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9mm, 45 ACP or Other Caliber for Home Self Defense; Testing Handgun Stopping Power & More

Those who carry concealed weapons have an intrinsic need to know what constitutes the best caliber to equip themselves with. Statistically few CCW permittees are ever engaged in a deadly force contest. But faced with a deadly confrontation we want the most from the gun and cartridge we can get.

9mm vs 45 ACP for Home Defense

A note on military weapons firing non-expandable projectiles. The 9mm vs 45 ACP, the 45 ACP in many opinions is the better round. It doesn’t get any smaller. Adoption of the 9mm by the US military was as much a political decision and had economical considerations as well. You can by more 9mm round per $1000 than 45 ACP. The 9mm is used virtually everywhere else and is the NATO standard. Round effectiveness was devalued in favor of political and economic reasons. For the civilian shooter with a plethora of expanding projectile loaded ammunition the argument narrows somewhat. Take the 25 ACP for instance, few if any knowledgeable shooters would serious consider this caliber for self-defense. The humble .22 Long Rifle is a more effective round. But is there a method to rate the relative effectiveness of a particular caliber? Some may come close, but the controversy leaves the issue in a state of confusion.

Study of FBI Active Shooter Incidents & Statistics

Inductive practitioners approach the subject from the stand point that there is only one way to effectively evaluate the ability of a certain caliber and bullet to stop an aggressor, and that is to study actual shooting incidents. They collect information from police confrontations and personal involvements in real shooting events to evaluate the effectiveness of a cartridge.

Testing Handgun Stopping Power

Deductive Method – The deductive method, typified by the FBI, is to conduct tests under standardized test conditions in a laboratory environment. Most tests use ballistic gelatin, that approximates muscle tissue. The rating the round is dependent on the size and depth of the permanent and temporary wound cavities. The FBI specifies that penetration of between 12 and 18 inches, to reach vital organs.
Inductive Method – In inductive analysis there are some vagaries in the results and the fact that organic beings are complicated and not only physiological factors attribute to continue aggression, but there is a psychological factor as well. Influence of chemicals substances not only synthetic but bodies excretion of adrenalin and endorphins must figure as well. The mental state is critical. Incidents where people died from near superficial wound while others survive horrific physical damage, and live puzzle the scientific and medical communities. The only tentative explanation is the media, where death due to gunfire is immediate, ‘I’ve been shot therefore I must die’. The reality is a lot messier and few die immediately unless there a massive disruption to the cardiovascular or central nervous systems (heart, aorta, brain and brain stem).

Role of Self Defense

The whole role of self-defense is to stop or cancel the ability of determined and violent offensive physical aggression. The goal is not to kill but stop an attack quickly and decisively to preserve life and limb. There are numerous incidents where an attacker has succeeded in aggressively causing death or injury, but have in turn suffered a mortal wound to die later.

Custom Shooting Ranges for Practice & Realistic Training

The search for the ideal caliber and bullet combos sway with the times. The FBI was instrumental in the adoption of the 40 S&W, but are swinging back towards the 9mm. Facing curtailed budgets, the military is looking for any promising cost reduction means, and are subject to political pressure and mandate. However, one must consider that SWAT and special operators in many cases turn to 45 ACP. There appears that no credible empirical method to rate the effectiveness of ammunition currently in favor. You must go with what you’re comfortable with, based on your personal experience and prejudice. Whatever you decide, Shooting Range Industries offers custom portable modular shooting ranges where you can conveniently hone your skills. Contact us for more info today!

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