Do pistol rounds provide more stopping power than rifle rounds?


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Daniel Nelson
June 17, 2010, 05:06 AM
Does a pistol rounds like 9mm and .45ACP provide more stopping power than rifle rounds such as 5.56mm NATO, due to heavier projectile weight, at the same distance of 20 meters?

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geologist
June 17, 2010, 05:12 AM
If they are fired at targets at the same distance, no way.

evan price
June 17, 2010, 05:21 AM
Define "Stopping power".
That term is a mythical phrase created to make something seem better than something else.

A single .22 Short behind the ear has far greater "stopping power" than a .30 rifle to the torso.
Jon-Erik Hexum managed to find out that a revolver loaded with blanks had 100% stopping power.

If you are thinking of kinetic energy, it is (0.5 x mass x velocity squared). The faster projectile has more energy than a slower one of the same weight, and velocity affects the equation more than weight.

pv18463
June 17, 2010, 05:30 AM
Rifle rounds are much more effective. Here is a good read on the effects of wound ballistics.

http://firearmstactical.com/pdf/fbi-hwfe.pdf

gunnutery
June 17, 2010, 05:36 AM
Well said Evan. Welcome to The High Road Daniel.

oldfool
June 17, 2010, 08:13 AM
it is possible to shoot through and not inflict enough damage with almost anything
shotguns and handguns in serious calibers can be very effective at close range
but in practical context, the centerfire rifle rules all

and instant kills can happen with any, but are nowhere near as common as myth would have it

griz
June 17, 2010, 08:18 AM
Do pistol rounds provide more stopping power than rifle rounds?

No. If that were true they would only chamber rifles for pistol rounds.

Double Naught Spy
June 17, 2010, 08:45 AM
Pistol rounds provide more stopping power only if the rifle rounds miss or the rifle is out of ammo.

There are a few exceptions. A S&W .500 is going to be more powerful than a .30 carbine and a few other smaller and lighter rifle calibers, but a S&W .500, IMHO, isn't pleasant to shoot.

The Expert
June 17, 2010, 10:28 AM
The problem with these types of questions is the term "stopping power".

A rifle round round will usually have more kinetic energy because of it's velocity. That doesn't necessarily translate into more "stopping power".

In theory, it would be possible to create a rifle round that would fire a small sewing needle as a projectile. Let's say this needle round was powered up to the level of a .50 BMG round. You could shoot someone in the heart with this thing and it would most likely have nearly zero effect.

Why? Because the needle would pass though the entire body almost instantly. And because it has such a small cross-sectional radius it would transfer very little energy to the surrounding tissue.

The effect would be that you might have one drop of blood at the entry wound and at the exit wound, but all the other tissue that was contacted through the body cavity would instantly eliminate any "hole" that was created.

The stopping power of such a round would be negligable regardless of the high energy of the round.

The same applies to other rounds. The smaller you get (5.56 is pretty small) the less "stopping power" the round is able to transfer to to a physical target. A 9mm pistol round might very well be far more effective than a 1.5 mm rifle round.

Tommygunn
June 17, 2010, 10:38 AM
I agree with those who said that "stopping power" is a myth.
Another thing that may increase effectiveness of any bullet is the type of bullet it is. Is it ball ammo -- otherwise known as "FMJ" or full metal jacket? This is the type militaries use due to international conventions, and these are usually not the best insofar as self defense is concerned. They tend to go through and exit and causing the least amount of damage.
A soft nose is better as it mushrooms, and a hollowpoint will open up (if it performs as advertised -- and under some circumstances they don't) and will do better. These have a smaller chance of exiting and are probably the best self defense round.
But nothing makes up for bad shot placement. Shooting the tip off the bad guy's pinkie with an elephant gun won't stop him .... a really well placed .22 rimfire has a MUCH better chance!

speaksoftly
June 17, 2010, 11:04 AM
I at least give this question 10 points for beating the dead horse with a different type of stick. Haha

Manco
June 17, 2010, 11:41 AM
Does a pistol rounds like 9mm and .45ACP provide more stopping power than rifle rounds such as 5.56mm NATO, due to heavier projectile weight, at the same distance of 20 meters?

No, for the reasons that others have already given. The reason that many pistol rounds are larger (at least in diameter) and heavier than many of the common rifle rounds is that they are limited in effectiveness regarding velocity and range due to their short barrels, so larger bullets maximize whatever capabilities they have, as mass can take the place of velocity to some degree. Furthermore, since practical-for-combat pistol calibers typically don't have nearly enough energy to wound through temporary cavitation (i.e. "dumping energy into the target"), it becomes even more imperative for them to dig as large a hole through direct contact (i.e. permanent cavitation) as possible.

By the way, on a somewhat related topic, it seems that many people advocate light-for-caliber bullet weights for pistols that have relatively short barrels, such as compacts and subcompacts, but I always recommend the opposite (heavy-for-caliber bullets for short barrels) based on similar reasoning as the above.

makarovnik
June 17, 2010, 01:02 PM
If a .45acp is a better man-stopper than a .44 magnum because of the over-penetration factor, then why isn't the .45acp a better man-stopper than say a .30-30 because of over-penetration?

Is it because the higher velocity rifle round creates a bigger temporary wound cavity with it's high velocity projectile? I just think some of us would like clarification on through and through shots and why exactly it's better to dump all the energy into the target and not over-penetrate.

I personally think (collateral damage to the side for a moment) that a .44 magnum would have to be a good man-stopper.

Officers'Wife
June 17, 2010, 01:17 PM
Just as an aside & probably OT, I worked with a surgeon treating a man that had been shot in the stomach with a 22 rimfire hollow point. He commented that the damage he had repaired was comparable to anything he had seen in combat surgery. While the bullet did not 'stop' the patient, he was on his back for several weeks and only survived by the grace of God.

General Geoff
June 17, 2010, 01:22 PM
Rifle rounds wreak far more havoc on soft tissue and bone than most pistol rounds. Their kinetic energy is generally far higher due to higher velocity; I won't get into a "hydrostatic shock" debate, but if nothing else, the rifle round creates a larger temporary and permanent wound cavity due to tumbling effects. With soft point or expanding rifle projectiles, the wound cavities become even larger.

Compare:

Handgun rounds (http://ammo.ar15.com/project/Misc_Images/DocGKR/Handgun_gel_comparison.jpg)
.308 Winchester (http://ammo.ar15.com/project/Misc_Images/DocGKR/308_TAP_comparison.jpg)

Cosmoline
June 17, 2010, 01:31 PM
If a .45acp is a better man-stopper than a .44 magnum because of the over-penetration factor, then why isn't the .45acp a better man-stopper than say a .30-30 because of over-penetration?

The .45 ACP is not a better man stopper than the .44 magnum. Not on this or any other planet. Now it may be more PRACTICAL because the platforms are smaller. And it may help reduce overpenetration concerns in a crowded environment. But the .44 mag is going to hit a lot harder and do a lot more damage, given equivalent style projectiles.

Put it this way, a bullet does NOT do more damage because it STOPS mid way through the torso. It does LESS damage than a bullet that punches through. Damaging half as much tissue and creating half as many routes for blood to exit the body.

.44 Mag:

http://www.brassfetcher.com/Speer240grainJHP.html

Temporary cavitation from this round broke the wooden board that the block was sitting on, into two pieces lengthwise.
!!

.45 ACP, similar weight expanders:

http://www.brassfetcher.com/FlyingAshtray.html

http://www.brassfetcher.com/230%20grain%20Winchester%20SXT.html

Not bad, but not in the same league as the .44 Magnum.

Kwanger
June 17, 2010, 02:19 PM
Does a pistol rounds like 9mm and .45ACP provide more stopping power than rifle rounds such as 5.56mm NATO, due to heavier projectile weight, at the same distance of 20 meters?
No.

Mk VII
June 17, 2010, 02:27 PM
And the pistols rounds probably won't penetrate the body armour which is increasingly likely to be found on the battlefields of the future.

Werewolf
June 17, 2010, 03:51 PM
Shoot 'em in the head then it don't matter one iota whether its a 50 or a 22. The target will probably die right there right then.

Aside: It's possible he widow might care if it's a 50 or 22 though. I imagine the 50 would make the morticians job somewhat harder. Then again if she was the shooter...

APIT50
June 17, 2010, 04:12 PM
If it pertains to high powered rifle rounds and not in the head then no. There is a whole lot of energy in a rifle round and bullets designed to be expand or be frangible cause a lot more damage than any pistol round.

Hatterasguy
June 17, 2010, 04:24 PM
No, rifle rounds transfer far, far more energy.

Tallinar
June 17, 2010, 04:45 PM
I think what needs to be said has already been said, but I'll chime in anyway!

The main contrast between a rifle and a pistol (in my mind) is this: Given a projectile of equal weight, a rifle is capable of delivering that projectile at much higher velocity than a pistol could.

Since rifles are larger and heavier in their design (meant to be a primary weapon), they are generally built with stronger, larger chambers and stronger actions, as well as longer barrels.

A stronger action and stronger/larger chamber means the ability to withstand higher pressures under the use of larger cartridges (as a rule, larger cartridges = more powder = more pressure = more explosive gas to propel your projectile). However, even if the rifle is chambered in the same cartridge as the pistol, the rifle will still generally be capable of withstanding higher chamber pressures than the pistol. For example, take a .45 Colt SAA replica like the Ruger New Vaquero, which people seem to say can handle a max of 20,000 CUP (even while SAAMI guidelines for .45 Colt are 14,000 CUP, but that's another story). Then compare it to a Rossi model 92 chambered in .45 Colt which could take a steady diet of rounds in excess of 45,000 CUP (no reference provided, research yourself btw).

A longer barrel automatically increases muzzle velocity, as the bullet has that much more distance to travel while receiving the benefit of the projecting gases.

The same scientific principles are true in both rifles and pistols. There's nothing special about either one. Rifles are built bigger and heavier and thus will be instrinsically capable of more muzzle energy. That doesn't mean that all rifles are stronger than all pistols though. Obviously. :)

Harley Rider 55
June 17, 2010, 05:44 PM
At 20 meters, I'd rather be shot by a .204 Ruger than a .500 S&W magnum.

nathan
June 18, 2010, 11:34 AM
a .22 LR to the heart and head is more lethal than a tummy shot with a .45 ACP.

Nausea
June 18, 2010, 03:44 PM
My girlfriends father has been shot in the head and it failed to do anything save to change his hair color. Had it been a spitzer (I'm assuming it was a .22) I don't think he'd be around...

RebelRabbi
June 18, 2010, 03:57 PM
The answer to your question depends upon many factors, most basically bullet mass and velocity. The 5.56 is a good penetrating and wounding round, it's not designed as a "stopping" round or "killing" round. NATO and us like it because it is logistically better than 7.62 NATO, meaning they can haul around more smaller bullets. You have to taylor your load to your mission. I BELIEVE that white tailed deer and humans make a good comparison. Deer are smaller but tougher than humans, humans have more mass. The 30-30 is balistically equivalent to 7.62x39 Russian and many states won't allow anything under .24 caliber. The 30-30 is a danged effetive Deer caliber to 200 yards. The .32, .380, 9mm, 38 Sp, 40 S&W, and 45 ACP are all poor choices for Deer but these are your basic defensive handgun calibers. If you want a caliber/load combination is a handgun that would be great, try the 44 magnum 180 gr JHP's. Why doesn't anybody carry one of these, shoot it and find out, the recoil, muzzel blast and flash are spectacular.

LeonCarr
June 18, 2010, 04:03 PM
I can look at an X-ray of a GSW and tell you if someone was shot by either a rifle or a handgun by looking at the broken bones. A handgun projectile breaks bones, a rifle projectile shatters them.

To answer the original question, rifle rounds provide more stopping power.

Just my .02,
LeonCarr

coloradokevin
June 18, 2010, 04:12 PM
As others have already mentioned, the effectiveness of the shot depends on shot placement. But, assuming that the rifle and pistol are shot from the same angle and distance, into the same vital area, the rifle will almost always do more damage.

Obviously, stating exceptions for the ".22lr vs .500 S&W" can prove that this isn't an absolute rule, but it will almost certainly hold true for a standard handgun defensive round (9mm, .40S&W, .45ACP) against a standard rifle defensive round (5.56, 7.62-by-whatever, etc).

The 5.56 NATO cartridge has a bad name in some circles, but I'd suggest that you don't believe everything you've read on the internet! It may not be a .300 Ultra Mag, but it does what it is supposed to, and does it well.

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