5 Terrible gun myths that must be stopped

Gun nuts my age and older came of age really before the internet was a driving force in gun culture. I remember sitting around the ready room reading old issues of Guns & Ammo and American Rifleman long before I ever knew what a gun blog or a gun forum was. In fact, I didn’t join my first forum until 2005, back in the heady days before monitization and SEO became the name of the game. What’s great about the internet is that it has managed to kill off a lot of the BS and mythology around firearms ownership, and has been a great tool for spreading news and information about guns and the right to bear arms. However, there are still a lot of myths out there, and sometimes the internet doesn’t kill them, it feeds them. It makes them stronger and gives them life. There plenty of examples, this is just five.

1. Handgun stopping power
You knew this was going to be on the top of the list. Obviously, there are some caveats – we are not talking about magnum revolver cartridges here, but instead we’re defining the scope of the discussion to service caliber cartridges intended for police/military/CCW use. That list is essentially the 9mm, .357 Sig, .40 S&W, and .45 ACP. Here are some facts: a .45 will not “drop a man with one shot” and a 9mm will not “bounce off a leather jacket.” The actual fact is that all of these calibers pretty much suck, and if you use a .45 thinking you’re going to get some kind of extra oomph in your rounds, you’re wrong. Handgun rounds suck, but thankfully they all pretty much suck equally. Mousegun rounds like .25, .32, and .380 suck even more, and they all suck kind of equally too.

coffee stopping power

2. High bore axis
This one drives me nuts. I was reminded of it in a comment posted on FB on a picture of a Sig pistol, where someone said “the bore axis is too high for me” which is kind of like a 16 year old with a brand new driver’s license saying they don’t like how much body roll their mom’s Camry has in decreasing radius turns. Let’s look at a few guns that people say have a bore axis that’s too high: the Sig Classic P-Series and most of the HK lineup. Hmmm…what else do those guns have in common…oh maybe it’s that they’re some of the widest used service pistols in the world? In fact, if you crunch the numbers on bore axis, it turns out that the HK45, commonly decried as having a high bore axis, is in fact only a few fractions of an inch higher in axis than the 1911. It’s all nonsense. There are so many other factors which are important to the shootability of a pistol before bore axis; using it as a complaint is basically ridiculous. Here’s a sub 2.00 second bill drill with an HK45 to illustrate.

3. You can upgrade a Mosin in a way that makes it better
No, you can’t. You can hang all kinds of accessories off it to make it look less like a Mosin, but you’re not going to make it into a 1 MOA or even 2 MOA gun with parts from the Tapco catalog. Here’s the thing: I love Mosins. If I needed to arm an entire neighborhood on the cheap, I’d buy a fleet of used Mosins and a few crates of 7.62×54 ammo, then spent our time during rifle manipulation drills. It’s a perfectly fine rifle, but because it’s so cheap it’s frequently purchased by people who actually should have saved up their money and bought a Ruger American rifle instead. If you want a Mosin, get a Mosin. They’re cool. If you want to hang a bunch of silly parts on your Mosin, fine. Just don’t trick yourself into thinking that you’ve made it anything other than a Honda Accord with a big wing on the back and no actual performance upgrades.

Unless you have a Finnish Mosin, in which case you have the rifle that every Mosin wants to be when it grows up, and you really shouldn’t mess with it because it already probably shoots awesome.

mosin nagant

4. Competition shooting will get you killed in the street
I’d like to think that this one is finally dying off. The number of top tier trainers that now advocate for competition shooting as a venue to pressure test your skills is increasing. And then I’ll stumble across a forum where it gets repeated, and die a little inside. The problem isn’t that competition shooting is teaching bad habits, it’s that trainers who are against will say the dumbest stuff like “you’ll unload and show clear after the fight” or they’ll repeat the myth of officers found with brass in their pocket after a shooting.

No one who shoots competition seriously will tell you that it’s defensive training. USPSA, IDPA, Steel Challenge, 3-Gun, and Bianchi Cup are not going to teach you how to clear your house at 2am. What they are going to do, and what everyone says they’re going to do is provide a safe environment to test your gunhandling skills under actual stress. Until someone can point to an actual, documented incident of competition “getting someone killed” this myth is, as they say, busted.

Caleb Giddings

5. Pistols and shotguns are “safer” for home defense than rifles
Whenever the topic of guns for home defense comes up, someone will always say “don’t use a rifle because it will over-penetrate.” Turns out that’s just not true. Here’s what happens when you fire a rifle indoors: the lightweight rifle bullet travelling at supersonic speeds strikes sheetrock and in many cases will destabilize and begin to tumble, which will decrease accuracy and velocity very quickly. In contrast, a pistol bullet or shotgun slug is travelling much slower and is much heavier, which means it will usually penetrate multiple layers of sheetrock on a straight course, unless of course it encounters something solid like a stud. There have been multiple tests done documenting this exact effect with modern sporting rifle cartridges, specifically the .223/5.56 rounds. It seems counter-intuitive, but as it turns out, a .223 rifle is far less likely to over-penetrate indoors than a pistol or a shotgun. Science!

Hornady Steel Match .223

The facts are out there. Don’t repeat bad gun myths that hurt the collective intelligence of our community. Spread good information instead.


  1. Not only will 55gr FMJ (and maybe other bullets) tumble, but it most likely will start to fragment, so that even if a round penetrates drywall, it may be in the form of fragments (each with lower energy than an intact bullet) than a whole bullet. This is same reason that many think .223/5.56 “sucks”.

    1. God another major gun myth right here. 5.56 FMJ is not a effective round. Modern hollowtip and and hollowpoint and frangible rounds are. But FMJ if it is coming out of a 1:7 or 1:8 twist rifle is not. I have seen enough guys shot with green tip from 10.3in to 14, and even 20 at all ranges to know this. Using MK262 or MK318 is the way to go.

      1. Please cite a source that FMJ in general is ineffective from a 7 or 8 twist barrel. First I’ve heard of it.

        At bad breath ranges in a house I doubt that it matters.

        Also, there’s a difference between 55gr type FMJ (like M193) and 62g green tip (M855), which was spec’ed to penetrate a helmet at 600m and thus “it is said” has a disadvantage compared to M193 when it comes to fragmentation.

        See also the pictures here: http://www.m4carbine.net/showthread.php?31666-M193-in-the-leg

        1. Its a combination of twist rate and muzzle length. You keep the original muzzle length of the M16, the twist rate is not going to factor into it The problem begins with the shorter M4s, and 10 inches that are common today. Due to the muzzle velocity loss you begin to experience large drops of performance from shorter barrels with FMJ. Where the whole “ice pick” thing comes from. If you take a shorter round and give it a slower twist rate, you can start to get back fragmentation and tumbling, but at a extreme range loss. And as to that picture. That large wound is due to hitting the bone. No matter what the poster said, that thing wasn’t caused by a “shockwave”, spent enough time doing pig labs to know that.

          1. For M193, muzzle velocity out of a 20″ barrel M16 is supposed to be ~3125fps. It’s been a long time, but last time I chrono’ed XM193 from my 7 twist 16″ barrel, it was right around 3000fps, which is still above the fragmentation velocity (which I understand to be around 2750fps).

            If someone is going to use an AR for home defense as contemplated by this post, it will most likely be a 16″ barrel (and probably a 9 twist barrel at that). Thus, I think that M193 type FMJ is sufficient for the purposes contemplated in this post. Even with an SBR, M193 will probably have sufficient muzzle velocity to fragment at close quarters inside a house.

            I don’t have much experience with M855, I have always either shot M193 type factory ammo or loaded my own.

          2. If you are honestly only losing roughly 100fps out of a 4inch barrel you should be good to go. I am a firm believer in 5.56, I have seen enough results real world, and controlled experiments on pigs to doubt it. My point of contention is its ability to tumble and fragment effectively out of shorter barrels. M855 in pig labs deliver extremely damaging wounds at CQB ranges from a standard M4, but at farther than CQB ranges we have seen extreme loss in performance from it, and it is even worse in 10.3in barrels.

  2. Tell you what…let me shoot your ass with my .45 one time and I pretty much promise it will lay your big ass out for a permanent dirt bath.

    1. Only if you’ll let me shoot you in the chest with my “puny” 9mm first.

      I’m so tired of this line of thinking. It’s stupid. No one wants to get shot with even a .22 LR. Just because I don’t think your .45 has magical stopping power doesn’t mean I’d sign up to take a chest full of it. What I am saying is that your .45 isn’t any more special than a 9mm or a .40. It’s just not. The truth hurts.

      1. One of my friends is a long time shooting instructor and he told me that he prefers people learn to shoot with a .22 (Ruger mkII is his favorite), and when people badmouth the .22 he has to remind them that there are graveyards all across America full of people who were killed with .22 pistols.

      2. This old argument about the .45 not being “special” is only valid if you are comparing ball ammo in all of the calibers mentioned. I don’t care how much ballistic gel testing you’ve done or how long you’ve been shooting etc.. The definitive answer lies in a group of ER physicians held a symposium on gunshot wounds. Not for the purpose of choosing or arguing the best ..or worst caliber however, the unanimous conclusion was that in the real world examining real wounds on real humans more fatalities are caused by .357 magnums and .45 autos than any other by a significant margin. The sample of data is taken from current street shootings in large cites like LA, Chicago, and NY. F=MA any way you slice it! I offer this in the context of healthy debate and not trying to piss in your face but when lab studies do not concur with real world results we can only deduce we are studying the wrong equation.

          1. Why you dis the .380? It beats the 9mm in all categories except percentage of people not incapacitated.

          2. http://www.handloads.com/misc/stoppingpower.asp?Caliber=18&Weight=All
            Data taken from an extensive study on single-shot stops. (Evan Marshall’s statistical analysis of single-shot events.)

            All of these statistics are based on cases where there was a single hit to the chest, and count it a “stop” if the attacker did not continue to present a threat, and did not make it more than 10 feet. (If I recall correctly.)

            .45s using JRN bullets are only 60% effective, same as 9mm and .40 S&W using JRN bullets.

            .45s using PREMIUM jacketed hollow-points are ~95% effective, same as .357 Magnums and .223 Remingtons (using hollow points.) The premium hollow-points are much better at opening up at low speeds.
            This compares with 95% for a .40 S&W coming out of a ~5″ barrel, 90% for a S&W coming out of a 4″ barrel (in that respect, .45 and .40 are virtually identical, but 4″ barrels are the design length for .40 vs. 5″ for .45) and ~80% for a 9mm with premium hollow-points.

            The “stopping power” goes down to ~25% by the time you get to .25 ACP.

            These statistics cannot be explained by psychological factors, no matter how you slice it. If “single-shot stop” was psychological, then bullet design would have zero effect on % stops, and caliber would have minimal effect. The only factors would be the size and loudness of the gun.

            Likewise, while the statistics doubtlessly include some surrenders, but that should be the same across all calibers and bullet designs. If anything, the ~25% stops of the .25ACP probably represents the portion of people who are stopped psychologically by a gun wound without being stopped physiologically. (They voluntarily surrender or are just too terrified to take further action.)

            Still the point remains. The best .45 ACP rounds equal the effect of .357 Magnums and .223 Remingtons.

            The idea that .45s, .40s, and even 9mms are poor stoppers comes from the use of inadequate ammo: traditional hollow-points and worse.

        1. What you’re offering “in the context of healthy debate” is just another myth, and the formula for force doesn’t help understanding terminal ballistics any bit.

      3. My .45 DOES have magical stopping power! But only because I brought my local gun-shaman a ram’s horn and gave him an extra $50.

    2. Phillip, try this on for size. No one, including Caleb, suggests that you should abandon your.45. However, if you assert that the .45 is a superior defense round, you are just plain WRONG. The BEST defense round, period, is the one that works. The “.45 is superior” type of thinking could get my wife killed, if she were to be convinced it was her only option. She’s disabled, and has little wrist strength. She loves her 1911, but would never carry it in her wheelchair. God forbid, if she were ever confronted by multiple attackers, she might be fortunate enough to get one shot CoM. But due to her disability, she could not be assured of successfully engaging multiple targets. Her 9mm allows her to do just that. A cookie cutter approach to anything rarely works. Keep your .45. They’re great. I love them. But I’m an empirical type, and the data tells me that “knock down power” is a myth. Carry what works for you, and realize it may not work for everyone.

      1. Well said, I think one thing to consider is the amount of rounds you can carry IN your gun, nevermind a spare mag. A .45 auto generally carries less rounds than a 9mm, a 1911 will hold what.. 7? whereas my sig will hold 15. Also, I don’t think the size or speed of the round has much to do with a self defense situation; bad guy comin at you is gonna boogie out no matter WHAT you throw at him. I would rather have ten .22 lrs than 7 .45 auto rounds at my disposal. I got rid of my M&P 45 for just that reason, and often carry my Walther p-22 which will hold 13. (simple mag mods) and the gun is literally half the size. The point in carrying is to defend yourself, not KILL the bad guy. Give him just ONE .22 lr in the chest and the fight is over. Period.

        1. Really, you would rather have 10 rounds which might stop your attacker perhaps 10% of the time, than 7 (or 8 with an new technology magazine or 9 with one in the chamber) rounds which will stop the attacker perhaps 80% of the time? In other words, 10 rounds of which the very best bullet is 1/10th as effective at stopping an attack as the 7 rounds with the very worst bullet. One .22 lr in the chest will not always stop the fight. Not even most of the time. Only occasionally. Even 13 .22 lr in the chest is not guaranteed to stop the fight, although it will usually do the job. But what about that other attacker or attackers?

          Plus, having a lot of ammo in your gun tends to encourage poor marksmanship.

          1. >Plus, having a lot of ammo in your gun tends to encourage poor marksmanship.

            That’s why I only carry a single shot pistol that shoots a .68 caliber Minie ball.

    3. Wow. I will never get over being amused at individuals “white-knighting” inanimate objects on the the internetz. Apparently, choice of sidearm is “serious bidness”.

    4. It seems someone forget to tell these guys the .45ACP is an instant death ray:

      Baby Face Nelson was shot 17 times. 8 hits to the torso with 45acp fired from a Thompson sub-machine gun and 9 hits in the legs with 00 buck. He still managed to kill two FBI agents (G-Men), get into a car and be driven away where later died.


      At the core of his desperate firefight was a murderous attacker who simply would not go down, even though he was shot 14 times with .45-cal. ammunition — six of those hits in supposedly fatal locations…

      “I thought I was hitting him, but with shots going through his clothing it was hard to tell for sure. This much was certain: he kept moving and kept shooting, trying his damnedest to kill me.”

      In this free-for-all, the assailant had, in fact, been struck 14 times. Any one of six of these wounds — in the heart, right lung, left lung, liver, diaphragm, and right kidney — could have produced fatal consequences…“in time,” Gramins emphasizes.



      The single, errant bullet struck the son in his pinky-finger, then went on to enter the kid’s abdomen. For a teenager, the kid was big and pudgy, in excess of two-hundred pounds. The round, a 45ACP Winchester Silvertip, is a good, high-performance, defensive pistol round. It penetrated a shirt, an undershirt, and then six inches of fatty abdomen before stopping. It did not exit.

      Upon being thus struck, the kid was able to walk, without assistance, out of the range and into our lounge area, where he sat down and quietly waited. Police and EMS arrived within minutes, and the young man was transported to a local hospital. He is expected to make a full recovery, and the only apparent, permanent disability will result from trauma to his finger!

      Mettinger absorbed nine rounds from Borders’ .45—six of which hit him in the torso and two more of which literally severed his right foot—without any significant effect on his fighting ability. This would have been remarkable even if Officer Borders had been firing marginally effective rounds, but he was using .45 caliber Gold Dot ammunition, which is considered by many to be the best man-stopper on the market.

      Unfortunately, such resistance to gunfire is not particularly unusual in police shootings.

    1. I think the Gunsite guys did some tests. They have been saying this for years. Can’t give you a cite though.

  3. When I was a teen an LA cop ND’d an AR into the ceiling of an apartment that was being raided killing a (woman?) in the unit above. Sorry but I don’t have a link.

  4. But Caleb! If we abandon these stupid myths, what we will argue about in the internets!?1?

    1. AR-15 vs AK-47? DI vs piston? Glock vs Springfield vs S&W? Lubricants and cleaning solvents?

      1. ^^^^^^^^^^ Can’t like that one enough! And, because it’s the internet, we will make stuff up to argue about if and when “the great debates” are solved and answered.

  5. Kudos for stating #1. People expecting 45ACP to deliver magic can be very unpleasantly surprised. They may also be underprepared for what will happen when the magic does not occur.

    Recently on Ballistic Radio Ernest Langdon described a friend’s encounter which involved a bad guy taking 3 45s in the chest and continuing. The bad guy was not blown backward through the door like in Last Man Standing. Self Defense guys should not prepare themselves for less.

    Unfortunately, this myth of the 45 lives on and on.


  6. 9mm and 40 and 45 arent the same. Cause 40 sucks and the other two calibers rule 🙂

  7. Glad you finally found a use for my Starbucks ballistics gel photo following your ‘incident’

  8. 1. Nobody like a face full of 22’s, let alone 9/40/45s.

    2. The bore axis deal may be myth but the HK in the vid looks like it has a metric ton of slide riding on that frame. Is bore axis measured in relation to how high one can grip the frame? I was comparing photos of a Sig P226 and a M&P9 and there seems to be a difference of at least 0.5″ of beavertail-to-slide distance between the two designs. One can get used to shoot any pistol and with practice shoot it well, but the distance of the moving mass to the wrist has to have some noticeable effect on the feel (given the same shooter and ammunition). In the end, just pick one and shoot it.

    5. So will your 5-second draw.

  9. The high bore axis deal, I experimented using a Glock 17 and an HK USP both in 9mm shooting the Steel Challenge stages ( alternating on different days). I found out that I was a tad slower with the USP and blamed it the the higher bore axis slowing me down on recovery. Has anyone done any actual research on this “myth” ?

    1. Works better if you use the exact same model back to back.

      I have a Sig SP2022 in .40. My range buddy has one in 9mm. I got mine after I shot his. I shot an M&P 9 and 40 before, so I figured the difference would be negligible. I was wrong. The Sig in .40 snaps everywhere.

  10. The High bore axis myth can be somewhat confirmex by looking at what competitors use. Look at production division, and you dont see just low bore axis guns like glocks and m&ps, but you also see czs and tangfolios. If youd think there is such an advantage to using a low bore axis guns, dont you think the guys who win and lose by fractions of a second would all use low bore axis firearms?

    1. Yet you see almost no one using Sigs, which are the biggest bore axis offenders. The CZs and Tanfog’s do have higher bore axes than plastic guns, but in the case of the Stock 2 and Accu-shadow, they are super heavy, have super nice SA pulls, and can shoot 2 inch groups at 50 yards. It’s all about pros and cons.

      Even in that Hk video Caleb posted there still seemed to be some excessive muzzle flip, despite the fast splits.

      1. You don’t see people using Sigs because you can get two plastic guns (pick your flavor) or an entry level STI for the same price. You’ve also got an entire cadre of people that are already playing the sport that will tell you it’s easier to learn the trigger on a SAO or striker gun. I’ve never had any body comment on bore axis.

        I wouldn’t know, I learned on a DA gun and so that’s what I shoot.

  11. Regarding stopping power mythology: there are stories of soldiers being hit soildly by full bore battle rifle rounds, yet went on fighting.
    And a pistol is supposed to be putting someone down every single time? I think not.

  12. CZ’s and Tangfolio’s can be tuned to have light smooth DA’s and extremely light SA triggers, which is a big reason you see them in Production.

  13. Gun nuts my age and older came of age really before the internet was a driving force in gun culture. I remember sitting around the ready room reading old issues of Guns & Ammo and American Rifleman long before I ever knew what a gun blog or a gun forum was. In fact, I didn’t join my first forum until 2005, back in the heady days before monitization and SEO became the name of the game.

    Oh come on. What are you, 30? You still have some years to go before you can start telling the kids to get off your lawn 🙂

  14. Well, I don’t want to get into the Tech stuff @ this late time of Day. But, I Have 45 yrs. of Gun Magazines. Many of them Autografed by Bill Jorden, Jeff Cooper,, C. Heston & Many others over the yrs.. They were given to me by other people mostly in the early days. Then I began to buy my own. Have read every one from cover to cover many times over the years. I had to sell off a load of them @ a garage sale several years ago so I could store more reloading components in the same space in my work shop.

  15. “You can upgrade a Mosin in a way that makes it better”

    Actually, you can but it does not make any sense. If you go through the process where you eliminate all Mosin weakneses, you’ll end up with a gun that has all parts replaced except modified bolt and bolt frame. And the money spent would buy you two more accurate modern rifles.


    If you want an accurate Mosin, buy Finnish M-39 and load your own ammo with Lapua D166 bullets.

  16. Regarding the “High Bore Axis” myth, I think there’s some truth to it, but we have such horrible ways to measure felt recoil that it’s impossible to have an objective conversation about it. I recently test fired a SIG 320 which came into my inventory. It felt gorgeous in my hand and the trigger was awesome for a stock DA pistol, but the one thing I immediately noticed was the unusual amount of “muzzle flip”. I compared it to an 5″ M&P CORE, a 5.25″ Glock 34, and a stock 4.25″ M&P 9. The other three pistols felt more manageable with double-taps, whereas with the 320, I felt I needed a fraction more time to get the front sight back into the A zone. I totally get what you’re saying though, and it’s very true that guns with so-called “high bore axis” are used with great success in professional matches. I fully intend to shoot the hell out of this SIG 320 in some upcoming IDPA and USPSA matches, but I think we can’t be dismissive about such design considerations. I noticed that the bore axis for the SIG 320 was 3/8″ higher than the M&P or Glock (using, admittedly, my own non-gun-snob-approved method involving a ruler). Does this mean that the SIG 320 is bad? Definitely not, this thing is The New Hotness (hint: It’s just a striker-fired 250, but it’s nicely designed), and the quality matches SIG’s reputation. Does this mean that high bore axis results in more felt recoil? Well, I don’t know, but I’ve been shooting long enough to almost be in “old codger” territory (wait, is 51 “old” yet? I’m not up on the 50-is-the-new-something from trendy magazine articles these days). I will try to gather a few friends in the next week or so and see what they think. Hopefully we can set up a steel plate rack and run splits to see if there’s any statistical evidence, but it still won’t be objective enough.

    1. This. I always hear people complain about the “long reset,” after letting out the trigger without cycling the action first. It’s going to take them longer to reacquire their sight picture anyway. It’s mostly a non-issue for me, and unless you’re a competitive shooter a shorter reset is not going to make a damn bit of difference.

      IMHO, of course.

  17. Hello all.. On the subject of handgun performance, specifically 45 acp fmj. Go to this site http://www.army.mil/medalofhonor/recipients.html. I started by clicking on ww!! a-f. Open that page then on your browser bar, click edit, find on this page and search for the word “pistol”. These are the stories of Medal of Honor Recipients. It’s pretty amazing how many times you’ll see 7 rounds in pistol, 7 enemy killed. Or 7 killed then 2 or 3 beat to death with empty pistol. Not every story states that the pistol used was a 45 acp, some do though. I don’t believe any specifically states fmj ammo but I believe it would be safe to assume that is what was used. The stories are amazing to say the least.

    Here is an example, which I copied and pasted from the site listed above

    “Sergeant. Baker refused, insisting that he be left alone and be given a soldier’s pistol with its remaining 8 rounds of ammunition. When last seen alive, Sergeant. Baker was propped against a tree, pistol in hand, calmly facing the foe. Later Sergeant. Baker’s body was found in the same position, gun empty, with 8 Japanese lying dead before him. His deeds were in keeping with the highest traditions of the U.S. Army.”

    Don’t forget to do the same thing on the Korean War, Vietnam etc. You’ll get around 30 or so hits per page.

    And God Bless all those heros who gave their lives and all who fought and served so that I may be free.

  18. Um, no pistol round will stop every target every time. .45 will provably do it more often than a 9mm if both are shooting ball ammo. With the very best ammo in all, AND THE AMMO EXPANDS AS DESIGNED, they are all more or less equally good (or bad). Since I can’t guarantee every round will expand perfectly and it is less likely that the 9mm will expand perfectly (either the design is a bit too fragile to reliably not fragment or a bit too solid to expand reliably) I prefer the .45.

  19. Ummm.. John Hinkley fired at President Reagan with a short barreled .22. James Brady, Tim McCarthy (USSS), PO Delehanty (DC metro PD) and, wait for it… the President (ricochet off the armor plate on his vehicle).

    1. Yep, .22. is really good for wounding people, and even moderately good at eventually killing people. Just not a reliable way to STOP someone, and that is what it is all about.

      1. Yet every one hit (single shot hit) was stopped dead in their tracks. Delehanty hit the ground hard 1.2 seconds after being hit, Tim was thrown backwards (and he’s a big boy) and on the ground unable to move, Brady went down hard and sadly is messed up for life and Reagan was 10 minutes from tapping out when he made it to the ER. I don’t know what your definition of “stopped” is, but no one mentioned was “still in the fight”, they were stopped, on the ground and out of the game.

        1. In this instance, it appears that the .22 performed well above average. Just because it CAN stop the fight does not mean that it always WILL. stop the fight. Also, look at the people who were shot. Secret Service agents hopefully are trained to continue fighting after a “minor” hit, so that they were stopped is impressive. Reagan was probably not so trained and as such could be more easily stopped. Bullet placement played a big part. And the .22s used were “exploding” which may or may not have played a role.

          My definition of “stopped” is a person who is attacking me or mine is unable to continue doing so, even if they are trained and/or on something or just plain mean. Will a .22 do that? Sometimes, but I want something which will do it “more often”. In order, .45, .357, 9mm with the best bullet design. In a pinch, .40 (10mm) with the best bullet design, .44 special or .45 colt will do.

  20. Yup. I have two pistols, otherwise VERY similar in weight (well, technically, mass, but that’s physics geekery and pedantics. . . 😉 ), similar mass distribution, similar barrel lengths, firing the same rounds. Only one has a noticeably higher bore axis than the other. The one with the higher bore axis definately has more muzzle flip. (Shockingly, physics works, even when applied to guns! LOL )

    However, since it also has a better trigger, I still shoot it better.

    So, Myth Confirmed — but HIGHLY exaggerated. Other factors are way more relevant.

  21. equippedcat May 3, 2014 at 14:19

    If 9x19mm was only 10% effective and .45ACP was 80% effective, I would agree with your thinking.

    Unfortunately, since your numbers are pure BS, so is your conclusion. GIGO – Garbage In, Garbage Out.

    With modern JHP ammo, all of the rounds we Westerners think of as “service pistol level” are within a couple of percentage points.

    So, it’s more like:

    Do you prefer a gun with 8 rounds that is 65% likely to stop an attack with a single shot, or a gun that holds 16 rounds that is 63% likely to stop an attack with one shot?

    Another factor to consider is, what if you can get off 3 accurate rounds from the “63% gun” for every 2 accurate rounds you can get from the “65%” gun? Because the best solution for a failure to stop is “Shoot him again!” The responding officers don’t give you a rebate on unused ammo, after all. . .

    As for ammo capacity encouraging poor shooting – well, that’s why armies discouraged repeating rifles, then semiautomatic rifles, then automatic rifles, for so long. According to that reasoning, the M14 should have been a CQB only rifle and snipers would be issued .45-70 Trapdoor Springfields. . .

    1. The 10% number was specifically directed to the guy who felt that a .22 was the best choice for defense. The 9mm is much more reliable at stopping than the .22, and with the best bullets can be in the same range of effectiveness as the .40 and .45. The problem is threefold. First of all the “best bullets” tend to be expensive (and sometimes in short supply), which makes stocking up on them more of a challenge. Next, these bullets have their performance provided by their expansion while remaining in one piece. If they don’t expand, they don’t provide the superior performance, and if they fragment, they may even provide inferior performance. And lastly, sometimes the expanding bullets have a flatter nose, which may reduce feeding reliability in some guns. Thus, for me, I’d rather have 2000 .45 ball than 200 super-duper 9mm.

      But then, I’ve carried both calibers, and I’ve always had the same amount of ammo with me, just not in the gun. Less ammo in the clip intuitively means more clips. And I find I can shoot more accurately and faster with the slow push of a .45 than with the snap of a 9mm.

      If there is only one attacker, then “shoot, evaluate, shoot again” is a reasonable technique. With multiple attackers, you want a highly effective shot strategy which allows you to quickly incapacitate all attackers with the minimal odds that one can continue the attack.

  22. Studies I have seen have shown there is a difference in “stopping power” if you consider FMJ bullets. 9mm does far better than 7,65 browning here and a 357 magnum will do better than a 9mm. But as soon as Hollow points come into play, a 9 mm with like 90% stopping chance does not differ much from the larger calibres who might deliver like 3-5% more statistical stopping power. 9 mm HP is extremely effective, 9 mm FMJ is like “ok” effective. So if you are using HP rounds, larger calibres than 9mm aren´t really worth the extra restrictions they give (mag capacity, recoil etc.)

    1. Hollow points are indeed very effective – if they expand and if they don’t fragment.

      If I was going to carry a 9mm for some reason, then certainly I’d fill it with the best bullets I could get and hope for the best. If I get to choose which gun to carry, I’m going to choose one which does not NEED hollow points but put reasonable hollow points in it anyway. I figure I’m covered whether the bullets expand or not.

  23. Green tips don’t fragment out of less than an 18 inch barrel. your twist rates are useful in determining bullet drop at different weights.

  24. equippedcat May 6, 2014 at 21:37

    “With multiple attackers, you want a highly effective shot strategy which allows you to quickly incapacitate all attackers with the minimal odds that one can continue the attack.”

    Which is why, with multiple attackers, the gun I can shoot just as accurately, but 50% faster, for a statistically insignificant difference in “stopping power” is the winner.

    So, a high capacity 9mm beats out a .45ACP for multiple attackers as well — if you are using modern JHPs. (If I’m stuck with ball ammo, I’ll stay with .45ACP, thank you. Because a .45 FMJ is significantly larger than a 9mm FMJ, and neither one will be expanding any significant amount.)

    NOTE — I am a 1911 guy who prefers to carry a .45ACP Commander, but often finds himself carrying a 9x19mm or even 380 in wamrer weather or a suit, for concealability (I can carry an LCP in nylon running shorts and not be real obvious, and it pocket carries great). I just realize that as warm and fuzzy as .45ACP makes me feel, and as comfortable as I am with the 1911 (due to decades of familiarity), I realize it isn’t a Magic Death Ray and modern 9x19mm ammo works just fine.

  25. RawDawg May 8, 2014 at 01:23
    “Green tips don’t fragment out of less than an 18 inch barrel. your twist rates are useful in determining bullet drop at different weights.”

    You left off, “At 100 meters or farther range.” M855 (“green tips”) _DO_ fragment at CQB ranges. They fragment at the same velocities that M193 will – therefor they (on average) will fragment the same as an M193 from the same barrel if the M193 was being shot about 50m farther. (Or to put it another way, if you are counting on bullet fragmentation to determine effective stopping range, M855 costs you roughly 50m versus M193.)

  26. Hello,

    With all due respect, you are wrong about the Mosin-Nagant.

    I agree that there are mods out there that are silly and/or don’t make sense to the majority of us.

    However, the Mosin-Nagant 91/30 is indeed capable of benefiting from several upgrades. One must understand why and how the Mosin was designed first.

    1. The M91 was developed as a response to the smokeless repeaters then being introduced by the French and Germans.

    2. The M91 was a relatively fine rifle. The trigger was built on the instinctive shooting principle, and Russian sniper rifles, for example, did have improved triggers compared to the standard issue models.

    3. The M91 and M91/30 were sighted in with bayonets fixed. The bayonet was to be on the rifle, no exceptions, unless it was totally impractical to have them affixed. Therefore, most M91 rifles and variants shoot high and right with the bayonet off.

    4. The stock was designed to be more as a spear handle for bayonet use than a rifle stock. Some WWI Russian commanders relied so heavily on the bayonet that they saw no real reason to issue ammo, other than that they were ordered to do so.

    5. The M91 and M91/30 had to be user-friendly for the lowest common denominator. The standing army was well trained. When they began pulling conscripts to the field, they were largely under-trained.

    6. The Russians and Soviet Russians were big believes in aimed fire. The graduations on the rear sights were used, with the unit commander being in charge of range estimation. The soldiers would be told what sight setting to use and how many rounds to fire. At cease fire, the rear sight was immediately returned to the 100 arshin (or later, meter) position.

    There were accuracy standards for both standard and sniper Mosins, and prescribed proof methods.

    These standards were somewhat lax, though, by a western rifleman’s standards. The fact was that the Russians had a lot of people and could afford lax standards.

    Enter the Finns.

    The Finnish did not share the same philosophy. When they were under Russian rule, the Russians issued them M91 rifles.

    Well, the Finns, almost from the outset, went to improving them.

    First came improved mechanical accuracy. Different stocks and slightly heavier barrels saw to this.

    Next came triggers and sights and overall ergonomic improvement.

    When they were done in 1939, they had a general-issue rifle that was required to group at about 1.3MOA on the outside. Most did much better than this.

    The Finnish M27, M28, and M39 are comparable in quality and precision to Swedish Mausers. The D166 round was introduced to work with the mechanical precision.

    Fast-forward to today.

    You go out and purchase a refurb 91/30. As you’re going through it, check the stock’s inletting for high points and overall smoothness.

    Don’t like the trigger? Grab an M39 trigger. They’re out there. It will give you a better pull than many Mausers.

    Shim or bed the stock. Add a pressure pad (cork works!) to the end of the barrel.

    Improve the sights. Mojo sights and my sights both work well and appeal to different people.

    Most times just the few steps above will get the rifle shooting sub-MOA to 2.5MOA depending on barrel condition.

    I disagree with the high bore axis etc, but will address that at another time, maybe.


    Josh Smith
    Smith-Sights LLC

  27. History note: Ronald W. Regaan and Robert F. Kennedy were both targeted at close range by assassins with .22 pistols. Both were accompanied by Secret service with service pistols. President Reagan survived his attack with an amazing surgical team. More recently, two elderly patrons using their short barrel .22 pistols (one shot each) took down a shotgun shooting bad guy in a Florida restaurant He survived to stand trial and was convicted.

    Much of the discussion of “suitable” calibers misses the absolute defensive training axiom: Have a gun.

  28. Mr. McGaffey: For shame sir! Your last sentence introduces an entirely unwarranted dose of reality into an otherwise delightful wiener-waving competition.

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