“Only Hits Count”

“Only Hits Count”

“Only Hits Count”

Recently I had the opportunity to read an article on 9mm for use as a defensive handgun cartridge. This article was the FBI 9mm Justification for Law Enforcement Partners by FBI Training Division, FBI Academy, Quantico, VA. This article discusses the long running debate over which defensive handgun cartridge is the best for law enforcement officers. Those who do carry concealed for personal protection should also consider their caliber selections advantages and disadvantages.

“First a quick lesson on wound ballistics, there is no magic bullet. The only shots capable of immediately incapacitating an attacker are hits to the Central Nervous System. Shots that cause massive bleeding, hit vital organs, large muscle masses, and major bones will also incapacitate an attacker, but they will have a period of time they may be mobile during this time is possible they could be able of continuing to attack their victim, possibly even inflicting life threatening wounds.” 5 Tips on  Selecting Ammunition for Concealed Carry

Handgun cartridges only cause a permanent wound cavity to the diameter of the bullet to the extent the bullet penetrates the attacker’s tissue. The fallacy that handgun cartridges can cause a temporary wound cavity is simply not possible as they do not produce enough velocity to do so. Fragmentation at typical handgun velocities is not sufficient to cause additional incapacitation and only reduce the amount of penetration achieved by a bullet that will fragment in tissue. The feet per second needed to differentiate between pistols from rifles starts at about 1700 fps.  The current FBI testing standard requires 12-18 inches of penetration into ballistic gelatin to be considered effective. While many medical examiners reports state they can not distinguish the difference between handgun cartridges used during autopsies. My thoughts are larger holes do lead to quicker incapacitation times when discussing marginal hits and hits to vital organs these hits do require blood loss to incapacitate an attacker.

While it is true technological advances in metallurgy have come a long ways in advancing the ammunition projectiles available for self-defense. There are some styles of projectiles that are not reliable.  When selecting your defensive load for self-defense you should choose a medium to heavy weight bullet in your selected caliber. It is recommended your chosen self-defense bullet is of a “Bonded Jacketed Hollow Point” design. This bullet should be achieving the fastest velocity it can and still safely be fired.

Bonded Jacketed Hollow Point Bullets are bonded through a chemical or electronic process resulting in the copper jacket becomes bonded to a lead core.  These bullets will have the best chance of staying together and achieving the penetration needed to hit the spine or a major organ when they hit the attacker. Bonded jacked hollow points are available through several manufactures, like Federals, Speer, and Winchester.

Non-bonded jacked hollow point bullets are formed by pressing a lead core into a copper jacket and held in place by friction and/or some type of crimping process. Bullets of this construction suffer from jacket core separations that can cause less than adequate penetration depths needed for self-defense.

Specialty self-defense ammunition consists of a copper jacket filled with birdshot. Once one of these self-defense rounds impacts they begin to fragment while fragmenting they are loosing mass. This loss of retained mass and deceleration generally provides poor penetration for self-defense purposes.

While many law enforcement agencies are considering switching to the 9mm -vs- staying with other commonly found cartridges in law enforcement, such as the .40 S&W and the .45ACP.  Citing many reasons such as:

  • Savings on price of ammunition.
  • Wounding potential is the same when comparing the 9mm with certain bullets to the .40S&W and .45ACP.
  • Increased accuracy for their weaker shooters.
  • Increased magazine capacities.
  • Reduced recoil.

While some of the reasons may warrant a valid switch for a law enforcement agency. For the people carrying concealed for personal protection the issue is a little more complex. What’s In Your Holster? To the average concealed carry person they want a pistol that:

  • Fits their hand
  • Controllable to shoot in your selected caliber.
  • Point ability allows the user to point the pistol at the target and quickly acquire the sights.
  • Accuracy for a defensive purposes and optimum distance the handgun must provide acceptable.
  • Reliability a defensive handgun should be reliable out of the box; if the weapon proves to be unreliable it would defeat its purpose even if it met the rest of the criteria needed for a concealed carry handgun.
  • Size & Weight Some handguns are just too light or small to be controlled easily with full power defensive ammunition, while others are so large that they either will expose more easily or will cost the owner extra effort and money to achieve the needed concealment. A heavy gun, if not worn correctly or with the wrong type of equipment, will be difficult to conceal and uncomfortable to carry.

This being said when it comes to personal protection the cost of the firearm and ammunition is a concern. Those of us carrying concealed do not have the budget of a law enforcement agency to purchase firearms, ammunition for self-defense and practice along with any other accessories that may be needed.

No matter what caliber, make, model of pistol you choose to use for self-defense training and practice are vitally important to surviving a potentially life threatening encounter. While teaching NRA Personal Protection classes and Non-NRA Defensive Pistol Courses, I have found a majority of student’s accuracy drops by 80% or more when faced with the Tuller Drill and students start with their firearm in the ready gun position.

In closing shot placement is paramount when faced with an attacker bent on causing you great bodily injury or death. While the goal would be to stop the attacker as quickly as possible, we need to remember…

“Speed is Fine but Accuracy is Final.” 

  • Greg

    What is them Tuller Drill? Thank you.

    • nm-observer

      Spell it Tueller if you’re looking it up. It basically shows defensive shooters that nearly anyone, regardless of age, size, speed, or weapon, can be on top of a defender before they can draw and fire if the attacker is within 21 feet. An eye-opener for those who think they are safe if the attacker “only” has a knife or a tire iron.

      • Michael Lentini, jr.

        In a gun club, long ago, everyone tried to beat the 2 second rule at 21′, from covered guns, with an agressor comming at them. By the time they drew and fired, the BG, was too close for anything but contact shots. You are not as good as you think. Get a shooting buddy and try it with a toy gun from where you carry it. It aint like the movies or TV! I’ve been there. Just look up my arrest record and court results. NOT GUILTY on all counts. Also, my bank account, which is void of anything, now. If you’re in a car, press the go pedal. If you’re walking with someone, put them behind you and take the bullet for them, then kill the bastard. If you are in your home, don’t let them past the door or window. GOD BLESS AMERICA.

  • Wizzardly

    Good summation of all the questions many of us are already asking.
    What about answers?

  • TexasJester

    A safe observation is, the most optimum caliber is in the gun you will use. If you won’t/can’t (for WHATEVER reason!) use a particular handgun, it is useless, even if it’s a Desert Eagle .50 door-buster!

    As he says, find a firearm that fits YOUR hand, and of a caliber size that you can handle. The web is chock full of young, slim women trying to fire the afore-mentioned Desert Eagle or a .44 Magnum, with (at best) horrific results, and at worst , deadly ones. (My mother is disabled and retired – she can, in a pinch, handle upwards of a .38, but no more – her weapons are all .22 – and she’s deadly accurate with it! I found a Czech CZ-70 .32 ACP fits my hand like it was made for my hand – and it’s like pointing my finger, it’s so easy for me to fire accurately. However, it’s difficult to conceal – so I carry a Baretta Tomcat .32 ACP. Being a smaller, lighter firearm, it kicks more, but I can carry it. I can handle larger firearms, but with 2 that use the same ammunition, I find that system works for me. And that’s what mainly counts in self-defense, in my opinion..)

  • Bob

    This was very hard to read and understand, because the grammar was atrocious.
    1. Use more commas.
    2. Separate your bullet headings from the comments for those bullets, by using a dash or several spaces.
    3. Proof read the article before publishing it.

    Good information. Very informative. Terribly hard to read.

  • Guest

    Well, that was virtually impossible to understand; and reading it several times over didn’t help. I can’t tell if the information is just flat out inaccurate or if it just isn’t being written properly.

    For example, 12 to 18 inches of penetration is only needed to be effective in 1 certain type of shot, and that is from the side.

    Nobody’s heart is 12 to 18 inches from the front of their chest or their back.

    The reason the FBI mandates those figures is in the event they are forced to shoot someone from the side, possibly through an arm, the bullet will still reach the heart; and that can certainly be 12 to 18 inches, particularly in bigger men.

    Most of this kind of information should already be common knowledge for anyone who has undertaken the extraordinary responsibility of carrying a firearm on their person.

    Folks who do their homework AFTER buying and carrying a gun are doing it wrong.

    • mickey

      The 12 to 18 inches of penetrated got me Wow

  • mickey

    I have faced many types of drills except a Tuller I just unplug them and go ahead and shoot the guy, unless of course they are battery operated like a makita.

  • mopar1838

    I have read so many articles about what is best, my friend says 40 mm or the 45. I have chosen the Rock Island Armory by Armscor which is the new 22TCM. It comes in at 1900 fps. and will go thru a 3/16 in plate. I think that will give an intruder something to think about. Built on the 45 frame and has a capacity of 17 rounds, it also came with a 9mm barrel and recoil spring. USCCA magazine did an article on it recently. So far I am extremely happy with it. you tube had several videos on the gun. The only problem is there is no reloading equipment or data aval
    iable. Hopefully that will change

    • Bud

      Use of high speed cartridges is both dangerous and foolish. You make yourself liable for where your bullet goes after it blows through the intended target. The .45 ACP is a big, heavy, slow moving bullet that will stay in the target and knock him on his ass in one well placed shot by transferring all of its energy, only where you want it.

      • Sir TuberKopf

        Interesting that all the LEO shotgun rounds are all low recoil/ low velocity. They do use 00 buck because their battles can end up on the streets with more than the 20 30 foot max distances found in homes.

        I have 1600 FPS shotgun slugs that will stop a bear. I’m lucky if I can hold an 8″ group at 75 yards with them and they kick like a mule.

        With low velocity slugs 1200fps I can hold a 4″ group at 75 yards and I can comfortably shoot them for hours.

        For home defense I do prefer #4 buck, it’ll stop any threat at close range, safer for my neighbors, no good for LEO’s though.

        Lots of +P ammo out there, but you’ve got to be able to handle the recoil.

        For my 45 I found low recoil ammo that gives a 45 just a tad more energy than a 9mm, and almost no kick. A real pleasant training round for the range

      • Michael Lentini, jr.

        I guess, you, never shot and hit any one with a 45 ACP. They don’t fall back a hundred feet and die on the spot. Some take 3-4 hits in the center mass and may think of dropping dead. Or, get up and kick your butt. Nothing but C4 works better than a 12 ga shotgun. Carry that under, your shirt, without printing.

    • Gary

      Bud is (no pun intended) dead-on re. speed. Objective is to stop the aggressor and something that will “penetrate” metal is very dangerous and potentially costly in a liability situation. Might could slow that slow that Hot Rod down a bit with some ammo change-up?

      • mopar1838

        I am only using this in home protection, while I agree high speed could dangerous in some instances, just imagine what it would feel like if you shot someone in the head or lower extrenities, I don’t think they be very productive in the near future. Of course the BOND gun that shoots the 410 and 45 would just fine in close quarters.

  • mule man

    The problem I always had when I was still a working cop,is that the FBI is very good in the lab-but with few exceptons not worth a damn on the street

  • 1911Carry

    Hornary XTP’s for the win. They expand great at a variety of bullet speeds and are capable of deep penetration while retaining mass. I use them for both hunting and self defense loads.

  • LTC (Retired) LD

    As an Infantry officer of 28 years, I agree with the basic concept here – only hits count. However, I would qualify this as “only effective hits count” with effective meaning properly placed and proper number. Seldom see a one shot-one stop situation. Our soldiers have experienced many situations where the attacker was hit, often multiple times, but in the stress of the moment, hits were not well placed and therefore ineffective. Hits to extremities won’t stop a determined attacker, and even a hit to vital organs won’t stop an attacker fueled on drugs – at least not immediately. Multiple, properly placed hits will stop the attack. How many hits would be considered “proper”? Until the threat is neutralized, but this does not mean to empty the magazine into your attacker. Not only will this leave you without further means to resist, but it will most likely be viewed by LEOs and juries as excessive force.

  • LTC (Retired) LD

    I would also agree with Bob about the difficulty in reading the article. However, the issue is not grammar, but punctuation. Control of the written word is as important as control of your weapon, because poorly written ideas are as ineffective as poorly placed rounds. Consider the difference in these examples: “Don’t! Stop!” versus “Don’t stop!” The former is a directive to cease all activity; the latter is an encouragement to continue the activity. Punctuation makes all the difference!

  • paul

    I carry a 9mm based on what I researched. Best advice was choose what you can handle as well as put shots down range. Cost of ammo & firearm is also a factor. Owning a handgun sort like owning a car, you can ride in style or feel all the bumps..but you will still get there.

    • Sir TuberKopf

      20 years ago 9mm was pretty wimpy, they have created some really effective self defense rounds that don’t have a lot of recoil, but open up larger than a 45.

      I can certainly put more rounds more accurately on target with a 9mm than a 45.

      • paul

        And my thot also was centered around the affect of stray rounds. Personal I would think that if someone is in a quiet house and the sound a shotgun getting chambered would be a re-think moment.

        • Sir TuberKopf

          Maybe I should market a table top motion detector that plays the sound of a shotgun being racked when tripped as a home security device! LOL!

          The deluxe version will include the sound of a warning shot!

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