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Law Enforcement Handgun Stopping Power Part Two; Firearm Training Schedule, Shooting Calibers, Self Defense & More

Last week, Shooting Range Industries posted part one of our series on stopping power. Click here to view it and continue reading for part two!

Firearm Training Schedule

A shooter that is involved in shooting sports, practices on a regular interval and is familiar with the .45 ACP, is more likely to handle this large caliber more effectively than the occasional shooter. Given the cost of ammunition, few of us not involved in shooting sports may not train enough to be highly proficient. Even police departments have gone to longer intervals between firearms training. In the 1960’s through the 1980’s monthly training was fairly common. With escalating costs, bi-monthly training was instituted. Cost of ammunition and with personnel on the clock at the range with the attendant down time, shooting training considerations has dictated that most training during the year is conducted on a quarterly basis with mandatory qualifications twice a year.

9mm Handgun for Home & Self Defense Ranks High for Weapon Control

It would seem that on the average, the 9mm is a winner in the control category with sufficient penetration, energy delivery and cost to be the primary self defense candidate for the concealed carry and law enforcement. However, choosing a weapon and caliber is a personal choice and we all have our own criteria for picking our tools for defense.

High Intensity Shooting Calibers

There is little doubt that the high intensity calibers like the .40 S&W and the 357 SIG, which is a .40 S&W necked down to a 9mm, are effective man stoppers. The average shooter is distracted by the muzzle blast, particularly in low light situations. The “snappy” recoil experienced also makes it more difficult to stay on target. These high intensity calibers are hard on the gun, causing accelerated wear over the more sedate 9mm and 45 ACP.

Cost of Handgun Ammo

Then comes the cost. High intensity rounds are expensive. Given a minimum of 30 to as high as 50 rounds fired in the typical qualification, a department with 1,000 civilian and officer shooters will consume up to 50,000 rounds per qualification and this consumption of ammunition does not include training. Even with as low as a 10% difference, the saving in ammunition procurement can be substantial. This saving transfers to the individual shooter as well.

.45 ACP Pistols

The .45 ACP is a unique cartridge. It, like the 9mm has been around since the turn of the century. The government developed the 1911 Colt and its ammunition for the cavalry. Yes the cavalry, as they needed a weapon that can be quickly reloaded while mounted during combat. The 1911 served faithfully until the adoption of the Beretta 92 chambered in 9mm in 1984. It should be noted that the .45 ACP is a favorite of SWAT teams, law enforcement agencies and military special operations units.

Bullet Penetration

The use of non-expanding “ball” ammunition in military confrontations would diminish the relative effectiveness of the 9mm. Whether 9mm expands or not, we know the .45 isn’t going to get smaller. There are downsides. Studies have shown that the minimum velocity for skin and bone penetration is around 300 feet per second. There are recorded instances of the 45 auto not penetrating heavy winter clothing. The .45 ACP is a large round and this affects the magazine capacity.

Does Handgun Caliber Matter?

The FBI tests indicated that ammunition in regards to shooting modern expanding projectiles, there is little difference in effectiveness from caliber to caliber. This is measured by shooting blocks of ballistic gelatin that fairly approximates human tissue consistency and comparing the wound channel. The wound channel is caused by the bullet creating a shock wave that travels radially and perpendicular to the bullets travel. This causes damages to tissue and organs, but more importantly the central nervous system. Good enough for comparison purposes, but some contend there are too many variable to be precise. Though the FBI tends to be scientific and precise in their experimentation, it does not mean their testing is infallible.

Custom Shooting Ranges for Law Enforcement & Military Groups & Private Citizens

This two part series on stopping power is bought to you by Shooting Range Industries. Contact us to learn more about our containerized shooting ranges!