Defining stopping power (Michael Courtney's thread)


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P95Carry
December 19, 2005, 11:20 PM
Confession - in process of tidying up a post not needed - lost whole thread.! It happens!

Let me try and re construct - from cached page pre delete problem.

First post from Michael Courtenay -

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Defining Stopping Power

Many discussions of handgun stopping power are unproductive because they lack a quantitative definition of the stopping power concept. The issue is clouded by potentially complicating factors such as shot placement, intermediate barriers, and the mindset and individual physiology of the target. This post provides a quantitative definition of stopping power that allows one handgun load to be compared with others for a specified shot placement. The ideas presented here are a quantitative definition of stopping power of a given load for any specific unobstructed shot placement and target species, but we have in mind the specific case of involuntary (see footnote 1) incapacitation of human targets shot near the center of the chest.

It is well known that in the absence of hits to the central nervous system (CNS), handgun bullets do not reliably provide immediate incapacitation, or even reliable incapacitation in the short time span of most gun fights (under 5 seconds). Therefore, any comparative measure of stopping power must be concerned with the probability of a given load to produce incapacitation in a specified time frame for a specific shot placement.

For instance, we could describe the stopping power of a load as the time interval required to achieve involuntary incapacitation in 90% of the cases where the target is hit with that load at the specified placement. For example, a load that produces incapacitation in 90% of targets in fewer than 8.6 seconds would be considered to be better than a load that requires 12.2 seconds to produce incapacitation in 90% of targets.

However, the time to achieve a 90% probability of incapacitation is not a complete definition of stopping power. The 90% probability time is somewhat of a worst-case scenario. (See footnote 2.) We might also consider the average time to incapacitate targets with a specified shot placement. A load which produces a 4.7 s average incapacitation time would be considered better than a load which produces a 7.8 s average incapacitation time.

In addition to 90% incapacitation times and average incapacitation times, we might also consider the 20% incapacitation time, which is something of a measure of how well a load is working in a sort of ?best case scenario.? A load that produces a 20% chance of incapacitation in 2.0 s would be better than a load that produces a 20% chance of incapacitation in 3.8 s.


Footnote 1:
For human attackers, there is an important voluntary aspect to how hits with handgun bullets contribute to the probability of an attack being stopped. This voluntary aspect is real and important, but difficult to quantify, so we focus on the involuntary aspects for now. Our definition of stopping power is constructed with sufficient generality to allow for later inclusion of voluntary effects.

Footnote 2:
The idea of an absolutely worst case scenario cannot be defined with any degree of statistical rigor. As the sample size grows very large, there is always the possibility of a case that is worse than encountered previously. However, we can rigorously define the idea of worst case if we fix the percentage of cases that is better than the worst case. Here, we choose that 90% of the cases should be better than what we consider the ?worst case.?



The totality of these ideas can be represented in a mathematical probability curve that describes the likelihood of a given load with a specific shot placement producing incapacitation within a certain number of seconds. Hypothetical probability curves are shown for three different loads in Figure 1. Keep in mind, that it is not our intent to assert that any given handgun load would produce any one of these three curves, only that curves like these would represent substantial quantitative information about the stopping power of a given load for a specific shot placement. Completely describing the incapacitation potential for a handgun load for a given shot placement requires describing the probability curve for all times that are reasonably encountered in the time span of a lethal force encounter.

http://img492.imageshack.us/img492/9559/figure18os.gif

The three curves shown in Figure 1 all represent the basic idea that a good bullet in a full-sized service caliber handgun delivered with an unobstructed shot near the center of the chest will almost always cause eventual incapacitation of the target. The different curves suggest that some handgun loads might cause incapacitation more rapidly than others, and a means of quantifying and perhaps predicting this is desirable for selecting and designing more effective ammunition. (See footnote 3.)

All the curves have the same basic features: the probability of producing instant incapacitation is very small, and the probability of eventual incapacitation is nearly 100%. The three loads are distinguished by their differing abilities to cause rapid incapacitation. Load A takes only 2.0 seconds to incapacitate 20% of the targets. Written as an equation, t20% = 2.0s. Load A also has an average incapacitation time close to 4.7 s, and takes 8.6 seconds to incapacitate 90% of the targets. One might also consider the probability of Load A causing involuntary incapacitation in under 5 seconds, because what happens after 5 seconds is irrelevant given the time span of most gun fights. Load A achieves roughly a 60% likelihood of involuntary incapacitation in under 5 seconds.


Footnote 3:
This is not to assert that barrier penetration and the possibility of other shot placements should not be an important part of the ammunition selection and design process. We believe that they should. However, from a scientific point of view, it is often necessary to reduce the number of variables in play in order to understand a simplified view of an issue. More complete perspectives can be more accurately built once the science of various simplified views is better understood.


Contrast this to Load B which takes 3.8 s for an incapacitation probability of 20%, has an average incapacitation time of 7.8 s, and takes 12.0 s for an incapacitation probability of 90%. Load B has roughly a 34% likelihood of achieving involuntary incapacitation in under 5 seconds.

Also consider Load C which takes 9.1 s to incapacitate 20% of the targets, has an average incapacitation time of 11.0s and has not caused incapacitation in 90% of the targets until 13.4 s. Load C has less than a 1% likelihood of causing involuntary incapacitation in under 5 seconds. In other words, the only way that Load C is likely to be effective in the time span of most gun fights is for the target to voluntarily cease the attack as a result of the shots fired.

The ?best case?, average, and ?worst case? incapacitation times are summarized in Table 1. The probability of incapacitation in under 5 seconds is listed as PI(t<5).

t20% tave t90% PI(t < 5)
Load A 2.0s 4.7s 8.6s 60%
Load B 3.8s 7.8s 12.2s 34%
Load C 9.1s 11.0s 13.4s 1%

These probability curves suggest the possibility of an idealized experiment where the incapacitation time is recorded for a large number of shooting events where the target is hit with a specific load and a specific shot placement. The data from such an idealized experiment could be used to generate the curves in Figure 1 that represent the likelihood of incapacitation within a given time. The hypothetical nature of the curves in Figure 1 do not preclude considering incapacitation probability curves as a valid description of stopping power. In the idealized experiment, loads that produce more rapid incapacitation will produce curves which are further to the left in a graph like Figure 1.

In all areas of science, real experiments and observations represent trade-offs between an idealized experiment and the practical realities of data collection. (See footnote 4.) In the scientific pursuit of quantifying stopping power, some experimental designs might consider a variety of shot placements or use a success/failure criteria rather than a continuous variable to measure incapacitation. Other experimental designs use a small number of shooting events or perform the experiment on a species other than humans. In spite of these trade-offs, if an experimental design is clearly described (so that the strengths and limitations are understood), and data collection is faithful to the experimental method, we might be able to use results from these sub-optimal experiments to make predictions on the outcome of a more idealized experiment.


Footnote 4:
A fundamental aspect of this trade-off is that cost and time required for a certain number of data points scales linearly with the number of data points, but the uncertainty of numerical results is only reduced by the square root of the number of data points. In other words, reducing the experimental uncertainty by a factor of two often requires increasing the number of data points by a factor of four, which is likely to increase the cost and time by a factor of four. Various trade-offs are used to increase the number of data points without a linear increase in cost or time. These include broadening the selection criteria, studying the effect in more accessible/less expensive species, and using more available measures of the effect under study.


Some authors split hairs by attempting to distinguish ?reliable? incapacitation mechanisms from ?unreliable? mechanisms that only contribute some fraction of the time. However, since no handgun incapacitation mechanism is 100% reliable within the time span of a typical gun fight (< 5 seconds), this concept of reliable eventual incapacitation is an artificial construct with little relevance to the stopping power discussion.

In any case, if realistic incapacitation probability curves are anything at all like the hypothetical probability curves for Load A, Load B, and Load C, there are some practical implications for surviving gun fights with handgun loads. Even though some handgun loads might perform significantly better than others, there is no magic bullet. Short of a hit to the CNS, even the best-placed handgun bullets require substantial time (compared to the time span of most gun fights) to cause incapacitation in the majority of cases. As we will discuss later, multiple hits might decrease the time to incapacitation, but short of a direct hit to the CNS, multiple hits do not change this basic result.

Consequently, surviving a gun fight requires more than good shot placement with good handgun bullets; surviving a gun fight requires tangible actions to avoid getting shot during the time interval before incapacitation occurs. Evasive action is necessary, and the significant likelihood that incapacitation is still several seconds away should be sufficient motive for the defensive shooter to be moving rapidly toward cover, or in the absence of cover, at least moving to make for a more difficult target.

In summary, we have defined stopping power using incapacitation probability curves that describe the probability of involuntary incapacitation as a function of time. We make reference to the specific case of involuntary incapacitation of human targets shot near the center of the chest to help explain the concept. However, our stopping power definition also applies to alternate shot placements. Generalizing this definition to include voluntary contributions to incapacitation, contributions of new incapacitation mechanisms, and the probability of incapacitation with multiple hits is straightforward.

Michael Courtney

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P95Carry
December 19, 2005, 11:26 PM
Following posts -

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mbartel
Member
Interesting reading....but it all boils down to this.....LUCK.
The ones that survive the encounter have it, and the ones that didn't, don't.
Everything can be debated and argued for eternity.


Join Date: Mar 2005
Posts: 52
Interesting reading....but it all boils down to this.....LUCK.
The ones that survive the encounter have it, and the ones that didn't, don't.
Everything can be debated and argued for eternity.


Michael Courtney
Senior Member



Join Date: Apr 2005
Posts: 159
Quote:
Originally Posted by mbartel
Interesting reading....but it all boils down to this.....LUCK.
The ones that survive the encounter have it, and the ones that didn't, don't.
Everything can be debated and argued for eternity.

Science can give definitive (if probabilistic) answers to problems that seem like so complex that luck matters more than choices.

For example, there are tons of complicating factors to whether or not smoking causes cancer in a specific individual and how long the one has to smoke to contract cancer.

However, scientists can determine one's probability of contracting cancer after a certain number of years smoking two packs a day, and this can be compared to one's probability of contracting cancer after a certain number of years smoking one pack a day.

There are complicating factors, but it can be determined with great certainty that smoking one pack a day represents less long term risk than smoking two packs a day.

Likewise, it can be determined with certainty that one handgun load represents lower risk of failing to incapacitate an attacker with good shot placement than another.

Michael Courtney


cz75bdneos22
Senior Member



Join Date: Dec 2002
Location: houston texas
Posts: 245
stopping power is alabel made up by someone to describe an ability (real or imagined) to bring down an individual/animal with one bullet of a particular caliber..insert your favorite..

my limited experience is this...i have witnessed both Men and animal be shot...i have yet to witness a single incident of anybody/anything stopping(terminated) immediately upon being hit by a single bullet...that is wheter by handgun or rifle...YMMV i'm sticking with mine.


Walt Sherrill
Senior Member



Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: Winston-Salem, NC
Posts: 1,419
Luck, which equates to hitting the right spot, if you're shooting, or having it missed, if you're the target.

A big, forceful bullet, if it doesn't hit anything critical, isn't stopping power.

A bunch of big forceful bullets, even if they hit something critical, may not do it their thing fast enough to matter -- as the big FBI shootout in Florida showed, a number of years back. Some folks with a "bad" attitude and the desire to do damage, can still kill you before they're totally out of the picture.

And if the guy who's trying to do you damage is on any of several drugs, be prepared to run or hide when you run out of rounds...

All this is overstatement, to be sure, but science can't really assess the likelihood of someone hitting that vital artery, spine, or brain, when conditions aren't controlled, when the "good guy" is surprised, inexperienced, or wounded, and the bad guy has an attitude, is moving, etc.

Science can assess the relative performance of different rounds and loads, when the variables are controlled, and that may give you some comfort, but until you control those same variables in a real-life controntation, its all science fiction...


jeepmor
Member



Join Date: Nov 2005
Posts: 58
stopping power and probability
I look at it this way for effective results.

1. placement
2. energy

The probability of being stopped is directly related to shot placement. So, no matter how much energy the load possesses, without it hitting the proper place, it won't do any good.

However, the Texas Rangers really liked the .357 magnum for it's "lightning bolt" effect on assailants that were shot with it. I think this is the "stop" we are discussing. Which leads us back to the shot placement argument. They are inextricably tied together. But we all agree, a powerful bullet that misses its target is worthless compared to one that does not miss, regardless of energy.


And in reference to the FBI shootout, the assailants had AR15 type weapons if I recall, the FBI agents all came equipped with service sidearms. The FBI agents were outgunned. The baddies were not being incapacitated as fast as the FBI agents for exchanged fire because the baddies were hucking 1000+ ft-lb energy projectiles, while the FBI handguns were likely sending out
300-500 ft-lb projectiles. Which is why I discuss energy in regards to stopping power.


jeepmor


Walt Sherrill
Senior Member



Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: Winston-Salem, NC
Posts: 1,419
The FBI agents weren't all out-gunned. A number had made what proved to be fatal shots in their assailants. Unhappily, their assailants didn't know they were fatally wounded, and continued the fight. They were just able to keep the fight going long enough...

The guys they were fighting were determined. That means a lot. Folks who have fought in combat against powerful long rifle will tell you that men, sometimes, can continue the fight when they should have been incapacitated. Unless you hit the central nervous system in a key place, anything can happen. Even an AR15 or M1 Garand isn't enough, then.


Michael Courtney
Senior Member



Join Date: Apr 2005
Posts: 159
Quote:
Originally Posted by Walt Sherrill
The FBI agents weren't all out-gunned. A number had made what proved to be fatal shots in their assailants. Unhappily, their assailants didn't know they were fatally wounded, and continued the fight. They were just able to keep the fight going long enough...


Eventual lethality is irrelevant. Bullet effectiveness should be defined only in terms of how rapidly incapacitation occurs.



Quote:
Originally Posted by Walt Sherrill
The guys they were fighting were determined. That means a lot. Folks who have fought in combat against powerful long rifle will tell you that men, sometimes, can continue the fight when they should have been incapacitated. Unless you hit the central nervous system in a key place, anything can happen. Even an AR15 or M1 Garand isn't enough, then.

Service calibers perform much better with expanding bullets. You should see what a 30-06 can do with a 125 grain Nosler Ballistic Tip at 3400 FPS. I'd be very happy with that level of incapacitation performance from a handgun.

The point here is that some handgun loads are going to perform more closely to the 125 grain Nosler Ballistic Tip at 3400 FPS than others. Even if they don't get very close, I think we can agree that closer is better. We simply need a method to quantify and predict the best definition for "closer."

And I would not rule out future handgun bullet designs that might be much closer to the 125 grain Nosler ballistic tip at 3400 FPS than current designs. Quantifying and understanding the important concepts and mechanisms involved is an important part of the process of improving handgun bullet design.

Michael Courtney


eepmor
Member



Join Date: Nov 2005
Posts: 58
Fatal shots that are not immediately fatal
Yes, adrenaline can change everything.


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Apologies again for the screw-up guys!

Mr_Moore
December 19, 2005, 11:36 PM
Consequently, surviving a gun fight requires more than good shot placement with good handgun bullets; surviving a gun fight requires tangible actions to avoid getting shot during the time interval before incapacitation occurs. Evasive action is necessary, and the significant likelihood that incapacitation is still several seconds away should be sufficient motive for the defensive shooter to be moving rapidly toward cover, or in the absence of cover, at least moving to make for a more difficult target.

Michael Courtney

Brillant argument and conclusion. I am in awe. Your conclusion, if heeded, may save some lives.

Preacherman
December 20, 2005, 12:02 AM
Back in the late 1990's, I put together a one-page handout for my students on the subject of "Stopping Power" - mainly because they kept asking questions, and I couldn't waste time answering the same questions over and over! In the interests of public debate, here it is. Comments and feedback welcome.

"STOPPING POWER"

The gun magazines would have you believe that certain guns and/or ammo possess more "Stopping Power" than others. This is a lie - there is actually no such thing as "Stopping Power". It can't be measured, it can't be scientifically defined, it can't be statistically evaluated with any certainty - in short, it's a gunwriter's myth.

What can be measured, calibrated, etc. are a bullet's size, shape, velocity, expansion potential, etc. These add up to what I would describe as its potential to incapacitate an opponent - but even that's not exact, as the bullet has to be put into the right spot if it's to accomplish its mission. If you shoot me in the foot with a super-duper-felon-stopper-Magnum-blaster bullet, I'll be angry, not dead!

So, let's condense the whole "stopping power" debate into a few basic rules. If you learn from these, you'll do fine.

1. There is no such thing as "stopping power".

2. No handgun round is a probable "stopper" - it's simply too low-powered. By comparison, common shotgun and centerfire rifle rounds are two to four times more powerful in terms of the energy imparted to them on ignition, and the energy delivered to the human body (assuming that the round stays in the body). Therefore, for any serious encounter where you have foreknowledge that it may happen, have a rifle or shotgun at hand.

3. No round, whether handgun, shotgun or rifle, will stop an opponent unless it hits a vital part. If you strike the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord), you'll probably end the fight right there. If you strike the heart, lungs and associated blood vessels, it will take 15-30 seconds for blood loss to affect your opponent's ability to continue the fight. You can, of course, inhibit your opponent's mobility by hurting him, breaking bones, etc. Therefore, expect to need multiple hits to stop an opponent from being a danger to you. This is the rule, rather than the exception.

4. Shock can play a part in incapacitating your opponent. This can be psychological (e.g. "Oh, @#$% - I'm shot!") or physiological (e.g. delivering a sharp blow to the solar plexus, or other vulnerable area of the body). A psychological shock can be inflicted by hitting him with anything, even a .22 - but it's not predictable, and therefore not reliable as a stopping tool. A physiological shock can be delivered by strking a vulnerable point or nerve center with a powerful enough round. A high-powered rifle or shotgun will inflict such a shock much more reliably, and more often, than will a handgun round. A powerful enough shock can stop an opponent's attack even if he's not killed.

5. Selecting an effective handgun round for defensive use is a combination of the following factors:

(a) A heavier bullet will usually penetrate deeper than a lighter bullet in a given caliber. Penetration is valuable, but can be too much - you don't want to endanger innocent persons behind your target. However, too little penetration may not inflict an injury sufficiently serious to stop him attacking you.

(b) A bigger (i.e. wider, or fatter, or larger-caliber) bullet will generally inflict more damage than a smaller bullet. This can be achieved either by a bigger caliber, or an expanding bullet in a smaller caliber. However, if the small caliber fails to expand, you're stuck with a small caliber. A big caliber, even if it doesn't expand, won't shrink!

(c) A faster bullet will generally inflict more damage than a slower bullet.

(d) Given that you will probably need multiple hits to stop a determined opponent, you have to choose a defensive caliber and firearm that you can control accurately in rapid fire. This means firing an accurate shot, controlling the recoil, retaining (or re-acquiring) the sight picture as soon as possible, firing another accurate shot, and so on until the threat is over. If your handgun/ammo combination is too much for you to handle, you won't be able to control it well enough for accuracy and rapidity of fire - which can get you killed.

(e) Therefore, your choice of a handgun and a defensive caliber should be the biggest, fastest bullet with adequate penetration (= weight factor) that you can control in accurate rapid fire. You can play around with these variables to a certain extent, but size does matter in handgun rounds, and bigger calibers tend to have a rather better combat record than smaller calibers. Make your selection accordingly. Remember, it's only your life at stake...

6. Historically, the following cartridges have delivered acceptable to good fight-winning results: .357 Magnum, ..38 Super, 41 Magnum, .44 Special, .45 ACP, .45 Colt. The newer .40 S&W and 357 SIG appear to be good performers as well.

7. Historically, the following cartridges have delivered marginal fight-winning results, although modern hollow-point ammunition has improved their performance somewhat: 9mm. Parabellum, .38 Special.

8. Anything less powerful or smaller than 9mm. or .38 Special has not done well, historically speaking, as an effective round in a gunfight. They are not recommended as defensive rounds.

P95Carry
December 20, 2005, 12:14 AM
Useful pointers Peter. :)

Good to see thread back on track after my ''faux pas'' !:uhoh::rolleyes:

cz75bdneos22
December 20, 2005, 12:43 AM
somebody need to sticky this one...pronto...awesome post preacherman...i concur, Sir..:)

bad LT
December 20, 2005, 12:54 AM
+1 on the "sticky"

Michael Courtney
December 20, 2005, 09:54 AM
The gun magazines would have you believe that certain guns and/or ammo possess more "Stopping Power" than others. This is a lie - there is actually no such thing as "Stopping Power". It can't be measured, it can't be scientifically defined, it can't be statistically evaluated with any certainty - in short, it's a gunwriter's myth.



If you disagree with the clear, scientific definition I have provided above, please explain why the definition I have given is ambigous, invalid, or does not allow for determination or statistical evaluation with any certainty.

Science has quantitatively evaluated complex problems with many more complicating factors. What is so different about handgun bullet effectiveness that makes it intractable?


What can be measured, calibrated, etc. are a bullet's size, shape, velocity, expansion potential, etc. These add up to what I would describe as its potential to incapacitate an opponent - but even that's not exact, as the bullet has to be put into the right spot if it's to accomplish its mission.


Once stopping power is defined with a valid and quantitative method (as I have done), then there are standard techniques for determining which more easily measured parameters are highly correlated with the valid, quantitative definition of stopping power. Once this is done, relative stopping power can be predicted with some degree of accuracy from more easily measured parameters.


1. There is no such thing as "stopping power".


Please explain where my above defition is flawed.


2. No handgun round is a probable "stopper" - it's simply too low-powered.


I agree. However, I do not believe that this means that there is a fundamental scientific reason why future designs cannot improve to the effectiveness level of shotgun and rifle loads.

But improvement of any design requires quantitative feedback of effectiveness. If we know which designs are more effective and why, that tells us how to improve future designs.



3. No round, whether handgun, shotgun or rifle, will stop an opponent unless it hits a vital part. If you strike the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord), you'll probably end the fight right there. If you strike the heart, lungs and associated blood vessels, it will take 15-30 seconds for blood loss to affect your opponent's ability to continue the fight. You can, of course, inhibit your opponent's mobility by hurting him, breaking bones, etc. Therefore, expect to need multiple hits to stop an opponent from being a danger to you. This is the rule, rather than the exception.


A very good point, with which I heartily agree. We do believe, however, that there are cases where incapacitation via blood loss can be as rapid as 5-7 seconds.


4. Shock can play a part in incapacitating your opponent. This can be psychological (e.g. "Oh, @#$% - I'm shot!")


This is what we called voluntary incapacitation, which we believe will be the hardest aspect to quantitatively predict. Anything that depends on the human will cannot be predicted by scientific means with any more certainty than the stock market.

However, defining stopping power as we have above, we can separate voluntary from involuntary components. (The rules of probability are quite powerful in separating independent contributions to a combined probability.) We can also assign some broad limits on how the voluntary contribution might look.


or physiological (e.g. delivering a sharp blow to the solar plexus, or other vulnerable area of the body). A psychological shock can be inflicted by hitting him with anything, even a .22 - but it's not predictable, and therefore not reliable as a stopping tool. A physiological shock can be delivered by strking a vulnerable point or nerve center with a powerful enough round. A high-powered rifle or shotgun will inflict such a shock much more reliably, and more often, than will a handgun round. A powerful enough shock can stop an opponent's attack even if he's not killed.


If the effect of this "shock" can be clearly seen in the probability curve (because it occurs much earlier than blood loss effects), then we can begin to notice that some loads have a greater tendency to impart "shock" effects than others.

Have a look back at the graph of probability curves for Load A, Load B, and Load C. Load A and Load B has an early rise so that they cross the 20% and 40% effectiveness thresholds much sooner than Load C. These curves represent the idea that Load A has the strongest fast acting component, Load B has a moderate fast acting component, and Load C has no fast acting component at all.

This is how our probability cuvres represent tha ability of a given load to impart a "shock" effect.



5. Selecting an effective handgun round for defensive use is a combination of the following factors:

(a) A heavier bullet will usually penetrate deeper than a lighter bullet in a given caliber. Penetration is valuable, but can be too much - you don't want to endanger innocent persons behind your target. However, too little penetration may not inflict an injury sufficiently serious to stop him attacking you.


Good explanation of a fundamental trade-off.


(b) A bigger (i.e. wider, or fatter, or larger-caliber) bullet will generally inflict more damage than a smaller bullet. This can be achieved either by a bigger caliber, or an expanding bullet in a smaller caliber. However, if the small caliber fails to expand, you're stuck with a small caliber. A big caliber, even if it doesn't expand, won't shrink!


There was a time when the failure of a bullet to expand was a legitimate concern. However, there are many loads available today using bullet designs at velocities where failure to expand is only a remote possibility.


(c) A faster bullet will generally inflict more damage than a slower bullet.


This is correct if everything else (mass, diameter, bullet type, reliability of expansion, penetration) is equal. Once you make a tradeoff to get more velocity, it gets a bit more complicated whether you gained more than you lost in the tradeoff.


(d) Given that you will probably need multiple hits to stop a determined opponent, you have to choose a defensive caliber and firearm that you can control accurately in rapid fire. This means firing an accurate shot, controlling the recoil, retaining (or re-acquiring) the sight picture as soon as possible, firing another accurate shot, and so on until the threat is over. If your handgun/ammo combination is too much for you to handle, you won't be able to control it well enough for accuracy and rapidity of fire - which can get you killed.


Good point.


(e) Therefore, your choice of a handgun and a defensive caliber should be the biggest, fastest bullet with adequate penetration (= weight factor) that you can control in accurate rapid fire.


Weight used to be more important for penetration than it is today. Modern designs can penetrate very reliably in the moderate bullet weights, and even sometimes in the lighter bullet weights.


6. Historically, the following cartridges have delivered acceptable to good fight-winning results: .357 Magnum, ..38 Super, 41 Magnum, .44 Special, .45 ACP, .45 Colt. The newer .40 S&W and 357 SIG appear to be good performers as well.


Certainly, the best loads in these cartridges are relatively good performers. But load selection and bullet design are very important. The more poorly performing loads in these cartridges might not be as good as the best loads in 9mm. Also, the 41 Magnum and 45 Colt might be hampered somewhat by having very few of the best bullet designs available.


7. Historically, the following cartridges have delivered marginal fight-winning results, although modern hollow-point ammunition has improved their performance somewhat: 9mm. Parabellum, .38 Special.


I am no big fan of the 9mm, but I think it best to consider careful, quantitative research to determine the size of the effectiveness gap between the best 9mm loads and more "powerful" loads such as the .40 S&W and the .357 Sig. Once the size of this gap is quantified, then individual shooters can make their own decisions whether the added recoil, handgun bulk, and cost are worth the added effectiveness.


8. Anything less powerful or smaller than 9mm. or .38 Special has not done well, historically speaking, as an effective round in a gunfight. They are not recommended as defensive rounds.


The first rule of gunfighting is to bring a gun. The .380 ACP is a lot more effective than angry words. I have also seen the .380 ACP function well as an introductory gun that gives a person an opportunity to obtain training and a CHL and gain a comfort level carrying a gun. Once they have carried a .380 ACP for a while, they have a chance to consider what might actually happen if they need to shoot someone. This is often the birth of a desire to move up in power.

One of the scientists on our team recently moved up from .380 ACP to .357 Sig, because our efforts to quantify stopping power made it clear how big the effectiveness gap really is.

There are many cases where I would be happy for my students to move up to the .380 ACP because they come to CHL class with the intent of carrying a 22LR or .32 ACP.

Michael Courtney

Preacherman
December 20, 2005, 11:06 AM
Michael, you make a good case for your analysis, but it's fatally and fundamentally flawed in its most basic premise.

This post provides a quantitative definition of stopping power that allows one handgun load to be compared with others for a specified shot placement.

This is all very well - but it ignores the reality that your TARGET will be different in each shooting, whether or not your LOAD performs statistically better or worse than any other. I've been personally involved in well over (WELL over!) 100 shooting incidents, both military and civilian, over an 18-year period of warfare and civil unrest in another country, and as a citizen in this country since that time. I have never yet seen any opponent in a shooting match match another opponent in age, size, weight, sex, motivation, drug-enhanced imperviousness to pain, and so on. The fact that the loads you're measuring might perform the same is basically irrelevant if the targets won't perform the same!

This is where the "scientific approach" to "stopping power" falls flat on its face. I fully agree with you that there's a place for scientific investigation, particularly of bullet and load performance: and I agree that consistent performance in ballistic gelatin and other test media is a good indication of how a bullet will perform in flesh. Unfortunately, none of these tests can be applied to how a given individual will react to being shot with that load, even if the bullet is placed in the same organ of the body every time, and performs at its best. Some will drop right there. Others will be on their feet for at least a few seconds, and be more or less incapacitated. Others will completely ignore the hit and continue shooting back at you, possibly to your permanent detriment. I absolutely do not agree that the behavior of an opponent can be "scientifically" predicted. Human nature ain't all that scientific, and human behavior has defied scientific expectations far too many times for me to reduce it to a probability line on a graph! For excellent illustrations, see the citations of Medal of Honor winners...

The real world simply isn't the same as the laboratory. Whenever I find a scientist who thinks he can accurately, consistently and inerrantly predict the real-world outcome of something so inherently unstable and variable as a defensive shooting scenario, I start to worry about that scientist's safety.

surviving a gun fight requires more than good shot placement with good handgun bullets; surviving a gun fight requires tangible actions to avoid getting shot during the time interval before incapacitation occurs.

On this we fully agree. The times that I got shot were typically when I wasn't moving and/or taking cover (sometimes this just isn't possible under the particular circumstances involved). Most of the opponents who got shot were laboring under the same handicap.

Michael Courtney
December 20, 2005, 11:22 AM
Michael, you make a good case for your analysis, but it's fatally and fundamentally flawed in its most basic premise.

This is all very well - but it ignores the reality that your TARGET will be different in each shooting, whether or not your LOAD performs statistically better or worse than any other.


We're not ignoring the reality of different individial targets, we are averaging over these differences.


I've been personally involved in well over (WELL over!) 100 shooting incidents, both military and civilian, over an 18-year period of warfare and civil unrest in another country, and as a citizen in this country since that time. I have never yet seen any opponent in a shooting match match another opponent in age, size, weight, sex, motivation, drug-enhanced imperviousness to pain, and so on. The fact that the loads you're measuring might perform the same is basically irrelevant if the targets won't perform the same!

This is where the "scientific approach" to "stopping power" falls flat on its face. I fully agree with you that there's a place for scientific investigation, particularly of bullet and load performance: and I agree that consistent performance in ballistic gelatin and other test media is a good indication of how a bullet will perform in flesh. Unfortunately, none of these tests can be applied to how a given individual will react to being shot with that load, even if the bullet is placed in the same organ of the body every time, and performs at its best. Some will drop right there. Others will be on their feet for at least a few seconds, and be more or less incapacitated. Others will completely ignore the hit and continue shooting back at you, possibly to your permanent detriment.



Different individuals each have different genetic predispositions to cancer. Environmental factors further complicate the issue. There is a very wide range of variation. Does this mean that a scientific study cannot be performed to determine the probability curve for contracting cancer after smoking brand X for a certain number of years?

Suppose a scientific study compares the probability curves for contracting cancer after smoking Brand X for a certain number of years and smokng Brand Y for a certain number of years. In spite of all the complicating factors from the genetic and environmental variations in the specific cases, such a study can be done, and would constitute a valid scientific basis for concluding that Brand X creates a higher or lower cancer risk than Brand Y.

These same kinds of studies are the ones that can conclude that exposure to sunlight increases cancer risk over time, or that certain foods can reduce the risk of certain cancers. In each case, there are broad variations in genetic and environmental factors, but sufficient numbers of data points can effectively average over these factors and understand how the variable of interest effects the outcome.

There is no claim in this kind of research that the outcome can be predicted for a specific individual, but only that the percentage of outcomes can be predicted for a large number of individual events.

In light of this, how is the definition of stopping power I have provided not relevant for the person in a large law enforcement agency who is choosing ammunition that will likely be used in hundreds or thousands of gunfights over the period of several years?

We make choices every day to do things that only improve our safety in a probabilistic manner.

We wear sunscreen.
We try and quit smoking.
We lose weight.
We have our cholesterol checked.
We buy a fire extinguisher.
We check the batteries in our smoke detector.
We investigate the safety record of a model of automobile before we buy it.
We investigate the probabilistic failure rate of our method of contraception.
We (females) get mammograms after a certain age.
We (men) get prostate screenings after a certain age.
We might even eat oat bran.

Why then is it so strange to try and have a probabilistic understanding of bullet effectiveness to aid in ammo selection?

Michael Courtney

Preacherman
December 20, 2005, 11:38 AM
<sigh>

Again, Michael, with the greatest of respect, you have NOT defined "stopping power" in your study. You have attempted to define "bullet performance". Bullet performance is only one part of the equation: the other is the reaction of the target to that bullet performance, and that cannot be scientifically defined.

"Probability theory" is just that - it deals with probabilities. Such probabilities don't often match up to the theory in real life. To take your example of a certain brand of cigarettes being more or less likely to cause lung cancer, there are innumerable cases of smokers dying young from cancer - and equally innumerable cases of smokers living to a ripe (if not necessarily healthy) old age. How to predict which one will get cancer, and which one won't?

I agree that scientific research into bullet performance can help a police department, or a private citizen, make an informed choice of caliber, bullet, etc. in an attempt to have the best possible defensive equipment on hand. This is fair, valid, and appropriate material for research. However, the "real world" performance of that defensive equipment will not conform to laboratory expectations or predictions, because those results could not allow for the unpredictable factor of assailant behavior. They are an indication, but not necessarily a valid predictor.

I've seen far too many cases where the results of a shootout were completely out of line with what any scientist or knowledgeable shooter would predict, based upon expectations of bullet performance. I've seen people whose heart/lung area was literally shredded by multiple bullet strikes remain functional (and shooting back) for 30-40 seconds, long after "theory" states that blood loss and oxygen deprivation should have put them down. Unfortunately, they hadn't read the theory, so they didn't behave that way. The autopsy results were graphic and gruesome, but even the pathologist couldn't explain why, with so much damage, they continued to function.

middy
December 20, 2005, 12:08 PM
How to predict which one will get cancer, and which one won't?
You can't, but you can calculate the probability. Statistics is not cut and dried.

Basically what you're saying, Preacherman, is that the results of gunshots are so wildly unpredictable that we all might as well go moose hunting with .22lr.

I disagree, there is a reason that I would rather use a .30-06 than a .22lr on a moose. That reason is that I am much more likely to get a one-shot kill because of the greater energy of the .30-06 round.

Statistics most certainly can be applied to this problem to determine the relative "stopping power" of, for instance, a high-tech 9mm hollowpoint vs. .45acp ball. Statistics cannot guarantee a one-shot stop, just as you cannot guarantee you will die of lung cancer by smoking, but they can give you an idea of the likelihood of an expected outcome depending on the factors involved.

With all due respect, I'm sure you could be a valuable resource for Dr. Courtney with your vast first-hand experience with these things, Preacherman, but science is science, and repeatable experiments conducted with valid scientific method over a large enough sample produce statistics that are quite usable in the real world, as I'm sure the QC guys at the company you bought your tires from would agree.

Michael Courtney
December 20, 2005, 12:11 PM
<sigh>

Again, Michael, with the greatest of respect, you have NOT defined "stopping power" in your study. You have attempted to define "bullet performance".


You say TO-MA-TO, I say to-MAH-to.

If the definition is clear and empowers scientific quantification, whether or not we apply the label "bullet performance" or "stopping power" is only a matter of semantics.

One term might communicate the essence better to the casual observer, but the careful reader who understands the details of the definition will not get hung up on the label once it is clearly defined.


Bullet performance is only one part of the equation: the other is the reaction of the target to that bullet performance, and that cannot be scientifically defined.


The range of reaction possibilities can be described, as can the probability of a specific target demonstrating a specific reaction possibility.


"Probability theory" is just that - it deals with probabilities. Such probabilities don't often match up to the theory in real life. To take your example of a certain brand of cigarettes being more or less likely to cause lung cancer, there are innumerable cases of smokers dying young from cancer - and equally innumerable cases of smokers living to a ripe (if not necessarily healthy) old age. How to predict which one will get cancer, and which one won't?


You can't.

But this does not mean that a particular individual does not increase his odds of living to a ripe old age by quitting smoking.

Likewise, one can increase ones chances of surviving a gun fight with a better ammo choice.

Probability theory correctly predicts that almost anyone who spends enough time and money gambling as a customer in a casino will come out on the losing end, and that the owners of the casino will come out on the winning end. The outcome of any specific bet is not predictable, but the eventual outcome of a large number of bets is predictable.


I agree that scientific research into bullet performance can help a police department, or a private citizen, make an informed choice of caliber, bullet, etc. in an attempt to have the best possible defensive equipment on hand. This is fair, valid, and appropriate material for research.


I agree.

The research also has important implications for training, shot placement, and furure bullet designs.


However, the "real world" performance of that defensive equipment will not conform to laboratory expectations or predictions, because those results could not allow for the unpredictable factor of assailant behavior. They are an indication, but not necessarily a valid predictor.


Individual reactions cannot be predicted. But this does not preclude the possibility of predicting the probability distribution of a large number of individual reactions.


I've seen far too many cases where the results of a shootout were completely out of line with what any scientist or knowledgeable shooter would predict, based upon expectations of bullet performance. I


Most cases fall near the middle of the probability distribution curve. But our definition of stopping power also encompasses the idea of a "worst case scenario" where the bullet fails to produce the expected result.


've seen people whose heart/lung area was literally shredded by multiple bullet strikes remain functional (and shooting back) for 30-40 seconds, long after "theory" states that blood loss and oxygen deprivation should have put them down. Unfortunately, they hadn't read the theory, so they didn't behave that way. The autopsy results were graphic and gruesome, but even the pathologist couldn't explain why, with so much damage, they continued to function.

Our definition of stopping power does not depend on a physiological understanding of what "should" happen given a certain wounding, but is only concerned with what does happen for a given load in a specified shot placement.

Our definition of stopping power doesn't need a physiological explanation as to why these kinds of cases occur in order to quantify the fact that they do occur and to describe how often they occur. A worthy goal, is it not?

Michael Courtney

Camp David
December 20, 2005, 12:15 PM
Back in the late 1990's, I put together a one-page handout for my students on the subject of "Stopping Power" ..."6. Historically, the following cartridges have delivered acceptable to good fight-winning results: .357 Magnum, ..38 Super, 41 Magnum, .44 Special, .45 ACP, .45 Colt. The newer .40 S&W and 357 SIG appear to be good performers as well."


It might be well to update this handout with modern loads, particularly the upper range hot calibers... I refer here, Preacherman, to some of the newer calibers; i.e., .454 Cassul and .480 Ruger, as well as the fairly obvious .44 Magnum... Conversely, from the lower spectrum, I would love to see stooping power estimates for small caliber rounds, even rimfire loads; i.e., .22 and .22 mag...

riverdog
December 20, 2005, 01:38 PM
I shouldn't even enter this thread, but I have to side with Preacherman on this whole stooping power thing. We can all agree that a CNS shot is a fight stopper, but it isn't very caliber/load dependent, it is very much placement dependent, assuming a projectile which can penetrate. Anything else requires either a blood pressure drop to force the individual to stop the fight, or what has been called a psychological stop.

Blood pressure drop corresponds to the rate of blood loss and has as much or more to do with what was damaged than what caliber did it. A .45 ACP hit to the left shoulder may be a nasty wound, but if it doesn't cause massive bleeding, the fight can continue strong side only. OTOH a .22LR hit that clips the aorta will cause a rapid blood pressure drop. There's that shot placement thing.

A psychological stop OTOH has more to do with mental attitude. Some guys will go down from a non-life threatening wound even though they could physically continue the fight; others will not go down until their blood pressure drops to critical levels. This stop is very dependent on the target audience -- physical condition, mental preparedness, regard for personal well being, et al. How do you quantify psychological stops by discussing calibers and loads? Apples and oranges.

In a controlled test where all targets are shot with identical shot placement, and 20% are stopped at 2 seconds and 90% are stopped at 11 seconds, is the difference caliber related or psychological? How do you quantify a psychological stop?

$.02

Preacherman
December 20, 2005, 01:47 PM
Michael, I'm not going to get into a numbers debate here (and yes, I do know something of statistics, having studied them at MBA level - not a mathematical genius, by any means, but I understand their use). I will simply repeat that you are not, repeat, NOT, defining "stopping power" by measuring bullet performance. A simple illustration will confirm this.

The usual definition of "stopping power" (which is a very nebulous concept in itself, and not susceptible to scientific definition) is that, upon being struck, the victim immediately ceases all threatening and/or harmful behavior. Now, if a high-performance bullet strikes him, we can reasonably and legitimately expect it to do better than a low-performance bullet - but it still has to be placed in the right spot to do enough damage, and the victim has to react to being shot by stopping his aggression. If the bullet hits anywhere but the right spot, it probably won't stop him. If it hits the right spot, but he continues his aggression, then, by definition, the bullet has had no "stopping power" at all (at least, not in the important sense: if he stops 10 seconds later, that's great, but if he's killed you during those intervening 10 seconds, your interest is likely to be purely - and posthumously - academic!).

I value any and all high-quality, rigorous analyses of bullet performance. They are of great value in helping with load selection. However, such analyses are not, and can never be, reliable indications of real-world "stopping power".

mosttoyswins
December 20, 2005, 02:01 PM
Myth...

Don't get caught up in stopping power.

Practice and shoot what you are good with.

Just read the articles about people shot once with a .22 that dropped dead, and the people shot 10 times with a .45 and lived.

I carry 9 rounds of 9mm, 5 rounds of .38sp. or 11 rounds of .40. To me they ALL have stopping power.

Blackhawk 6
December 20, 2005, 08:30 PM
Here is what I understand to be your premise, please correct me if I am wrong.

1. Your proposed definition of stopping power is "the time interval required to achieve involuntary incapacitation in 90% of the cases where the target is hit with that load at the specified placement."

2. You plan to determine the "stopping power" of a given load by measuring the time it takes to involuntarily incapacitate someone if they are hit in the "specified placement."

3. By graphing these times you can compare one load against another.

Based on that understanding I pose the following questions:

1. How do you intend to measure the time interval?

2. What is the siginficance of the "90%" and where is this percentage derived from?

3. How do you account for those instances where an individual is struck in the "specified placement" and remains in the fight for an unbelievable amount of time? (See here for an example: Http://www.thehighroad.org/showthread.php?t=168247&highlight=NYPD)

goalie
December 20, 2005, 09:07 PM
"Stopping Power" is a funny concept. While I have nowhere near Preacherman's experience, I served enough time to know that a full-sized M16 doesn't have enough "stopping power" to satisfy me if I am in close quarters clearing a bunker or a room.

Talking about it in regards to handguns just makes me chuckle because those guy you read about getting medals for fighting away with an E-tool after being shot 10 times, those guys are not all on our side. Brave, tough, motivated SOBs can be found on both sides in war (or on the streets), and acting like a formula has any relevance in the real world just seems like it's either a scam to sell some more ammo, or a way to get killed when you stop shooting your super-duper-wiz-bang ammo after one shot and the guy you shot doesn't stop fighting.

Anyhow, good luck with your research. I hope that, if you ever get into a gunfight, it's only with statistically average opponents.

Michael Courtney
December 20, 2005, 09:56 PM
I shouldn't even enter this thread, but I have to side with Preacherman on this whole stooping power thing. We can all agree that a CNS shot is a fight stopper, but it isn't very caliber/load dependent, it is very much placement dependent, assuming a projectile which can penetrate. Anything else requires either a blood pressure drop to force the individual to stop the fight, or what has been called a psychological stop.


It is an unproven presupposition that all stops are either CNS hits, blood pressure drop, or voluntary. We sought a definition that would allow for stopping power to be quantified without resorting to this unproven presupposition.

In other words, we wanted to let careful experiments and observations determine whether there is an incapacitation mechanism that works faster than blood pressure drop without a direct hit to the CNS.



In a controlled test where all targets are shot with identical shot placement, and 20% are stopped at 2 seconds and 90% are stopped at 11 seconds, is the difference caliber related or psychological? How do you quantify a psychological stop?


Quantifying voluntary stops are challenging, but the voluntary stop can be largely removed from the problem by performing live animal experiments on species that do not exhibit a voluntary (or psychological) stop. If one can demonstrate incapacitation in live animal experiments more rapidly than required for the blood pressure drop, and without a hit to the CNS, then one has significant experimental support for another mechanism that acts more quickly than blood loss.

Michael Courtney

Michael Courtney
December 20, 2005, 10:06 PM
Here is what I understand to be your premise, please correct me if I am wrong.

1. Your proposed definition of stopping power is "the time interval required to achieve involuntary incapacitation in 90% of the cases where the target is hit with that load at the specified placement."


This is only one component of the definition. The full definition is the entire probability curve. If one desires to summarize stopping power in a few numbers, one might use the time to achieve incapacitation in 90% of the cases, the time to achieve incapacitation in 20% of the cases, and the average incapacitation time.



2. You plan to determine the "stopping power" of a given load by measuring the time it takes to involuntarily incapacitate someone if they are hit in the "specified placement."


Yes, that is the idea.


3. By graphing these times you can compare one load against another.


Yes.


1. How do you intend to measure the time interval?


In live animal experiments, measuring the time interval is easy.

For cases where the target species is human, we are developping new techniques in forensic science to allow for analysis of audio/video records of shooting events to determine which shots are hits (and where they hit) and which shots are misses. Given the increasing number of shooting events captured with surveillance equipment, accurate time reconstructions should be possible for significant numbers of shooting events.


2. What is the siginficance of the "90%" and where is this percentage derived from?


As I wrote above, you really need the whole curve for a full definition, but we believe that three bits of information would be a good summary. 90% is not particularly significant. You just need a sense of the low end (20%), a sense of the middle (the average), and a sense of the high end (90%). One could choose 95% or 99% if they prefered.


3. How do you account for those instances where an individual is struck in the "specified placement" and remains in the fight for an unbelievable amount of time? (See here for an example: Http://www.thehighroad.org/showthread.php?t=168247&highlight=NYPD)

They will appear at the appropriate location in the probability distribution, depending on how often they occur. If they occur more than 10% of the time, they will increase t(90%), and regardless of where they occur in the distribution, they will affect the average incapacition time.

Michael Courtney

GoBrush
December 20, 2005, 10:29 PM
have not read this post just yet printing it out now. BUT

I think when talking about stopping power it is important to remember the advancements over the past several years on defensive ammo. With modern ammo such as Hydra Shok's and my favorite Gold Dot all calibers are not created equal but it has sure closed the gap between 9mm, 38spl all the way to full power 45's. I cut my teeth on full power 357's and 45's and LOVE THEM but in my old age and these advancements realize that control is just as important when considering what to buy.

By the way I still shoot the big boys and hold my own with any one just getting smarter with age I guess.

Stopping power is really not as important as how much you practice and how confident you are with your abilities.:)

Sam
December 21, 2005, 12:18 AM
Preacherman got this one exactly right:

1. There is no such thing as "stopping power".

Given there is no way we can ensure exactly identical shot placement, level of excitation of the target individual, size of the target individual and all the other variables, I consider it pretty much an exercise in futility to make an attempt to quantify such a thing as "stopping power".
Make nice converse sitting around the woodstove but the only thing that counts is good placement, preferebly a CNS hit.
Unless you can afford a bearer to carry your M1 around 24/7 you are not going to be adequatly armed when the time comes. Sucks doesn't it:evil:

Sam

JohnKSa
December 21, 2005, 12:48 AM
There IS such a thing as stopping power. It's just not currently possible to RELIABLY predict the stopping power of a given gun/ammo combination.

I don't know if that will change, but I certainly hope that as time passes, science will help us understand the problem better.

Right now, there's a marked disconnect between the simple physics and the noted effects. That is, given the easily measurable and calculable parameters of a projectile, it hasn't been possible to consistently associate these parameters with the effectiveness of the projectile unless there is a gross variation in the parameters. The answer isn't that the physics is wrong, it is that not enough of the problem is well understood and defined. I.e. there are more parameters that must be measured and understood before the problem will become tractable.

Part of this is that the shot placement issues affect the problem so profoundly. That will have to be taken out of the equation initially and I can't see any way to do that without carefully controlled experiments involving live animals.

cz75bdneos22
December 21, 2005, 01:03 AM
why don't we do our own investigation?
let's sign up some volunteers random(sample)...agree on the testing methodology...and draw names to see what caliber you will be testing with...and publish the results in the name of research...:D see below ...;)

Jeff White
December 21, 2005, 04:22 AM
I'm with Preacherman and Blackhawk 6, there is no such thing as stopping power. It would impossible to quantify it. You just can't can't model something so unpredictable.

How would your model account for the person who is hit and drops immediately dead or at least is out of the fight, and the person who takes the same hit and continues to function until he bleeds out and loses conciousness? There is a big psychological factor to consider. How could you model differences in human or animal anatomy? We're all built generally the same but a chest hit that opened my aorta and cause me to rapidly bleed out, might just miss Preacherman's aortta and allow him to stay in the fight for an extended period of time.

Stopping power means a CNS hit. Anything else is just guess work.

Jeff

middy
December 21, 2005, 12:28 PM
Okay then, off to Canada with my Marlin 60. I'm gonna bag me a moose with a CNS hit. It's the only way to be sure, you know.

Michael Courtney
December 22, 2005, 11:14 AM
Okay then, off to Canada with my Marlin 60. I'm gonna bag me a moose with a CNS hit. It's the only way to be sure, you know.

It is important to distinguish rapid incapacitation from eventual lethality. The hunter simply wants lethality in a time frame conducive to easy recovery of the carcass. To the hunter, waiting 10 seconds for an animal to drop is not an eternity (except for dangerous game.)

On the other hand, we should seek a combination of handgun load and shot placement that will reliably incapacitate an attacker in under 10 seconds.

But we can also make the point that even though only CNS hits are likely to cause immediate incapacitation, we would prefer a load with can produce incapacitation in 4 seconds (on average) with a center chest hit to a load that takes 8 seconds (on average) to cause incapacitation with a center chest placement.

The average incapacitation time does not guarantee an outcome, but it does give an advantage.

Michael Courtney

Sam
December 22, 2005, 08:59 PM
Michael,
4 seconds is in no way acceptable. It is an eternity when being shot at and not much less in a knife fight.

Ain't no stopping power.
Not much of any power with any firearm.
Example how come a round producing 248 ftlbs or lbsft of "energy" depending on your point of view will not move a 1 lb target 248 ft or a 248lb target 1 foot. Once you accept that little item and drag it away from the "physics" you can start to understand weapon effects.

Sam

JohnKSa
December 22, 2005, 10:42 PM
But it's BETTER than 8 seconds, right?

That's the point.

X Who
December 22, 2005, 11:32 PM
Where somebody shot a whole bunch of goats and timed them to incapacitation? What did they prove? What did Marshall and Sanow prove?

IMHO, it is all compromise. The handgun is a compromise of sorts: it is the only gun that can be on your person and quickly accessible nearly all the time. Power: 500 S&W or .25 auto? One is too much for SD and the other is too little. Deep pentration or rapid expansion and quick energy dump?

Carry a gun with as much power as you can handle, but can it be concealed?

Even if an experiment could be done firing bullets into test animals, it would be difficult to ensure against variations in the animals themselves unless enough are shot to average out variations. And then there is a large number of shot placements to test. And then add in stuff in the way (like arms or heavy clothing or fat or very heavy chest muscle

I don't know, but I suspect that the effectiveness of cartridge/bullet combinations can be only known to the level of broad generalizations. Even if the "best stopping power" round could be known, one may carry something else due to other considerations. What is best in one scenario will not likely be best in every scenario.

More information is good, I hope that those collecting data continue to do so, whether it is from street results or gelatin tests.

Yooper
December 23, 2005, 03:06 AM
I also have to disagree with the concept of "stopping power", it implies a reaction to bullet performance. To accurately measure reactions, the bullet placements would have to be identical on a variety of individuals with the only variable being the reaction to being shot. Given the variety of cartridges, the variety of possible shot placements and ranges, and the variety of possible reactions to being shot, it is almost impossible to arrive at a valid conclusion.

Michael Courtney
December 23, 2005, 10:17 AM
Michael,
4 seconds is in no way acceptable. It is an eternity when being shot at and not much less in a knife fight.


My point is that faster is better than slower.

Our definition of stopping power allows one to also conisder the probability of a given load causing incapacitation in 2 seconds. A load which produces a 50% probability of incapcitation in 2 seconds would be better than a load which produces a 20% probability of incapacitation in 2 seconds.

The fact that there aren't any available handgun loads that produce a 50% probability of incapacitation in 2 seconds doesn't mean that there never will be.

If we have a definition of stopping power that makes sense (mine does), then we can better understand how to better move from current levels of performance (the best handgun loads produce about a 20% probability of incapacitation in 2 seconds with center of the chest shot placement) toward ideal levels of performance. But improving bullet performance requires taking incremental steps, as well as a method of evaluating bullet performance in terms of the incapacitation produced.

Michael Courtney

RON in PA
December 23, 2005, 01:09 PM
What we need to do is produce an infinite number of human clones that are segregated into groups according to body weight and different psychological states and shoot them thus generating data for statistical analysis.

Easier solution and one that seems to be common: "shoot 'em till they drop".

By-the- way: How many angels can dance on the head of a pin? I didn't know we were a group of Talmudic scholars engaged in disputation. But maybe we are.

Always remember Sylvia Segrest, the psychotic young lady who shotup a mall in the Philadelphia area in the early 1980s with a .22 rim fire rifle. Killed seven people. I'll grant you that's lethality and not incapacitation, but it does give one something to think about.

Wanna bet that all the major military powers have been collecting data like this for decades and have it hidden somewhere.

Yooper
December 23, 2005, 01:46 PM
One definition for "stopping power" might be a manhole cover striking the target flat-on at 100 fps. I expect that "stopping power" diminishes exponentially as the diameter of the projectile decreases.

benEzra
December 23, 2005, 02:17 PM
Example how come a round producing 248 ftlbs or lbsft of "energy" depending on your point of view will not move a 1 lb target 248 ft or a 248lb target 1 foot. Once you accept that little item and drag it away from the "physics" you can start to understand weapon effects.
Actually, it would if you set up a way to overcome the impedance mismatch. The bullet does have enough energy to lift a 248-pound target one foot, if no energy were expended damaging the target. However, most of that energy will be expended in tearing up the bullet and the target, rather than moving it.

Sam
December 23, 2005, 10:18 PM
Michael,
Why didn't you say 2 seconds as opposed to the 4 seconds you mentioned. 2 seconds is better than 4, BUT NOT GOOD ENOUGH.
I don't see how you are going to quantify it any meaningful way in any case, and stay out of jail. You work something out with the comissars to use excess prisoners from the Gulag?
How are you going to ensure uniformity of the 10K variables involved and how will that translate to something useful to me?

benEzra,
I'll betcha that If I make some non deformable bullets and targets that you still won't get the movement.
The last "energy" guy had a different dodge. He stated that the claimed abundance of energy was magically transformed to heat. I even set up test condition to measure heat rise in the target but no load that he came up with caused the temp to rise, up to and including 375H&H.


Sam

NineseveN
December 24, 2005, 02:30 AM
You're not defining "stopping power", you're trying to define "probability to involuntarily incapacitate", and there is a difference.

Probability shows how likely something is to occur, power shows the ability to do something or not.

Every bullet has “stopping power” (though this does not translate into the media hype and bullet fluff we see on the internet or in gun rags) because every bullet has the ability to kill, eventually. How likely is a certain bullet to incapacitate? Without finding a model that completely mimics the human body, with the innumerable variations in angle, orientation, environmental effects, mass/size/weight/density/structural health, temperature and mental/physiological reactions (because all of these things impact the performance of any one shot with any firearm and any bullet), any study or data conceived from such a study has very little real world significance. The differences between the top samples from any caliber are insignificant in the world of flesh and physics. We can estimate the performance of one round versus another in a controlled medium, but that does us little good in the real world, because we’re not shooting at Jell-O or cadavers or test animals.

So this data may prove to be interesting, but that’s it. Handgun rounds perform inconsistently, shot placement is not consistent and such a study fails to take into consideration that the majority of shots in a firefight with a handgun miss vital areas. You can provide us the data that suggests that if our one shot hits a predetermined spot, bullet A may be more effective than bullet B, but in order to show any real world use, you would also have to account for the effects that hits in non vital areas produce because we are more likely to see those than perfect shots to the heart.

Regardless, you shoot until the threat has ceased, even if we could predict that bullet A has a 99% chance to stop the threat if a shot is placed directly into the heart, what good does that do us during the fight? How would I, a person out in the real world without the benefit of an x-ray machine or a means to see exactly where a shot went inside my target and exactly what it did to the organ (if it hit one), know which round did the killing anyway at the time of the shoot?

Could we honestly get to a point where we would have such a high degree of certainty in the ability of round A to incapacitate in under 2 seconds provided it hit a certain organ in a certain manner that we could advocate shooting only one shot and then waiting for 2 seconds to see if the target is incapacitated? 2 seconds is an eternity on the street. If I shoot someone three times, and the first shot destroys the heart, the other two hit the belly and then 5 seconds later the subject dies, can we really determine exactly which round stopped the threat? Was it the cumulative force of all three shots either physically or psychologically, or did shot 1 take 6-8 seconds to incapacitate and the other 2 were completely irrelevant? How can you know this? And more importantly, how can one observe, validate and process the effect of each shot in real time during a gunfight?

Until you can provide a method to accomplish that, such a study is useless beyond being theorycraft. You shoot until the threat is gone and you don’t stop. Until the attacker is lying on their back without a gun or weapon in hand or is visibly rendered totally incapacitated, you keep firing. You just cannot determine this in real-time while being a participant with any reliability.



That's my 2 shillings anyway.

JohnKSa
December 24, 2005, 02:44 AM
Probability shows how likely something is to occur, power shows the ability to do something or not.Not really. There is probability associated with virtually any event. We would all agree that a howitzer has stopping power, but there is a small probability that a person could survive being shot with a howitzer--and you could find proof of that if you researched war wounds.

The fact that you can't GUARANTEE a result doesn't mean that the power to produce the result isn't there. It just means that even when you have LOTS of stopping power it's not always as effective as desired. The probability of failure to stop is low when using a howitzer.

In a handgun, the probability of failure to stop is much higher, but again, that doesn't mean that the power to stop isn't there. It just means that there's not nearly as much of it and that raises the probability of the target's not being incapacitated rapidly.Could we honestly get to a point where we would have such a high degree of certainty in the ability of round A to incapacitate in under 2 seconds provided it hit a certain organ in a certain manner that we could advocate shooting only one shot and then waiting for 2 seconds to see if the target is incapacitated?Unreasonable expectations, IMO. Science rarely makes huge leaps--you take small steps. First, you try a lot of experiments in a tightly controlled environment and carefully observe the results. Then you try to find a trend in the data. Then you try to determine what that trend means. Then you try to see if you can carefully alter parameters of the experiment to produce a desired outcome.

Look at it this way. When you buy self-defense ammo, you want to know how rapidly and effectively it will incapacitate an attacker. You can find out a lot about the ammo. Muzzle velocity, bullet weight, penetration estimates, expansion size estimates, probability of expanding properly, etc.

The problem is, none of those really tell you how rapidly and effectively it will incapacitate an attacker. What's more they don't even really tell you whether one round will be more effective than another. Even the experts can't tell you for certain.

This study is trying to get an answer to the question. Maybe not to nail down the answer, but at least to begin by trying to see if there's a discernible trend in the data. It surprises me that so many people seem to be against even exploring the problem...

NineseveN
December 24, 2005, 03:12 AM
Not really. There is probability associated with virtually any event. We would all agree that a howitzer has stopping power, but there is a small probability that a person could survive being shot with a howitzer--and you could find proof of that if you researched war wounds.

The fact that you can't GUARANTEE a result doesn't mean that the power to produce the result isn't there. It just means that even when you have LOTS of stopping power it's not always as effective as desired. The probability of failure to stop is low when using a howitzer.

In a handgun, the probability of failure to stop is much higher, but again, that doesn't mean that the power to stop isn't there. It just means that there's not nearly as much of it and that raises the probability of the target's not being incapacitated rapidly.Unreasonable expectations, IMO. Science rarely makes huge leaps--you take small steps. First, you try a lot of experiments in a tightly controlled environment and carefully observe the results. Then you try to find a trend in the data. Then you try to determine what that trend means. Then you try to see if you can carefully alter parameters of the experiment to produce a desired outcome.

Look at it this way. When you buy self-defense ammo, you want to know how rapidly and effectively it will incapacitate an attacker. You can find out a lot about the ammo. Muzzle velocity, bullet weight, penetration estimates, expansion size estimates, probability of expanding properly, etc.

The problem is, none of those really tell you how rapidly and effectively it will incapacitate an attacker. What's more they don't even really tell you whether one round will be more effective than another. Even the experts can't tell you for certain.

This study is trying to get an answer to the question. Maybe not to nail down the answer, but at least to begin by trying to see if there's a discernible trend in the data. It surprises me that so many people seem to be against even exploring the problem...


I think you missed my point. There is no way, regardless of the data available to observe this in any meaningful way during the fight. We're talking mere seconds and variables that I cannot even count. Unless a study can prove a handgun round to be 100% reliable in stopping the threat immediately in one shot every single time regardless of real-world variables, this data is useless in a firefight. All we have is a probability, and even if that probability increases, unless a shooter can monitor the real-time effects of each shot to produce incapacitation, we cannot put this data to good use in the fight. It may help us prepare with our load selection, but since the results cannot ever be 100% reliable or dependable due to the variables like shot placement, barriers and all of the other numerous things that occur in a gunfight but never in a lab, we still must shoot until the threat is visibly rendered incapacitated. If it takes 2 seconds for a heart shot to incapacitate the attacker and drop him or her on the ground, what do you think we're going to be doing for the 2 seconds after the heart shot is taken? Shooting, that's what (at least anyone with any sense).

Gunfights do not occur in a vacuum. The data will be interesting to view as it progresses, but it just does not solve the problem that shot placement is the engine and bullet performance is the wheel, without both, you're just not getting anywhere anytime soon...unless you push the car or wait for the attacker to bleed out, and I don't consider that fast enough, certainly not soon by my definition. But we cannot monitor the path that a bullet takes because even if we hit center mass, we won't know where it ended up. Hits in the chest do not produce incapacitation, it's what the bullets hits once it passes through the barrier of the chest that counts, something we simply cannot monitor during the shoot. Nor can we monitor if a bullet expands during the shoot which will generally determine how much the round affects the organ or area hit.

I'm not against the research, just highly skeptical of what it can do for us that Jell-O tests cannot considering neither have any practical application during the fight and both simply observe data under controlled conditions to help us prepare, but they still won’t win the fight for us. Will they help? Sure, if the preparations are made and they pan out in flesh and physics at the time of the shoot, but they cannot predict what will occur, only what may occur in some very specific situations with controlled variables. Again, not very useful in the 5 seconds of a firefight IMHO.

JohnKSa
December 24, 2005, 03:20 AM
The idea is to help you pick something as effective as possible BEFORE the fight.

During the fight, nothing changes from the way things are now. You aim for center of mass and shoot until the threat is over. You just have the extra peace of mind knowing that the gun/ammo combination you have chosen has been scientifically shown to have a better probability of rapidly incapacitating your opponent than many other combinations you could have chosen.Unless a study can prove a handgun round to be 100% reliable in stopping the threat immediately in one shot every single time regardless of real-world variables, this data is useless in a firefight.It might not change the way you fight, but it's certainly useful in a firefight to know that you've chosen your equipment well/wisely/scientifically. What happens in a fight is heavily affected by the choices one makes before the fight.what it can do for us that Jell-O tests cannotThe one HUGE thing it can do is to actually begin to factor incapacitation into ammunition design equation. Gelatin can not be incapacitated--one could think of that as the primary limitation of gelatin as a testing medium.

NineseveN
December 24, 2005, 03:29 AM
The idea is to help you pick something as effective as possible BEFORE the fight.

During the fight, nothing changes from the way things are now. You aim for center of mass and shoot until the threat is over. You just have the extra peace of mind knowing that the gun/ammo combination you have chosen has been scientifically shown to have a better probability of rapidly incapacitating your opponent than many other combinations you could have chosen.It might not change the way you fight, but it's certainly useful in a firefight to know that you've chosen your equipment well. What happens in a fight is heavily affected by the choices one makes before the fight.


FMJ out of a handgun has killed plenty of folks, so I don't think bullet construction has a much of a bearing on what happens in a fight as you and others contend. There is plenty of real-world historical data to back this up. Does it help if you use JHP's? Science says so, but I think bullet construction is not as meaningful as some would like us to believe. Where it would likely make a difference is in "one shot" because the best round design and performance theoretically has the best percentage to do more damage in one shot, however; the "one shot" occurrence is a statistical anomaly in defensive gunfights according to the data I have read. I believe the data from all handgun shootings (civilian, civilian LE and military) would show that as the round count goes up (hits, not misses), the weight of the effect of one bullet's performance goes down...because incapacitation from handgun fire is rarely instantaneous.

So yes, this kind of data is helpful, but I believe it is marginally so.

NineseveN
December 24, 2005, 03:51 AM
The one HUGE thing it can do is to actually begin to factor incapacitation into ammunition design equation. Gelatin can not be incapacitated--one could think of that as the primary limitation of gelatin as a testing medium.

The relevancy of this comes into question. Think of it this way.

One stop shots are rare in handgun fights, so rare that the effect of one bullet can be considered marginal. Much like golf and golf balls.

If a company came out with a ball that is said to have a 99.9% chance for a hole-in-one on a 385 yard drive if there is zero wind and you hit it "exactly" right with enough power and accuracy to make it straight to the hole, almost no intelligent and informed person would buy it for those reasons alone. Why? Because 385-yard drives are so rare that planning your equipment around them is completely useless and opportunities for that perfect shot without wind do not present themselves enough to win golf games. Furthermore, if there was no wind and one could drive the ball that distance towards the hole with the accuracy to make it into the hole in exactly the right manner, the ball becomes irrelevant.

The problem with bullets, that this study cannot solve, is there is not an "exactly right manner" because people are not golf ball cups that react the same way every time as they are inanimate and people are not. You don’t need to convince the golf ball cup to allow the hole in one, you do need to kill or convince your attacker to stop...one shot kills with a handgun are so rare that this is an irrelevant scenario to plan for. I submit to you that 1, 2, 3, 4 or 500 rounds into the heart of different 128gr or 230gr JHP's will generally have the same physical incapacitation effects provided they all expand properly. We cannot reliably predict a target's psychological reaction to such a scenario (unless you can prove otherwise), so again, we're back to expansion and penetration. I fail to see how testing on any medium other than human beings with clothing, mass, and environmental variables equates to a better correlation on how bullets will expand and penetrate on humans any better than Jell-O does.

But that's all I'm going to say about that for now, I don't want to turn this into a JohnSKA VS NineseveN thread.

Michael Courtney
December 24, 2005, 05:47 AM
Michael,
Why didn't you say 2 seconds as opposed to the 4 seconds you mentioned. 2 seconds is better than 4, BUT NOT GOOD ENOUGH.


The definition of stopping power in the first post allows one to consider the probability of incapacitation in any time frame of interest. One could pick 10 seconds, or 4 seconds, or 2 seconds, or 1 second.


I don't see how you are going to quantify it any meaningful way in any case, and stay out of jail. You work something out with the comissars to use excess prisoners from the Gulag?


Once one has a definition, there are two possible approaches to quantifying things. One is to use live animal experiments. The other is the development of new techniques in Forensic Science to establish the time line of gunfights with an audio or video record. With increasing surveillance, an increasing percentage of shooting events are captured on audio and/or video.

We are working on acoustic techniques for shooting event reconstruction. Preliminary results indicate that using the acoustic signature of the bullet hit, one can determine whether the hit was the first hit to the chest, a subsequent hit to the chest, a miss, the first hit to the abdomen, a subsequent hit to the abdomen, a hit damaging major bone structure, or a peripheral hit damaging mainly muscle.

It is entirely foreseeable that we will be able to analyzing audio and video recordings of shooting events to determine the time from to incapacitation for each event.


How are you going to ensure uniformity of the 10K variables involved and how will that translate to something useful to me?


There are studies in many areas that determine the relative probabalities of outcomes without ensuring "uniformity of the 10K variables involved."

We make many life decisions based on the outcome of these studies.

For example, different individuals each have different genetic predispositions to cancer. Environmental factors further complicate the issue. There is a wide range of variation. This does not mean that a scientific study cannot determine the probability curve for contracting cancer after smoking Brand X for a certain number of years.

Suppose a scientific study compares the probabilities for contracting cancer after smoking Brand X for a certain number of years and smoking Brand Y for a certain number of years. In spite of complicating factors from the genetic and environmental variations in the specific cases, such a study can be done, and would constitute a valid scientific basis for concluding that Brand X creates a higher or lower cancer risk than Brand Y.

This same kind of study can conclude that exposure to sunlight increases cancer risk over time, or that certain foods can reduce the risk of certain cancers. In each case, there are broad variations in genetic and environmental factors, but sufficient numbers of data points can effectively average over these factors and understand how the variable of interest affects the outcome.

This kind of research does not claim that the outcome can be predicted for a specific individual, but only that the percentage of outcomes can be predicted for a large number of individual events. The fact that the outcome cannot be predicted for a specific individual does not mean that one cannot increase his odds of living to a ripe old age by certain choices such as quitting smoking or wearing sunscreen.

Likewise, one can increase ones chances of surviving a gunfight with a better ammo choice.

Probability theory correctly predicts that almost anyone who spends enough time and money gambling as a customer in a casino will come out on the losing end, and that the owners of the casino will come out on the winning end. The outcome of any specific bet is not predictable, but the eventual outcome of a large number of bets is predictable, and I often tell my college level statistics students that the lottery is a tax on people who are poor at math.

Most people make choices every day to do things that improve our health or safety in a probabilistic manner:
· We wear sunscreen.
· We try and quit smoking.
· We lose weight.
· We have our cholesterol checked.
· We buy a fire extinguisher.
· We check the batteries in our smoke detector.
· We investigate the safety record of a model of automobile before we buy it.
· We investigate the probabilistic failure rate of our method of contraception.
· We (females) get mammograms after a certain age.
· We (men) get prostate screenings after a certain age.
· We might even eat oat bran.

Therefore, there is similar value in seeking a probabilistic understanding of bullet effectiveness to aid in ammo selection. Research in this area also has important implications for training, shot placement, and future bullet designs.

Michael Courtney

Michael Courtney
December 24, 2005, 06:04 AM
So this data may prove to be interesting, but that’s it. Handgun rounds perform inconsistently, shot placement is not consistent and such a study fails to take into consideration that the majority of shots in a firefight with a handgun miss vital areas. You can provide us the data that suggests that if our one shot hits a predetermined spot, bullet A may be more effective than bullet B, but in order to show any real world use, you would also have to account for the effects that hits in non vital areas produce because we are more likely to see those than perfect shots to the heart.


The use of incapacitation probabality curves is generalizable to any shot placement. You are right that knowing the curves for one specific shot placement is not a complete picture. But it is a concept upon which a more complete picture can be built.

Suppose you know the incapacitation probability curves for three combinations of angle and placement: frontal to the center of the chest, from the side (through the upper arm) through the center of the chest, and frontal to the center of the abdomen. You still have an incomplete picture, but if you pick a bullet that does better than most other bullets for all three shot placements, you would know you're picking a bullet that works comparatively well for a variety of shot placement possibilities.



Regardless, you shoot until the threat has ceased, even if we could predict that bullet A has a 99% chance to stop the threat if a shot is placed directly into the heart, what good does that do us during the fight?


The study of stopping power is primarily about bullet design and load selection. As I mentioned in the first post of this thread, the tactical implication is:

Consequently, surviving a gun fight requires more than good shot placement with good handgun bullets; surviving a gun fight requires tangible actions to avoid getting shot during the time interval before incapacitation occurs. Evasive action is necessary, and the significant likelihood that incapacitation is still several seconds away should be sufficient motive for the defensive shooter to be moving rapidly toward cover, or in the absence of cover, at least moving to make for a more difficult target.



And more importantly, how can one observe, validate and process the effect of each shot in real time during a gunfight?


The main point of studying stopping power is improving the ammo design and selection process, not altering defensive tactics.


You shoot until the threat is gone and you don’t stop. Until the attacker is lying on their back without a gun or weapon in hand or is visibly rendered totally incapacitated, you keep firing.


The careful quantification of stopping power has not ever suggested that one stop shooting until the threat is stopped.

Michael Courtney

Michael Courtney
December 24, 2005, 06:20 AM
This study is trying to get an answer to the question. Maybe not to nail down the answer, but at least to begin by trying to see if there's a discernible trend in the data. It surprises me that so many people seem to be against even exploring the problem...

Lots of folks were against quantifying the link between smoking and cancer also. Many of the same objections that we're seeing here were raised: too many confounding variables, the research is worthless unless you can predict specific outcomes, etc. Correlation is meaningless unless you understand the detailed physiological mechanisms.

It's hard for people to see the relevance in the small steps science often takes. It takes a kind of faith to get behind the idea of understanding a subject better if that improvement to understanding doesn't immediately lead to an easily discernable improvement in quality of life.

Once the details get mathematically complicated, people often prefer to resort to older personal biases than make the cerebral effort required to understand the issue. Overcoming these personal biases often requires unanimous agreement among experts, and clear statements from government agencies, such as "The Surgeon General has determined that smoking is hazardous to your health."

But science needs to do its work long before experts are in unanimous agreement and the government gives its opinion. Division among expert opinion always preceeds agreement in the scientific process. As long as we use careful experiment and observation to discern between varying expert opinions, science can make the progress needed to lead to eventual agreement. This process usually takes decades, sometimes generations in areas where existing biases are strong and confounding factors are present.

Michael Courtney

Michael Courtney
December 24, 2005, 06:34 AM
Michael,
Why didn't you say 2 seconds as opposed to the 4 seconds you mentioned. 2 seconds is better than 4, BUT NOT GOOD ENOUGH.


We should also acknowlegde that there are many situations that justify the use of deadly force where 4 seconds is probably good enough. I am thinking primarily of situations where deadly force is justified but the attacker doesn't have a knife or a gun.

Consider that 1 in 3 females is the victim of rape at some point in her life and that many of these crimes are perpetrated without a gun or a knife. If a potential rape victim can incapacitate her attacker in 4 seconds, she has greatly increased her chances.

There are many situations where one has greatly increases the survivability or chances of avoiding great bodily harm if one can narrow the window of opportunity for the attacker to 4 seconds or so. Suppose someone is coming at you with a baseball bat or iron bar. Would you rather have to avoid getting whacked for 4 seconds or for 8?

Even in a gun fight, the difference between 4 and 8 seconds can be meaningful if you get behind cover and/or put some distance between you and the attacker.

Likewise, the difference between 4 and 8 seconds is meaningful when defending one's family. Sure, 4 seconds might leave enough time for the attacker to kill me, but the more rapidly incapacitation occurs, the fewer family members are likely to be harmed.

Finally consider the possibility of encountering an active shooter who is determined to keep shooting innocent parties until incapacitated. The difference between 4 and 8 seconds is certainly meaningful here.

Michael Courtney

Jeff White
December 24, 2005, 07:00 AM
That's right boys and girls...magic bullets don't really exist. Nor will they ever exist. Until someone cuts down the old 90 mm recoiless so it's a portable as a handgun, no one will ever carry any weapon that stands even a 90% chance of making a one shot stop.

Choose the handgun you prefer in any caliber .38 special or bigger, select carry ammunition that penetrates 13+ inches and spend the rest of your money and time on practice ammunition.

You're looking for a technological solution to a training problem. You can go to the killing floor of your local meet packing plant and find the round that is statistically the best for one shot stops on large animals....22 rimfire.

How do you intend to gather this new forensic data? Are you proposing cameras and microphones on every handgun. Not many gunfights are documented with audio-visual tapes.

Michael Courtney wrote;
We should also acknowlegde that there are many situations that justify the use of deadly force where 4 seconds is probably good enough. I am thinking primarily of situations where deadly force is justified but the attacker doesn't have a knife or a gun.

Ever been in a fight doc? I mean a real fight, like since maybe the 4th grade?

Consider that 1 in 3 females is the victim of rape at some point in her life and that many of these crimes are perpetrated without a gun or a knife. If a potential rape victim can incapacitate her attacker in 4 seconds, she has greatly increased her chances.

One in three females the victim of forcible rape....Where are you getting those statistics from? Even if they were right, if you think a 6'2", 250 pound attacker already in contact with the victim couldn't kill or cause her great bodily harm in 4 seconds you're wrong.

There are many situations where one has greatly increases the survivability or chances of avoiding great bodily harm if one can narrow the window of opportunity for the attacker to 4 seconds or so. Suppose someone is coming at you with a baseball bat or iron bar. Would you rather have to avoid getting whacked for 4 seconds or for 8?

It only takes one second or less to be bludgeoned to death with either a baseball bat or an iron bar. A well trained shooter can draw and fire a hammer in under 2 seconds. Four seconds can be a very long time.

Even in a gun fight, the difference between 4 and 8 seconds can be meaningful if you get behind cover and/or put some distance between you and the attacker.

How many gunfights have you been in? Ever hear of the Tueller drill? The well trained shooter I mentioned above can't draw and fire on a knife wielding attacker coming at him from 21 feet before he's stabbed. Four seconds is enough time to do a lot of damage.

Jeff

Michael Courtney
December 24, 2005, 07:33 AM
We cannot reliably predict a target's psychological reaction to such a scenario (unless you can prove otherwise), so again, we're back to expansion and penetration.


You're in good company.

Albert Einstein got hung up on the probabilistic interpretation of quantum mechanics.

He said "God does not play dice" to make the point that a theory that only describes probabilities rather than predicting specific outcomes of individual events cannot be trusted.

Einstein turned out to be wrong.


I fail to see how testing on any medium other than human beings with clothing, mass, and environmental variables equates to a better correlation on how bullets will expand and penetrate on humans any better than Jell-O does.


The definition of stopping power suggests two possible experimental approaches. One is to use live animal experiments. Certainly it has limitations, but studying bullet effectiveness in both live animals and gelatin can probably tell us more than gelatin alone. Most medical researchers salivate at the possibility of studying their areas of interest in human-sized animals, and animal testing allows for the study of incapacitation potential. Gelatin only allows the study of wounding potential.

The other experimental approach is analysis of shooting events involving humans. The development of new techniques in Forensic Science will enable establishing the time line of gunfights with an audio or video record. With increasing surveillance, an increasing percentage of shooting events are captured on audio and/or video.

Preliminary results indicate that using the acoustic signature of the bullet hit, one can determine whether the hit was the first hit to the chest, a subsequent hit to the chest, a miss, the first hit to the abdomen, a subsequent hit to the abdomen, a hit damaging major bone structure, or a peripheral hit damaging mainly muscle.

It is entirely foreseeable that we will be able to analyzing audio and video recordings of shooting events to determine the time from to incapacitation for each event.

Michael Courtney

Michael Courtney
December 24, 2005, 07:53 AM
That's right boys and girls...magic bullets don't really exist. Nor will they ever exist.


Think outside of the box.

Do you mean to assert that 150 grains of high explosive fused to explode at a penetration distance of 6" will not immediately incapacitate an attacker over 90% of the time?

Do you mean we will never have a drug that can cause incapacitation very rapidly when delivered to the center of the chest via a handgun bullet?

Do you mean that it will never be possible for a handgun bullet to deliver an electrical shock capable of immediate incapacitation?

There are important distinctions between what might be politically acceptable and what will be possible.


How do you intend to gather this new forensic data? Are you proposing cameras and microphones on every handgun. Not many gunfights are documented with audio-visual tapes.


The probability of any shooting event being caught with audio surveillance is rapidly increasing. There's an audio recording of almost every police stop now, and both audio and video on many ATM's. Some cities have installed audio systems for the detection and location of gunfire in the areas where gun shots are most likely to occur. An increasing number of shooting events are being captured on 911 calls.


Ever been in a fight doc? I mean a real fight, like since maybe the 4th grade?


I have drawn my handgun 3 times in legally justified self-defense. Only had to shoot once. On another occasion I confronted a drug dealer on my property with a shotgun. He waited patiently and compliantly for the police.


if you think a 6'2", 250 pound attacker already in contact with the victim couldn't kill or cause her great bodily harm in 4 seconds you're wrong.


First of all, proper self-defense training should have the gun drawn prior to contact.

Secondly, I did not assert that incapacitation in 4 seconds completely removed the possibility of great bodily harm, only that incapacitation in 4 seconds gives a potential victim a pretty good chance of avoiding great bodily harm.


It only takes one second or less to be bludgeoned to death with either a baseball bat or an iron bar. A well trained shooter can draw and fire a hammer in under 2 seconds. Four seconds can be a very long time.


Yes it can. But it's not as long as 8 seconds. Would you rather avoid the iron bar for 4 seconds or for 8?


Ever hear of the Tueller drill?

Sure, I teach all of my CHL students about the Tueller drill.




The well trained shooter I mentioned above can't draw and fire on a knife wielding attacker coming at him from 21 feet before he's stabbed. Four seconds is enough time to do a lot of damage.
Jeff

Of course, if you just stand there after shooting the guy, he will hurt you. I was trained to move to avoid getting stabbed or slashed both before and after shooting. My point is that it's going to be easier to avoid getting stabbed or slashed for 4 seconds after shooting than for 8.

The best available load is only one aspect. Training is clearly more important. But this does not mean that load selection is irrelevant. Nor does it preclude the development of more effective loads in the future.

Michael Courtney

Yooper
December 24, 2005, 09:44 AM
I think it is a big mistake to underestimate the power of adreniline, especially if it is enhanced with some type of chemical substance. All we can do if confronted by an antagonist is to propel a projectile, hopefully with some degree of proficiency, in the antagonist's direction. What happens after the bullet leaves the barrel is entirely out of our hands. It is now up to the antagonist to "stop" the bullet. There may well be as many reactions to being shot as there are antagonists and it is impossible to quantify reactions, the range of values is too great.

Preacherman
December 24, 2005, 10:34 AM
Michael, you have my support and my respect for your efforts to study the effect of bullet design, and to improve that design. We can all make very good use of such research. However, I'm afraid I must continue to disagree with you that this study relates to "stopping power" as such. I don't believe that such an animal exists, and I think that to strive to predict "stopping power" is to pursue a chimera. Also, your comments about timing, and statements such as
proper self-defense training should have the gun drawn prior to contactdon't really help much... sometimes one has no warning whatsoever about the attack, and can't prepare for it.

Let me illustrate this latter point from my own experience - an incident which also produced an instant one-shot stop, but purely by accident!

I was attacked from behind while walking down a street, by a knife-wielding thug. He came up behind me with no warning whatsoever. The first thing I knew about the attack was his knife penetrating my back! Very fortunately for me, he stabbed me alongside the spine, and the point of his knife caught in one of the "wings" of my lower vertebrae - otherwise I wouldn't be here telling you about it. I still have a nice scar on my lower back to remind me.

I arched my back forward, involuntarily, as I was stabbed. I was in Condition Yellow (aware of possible danger, but nothing specific), as I try to be at all times when armed and on the streets. I drew my weapon (a CZ75) partly out of my IWB holster, and fired backward, through the holster and the seat of my pants, in a desperate attempt to prevent another stab from hurting me again. (This gave me a marvellous flash-burn on my right buttock, leading to all sorts of hilarity at the emergency room later! :D )

My loads that day (being young and stupid) were my own handloads. I'd taken the Speer 88gr. JHP, designed for the .380 ACP, and handloaded it in 9mm. cases with a large helping of powder, giving a muzzle velocity of something like 1,500 fps. I was (at the time) inexperienced in bullet performance, and had assumed that this velocity would guarantee expansion and make a serious wound. Well, I hadn't allowed for the fact that the Speer bullet was designed for .380 ACP velocities, not the much higher 9mm. velocity (probably well over 50% greater than it was designed for). So, when the bullet hit flesh, it immediately "blew up" into tiny fragments, and didn't penetrate more than an inch or so. Very fortunately for me, the first piece of flesh it hit was my attacker's left testicle... which was effectively shredded, even "vaporized", by the impact. This doubled him over on the spot, squealing like a slaughtered pig, and did indeed produce a "one-shot stop", despite the completely inadequate bullet performance and lack of aim!

I guess we could rate my carry load at the time as "100% effective at one-shot stops" on the basis of that one incident - but that would be a completely fallacious interpretation. It saved my butt by accident, not by design! I was incredibly fortunate to hit my attacker at all with a completely unsighted, unaimed shot. I was even more fortunate not to hit some innocent pedestrian - there were many people on the street at the time. (I was not very well trained then... :o ) I never again carried ultra-light-for-caliber bullets at extreme velocities, having learned my lesson. I also, over time, came to trust larger calibers more than small ones, as my "database of experience" grew - that's why I don't trust the 9mm. or .38 Special to be more than marginally efficient as "stoppers".

NineseveN
December 24, 2005, 01:32 PM
Think outside of the box.

Do you mean to assert that 150 grains of high explosive fused to explode at a penetration distance of 6" will not immediately incapacitate an attacker over 90% of the time?

Do you mean we will never have a drug that can cause incapacitation very rapidly when delivered to the center of the chest via a handgun bullet?

Do you mean that it will never be possible for a handgun bullet to deliver an electrical shock capable of immediate incapacitation?

There are important distinctions between what might be politically acceptable and what will be possible.


Since these will surely never see use in this country, what practical good does this type of fantasy do us? Let me be clear, I'm not trying to knock you or your study, I simply fail to see the relevance as I stated earlier, and I also fail to see how you can get adequate data on all or even the majority of handgun bullets without doing tens of thousands of tests on live animals. Sure, you'll get a good sample of LE bullets (so we can assume your data for say, a Ranger Talon will be from a better sample than say, Winchester white box defense JHP ammo) but again, is it really going to tell us anything we don't already have a pretty good indication of? We'll just have to wait and see.

It's exciting research no doubt, when you start killing 30,000 animals, the data and the backlash will be interesting.

Also, please understand, just because some of us do not see the practical implications of such research does not mean we're trying to insult you, so saying things like Once the details get mathematically complicated, people often prefer to resort to older personal biases than make the cerebral effort required to understand the issue. Overcoming these personal biases often requires unanimous agreement among experts, and clear statements from government agencies, such as "The Surgeon General has determined that smoking is hazardous to your health." just come off as a petty insults to the intelligence of anyone that does not agree with you. Hardly a way to begin an unbiased stream of research.

Good luck.

Michael Courtney
December 24, 2005, 05:53 PM
Since these will surely never see use in this country, what practical good does this type of fantasy do us?


I was answering the specific point made by someone else that immediate incapacitation is not possible with a handgun-sized projectile launcher. I tried to be clear in distinguishing what is possible and what is legal for ordinary citizens. Even without resorting to these radical new designs, significant improvement is possible (see below).

However, I would not rule out these more radical possibilities for military and law enforcement use, particularly if these ideas prove effective in counter terrorism applications in other countries.


Let me be clear, I'm not trying to knock you or your study, I simply fail to see the relevance as I stated earlier, and I also fail to see how you can get adequate data on all or even the majority of handgun bullets without doing tens of thousands of tests on live animals. Sure, you'll get a good sample of LE bullets (so we can assume your data for say, a Ranger Talon will be from a better sample than say, Winchester white box defense JHP ammo) but again, is it really going to tell us anything we don't already have a pretty good indication of?


You don't need data on an exhaustive list of available loads. If the goal is a reliable predictive model (giving the probability incapacitation curve) from parameters measurable in ballistic gelatin, this can probably be done with a representative sample of a few dozen different service caliber loads.

Once we establish which gelatin parameters are best correlated with the features of the incapacitation probability curves, we will know which features to improve to increase the probability of rapid incapacitation.


It's exciting research no doubt, when you start killing 30,000 animals, the data and the backlash will be interesting.


If shot placement is carefully controlled some pretty interesting things can be said from fewer than 1000 animals.

In addition, deer hunters kill millions of animals each year. We've got a methodology that allows deer to be used as test subjects and that can be applied under hunting conditions for hunters who are willing to make a few careful measurements.

The Strasbourg Goat Tests only included 580 animals, and we've been able to draw some interesting conclusions from this data set.

1. The peak pressure wave magnitude dominates the incapacitation probability curves for times under 5 seconds.

2. Beyond 5 seconds, the incapacitation probability curves are dominated by the volume of crushed tissue.

3. The early pressure wave effects begin to turn on at a pressure wave magnitude of 500 PSI (determined on the edge of a 1" diameter cylinder centered on the wound channel), and really become interesting for loads with peak pressure wave magnitudes of 1000 PSI.

4. The fast response time depends strongly on peak pressure wave magnitude, as does the probability of the fast response (< 5 seconds) occuring. All the features of the fast (< 5 seconds) response part of the incapacitation probability curve can be accurately predicted (better than 5%) from the peak pressure wave magnitude.

We predict that by increasing the peak pressure magnitude to 3500 PSI (determined on the edge of a 1" diameter cylinder centered on the wound channel) locating the peak deeper in the wound channel, it will be possible to achieve 90% probability of incapacitation in 1-2 seconds. We are pursuing research in internal ballistics and bullet design(see "Improving Bullet Effectiveness" thread on the Handgun Discussion forum) to accomplish this without resorting to methods that will likely be outlawed.

Michael Courtney

Jeff White
December 24, 2005, 06:21 PM
Michael Courtney said;
Think outside of the box.

Do you mean to assert that 150 grains of high explosive fused to explode at a penetration distance of 6" will not immediately incapacitate an attacker over 90% of the time?

150 grains of what high explosive, PETN, RDX, fulminate of mercury? How big is your time fuse and detonator? And this whole thing is hardened enough to survive the heat and pressure it gets in the barrel of a handgun and not detonate on impact? I think we're a very long way from that being technologically possible.

Do you mean we will never have a drug that can cause incapacitation very rapidly when delivered to the center of the chest via a handgun bullet?

Again, not technologically possible in the foreseeable future.

Do you mean that it will never be possible for a handgun bullet to deliver an electrical shock capable of immediate incapacitation?

Are you talking about delivering a fatal shock to the heart?

There are important distinctions between what might be politically acceptable and what will be possible.

None of those things would be politically acceptable even if they were technologically possible.

The probability of any shooting event being caught with audio surveillance is rapidly increasing. There's an audio recording of almost every police stop now, and both audio and video on many ATM's. Some cities have installed audio systems for the detection and location of gunfire in the areas where gun shots are most likely to occur. An increasing number of shooting events are being captured on 911 calls.

Acording to the Bureau of Justice Statistics there are somewhere around 800,000 local, state and federal law enforcement officers in this country. Somewhere around 80% of those officers work for agencies that employ less then 10 sworn officers. The only audio recording you get on most traffic stops is of the radio traffic. So unless an officer has his mic keyed throughout the entire encounter (very unlikely) you're not getting an audio recording of the gunfight. Many states have anti evesdropping laws that prohibit the recording of audio without the knowledge and consent of both parties or with a warrant. When dash cams first came into use here in Illinois, we were prohibited from using the audio portion until the legislature passed a law amending the evesdropping law.

Many encounters take place out of the view of the dash cam, the video surveillance at the ATM or the convenience store. And I doubt even with the most sophisticated equipment you could get very much wound data off the sound of gun shots from a 911 tape.

I have drawn my handgun 3 times in legally justified self-defense. Only had to shoot once. On another occasion I confronted a drug dealer on my property with a shotgun. He waited patiently and compliantly for the police.

And what was the outcome of your defensive shooting? How many rounds were fired, from what distance and what effect did they have on your attacker? Do you have a link to a news article about the shooting? Was your experience in your defensive shooting such that it set you down this road to finding a more effective round?

First of all, proper self-defense training should have the gun drawn prior to contact.

Proper self defense training doesn't mean squat when you're ambushed or out in a public venue where you can't draw your weapon as soon as you anticipate problems. There are many incidents where a situation a police officer is involved in where a situation escalates all the way up the force continuum from presence to deadly force in a second. There is no way that you will always have your weapon in hand at the exact moment you need it.

Secondly, I did not assert that incapacitation in 4 seconds completely removed the possibility of great bodily harm, only that incapacitation in 4 seconds gives a potential victim a pretty good chance of avoiding great bodily harm.

Why 4 seconds? Why not 3 seconds or 5 seconds?

Yes it can. But it's not as long as 8 seconds. Would you rather avoid the iron bar for 4 seconds or for 8?

I'm firing COM of what I can see until the suspect is down while moving off the line of attack. One hit that takes half a second to execute could be fatal. I'm sure not going to stand there and wait four seconds to see if the shot did in fact incapacitate the subject.

The best available load is only one aspect. Training is clearly more important. But this does not mean that load selection is irrelevant. Nor does it preclude the development of more effective loads in the future.

How are you going to deal with vasoconstriction? Since exsanguination is the second most effect method of incapacitation, your more effective bullet needs to cause enough damage to casue enough blood loss to cause the person to lose consciousness in 4 seconds or less (by your own standard).

Vasoconstriction can be caused by either cold or stress. Between 145 and 175 BPM the blood is essentially shut off to the outer portions of the body, this is why you have to have a round that penetrates at least 13 inches and why much of the wound may not bleed very much.

The thing you can't account for, is the fact that not everyone reacts to stress the same way. Some subjects who are surprised may exhibit almost no vasoconstiction and some who are ready for the fight of their lives may have a lot of it if their heart rate is up. This is believed to be one explanation as to how men continue to function for a superhuman amount of time after receiving a wound that should be almost instantly fatal.

We haven't even gotten into adrenalin and the other defnsive measures the body takes in a fight. That's why I stand by my assertion that until you come up with a hand held weapon that will actually destroy enough tissue to immediately incapacitate the subject, you're tilting at windmills.

Jeff

NineseveN
December 24, 2005, 06:40 PM
However, I would not rule out these more radical possibilities for military and law enforcement use, particularly if these ideas prove effective in counter terrorism applications in other countries.

The technology to do this is so far off from even becoming a test subject it is currently a non-issue.


If shot placement is carefully controlled some pretty interesting things can be said from fewer than 1000 animals.

Yes, interesting things such as, "if your shot placement is X, you can achieve result Y in Z seconds" which means absolutely nothing, zip, zilch, nada. If you cannot control your shots in the street in the same manner that you can test them in the lab, the data is useless because it only correlates in theory. All you are saying is what we already know, if your shot placement is right and the round has the right affect on organs and tissue, rapid incapacitation may result in higher frequencies than we see with poorer shot placement and less organ/tissue effects.


In addition, deer hunters kill millions of animals each year. We've got a methodology that allows deer to be used as test subjects and that can be applied under hunting conditions for hunters who are willing to make a few careful measurements.

The variables cannot be controlled, deer hunters do not kill millions of deer every year with service caliber handguns, deer don't wear coats, they don't shoot back, they don't have the same physiological make-up of a human, deer don't smoke crack or get hyped up on cocaine...again, meaningless in the field. You are not going to find anything on "stopping power" with such research. You will find out about specific round performance in very controlled or uncontrolled environments with certain shot placements with very limited credible data on how that transfers into shooting 120lb. hyped-up heroin addicts with knives or 300lb. muscle head section 8 marines with Colt 1911's both very intent on doing you physical harm.



Like I said, good luck with your research, the claims made based on the data you find will be interesting and fun to watch as it all progresses.

JohnKSa
December 24, 2005, 07:33 PM
While it sounds like single shots would be used in the carefully controlled experiments, I have not seen Mr. Courtney advocate that single shots be used in self defense situations. In fact, he's specifically said that wasn't recommended.

The idea that the time to incapacitation would be measured in seconds and various gun/ammo combinations would receive various time "grades " doesn't imply that any particular grade is a RECOMMENDED or IDEAL time to incapacitation.

The EXAMPLES Mr. Courtney has given in which he's commented about various amounts of time to incapacitation are JUST EXAMPLES. I've not seen any suggestion that he's saying that 4 seconds (to grab a number out of the air) is what one should expect, what one should be satisfied with, or what one should want. It's nothing but an example, used as a comparison with other numbers which may be larger or smaller. There's no sense arguing whether 4 seconds is ideal or not, or whether 4 seconds is sufficient or not. The idea isn't that 4 seconds is a good number, the idea is that if the study shows that gun/ammo combination provides an average time to incapacitation of 8 seconds and another provided an average time to incapacitation of 4 seconds, I think EVERYONE can agree that the second round is preferable to the first. NOT that 4 seconds is a good goal to shoot for.

What I see is a lot of people seemingly grasping at straws and desperately searching for every tiny loose thread in what appears to be a serious effort to stop any effort to do this sort of research. I don't understand that. The endless debate on the topics of "stopping power", caliber choices, bullet choices, etc. should make it plain that this field is not well understood. There don't seem to be good, solid, scientific answers, just opinions and questionable rules of thumb.

I think that any research that MIGHT shed light on this topic should be a welcome thing in our community. Sure, some people may not like the results, but that's life. Some people didn't like relativity, the round earth, or finding that the earth wasn't the center of the universe either. Right now, we don't even know for sure what the results will be. It's premature to attack the experiment or the experimenter before the results are even published.

Michael Courtney
December 25, 2005, 09:30 AM
And what was the outcome of your defensive shooting? How many rounds were fired, from what distance and what effect did they have on your attacker? Do you have a link to a news article about the shooting? Was your experience in your defensive shooting such that it set you down this road to finding a more effective round?


I don't mean to be evasive, but for legal reasons, I prefer to keep much of this information under the radar.


How are you going to deal with vasoconstriction? Since exsanguination is the second most effect method of incapacitation, your more effective bullet needs to cause enough damage to casue enough blood loss to cause the person to lose consciousness in 4 seconds or less (by your own standard).


We believe that incapacitation via blood loss almost always takes longer then 5 seconds. Even with ideal shot placement, most handgun bullets take an average of 8-12 seconds to incapacitate by blood pressure drop. (You need ideal shot placement with a 1.5" diameter for an average incapacitation time of 5 seconds.)

Assertions that bullets that miss the CNS can only work via blood loss are depending on an unproven presupposition (or hypothesis), not relating a result of careful experiments or observations.

We are unsure of the physiological mechanisms by which the pressure wave causes incapacitation, but we are sure it can cause incapacitation in under 5 seconds.


Vasoconstriction can be caused by either cold or stress. Between 145 and 175 BPM the blood is essentially shut off to the outer portions of the body, this is why you have to have a round that penetrates at least 13 inches and why much of the wound may not bleed very much.


You make a great case for investigating incapacitation mechanisms that do not depend on blood loss. That is what we are doing.


The thing you can't account for, is the fact that not everyone reacts to stress the same way. Some subjects who are surprised may exhibit almost no vasoconstiction and some who are ready for the fight of their lives may have a lot of it if their heart rate is up.


In addition to being associated with a fast (< 5 seconds) incapacitation mechanism, the pressure wave also might interfere with the body's ability to regulate blood pressure after a traumatic event.

Our working hypothesis is that the body's pressure sensing tissues in the aorta and the carotid arteries are stretched beyond the elastic limit by the pressure wave and don't properly inform the brain that the blood pressure is rapidly dropping. Consequently, the usual feedback mechanisms (including vasoconstriction) might not come into play so that the blood pressure drops more quickly.


This is believed to be one explanation as to how men continue to function for a superhuman amount of time after receiving a wound that should be almost instantly fatal.


Handgun loads that create higher pressure waves (creating over 1000 PSI as determined at the surface of a 1" diameter cylinder centered on the wound channel) greatly enhance a rapid incapacitation mechanism that doesn't depend on blood loss. These loads might also affect the body's ability to prevent rapid blood pressure loss. Improving handgun loads to create 2000 PSI and reliably penetrate 12" would be a huge step in reducing the number of occurances where "men continue to function for a superhuman amount of time after receiving a wound that should be almost instantly fatal."


We haven't even gotten into adrenalin and the other defnsive measures the body takes in a fight. That's why I stand by my assertion that until you come up with a hand held weapon that will actually destroy enough tissue to immediately incapacitate the subject, you're tilting at windmills.


Would handgun loads that incapacitate as well as the .223 be considered to be making progress? We believe that is possible in a relatively short timeframe (see post on "Improving Bullet Effectivess" in the Handgun forum).

Would you consider that to be "tilting at windmills"?

Michael Courtney

Michael Courtney
December 25, 2005, 10:54 AM
the idea is that if the study shows that gun/ammo combination provides an average time to incapacitation of 8 seconds and another provided an average time to incapacitation of 4 seconds, I think EVERYONE can agree that the second round is preferable to the first. NOT that 4 seconds is a good goal to shoot for.



One wonders whether these folks who argue against the benefits of reducing incapacitation times (because even reduced incapacitation times don't guarantee surviving a gunfight) would also argue against wearing seartbelts.

They might say, "Seatbelts don't guarantee surviving a car accident." (Analogous to asserting that decreasing incapacitation time doesn't guarantee surviving a lethal force encounter.)

They might say, "Seatbelts do very little in side-impact crashes." (Analogous to asserting that decreasing incapacitation time might not help in some kinds of lethal force encounters.)

But the point is that seatbelts substantially increase the survivability of many car accidents. Likewise decreasing incapacitation times will increase the survivability of many lethal force encounters.

The eventual goal in improving automobile design is that every accident will be survivable with minimal injuries. Significant progress has been made increasing survivability and reducing injuries. And even though we are still very far from the eventual goal, most of the progress has depended on incremental progress based on careful research.

The eventual goal in improving bullet effectiveness is that every lethal force encounter will be survivable with minimal injuries once a bullet is accurately delivered to the target. Significant progress has been made increasing survivability and reducing injuries with improved bullet designs and modern cartridges. And even though we are still very far from the eventual goal, most of the progress has depended on incremental progress based on careful research.

Using the best available bullet designs is like to wearing a seatbelt. It improves but does not guarantee survivability. But there are future improvements possible in handgun bullet effectiveness that will be like adding air bags, stability control, roll-over protection, etc. Each improvement might not help in every case, but the sum total of these incremental improvements can be significant.

Michael Courtney

Michael Courtney
December 26, 2005, 10:59 AM
Gunkid ramblings deleted by Bartholomew Roberts


Improving internal ballistics with the barrel rather than the ammo has much lower commercial viability because it requires introducing a new cartridge to ensure that the ammo does not create ka-booms in guns with current levels of friction. Better to improve the ballistics of the ammo side because improvements in this area will be applicable to the very large base of existing handguns.

Reducing barrel friction and improving propellants can potentially get existing service-sized guns in .357 Sig, .40 S&W, 10mm, and .45 ACP up to 1000 ft-lbs of energy.

Reducing bullet weight below 115 grains has limited commercial viability because ammo companies are not real eager to breach the 2000 FPS threshold with bullets that might pierce kevlar vests.

Michael Courtney

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