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Old March 24, 2013, 12:50 PM   #56
Senior Member
Join Date: June 9, 2002
Location: northern CA for a little while longer
Posts: 1,744
People who don't understand math or the 'law of diminshing returns' can't see that a load that stops men 90% of the time is 3x better than a load that stops men 70% of the time. But a 10% chance of the "hittee" continuing to attack really is 3x better than a 30% chance of such a thing.
I'd be careful trying to over-analyze this sort of thing and applying caliber-calculus (I just made that up ) to arrive at "stopping power" determinations and statistics.

Stopping Power is a term best applied to discussion of disc brakes in motor vehicles.

Anyway, I used to be one of those young guys who felt the only defensive calibers "worth carrying" were .357 Magnum, .44 Magnum & .45 ACP. (.44 Spl & .45 Colt were marginal "secondary choices", if only due to lack of bullet development.)

Then, one day they took my issued .357 Magnum revolver away and handed me one of those lightweight, hi-cap Wonder Nines (one of the newly released S&W 3rd gen 9's), and I realized the days of being able to finally get around to buying that Buscadero leather rig to carry one of my .44's as an authorized duty weapon were suddenly gone.

As my time passed in my LE career, and I spent increasingly more time working as a firearms instructor, my personal thoughts & opinions evolved a bit. The "caliber" issue took a back seat to what I decided were the more critical considerations of training, frequent practice, skillset, knowledge of tactics and Mindset. (I'd put Mindset first if I were listing them in order of priority, though.)

As time continued to pass I found myself carrying 9's increasingly more often on my own time, although I eventually developed a collection of .40's and more .45's.

Then, I "rediscovered" the practicality & value of the venerable 5-shot .38 snub ... and now I own more than half a dozen of them. Toward the end of my career (when I carried either a .40 or .45, since those were the only approved duty calibers), I found myself carrying one or another of my lightweight 5-shot snubs on my own time. I did (and do) a fair amount of practice/training with them, revisiting and refining my older DA revolver skills.

The choice of buying a LCP came as a surprise, as for the last several years I'd pretty much decided the .38 Spl +P was the "lowest" I was willing to go for a working/defensive caliber.

The tipping point for reconsidering the .380 was the diminutive size of the LCP (and the BG380, which is just enough larger that I went with the LCP). I could pocket holster the LCP in some instances when I couldn't do so with my 5-shot snubs (or, at least not as easily, depending).

If I couldn't shoot the little LCP accurately, controllably and effectively ... I wouldn't own or carry it.

If it hadn't demonstrated good reliability with a few of the more modern hollowpoints being offered in the caliber ... I wouldn't own or carry it.

It's NOT a "replacement" for my .38/.357 snubs. It's an option for some situations and circumstances. (Neither are my .38/.357 snubs "replacements" for my assorted 9's, .40's & .45's. They allow options for my perceived needs.)

There's a reason it's not uncommon to see .38/.380 calibers as the "smallest" calibers approved for secondary/backup & off-duty usage. (I remember when .22, .25 & .32 were once allowed at my former agency.)

Last year I attended a couple of in-service training seminars devoted to LE who have been killed & assaulted, and officer safety/field tactics. Both the .38 snub and .380 pocket pistols were mentioned as having been effectively used to save the lives of cops. A surprising number of times. (The .38 snub was mentioned more often, but then it's arguably had a longer & stronger presence in LE work for its role. However, it's not unfair to speculate that the growing number of good quality, reduced size .380's will probably start to increase the presence of the caliber in this regard.)
Retired LE - firearms instructor & armorer
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