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Old February 14, 2013, 10:19 AM   #1
10851Man
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Caliber Choices:

After 20+ years in law enforcement, I am frequently asked what caliber is best. Since we debate a lot of .31 vs. .36 vs. 44. in this forum, I thought I would post my opinions.

I am a California expert witness on Narcotics, Collision Investigation and Ballistics. I have attended many autopsies and witnessed guys take hits from .44 Magnum, .357 Magnum, .45 ACP and 12 gauge slugs and not only still shoot, but run and physically fight arresting officers.

Many times, people will buy the bigger caliber, or the most modern gun they can afford, in hopes it will be more ‘lethal,’ or, at the very least, make them a better shooter.

Shot placement is stopping power, plain and simple.

There is no ‘magic bullet,’ least of all the anemic loads available in .40 S&W that are so highly touted.

Read about the George Deeb shooting where the suspect, not on any type of narcotic, took 17 hits from .40 S&W and .223 Remington and still shot back (accurately) and fought arresting officers.

The investigation claimed a single shot felled Deb, but this was proven untrue at autopsy. No vital organs were hit, his chest cavity filled with blood and he eventually suffocated, but that could not be attributed to any single shot.

http://archives.timesleader.com/2006...e_-tlnews.html

I realize we will not likely use a C&B for self-defense, but whatever you carry, pratice and shot placement is critical.

In my career, I have had people at gun point with a Grendel P-12 in .380 ACP and never felt outgunned because I knew I could hit my target.

FWIW…
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Old February 14, 2013, 11:08 AM   #2
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Well Said. I tell folks all the time, Be very afraid of the person carrying a .22lr pistol, because they can afford to practice with it OFTEN!! You are absolutely right about shot placement. My brother in law, took 3 7.62X39 rounds in the back in Afganistan, and is serving his community as a Deputy Sheriff to this day. As far as carrying a cap and ball, I absolutely plan to carry one in the winter, no because I think its "better etc" but just because brandishing that thing in a time of need, is what I hope will be very intimidating to my opponent. I'm pretty decent with my Sheriff and have it figured out. A .44 C&B revolver packing 30 grains of powder with a 200 grain conical, matches .45 ACP ballistics pretty dang close. As far as I've read. Anyway good post and a good topic to debate.
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Old February 14, 2013, 11:30 AM   #3
10851Man
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Welcome, Deerslayer.

I love my 1862 Colt Police Pistols and plan to carry them on backwoods treks...
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Old February 14, 2013, 12:01 PM   #4
vector91
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Very well said 10851Man. Everyone is always concerened about what caliber is best and has the most "stopping power". It all comes down to shot placement as you have said. You can buy the biggest bun that shoots the largest and heaviest round but if you can't hit accurately and in a vital area then whats the point.
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Old February 14, 2013, 01:24 PM   #5
JD0x0
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Shot placement + Luck.

Even a 9mm para to the head may not stop the threat. I've heard of quite a few pistol headshot survivors. Some even say a 22LR would do more damage because they can sometimes bounce around the skull or even the pelvis and chest cavity.
Caliber means very little.
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Old February 14, 2013, 03:27 PM   #6
deerslayer303
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Quote:
I love my 1862 Colt Police Pistols and plan to carry them on backwoods treks...
I carry a cap and ball Erreryday around the farm. 3 cylinders loaded with #9 shot, the other three with the standard ole ball. I get a kick out of trying to hit a field mouse everynow and then when one breaks out across the field in front of the 4 wheeler.
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Old February 14, 2013, 03:43 PM   #7
10851Man
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I have shot many different weapons, but I like the C&B's a lot. My 1862 Police, though not historically accurate, has great balance and tight groups. My wife is convinced I have lived before in the Civil War era...
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Old February 15, 2013, 12:15 AM   #8
Newton24b
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caliber itself is based upon the following criteria

1. can you shoot the gun accurately?
2. does the bullet penetrate?

people realized that the .32 caliber colt pocket pistols were useful, but that big old 44 caliber belt pistol put things down with a lot more authority.
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Old February 15, 2013, 12:36 AM   #9
jolly1
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What about bullet type?

@ 10851Man:
Great post, and impressive experience!
One question:
What about fype of bullet? Appart from caliber issue: different bullets in same caliber will have different stopping power?

In your experience: full metal jacket, or hollow point? Or something else?
Military rounds have purpose of disabling the enemy, hunting type of ammo has a purpose of momentarily stopping / dropping the game, etc.
The sole caliber is of secondary importance when it comes to bullet fragmentation and hydrostatic (disabling and stopping) shock.

I would sort the priorities to achieve stopping power like this:
Proper shot placement - type of bullet - type of caliber.
(for situation where you can choose your ground, CONTROL YOUR STRESS and take your time, like law enforcement sniper, or a counter sniper, or trained officer)

Many (untrained) civilans in self defence situation will not be able to control the stress and aim properly.

In such situation, where you can not waste time for good aiming (breathing control, trigger control, etc),the priorities like this:
Type of bullet - proper shot placment - type of caliber.
(for tactical and unexpected situation, in lets-say-close quarters)

So, back to question:
Still shooting and woonded bad guys - what kind of bullet did they take, and still had enough ability to return fire?
(my guess - FMJ, with poor shot placment. Am I right?)

Last edited by jolly1; February 15, 2013 at 12:56 AM. Reason: spelling
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Old February 15, 2013, 12:44 PM   #10
10851Man
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@ Jolly1,

To be quite honest, I prefer FMJ in my semi-autos. I like to have the ability to penetrate heavy clothing and light barriers. Additionally, the FMJ is more reliable in some of the smaller weapons, although your CCW authority may dictate JHP only, such as they do in most California counties.

All the 'bad guy' hits I am referring to where with commercial JHP in all calibers and in every case, the hits were not 'immediately lethal' in nature, meaning that although a few of these subjects did in fact die from the wounds, it took quite some time.

I would say, for the average CCW holder (I used to teach the course here in CA.) that the Federal 'Personal Defense' loads are a good choice and very 'correct' should one have to use the weapon in a defensive situation...
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Old February 16, 2013, 11:11 PM   #11
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I'm hung up on the 1911 45 for one reason. It will put the big bad guy down. Everyone will not agree but it was made for that reason. I do agree that shot placement is important and yes I agree that a 22 is way underated for self defence.The old 38 special is about as good a revolver as you can keep on hand especially one that will handle the + P rated ammo. Just try to shoot the firearm at lest once a month just to keep the feel of the gun your going to use. It should be just a part of your body. It would be a very bad day to have your own firearm took away from you and used on you and maybe the family members you are tring to protect. It is a good idea for people to take shooting classes or if you know someone that can help you get the trainning needed to help you out it can't hurt anything just to know you know your ready in a moments notice. If going with a bp pistol is what your going to keep on hand than get out there and learn to put those balls in the place they need to go. My one prayer is I never need to find out.

Last edited by Shotput79; February 16, 2013 at 11:25 PM.
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Old February 16, 2013, 11:14 PM   #12
4V50 Gary
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Bravo 10851Man. I always believed it was better to hit with a 22 LR than miss with a 44 Mag.
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Old February 17, 2013, 10:30 AM   #13
Hawg
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I like my C&B's but where defense is concerned I have to agree with Shotput. Make mine a 1911 in .45 ACP with lead SWC's.
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Old February 17, 2013, 12:21 PM   #14
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^^^^ Yep Hawg, they KEEP TRYING to improve upon the proven manstopper .45ACP but they always come up short don't they? . I don't have a 1911 yet. I started to buy on many times, and it IS my all time favorite pistol. But once I buy it, then what? I know I know, then ANOTHER ONE!! LOL All I have now in the way of CCW arms is a CZ82, PF9, LCR, and a .22 Beretta autoloader. But I just want to carry the hawg leg every now and then.
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Old February 17, 2013, 01:43 PM   #15
Hawg
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Quote:
I don't have a 1911 yet. I started to buy on many times, and it IS my all time favorite pistol. But once I buy it, then what?
G.I. model
Dressed up model
Nickel
chrome
stainless
blue
parkerized
satin
polished
Colt
Les bear
Wilson
Kimber
Rock Island
Ruger
Springfield
Well you get the idea.
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Old February 17, 2013, 03:46 PM   #16
deerslayer303
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Oh MY!!
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Old February 18, 2013, 04:08 PM   #17
10851Man
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Shotput,

When you say, "A .45 will put the bad guy down" keep in mind it isn't immediate.

I have read local accounts of many guys taking .45 ACP and appearing uninjured. But I have personal experiences too.

I have witnessed a man take two direct hits in the chest (at close range) from a .45 ACP (230 grain Black Talon) turn and run over three blocks, pausing to shoot back occasionally, before finally collapsing.

While the shots proved ultimately fatal, he was not knocked off his feet, neither was there any physical indication that the rounds struck him. The officer firing the shots (which were ruled justifiable as the suspect pulled his gun and leveled it at the officer) thought he had missed until the guy collapsed into a pile.

A three block run is no small feat in perfect health. I have no doubt he could have fought wildly had he been inclined to.

In November of 2006, George Deeb was shot 17 times with .40 S&W and .223 engaged officers, reloaded multiple times and scored hits on moving targets, and still had to be wrestled into cuffs.

I carried a 1911 for many, many years, but I never felt as though it was the Hammer of Thor either...FWIW
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Old February 18, 2013, 04:11 PM   #18
10851Man
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Colt 1911...

I like the old relics. My duty weapon was a 4-digit Colt, made in Hartford in 1927 for the Argentine Army. It bears the April 20, 1898 patent date. All internals were replaced with modern components.

I use Ed Brown match barrels with 'GI' tolerances for reliability...FWIW
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Old February 18, 2013, 04:18 PM   #19
10851Man
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I was in the jail one night, with my pistol locked in the gun locker, when are armed robbery in progress call came out. I bailed out of the back door, jumped in my car and headed to the scene.

Along the way, I realized my pistol was in the locker, so I popped out my 12 gauge and took a position at the edge of the parking lot.

I engaged the suspect at gunpoint and he immediately surrendered. An assisting officer quickly applied cuffs.

A newspaper reporter took a photo of me with this man at gun point and no pistol in my holster.

Now you know the rest of the story...
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