Hatcher Rating of caliber effectiveness


Alan Fud
September 9, 2006, 10:52 PM
Anybody heard of this (http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/news/849728/posts) ... General Julian Hatcher, a noted forensic pathologist, in the early 1900ís developed a good formula to determine the theoretical stopping power of a firearm cartridge. His formula has withstood the test of time and validation from other studies and data related to stopping power.

You want a handgun cartridge that has a Hatcher value of over 50 for the most effective stopping power. Values over 55 have diminishing returns in that you donít gain any significant increase in stopping power for the extra recoil and control you must cope with. Handgun cartridges that donít make a value of at least 50, should not considered for self-defense. If the rating of your handgun cartridge is under 30, it only has about a 30% chance of producing a one shot stop. Hatcher Ratings of 30 to 49 raise a one shot stop to approximately a 50% chance. Ratings of 50 or higher produce a one shot stop about 90% of the time.

Handgun Cartridge Type ..................... Hatcher Rating

.45 ACP full metal jacket 230 grain .......... 49.1

.45 ACP jacketed hollow point 230 grain ...... 60.7

.44 Magnum full metal jacket 240 grain ....... 92.3

.44 Magnum lead wad cutter 240 grain ......... 136.8

.44 Special full metal jacket 240 grain ...... 51.6

.44 Special lead wad cutter 240 grain ............. 76.5

.41 Magnum full metal jacket 230 grain ............. 54

.41 Magnum lead wad cutter 230 grain .............. 80

10 millimeter full metal jacket 180 grain .......... 50.3

10 millimeter jacketed hollow point 180 grain ..62.1

.40 S&W full metal jacket flat nose 180 grain ...... 53.4

.40 S&W jacketed hollow point 180 grain ....... 59.4

.38 Special full metal jacket 158 grain ...... 26.7

.38 Special lead wad cutter 158 grain ............. 39.7

.357 Magnum full metal jacket 158 grain ..... 32.7

.357 Magnum lead wad cutter 158 grain ............ 48.5

.357 SIG full metal jacket 147 grain ................ 36.6

.357 SIG jacketed hollow point 147 grain ..... 45.2

9 millimeter full metal jacket 147 grain ............ 32.3

9 millimeter jacketed hollow point 147 grain ... 39.9

.380 Auto jacketed hollow point 95 grain ..... 18.3

.32 Auto jacketed hollow point 71 grain ...... 11.1

.25 Auto jacketed hollow point 50 grain ...... 3.7

.22 Long Rifle jacketed hollow point 40 grain ... 4.2 ... Some popular calibers didn't do as well as expected. Opinions on this?

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Jim Watson
September 9, 2006, 10:56 PM
Every two-bit magazine writer for the past 50 years has either tried to improve on the system or debunk it... or both.

Note that the real General Hatcher did not include hollowpoints in his system, they were not common and not reliable expanders as available when he was working. So inclusion of JHP here means somebody has been tinkering with the formula.

I never heard Gen. Hatcher called a forensic pathologist. He was an Army Ordnance officer, at one time Superintendant of Springfield Armory.

Alan Fud
September 9, 2006, 11:04 PM
How does his "system" work? Meaning, how are the numbers come up with?

September 9, 2006, 11:14 PM
yeah, and in addition to the JHP thing, let's just ignore the fact that:

--40 S&W
--357 sig
--10 mm
--357 mag
...and likely (not sure about this) .41 mag and .44 mag

did not exist circa 1910.

I think that any semblance of credibility has left the building...

September 9, 2006, 11:47 PM
--40 S&W
--357 sig
--10 mm
--357 mag
...and likely (not sure about this) .41 mag and .44 mag

did not exist circa 1910

You are correct. The 44 Mag was introduced in 1956, the 41 Mag came out in 1964, and the 357 Mag didn't make it onto the scene until 1935. 357 SIG - 1994; 40 S&W - 1990; 10mm Auto became available commercially in 1983. All data is from the Speer Reloading Manual #13.

Redneck with a 40
September 10, 2006, 12:27 AM
Strange that the 357 magnum is low on the scale....its perhaps the ultimate man-stopper even to this day. That tidbit alone allows me to dismiss that data.

September 10, 2006, 01:16 AM
Hatcher was not a forensic pathologist. Fine ordanance officer yes, doc no.


September 10, 2006, 01:32 AM
That seems somewhat bizarre and tendentious. Apart from the surprising news that .45acp ball and any type of .357mag, .38sp, .357sig, and 9x19 ammunition should not be considered for defensive purposes, one wonders what additional recoil and control issues are present with .45acp 230-grain JHPs that one needn't worry about in its 230-grain FMJ form. And who would have guessed that .40sw ball ammo blew away .357mag so thoroughly? Perhaps most intriguing is the "fact" that .40sw FMJ outperforms 10mm FMJ?

I too would like to know how this "data" was compiled.

September 10, 2006, 01:37 AM
I remember fooling with that formula circa 1972 with a slide rule. The most common .357 load in those days was the 158 gr SP, and Super Vel was just getting going. Jeff Cooper endorsed it to some extent.

There was probably some validity to it in those days as the available loads were not exactly sophisticated. The best defensive loads were probably the ones you made up yourself, and that sort of thing was not uncommon.

September 10, 2006, 02:05 AM
If I remember correctly Hatcher ( a regular contributor to the American Rifleman in the 1930s, 40s and 50s) came up with a formula that factored in bullet diameter, weight, velocity and shape. One of many attempts to predict handgun cartridge effectiveness. Bigger and faster was better.

September 10, 2006, 03:23 AM
Yeah, maybe this worked if all you had was cap'n ball guns. Yeesh.....

September 10, 2006, 10:51 AM
More imaginative math, I think, to "prove" an opinion. When Hatcher was around, cars were not common, many shooters had never tried smokeless powder, the light bulb had JUST been invented, but the world wasn't electrified yet, Airplanes were fabric contraptions more dangerous to the pilot than the enemy, and much of the country was illiterate, not to say that we ain't heading that direction again. :rolleyes:

Strange that the 357 magnum is low on the scale....its perhaps the ultimate man-stopper even to this day. That tidbit alone allows me to dismiss that data.

Apparently, the "new" cartridges were calculated using Hatcher's musings. Just goes to prove the fallacy of his ideas, I reckon. Yeah, hollow point ammo has a lot to do with it, but a good 158 grain SWC at 1400+ fps wouldn't score THAT low in REAL effectiveness compared to the other stuff.:rolleyes:

We really have come a ways since 1910.

September 10, 2006, 11:04 AM
I have a copy of Hatcher's Notebook. Very interesting reading. He was a fine ordnance officer but according to Col. Charles Askins, most of his determinations of stopping power were just theory. Askins stated that as far as he knew, Hatcher had never fired a gun in anger. Askins had!!

September 10, 2006, 01:04 PM
Not a pathologist . He did writ two books on forensic ballistics one in 1935 and one "Firearms Investigation - Identification and Evidence " in 1957. His first stopping power formula was based on weight, caliber, velocity squared [energyxcaliber] that did not conform to the real world so he developed his second formula, weight,caliber,velocity [ momentumxcaliber] That did conform to the real world.The formula did not however consider hollow points. Other than that I think it's very valid.

September 10, 2006, 01:23 PM
If it involves the words "stopping power" its a big steaming load to me, ymmv. :D

September 10, 2006, 03:33 PM
Big steaming load indeed! The proof that placement counts far more than anything for handgun "stopping power" is the Ronald Reagan shooting by John Hickley. Two dropped instantly and were truely out of any fight, the third didn't realize he was hit until he saw the blood.

What was this caliber? .22!


September 10, 2006, 03:56 PM
I have one of his books, Textbook of Pistols and Revolvers, Their Ammunition, Ballistics and Use. by Major Julian S. Hatcher, 1935. He later was promoted to General. His earlier book, Pistols and Revolvers and Their Use was published in 1927. He was one of the early people who attempted to define stopping power. The discussion continues today. His books are really interesting. He was quite respected in the gun community.

September 10, 2006, 10:37 PM
Does anyone know what the original source of the list of Hatcher ratings for modern calibers is? As I've thought about it over the last few days, that .40sw 180gr. FMJ is rated more effective than 10mm 180gr. FMJ is really inexplicable. As far as I can tell, the bullets for the two calibers are identical - .40/10mm, 180-grain, etc., the only difference being that the 10mm cartridge launches the bullet at at least the same, in most cases higher, or even considerably higher velocity. Yet it's less effective, according to this table. Which leads me to wonder whether this table was commissioned by someone with a vested interest in particular calibers, or if it's based on real-world stops (which is at odds with a standard of ammunition effectiveness based on the physical and ballistic properties of the round, considered abstractly). No doubt more people have been killed by .40sw FMJ than 10mm FMJ. Which, I would argue, has more to do with the ubiquitousness of .40sw and the rarity of 10mm. Very curious.

September 11, 2006, 12:21 AM
I'd be interested to see the actual formula & then plug in more contemporary cartridges. Those numbers are thought provoking tho :scrutiny:

September 11, 2006, 12:48 AM
Trying to find the stopping power in the caliber is like trying to find the 0-60 time in the gasoline.

September 11, 2006, 03:05 AM
I'd be interested to see the actual formula & then plug in more contemporary cartridges. Those numbers are thought provoking tho

Have fun:


The Hatcher Formula is a mathematical formula use to evaluate the approximate effectiveness of pistol ammunition in incapacitating a person shot with it. It was developed by Gen. Julian Hatcher in the 1930s and uses the bullet momentum, bullet area, velocity, and a form or shape factor. It was derived from his observations of the effects of pistol ammunition on cadavers and steers. While it does not take into consideration bullet penetration or expansion and is basically an approximation, it is still a good formula to use to give one an idea of how a given round will stack up as a fight stopper.

The original formula was somewhat cumbersome to use and the formula was:

RSP = MB * A * F


RSP = Relative Stopping Power Index
MB = Momentum of the bullet in pound feet - (WB/450240) * V
(If you know the kinetic energy and the velocity you can divide the KE by the velocity to get the momentum.)
A = Area of the bullet in in2
F = Form factor derived from the chart below.

In the form factor table below the entries in red are recent approximations for bullet types not originally listed by Hatcher.

Bullet Type "F" / Bullet Type "F"
Fully Jacketed Pointed .7 / Lead Flat Point (Large Flat) 1.1

Fully Jacketed Round Nose .9 / Jacketed Softpoint
(unexpanded) 1 - 1.1

Fully Jacketed Flat Point 1.05 / Jacketed Softpoint
(expanded) 1.35

Fully Jacketed Flat Point (Large flat) 1.1 - 1.2 / Lead Semi-wadcutter 1.25

Lead Round Nose 1 / Hollow Point (unexpanded) 1.1

Lead Flat Point 1.05 / Hollow Point (expanded) 1.35

September 11, 2006, 03:06 AM
Great quote... may I add that to my signature line?~Nathan

September 13, 2006, 01:27 AM

Sure. I gotta million of em.

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