotham

Surviving a gunfight isn’t what you think it is. Don’t let conventional wisdom get you killed.  A well place round to “center mass” in your attacker may not take him out of the fight. Lots of people stay in the fight after “center mass” hits, and some even win it.  If you expect to win your gunfight, you have to make sure that you have effectively ended the threat of your attacker.  One, two or even several well placed “center mass” shots may not do what you think it will, and learning to recognize this before you gunfight may save your life.

There is a self styled self defense “expert” under every rock, and perhaps two behind every bush, these days. If you have a pet theory on what might work on the street then you can probably find a champion for that idea who actually charges people to teach them that skill. But few of the experts out there have ever been in gunfights, and even fewer have studied real gunfights to see how things really work out when the bullets really fly for blood.

There are more misconceptions out there than I can cover in one article but the one that probably gets to me the most, even over all the caliber wars that rage interminably in the print and cyber media, is the nearly universal acceptance that shooting a miscreant “center mass” with ________(fill in your favorite make, model and caliber) shooting _________ (fill in your favorite ammunition) hyper speed truck killer is practically guaranteed to get the job done.

Having studied in this field from a number of decades, I have run into plenty of cases where bullets did not do what folks would have assumed. And I have now collected enough of these that I think that rather than being anomalies, they are actually closer to the norm. Center mass hits in a gunfight do not in most cases end the fight. Erroneous assumptions can get you killed!

There is a well known video in training circles in which a Highway Patrol officer shoots an armed subject 5 times “center mass” (this is not my assessment but the statement of his immediate supervisors which are interviewed on the full version of the hour long tape) with his 4” .357 Magnum revolver firing hollow point ammunition. All 5 hits failed to do the job and the subject was able to fire one round which struck the officer in the armpit. That round wondered around in the chest cavity and found his heart. The officer unfortunately died at the scene and his attacker is alive today.

In a class I conduct under the title “Fire For Effect” I start out by showing a video of standoff in which a hostage taker is fired on by police with .223 rifles and .40 caliber handguns. Throughout the whole disturbing sequence, which lasts about 10 seconds, the bad guy is hit multiple times in the torso with both rifle and pistol rounds. You can see him place his non-firing hand to his chest, clearly a lung is hit. However he is able to shoot his hostage 3 times, not rapidly. The hostage, a trim female, is active throughout the scene but later died from her wounds. In this case both the attacker and the victim had “center mass” hits that had no immediate effect.

I have accumulated confirmed incidents in which people have been shot “center mass” up to 55 times with 9mm JHP ammunition (the subject was hit 106 times, but 55 of those hits were ruled by the coroner to be each lethal in and of themselves) before he went down. During training at the FBI Academy we were told of a case in which agents shot a bank robber 65 times with 9mm, .223 and 00 buckshot – he survived! These are not rare cases. The happen quite often.

If a gunfight ever comes your way, your attacker may fall to a hit to the liver and he may not. He may fall to two or three hits to the kidneys, intestines or spleen, but he may not. He will certainly be in bad health. He likely will not survive, but what he does for the next several seconds to a few minutes is not guaranteed because you hit him “center mass.”

Heart and lung hits don’t statistically fare much better. I have three students and three other acquaintances who were all shot in a lung at the outset of gunfights. The students came to me after their fights to learn how to keep from getting shot again. Last time I checked all of those people were still alive and the people who shot them are still dead. Every one of them was able to respond effectively after being shot “center mass”, one might even say they were shot in the “A-zone”. And they were shot with .38 Special (three of them), 9mm, .357 Magnum and 8mm Mauser, so it’s not all about caliber. One of those was a Chicom 12.7 mm round! He lived next door to me for many years.

So, what’s a person to do? First off, realize that one shot, even a fairly well placed shot may not do the job so don’t set there and admire your handiwork or wait for it to take effect. But even two hits may not get the job done!

After years of trying to get a grasp on this I have come to look at the results of shooting a living breathing target – be it a human attacker or a game animal – as falling into 3 or 4 categories. They are :

  1. Instant Collapse – this takes place 1 to 2 seconds from the shot being fired
  2. Rapid Collapse – this can take from 3 to 15 seconds and is quite common.
  3. Marginal Effect – this can even be a lethal hit but it takes from 15 to 300 (yes 300!) or even more seconds.
  4. The 4th is simply unacceptable and is a total failure.

The last category we don’t like to discuss but happens too often . We saw it recently in Washington with a Center Mass hit from an officer’s pistol and the subject was still walking around the next day.

What is “effective” shooting? Sad to say, it is demanding. It is also, I think, variable depending on the conditions. For example, the robber armed with a scattergun who is standing 10 feet away must be stopped “right now!” If you do not bring about Instant Collapse someone may very well die…that someone may be you!

On the other hand, if there is a gang banger launching bullets in your general direction using un-aimed fire about 20 yards away then a hit that brings about Rapid Collapse might do the job.

I cannot imagine a Marginally Effective result being very desirable in any case, but it does buy you some time in some cases.

How does this relate to hits? In order to achieve Instant Collapse you must scramble the “circuitry” that keeps the bad guy on the attack. That means the brain or spinal cord.

The head is not only a fairly difficult target to hit in the real world – because it moves a lot – but it is also difficult to penetrate and get a pistol bullet into the place it must be to be effective. For normal purposes we might write off the head, keeping it in reserve for very special circumstances.

The spine is not that easy to hit either. It isn’t large, and to be effective the hit needs to be in the upper 1/3 of the spine or at a point about level with the tip of the sternum. I think that is around T11. But of course the huge problem is that it is hidden by the rest of the body. We are the good guys, we don’t go around shooting people in the back. So the exact location is something that can only be learned through lots of practice on 3D targets. Your point of aim on the surface changes with the angle at which the target is facing.

The bottom of the spine isn’t much use. I know of several people shot in the pelvis. It did not break them down as many theorize. I am not saying it doesn’t happen but in the only case I know of in which it did the person who was “anchored” with a .357 magnum to the pelvis killed the person that shot him – you can shoot just fine from prone.

A shot, or preferably multiple shots to the heart and major arteries above the heart (not below!) may achieve Rapid Collapse, but not always. Officer Stacy Lim was shot in the heart at contact distance with a .357 Magnum and is still alive and her attacker is still dead! Score one for the good guys…or in this case gals!

So now what constitutes Marginal Effectiveness? A hit to the lungs! Even multiple hits to the lungs. Unfortunately though, most often lung hits are effective in ending the fight because the subject decides to quit the fight, not because he MUST. A famous Colonel Louis LeGarde once wrote what is considered “the” book on gunshot wounds. 65% of his patients shot through the lungs – with rifles! – survived with the predominant treatment being only bed rest!

Effective Practice and “Dynamic Response”

The goal of practice, one would think, is to make correct, effective shooting techniques a matter of reflex, so that you don’t have to think about what you are doing in a gunfight.

Most people will perform under stress at about 50 to 60% as well as they do on the range…and that is if they practice a lot! If they only go to the range once every other month that performance level decreases dramatically. Shooting and weapons handling are very perishable skills. Also folks tend to practice the wrong stuff inadvertently. I put this in the classification of “practicing getting killed” but that too is a topic for another day.

Movement and Variation doesen’t mean
innacurate shooting. In a real gunfight you and
your adversary will most likely
be moving. Click here if you can’t see the video.

Let’s talks about a basic response, what I call “Dynamic Response.” Situations vary and this is not meant to be a universal answer, just one that will work for about 80% of scenarios.

It is pointless to stand still on the range and shoot a stationary target, unless you simply want to polish up some marksmanship fundamentals. That is a necessary part of learning to shoot. But if you are practicing for a fight, then fight!

Some rules.

  1. Don’t go to the range without a covering garment – unless of course you always carry your gun exposed (no comment).
  2. Don’t practice drawing your gun fast – ever! – while standing still.

Part of the Dynamic Response is to step off the line of attack (or on rare occasions that are dependent on circumstances backwards or forwards) and present the weapon with as much alacrity as you can muster and engage the target with overwhelming and accurate fire! By the way, never assume a fight is completely over just because you canceled one threat. Don’t practice “standing down” too quickly. We have a video attached which will hopefully give you the right idea.

I wish there was a formula of how to stand and how to hold you gun but there really isn’t. We don’t do “Weaver vs. Isosceles vs. Modern Iso vs. whatever”. We don’t do “Thumbs Crossed vs. Thumbs Forward vs. Thumb Up…never mind.” Those are things for you to work out on your own. You use what makes YOU effective not what works for a guy who practices 50,000 rounds the week before a big match (that is not an exaggeration). Competitive shooters will throw out advice on what works for them. It may not work for you.

There is also not “one true gun”. Your skill is far more important that what you carry, within reason. We are not really talking about “stopping power”, whatever that is, here but rather effectiveness.

I can find no real measure – referred to by some as a mathematical model – of stopping power or effectiveness. And I have looked for 44 years now! Generally speaking I do see that bigger holes (in the right place) are more effective than smaller holes but the easy answer to that is just to shoot your smaller gun more – “a big shot is just a little shot that kept shooting”. True, I carry a .45 but that is because I am lazy and want to shoot less. A good bullet in 9mm in the right place (the spine!) will get the job done. If you hit the heart, 3 or 4 expanded 9mms will do about what a .45 expanding bullet will do or one might equal .45 ball….IF (note the big if) it penetrates. That is not based on any formula, it is based on what I have found to happen – sometimes real life does not make sense.

Practicing Dynamic Response means practicing with an open mind. Circumstances in a real gunfight are unpredictable and the more unpredictability you mix up into your practice the more your brain will be preparing itself for a possible real gunfight.

In real life, your gunfight may be dark, cold, rainy, etc. The subject may be anorexic (a lot of bad guys are not very healthy) or he may be obese (effective penetration and stopping power of your weapon). There are dozens of modifiers which change the circumstance, most not under your control. My only advice on this is what I learned from an old tanker: “Shoot until the target changes shape or catches fire!” Vertical to horizontal is a shape change, and putting that one more round into his chest at point blank range may catch his clothes on fire, even without using black powder.

We tell our military folks to be prepared to hit an enemy fighter from 3-7 times with 5.56 ball, traveling at over 3,000 feet per second. This approach sometimes worked, but I know of several cases where it has not, even “center mass.”

With handguns, and with expanding bullets, it is even more unpredictable, but through years of study I have developed a general formula, subject to the above mentioned unpredictable circumstances.

  • 2-3 hits with a .45
  • 4-6 with a .40
  • 5-8 with a 9mm

With a revolver, the rounds are not necessarily more effective but I would practice shooting 3 in a .38 or .357 merely because I want 3 left for other threats. Not that those next three won’t follow quickly if the target hasn’t changed shape around my front sight blade. A .41, .44 or .45 Colt I would probably drop to two. Once again, they are not that much more effective than a .45 Auto but I don’t have the bullets to waste.

In any case, I want to stress the part that it is more about how you shoot than what you shoot, within reason. It is also more about the mindset and condition of the subject you are shooting which is not under your control. Take control – buy good bullets and put them where they count the most! And remember “anyone worth shooting once is worth shooting a whole lot!” (but please stop when the threat is cancelled, we don’t advocate “finishing shots”).

Gunfights are ugly things. I don’t like to talk about the blood and guts aspects of defending life any more than the next guy. But it is our lives we are talking about here. By researching how gunfights are fought, and more importantly, how gunfights are won, it may give both of us the edge if a gunfight ever comes our way. I hope to cover many of the points I have learned and learned to train others in over the coming months. It isn’t as easy to write about it as it is to teach it in person, but you can only succeed if you are willing to try.

I hope you enjoy the ride.

Press on!



{ 162 comments… add one }
  • wefwef October 16, 2018, 2:04 pm

    center mass has never been about golden BB dropping people. Its always been about getting hits over misses and not hitting innocents.

  • Durk May 20, 2018, 10:01 am

    Jim, I don\’t think you know what you\’re talking about. Provide some supporting information for this rubbish your spewing. Tell us the names and locations where this guy that got hit 5 times with .357 hollow points and lived. I\’d like to see the actual reporting on that incident.This entire article is just pathetically horrible. When you make statement like this: \”During training at the FBI Academy we were told of a case in which agents shot a bank robber 65 times with 9 mm, .223 and 00 buckshot – he survived!\”Seriously? You expect us to believe that?I want to know the source of this info, back it up. Things like, when did this happen, where did it happen, names of the people involved in the shooting.But this one in the best \”a guy who practices 50,000 rounds the week before a big match (that is not an exaggeration). \”Drag out a calculator buddy, the guy would have to shoot 625 rounds an hour over an 80 hour period in one week to shoot 50,000 rounds in a 7 day period, that\’s just impossible.What rubbish this article is. It\’s all just fabrication. BTW take a basic English composition and writing course and learn the difference between commas and parentheses.

  • rob July 14, 2017, 6:34 pm

    Also, more people die from 9mm rounds than any other round. Per FBI stats. Tell me again how useless it is.

  • rob July 14, 2017, 6:30 pm

    Most ranges don’t want you running about shooting. Just saying.

  • Dwight Garner February 9, 2017, 1:51 pm

    Your point is well taken, however, why must you take so long to say it? Everything really pertinent to your subject could have been said in one or two paragraphs. To be honest, I was extremely bored and skipped over much of your “novel” to get to the past “page”. Keep it short and to the point (unless you are paid by the word).

  • BillyBob January 25, 2017, 2:33 pm

    Orlando Police Master Sgt. Debra Clayton was shot and killed on the morning of January 9, police said. Markeith Loyd is the suspect in her death and is on the loose. SHE RETURNED FIRE ! SHE SHOT HIM IN THE CHEST ! HE WAS WEARING A BP VEST ! ONE SHOT TO THE CHEST AND TWO TO THE HEAD DUE TO DRUGS OR BODY ARMOR !!!!!

  • Nathan January 7, 2017, 12:40 am

    Interesting that there are a lot of angry comments about the efficacy of the .45 vs other rounds, particularly the 9mm. Most are based on theoretical “science” vs actual statistics, and possibly the fact that they feel the need to defend the round they choose to use. For one thing, the author never justified one round over another. The reality is that it really does typically take less rounds from a .45 ACP than 9mm. If not, then why all the arguments about 9mm being better because you can put MORE SHOTS into the critical area than larger rounds? I’ve read several reports from coroners in high gunshot areas of the country that have stated they see the most 1-2 round stoppages/kills from larger, slow moving bullets, particular .45. That’s not jell or charts or theory, that’s real life…and btw, just stating categorically that this article is BS without any kind of actual backup just makes the commentator look prejudiced. Its not even an argument, much less a convincing one. Use what round you can use effectively. If you are confident you can put 2 .45 ACP rounds into a critical area and feel comfortable with that, use it. If you feel better being able to more quickly unload several more rounds in 9mm in the right place, use that. That’s really part of the point of the article.

    • JoeUSooner January 30, 2017, 12:28 pm

      The FBI published a study two years ago about “effectiveness” of fire (a huge database, covering many gunfights over lots of years). Although every gunfight has different factors… statistically, an average of 2.1 rounds of .45 caliber was required to end the fight. An average of 2.7 rounds of .40 caliber was similarly required, and an average of 2.9 rounds of 9mm was required. There is a bit of difference between the calibers, but not as much as most people think…

      Statistics are awful things, easily manipulable, but the gist of this FBI study is that 3 rounds of ANY caliber is likely to be required (for practical purposes) to stop an attack. So in the real, practical world… choose the best caliber for your personal tastes/style/intent/personality, etc. Don’t worry about the small stuff.

      • Shep September 10, 2017, 12:32 pm

        Joe, do you have a link to that study? I\’ve read it and quoted from it, but can\’t find it.

    • abrere December 4, 2017, 9:29 pm

      ive shot hundreds of animals with combat pistols and loads. Believe me, most of the time, .45 jhps dont expand. .45 ball is no better a stopper than a .22lr rifle with Stinger hp’s in it. I”d rather carry a locked breech 380, with hot handloads in it as a .45 using ball ammo. At least I could have my hand on the 380, while it’s still discretely in my front pants pocket. That’s MAJOR advantage, folks.

  • Will November 18, 2016, 4:50 pm

    This entire article is cometly full of B.S., this same B.S. many gun owners take for fact imstead of knkwing its total crap. Please educate yourself.

  • IBEW47 November 18, 2016, 12:50 pm

    Have you ever been in a gun fight? have you ever read Marshal/ Sannow?

  • retard December 28, 2015, 3:55 am

    9mm us horrible. You are better off with a 22 short, much more knockdown power than a puny wimpy 9mm. 45 acp is where it’s at!!!!!!one!!!! One time me and a friend where pistol hunting, he shot a squirrel with his 9mm in the head, it looked at him and flipped him off and scampered over and kicked his butt. I shot a elephant in the tusk with my .45 and it blew it into a million pieces, and cooked the meat well done, and turned the tusk into piano keys. Good article. I’m going great white and sperm whale hunting with my .45 booooooooom!

    Just kidding folks…

  • Fullclip619 July 11, 2015, 1:19 am

    Author contradicts himself a few times in his article. After harping the whole time on the amount of shots a human can take and keep going gives a count of how many shots you’ll need for each caliber. Was also seriously overrating the “stopping power” of his 45. “I carry a 45 bc I’m lazy and want to shoot less.” Can you be anymore cliche.

  • Mark in Iowa July 2, 2015, 6:29 pm

    Unlike many of y’all, I’m relatively new to civilian armed self defense. I learned some shooting in the army after 4 years, and basic tactics: seek cover or concealment. my first goal, or my primary goal is to not get shot. my second goal or secondary, used to shoot the bad guy, that’s my advic shoot the bad guy,

  • Mark in Iowa July 2, 2015, 6:16 pm

    What are snake boots? Are they just higher boots that protect your feet from snake bites? I like the idea, but I’ve never heard of them. also, which guns in the handgun category tend to fire that shotgun-like snake shot best? I’ve seen people fire shot out of derringers and revolvers, mostly small caliber and range is very limited. there must be caliper that does a good job! sorry just reply is so late.

    • JW April 18, 2019, 7:18 pm

      It’s my understanding, what I learned as a child 50 years ago or longer, that true Snake Books have wiring, or some strata that keeps the fangs from effectively curling in for penetration. In other words, if snake fangs were straight, like a dagger, the boot would function like a normal boot.

  • Bmmh May 28, 2015, 9:05 am

    Like every thread/article/YouTube video out there, comments plagued with proof of the problem with humanity. Civility. Common sense. Patience. These traits rarely exist anymore. People want to tear apart anyone’s comment or opinion out of pure self centered nature. We all think we know best. Comments bring out that side of people that shows true nature. Driving is another great example of the problem with people. Great article. Thinking outside of the box is another trait that many people don’t use. In this instance I found this article to be a great read. Knowledge weighs nothing. Good luck.

  • Gabriel Lopez May 6, 2015, 12:10 pm

    Garland Texas
    Cool under fire steady hand two shots two kills
    No hesitation just instantaneous trained reaction.

  • หมวกกันน็อค February 16, 2015, 7:26 am

    I quite like looking through an article that will make
    people think. Also, many thanks for allowing me to comment!

  • Dan January 12, 2015, 11:48 am

    This is one of the best articles I have ever read about real world fighting applications.
    In the military we were taught to shoot until the target stops moving. In law enforcement we were taught to keep shooting the threat until the target is “incapacitated.” This is the same thing in my understanding. In my law enforcement training if you are in a shooting it doesn’t mean anything how many times the mutt was shot to incapacitate them. Keeping in mind you own or are responsible for every round you send.

  • Wes January 4, 2015, 1:38 pm

    Thanks for a great article. I’ve practiced with .357 revolvers and my 1911 45 ACP and have never had to use them in any combat situation. Thank goodness! The only other experience I have with “center mass” hits is with shooting hogs. I use an M4 223 or 5.56 and what I’ve found is that the ball ammo zips right thru them and they run a good distance before collapsing(last one ran 200 yds). With soft points, they run less than 50 ft.

  • Esteban September 6, 2014, 12:34 pm

    It matters not if your target survives the encounter, it matter that you do.
    If you are not where your target is shooting you will survive.
    Practice moving laterally, it is easy to stay on a stationary target while moving. While the human instinct is to shoot where the moving target was not where it is going to be.
    Movement is the key to surviving.

  • Blatz 61 April 7, 2014, 10:57 am

    How did this discussion go from “Combat Focus Shooting” ( Self Defense Shooting) To hunting bravado ? The point of the Article is to prepare as best as one can for a” Critical Incident”. There is no one way it is going to happen !
    All we can do is prepare the best we can . If all we do is shoot paper at a range we will become good at shooting at paper on a range . Most attacks will happen at close range and usually in poor light . So if we do not practice in those conditions we do not do ourselves justice . Achieving a balance between speed and accuracy is crucial. If my pattern to tight I am probably shooting to slow. If my pattern is to scattered I’m probably shooting to fast.
    using the sights may not even be an option in some cases. Remember we are shooting to stop the threat and need to be able to recognize when we have achieved that. (We may need the extra ammo for extra attackers.) Force , by law must be reasonable . If we empty the magazine on an attacker who was taken out of the fight after 3 rounds , our defense in court could be at risk ! Bottom line ,in my opinion and what I interpret the point of this article to be is, Be Prepared for the unexpected ! We have to make critical choices in a split second, Using a firearm for self defense as a last resort ! Leave the Bravado at home . It could turn a justifiable shooting into a nightmare for us !! What’s the best caliber ? Just my opinion…… Its the one you have in your hand at the time you have to use it you have to defend yourself or a loved one .

  • Alan March 27, 2014, 3:48 pm

    Hollow Points (HP) changed everything you used to know about handgun bullets.

    Advancements in metallurgy have enabled bullets of all calibers to expand and transfer energy into the target.

    A 9mm HP today can make as big of a hole as a FMJ 45ACP.

    A 45ACP HP can make an even bigger hole than a FMJ .45.

    A 124g 9mm, loaded properly, travels at a higher velocity than a 45ACP is capable of which translates into more available energy to impart on the target if it hits.

    A 200g-220g 45ACP HP is used by some elements of our special forces because the round is sub-sonic, therefore it can be used with silencers and still devastate the target.

    Rifle rounds made completely from copper will change everything you used to know about large-caliber center fire rifle rounds.

  • Inf January 22, 2014, 9:59 am

    You fail to metion that the police dept had issued cheap under powered .38 special lead round nose rounds that could not achieve more then 700 to almost 800 fps. This is one of the reasons police die around the world as depts like the military will use the worst and cheapest bullets, tires etc to cut costs. I have seen tires that have blown at 80 mph do to having such a low speed rating and watch an officer after crashing from the tires blowing in a 70+ mph chase take a blown tire and throw it over the CPTs desk While he was at it and nail him in the chest with it…I agree shot placement is important however remember a suspect shot in that heart has 5 seconds of blood providing oxygen to his brain and he will be on drugs and alcohol over 80% of crime commited. Just like Iraq with insurgents taking herorine,cocaine, pain killers, epinephrine and other great stuff resulting in us shooting a guy with a whole mag from point blank distance and they guy still tried to kill us and his heart, lungs major ogans no longer worked from multiple hits.

  • Sam January 10, 2014, 8:11 pm

    Sorry Jim, you seem like a good guy but I think you’ve made half this stuff up. Caliber isn’t as important as you are making it. More important than size in a fight is round count. I love 1911’s in .45 but frankly, if i can stuff 17-19 rounds of 9mm in a similar gun, i am realistically planning on my own human error, terrain and other circumstances outside of my control. Some of your data is based on a book 100 years old and your comparing expanding rounds to ball ammo? Not trying to pick on you man because i’m no expert either but I don’t pretend to be. Some of this material in your article is just your limited opinion or worse, ignorant theory.

  • Sam January 10, 2014, 8:10 pm

    Sorry Jim, you seem like a good guy but I think you’ve made half this stuff up. Caliber isn’t as important as you are making it. More important than size in a fight is round count. I love 1911’s in .45 but frankly, if i can stuff 17-19 rounds of 9mm in a similar gun, i am realistically planning on my own human error, terrain and other circumstances outside of my control. Some of your data is based on a book 100 years old and your comparing expanding rounds to ball ammo? Not trying to pick on you man because i’m no expert either but I don’t pretend to be. Some of this material in your article is just your limited opinion or worse, ignorant theory.

  • Travis H. January 6, 2014, 12:44 pm

    Well that’s about the dumbest thing I have ever read…..

  • Jon October 15, 2013, 9:43 am

    I had a friend and his brother shot by a 25cal his brother picked the bullet out of his jaw with his fingers, My friend went after the guy for shooting his brother, The guy turned and shot him one time in the chest, killing him when its your turn its your turn. This article is very informative and should wake a lot of people up there is no magical bullet. I was just told of a guy who shot a woman 5 times with 12ga deer slugs and she lived, That’s insane

  • Jmar June 28, 2013, 8:01 pm

    Was a Coroner for 35 years. Saw plenty of dead guys with single
    .22 shots to the head. By the way, doing CPR on a gunshot victim
    only expedites death as you push blood out of the bullet holes and
    into body spaces.

    • Jerry September 26, 2016, 4:41 am

      CPR is only performed on a patient who has no pulse or respirations, i.e. clinical death. Yet you are recommending that CPR be withheld from a patient because it may speed up death on a dead person. Yet by withholding resuscitation attempts you are ensuring the biological death of the patient. Seriously, what kind of coroner were you?

      • Scott McElroy January 20, 2017, 4:18 am

        Jmar is correct! The ABC’s are outdated. Massive bleeding to the extremities, neck, chest, groin, sealing chest sucking wounds are taken care of first!! Then aiway management, breathing and circulation. Tactical Combat Casualty Care, which is now taught to all soldiers and some SWAT Teams has increased survivability from battlefield to hospital by 45%. It does you no good to try and maintain oxygen to the brain if the blood is not getting there. This type of care has not yet been picked up by civilian EMS services. Use of turnequetes, wound packing with hemostatic gauze, vented oclusive chest dressings and chest decompression needles to control bleeding and to decompress a collapsed lung are saving way more lives than CPR. Once the bleeding or collapsed lung is controlled, you go to the next step. Wound packing to the neck or groin, if done correctly will stop arterial bleeding 99% of the time. These are wounds that normally will result in death within three minutes. The normal ABC’s still apply if the patient is not bleeding. My background is SWAT and I’m a TCCC instructor. Cheers!

  • bc2 June 26, 2013, 10:24 pm

    “I have accumulated confirmed incidents in which people have been shot “center mass” up to 55 times with 9mm JHP ammunition (the subject was hit 106 times, but 55 of those hits were ruled by the coroner to be each lethal in and of themselves) before he went down.”

    Complete horse S**t. 106 9mm rounds would turn you into pulp. What center mass was he hitting that was there after 20 rounds. Show some proof on that one.

    • Jim H July 18, 2013, 9:39 am

      I make no comment as to the controversial aspects or justification of this shooting. If you are in the business you will know that people get shot 20 to 60 times fairly regularly without getting turned into pulp – two counties over a homeowner shot a subject 54 times with 7.62X39 *after* he himself was shot in the chest with a 9mm JHP.

      Jim H.

  • Dale June 26, 2013, 3:02 am

    I also agree with the remarks made by Jon S.

  • Dale June 26, 2013, 1:34 am

    Look, I’m no expert, and in having carried a sidearm on and off the job for over 20 years, along with various long guns on the job – I’ve never actually had to shoot anyone. I don’t believe in the “one ” magic caliber, or the “only gun to have…”. What I have told friends and family who have asked my advice is; try different ones, find one you can shoot well, practice. I don’t expect my 80 yr. old mother with arthritic hands to be able to shoot the same gun my older brother does. On the other hand, I have carried different brands/models/calibers at different times for different reasons. So – find something you like, can shoot well and practice as much as you can.

  • Stevo June 25, 2013, 11:36 pm


  • Stevo June 25, 2013, 11:34 pm

    I can only say one thing if its not a 44 MAGNUM I DONT WANT IT

  • Jon S June 25, 2013, 9:56 pm

    The main point of contention from the commenters are when the author makes a HUGE point that no caliber is a 100% reliable manstopper, and then says that 1 round of .45acp is equal to 3 9mm. Then he states that there is no formula, and then writes out a formula on how many .45acp vs .40 s&w vs 9mm rounds it takes to stop someone. And then goes further to say he carries a .45acp because he’s “too lazy” to fire a 9mm the amount of rounds it takes to take them down compared to 9mm. Its pretty understandable for everyone to get their panties in a twist, considering how these statements are baseless and clash COMPLETELY with the rest of the article. Other than that, the article is pretty good.

    I can’t tell if it was intentional as some sort of a parody, or if that’s what the author believes. It sounds like one of the things Colion Noir parodies .45 owners saying, when they talk about their divinely-endowed, Jesus-approved man-stopping super bullet.

    • Jim H July 18, 2013, 9:52 am

      The article is heavily edited (no complaints here, the editor knows how much space he can afford) but I would point that in parts I am talking about segregating out people who are “bullet sponges” from the normal cases. Apologies if that does not come across well.

      I did not offer a formula but a best guess and then only on people who have proven to take a lot to stop. The truth is that if you look at the big picture, caliber and even marksmanship have nothing to do with ending the fight (or at best they are coincidental to ending the fight) in more than half of the cases – people will quit that often if you just show the willingness to fight back. If you happen to fire and hit them anywhere then the dilemma is whether it was because they wanted to stop or because of the ballistic event? How do you tell?

      I have no idea how one is going to segregate out those cases without strong video *and* clinical evidence on which to base such a conclusion. It is therefore easy to believe that across the board one caliber works as well as another.

      There simply is no science on this topic ( I have always been interested in science an technology and have read everything I could, shot thousands of animals and been involved in law enforcement and military training a LONG time). Collections of anecdotes – especially mine! – do not make a “data base”…. there are over 70 factors to collate. No collection of statistics can predict what it will take to end your fight or save your life. I do not offer one, I offer only a reality check…. a “wake up call” if you will.

      You should pick the caliber you have faith in and learn how to use it.

      Thank you.

      Jim H.

  • rosco June 25, 2013, 8:36 pm

    I love guns and gun talk,and most any gun will kill. Sadly,, I knew a boy that was killed by a pellet gun when we were kids.(Im 50ish).Ikeep a 375 s/w in the glove box ,fits the wifes hand real well and is a proven defender.I carry a rem 1911.45 .It feels great in my hand,love the kick it makes when i pull that trigger,loud too ,one shot is an attention getter.It helps to have a strong grip (I do).Modern 9mm w/proper ammo probably just as effective.Comes down to what you like and what you feel comfortable with. But to quote my uncle Scott, a WW2 vet now gone.; Son when we were fightin on that island ,when those Japs ran outta bullets they would charge us with swords. They could not be stopped by small callibers,but I could hit one in the hand with my 45 an knock him down.” Well thats what Uncle Scott said, but anyhow I am comfortable w/my 45 for a lot of reasons.Ive never shot anyone, hope I never have to,but am ready and able and good with what I got.To each his own. God bless

    • Jerry September 26, 2016, 4:45 am

      What other “small calibers” did they carry? How did he compare anything else to a 45? I thought they only small arms calibers used in ww2 were 45, 30 carbine, and 30-06.

  • Bob June 25, 2013, 8:30 pm

    Very informative.
    What do you think of a SR22 for CC with CCI 22LR Mag

  • Robert Payton June 25, 2013, 8:10 pm

    Having being involved in three shootings during my law enforcement career, I have found the way to survive a gun fight is to “Shoot until the threat stops”. All the formulas, bullet weights, calibers , shot placement and other factors that are presented for discussion are a good thing, it keeps us thinking.
    There are different schools of thought on these subjects, “Bigger is better” “Smaller and faster” is better!
    I have seen bad guys drop with one shot to “Center Mass” and I’ve seen them continue to fight after being shot multiple times at “Center Mass”.
    The acceptable formula, In my opinion is… Be proficient with the handgun you are going to carry and the ammunition you select, practice, practice, practice so that you hit what you aim at, get off the mark, take cover if you can, reload from cover if you can and above all, “Do something, just don’t stand there waiting for the bad guy to fall and get killed because in the process”.
    Yep, it gets ugly and happens in a heart beat, when it over, you can’t believe what just happened!!!
    Practice, practice, practice and go home to your love ones, “Shoot until the threat stops” no matter how you have to do it.

    Just a thought from three times of being in the front “Sight” as it were

    • Bob June 25, 2013, 8:33 pm

      Thanks for your devotion to the public.

  • .357 June 25, 2013, 7:42 pm

    Goes to show that any handgun is not all that powerful. Even my 357 is less powerful at the muzzle than a little 223 way down range. He talks about mindset…I think this is the big thing. Most people won’t advance after being shot and many retreat even if they are not hit just from reading the encounters from the front of the NRA magazine. It depends on the motivation and with a handgun you are hoping it’s not too high. Carrying a gun does not make you invincible no matter how tough we want to talk…it just gives you a fighting chance.

    Either way, I think the 12 ga has officially replaced my revolver for home defense.

  • steve Carpenter June 25, 2013, 5:51 pm

    I have read the article and the comments. I think everybody needs to read the article again. Quit talking about the size of the gun and learn to use what you want. If you were to aim for the main body for a couple of quick shots that is fine but then take your time and go for the head. The main thing to remember is if you carry a gun practice.

    • steve Carpenter June 25, 2013, 6:17 pm

      If you can not hit a 6″ target at 50′ I would suggest that you quit carrying a gun until you can . Most of the time if you have to pull your gun it will be 25′ or less . Learn at 50′ and hit at 5-10.

  • William Lockridge June 25, 2013, 5:38 pm

    This artical, if nothing else, produced some good comments and, unfortunately, some not so good comments. I am a retired police officer with 20+ years experience and yes, I have been in gun fights. I won’t go into details here because the taking of a life is certainly nothing to brag about. It’s a photograph in the scrapbook of your mind that you will carry for the rest of your life. Caliber, caliber, caliber. Caliber is but one of the factors that determine the outcome of an armed encounter. Contrary to what some of the self proclaimed “pros” here have said, according to the FBI most police related gun encounters take place at 7 feet or less, 2.3 rounds of ammunition are expended, and they are over in under 7 seconds. There is the rare occasion where an extended gun battle ensues but most police encounters and civilian encounters for that matter, will be close up and personal. There will be no time to develope a sight picture, control your breathing, or any of the other good advice proffered by the “experts” who have never been in an actual gun battle in their lives. They usually happen quickly, for police at least, at traffic stops, domestics, and bar brawles. It’s all reaction because if you have time to think you have more than enough time to die. I have civilian friends, we are a concealed carry state, that go to the range a couple times a month, and come over with their targets bragging to me about their group at 50 yards. My response is always the same, if you are shooting at people fifty feet away you will likely end up in jail. Even if he’s shooting directly at you you’re probably going to miss under stress, hit an innocent civilian, and even if you avoid jail, your life will be ruined, I give you the Zimmerman case as an example. I realize he wasn’t shooting at fifty feet but I have no doubt that he ws probably justified in using deadly force as he was having his head pounded into the pavement at the time by a much bigger assailant. His mistake was not following dispatches orders and leaving the scene. Even if he is found innocent his life, as he knew it, will never be the same again.

    I was a firearms trainer while I was on active duty and still train my friends and family as the ccw classs here amounts of 10 hours of classroom work, a test you’re basically given the answers to, and 2 hours of shooting .22cal revolvers at paper targets from a standing position at about 7 feet. It’s scary how many people are allowed to carry firearms in this state that are absolutely clueless. I first teach situational awareness. The best gunfight is the one that you never have. I teach weapon retention techniques and some hand to hand combat. I teach my students to shoot and move, and to scan and breath to break the bubble. Many civilians as well as police officers are killed by the second attacker because they were so focused on the one they just shot, they never even see the second one comming. I also advise my students to try several types of weapons and calibers and find one the they are comfortable with, If you can’t hit what you’re aiming at I don’t give a rats ass how big your gun is, you’ll probably get killed. On the range my first rule after safely instructions is DON”T use your sights. If I catch a student doing that I make them sit down. Shooting should be instinctive. If you want to do competion shooting, that’s a completely seperate issue from combat/survival shooting and the two should never, ever be mixed. It’s what gets the good guys killed. Our targets are printed on an 8 1/2 x 11 piece of paper. The goal is not to hit the bullseye, it’s to simply hit the paper it’s printed on, moving and stationary. I’ve had people question me on this so I have them take he target off the backstop and center it up on their chests and see where the holes are. That usually stops the conversation. I could go on but I won’t. No matter what you carry it WILL kill, or at least disable an attacker if deloyed properly and in time. Personally I carry a P 64 radom 9mm mak. The rounds I fire are controlled expansion rounds which travel roughly 1400fps. I also have solid +P rounds for it that will penetrate a 1/4 thick piece of steel, more than enough to defend yourself from someone inside of a vehicle. I always tell my students, shoot first, shoot straight, and hit what you’re aiming at. If you can do these things consistantly and have six rounds, you’ll have two thirds more ammo than you need to prevail. I don’t claim to be the expert of experts but I’m alive today and two other folks aren’t. I’d say that’s a pretty good outcome ……… for me.

  • Dave June 25, 2013, 2:03 pm

    I am a retired Police Lieutenant of over 30 years. I carried a Glock .40 caliber on the job. I now carry a Sig Sauer .380. My son, a range officer and cop in Illinois, carries a Glock .45. You can’t convince him that a .45 isn’t the best round in a handgun. “It’s like getting hit with a high speed bowling ball.”

  • D.T. June 25, 2013, 12:25 pm

    Some good info. but much of this does sound like the wild west and we probably should leave the war talk to the military!-:) I’m a pro-gun, pro-2nd amendment guy and do believe in self defense, as well as the need to practice. The problem is some of this sound like people who are hoping to get a chance to shoot someone. Kind of like a trophy. If the shoe fits, you probably will deny it. If it doesn’t, then no need to defend your position.
    The liberal’s are far from done with their desire to restrict or even ban firearms from the general public. The less “ammo” we give them for their fight, the better!-:)

  • KellyJ June 25, 2013, 11:35 am

    Double Tap.
    Anything worth shooting once is worth a second shot just to be sure.

  • Mike June 25, 2013, 10:53 am

    “…shooting 3 in a .38 or .357 merely because I want 3 left for other threats.”

    WTF is this about? So do we move onto the next threat if the previous is still active? This advice is ate-up. Under stress is individual going to be able to count? If they could should they even attempt such things? Counting rounds, a waste of processing power that should be directed down range?

    I for the life of me can’t think of any instructor that teaches any of the “myths” talked about in this blog. I had to check the date again, 2010. It makes a little more sense now. High Center Mass, Pelvic Girdle, and Eyes to Nose. If one doesn’t work move to the next and continue until the threat is no longer a threat then search and access.

  • Curtis June 25, 2013, 10:26 am

    I’d say the bullet profile and sectional density are most important. Soft tissue trauma will be a function of bullet diameter, bullet shape and penetration. What was necessary for proper bullet performance 100 years ago remains necessary today; additionally, bullet considerations for dangerous game should be considered for encounters with dangerous humans. In either instance, a bullet that tumbles, meanders or over expands is basically useless. Ball ammunition and over expansion projectiles are useless for game animals and should be considered useless for dangerous human encounters. Ultimately, the bullet is subject to fluid dynamics and a flat point(expanded or not) with a long shank profile is required for straight line penetration. Poor sectional density and over expanded bullets may be better than nothing but they also contribute to prolonged issues. The ideal choice… a 45 Colt 250 grain Keith or WFN @ 950fps. Semi-auto cartridges should be heavy for diameter, flat(solid or minimal expansion) at moderate velocity.

  • tzglockshooter June 25, 2013, 9:27 am

    Very good article. I am one of the under the rock or bush’s guys, but after 20 plus years as a firearms instructor I believe I can hold my own on what I believe is tactical shooting. Everything the author said is right on. I have watched countless video’s of gun fights where although the bad eventually dies the fight continues for a significant amount of time. That’s why I train and preach 2+2 (two to the chest two to the head). good rule for stopping a fight. But never stand down till you are 100% sure the fight is over and you are safe.

  • Brenboy June 25, 2013, 8:51 am

    LOL when I read shooting skills are “perishable”, hand a WW2/Korea/Vietnam combat vet an M1 or M14/M16 and like magic all the “skills” appear, I’ve seen it time after time. BTW anyone remember the Keyhoe brothers? Ohio State Police emptied their pistols in the brothers general direction at 20 feet or less and nobody hit a damn thing!

    • Austin June 25, 2013, 2:20 pm

      Yep, I was out at the range with a WWII M1, and a Korean war-era veteran asked if he could shoot it for old times’ sake. He “remembered” his skills pretty darned quickly, hitting things that I didn’t even see! I thought that he was shooting the ground, until he said that he hit that little speck out there.

  • JHR June 25, 2013, 8:32 am

    Enjoyed the article and most of the comments but I can’t help but think that a lot of people are putting the cart before the horse. Shot placement theory is, of course, important but what is more important is actually getting your gun out its holster and bring it into play. How much time is lost between recognizing a threat and one actually pushing cover aside, grasping, unholstering, and bringing the gun into play? I only say this because of personal experience. Last year my wife and I were walking from our car to a funeral home for a visitation of a deceased work colleague, in the month of May in Indianapolis, in an unsavory part of town; (the Indianapolis 500 not only brings the racing elite to town it also attracts some pretty serious scum bags). When a van skidded to a stop, the side door slid open and suddenly there was a white punk pointing a long narrow object at us screaming “where are all the rich peoples houses” (I was told later by a police officer that there are people who follow the racing circuit and target expensive homes for drugs and valuables.) Point is that it happened so quickly I didn’t even think about the Kimber CDP I was carrying, my initial reaction was to simply step in front of my wife, and by the time the thought of drawing my pistol crossed my mind I could see that the “long narrow object” was a broom stick and the punk yelled “just f’ing with you”, the door slammed shut and they took off. If it had been a shotgun pointed at us, which I initially thought it was, it would have probably taken both me and my wife out. What did I learn from this? Simply that it doesn’t matter how well armed you are if threat identification and immediate action fly out of the window when you are suddenly confronted with a possible threat. So lets get the gun out of the holster then lets talk about shot placement. I can assure you that I am a lot more mindful of my surroundings today than I was a year ago

    • randall ingle June 27, 2013, 7:33 pm

      JHR, I have read every comment word for word all the way up to yours and I believe this is the most valuable info. of all. I just wanted to commend you on this, hope you appreciate it.

  • Jim S June 25, 2013, 7:36 am

    I’ve only shot one man in Nam with a M16, 223, It was a face shot and he was dead when I got to him. BUT, I have shot many animals. The hunting shots are one thing, but the shots done calmly and meant to be final are very different. My hunting shots are always center of chest, or lung shots. The difference in time to die is amazing. I’ve had deer fall straight down onto their feet after one ,non-heart, chest shot. But I had one last year, I calmly hit with a 50 cal. black powder gun. He was broadside. It went through one shoulder, the chest, and destroyed the other shoulder. He ran for about 100 yrds., and kicked for another minute or so.
    The other side of this story is the point. I’ve “put down” cows, dogs, sheep ect., with a variety of calibers and I can tell you shot placement is EVERYTHING. a 22lr. in the back of the head is more effective than a 50cal in the chest. I’ve shot (years ago) a cow, between the eyes with a 38 short barrel, and she stood there and did not die. I had to go back into the house and get my 410, for a back of head shot. Big lesson.
    From my experience….. If you don’t hit the head, don’t plan on them going down quickly. While they may,,, they may not. To be honest, I think a knee hit, while not fatal, will incapacitate an attacker quicker than a chest shot. Placement, Placement, Placement.

  • Scott June 25, 2013, 5:32 am

    Has anyone on here ever put metal on meat? I doubt it. I love hearing the what if’s from the computer jockeys. Shot placement, caliber, blah blah blah. Why don’t you get the facts from the hunters of men instead of some LE database. I can’t believe I took the 5 minutes out of my life to even post this.

  • jeff June 25, 2013, 5:20 am

    John you should prob check your facts hinckley actually used a rohm 14g .22 caliber pistol firing all shots from it hitting one individual in the head leaving him paralyzed and hitting the president with a ricocheted of the armor glass striking him in the armpit and lodging itself 25 mm from his heart. Pretty close to a kill shot if I do say so. Check it out if you would like.

  • Peter September 3, 2012, 8:59 am

    On a YouTube video I saw, 9mm has more destructive power than the .45 because of the velocity of the smaller caliber. The demonstrator used wooded blocks as target and 9mm destroyed more on the wood & penetrated further. When shooting a threat for defense, you want your bullet travel faster, further, and accruer than the threat but again, shoot what you are comfortable with and capable of handling. Your psychological in using the firearms is more important the caliber itself. Depend on which situation you are in, calibers of course matter.

    People asked which is better, 5.45X39 or 5.56X45? In the firefight for life, like I mention you want your bullet get their first, further and accurately, the AR-15/M-16 will do that for you. For dependent and durability, AK of course is lengedary. The AR platform is more simpler these days so it is not difficult to learn, plus M4 is easier to handle than AK in tight quarter. The disadvantage between AR vs AK is the price, AR costs considerable more but these days AKs also get up there in price. If you are in the U.S. & NATO country, use AR platform; in communism block, AK.

    For handguns, what AK to rifle is Glock to pistol. Glock even has automatic which is incredibly impressive. Glock’s simplicity and reliability is second to none. When I saw this pistol first came out, I knew right away it is the best pistol there is in the market and sure enough it is. LE all over the world used Glock and never look back. They choose .40 because .45 is too strong in recoil and 9mm is weaker in power. What you train regularly you will get better at it so practice your shooting and it get better in whatever caliber you use. Hoo!

  • Roger Dane May 21, 2012, 8:15 pm

    Outstanding article and excellent video…
    Okay so everywhere someone will take a ‘part’ of this article and try to shred it. The author states numerous times that “nothing is certain” and points out without equivocating that his, as an example, number of shots is completely dependent upon other factors and even then still a ‘question.’
    I’ve seen a guy shot at point blank range in the face with a 12ga… double O… did not die! Right, as it turned out the barrel was a few degrees off center, hit the mandible and maxillary bones and slide off to one side taking most of his face.
    I’ve seen a guy shot 16 times with a .38… did not die… well, he did but many days later of a heart attack! Of course some were center mass, some were not!
    I’ve seen a guy get shot ‘directly’ in the back of his head with a .38… it bounced off! I’ve also seen a man get hit with a Cocobolo nightstick, he just looked at the cop! Of course I’ve seen guys pull out the stingers… and I’ve talked to a guy for five minutes who, unbeknownst to us, had a butcher knife stuck in his back sticking straight out… never flinched and it was a good three inches or more in!
    Human physiology, even under normal circumstances and not juiced up, is amazing. I’ve seen a 78 year old women pull her hand out of the hands of an uber-strong cop breaking two of her own fingers doing it and never cry out or stop resisting! Do not ever count on anything as a sure thing when “your life is on the line.” I saw a medium build man get hit with a good lead sap directly behind his right ear delivered by an experienced cop (after that bad guy broke the arm of the first responding police officer) and the suspect just shook his head and went to throwing punches! Add in PCP or other types of drugs, stimulants and so forth and the ‘Super Heroes’ start to look about average!
    So folks need to realize that under certain conditions and circumstances all things are unsure. And ‘if’ your life is on the line and those things are up for grabs then you have to do your best to get the hits and not get hit and then wait and see what happens in ten or fifteen minutes (as long as you ain’t bleedin’ out!) and wait for that soft exhale and the final relaxing of the feet and a limpness… and then wait a little longer. And then see if someone else wants to check out the bad guy… cover down, be safe and never be too sure.
    (And to those who doubt some of the comments here, ‘I’ve seen people take 7-8 hits with a .45’, and so forth, you are fools! I have as well… a 12ga slug and three good hits with a .45 and the guy ran around the corner and was coming up with his pistol when the final shot was delivered… that was “ran around the corner” folks. Don’t show your lack of experience by trying to refute experience)

  • Anonymous April 16, 2012, 10:00 pm

    Thank you for this fascinating writeup!

    I find myself to be in the rather interesting position of being well-versed in both human anatomy/physiology/psychology (I am in the field of Psychopharmacology) as well as in the handling and use of weapons (worked at a small local “Gun Shop” (FFL) that specialized in military and police weapons; I also have competed in various levels of Practical Pistol/Rifle competitions and have 6 years of Krav Maga training: the only part that arguably is of any benefit is the Krav Maga, and even then I couldn’t personally say).

    I have a license to carry a concealed weapon, which I do: a Sig Sauer P226E2 (.357SIG) most of the time, occasionally a Kimber Custom 4.5″ 1911 (.45ACP). This is because I work around highly valuable pharmaceuticals and my access to these chemicals could make me a target, according to our security team (active and retired police and retired military, mostly). Luckily, I have never been in any such situation.

    It is interesting, though, that so many people have one perception of how they would act in a situation in which they are threatened by one or multiple people with firearms, with the majority of people assuming that they would be able to overtake/overpower the “bad guys” without an issue. It is fairly basic human psychology, as we all see ourselves as the “hero” of our own story, and it doesn’t matter whether you prefer your stories in print, in spoken word, or at 24 frames per second: we are raised on stories in which the hero always wins.

    There has only been one time in my adult life in which I truly believed my life was in danger, and that was when two people broke into my home in the middle of the night (after breaking into 5 neighbors’ homes) to steal electronics for drug money. They were on the first floor and I could hear them from my bedroom (second floor), so they obviously weren’t the stealthiest pair of criminals. I decided to forgo the handgun and grabbed the Remington 870 Express Tactical (“AR” Stock Mount w Magpul CTR Stock, ERGO Pistol Grip, SureFire Integrated Foregrip Weaponlight w 3LED 500lum head, 18″ barrel, Ghost Sights, EOTech XPS3.0). It was loaded with 3.75″ 12ga Beanbag rounds, which is the reason I grabbed it (7+1 tube with the first 4 shells being beanbag and the last 4 being 3.75 Magnum #4 Buck).
    When I confronted the two young men, shining the light full-blast towards their faces as they turned around, I realized that both were armed; one was holding a knock-off 1911 and the other a knock-off M11. I told them to get the f**k out and to put down their weapons, and while the first was putting his down, the second lifted his up. A beanbag to the ribs followed by a second to the groin (aiming for his stomach) put him down quick and his buddy was out of there before he hit the ground. The police arrived within 90sec and actually “commended” me for using less-lethal rounds, as it meant that unless the kid (and by kid, I mean 20s) died, I would never even be questioned about using excessive force; and I live in a state where it is legal to shoot anyone who breaks into your property with any weapon you have, whether it’s a slingshot or pellet rifle or a Browning M2HB or Barrett M82.

    Anyway, the point is: in my very limited experience, a very high-powered “less lethal” round can be extremely effective, although I would never load a weapon with only less-lethal rounds (I like a max of 50:50) because if they don’t have the target down hard, a couple follow-up shots of 12ga Magnum buck sure will.
    Even though these are “bad guys”, it doesn’t mean they are inherently “bad people”: addiction and the like can do terrible things to good people, and I don’t believe that I have the right to take a life unless there is absolutely no other option and it is to save myself or the life of another person.
    Send the message downrange, but don’t send a death sentence unless you have to.

    PS: of course, this does NOT apply everywhere; I could have just as easily grabbed my HK416 (Safe/Semi/Full) or USP.45 and not given them nearly as much of a chance, but it didn’t seem warranted.

  • Matt April 10, 2012, 12:27 am

    IMO I think the main points Mr. Higgenbotham was trying to get across were TRY to make the shots count and keep shooting until they do regardless of caliber. I may have misinterpreted it, but feel regardless of caliber, shoot what you shoot best. I know in my mind I can put 5 effective rounds into someone with my 9mm faster than I could a .45. But that doesn’t mean that someone else couldn’t.
    I love reading posts where people get upset because someone doesnt like their caliber or their make of gun, its ok to feel that way because that particular cal. or make is what is your favorite and probably what you can shoot best; or at least you bought into what someone else told you about it, either way your frame of mind towards your gun is right. Thats my 2 cents.

  • willie March 30, 2012, 12:40 pm

    Even though Im a member of the “45 1911” cult I see the validity of this article. We’ve known for years that smaller calibers penetrate more effectively because that’s why they developed the 38 super for all the mobsters who first started using body armor and armored cars. As far as knock down power goes, there are too many factors. One I didn’t see listed was what substances that bad guy is on. There are many stories out there of people unloading on pcp and crack addicts and they run away.

  • Bob Scott February 23, 2012, 10:41 pm

    “I’ve seen people take 7-8 hits with a .45 caliber and keep moving,” Sure you have.

  • Josh December 5, 2011, 1:41 am

    Its funny that out of his article, the only thing that most of you took out of it was “caliber”. Ive personally trained with Jim while in the Army and served for ten years, and the one single thing that he preaches is effective fire. I quote….”There is also not “one true gun”. Your skill is far more important that what you carry, within reason. We are not really talking about “stopping power”, whatever that is, here but rather effectiveness”. I’ve seen people take 7-8 hits with a .45 caliber and keep moving, and I’ve seen the same with the 9mm, both instances were poorly placed shots…..Effective fire is the key, plain and simple not caliber

  • Bob Scott September 27, 2011, 4:00 pm

    I hope I am not commenting twice on the same thing, but Higginbotham’s article prompted me to write a post on my own blog related to this topic. I think Jim’s article is spot on and I add some thoughts of my own based on personal experience that has nothing to do with ballistics study.

  • Larry Mandrell September 14, 2011, 9:57 pm

    First and last, always avoid trouble!
    If its your job, make up your mind, shoot or dont shoot but you must decide before the problem not after.
    Get out of the damn way, shoot from cover.
    “Never brag about killing a perp, they are all someones brother, sister, mother, father, etc. someone will miss them!
    Never look back, it can kill you as sure as a bad guys bullit, you did what you were forced to do, thats it!
    Do not analize the why factor, just shut down the situation, your job is to contain the situation to the smallest possible aera of destruction, do your best, move on!

  • Lee Wilson September 13, 2011, 3:49 pm

    I consider this a very good article… sort of tells it like it is. I’ve only killed one man in a gun fight and it was really bad and didn’t come out anywhere near what Hollywood depicts.

    I would summarize the article as showing that you need to put a few big holes, or lots of little ones into the bad guy so he bleeds out quicker. Preventing sufficient blood to the brain stops all.

  • Rich September 13, 2011, 8:29 am

    Ya know, the most amazing thing about most of our “rants, stories & advice herein”, boils down to this…, whatever your cal./size of choice, become very proficient with it, shoot/practice as often as possible. You don’t even need to load it.
    Presentation is 1/2 the battle. If ya drop it, ya bought it! Carrying, is a great responsability. COD from 22 cal. or 45acp, dead is dead!

  • TripWire September 12, 2011, 10:19 pm

    I have been preaching this to my freinds ever since I got back from my first deployment downrange. All of the myths that were taught as fact that I had learned over the years rapidly disappeared. On my third deployment I was hit three times with 7.62 “Center Mass” and I was able to hang on and fight for 45 minutes before getting medevaced out. Granted, I had a vest on, which only served to slow the bullets down, but I was not out of the fight. I took one in the liver, one hit my lung and one hit my spleen. Even with all this damage I was able to move to cover and return carefully aimed fire to help hold our position. I’ve seen guys go down with one shot and some who seemed like superman, taking full mags “Center Mass”, before going down.

  • Grant September 12, 2011, 2:16 pm

    Jim, is it okay to post the text of your article (as well as a link to this page) on the forum? If it isn’t please let me know and I will have it removed. We are having a good discussion about it.

    • Administrator September 12, 2011, 2:32 pm

      We would prefer you use an excerpt and link to the full article.

  • DocDiesel September 12, 2011, 12:48 pm

    When talking about ending a gun fight you really talk to someone who has both been in a gunfight and has a lot of practrice operating on same!

    • ibjj June 25, 2013, 10:11 am

      See you on the BNO Board. J J

  • John Degroff September 12, 2011, 11:51 am

    Regarding doc8404. Sir, you at first describe a set of actions taking place in 6/10,000ths of a second!!!!!!!
    That’s six ten-thousandths of a second. then you describe another set of actions taking place in 1/1,000,000th of a second.
    Sir, an ignited round of a 3,000 ft. per second bullet does not LEAVE THE bARREL that fast. Later you state”put one bullet on to (sic) of another….but spread them out. You are either from a parallel universe and found your way into ours
    or you think that your experience on “Call of Duty” is reality.

  • fknipfer1 September 12, 2011, 10:02 am

    Its still better to be tried by twelve than carried by six. At least you have a chance to come out alive and at home.

  • TOM BROLLINI September 12, 2011, 9:52 am

    Well, as a Marine who went through boot in 65 & saw lots of kills in VN, what the Doc said is mostly true.

    I will tell you that 45s stopped better than the 38s & 9mms that were used & the 7.62 was way better than 5.56.

    Yes, cover & concealment, movement, well aimed shots & as I was told & practiced in war, 2 in the chest, 1 in the head! (or more if needed) Not many have ever continued with their mellon popped.

    The article by Higginbothem was OK with some good points & food for thought although a little convoluted at times.

    It still comes down to a simple rule, know how to & be trained to deliver, “two to the chest & one to the head”.

    • Muhjesbude January 14, 2013, 10:21 am

      Wouldn’t it even be better— and it can’t be a hard shot if most of the gunfights are under 15 feet–(even though the ‘quite a few’ ones i was in as a cop were longer distances usually) to go 1st shot and rapid repeat ALL to the ‘HADE’, as they say in ‘da hood’??? I only shoot a couple boxes a week on average and i can quick draw instinctively to a single head shot with about 90% all out speed (average -3to4 tenths of a second) every and any time but if i use my ‘full auto trigger finger’ for super rapid 3-4 succession shots like his video up there, then every one of my quick draws is 100% of at least one hit to the head, And even a scalper kiss off, or chin nick should be more stunning in concussive reaction then other body shots to stop reactions. Then of course, if you want zombie insurance, continue to rapidly insert a few in CM? This should be all with one hand, by the way.

      Sight Aiming with a firearm, even at close range, of course, is always better, but under an instant adrenalin surge experienced martial arts instructors know that your fine motor movements get seriously compromised, and this will cost time, and still might not be effective. IMH-40plus years of instructing-O, fast, instinctive muscle memory cqb shooting is the superior way to train for most suprise encounter personal pistol fights. slow and sure might eventually make it, but Speed –with overwhelming firepower always– kills!

      Based upon what guys coming back from the jungle patrols were reporting when making sudden in your face contact on trails and such cqb firefights, some of you might remember the ‘quick kill training’ with bb guns in your Ranger or Advanced Infantry Training? They threw up a little model car tire about the size of a half dollar filled with a replaceable cardboard disk and you whipped up your (Daisy/Red Rider i think) bb rifle and ‘instinctively’ with hand-eye coordination ‘point shot’ the small target out to five meters or so, consistantly after only a few hours of training! Some bow shooters can do smaller than headsized clays all day long at 10 meters. With the new semi-auto quality bb pistols now, which are more than accurate enough to practice head shots and 15 feet, it’s actually cheap, but highly effective training. You’d be surprised how good you can get in a relatively short time.

      But if If you are already good enough to do a third follow up to the head, why would you waste time with “two to the chest and one to the head” ? which would likely be harder because if you ‘double tapped’ the torso the body should at least be moving more than standing mostly still, after getting hit, which would likely even be falling, which means the head is moving down and and much harder to aim at and hit?

      And just so everybody knows the reality, the 2/CM-1/head method was designed by PD training departments mainly for Liability justification later in court. (Also to increase the likelihood of a less than optimally trained officer to at least achieve a modicum of potential stopping power with an easier shot placement to the torso.) IOW, “why did you immediatley shoot him between the eyes, officer? Couldn’t you just have wounded him in the leg or shoulder? After all, he was only wielding a two inch pocket knife and you have THE most powerful .45 ACP pistol cartridge in the world?” Which could have turned his knife hand into pink dust, thus ending the problem just as fast,, without ‘murdering’, i mean using unnessary deadly force? Do you prefer to Kill people, officer?” Do you LIKE killing people, officer?!”

      I know it’s changed now but back in the days there was a differentiation between shooting to kill and shooting to wound. Especially with police shot gun usage. Chicago’s Mayor Daley illustrated this in 1968 with his (in)famous martial law order to ‘shoot to kill’ firebombers, as opposed to just ‘shooting’ the looters. (by the way, for those of you who persist in being ‘moutholutionaries’, and fantasize that police and ‘our military’ brothers won’t shoot there own brothers and sisters and neighbor civilians, in a ‘righteous revolution’ here’s a ball buster for you. They certainly will. And without hesitation. Hell, they do it all the time now, with ordinary criminals. When the G says “okay men, we have organized terrorists organizing anti-American criminals posing as demonstrators but really out to kill as many police and military as they can to disrupt the country, so they can take it over, and of course have you all hanged as criminals by their own authority…” Don’t bet your life on police and military being on ‘your’ side.

      Anyway, i once saw an ARVN stitched with a .45 greasegun right in front of me. the pattern may have been assisted by the full auto burst muzzle rise because it went up from the left thigh with a hit about 4-6 inches diagonally up to his right shoulder. maybe 8 hits. We figured he was deceased immediately so we weren’t even looking at him until he burped blood and we saw he was alive! The medic plugged him up and he was eventually dusted off and we figured he’d expire anyway on the chopper ride to the 71st evac, but guess what? Yup, he was back in the saddle, limping, commanding his team a few weeks later!

      For CQB jungle work i finally settled with a 9mm Swedish K subgun with 36 rounds in stick and a 70 round drum. Basically it came down to this. Not having to switch magazines having at least a few seconds of steady firepower beats all other odds in a short-lived (pun) psycho firefight. Imho.

      So, I agree with Tom above about ‘know how to fight & be trained to deliver’, but i say ‘deliver’ first rapid volley to the ‘hade’, and whatever else you wanna do after that.

  • S Gregory September 12, 2011, 9:46 am

    I think that the point of the article was that we really can’t assume ‘hollywood’ endings to gunfights. He backs that up with a lot of real, observed data, not ballistics theory. All I can say is ‘thanks’ for the good info. BTW, the video is amazing. Those five holes in the target ARE from those five shots, right? 😉

  • david September 12, 2011, 9:22 am

    Hate to say it, because I like shooting, like my magnum pistol, .30 cal rifle, shotgun.

    HOWEVER — what will put them down with only a marginal hit? Taser. No collateral damage, almost no fatalities, the civvy version gives a long enough ride you can get out of sight or get handcuffs out.

    No, it is not perfect, and not [usually] a repeater, and you still have to aim.
    Another thing, although I like my big bores [large holes in paper are easier to see] the .22RF is a wonderful thing. Penetrates more than a magnum, accurate, quiet, easy on the hands. Fun to shoot all day long in everything but the most ridiculously small pistol. Fun practice means aim, fire, repeat, becomes an automated process. The grip angles on High Standards, Buckmarks, Ruger MK 1,2,3, even the Neos, all very ‘pointable’, ten rounds is normal capacity in a comfortable grip size. Even the old H&R .22 revolvers held 9 rounds! Ammunition is cheap, juries don’t consider the little .22 to be an ‘killer’s’ gun.

    The number one answer, however, is stay out of trouble. Many LEOs have talked their way out of nasty spots, and although you can’t dodge a bullet, literally, when that muzzle comes around to you, you can get out of it’s way. Unless it is your job to play hard with those bad boys, staying out of trouble is easier than you think. Swaggering in with your sidearm thinking you’re Stud McShootem ends in jail or the ER.

    The weapon that holds the most threat to the average American civilian is the automobile. Kills more every year than firearms, and the percentage of innocent victims of automobiles is much higher than the percentage of people who take a bullet and were innocent.

    • James Tennyson, DDS September 12, 2011, 12:54 pm

      Don’t bet your LIFE on a Tazer!!!
      I have a good friend who had his son and his son’s partner (Florida Police Officers) shot by a perp the partner had Tazed and was attempting to cuff. Perp drew a concealed pistol from his pants and shot my friend’s son in the face, then shot the partner several times.
      Kinch just got back from Washington recently after a ceremony for all the fallen officers. Tazed ain’t necessarily down-for-the-count!

    • Bradley November 6, 2011, 12:00 pm

      I think that is the most naive statement I have ever read. I am a law enforcement officer and let me tell you, every bad guy that gets tazed doesn’t go straight down and wiggle around like the ones you see on your favorite reality tv shows(COPS). I’ve actually seen a subject get hit with a taser and rip the prongs out of his skin and continue the fight. Tasers are a great intermediate weapon and are sometimes useful when facing a single attacker who is not armed with a deadly weapon. Even if the subject is able to remove the prongs and continue the fight you can usually transition to your firearm or other intermediate weapon in about the same amount of time, which is what happened to my fellow agent. When he transitioned to his sidearm the subject immediately stopped, did an about face, and ran. If this subject could reach with his hands and remove those prongs don’t you think that if he had a pistol in his hand he could have fired it just as easily, and probably multiple times? So based on your above comment let’s say that you are faced with a bad guy with a weapon and you are lucky enough to deploy your taser and use it on the guy and he goes down. Great. What you forgot was his buddy who was standing in the shadows or behind a car or wherever who now is pissed at what you did to his friend and is pretty confident that you don’t have a gun or you would have used it. I hope you can outrun whatever caliber he’s carrying!!!!

      You also have to think about how a taser works. The electrical current causes the muscles to flex and seize. If the bad guy’s finger is on a trigger there is the possibility that he can inadvertently pull the trigger when tased. So really in a round about way you just might shoot yourself.

      Yes, the taser is a useful intermediate weopon for law enforcement officers who are trained on how and more importantly WHEN to use it effectively. But guess what, no law enforcement agency in the entire country would advocate their officers using a taser against an armed assailant. Period. It’s just setting yourself up for failure.

      I could continue but have wasted enough time replying to someone who is probably too stubborn and candya$$ed to actually admit that sometimes the only way to save your own life is by taking someone elses.

    • John Jewett June 25, 2013, 10:04 am

      In most states, including Texas where I live, it is against the law to carry a taser…even with my CCW permit. It is also frequently a felony to use one…unless you’re a LEO.

  • Charlie Stricklen September 12, 2011, 4:06 am

    What a load of unmitigated rambo crap.

    • Bub December 29, 2011, 10:00 am

      Funny Charlie !!!

      • John January 17, 2012, 1:23 pm

        Charlie, take a moment and write something worth reading. This article was about guns and ammo, not about Rambo’s fecal matter. Maybe you don’t know enough about guns and ammunition to say anything worth reading. If that is the case you might want to visit the Disney site.

        • Robert Sweeney May 29, 2015, 1:45 pm

          John, I think Charlie was probably commenting on the many keyboard commandos replying here, rather than the article that inspired all of these boobs to publicly expose their ignorance.

  • pissedoffredneck July 29, 2011, 4:21 pm

    last time i checked Jim is the FBI trainer

  • doc 8404 January 28, 2011, 2:18 am

    Ok, I’m no expert, I was a FMF Corpsman. What do I know? I’ve see gore that should Kill and I’ve seen Gore Lose! It’s not the size of the weapon — the .22 is the most famous ‘hit’ weapon in the ENTIRE world. Remember that. Here is the best thing I ever learned, and some USMC or Gunny out there help me out -“Practrice slow to shoot fast!” — in battle things move 781.25 times faster – exactly – so if you practice really fast, that means you can clear your weapon, slam home a 30 round clip that’s taped together to make a double mag, Load, assist, sight in at 200 yards, safe and score a 10 in .0005612 seconds, roll to your next cover, unsafe, assist, aim, and hit a 10 in the head at 200 yards in .0000013150135 seconds flat (you don’t have all that clumsy detach mag, get new mag, bang the helmet to free the rounds, insert mag, release bolt, seat the round, select fire, and unsafe the rifle so your time goes down really fast).

    The same is true of your 22 LR caliber. The mean time is (excluding the gory details) .00014145 seconds, to draw, load, unsafe, aim, two rounds into softest part of head that have direct paths to the brain, safe your weapon, holster it, snap it, and walk away like nothing happened.

    If you really want to know the difference – just watch a ‘raw’ (meat) recruit do his evolution, with some DI screaming at him, and THEN watch the Marine take fire, spray and pray, reload, seat round and wait. The time drops from a practice of 10 seconds to 3 seconds, and no one has droped a mag, no one has ‘lased’ another Marine, and when the second incoming round heads his way, he’s got a 3 round burst headed right in the right direction —

    You get Scared as a mosquito watching the second hand clap — but while you are moving 10 times faster, and you are not fumbling and you are not lazing your brother and you have your rifle near where the next shot is going to come from.

    It’s not the caliber — like I said, I was a Corpsman I’ve SEEN that old helmet on top of a grenade trick. And yeah, it WAS a US Grenade MKII and M26 — so you can’t say ‘second rate’ (besides who left country first? them or us>) and a grenade doesn’t have a caliber it’s that big. and yeah, people DO live though it – and no, a helmet is not THAT tough —

    So: cal 223 or 308, cal 45 or 22 — or no caliber at all, just pieces of metal moving REALLY fast — and you can and often do live. Practice SLOW to move FAST — when you are scared, things go REALLY REALLY REALLY REALLY fast – so you best practice moving slow and in the fewest steps — AIM — how long does it take? 2 second if you have a Cal 45 and are taking your time — about 1 second if you are scared and taking your time — I keep hearing us Medical guys being screamed at – tap-tap-double-tap! — now a ‘tap’ is just a cool cop or boot way of saying ‘shoot’ (we presuming you are aiming) If I hit you above the heart in civilian clothes, you are going to die with one hit — IF I am using a firearm I’m used to, IF I am using a hollow point (Personal Protection Round or PPR) OR if I am using a frangible round (I don’t know if they are legal for non LEA (COPS). THAT is where the heart breaks into a lot of different parts — the arch where the blood goes to your brain and where it goes to your legs, and where it comes back to your lungs to get more oxygen — but WHAT IF I hit a rib and that round spins right back out leaving a hole about the size of your little finger and about 1/8th of an inch deep?

    Speaking of Deep, you are in it — and it’s all DO-DO and it’s all around you — so you best make that one for you, one for your friend, and one for the road.

    BIGGER IS BETTER. I have a friend who’s a gunsmith. He had a client who wanted a ‘fast, hot, long range take down rifle’ and he paid for it — he bought the rifle, spent about $2500 to make it really fast and long range that would take it down. When my friend asked if he’d ever clocked a round, he said that yeah, at the range the last time -he was using X match brass, trued up on a hand ‘lathe’ where you ‘push’ the bullet true to the case all the way around — and it fit the neck like a cork fits a bottle of good wine! — he was P++ and PERFECT — came out somewhere over 3200 FPS. Problem was that at normal hunting ranges, the bullet exited the deer before it could open up! — over$3000 for a good hunting gun that wouldn’t even kill a deer at 50 yards! And that doesn’t include the $1000 scope and rings, plus the accessories. Like the gunsmith said — If you were to take that shot at 600 yards you could eat venison for dinner, and not give up tracking a wounded deer after three or four hours.

    Now, I have one more very moral thing to tell EVERYONE — a firefight is maybe the scariest thing you will ever do, maybe not. But I’ll tell you that it might be the scariest thing for anyone on the other side of that apartment wall, or one house away across the yard, or across the street — a 44 mag is a POWERFUL round, and if you don’t have a large hollow point that flattens out REALLY fast — you are in TROUBLE — REAL trouble. So– you want to be aware of your backdrop, it doesn’t stop at the bad-guy, unless you train yourself to be short-sighed.

    I think it’s called “Man Slauter’ when you aim at something 5 feet away and kill something 60 feet away. Here’s what my friend, a cop and RangeMaster told me: 90% of all REAL LIFE gunfights happen inside of 15 feet, 95% happen inside of 10 feet, and 98% happen inside of either 5 or 8 feet. That leaves you 2% that will happen to you farther away than 15 feet.

    I’ve plugged and tapped a Marine with 22 AK rounds in his chest and abdomen – and my biggest worry was well there were too many — he was an M60 machine-gunner — and got his Silver Star for keeping a field of fire (prone pressed FLAT down on the ground with his feeder laying on top of him to keep him going and his vital fluids in him and not on the ground, with badly tied battle dressings — there were ONLY two jobs to do: pull the trigger on a target, and to keep the ammo feeding when he pulled the trigger – and it was lucky for me he was a long way down the list of ‘saves’ — or his feeder would’ve taken me out for keeping him from doing his job as a US MARINE. They are Crazy — but damn! they are good!

    So, it’s not the make of the gun, the muzzle velocity, the amount you spend on your weapon — it’s simply can you hit where you aim? Can you put not one bullet on to of another, but spread them out so you do enough damage that there is, at the end of the day, only one story that a jury is going to hear – SO — don’t ‘trick’ your pistol or shot-gun, it proves you are an ‘expert’ and could have waked the inside of the line between disable and dead (and few juries will buy ‘but dead is disabled! Really!) Practice in groups of two or three – period. Then it’s automatic reflex, it’s ‘training’ when you fall in a pool do you automatically do the back stroke to get back to short? Do you swim all the way to the other side then come back? or do you see if you can stand, or do you simply reach out and try to see if you can reach the edge of the pool — it depends on a lot of things, training is one — I swim underwater — training – but it works fine – I’m already down there.

    Like the man said — into the rib-cage — that’s ‘above’ center of mass but will have the highest chance of ‘disabling’ someone and 50 rounds is generally a disproportionate response, especially when followed by a kick to some part of the body and a “Whooping War Dance” around the body while screaming — “Who’s your daddy now!”

    Remember – slow is fast, never carry a caliber larger than you need, an SAA long Colt will take down a bear or an elk, and they are fired by both a rifle and a pistol! — at the least a PPR will pick you up, and set you down about a foot away, that’s the second you need to pull back the hammer, aim, and see if it changes shape. If not, you have another round ready to do the trick, and another second to hammer back and take aim. A GOOD PPR will probably not leave the body, but that body will have changed shape.

    While there are LOTS of rule number 1’s. The MOST IMPORTANT here is pray to God you aren’t so loaded for bear, you kill an innocent, and if you believe none of us are innocent, then keep that by-stander safe!!!! — it’s not difficult if you don’t let your Testosterone run away with your brain, and practice slow a lot. Scared can make you shake, it can speed up time, it can tunnel-vision you — it can do nothing good for you unless you are ready for it. And remember: any bad guy you want to mess with is NOT in an Abrams M1-A1, nor is he in titanium threaded ceramic filled looks like James Bond on the make clothes. He might be. The odds are against it. I’m FAR more worried about walking between a Bear and her cub(s) while focused on something more visible and interesting, like my hiking partner and the way her jeans fit her, or her helping me set up a camera shot and holding a white card at the right angle doesn’t mean we aren’t armed – but with weapons we can do a USMC drill on, and which fit our hands, arms, muscles correctly — so a 9mm can be absolutely as deadly as a 45, but so can a 22, and you don’t have to run away after you fire it either. You just have to be good — and remember – finding cover is a skill maybe more important than caliber. And no, to my knowledge no man or woman has EVER merged his atoms with the ground or a plant — EVER. Though I’ve see too many fit them INSIDE some wood, but no merging is involved, and that wood was not where they were shot, unless they were a mortician who was shot in the showroom.

    Go Slow makes you go fast — Practice does NOT make perfect, it makes permanent. So if you have $100 for a couple of boxes of ammo every week — spend it on someone who will tell you what you are doing wrong! — after I did a jump school, I asked a DI if he’d go with me to the range and just watch me for 15 minutes — I made enough mistakes in 15 minutes of close watching to give him 10 years on the life of his voice — because he could watch me — some was run and cover, and some was aim from cover — and you can make a LOT of mistakes — so now before I qualify I have two friends who are ‘Masters’ in my book, watch me — and how many times was I unaware of the background? How many people did I leave without a son or daughter? how many without a mother or father? — Remember the Silver Star M-60 Machine gunner? Don’t forget hit number 10,865 — moving target, caliber of pistol? 22 LR. Number of shots, one. Changed shape before he crumpled straight down 5 feet 7 inches. What caliber was that? TWENTY-TWO LONG RIFLE. Revolver, no casing. recoil? Zero. Cost to practice all day? $20. Arm ache? Arm tired? Mistakes from tired muscles? — none. Hearing loss? none.

    • John January 17, 2012, 1:18 pm

      Yes the .22 is the weapon of choice for many hit men. Why? Because they use it at point blank range on their target’s head and it doesn’t make much noise. Many assassins use a knife because it makes NO noise. The lack of BANG!!! is the main reason for using a .22. If A .45 acp was as quiet I think you would see that the .45 ACP would be the weapon of choice. Many targets have lived after being shot in the head with a .22, but it’s heart to find anything left of a head shot with a .45 ACP.

  • jlp October 19, 2010, 9:50 pm

    Quote: From my perception/reading of Mr. Higginbothams’ article, I don’t believe he is advocating any particular caliber to use for defensive purposes Quote:

    I think you had better go back and re-read his article. Not only this article but his past articles as well. He is always bad mouthing the 9×19 and some of his stories about the .45 acp bullet performance border on the fantastic.

  • Roger Dane October 19, 2010, 1:17 pm

    Thought provoking article and certainly one that brings out the ‘differences’ of opinions. My partner shot his assailant 16 times while being hit 10 times himself. The assailant died of a heart attack four months later. Partner made it but had to reload his revolver three times using one arm! So gunfights don’t go the way one wants, ever. Because if it did, they wouldn’t happen to us. The best fight is the one you don’t have… survival mindset is most important in keeping you upright minus a brain scrambling head shot to you (then mindset is gone). Classes that teach “be prepared to take a hit” and drum that into you might be more helpful than ones that suggest (and JH is NOT) a ‘perfect’ shot at the onset. Too bad we can’t shoot the gun out of the bad guy’s hand! Training must include physical exertion, anxiety and as much stress as your student’s health will allow. Short of shooting the student the criteria should be ‘stress, stress and stress’ and see how they think and respond afterward. The Newhall CHP shooting of long ago certainly proved that we ‘fight like we train’ and four officers died because they didn’t train properly. Times change but the bad guys have access to caliber, protective clothing and usually surprise. Be prepared for tunnel vision, selective heaving, clumsy motion and missed shots (if you haven’t trained under stress)… of course all this happens to less than 1% of the population, but! Thanks for a thought provoking article.

  • Mike Adams October 18, 2010, 2:47 pm

    From my perception/reading of Mr. Higginbothams’ article, I don’t believe he is advocating any particular caliber to use for defensive purposes or keep firing till you run out of ammo. He is just making the point that if you are in a situation that requires you to defend yourself with deadly force to be prepared for anything to happen even after the attacker is down. I totally agree with him that you have to use the grip, stance, caliber or whatever you feel comfortable with. These experts give good advice, but that may not work for you or me. You may not have time to “setup” and use your “favorite” grip/stance in some instances that will require you to defend yourself. You don’t know what your attacker is “on” regardless of what that person looks like.

    Hunting is a prime example. Sometimes the animal comes from a different direction/angle than we had anticipated. I think we all have had one shot kills (with instant knockdown), two shot kills, three shot kills and ones that get away with shots all in the vitals. You just have to be able to react to the situation at hand. Thanks for the article.

  • jlp October 17, 2010, 7:56 pm

    Quote:We should remember WHY the 45acp was adopted by the US Army! The Model 1911 45acp stopped charging attackers who managed to stab or hack the Army officers who just shot them with 32′s or 38′s or whatever “private purchase” weapon an army officer bought! The 45acp knocked them down for follow up shots “IF” necessary! Quote:

    A recent study of actual U.S. Army records from that time period coupled with other well know historical writings proved the .45 caliber revolvers and late in the war the .45acp used during the insurrection and also the .30 cal U.S. military rifles did not stop attacking warriors with any regularity whatsoever. The only weapon that did was the .12 ga. shotgun loaded with buckshot at point blank range. After the War Colt published lurid advertisements claiming the .45 would knock a man down, spin him around like a top or make him disappear in a red puff of mist. Of course not only did U.S. Army documents of this time period refute such fantasies but the gun writers for years were too darn lazy to do any of their own research and took the old Colt advertisement propaganda as fact.

    The same stories have circulated for years about the stopping power of elephant rifles i.e. 45 cal. and larger but sudden stops by calibers like the .240 Weatherby, 6.5 mm, 7×57 and other smaller calibers were always swept under the rug because they did not fit into the “big bore philosophy” which was and is fantasy. Several years ago a TV documentary showed an elephant culling operation where the men used nothing more than the .308 with 150 grain full metal jacketed military ammo. No elephants ran away, none charged, and all fell down dead as if struck by lightening. Again seeing is believing but the “big bore boys” came up with some of the wildest and most ridiculous explanations on why the .308 was able to kill these elephants. They claimed it was still sucicide to use it on dangerouns game. Strange the entire field was littered with very dead huge elephants.

    In the 1980’s Pistolero magazine went to Mexico to get around animal cruelty laws and shot pigs with the .38 .357 mag., 9mm and .45acp using modern expanding ammo. They saw no difference in the killing power of the .45acp v/s the other calibers and stated that the pigs jumped higher and squealed louder when hit with the 9×19. The .45 did not knock the pigs down, did not spin them around like a top and did not make them disappear in red puff of mist either.

    In conclusion I would have to say from my own real life hunting experience with the .45acp that it is the most overrated caliber ever invented and is absolutely inferior to the 9×19 in very possible way no matter what ammo you are shooting out of the .45acp. People of the early 1900’s can be excused for believing the wild stories about the .45acp but how anyone in this modern day and age with the vast amount of information we have via computers and who still believe such ridiculous stories simply proves the gullibility of many people.

    • dp January 13, 2011, 9:36 pm

      “In conclusion I would have to say from my own real life hunting experience with the .45acp that it is the most overrated caliber ever invented and is absolutely inferior to the 9×19 in very possible way no matter what ammo you are shooting out of the .45acp. People of the early 1900′s can be excused for believing the wild stories about the .45acp but how anyone in this modern day and age with the vast amount of information we have via computers and who still believe such ridiculous stories simply proves the gullibility of many people.”

      I tell you what, I’ll let you shoot me with your 9×19 if you let me shoot you with my 45 first… 😉

      • James Tennyson, DDS September 12, 2011, 12:38 pm

        Well said. Bet he doesn’t want to take you up on that offer, either!

      • John January 17, 2012, 1:00 pm

        Can I watch? I always like to see an idiot get whats coming to him! After you knocked him off his soap box he would be too dead to shoot you with his beloved 9×19.

      • John January 17, 2012, 1:07 pm

        I would let him shoot me in the head with his sling shot loaded with a grain of sand and he can shoot first. If he will let me throw a 20 pound boulder and hit him in the head after he shoots me.

      • JK April 19, 2012, 12:21 am

        Of course you’d want to shoot first. I guess your confidence wanes when put to the test?

        Just saying, if the 9×19 can’t put someone down like you’re claiming, why would you not want to prove it? I mean, your round is a sure win, and the 9×19 is a sure loss, right?

      • TS Atomic June 25, 2013, 12:43 pm

        What use is your .45 when your brain-stem no longer passes nerve signals to your trigger fingers? You could be killed with a lucky shot from a .22 pellet-gun!

        Whatever gun you can reach and bring to bear the fastest is the gun you will use to stop the threat and none of them have magic bullets. Personally, I don’t care if I have an .88 magnum (“Johnny Dangerously” anyone?) or a .22 — If and when I’m ever placed in a situation where I *have* to shoot to stop a threat, I’m going to keep shooting/moving until they absolutely stop doing whatever it was that made me start shooting in the first place. I don’t care what gun I have in my hands at the time, If he’s not motionless & on the ground, I’ll keep moving, pouring them on & reloading until either he is down & inert, -or- another more urgent threat presents itself (lather, rinse, repeat) -or- I’m out of bullets -or- out of range -or- I’m dead. So, It matters not what caliber I have — I’m determined to make it work! If you want to bet your life on any particular caliber, that’s your business and I wish you all the luck in the world.

  • Vincent Lupo October 16, 2010, 10:15 pm

    We should remember WHY the 45acp was adopted by the US Army! The Model 1911 45acp stopped charging attackers who managed to stab or hack the Army officers who just shot them with 32’s or 38’s or whatever “private purchase” weapon an army officer bought! The 45acp knocked them down for follow up shots “IF” necessary! All that being said, My original CZ75 9mm with its standard hi-cap mag gives me a “super comfort” level when it is in its holster on my hip in concealed carry mode! The 9mm kills, pure and simple! As we know, it rides on the hips of todays Marines, Army, Navy, Air-Force, Coast Guards etc. Now here is the “BIG HOWEVER”! In the “woods”, BEAR COUNTRY, my 44mag loaded with Garrett Cartridges 330 gr loads makes me a heck of a lot safer! The same weapon and load rested on my hip on “ALL” of my African Safaries. As for our “local” hunting, my 44mag loaded with 4 rounds of snake shot and 2 rounds of 330 gr Garrett cartrides is a great comfort along with my snake boots!

    • John Jewett June 25, 2013, 9:39 am

      BEARS? My favorite bear guns is a .25 ACP Colt Vest Pocket…light and easy to carry. Case in point: last year we spooked a couple of Grizzly cubs, and when they squalled that brought an angry momma at a dead run. I calmly pulled my trusty .25 and shot my brother-in-law in the knee…and after that I hardly even had to run.

      • oscar January 31, 2015, 8:48 pm


    • Darwin June 25, 2013, 12:14 pm

      Thats a myth. A well known myth. The 1911 was developed for cavalry.

    • James bankston June 26, 2013, 7:18 pm

      I have killed snakes, rabbits, squirrels, deer, coyote, cows and more with pistols in calibers inclusive of 22, 22 mag, 32acp, 9 mm, 45acp, .357, 40 and 10 mm, 38 special, 44 mag., 45 caliber muzzle loader. Ground hogs were the hardest to kill instantly with even shots to the head with .357 bullets heavier than 110 grain but a 9 mm in 90 grain dropped them instantly even with chest shots up to 100 yards. The 22 mag and 22 killed instant with head shots. The .357 and 9 mm kills deer but is a poor choice in light bullets unless spine is struck, while the 44 mag is best caliber. The 45acp 1911 and Glock 21 has been used on deer up to 50 yards and 40 caliber Glocks in model 27, 22 and 35 have killed several deer and coyote recently (light and easy to carry). All pistols suffer when compared to rifle calibers and rely on breaking down large game with neck, shoulder, spine and chest placement: Shoot till they stop moving. The 45acp as adopted was superior in speed, weight and diameter to 38’s and 32’s: Broke bones better and destroyed more tissue; disabled and killed better.

  • jlp October 16, 2010, 1:17 am

    The 5.7mm was developed by FN because of its superior penetration of today’s body armor. The larger the caliber usually the less it penetrates. Now I know this is the exact opposite of what many of the no nothing gun writers (who have beat the big bore drums for years) have always harped about. Really knowledgeable people (few and far between) like the late P.O. Ackley found out that the very small caliber .220 Swift shooting a soft point 48 grain bullet would penetrate 1/2 inch hardened armor plate while the larger 30-06 with a steel penetrator core (armor piercing round) would not penetrate the same 1/2 inch armor plate. Again the exact opposite of the big bore boys who claim large pistol and rifle calibers penetrate better than the smaller calibers do. Another test conducted after WWII proved exactly the same. A 9mm Englis High power pistol penetrated a WWII helmet at an astonishing 125 yards with fmj hardball while the anemic .45acp bounced off at a mere 35 yards (see the book “The Englis Diamond” for further reading”). Now you know why the Europeans who in years past fought so many wars, stuck with the 9×19 and .30 Tokerov and .30 Mauser rather than adopt the low penetrating .45acp. The .45acp was an inferior pistol as well as an inferior sub-machine gun cartridge due to its heavy recoil, low penetration, and looping trajectory. They could not carry as much ammo when using the .45acp either. The 45acp was rejected by most of the European powers as the inferior combat round. Expanding on this historical experience FN came out with the 5.7mm which was promptly rejected by the gun writer crowd as an anemic version of the .22 hornet round not realizing of course that the military 5.7 round is far different in construction that the 5.7 civilian round. I might add that even the soft point ammo is quite deadly on ground hogs at reasonable ranges as is the .22 hornet. I would suggest some of these gun writers actually go hunting with either the FN 5.7 pistol round or the much older .22 Hornet rifle round. It would surprise them.

    • TOM DUNNE September 11, 2011, 12:35 am


    • James Tennyson, DDS September 12, 2011, 12:27 pm

      Penetration is a result of total mass, frontal area, and velocity. A long, thin projectile traveling at the same velocity as a short projectile of the same diameter will always penetrate deeper in the same medium.
      I find it VERY difficult to believe that a soft-point of ANY caliber or weight will penetrate hardened steel better than a steel-point bullet as well. In my considerable experience, almost ALL soft-point bullets that impact steel shatter: that’s why we HAVE steel-point and depleted uranium bullet cores rather than just lead soft-points.
      I would also like to remind anyone interested, sinc eI am a 25-year veteran of the military, that it is more COSTLY to TREAT a wounded soldier than to BURY a dead one. Military ammunition is meant to wound more than to kill.

      • John January 17, 2012, 12:51 pm

        Well said James. I agree 100%

      • KG May 8, 2012, 4:06 am

        Actully not. Military ammo is required by NATO to be FMJ (full metal jacket) SO THAT you are NOT maimed by mushrooming rounds.

        • Dave S, June 25, 2013, 4:09 am

          Not NATO,,,the Geneva Convention governing the conduct of war for the reasons you stated.

        • Dave S, June 25, 2013, 4:10 am

          NATO requires FMJ in order to comply with the Geneva Convention regarding the conduct of war.

          • Rich-D June 25, 2013, 6:21 am

            Actually, Neither NATO nor the Geneva Convention are correct. Expanding bullets are prohibited by The Hague Convention of 1899, Declaration III, prohibits the use in warfare of bullets which easily expand or flatten in the body, and was an expansion of the Declaration of St. Petersburg in 1868, which banned exploding projectiles of less than 400 grams.

          • Darwin June 25, 2013, 12:17 pm

            Rich is right, it was the Hague convention. But this section was not ratified by the United States so we are not beholden to it except out of custom.

    • terry breckenridge December 17, 2011, 11:17 pm

      just as a follow up to the .220 swift. i have a custom remington 700 in .17 remington that can be loaded to 4200fps with a 22.5 grain bullet. (checked via chrono) fired at 200 yards it will slide through a 1″ piece of steel like a knife through butter. this has now been witnessed by many natsayers who are now belivers. the bullets are custom made and that all i will say. even with this i would not use this configuration against any man or animal. not enough bullet mass. with hollow points its just right for critters like ground hogs out to 300 yards with zero wind.

      anyhow the ultimate (imho) is a large calliber bullet moving between 1000 – 1800 FPS weighting at least 250 grains or more. someone once asked me what weapon i would want if i was at home and 3 very big angry home raiders just kicked my front door. my answer then as today is the bigest gun that i can wrap my hand around with a 100 shot mag….

      keep them shots flying…

    • jim June 25, 2013, 2:22 pm

      jlp…do you have a hard on for people in general, or just those who write about guns? Everything you speak about is worded almost in a fit of anger, as if people who don’t agree with you should be snuffed out. Lighten up, man…it would be nice to have a discussion, not an argument, or outright fight. You do not know everything there is to know about everything, so stop trying to prevent people from discussing the topic. Geez…

      • Terry June 7, 2015, 7:44 pm

        JLP’s article was interesting and well-written and I appreciate his comments. Didn’t seem like an argument to me; it was a continuing discussion of a topic being considered.

  • silverback October 15, 2010, 5:11 pm

    I have recently become a 10 mm fan due to its round versatility . Reading this article makes me wander about the 5.7 x 28. Its a step up from the 22 and from what i hear low recoil decent penetration. any info would be appreciated.

    • Russ June 25, 2013, 1:38 pm

      I have a 10mm Tanfoglio (EAA in the states sells them) Witness Match Elite. I love the thing and you can shoot weak ammo from the factory that are down in the 350-425 ft-lbs range up to the mega rounds by Underwood or PBR that are over 800 ft-lbs. Also, you can get ammo in 135, 155, 165, 180, 200, 220 grains.

      • jw February 25, 2015, 3:08 pm

        At Ft Hood, all 13 of the 13 center of mass or head hits from the 5.7 died.

  • jlp October 15, 2010, 3:39 pm


    “If you hit the heart, 3 or 4 expanded 9 mm’s will do about what a .45 expanding bullet will do or one might equal .45 ball….IF (note the big if) it penetrates. That is not based on any formula, it is based on what I have found to happen – sometimes real life does not make sense.” Quote

    I would suggest you actually go out and hunt with the 9mm versus the .45acp. You obviously have ZERO experience on this or you would have learned long ago the 9×19 is superior in the penetration department. The .45acp even with hardball 230 grain bullets is notorious for relatively poor penetration. Try shooting deer sometime with both calibers especially beyond point blank range. The heart will stop whether hit by a 20mm cannon or a .22 cal. bullet, dead is dead not deader. I have had much better results when shooting deer, especially at odd angles, with the super penetration of the 9×19 than the slow moving and low penetrating .45acp. Since deer do not read gun magazines or blogs they do not know anything about calibers. When properly hit they fall down dead when the bullet penetrates vital organs. So far no 9mm bullet has ever bounced off an animal I have shot and no animal has ever disappeared in a read puff of mist when hit with the 45acp either.

    • Jim H October 17, 2010, 2:55 pm

      Actually I do hunt with a handgun (as well as rifles) and have killed well in excess of 2500 animals 😉


    • TOM DUNNE September 11, 2011, 12:21 am

      animals when shot even with small caliber bullets are downed by shock. they have no fear ,dont know what hapened to them and wish no one harm.unlike humans,that choose to do harm ,for their own reasons and can think,do not in my experiance go down easy.i have hunted deer and brought down biguns with my trusty 243cal. husquarvana ,with my own reloads. humans ,because we think we are right or our cause is just can fight to unusual lenghts.that is why some people that have never had to defend their family and themselves with their fists ,knives,guns,hand to hand ,think that hitting an enemy with proper force will stop some times wont.people like you my friend will be surprised but too late! i am sorry for all that think like you.FOR THE REST OF US ,KEEP YOUR MUSKET CLEAN AND POWDER DRY.

    • Russ June 25, 2013, 1:31 pm

      You say 9mm, I say 10mm or .41 mag, especially on Mulies.

      • William June 30, 2013, 1:47 am

        Reply for Russ and bagdadjoe: I have been shooting Mule Deer with my 30-06, the same bolt action gun, for 55 years. My hunting buddy has a .308, and we hunt together… We both have 100% confidence in both calibers, and both believe that any reasonably placed shot will bring down a Mule Deer lick a brick falling off a wall. Arguing over these calibers is fun conversation for the dinner table, but just pick reliable and proven ammunition and go with it, consistently. I have absolute confidence in both of these cartridges for Elk too – again proven by nearly as many years experience. (I have used 58 caliber black powder on Mule Deer and Elk, and I have found that this weapon/caliber is far inferior at taking them down. You will need some tracking skills to get all of your game. Also, a smaller caliber black powder weapon is irresponsible, and a waste of good game…)

      • William June 30, 2013, 1:48 am

        Reply for Russ and bagdadjoe: I have been shooting Mule Deer with my 30-06, the same bolt action gun, for 55 years. My hunting buddy has a .308, and we hunt together… We both have 100% confidence in both calibers, and both believe that any reasonably placed shot will bring down a Mule Deer lick a brick falling off a wall. Arguing over these calibers is fun conversation for the dinner table, but just pick reliable and proven ammunition and go with it, consistently. I have absolute confidence in both of these cartridges for Elk too – again proven by nearly as many years experience. (I have used 58 caliber black powder on Mule Deer and Elk, and I have found that this weapon/caliber is far inferior at taking them down. You will need some tracking skills to get all of your game. Also, a smaller caliber black powder weapon is irresponsible, and a waste of good game…)

    • bagdadjoe June 25, 2013, 7:43 pm

      Fairy tale. Malarkey…..bull.

      • William June 30, 2013, 1:48 am

        Reply for Russ and bagdadjoe: I have been shooting Mule Deer with my 30-06, the same bolt action gun, for 55 years. My hunting buddy has a .308, and we hunt together… We both have 100% confidence in both calibers, and both believe that any reasonably placed shot will bring down a Mule Deer lick a brick falling off a wall. Arguing over these calibers is fun conversation for the dinner table, but just pick reliable and proven ammunition and go with it, consistently. I have absolute confidence in both of these cartridges for Elk too – again proven by nearly as many years experience. (I have used 58 caliber black powder on Mule Deer and Elk, and I have found that this weapon/caliber is far inferior at taking them down. You will need some tracking skills to get all of your game. Also, a smaller caliber black powder weapon is irresponsible, and a waste of good game…)

    • DC September 3, 2014, 8:33 am

      You for real hunt deer with a 9mm wat the hell is wrong with u r u just out ther treating our wildlife like ballistics gel

  • jlp October 15, 2010, 3:27 pm

    Caliber is totally irrelevant when it comes to incapacitation. It is not bullet diameter that matters but shot placement and penetration to vital organs that incapacitates. No caliber can be relied on to stop someone or some animal 100 per cent of the time as there are too many factors that weigh into the equation. Small calibers like the .220 swift, and 6.5 Mannlicher kill all out of proportion to their caliber. Many old time turn of the century world wide hunters such as Agnes Herbert and W.D.M. Bell found out that the small 6.5 caliber would kill anything on the planet and the bigger calibers they also used killed no quicker or better. No one these days has the opportunity to kill 1,000 plus elephants like Bell did or hunt on 3 continents like Herbert did so their experience’s are certainly not be swept under the ‘big bore fanatics table’s”. And when it comes to pistol caliber’s even the much worshiped “Thompson tests” of the early 1900’s on cattle actually proved the opposite of what the charlatans who conducted the tests were trying to prove i.e. that bigger pistol calibers were superior to smaller ones. Many people and animals are killed every year with pistol calibers like the .22, .25 acp, 32 acp, 380 acp and the 9mm. Again bullet penetration and placement is the key not the diameter of the projectile. Doubt my word, then review the large tough body guards that were guarding President Reagan when he was shot. The body guards went down as if hit by lighting after being hit with nothing more than a .22 rim-fire handgun and some of the rounds were not even well placed.

    • John January 17, 2012, 12:44 pm

      Better check your facts. President Regan and his “body guards” were shot with a .32 (Center fire) and not a .22 rimfire as you said. A large caliber bullet is always better than a small caliber bullet because of the greater foot pounds of energy transferred to the target on impact. You can shoot a man in the thumb with a .45 and knock him down. Shoot him with a .25 and you are just going to piss him off. If you knock him down you can get away. Piss him off and he is going to kill you. I’ll take a big bore gun over your small bore gun any day. When the day is over I’l wave to you as I drive by and you are laying in the ditch bleeding or dead.

      • jeff June 25, 2013, 5:47 am

        Actually john you should check your facts Reagan was shot with a rohm 14 .22 caliber pistol. A ricochet hit him in the armpit and lodged 25mm from his heart. Nearly a kill shot. Another was hit in the head and another man paralyzed. Pretty efficient for a 22 huh. Check it out if you don’t believe me. Check your facts before you open your mouth.

      • Chris June 25, 2013, 9:50 am

        energy is measured in the joule (which incompasses mass of the round times the square of its velocity) not footpounds (that would be torque but is commonly converted to this ambiguous value so americans understand). As you can mathematically prove (if you understand that term) if it is more energy you would like to achieve from a single shot you should use a faster round, not a bigger one. Think about it this way the difference in mass between a small and large rounds is so small ( aprox 0.001-0.006Kg)that it has little effect on the energy produced, however the velocity is the main contributing factor to a bullets energy. For example a 15gram (230grain) 45 round will fire with a velocity of 270 m/s ( 900ft/s ) since the velocity is squared the energy will be about 560 J a 9mm with mass 7grams and will fire at 435 m/s and produce around 700 J…. thats equivelent to lifting a 750 lbs from the floor to above your head. The type of colision the bullet and body produce is also important because this dictates how that energy is transfered and explains the variablility in one shot kills and 15 shots later still fighting, I realize there are many variables shooting (shot position, momentum, ect) but these seam to be the least understood… In otherwords deliver the most energy to the best position on your target and to do this, caliber has very very little “weight” in the overall scheme of things

        • Russ June 25, 2013, 1:22 pm

          Foot-Pounds (ft-lbf) is the imperial unit of energy, equivalent to joules in metric. They both have the root in 1/2MV^2. This is NOT torque. As long as you are doing one-half of mass time velocity squared, it does not matter what units you want to use. You are still getting the energy level which is easily convertible. You can convert to BTU’s, ergs, etc. To convert the energy in joules to ft-lbf, just multiple it by 0.737. Torque is the amount of moment or couple around a given point my mass at a given lever arm distance.

        • Robert P June 25, 2013, 10:07 pm

          Chris I ran your numbers a couple of time. The .45acp generates 413 Ft Lbs or 560 j and the 9mm generates 628 Ft Lbs or 851 j. You said 560 j and 700 j.
          If your 700 j was correct then to find the mass to rise about 6 feet or 2 meters, one would divide 700 by the product of the constant 9.8 times the 2 meters distance. Or, 700/(9.8*2) = 35 kg which is around 77 pounds not 750.
          If the object was to find the number of joules to raise 750 pounds around 6 feet, then one converts 750 to 340 kg then multiply by that 9.8 constant for 3333 Newtons. Then multiply the 3333 Newtons by the distance in meters or 2. That means 6666 joules are needed.
          I suspect you made a decimal and round off error. But super concept on you though.
          The single issue I think important is to stop the attacker rather to try to kill him. The slower the round and the broader the diameter means the bullet has a bigger stopping power than the 9mm which would use its energy to penetrate out the other side. That dynamic would also mean it would crush bones rather than bounce off them.
          My desired impact point is not center of mass but the spine or the skull, I want to stop them right now so only the central nervous system will do. When I was young I used to hunt deer and I only made head shots. No wounded animals, no blood trails that went forever. It was down for the count immediately. I prefer thus my Glock 30 45 acp. But the weight with ten rounds makes it a brick in my pocket. So I use a Sig p238 (380) and plan for only one shot responses should we ever get attacked just like a deer. I need to plan for threat recognition from a concealed and unprepared carry starting at 25 feet with that one round off at 5 feet. So it is not a two hand hold with a laser. If I fail to respond inside 25 feet then an attacker such as with a knife will get to me first before I can fire. So anything inside 25 feet on initial recognition of terminal danger means martial arts only.
          At 65 years old and with a heart attack in my history, I can reach nearly anyone at 20 feet before they can draw and shoot assuming they were not already staring at me. So the key is the time for initial reaction at distance to get the shot off in case in terminal attack. In essence then, speed is life.

      • Robert Sweeney May 29, 2015, 1:59 pm

        John, I guarantee that if you shoot me in the thumb with a .45 I will be pissed at you. And I assure you I will not be coming after your thumb.

      • wefwefwef October 16, 2018, 2:10 pm

        Whoa whoa whoa. You just literally said \”a bigger bullet has more ft/lb\”. Okay, so you take two different sizes of bullets with the same powder behind them and they\’re gonna have more ft/lb on the bullet with more mass? Nope. Nope. Nope.If you know 9mm, you know that ft/lb actually DROPS the heavier the bullet gets for the same amount of powder propelling it.If you\’re going to ignore the requirement of how much explosive power is behind an object, then this discussion can\’t work.\’s a 9mm bullet sliding right through IIIA body armor.

    • jim June 25, 2013, 2:17 pm

      jlp, that is fine, but why write a lengthy reply which is simply re-stating the article? Have you anything to offer that the writer did not cover?

  • roco campbell October 15, 2010, 2:21 pm

    well i carry and have carried for several years now a bersa .380
    it is carried in an in the pants holster , does anyone have an opinion on that?
    i feel that the bersa is made very well and seems to be a great peace of mind weapon.
    i also always use quality home defense ammo.
    ive never been call on to use the bersa but i feel it is adequate , if i need it.
    someone please wake me up if im living in a day dream.
    thanks roco

    • James Tennyson, DDS September 12, 2011, 1:02 pm

      Roco, if you’re comfortable carrying the Bersa and you PRACTICE regularly with it, you’re much better served with IT than you would be with a .45 or 9mm that you shoot once a year, or a heavier pistol you leave in your CAR or NIGHT STAND.

    • Thomas October 12, 2011, 4:27 pm

      I have carried multiple different firearms for self defense over the years in many different calibers. Currently and for the past 6 months I have carried a Bersa Thunder .380 with different types of ammunition and in different types of holsters, unfortunately I had to use it a month ago on a person who tried to hold me up. I was with my wife walking from a parking lot into a restaurant that we regularly and still go to when a male came out from behind another vehicle who already had a pistol in his hand and demanded my money. As my back was turned to him at the time and we were out in the open where there was no real cover. You don’t really know what you will do in any situation until you are presented with the circumstance. Thankfully my wife was level headed enough to instantly run towards the entrance of the restaurant (she is trained with firearms as I am however does not carry a gun- personal choice) I turned to attempt to protect her location at the same time drew my .380 and thankfully without hesitation fired 5 shots hitting him 4 times in the chest and once in the throat (throat shot wasn’t intentional- just happened to land there) he died roughly 45 minutes later. I am trained in cpr/first aid and did try to keep him alive. Although people make poor decisions in life as my thief had doesn’t give me the right to just let him bleed out-again personal choice made. Bottom line, my wife was safe, I was safe and the thief wont be trying to steal from anyone again. As many people here and other locations have said, it’s not the type of gun or caliber that matters. It’s the firearm and caliber that you are VERY comfortable shooting and hopefully you can apply what you have learned if you are ever faced with a potentially life or death situation.

      • D.T. June 25, 2013, 12:11 pm

        I’d consider moving.

        • jim June 25, 2013, 2:15 pm

          And, we heard about this on what news networks?????

          So glad you are both fine, and proud of you for doing what you needed to do, being able to defend both of your lives. Hopefully, you will not suffer any civil court consequences, or other negative things other than the bad memories of an horrific event.

          God Bless You.

          • Dana Kullmann June 26, 2013, 3:30 pm

            Did you expect to hear about this on your local news? Maybe we need a 7/24 cable channel to announce all the shootings in the nation so you can keep up with them. 😉

    • PudbertSavannahGA June 26, 2013, 2:28 am

      That’s exactly the same gun and holster that I use for carry.. hollowpts as well.

      The Bersa Thunder is one of the best conceal carry weapons you can choose, and the more people I talk to, the more I find agree and carry the same thing, the same way.

      I would LIKE to carry my Sig .45 but it’s just too big and heavy….

    • Gary June 26, 2013, 1:35 pm

      How many rounds have you put through it? I bought a bersa .380 about 20 years ago for a girlfriend. I don’t know if I even got 200 rds through it and the gun started malfunctioning. Something with the slide. Took it back and spent the money and bought a colt. Not saying yours is junk. All I could think about was someone coming at her and that gun malfunctioning again. As for .cal, I carry a Springfield XD .45, It gives me 13 + 1. A lot of guys like the 9mm cuz it has about the same ( I think the terms call terminal damage ) as a .45 and you can carry more rounds in the mag. Either ones fine with me ( .45, 9mm). I wouldn’t carry anything smaller than a 9mm. I don’t claim to be a gun expert by any means. Just my opinion.

      Take care

  • Dallis Miller October 15, 2010, 12:59 pm

    While what you say may be true in some cases you still have to be mindful of
    just how many times you do fire. The reason being that there are many lawyers
    hired by the families of the bad guys who will use that in court against you as well as prosecuters.
    Think about it when you say “Your honor I was just trying to stop the threat when I shot the man 15 times.”
    Shooting is a perishable skill. Better to be as prepared and as proficient a shooter as you can. Aim small,miss small. Well placed
    shots will always do more good than spray and pray.

    • XTrooper3936 June 25, 2013, 5:43 am

      Did you read the article? If so, either your reading comprehension skills really suck or you’ve completely dismissed what you read because it doesn’t fit your idea of how things should.
      “Aim small, miss small.” Sounds cute, but it’s pure hogwash. “Well-placed shots will ALWAYS do more good than spray and pray.” First, the article shows that well-placed shots DON’T always do the trick and second, NO ONE advocated or even hinted at “spray and pray” tactics. I’m not sure what article you read, but, apparently, it wasn’t the one you’ve commented on.
      The fact is, bad guys don’t always cooperate and lay down when you shoot them, even when you’ve done everything right. That’s the whole point of the article. You have to put enough rounds on the target to get the job done, whatever that number of rounds is. If you don’t have the mindset for that, if you have an “aim small, miss small” mentality, you may get yourself and others killed.
      I suggest you reread the article and, this time, leave your preconceived notions behind.

      • 10mm guy June 25, 2013, 1:59 pm

        my 10 mm took out a bear at 30yds one shot very quickly, that same gun dropped a coyote at 100 one shot, never twitched. THe 10mm is far more effective with a rapid expanding bullet than a 45…but as a hunter knowing where to hit is indeed important…however, I have shot a cat at 10yds and it ran away a good 100yds before falling over and I could see daylight through the chest…alot depends upon how much adrenaline is being pumped through the body. And I do believe there are many that watch too many movies that think the pray and spray is a good approach, glad someone is advocating it isn’t. And yes, it is better to get to the court case than to be dead, although many a lawyer will say it wasn’t self defense but a hate crime when you empty your gun. Shoot as many times to disable the guy and then get away if you can, if not, shoot until they are no longer a threat and hope to get a good lawyer.

        • Joe June 28, 2013, 12:55 am

          @ 10 mm guy— You shot a cat at 10 yds with a 10mm that you know can take a bear out ? And you just watched as it felt and daylight came thru the wound? What kind of freaking sicko are you? Do you even know the difference between an animal that is considered a pet and a wild animal? And even wild animals,… do you know the difference between a wild animal that really is a threat to you and one that is only a curiosity? I can understand sometimes the minds of people that tries to get guns away from us when I see people like you posting this sick comments and allowing others to see it . It gives the idea that we are all really gun “nuts” and sickos. I try to make this sport as family friendly as possible and to show others that its not just for defense or hunting but that it can be enjoyed as a sport that you can bring all your family including your kids. How you explain to people who have pets or to kids that you just shoot an animal that most consider a pet just to see how much penetration your round have? I guess that some people should not ever be allowed to have guns and you are one of them.

          • charles June 30, 2013, 5:50 pm

            Ever heard of a Feral cat? Not all cats are pets. And some of us do not live in areas with animal control. So would you rather me shoot a cat with a pellet gun / bb gun and make it suffer or shoot it with a round that will kill it? Otherwise they breed like rabbits and piss and shit all over everything.

          • Larry June 30, 2013, 8:38 pm

            Joe, I don’t believe 10 mm guy was talking about a house cat… I have been surprised be Cougars/ Mountain Lions at about 10 yards. These dangerous creatures are most often referred to as Cats.

          • john August 9, 2015, 6:55 pm

            yes, a decision to choose a weapon he thought would give a pest animal a painless, quick death makes him a monster. I suppose using a smaller weapon that does less tissue damage, and takes a few extra shots would be cleaner and more humane.

            Think about what you are saying.

        • johnny espacino December 15, 2013, 1:17 pm

          You bastard, that was my cat, if me & the crew catch yoy we will take your little 10mm and stick it up your ass. 10mm prob the size of your brain. Smarten up eh.. Newsflash your 10mm aint shit, joey knuckles will bring his 454 casull & show ya what a real gun is. Capish. And before ya go knockin on the 45 or hell.. even the 9mm remember.. they were both puttin douchebags like you 6ft under way before you were a itch in ya old mans pants, and he shoulda wacked off on a hookers tits instead & saved us all a headache. Smarten up skippy.

      • PudbertSavannahGA June 26, 2013, 2:22 am

        @ XTrooper,,, Dude !!
        You should NOT be in a job with a weapon if you have this much hostility….

        You should take your MEDs and get a desk job…

        • 2A Man June 29, 2013, 5:38 pm

          @Pudbert: LOL! That’s probably why he’s an *ex* trooper (“XTrooper3936”). A dozen too many “excessive force” complaints eventually got him noticed.

      • JW0311USMC April 4, 2014, 5:34 pm

        Well written and informative article, XTrooper3936. Thanks for the post.

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