newbie question on manstopping rounds


October 30, 2003, 05:31 PM
I'm a handgunner and own no rifles, yet.

But based on thorough reading, its my understanding that the .357 Magnum cartridge has the best stopping power for pistols. I won't debate other pistol cartridges as that is not the purpose of my post. I know 9mm and .45ACP are great too! :uhoh:

It has also been written that the .44Mag is less than effective as the .357Mag because it can go through a human, not stay in. This got me thinking. If rifle cartridges like the .223, .30-06 and .308 are even faster than that, with about 2900fps to their name, what makes them so good on the battlefield? Or are the rules different for rifle cartridges when they interact with a human body? Even a .30-30 would go through a human target, yes?

So what rifle cartridge has the best stopping power on a 2 legged critter?


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October 30, 2003, 05:56 PM
Here we go again...

Have a look on the search function for M16 vs. AK and you will see the arguments ad nauseum. There are some good arguments either way, the fragmentation possibilities of the 5.56 and the larger projectile of the AK round, mostly there is personal preference (and bigotry). Keep in mind the saying about a workman and his tools

Covey Rise
October 30, 2003, 05:59 PM
The bigger the better, it all still comes down to shot placement though.

Zak Smith
October 30, 2003, 06:38 PM
A lot of it comes down to bullet design as it relates to the impact ("terminal") velocity.

With similarly-constructed bullets and fired at the same velocities, I would expect a .44 to perform about the same as a .45ACP, as measured by effects on ballistic gelatin.

Rifle bullets designed for large game animals are constructed in such a way as to have desirable terminal effects, namely: enough penetration and enough expansion.

If you shoot a "solid" bullet or FMJ designed for African dangerous game into a deer, it'll just punch a hole through. Conversely, if you shoot a lightly-constructed (e.g. thin jacket) varmint bullet into a large game animal, it will have more of a "splatter on the surface" effect-- it will fragment to such a degree that it will not penetrate enough.

You can think of it this way: In most cases, an expanding bullet will expand more the faster it hits, and it will expand "faster" the harder the thing is it's hitting. Likewise, in most cases, an expanding bullet will penetrate more the less it expands, so the slower it hits.

So it's easy to see that bullets should be designed for a particular use in mind, based on the expected impact velocity range and the game you want to kill.


Dave R
October 30, 2003, 06:43 PM
what makes them so good on the battlefield?

My understanding is range.

Flat trajectory lets you engage out to 300 yards without worrying about hold-over. Much farther with appropriate sights. Can't do that with .357mag.

Ability to penetrate cover prolly plays into it, too.

The Geneva convention doesn't have any rules about over-penetration.

October 30, 2003, 08:32 PM
Without going into a bunch of math..

Consider this: Most centerfire rounds will do like 8 drywalls (assuming hitting no wooden posts) but a .223 probably won't..

compare the grain size of the bullet and you will begin to see why..

fast small bullet vs. slow heavy bullet..

As for .357Mag, it's got great ballistics. Not too much to go through a man, but enough to really do serious damage..

You will see, 9mm,.357Sig,.40SW,and .45ACP aren't really as shabby as you think.

Any of those will drop a guy, if you do your part as far as shot placement.

90% training, 10% gun; is probably better than 90% gun, 10% training..

October 30, 2003, 09:25 PM
.44 Mag bullets are generally made for hunting and are a bit tougher than .357 Mag bullets.

They need penetration and are designed to expand in a controlled fashion or perhaps not at all.

.357 bullets are generally made for self defense and are designed to expand dramatically and perhaps even fragment.

The result is that .44 Mag tends to punch holes all the way through things. That's good for hunting because two holes (entry & exit) make a better blood trail. It's not so good for self-defense since you generally don't want to worry about where the bullet is going after it does its job. Also because that means that the bullet left without dumping all its energy into the target.

.357 Mag tends to blow up on impact or at least expand impressively making a pretty incredible entry wound and dumping all its energy into the target.

October 30, 2003, 11:12 PM
My take is that the whole stopping power thing is more than less BS.
Any gun that will put a sufficient hole in something vital will kill you dead.
Bottom line: Hit something important.

October 30, 2003, 11:40 PM
Any rifle will do the trick. Even that 'little' .22LR (I personaly would not rely on any rimfire for defense)
Are you looking for something to defend yourself from 2 legged critters in your house or out in the woods?
For inside work I would reccomend the following:
5.56 aka .223 Frangable or soft point light bullet weight
30 Carbine
.357 out of a carbine (this would be good if you had a .357 revolver)
or a shotgun

For outside work:
7.62x51 aka .308
5.56 aka .223 marginal

If you hit a 2 legged critter with 7.62x51 center mass under 300meters range even if they have body armor with rifle plates they will most likely will not feel much like continuing the fight!
Like I said above any rifle round will seriously put a dent in someones plans your grandpa's old 30-30 is known to be very bad for 2 legged critters, your grandpas .444 will leave a lasting impression for sure, if you are looking for a cheap rifle for self defense don't overlook lever actions they are nice looking to sissy GFW's as opposed to semi's but can put a lot of lead on target very quickly

October 31, 2003, 06:21 AM
I thought about getting a .357 in a Marlin lever action, but in other threads I was told "don't buy a pistol caliber rifle to do a Man's job". They recommended 30-30 if I wanted to stick with a lever, or move up to a .30-06 in a "real" rifle.

So my next question is, how does a .30-30 do for self-defense?


PS. I don't hunt at all, only target practice. My take is I should at least get a gun that could be used for something in case it needs to be.

Art Eatman
October 31, 2003, 09:09 AM
valnar, several opinion points. From a self-defense standpoint, if a .357 Mag is adequate when fired in a handgun, why would it not be adequate if fired from a rifle? Many have taken deer when using heavy bullets and limiting the distance in which to take a shot.

Any rifle cartridge with hunting ammo is devastating on people, from .223 on up. The combination of velocity and bullet design results in massive tissue damage. (And, yes, the .30-30 is ruinacious on people.)

Regardless, as usual it's the skill at placing the shot.

One thing to keep in mind is that when deer hunting, a major point is that of wanting a quick, clean ethical kill, with the least suffering for the animal. If you're shooting in self defense, you needn't worry at all about ethics or suffering. I'd use a minor cartridge for self defense that I wouldn't even consider using when hunting the larger game animals.


October 31, 2003, 09:50 AM
One thing to keep in mind. If you fire a say 30-30 or .308 indoors you better make sure there is nothing you care about behind the 2 legged critter eg kids,house across the street,ect. One more point if you were to fire a 30-30 indoors in a SD situation (without earplugs in a confined space) don't plan on using your ears to hear anytime soon

October 31, 2003, 07:42 PM
But based on thorough reading, its my understanding that the .357 Magnum cartridge has the best stopping power for pistols.

Sir, stopping power threads are the longest running Internet Worm in history.

Most handgun rounds deliver between 300 and 500 ft lbs of energy. The 5.56x45 delivers about 1,500: the 7.62, 30.06, or 8mm Mauser delivered 2,700 to 3,000 ft lbs.

There is a huge variation in how much of this energy is delivered to the target, and the result. When testing rounds for a semiautomatic service rifle in the 20's, the Army first resorted to "The Pig Board" that tested various calibers by shooting at pigs. Later, they resorted to goats because pigs have a thick layer of fat and they are not as resilient as humans.

Ballistic Gelatin was developed to provide some sort of quantitative measure of bullet performance. But ballistic gelatin is not a person, and you need only look at the dramatically different performance of gelatin versus gelatin covered with a layer of denim or other fabric to see this.

So, the answer to what is the "best" caliber is "the one which allows you to hit your target with a well designed bullet." Like real estate, the three rules are, "Location, Location, Location."

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