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The definitive guide to handgunning
Years ago I put this on GT.  It was well received and almost became a sticky. 

I've been in one uniform or another since 1985. Currently 24 years in my S.O. green. I've earned two firearm instructor certifications, one through the state and the other Israeli. I’ve earned five different Defensive Tactics certifications, one state and the other four advanced. I've been able to teach firearms to Police, military, corrections, E.P agents and private citizens. So take my comments for whatever you think they're worth YMMV

As I see it, there are only a few considerations to self-defense and handguns. In their order of importance, they are;

1. Weapon reliability
2. Shot placement
3. Penetration
4. Caliber/velocity/bullet weight/bullet design

I'd like to break these down.

Weapon reliability: Self-explanatory really. If the gun doesn't go bang at the right time...every other point is moot. Run a few boxes of the type ammo you intend to use for defense through the gun to make sure it functions well.

Shot placement: Here is the crux of the matter. The round needs to hit something vital to produce as quick of an incapacitation as possible. In other words, it is hitting something important that is important. This is where realistic training comes into the equation.

Now, for those unfamiliar with the world of handguns, there are some things you very much need to know about. Even with pinpoint shot placement, immediate incapacitation may not happen! In fact, don't expect it. Continue to fire for effect till the threat has stopped. Don't forget sound tactics, cover, movement to get to cover etc.

Point in fact; Sgt. Carlos Hathcock USMC. Many automatically know who I'm referring to here. SSGT Hathcock was a Marine sniper in 'Nam'. Let me go a step farther, Sgt. Hathcock was one of the best snipers EVER! Period. Remember Tom Barringer in the movie sniper shooting another sniper through the scope of his own rifle? Hathcock really did that, that's where they got it from. He was that good. He had a head shot with a .50 at 2500 yards.

In the book ‘Marine Sniper’, one of his kills is discussed. The reader's digest version is that it took seven 'kill' shots from his Winchester 70 to put down a small framed VC. The first COM 'kill' shot not only didn't take the VC out, the VC pulled out a machete and charged Hathcock's position. Five more COM shots didn't even slow him down and the final shot was a head shot that finally did the job. So here is the picture to consider; one of the best snipers in the world, using a high powered rifle needed 7 'kill' shots to put down a small framed man.

Then there is the female LAPD officer shot through the heart with a .357 magnum who not only survived but returned fire with her 9mm killing her attacker (three shots into the attacker’s chest).

Then there is the recent court house shooting in my agency. BJ did a wonderful job putting three shots (two heart and one liver) on the BG. But the BG was still able to complete his draw and fire one round that hit BJ in the shoulder mike.

Then there is the guy shot with one 22LR in the chest (after it traveled up the wall, across the ceiling, down the ceiling fan and ricochet off the fan blade) who collapses and dies on the spot.

Point is, shot placement is key....but there are some people that just don't have the good taste to go down immediately. Something to think about.

Penetration: Here is the topic of many hot threads. I'll put it out straight to you; the bullet needs to go deep enough to hit something important. It really is that simple. Rounds OFTEN need to go through something before hitting COM (center of mass). Barriers could be a door or wall of course, but more often it is limbs. Think about it for a moment; a BG probably has his arms out in front of his/her body with some threatening object such as a gun, knife, club or fist. This obstructs his/her COM (center of mass). A round would have to go through the arm first before hitting COM.

I have watched numerous BG's in the hospital after police action shootings (having actually been in the surgeries and taking custody of the round(s) removed to preserve the chain-of-evidence). There was a common thread in many of them; the bullet(s) did not penetrate the arm or legs and hit something more vital. I once guarded a man shot 12 times, 6 arm and 6 leg on the same side. None of the rounds penetrated the limb. Only reason he was stopped is because the femur bone was shattered and he could no longer support his own weight. But he would have been able to fire a weapon had he been armed with a firearm rather than an edged weapon.

Btw, we need to know about sectional density. All things being equal, a 115 9mm will penetrate as deep as a 185 .45. That is sectional density.

Now we get to the 'spirited' topics.

Caliber: I could get quite lengthy on this one, but I'll try not to. Cutting to the point, your caliber sucks. If you use a sucks. If you use a sucks. Sorry to burst any bubbles. I've had all the service calibers over the years, from .38 to .45. I started my career carrying a S&W M64 .38 Special. We carried 6 rounds and no speed loaders...that was it! That shows my age a bit.

I've talked with BG's that have been shot with just about everything including a 12g shotgun at short range. They each have tremendous successes and each have dismal failures. Each caliber has failures in direct proportion to the amount of people shot with it.

Having said that your caliber sucks, you need to still have confidence in it. That is a proper winning mindset. Confidence...not stupidity or cockiness. I love the .45. Not because it's any better...just because I like the round. So I like the .45, but can't abide by the idiot that spouts off about what an incredible 'man stopper' it is...because it isn't. I've guarded or talked to too many people shot with it that it didn't stop, including a head shot. Not a .45 bash...again I like the caliber. But I also like 9mm. Seen them both do great and seen them both fail.

Velocity: Another great topic to argue about. Here's the deal; a bullet needs enough velocity to exit the barrel, move to the target and have the bullet do what it was designed to do. That's it. Any excess is only adding to your recoil and affecting to a degree follow up shots which are more important. The BG isn't going to notice the difference between 100 fps. It isn't going to knock him down. It isn’t' going to damage his organs in handgun ranges.

I’ll go a step further. When I was still a rookie I was what you call a velocity-junkie. If I had a round that did 1200fps I wanted one that did 1300fps. And when I got the one that did 1300fps I wanted the one that did 1350fps and I was willing to pay a little extra to get it. Here’s a tip…it is a scam. Here’s why;

Let’s use the 9mm as an example. You have a 9mm that travels at a standard velocity of say 1000fps and generally penetrates 11 inches in calibrated gelatin. I use to think if I could get the same round to go say 1200fps at +P or even better, one that would zip out to 1350fps at +P+ then I was way ahead of the game. Well…not really. In reality I may have a vastly inferior round than the standard velocity version. Here’s why; penetration is a result of sectional density, weight and velocity. What this means is that if two bullets have the same sectional density (such as two 9mm’s) then the heavier one will generally penetrate deeper. So that brings up issue number one with the +P or +P+ round. When it expands it is like a parachute opening up. The velocity dramatically slows down. If the bullet is designed to open up at 1000fps, it may open up to quickly at 1350fps thus limiting the penetration. Problem number two involves some companies using that standard velocity round and simply putting it on steroids. As in the above example where it opens up to soon (thus dramatically affecting the depth of penetration since the sectional density and velocity have been changed from the bullets design parameters) some rounds simply fragment (shedding the jacket and/or lead). Once again this affects the depth of penetration. So instead of having a round that has an average penetration depth of 11 inches at 1000fps, you now have one that has an average penetration depth of 8 inches at 1350fps. This can affect the terminal ballistics of the round severely.

So in effect, you’ve paid more for less because of the marketing hype.

This is not to say that a 9mm +P+ is ‘always’ a bad round. There are certain brands out there that push a 9mm round to +P+ velocities but still maintain around 12 inches of penetration. Often these are the bonded bullets so the jacket stays intake, thus the round retains its shape and integrity throughout the distance travelled.

Bullets and guns: Rounds are the same as they've always some regards. We still have a bullet, case, powder and a primer. In some other ways however, bullets have come 'a long way baby'!

20 years ago I would have told you a 147 9mm sucks. These days, I would have no problem using them in my off duty. They've come a long way. There was a time that you didn't dare use a HP in a pistol for fear of it jamming. Now it isn't really a concern.

These are just some things I've been thinking about based on my professional experience that I wanted to share with whomever cared to read it. Hopefully someone can carry something useful away from my post.

Biggest point...stay safe.
Governmental dependance makes for poor self reliance.

"What could possibly go wrong with a duct tape boat?"  Cody Lundin

The best defense against evil men are good men with violent skill sets.
Member on the HP forum gave me this link, thought it had some good information and wanted to pass it on:

Lucky Gunners Lab
Governmental dependance makes for poor self reliance.

"What could possibly go wrong with a duct tape boat?"  Cody Lundin

The best defense against evil men are good men with violent skill sets.
Some very good side by side comparisons there.
I like that they did 5 of each to show how some designs are a little less consistent than others. I'd love to see them continue to update this list as time goes on.
A lot of good data to digest....

Always looked for a round that gives me good repetitive hits... in a double or triple taps within a 8" circle at 10-20 ft.
Found some that were like "Goldie Locks"... some to hot , some to cold... ended up with a good warm oldie; Silver Tips in 175 gr./10mm
Just read this today (but remember the original I believe...)

For everything from .38 to .45
Hit the target = the first 95% of effectiveness
The remaining 5% is everything else....weight, speed, jacket type, caliber, etc...

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