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Stopping power

2873 Views 30 Replies 26 Participants Last post by  Danomite 45
One thing that has always worried me is will a .45 stop em if some one is comming at you with a weapon will the .45 Acp stop them or will they keep comming? What grain slug is best for stopping power?
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Clint Smith of Thunder Ranch fame, in the most recent copy of "Guns & Ammo," states that he only fires 230 grain hardball through his gun, mainly for reliability purposes. Says something about the sheer size of the slug and its stopping power....

Also, if you're reading the magazine, take a look at Jeff Cooper's comment about how to stop the resurgence in open water piracy. Col. C always makes me chuckle.
The Federal 230 grain Hydra-Shok probably has the best reputation for reliable stopping power, but 1) you will get a lot of argument no matter which load you propose, and 2) the difference is slight with a well placed shot.

No pistol round can be counted on to stop a doped up nut case with body shots. Only an "optical cavity" shot is really reliable.
Originally posted by Greg1911:
One thing that has always worried me is will a .45 stop em if some one is comming at you with a weapon will the .45 Acp stop them or will they keep comming? What grain slug is best for stopping power?
Someone coming at you, determined to kill you, even shot through the heart, has about 15 seconds to finish the job.
Unless you hit the spinal cord, brain or shatter the pelvis, they will keep coming if they are determined or on some kind of drug.
Two shots, center mass, if they are still coming, go for the groin. Keep firing until the attack is stopped.
Whether it's a .45, 9mm, .357, or anything else, I think the best stopper is a reliably (with the ammo carried) functioning and combat accurate pistol, shot placement, and of course proper drills - in this context the Mozambique drill.

Study up on Coopers writings and you'll get the other essential ingredients
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If it's not at least a crew served weapon that needs wheels for transport, it doesn't have "stopping power." Bullets make holes in things and unless you get a central nervous system shutdown, there is little chance of stopping anyone immediately. Absent a CNS hit, you're relying on hypovolemic shock (loss of blood pressure) which may take 15 seconds or more to have "stopping" effect. Just make big holes in BG and repeat as needed.
The .45 ACP has been doing an effective job as a defensive-weapon cartridge since 1911. Its main claim to fame is that it is a large-caliber round (doesn't require lots of expansion to produce a large diameter wound), with good penetration. There are countless documented incidents where the .45 has provided the desired results, over the decades, both in the military and civilian arena. Most of these have involved 230 FMJ("ball") loads.
As the other respondants have indicated- no handgun cartridge will always produce 1-shot stops to the problem. Shoot well, and often if needed.
When the Army went looking for a replacement for the .38 Long Colt of Phillipine Insurgency infamy, they finally selected the Browning design sidearm and the .45 ACP cartridge designed for it. But even so, they stressed the need to, in effect, keep shooting, because you can't be sure you will stop anyone - Moro warrior or not - with one hit.

Some statistical studies seem to show that a fast-stepping 125-grain hollowpoint from a .357 Magnum is the most effective fight-stopper. That is what I kept handy for almost 30 years. Then I bought a .45, and it replaced the .357. Go figure.

"Rapid exsanguination" is a term you sometimes hear from intellectual cops. Means rapid blood loss. As pointed out by others, you incapacitate through massive blood loss, destruction of motor capability, or disruption of nervous control. A .45 caliber "punkin ball" will take care of the blood loss issue - but so will pretty much any good caliber. Everything else is bullet placement.

If God didn't want us to own guns, why did He make the 1911?
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As blinder and others alluded to, they are only pistols........but as far as handguns go, they are good with the right ammo.
Climbing on the same bandwagon as Shane and blinder, and others. It's just a pistol; lather, rinse, repeat...wait, that's shampoo. Sights, trigger, press...repeat as necessary; or in the highly logical Thunder Ranch vernacular, "Shoot until the threat is no longer available...". Expect it not to work, so anticipate additional shots required. Relative stopping power of a pistol is an interesting subject, but even the best are pretty feeble in the stopping power arena.
Originally posted by Greg1911:
One thing that has always worried me is will a .45 stop em if some one is comming at you with a weapon will the .45 Acp stop them or will they keep comming? What grain slug is best for stopping power?
It is not all bad to be worried about such things. "I hit him and he didn't go down" was probably the famous last words of a lot of people.

If you start thinking that "this round carries the power of the hammer of Thor and will put him down with one shot" then you probably won't go to the trouble of making yourself a poor target...which is more important than doing damage.

By no means am I disparaging the .45 (I carry one) it is just that "Stopping Power" brings up images of people being incapacitated throught the tranfer of some force (which I used to be a beleive in BTW)... it doesn't happen that way. They are either turned off like a light switch (with a CNS hit) or they just sort of "leak out" slowly. Of course some faint but then we can't count on that

Best regards,
Jim Higginbotham
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Greg1911, go pick up the November 2001 issue of Combat Handguns. Rick Miller covers this subject quite well in this months "Tactics" column.
A lot of talk centers around the "dopers" who don't go down. Let's clear that up a little.

Illicit drugs can be put into the following categories:
1.) DEPRESSANTS---This is alcohol (yes, alcohol is a drug), barbituates, marijuana, and diazepams. There are more, but those are the most popular.
2.) STIMULANTS---This is amphetamine, methamphetamine, cocaine and its derivatives (i.e. "crack"), caffeine, and some of the so-called "designer drugs" such as ecstacy.
3.) HALLUCINOGENS---This is LSD, PCP, ketamine, psilocybic mushrooms, and mescaline.
4.) NARCOTICS---These are the highly addictive derivates of opium which include heroin, morphine, and laudanum.

Again, this is not a comprehensive list, just a list of the commonly-on-the-street drugs.

Now, out of the DEPRESSANTS category, someone under the influence of alcohol is the most likely to suffer a wound he might not be immediately incapacitated by. And alcohol is legal, so the likelihood of encountering someone under its influence is quite high. Another note: Among ALL drugs, alcohol is by far among the most dangerous to get into a confrontation with someone under the influence of. And, contrary to the teachings of such ridiculously naive movies as "Reefer Madness", someone under the influence of marijuana is probably less of a threat than someone stone, cold sober. Now among stimulants, methamphetamine is the worst-case scenario to encounter someone on. This is followed by cocaine. This is because it creates a false sense of invincibility in its user that actually transcends pain. Bear in mind, cocaine was once used by the natives of Peru to combat hunger pain, and amphetamine derivates were used by German troops on the Eastern Front in WW2 to still them in the face of Soviet "human wave" assaults. The likelihood of encountering someone under the inflence of methamphetamine is growing by leaps and bounds every day. Methamphetamine is among the most dangerous to encounter someone on BECAUSE the drug causes extreme paranoia, delusions of being threatened, irrationality, and stimulates violent tendencies. The "designer"drugs are growing in use daily and some can certainly lead to irrational, and therefore, dangerous behavior. Now, among the HALLUCINOGENS, PCP is the one that is the "classic" drug of people in the "shot twenty times and kept coming" incidents everyone is referring to these days. Among some, it is believed that it was the availability of this drug which lead to police departments abandoning the .38 Special. PCP, originally, was a tranqilizer for dangerous, wild animals such as tigers, rhinos, and elephants. As it was never intended for human use, its effects are, not suprisingly, quite opposite from its effects on large animals. Referred to as "angel dust", this is the ne plus ultra of dangerous drugs. It probably sits at the very top of the top five most dangerous drugs to encounter someone on. The likelhood of encountering someone on it is not nearly as great as encountering someone on meth or alcohol, but he who encounters someone on PCP is in a potential world of deep excrement ecause it is absolutely true: people uder the influence of PCP have actually been shot multiple times wthout going down. This is a real "night of the living dead" drug. Most of the other hallucinogens are not threatening as the users are by and large incapacitated by the drug itself. Peyote does not (contrary to the BS writings of Carlos Casteneda) cause people to act in a violent manner; on the contrary, peyote is used as a Sacrament in Native American Church Ceremonies and there are no adverse effects. Ketamine is pretty new, so it may or may not be a dangerous one to encounter someone on (but being a "synthetic", it probably might be a dangerous one.) Mushrooms are relatively benign as far as halluciogens go and are more likely to incapacitate the user during the duration of their use. LSD can be dangerous if the quantities are not strictly measured. Being as street drugs are not precise, yes, it can be dangerous to encounter someone under its influence. Now with the NARCOTICS, the problem is that they are painkillers. Bear in mind, this is what they give to someone who has lost an arm or leg or suffered serious injury. Being as a person under its influence is already deadened to pain, inflicting more won't bother him much. But on the flipside of the coin, it tends to be a soporific, so there won't be any feats of superhuman strength such as go along with PCP users.

Summarized, the drugs most likely to create kockdown problems are as follows:
1.) PCP

Being as alcohol is more common, it is, by far, the biggest threat.

Now, in such cases, it is arguable as to whether or not a bigger caliber is better. But, the truth is, when hunting dangerous game, hunters still opt for the bigger calibers. That is, a larger mass might open more tissue, cause more bleeding, and have more potential to strike an organ or the spinal column. I think that if I knew for a fact I was facing a person under the influence of a dangerous drug, I'd want a 12 gauge shotgun. Or my .44 Magnum or my .45, if not both. That's based on what I know about the effects of these drugs on people.


Those that beat their swords into plowshares will plow for those that don't
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.45 ACP is a good caliber, but nothing is 100%. For any given scenario, the best defense is to not be there. If you have to be there, then as you are defending yourself, you should be finding a way out. Some people do not die fast enough and can still harm you. The only way to win the fight is to be alive afterwards. Killing the bad guy only means that he did not win, especially if he is able to kill you as well.

Except for absolute central nervous system shutdowns, bad people remain dangerous as long as they are alive and mobile. Mobile may simply mean that they retain the ability to harm you directly or with a weapon such as a gun. There are people shot through the heart (with every imaginable caliber from .25 in handguns, to rifle, to shotgun buckshot or slugs) who manage to live for a period of time after the heart has stopped functioning. Usually, such people live no more than 30 seconds, but that may be 30 seconds they are shooting at you, chasing you, or trying to cause you harm.

Never forget that the greater the distance you are from the bad situation, the better your chances are of coming out alive. Also don't forget that while you think there may be one bad guy, there is always the possibility of more. In other words, you can't count on being confronted with just one bad guy.

I carry .45 ACP because it is the largest handgun caliber that I can control well and still have the means to fire many shots on target and to reload quickly. I always carry spare ammo as well.
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Here is my take on the subject. I am not concerned about "1 shot stops". If I ever find myself in a situation in which I have to use my 45, you can bet that I will continue to fire until the threat is stopped. As a rule, the bad guy will take at least 2 shots minimum (this is how I practice). This may be considered overkill (pardon the pun) but the lives of my family and myself are worth it.

Hey Kevan, the drunk may not be in as much pain as a sober person but they are awful AWFUL grapplers. step on their foot and pistol whip them, or just sidestep their charge and pump rounds into them. i totally agree with you about the tweakers. a few years back me and some friends got into a brawl wiht a tweaker who was flipping out and hitting people for no reason. after getting his arms and ribs broke he ran out into traffic and got hit by two cars. he was still fighting the cops and the paramedics when they took him away... watch out for those tweakers and crackheads folks.
New drug of choice for those desiring a change of pace: marijuana dipped in embalming fluid. PCP type effects on the smoker.
Actually, the .45 acp has been used as a defensive round since prior to 1911. 1911 only marks the year the gun designed by Browning and underwent several modifications by the military was finally adopted as a military side arm. The .45 acp was used in several predecessors of the 1911 as early as 1906 as the gun and caliber was field tested in the Philippenes. As noted, it was to replace the .38 that failed to stop the local enemy that was often hyped on drugs and often did not see too bothered by being shot with the .38.
According to "Cartridges of the World", the .44-40 cartridge (probably in both the Winchester'73 and later Colt Peacemakers) killed more people in America than any ther round.

However, in the accounts of the famous "Shootout at the O.K. Corral", Billy Clanton and Frank McLowry both continued to fire at the Earp-Holliday faction after being hit with large caliber bullets (most likely .45 Long Colt, though Joh Henry "Doc" Holliday may have had a .44-40.) Also, Morgan and Virgil Earp sustained wounds that did not incapacitate them, though no vitals were hit. Only Tom McLowry, hit with a double-ought buckshot, immediately gave up the fight. The wounds suffered by these men should have been incapacitating; Frank was shot in the abdomen and Billy was shot in the chest. A prior shot hit Billy's right wrist and he then did the "border shift" and used his gun from his left hand. A head shot silenced Frank and Billy lost steam shortly after the chest shot. After the load of buckshot, Tom still had enough steam to stagger out into the street. But, we must bear in mind that these were cast, soft lead bullets propelled by black powder which gives lower velocity than smokeless. Further, there are an equal number of other cases where a .45 Long Colt or a .44-40 dropped a person in his tracks; probably more often than not. Even further, is that James Butler "Wild Bill" Hickok killed his foes (to include Dave Tutt shot through the heart at 50 feet) with a .36 caliber cap-and-ball revolver. Hickok was an excellent shot and hit his mark each time. He paid strict attention to every detail of his weapons and practiced almost daily.

So, I would tend to think that a large caliber coupled with good marksmanship will count when the chips are down.


Those that beat their swords into plowshares will plow for those that don't
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I tried out a friends Desert Eagle .50 semi-auto pistol at the range today...now thats stopping power...it was as big as a house...heck you could probly throw it at somebody and take them out for the count...he said that it was very accurate but I couldn't tell because the recoil had me yanking the trigger after the first shot
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