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Old February 1, 2013, 06:37 PM   #26
PatientWolf
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I'm not really sure where you heard all handgun caliber a are weak, but I don't agree. Heck, I'm pretty sure if you look hard enough, youll find people and game have been killed with 22LR.

Seriously, though handgun calibres are very effective for the intended purpose, and are even more effective with at least a soft point or hollow point than with a full metal jacket.
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Old February 1, 2013, 07:03 PM   #27
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I heard this on this forum, I myself feel it's unfair to lump them all together hence the question posed about cheap FMJ vs high performance ammo.
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Old February 1, 2013, 07:11 PM   #28
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I'd buy into the OP's premise as far as buying FMJs for practice ammo, but when it comes to ammo that I am gonna use to protect "me and mine", it's gonna be a JHP that I rely upon.

The advantage of a JHP might be "small" for the added expense, but there are so many things worth more than a few bucks extra for a couple of boxes of premium JHPs and I'll take every advantage I can get no matter how small.
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Old February 5, 2013, 02:58 PM   #29
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If you could ask all the people shot with handguns, including the dead ones, I don't think the majority answer would be that they are weak and ineffective.

Are they as powerful as rifles? Generally no. Todays most powerful pistol rounds are more powerful than the lighter rifles rounds, but they are not common used for defensive purposes.

Stopped is stopped, and dead is dead. The attacker who is stopped by a .38SPL is just as stopped as one stopped by a .375H&H. Which one is more likely to stop an attack? Which one is more likely to do it with a single torso hit? These are very different questions. And,Which one are YOU more likely to be able to do it with? That is yet another, and to me, a more important question.

And, which one is better in a given situation is totally dependant on the specific situation. Somthing going bump in the night, that .38 Colt snubnose is going in my pocket, or my hand while I investigate. If a buffalo decides to punish my car for not being recptive to his amorous advances, I may keep the Colt in my pocket and the Ruger #1 .375H&H would be in my hands, just in case...

Ok, so maybe its not a realisitic situation (although I do have a small herd of buffalo (actually Bison) living just a couple of miles down the road), but I think you get the intent. There is a best tool for every situation.

However, since we cannot be certain to have the best tool, we make do with what will work "best" over the broadest range of easily forseeable circumstances.

Over penetration is a big bug-a-boo, I hear constantly about the "risks" of overpenetration, and danger to innocent bystanders. And that is so, in some situations. But one needs to balance this risk with the fact that a bullet that will not completely penetrate may not penetrate enough from some angles.

Police agencies, who have the overwhelming majority of their shootings happen in populous areas have a different risk perspective than a private citizen in the same place. And lots of us private citizens do not live cheek to jowl packed with other people. We need, and should use a different risk assesment.

Everything works if the bullet gets in the right place. Everything from .22 on up to elephant gun, from FMJ to the most expansive JHP, all work if the bullet gets in the right place. And all FAIL if it does not.

We spend, as a group, a tremendous amount of time, energy, and money doing everything we can think of to increase, (by a small amount) the odds in our favor. Practice, caliber choice, load choice, Practice, etc...considering what might hang in the balance, anything we can do to help tip the odds in our favor is both reasonable, and prudent.

But don't go thinking you and your family are all going to die horribly because your FMJ plinking ammo isn't going to stop an attacker. IT may very well fail to do so, but if it does, it will because of what YOU didn't do, not because of any flaw in it. According to the best info we can get, guns stop attacks more times without being fired than they do when fired. And when fired, FMJ still has the largest number of stops overall. Just because of its widespread history of use.

But those are just numbers, and while useful for consideration, any encounter you or I get into will be a 50/50 event. Either we are successful, or we aren't. We can do a few things to shade the odds in our favor, and we can do A LOT of things to tip the odds against us. Guns and bullets are not magic wands or enchanted swords that never miss or fail. And even orcs get saving throws.

We are not all doomed, and we are not all magically protected, it is what YOU do, with what you have that counts more than what you do it with. That has proven true countless times, and isn't likely to change, ever.
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Old February 5, 2013, 03:11 PM   #30
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I use cheaper FMJ ammo for practice till I'm comfortable with the shooting qualities of the pistol, then sight it in using the best quality high performance hollow point that runs at standard operating pressures.
The pistol stays sighted in for the hollow point, any further plinking or practice shooting with FMJ is done using kentucky windage if necessary.

If the FMJ is sufficiently accurate I keep one spare mag loaded with FMJ, the others with HP.

I've found that some recently manufacted FMJ does not penetrate nearly as well as older FMJ loads, and that a wide open point bullet is less likely to glance off auto body metal at an angle ( the tube cutter effect). So penetration performance of the FMJ is no longer a real factor.
On the other hand open point bullets that pick up divots of clothing in the nose cavity are less likely to expand in flesh.
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Old February 7, 2013, 10:06 PM   #31
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I'm not really sure where you heard all handgun caliber a are weak,
Could come from the oft-repeated statement that 80% of people shot with a handgun survive...
Hence the advice to carry a gun chambered in the most powerful caliber you can shoot well.
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Old February 8, 2013, 12:30 AM   #32
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there is weak, and there is weak....

Quote:
Quote:
I'm not really sure where you heard all handgun caliber a are weak,

Could come from the oft-repeated statement that 80% of people shot with a handgun survive...
Hence the advice to carry a gun chambered in the most powerful caliber you can shoot well.
Compared to rifles, handguns are weak. So? The fact that there may be 80% of the people shot survive has nothing to do the how "weak" handguns are (in general) but how good medicine is today.

Back before the 1920s, (modern germ theory) and the discovery of antibiotics, getting shot, even in a "non-fatal" spot was a 50/50 death sentence. You either lived or you didn't. Infection killed far more of those shot that the actual wound did.

Big bore rounds like the .45 Colt were often more survivable than smaller calibers. Round that went all the way through were often more survivable. One plugged the holes, and hoped for the best.

Round with enough power to go halfway through were more deadly, more often, as the bullet stayed in the body, and the dirt, lint, dust, etc stuck in the bullet lube meant infection (usually fatal) was extremely common. One of the most feard guns in the old west was the .41 derringer, as its outside lubricated bullet usually would go about halfway through a man and stop, virtually insuring painful death in a couple weeks, or less.

Today, with modern medicine available within a few minutes (except in the remotest locations), if tissue damage and/or blood loss doesn't kill you outright, the odds of survival are very good, much better than at any other time in history.

And, interestingly enough, smaller caliber rounds (including 9mm fmj) have a higher fatality rate from complications than large bore rounds. This is because overall, people are shot more times with smaller size rounds before being stopped.

Not trying to start a caliber/stopping power war as that is beside the point. Individual rounds, one shot stops, and all the statistics and arguments about what is "best" have their merits, and their place, but its not here.

What I am trying to say is that someone stopped by a couple rnds of .45, for instance (non lethal hits) is more likely to survive than someone who takes 6, 8, or more 9mm hits.

Modern medicine is very good, and a lot of people shot multiple times do survive, but not all, by any means. The more times you are shot, the greater the "insult" to the body, and the more likely you are to die, despite all that can be done. So, the most "humane" round is the one that is most likely to stop your assailant, with the fewest number of hits. I'll leave the argument as to which that is to you.

Personally, I think that the "80% survive" figure is doubtful. 80% surviving AFTER getting medical attention might be reasonable, but one would have to look at the study parameters closely....

One should not use how "lethal" a round is as the metric for a defensive firearm. Stopping power is what is important. Attacks must be stopped. That is the first and foremost issue. If the attacker dies as a result of being stopped, they die. If they live, they live. The only important thing is that they are stopped from harming you (or others).

Sure, its a game of words, but word matter, especially to the legal system. One shoots, only when one has to, to STOP the attack. IF you "shoot to kill", or even "shoot to wound", there is a good chance you will well treated by the legal system. However, you will be around to be judged, which is always better than the alternative. If you attacker is able to be judged in this world, fine. If not, they will be judged in the next, which is also fine by me.
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Old February 8, 2013, 11:31 AM   #33
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I got to think getting shot with a .22 caliber bullet at reasonably close range is going to discombobulate the victim and disengage them from whatever they were doing. Most bad guys are not heroes and they've never been shot. An entirely new and unexpected experience. At this point -- if they survive the first shot (and professional mob hit men are said to use .22) -- their attack has been blunted, at the very least. Their aim is not going to be as good. They may very well be on the floor. Now, if you're talking a grizzly bear or a charging rhino, yeah, I'd want a small cannon. And usually, with .22 ammo you've got plenty more where that came from if the first wasn't persuasive.
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Old February 8, 2013, 12:05 PM   #34
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Well, simply do both. I purchase what might be called higher performance ammo for carry purposes, but shoot plenty of lower end target ammo.
Ditto
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Old February 11, 2013, 09:16 AM   #35
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Yes, most handgun ammo is less effective than rifle rounds, but by no means ineffective.

http://www.stltoday.com/news/local/h...41d06c092.html
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Old February 13, 2013, 09:09 PM   #36
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I am one who considers "defensive handgun cartridges" to be under powered. For me "defensive handgun cartridges" include (but are not limited to) .38 special, 9mm para, .357 magnum, .40 S&W, 10mm auto, .44 special, .41 magnum (moderate loads), .44 magnum (moderate loads), .45 ACP, & .45 Long Colt. They are under powered which is why we are trained to shoot twice (or more depending on the cartridge and training), assess, and proceed as necessary.

It is not an issue of lethality. It is an issue of incapacitation. An issue of stopping a threat as quickly as possible with a compromise weapon and cartridge. A handgun is a compromise that is "good enough" in the mind of the user. It is what that user will likely carry and have at hand; rather than something bigger, heavier, more powerful, and more effective that the user would not chose to carry or find impossible to conceal.

Not all handguns are under powered. Nor are the ones I listed weak, in my opinion.
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Old February 14, 2013, 01:43 AM   #37
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why do we (self included) spend the extra money on high performance ammo?
Getting back to this original question, there is, to me, an obvious answer. And that would be faith. Allow me to explain...

We know that expanding bullets have a track record of being more effective in many situations than non-expanding ones. And we are putting our faith in this. We know that when the bullet goes in exactly the right place, it works, no matter what kind of bullet it it. But the bullet getting in precisely the right place is dependent on many factors.

The biggest single factor is the shooter's aim. Then what the bullet has to go through to get to that "off switch". That is where the size, shape, construction and speed play their part. I can discuss this in detal, and will if that's what you want to do, but for brevity's sake I'll ..condense things.

We put our faith in the premium ammo, expecting and believing that it's superior performance, (which by some standards is only a marginal improvement over the lower performing ammo - after all, handguns are all "weak" when compared with something more powerful) will be the difference between sucess and failure when the bullet does not get to precisely the right place.

The difference between a bullet that wounds (even severly) and one that stops an assailaint may be fractions of an inch in the precise path taken. IT may also be there is a certain energy threshold needed, so the faster the bullet the better the odds, as well.

Look at it this way, on the range, calm, unaffected by the extreme stress of a life & death situation, how well can we put the bullets exactly where we want them to go? Pretty good, yeah? but never quite good enough, or not always everytime, so we practice. In the much, much different situation of a defensive shooting, with all the stress, and the difficulty of both target movement and precise target identification (point of aim) anything that we believe will increase our odds of success, no matter how small, is worth using.

What is the possible down side of using high performance ammo? Assuming it works at least as well an lesser performance ammo in terms of accuracy and functioning in your gun, then the only possible downside is the cost. And the old saw is "what is your life worth?"

Now, if the "high performance" ammo won't work in your gun (won't feed reliably, won't shoot to point of aim - no matter what you do-, won't group well enough to be on target, is too hot for your gun to handle, etc.) THEN you have a different issue to consider, and perhaps a different conclusion to the question of "is it worth it?"

How much, of what is needed? That comes into play in the decision process, as well. And what does your gun & ammo combination actually DO?

It is something you need to test, for yourself, before you settle on a decision. I once had a gun that shot excellent groups, exactly at point of aim at the "usual" gunfight distances (short & medium) with a standard .38SPL load. Same gun with .357 ammo was nearly a foot low & right, and groups were just ..fair. Now, with this gun, what would be the best choice for defensive ammo? The .38 load that goes right where I put it, although considered weak, and not the most effefctive? Or the good magnum stuff that has the best stopping power rating, but shoots like crap in my gun?

Meaning I can't be as certain that the bullet will go where I aim it? Kentucky windage is a useful skill, but its tough to remember to use it when your life is on the line, and at speed.

Don't take it on faith that because it costs more that it will work better in your gun. Test it. It may be completely superior in everything bullets do, in the target, but before any of that counts, the bullet has to hit the target, and hit in the place you want and need it to.

Once tested, and confidence obtained that the high performance ammo will work fine in your gun, then it becomes a question of the cost of your training & practice. Ideally, the ammo you practice with should be identical to the ammo you will use in a defensive shooting, should one ever happen to you. But, that is expensive, particualry if you only shoot factory ammo.

What most people do is find a load, less expensive than the "high performance" ammo, that shoots to the same point of aim, and roughly duplicates the recoil level as the "good" stuff. This can be tricksy if you only shoot factory ammo, especially if your "good stuff" is a special high performance load from one of the specialty ammo makers.

You can, with handloading, duplicate any "high performance" load with a cheaper bullet for practice (assumming, of course, that the cheaper bullet will shoot about as well from your gun). If all you need is to puch holes in paper, a solid at the speed of the premium hollowpoint is a good practice round. Save the spendy stuff for "duty" use.

Now, maybe the cheapest GI grade ball ammo will be close enough in performance to be an acceptible training substitute for the expensive premium stuff in your gun. IF so, great for you! But maybe the ball shoots to a little different place, or maybe its a bit lighter recoiling, or for some other reason feels different enough to not be a close match to the premium stuff. So, something else is needed, if it is important to you to train & practice as "real" as practical. Note that not all our shooting is training for defense, most of mine is recreational. Plinking and such is fun, too.
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Old February 14, 2013, 06:24 AM   #38
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Mello2u - I was always of the opinion that the reasons for double shots were 1) during the stress of the incident and movement/action occurring, accuracy may not be perfect. 2) an aggressor may have adrenalin, drug or other driving forces that may limit the effect of a first shot (that could be true even of a rifle).

I did see you specified "defensive handgun cartridges". I was wondering if you are referring to those that are lower velocity to avoid over penetration (but maintain expansion capabilities)? If so, I have wondered how those compare to a good HP myself.
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Old February 14, 2013, 11:48 AM   #39
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The "using the psitol to fight your way back to a rifle" theory is nice, but, based on real world experience, its not going to happen. When the flag drops, you are likely going to have to fight with what you have with you.

There have been a few times I got out on something that seemed pretty mundane that went to poop. And, all I could do was look back at my car and see the flash hider of my AR sticking up between the seats, mocking me.

I think the current theory of "designer ammo" at over a buck a round is ridiculous. 20 round boxes are a joke. If you can find the 50 round LE boxes at a decent price, buy all you can. Shoot a few hundred rounds of that ammo in your gun and accept, its as good as its going to get.

But, I'm not convinced that the most expensive ammo is the best. If there were truly one round that works better than all the others, every LE agency would be buying that round. The Speer Gold Dot may be the most common round in LE right now based on effectiveness and cost. So, I usually just buy that in whatever caliber I need.
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Old February 14, 2013, 01:32 PM   #40
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I think the current theory of "designer ammo" at over a buck a round is ridiculous. 20 round boxes are a joke.
I gotta agree. Like with hunting bullets, for SD/HD, many folks seem to think they need the latest and the most over hyped in order to be successful. Truth be told, "Magic" bullets do not exist. The magic comes when one can consistently hit where they aim. With a handgun, this comes with practice, not in a fancy box with a fancy price. Any basic HP will have lethal terminal performance when put in the right spot, regardless of the color, if any, of the little plastic tip on the end.
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Old February 14, 2013, 02:14 PM   #41
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It is not an issue of lethality. It is an issue of incapacitation.
This.

If it were small enough and light enough, and easy enough to shoot, I'd carry 12ga buckshot everywhere with me. But I can't. So I compromise with a much smaller round. Compared to rifles and shotguns slugs/buckshot, handguns are very weak. I want to squeeze every advantage out of my defensive handgun I can. That means I use ammo designed for self defense use that's designed to stay in it's intended backstop, and not shoot through and through. A relatively minor premium price is worth it when I might have to count on those rounds to save my life, or the life of a family member.

Quote:
I think the current theory of "designer ammo" at over a buck a round is ridiculous. 20 round boxes are a joke. If you can find the 50 round LE boxes at a decent price, buy all you can. Shoot a few hundred rounds of that ammo in your gun and accept, its as good as its going to get.
I've never bought a 20 round box of premium ammo in my life. I shoot Speer Gold Dot 124gr +P out of my G19, and they came out of a $30, 50 round box. I could have bought some Remington Golden Sabers in a $50 round box for, I think $24, but I've had issues with Remington primers in the past, so it's a once bitten, twice shy situation. CCI primers are worth the extra $6 in my book. It's not hard to find those 50 round boxes, you just need to know where to look.

(Hint: Look for an LE supply store...not a regular gun store. Every one of them I've been in do not restrict sales to LE only.)
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Old February 14, 2013, 07:31 PM   #42
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It's your life.... what would you pick cheap not as effective or more power but more pricey

Use cheap ammo to target practice with but buy a box of good ammo to just carry and conceal
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Old February 14, 2013, 10:07 PM   #43
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44 AMP: Excellent post. And it does beg the question.....if we're going to use "premium" ammo, would we be better off spending the money on accuracy (i.e. match ammo) than on expansion or penetration (i.e. SD ammo)?......
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Old February 15, 2013, 12:53 AM   #44
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My personal thoughts on this is that yes, handguns are weaker than rifles, but often strong enough to get the job done. However, the thing with handguns is that the different common SD calibers (38spl/9mm through any 44/45 caliber) are all very similar in how well they can stop a threat. However, the difference between a round nose, lead or FMJ, and a premium hollow point is actually bigger than the difference between most calibers (unless you're accustomed to carrying 454, 460, or something similar).

Like 44AMP said, since the only way to for sure STOP a threat (not necessarily kill it) is to incapacitate it, then as long as the penetration is still enough to reach the vitals of heart, lungs, or brain depending on POI, I would much rather have a HP of some sort that could open up from .35"-.45" to .5"-.75" depending on caliber and gun used than a round nose/FMJ that doesn't. This gives you a much larger margin of error in the accuracy department when it comes to hitting a key component of the central nervous system.
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Old February 16, 2013, 01:10 PM   #45
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44 AMP: Excellent post. And it does beg the question.....if we're going to use "premium" ammo, would we be better off spending the money on accuracy (i.e. match ammo) than on expansion or penetration (i.e. SD ammo)?......
There is a gulf of difference between match accuracy and combat accuracy. At 1000 yards i would say yes, match ammo, at 3 yards it is you, not the gun and not the ammo.
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Old February 16, 2013, 01:31 PM   #46
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Why are many if not most it seems here obsessed with stopping a "bad guy"?

Do we really run into these situations on a regular basis? Do we fall for the marketing hype of the super duper, rhino stopping handgun bullet?

I'm sorry but I really don't view my many handguns as weapons. They are for my entertainment and enjoyment at the outdoor shooting range, plinking and serious target shooting with my inexpensive but very accurate cast lead reloads, with my friends I meet up with who do the same.

But then also, Lord have mercy on the individual who forces me to turn my sidearm I use for my enjoyment in to a weapon.
I also use my cast lead reloads as my carry ammo. Semi wad cutters and full wadcutters do a tremendous job.
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Old February 16, 2013, 01:35 PM   #47
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I would have no problem using 9mm FMJ rounds it has being doing the job for years. As for over penetration you are more likely to hit someone with the rounds you miss the target with. PS I don't think you are allowed to use expanding ammo here for self defence.

Quote:
Do we really run into these situations on a regular basis? Do we fall for the marketing hype of the super duper, rhino stopping handgun bullet?
Makes sense to me.

Quote:
FMJ that doesn't. This gives you a much larger margin of error in the accuracy department when it comes to hitting a key component of the central nervous system
It only gives you a couple of mm difference. The odds of having to use your firearm very low the odds of 2mm making any difference even lower. Not enough deference to concern me.

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Old February 17, 2013, 05:28 AM   #48
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Is this a question or a statement?...

Who's we Tonto?...
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Old February 17, 2013, 06:37 AM   #49
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Oh yeah.

Quote:
Handguns are only weak compared to rifles and it isn't a fair comparison.
Ain't that the truth.
Try putting a rifle in your pocket.

Quote:
They are for my entertainment and enjoyment at the outdoor shooting range, plinking and serious target shooting with my inexpensive but very accurate cast lead reloads......sam
+1 about that. Sporting goods.....that is what they are for me.....that is their primary use.
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Old February 17, 2013, 07:41 AM   #50
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After seeing a several dozen postmortem handgun wounds in two and four-legged critters and studying (and sometimes writing) the after-action reports, I have come to think of it all like this.

Your handgun is little more than a remotely-operated punch, the same diameter as your chosen handgun round. It pokes its hole and withdraws instantly. We can play with the tip a little bit; chalk it, change its diameter, make it round or flat, drill a hole in it or whatever. Generally speaking, think of the mouseguns as poking a hole like a small knitting needle; the 38/9's at a 3/8" dowel at best and the 40-45 class as half-inch dowels.

The worst thing you can do is limit the depth it penetrates into, or through, your adversary. The second worst thing you can do is place it poorly. The third worst thing you can do is make too small of a hole in him.

If you miss his/its CNS and/or support structures, you can't expect immediate incapacitation. Some people & critters just won't acknowledge having random holes poked in them. With bipeds, he closer you poke that hole to the centerline of the body, the quicker you get their attention.

At typical handgun velocities, the most advanced bullet technology cannot and will not compensate for three inches of lateral dispersion, from the centerline of the human torso.
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