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The Best Handgun Caliber – A Real World Study ~ VIDEO

Ammoland TV, Ammunition News, Firearm News, Rational Preps, Youtube


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

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

Greg Ellifritz did just that.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Caliber Failure Rate

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stopping Power

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

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

So what caliber gun should you carry?

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

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

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

The .410 Anomaly

Taurus The Judge Revolver
Taurus The Judge Revolver

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Here is the link to the original data and study by Ellifritz: http://www.activeresponsetraining.net.

Background Music: – Tumbleweed Texas – Chris Haugen



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