The Myth Of Stopping Power

The myth of stopping power

... clean off.I had an epiphany awhile back that the idea of knockdown power for defensive handguns might be a holdover from hunting, where it’s important to bring “enough gun” to humanely drop an elk or some other big critter in one shot. For long guns, “Knockdown power” is a very real thing, given the amount of force that a centerfire rifle drops onto its target. Considering, however, that there isn’t NEAR as much variance in body mass between two humans as there is between, say, a coyote and a bear, and that any centerfire rifle is going to thump much more than any centerfire pistol, I think the “knockdown” effect of 9mm vs. .40 and .45 is pretty moot. 

Wanting some more input from someone in the industry who’s not just a schmuck with a website like myself, I reached out to Matt DeVito of DownRange Firearms Training for his thoughts on the matter.

Hey, Matt, quick question,
I know Rob (Pincus) prefers 9mm over .40 now: What say you, and what is your feeling about “knockdown power” versus follow-up shots? 

Matt’s response:

9mm is preferred over .40 and .45 for a few reasons. First reason being magazine capacity. Look at 3 guns, Glock 17 (17+1), Glock 22 (15+1), Glock 21 (13+1). In a world where people think that “knockdown power” is a real and viable term, 9 out of 10 people would choose a .45. However, knockdown power, aside from being internet lore, is complete bullsh*t. No pistol round in history was ever designed to take a man off his feet. Bullets are used to “stop” a threat by 2 methods, physical, and psychological. A physical stop essentially is that you’ve shot the attacker, usually multiple times, and they have ceased the attack. A psychological stop is when you draw the gun, shoot attacker, attacker says “Oh %@#, I’ve been shot,” runs away and the cops find him behind a dumpster 5 miles away after he’s bled out.

All that aside, handgun bullets do maximum damage by “cutting” through soft tissue, tendons, ligaments, and destroying bone and muscle. There’s two types of wound tracts, temporary and permanent. You are looking to maximize permanent wound cavity. Permanent, (if you look at a block of ballistics gel, it is essentially the pieces that are irreparable), temporary is the damage done by the “shockwave” as the round passes through something, but again like in a ballistics gel test, will bounce back into place. 

Also it’d be good to note that most “bare gel tests” are just that; bare gel and not representative of flesh as theres no bone/muscle involved. We just did a ballistics text on a pig recently; all the rounds performed the same minus the .40 which was actually the worst performer. 

And no matter the caliber, its been proven that modern bonded hollow point is the round you want and is the most consistent performer even through intermediate barriers
As far as “defensive” handgun rounds go we group then into 3 categories
VIABLE: .380, .38, 9mm, .357mag, .40, .45, 10mm.
RECOMMENDED: 9mm, .40, .45,
PREFFERED: 9mm

Which kinda falls in-line with my feelings as well. Sure, that “Don’t bring a gun to a gunfight unless it has a caliber that starts with ‘4’.” talk sounds all macho and stuff, but I’d prefer to be alive with my nine than dead with a .45 in my hand… 

Gun Culture 1.5

Gun Culture 1.5

In an attempt to get into hunting, I’ve been attending the meetings of the Arizona Predator Callers, and I’m enjoying it so far. They’re knowledgeable, friendly and most importantly, are willing to accept total noobs like myself into their ranks. They also realize there’s a benefit to be gained from reaching out to Gun Culture 2.0. 

One area of commonality is fighting the push by environmentalist to ban traditional ammo. The leadership of Arizona Predator Callers realizes a ban on lead bullets would suck, and they’re eager to engage with other shooters to help block any attempt to have junk science influence our ammo choices. A ban on lead ammo affects ALL shooters, not just hunters, and I support their efforts to throw this bad idea onto the junk heap of history, and you should, too.

There’s a lot of common ground between Gun Culture 1.0 (hunting) and Gun Culture 2.0 (concealed carry), and both sides will benefit if we work together to further our sports. It just needs to happen more often than it does now.

El Matador De Los Coyotes

El Matador de los coyotes

The ÜEBR (über evil black rifle) gets a new upper today, so I had to come up with something to do with the old 20″ barrelled upper. I’ve been wanting to get into coyote hunting for a while now, so after a quick trip to Amazon for a cheap scope and accessories, voilá! 

Coyote AR

That’s the ÜEBR with a cheap NC Star scope in a UTG mount with a UTG bipod up front. I’ll keep those on that upper, and switch out the lower between this and my new lightweight upper.

And yeah, I know, I should shell out more for a good scope and mount. 

The thing is, I don’t know how badly the coyote-hunting bug is going to bite me, and until I know, I’ll spend my (few) dollars on stuff that’ll work for now, and leave the upgrades for later. And no, I’m not painting the whole thing Flat Dark Earth. I’ll be shooting in the desert and high chapparal of the northeastern Arizona and there is NO WAY I’m setting up for a hunt in the open sun. We have a word here for people who spend 3+ hours stretched out in the barren sun: Corpses. I’ll be shooting from shade, so a dark gun in a dark shadow isn’t going to raise the suspicions of ol’ Wile. E.

Even with that cheap scope and on a blazingly hot and windy day, I was able bang the 300 yard 10″x10″ steel at my local range with boring regularity. 

Cool.

I’ve never named my guns, (even the ones with EXTREME sentimental value), but this one’s going to be called “Tiger’s Revenge”. 

Mrs. ExKev grew up around Payson, Arizona, right around where I’ll be hunting, and she had more than few pet kittys meet their untimely demise at the hands (paws?) of the local varmints. 

It’s payback time. 

Limits To Growth

Limits to growth

Reading this story about a couple who decided to downsize their home to just 204 square feet got me thinking: What if you decided to become mobile and live out of an RV? What guns would you chose, and why? 

What if space were the limiting factor on your gun purchases? You can’t just buy a new gun safe in an RV and living space is at a premium, so eight or more guns are out of the question. 

What would you take with you? 

My choices: 

1. An 18″ AR-15 in .223 with a low-power (1-6x) scope and a .22LR conversion kit. 
Good for predator / hog hunting, 3 gun competition and general fun, plus the .22 conversion kit doesn’t take up much space and provides cheap thrills. 

2. A compact 9mm service pistol 
Something like a Glock 19 or a SR-9c with four or so spare mags and a pancake OWB holster. This lets me shoot USPSA / IDPA / 3 Gun and carry it for self-defense, and 9mm lets me shoot cheaply enough to make it almost a plinker.

3. A pump action shotgun with a short (18.5″) barrel and a 24″ barrel. 
Good for protection and hunting and good enough for 3 gun. 

The only thing I might add would be either a .22LR conversion for the pistol or a dedicated .22LR pistol and maybe a slug barrel for the shotgun. 

Those three guns will allow me to shoot most of the stuff I already participate in and can easily be stowed under a couch or in a more secure location in an RV, yet still allow me to enjoy a wide variety of shooting sports. 

Killer App. Literally.

Killer app. Literally.

Gun Culture 2.0 is, for the most part, an urban, professional culture. We may have grown up in the country, but we live in the city, and and going backwards from Gun Culture 2.0 (CCW, Practical Shooting) to Gun Culture 1.0 is, as I’m finding out, durn near impossible. If you don’t know somebody who knows somebody who hunts, forget about it. 

But as we’re over-educated city dwellers, we tend to be familiar with computers and mobile connectivity and, so an app that would help us hunt better and see more wildlife would be useful for us as it uses technology to fill in for what we didn’t learn out in the woods. 

Behold such an app

Scoutlook introduces its first smartphone app—in both Android and iPhone platforms! The feature-rich app is an invaluable tool for hunters who want to maximize their experiences in the field.

Like ScoutLookWeather.com, extensive weather forecast information and other data hunters need is geocoded to a hunter’s current or saved hunting locations. Start the app up, and it displays a Google map with your precise position and weather conditions. With the unique ScentConeSM and SetZoneSM wind maps, big game and waterfowl hunters can “see the wind” now and out 72 hours at any location for optimal hunt planning.

And the price is certainly right, just $1.99 at the iTunes store

Even if you don’t hunt and don’t want to get into hunting, something like this will make a hike through the woods more enjoyable as it lets you see more wildlife along the way. 

More …

The Game Is Changing

The game is changing

The National Shooting Sports Foundation is beginning to acknowledge “Gun Culture 2.0”. ‘Bout time.

“The question was a simple one “are shooters coming into today’s shooting sports different from past groups?”

After several conversations, it seems the image of today’s modern shooter bears about as much resemblance to yesterday’s shooter as the modern sporting rifle resembles bolt and lever action rifles. They fire bullets, but in different ways – and driven by different goals. 

Today’s new shooters are products of an entirely different baseline of experiences.

They have seen gang violence and terrorist acts.

Soldiers and “first responders” of today are revered, not reviled. Consequently, today’s shooters are more interested in personal defense than hunting, and favor the kind of weaponry they see used by soldiers and law enforcement.

Those preferences make them excellent candidates for competition shooting, especially practical shooting. After all, they see firearms as being necessary for the ultimate practical purpose- personal defense.

And the younger shooters of today area a product of the video game. 

To today’s generation, war isn’t something that happes “over there”: For the past ten years we’ve had to live with the reality that war can be (and has been) waged on our shores. As a result, guns (especially pistols, full auto weapons and Evil Black Rifles) aren’t scary tools of fascist military oppressor class, they’re what you use to frag your buddies in SOCOM IV, or they’re what your friend from high school used in the sandbox when he joined up after 9/11. 

Looks like the shooting sports industry is taking note. More power-ups to them.

Update: How to keep Gun Culture 1.0 around. As I’ve said before, going from Gun Culture 2.0 back to Gun Culture 1.0 can be a frustrating task. Glad to see the NSSF wants to keep both cultures alive.

Who Will Support Gun Culture 1.0?

Who will support Gun Culture 1.0?

Michael Bane (and others) use the phrase “Gun Culture 2.0” to describe the boom that’s going on in the shooting sports, and if you’re like me (and I know I am), that’s how you got into shooting.

I carry a defensive sidearm.
I train regularly.
I compete in practical shooting.
What I don’t do a lot of (yet) is hunt, aka Gun Culture 1.0.

I went out after quail last year and I enjoyed myself immensely. It was the first time I shot at a living critter since I was 12 and was gopher-hunting, and I’d forgotten how much fun hunting was and is. Just getting outside and walking around the woods was great fun and combine that with the stalk and the need to be on-target FAST and you’ve got an enjoyable sport that can be (and is) very addicting.

But.

Try and get into hunting in your middle years.

I dare you.

The Arizona Game and Fish Department has excellent programs for kids and women, but what they don’t have is something for people like me, people who got into shooting without getting into hunting. When I got my CCW permit, the NRA was right there with training options to help me and others like me get more confident and more adept at the defensive use of a gun. For hunting? Well, there’s the hunter education course, and then there’s, ah, well, see, um, errr.

You get the point. Unless you know somebody who’s a hunter or are willing to shell out big bucks for a guided hunt, you’re on your own. This is NOT the way to grow a sport.

If Gun Culture 1.0 is to survive, it needs fresh blood, and that means bringing in urban professionals like myself and the thousands of other people who look at firearms as a defensive tool first and a sporting tool second. Shows like The Wild Within and Friends of the NRA are laying the groundwork and making hunting a normal activity for city-dwellers, now it’s time for the NSSF and others to help make that process easier.