Handgun Stopping Power 101
In my last two blogs I discussed the importance of mouse guns and bigger mouse guns as concealed carry weapons. I also mentioned that the gun manufacturers have given the gun carrying public so many new choices to choose from in size, caliber and format. We now have several options in sub-compact 9mm Luger pistols that have been specifically designed for the concealed carry market. I like to refer to these new offerings as Maxi-Mouse guns. Although they are approaching the physical size of a mouse gun, they are offered in a more substantial caliber—maybe I should have called them “Hybrid 9s.”
It was my intention to discus these gun at this time, but them I imagined someone asking me what they really wanted was a one shot, one-stop no nonsense gun. Well stop looking for the end-all be-all gun because it doesn’t exist in the concealed carry world. Why? Well, for one reason the gun would be large and heavy and not something you would want to carry on your person all day. Another reason is to understand the rudimentary elements of handgun stopping power in order to realize that caliber isn’t the primary factor to consider, although important as it may be. If there ever was a topic that was more heatedly discussed than handgun stopping power, I can’t imagine what it would be.
One of the reasons that so many people view this topic differently is that they fail to realize that the sidearm is a defensive weapon; the rifle / shotgun are offensive weapons. In other words, the sidearm (regardless of format) is a get-me-out-of-trouble weapon; the long gun is a run-to-trouble weapon. Only in the movies does the hero carry a nickel plated 1911 with unlimited ammo capacity with the power to stop the BG (bad guy) in his tracts at 100 yards with one shot. In the real world, the GG (good guys) go into battle with automatic rifles with red dot sights for CQB (close quarter battle) situations. Yes, our solders still carry side arms, but not as their primary weapon. But the civilian population doesn’t have that choice. For us, the sidearm is our primary weapon. And for many others, the mouse gun is their only option for defense due to their particular needs and shooting abilities. Our daily carry sidearm isn’t as potent a weapon as we think it is. It is, and always has been, a CQB weapon.
If you knew you would be facing a trio of ugly BGs in the mall parking lot, and you were give a choice of weapons, which would you choose: a) 12 gauge shotgun loaded with 00 Buck, or b) any handgun of your choice?
I would choose option a) 12 gauge shotgun with 00Buck…4Buck works for me, too. Why option a)? Because of its greater STOPPING POWER over your day-to-day sidearm? That’s why! But either option is better than no option--holding air in your hands is not an acceptable tool for surviving a bad confrontation.
Now that I have established that your side arm is a get me out of trouble gun, let’s agree that mouse guns and maxi mouse guns are different peas in the same pod, but share similar traits. This way what we say about one caliber can generally be said about all of the common calibers. OK!? Oops. There is one more caveat to cover; that is to lump the two major velocity camps into one camp for discussion purposes only. You know that there are those who believe that a heavy projectile (.45ACP) moving at approx. 850 fps is more effective than a light projectile (9mm) moving at plus 1200fps. This is an interesting topic, but we can kick that can down the road at another time. Right now I just want to put all the theories into one camp so we can have a general discussion on handgun stopping power. OK? Let’s briefly look at some of the major variables regarding stopping power that’s common to all handguns.
Target Variation. Most data regarding bullet penetration and expansion is based on a block of ballistic gelatin, which in theory is similar to swine tissue because it closely resembles human tissue. However, the human body is an entity unto itself. When you consider the overall human physiology and its ability to absorb shock when under severe stress, you soon realize how difficult it would be to design a gun and cartridge combination that one can carry concealed all day and that would work one-hundred percent of the time as a one shot man stopper.
Multiple Hits. Handgun stopping power largely depends on your bullet hitting major vessels and /or vital organs; namely the brain, heart, and lungs. What you want to achieve is incapacitation through multiple hits in the shortest time possible. This will causes shock waves within the body causing it to shut down. Projectiles that just go through the body without hitting at least one major organ will not produce the shock waves needed to end the confrontation. Yes. The BG might eventually die from a loss of blood, but eventually may not be soon enough to save your life.
Caliber. I’m not going to favor one caliber over another, but I will say that it should be considered. After all, calibers with greater mass will produce more felt recoil for you to handle along with a corresponding slower follow-up time to your next shot. If you miss your target with a large bore caliber you accomplished nothing. Yet two or three hits with a .380 ACP should create enough discomfort to your adversary for you to make your escape. Dare I say that hits from a small caliber are more important than close misses from a larger caliber?
Bullet configuration: FMJ or HP or SWC. Hollow points aren’t always your best option. A HP that doesn’t expand is nothing more than an odd looking full metal jacket or even an odder semi-wad cutter bullet. A hollow point that expands but doesn’t hit anything of importance (bone or a vital organ) isn’t that much better than a FMJ or SWC bullet. Regardless of which bullet you use, you want to hit vital organs with multiple shoots in rapid succession to cause as much shock waves and physiological damage as possible.
Mindset & Training. One can talk about guns and ballistic and which caliber is best until cats bark and dogs meow and still accomplish nothing of value. It all boils down more to proper training and mindset than it does to caliber (with in reason, of course). In a nut shell it’s all about proper shot placement (hitting vital organs) followed up by multiple shots to disrupt one’s central nervous system to shut it down as quickly as possible. Several small caliber bullets placed strategically to your adversaries’ body has always been a deadly combination. Even a single .22 LR rimfire discharged between your eyes will drop you like the proverbial sack of potatoes.
PRACTICE PROVEN CQB TECHNIQUES AND SURVIVE
Pax vobiscum (Peace be with you.)
What are the best AR-15 rifles for the average shooter?
If you're in the market for an assault rifle then you owe it to yourself to check out the AR-15. In a nutshell, the AR-15 is a semi automatic version of the military's M-16 rifle that was introduced by Colt for civilian use a number of decades ago. The AR-15 is a very light weight, air cooled and gas operated weapon with a rotating lock bolt. This weapon uses a 5.56mm, which it receives from a magazine. The materials that this weapon is made of our second to none, because it is manufactured using a number of different types of alloys along with synthetic materials. The features of this particular weapon are too numerous to actually name here, however we would like to cover a number of the most notable features of this particular assault rifle.
Depending on the manufacturer this rifle can be made of some of the best materials you can find, such as the fact that it uses aircraft grade aluminum within the receiver, which is both light weight and very resistant to corrosion. This rifle is also made in a modular design, which allows you to add a number of different accessories in addition to making repairs much easier than with the traditional assault rifle. This assault rifle uses a small caliber, which is both accurate as well as fast, making it the perfect weapon for tactical police personnel. Some additional design features of this particular assault rifle is that it has a synthetic stock and grips, which will not splinter off nor will they warp and the front and rear sights are adjustable.
So far we have covered a number of the features of the AR-15, but we have not discussed the one thing that most people would like the answer to, which is which manufacturer makes the best AR-15 rifles. The original company that was given the rights to design a civilian version of the M-16 was Colt. As with many things in this world, the original is the best, and this is no exception. Out of the number of manufacturers of the AR-15, Colt is at the top of the list. We are not saying that if you are looking to buy an AR-15 that you must buy a Colt version, since there are several other manufacturers that are of equal quality in the same price range, and these other two companies are Knights Armament and Daniel Defense. We won't even bother wasting your time discussing the other manufacturers of this particular weapon; we prefer to focus on these three. When it comes to these three manufacturers you can really do no wrong by purchasing any one of them, however all three of them have slight, but distinct, differences. The only sure fire way to ensure that you get the best AR-15 rifles for your application is to test each one.
The selection of an assault rifle is a very important one, which is why we recommend you take the decision quite seriously. When searching for the best AR-15 rifles you will be presented with a number of different options so take your time and choose wisely. If you are looking to save time we recommend you look at Colt, Knights Armament and Daniel Defense first.
Whether you are into long-range hunting, competitive shooting or just enjoy target shooting on the weekends, then you would really enjoy the Savage 110 BA long-range tactical rifle. Even though Savage recommends this rifle for law-enforcement, citizens all over the country have been enjoying it. The general description of the Savage 110 BA law enforcement is that it is a bolt action long-range tactical rifle that you can use with a couple different types of ammunition, but in my opinion the best option being .338 LAPUA. The benefit for the user is that since it is part of the law-enforcement series it comes with Savages patented Accutrigger as well as Accustock. For a number of reasons that we will discuss in this article, it is been a wonderful weapon for both law enforcement and rifle enthusiasts alike.
Some general specifications on this particular rifle are that it is a bolt action, aluminum stock weapon that is available in a couple of finishes, either carbon steel or matte black. This rifle has a 29 1/2 inch barrel and only weighs 15.75 pounds. With an overall length of 50 1/2 inches this is a perfect rifle for toting around the woods or for storing in the trunk of your vehicle. This weapon comes with a scope rail as well as a detachable box magazine that will hold six rounds. One of the most notable features about this weapon is that it has the Accutrigger and Accustock. The Accustock is an incredible invention because it uses a fiberglass lining that is housed inside of the stock that wedges the action within the stock which forces it to stay still and making sure that the rifle will shoot perfectly straight. In addition the barrel is free floating so that the stock does not cause problems with the action. As for the trigger pull of the 110, it requires an extremely short pull, which is perfect for individuals that are trying to shoot with extreme precision. The only downfall that has been noted in tactical rifles that have light trigger pulls is that accidental discharges can pose a serious safety hazard. This is the reason that Savage has developed the Accutrigger, which will prevent any discharge by accident using an internal lever that actually has to be lifted prior to the firing pin going forward.
As we have said the Savage 110 BA law-enforcement series rifle is a spectacularly designed long-range rifle with a number of additional features not found in any other weapon. Savage labels this particular rifle as one that is used for law enforcement, however for a number of reasons, many that we have already named, it is a huge hit with rifle enthusiasts of all types. If you're into long-range hunting or competitive shooting, and you're in the market for a new rifle, then you certainly owe it to yourself to check out the Savage 110 BA. This is a very difficult rifle to get your hands on right now so if you see one in stock you should jump on it.
Mouse Guns and Bigger Mouse Guns
I ended my last blog with these words: “My final thoughts on mouse guns: If you can handle and hide something bigger, please do.” Obviously those weren’t my final thoughts on mouse guns and I’m not sure that this blog will fair any better. The topic of small to very small pocket handguns is, if I may say so without sounding melodramatic, a matter of life and death to the CHL holder if he or she ever finds themselves in their worse case scenario.
To those unfamiliar with the term “mouse gun,” it’s generally defined as a small gun (many being palm size) that delivers its projectile at a much lower energy level (ft.-lbs.) than traditional duty/personal carry guns, such as the 38 SP., 357Mag.,.357Sig, 9mm, .40 S&W, 44Sp., 44Mag., and the .45ACP. For those individuals who require numbers to put all this in its proper perspective, consider this: Let’s agree upon a top value of 130 ft-lb.of muzzle energy for mouse guns and a bottom value of 195 ft-lbs of muzzle energy for conventional carry guns. This leaves the 380 ACP (the bigger mouse gun) in the middle of this power curve, and that’s exactly where it should be. With +P ammo, muzzle energy from a 38 Sp. snub nose revolver can easily reach 220 ft-lbs. Now when you consider the muzzle energy from the other conventional carry guns run somewhere between 290 and 500 ft.-lbs. of muzzle energy (excluding the 44 Mag, of course) you begin to realize why a mouse gun is what it is, namely a last ditch weapon…a just in case gun and nothing more. Nevertheless when you consider being in a bad situation without a gun, you soon realize that even a mouse gun can significantly improve your odds of survival. Without one my money is on the BG. And that’s a bet I never want to place on anyone.
So now we know what all the hoopla is about and why there so many 22WMR, 32ACP, and 380ACP (the Bigger mouse gun) being made by every major gun manufacturer know to mankind. Because when you can’t carry a “real” gun you should always carry one of these small, light weight, and easily concealable mouse guns--especially when you think you won’t need one. If you carry one with you all the time, you’ll have a better than 50-50 chance of surviving the “wrong place-wrong time” scenario. After all, not even the BG wants to get shoot with a gun—any gun!
So what’s out there in the wonderful world of mouse guns and bigger mouse guns? There is a whole lot to consider because the choices are almost endless. Again, for those of you who have never thought of the concept of carrying small, start thinking about it and then go out and buy one…better yet, buy two.
Here’s a brief run down on what’s available to you…
North American Arms makes some mighty mouse guns. In fact, one of their guns has caught my eye and interest. It the NAA Pug. The company characterizes the Pug as multum in parvo (“much in little”). If that doesn’t describe the mouse gun in three words, Latin or otherwise, than I don’t know what will. The Pug is chambered for the mighty 22WMR. Marshall and Sanow (Handgun Stopping Power: The Definitive Study) gave this caliber a 42 percent one-shot stop rating when this caliber was propelled down a standard size gun. Imagine that! Of course the Pug only has a one inch barrel so velocities / energy / stopping power will be somewhat diminished. The Pug is a five shooter and weighs 6.4 ounces with an Overall Length of 4 ½’’; an Overall Height of 2 ¾ ’’; and an Overall Width of 7/8’’. (I can’t imagine anyone leaving this gun at home when they run out late at night for a pizza.) NAA also makes other models in 22WMR. Their “Earl” quickly comes to mind and leaves just as quickly, only because it has a 4 inch barrel, which is too long for a mouse gun, but just right for a fun gun. Are these NAA mini 22 WMR versions the Mighty Mouse of mouse guns? Could be? If you needs are closer to a 380 ACP semi-auto, NAA offers that too in their Guardian model.
In short order, here are other small and mighty guns to consider:
Seecamp LWS .32 ACP. If you know anything about gun manufacturers, than you don’t need to know anything else about Seecamp. Whether you purchase their .32ACP or their .380 ACP, you are purchasing one of the finest mouse guns in this genre. The OAL of their .32ACP is 4.25inches and weighs 11.5 ounces.
Beretta has been offering their“Tomcat” for many years. At first it was available as a .25 ACP, but got upgraded to .32 ACP in 1997 as the Model 3030Tomcat.
Some 380s to consider: The Rohrbaugh R380. This is without a doubt the most expensive 380 to be had, but one that is well made and ready to go right out of the box. It’s a class act.
Kel-Tec P3AT. This is the lightest 380 at 8.3 ounces. Like all guns, none are perfect. There is always the “why did they do it that way?” question that we all eventually ask ourselves. Nevertheless, I own two P3ATs. You need two if your going to do a “New York” reload when the chips are down. Why I have two identical guns as opposed to two different 380s, and what’s a New York reload, will all be explained when this topic comes up in a future blog.
Magnum Research of Desert Eagle fame also has a 380 in play called the Magnum Research Micro Desert Eagle and weighs in at 14 ounces.
Kahr P380 is similar in size to the other 380s and weighs less than 10 ounces.
The Sig Sauer offering is something like a baby 1911 since you can carry it “cocked and locke.” It weighs 15.8 ounces.
Ruger has two offerings to consider:The LCPistol in 380 ACP at 9.4 ounces and LCRevolver in 38Sp. at 13.5 ounces.
The offerings are almost limitless. With so many options available to you in size, weight, composition and caliber, you can’t go wrong no matter which camp you decide to go with. Competition in the concealed carry market is stiff. But with an almost unlimited market to play in manufacturers have realized that there’s gold in concealable handguns regardless of caliber or format. Fortunately for the CHL holder, gun manufacturers have now turned their resources into designing small 9mm autos. When you consider such models as Kimber’s Solo, Kel-Tec’s PF-9, Taurus’ PT 809 C, Ruger’s SRC, and others models not mentioned, you realize that your options to carry concealed are only limited by your imagination and determination to do so.
So keeping with the mouse gun and bigger mouse gun concept, if you find yourself in a worse case scenario, remember that SMALLER is BIGGER and mouse guns can truly roar like a lion when cornered.
Pax vobiscum (Peace be with you.)