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Stopping Power of the .45 ACP

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Matt_and_georgia_max50

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Posted over 5 years ago

 

Many people say they prefer the superior stopping power of the .45 ACP as opposed to the 9x19mm Luger ammo. I'm probably just uninformed but isn't a bullet a bullet? Can a guy actually get back up after being shot with a 9mm round as opposed to the .45 round?

Marvin_martian_max50

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The .45 ACP is well known for it's stopping power.  It's all about the transfer of kinetic energy.  A 230 grain .45 slug simply carries more energy with it.  Kinetic energy is dependent on several factors, mostly speed and weight.  Average weight of a 9mm is 118 to 160 grains.  It can overcome some of this lack of energy through speed.  That is why the 9mm +P+ that was used by the Ohio SP is such a good round.  Also the .38 Super and .357 Magnum.  The debate over 9mm vs. 45ACP is so old it is almost funny.  In the early 1970's I used to buy Guns & Ammo and the debate was raging then.  I refuse to read the articles anymore.  Several old coroner's report studies indicated that the .357 mag was the king of one-shot-stops, but the data is limited.


Can a guy get back up after taking a 9mm hit?  Heck Yes!  Haven't you heard the news stories where the perp was hit multiple times?  We had a doper in Kansas that took 19 rds to stop and I think they were all .40 cal.  I think there's a picture in "Street Survival" of a robber that took 36 rounds of 9mm to put him down.  Would a .45 have done better?   I couldn't say, but my guess is "yes."


Here's what I can tell you.  We were shooting 9" falling steel plates in the academy.  Most people were using the issued Glock 19 in 9mm, but I was carrying my Sig 220 in .45.  Many of the shooters couldn't knock down the plates unless they hit them just right, often taking 5-6 shots.  The .40 S&W's did better, but if the hit was too low on the plate, it wouldn't fall.  When I shot the first plate, the vibration from impact made 2 other plates fall, so I got 3 plates for 1 shot.  The Lt. that was supervising us stopped me and turned to the rest of the group and said "Now do you see why our department issues .45's?"  Seeing is believing, and I've carried a .45 for a duty gun ever since.  I've had similar experiences with a duelling tree.  I do carry a .40 as an off-duty/backup (glock 27), but that still follows the rule that a real gun has a caliber that starts with a 4.


Another factor to consider:  The consistency of expansion which allows the bullet to stop in the target and transfer its energy.  Different studies have been done on expansion, so do some research and make your choice.  The pursuit of the "One-shot-stop" perfect caliber and cartridge goes on and probably will never be decided.  The best thing out there for stopping power IMHO is a 12 ga with 00 buck, but I can't find a comfy holster for one. 


One of the instructors with which I used to teach civilian firearms classes always said "Bigger is better, but shot placement is EVERYTHING."  Remember, Bobby Kennedy was murdered by a POS with a POS revolver using .22 Shorts.


Go out today and preach the gospel, and if you must, use words. St. Francis of Assisi

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Rated +1 | Posted over 5 years ago

 

 Shot placement and efficient bullet expansion will always win this battle.  On the subject of dependable expansion, anything starting with .4 is going to work more consistently than smaller caliber rounds.  .380 and 9mm sized rounds have more limited expansion cavity capacities.  Something as simple as an additional layer of clothing can plug the cavity, stopping expansion. Without expansion, there is no meaningful transfer of energy.


This principle is what makes critical defense and power ball ammunition so popular is smaller caliber rounds.  It also explains why critical defense isn't offered in .40 or .45 cal.  They just plain work.  

Patrolcar_pic_max50

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Rated +1 | Posted over 5 years ago

 

Contrary to what many think because of the movies, people don't always "fall down" after being shot like they do on TV, regardless of the caliber bullet being fired at them.


"People sleep peacefully in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf. "

Knighttemplar2_max50

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Rate This | Posted over 5 years ago

 

The .45 ACP has a 90% kill ratio compared to 75% with the 9mm. It was designed for trench warfare in WWI and that means close combat.

Marvin_martian_max50

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At the SO a popular screen saver on our computers shows a Kimber 1911 and a loaded mag.  The bottome of the screen says ".45ACP, because it's just silly to have to shoot something twice."  While I like that statement, I also believe that anything worth shooting once is worth shooting twice.  A double-tap is the basic rule no matter what caliber.


Go out today and preach the gospel, and if you must, use words. St. Francis of Assisi

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Rated +1 | Posted over 5 years ago

 

I am a big believer in the 45 after seeing in a movie of a person shot with a 45, in the movie he was lifted up and thrown backwards over a 3.5' wall LOL.  Like in many things in bullets bigger (diameter) is better, all other things being equil.  Shot placement and shotee attitude are very important.  I remember reading of one individual who was shot at leat 3 time with a 44 magnum including in the head, ran outside and was brough down by a .25 auto shot to the knee.  The .25 auto shot was not fatal but took him to the ground and the 44 magnum shots were the fatal shots, they just weren't immediate.  Saying a bullet is a bullet is like saying a volkswagon beetle and a lincoln town car are both cars, which would you prefer to have run into you?

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I carry a .45ACP service pistol myself and wont be changing anytime soon. However, in my experiences in both the military and PSD worlds where the 9mm is the standard round, Ive see that round kill more people than any other pistol round on the battlefield. In the end it really IS about shot placement. Give me an M9 with 17+1 and Ill be more than happy.

Don_27t_20tred_20on_20me_max50

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Rated +1 | Posted over 5 years ago

 

I can sum it up with one sentance...


A bigger hole causes a bigger wound which causes more damage and a subject to bleed faster.


 


That's it in a nutshell...


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ccso8462 says ...



The .45 ACP is well known for it's stopping power.  It's all about the transfer of kinetic energy.  A 230 grain .45 slug simply carries more energy with it.  Kinetic energy is dependent on several factors, mostly speed and weight.  Average weight of a 9mm is 118 to 160 grains.  It can overcome some of this lack of energy through speed.  That is why the 9mm +P+ that was used by the Ohio SP is such a good round.  Also the .38 Super and .357 Magnum.  The debate over 9mm vs. 45ACP is so old it is almost funny.  In the early 1970's I used to buy Guns & Ammo and the debate was raging then.  I refuse to read the articles anymore.  Several old coroner's report studies indicated that the .357 mag was the king of one-shot-stops, but the data is limited.


Can a guy get back up after taking a 9mm hit?  Heck Yes!  Haven't you heard the news stories where the perp was hit multiple times?  We had a doper in Kansas that took 19 rds to stop and I think they were all .40 cal.  I think there's a picture in "Street Survival" of a robber that took 36 rounds of 9mm to put him down.  Would a .45 have done better?   I couldn't say, but my guess is "yes."


Here's what I can tell you.  We were shooting 9" falling steel plates in the academy.  Most people were using the issued Glock 19 in 9mm, but I was carrying my Sig 220 in .45.  Many of the shooters couldn't knock down the plates unless they hit them just right, often taking 5-6 shots.  The .40 S&W's did better, but if the hit was too low on the plate, it wouldn't fall.  When I shot the first plate, the vibration from impact made 2 other plates fall, so I got 3 plates for 1 shot.  The Lt. that was supervising us stopped me and turned to the rest of the group and said "Now do you see why our department issues .45's?"  Seeing is believing, and I've carried a .45 for a duty gun ever since.  I've had similar experiences with a duelling tree.  I do carry a .40 as an off-duty/backup (glock 27), but that still follows the rule that a real gun has a caliber that starts with a 4.


Another factor to consider:  The consistency of expansion which allows the bullet to stop in the target and transfer its energy.  Different studies have been done on expansion, so do some research and make your choice.  The pursuit of the "One-shot-stop" perfect caliber and cartridge goes on and probably will never be decided.  The best thing out there for stopping power IMHO is a 12 ga with 00 buck, but I can't find a comfy holster for one. 


One of the instructors with which I used to teach civilian firearms classes always said "Bigger is better, but shot placement is EVERYTHING."  Remember, Bobby Kennedy was murdered by a POS with a POS revolver using .22 Shorts.



This.

Marvin_martian_max50

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Casscocop says ...



I am a big believer in the 45 after seeing in a movie of a person shot with a 45, in the movie he was lifted up and thrown backwards over a 3.5' wall LOL.  Like in many things in bullets bigger (diameter) is better, all other things being equil.  Shot placement and shotee attitude are very important.  I remember reading of one individual who was shot at leat 3 time with a 44 magnum including in the head, ran outside and was brough down by a .25 auto shot to the knee.  The .25 auto shot was not fatal but took him to the ground and the 44 magnum shots were the fatal shots, they just weren't immediate.  Saying a bullet is a bullet is like saying a volkswagon beetle and a lincoln town car are both cars, which would you prefer to have run into you?



Well, Ross, they wouldn't put it in a movie if it wasn't true, would they?  Some years back I ran across an article regarding people being thrown backwards by the impact of a bullet, and it did a great job of exposing the myth.  It showed several series of stills taken from TV footage of shootings.  What it came down to was that there just isn't enough kinetic energy in a pistol or rifle projectile to overcome the mass of a body, and on top of that the physiology of a human, the skeletal structure and muscle/tendon attachment etc. makes a person fall forward unless they are already off balance enough to fall another direction.  A head shot may move the head (as evidenced in the enhanced Zapruder films of JFK's assassination) and the body may follow the direction of head movement, but most likely the torso will collapse forward.  But I still love the scene of George Plimpton getting blown backwards in his appearance in an old John Wayne movie.  Plimpton took as much of a beating learning about being a stuntman as he did when he QB'd for Detroit to prep for his book "Paper Tiger."  Oh, crap!  I just showed my age again!


Go out today and preach the gospel, and if you must, use words. St. Francis of Assisi

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The steel plates is true, we shot steel plate targets in my PSD certification course. I was using a Taurus PT92 in 9mm, some of the guys were using 9mms, .40S&W, and .45ACPs as well. The .45ACP knocked the plates down each time, I often had to put multiple rounds on target to knock the plates down.


The 9mm round is definately a smaller and much faster moving round while the .45ACP is a slower and larger round.

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Rated +1 | Posted over 5 years ago

 

 I had the same experience shooting steel poppers in a defensive shooting clinic. The guys shooting 9mm (there were a lot) sometimes had to hit the popper 5-6 times to get it to fall, or hit the popper at the top; even then, it would take a couple rounds and the popper was "reluctant" to fall. I was shooting .40S&W that day and had no problems. I think only one popper I engaged didn't fall on the first hit. The .45ACP guys had no problems. I certainly don't think that means it will take five or six hits to center mass to bring a subject down (while it could), and I also certainly don't think a .45ACP round could offer a one shot stop (while it could). I just think the .45ACP JHP would cause way more tissue disruption and transfer more energy into a target; which is also proven by ballistics tests. I maintain that shot placement is still paramount, although a perp can still be up and fighting for a good 20 seconds after taking six rounds to center mass, even through the heart.


Can't remember if this story was here or another board but an officer shot a perp, who was wielding a shotgun, five times or so with his .45 and the scumbag didn't drop until the last shot which was a headshot.


 


 

100_0011_max50

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Rate This | Posted over 5 years ago

 

I carried a 9mm Sig #226 for a number of years, and had the good fountain of not having to shoot anybody.  I did have to shoot a number of deer that had been crippled from a collision with an automobile.  That experience turned me against the 9mm.  It doesn't give you much confidence in a weapon when you shoot a deer, at close range, and just have it turn its head an look back at you.  Now that I am retired from law enforcement I carry a .45 Kimber.

Marvin_martian_max50

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MarioS108 says ...



Can't remember if this story was here or another board but an officer shot a perp, who was wielding a shotgun, five times or so with his .45 and the scumbag didn't drop until the last shot which was a headshot.


 


Yes, bigger is better but shot placement is everything



@ FMoskey:  strangely enough, one of the books I remember growing up with on the farm had info on putting down a horse or a bull.  Their reccommendation was a 9mm (FMJ) between the eyes, as it gave better penetration of the skull than a .45 would.  Makes sense to me.  Different tools for different jobs.  I do remember reading about troopers that had to put down deer struck by cars, and they had good results with .357 Mag.


Go out today and preach the gospel, and if you must, use words. St. Francis of Assisi

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Rate This | Posted over 5 years ago

 

Since I can carry what i want at my current agency, I switched for 40 S&W to 45 ACP, i believe advances in bullet technology make the 45 the best choice now.  When I was a deputy sheriff and had to kill a fair # of road struck deer, I carried a 357 Mag revolver for just that purpose, i did not normally use my duty 9mm (what I carried at that time) for dispatching deer.

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Rate This | Posted over 5 years ago

 

Compare the 40 cal against the 45, both being same grain and make you decision. Check the difference in impact of both.

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ccso8462 says ...



MarioS108 says ...



Can't remember if this story was here or another board but an officer shot a perp, who was wielding a shotgun, five times or so with his .45 and the scumbag didn't drop until the last shot which was a headshot.


 


Yes, bigger is better but shot placement is everything



@ FMoskey:  strangely enough, one of the books I remember growing up with on the farm had info on putting down a horse or a bull.  Their reccommendation was a 9mm (FMJ) between the eyes, as it gave better penetration of the skull than a .45 would.  Makes sense to me.  Different tools for different jobs.  I do remember reading about troopers that had to put down deer struck by cars, and they had good results with .357 Mag.



Very true....different tools for the job. The 9mm is definately a penetration round, small and fast...not unlike the 5.56 round to the rifle world.  I prefer the 9mm round when performing PSD ops because of the ability for the round to move through windshield and other glass with minimal change to trajectory. Shooting through a windshield with a slow moving .45ACP....not a round i want in that situation.

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Rate This | Posted over 5 years ago

 

No warning shots..............No shoot to wound...............Dead is Dead.

Evil_max50

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A handgun is just a handgun.  There have been cases where people kept on fighting after being on the receiving end of the flying ashtray (45) more so with the 9mm.  Ammo type and selection also plays a big role in effectiveness.  The ability to reliably expand and penetrate are very important. 


You have the rest of your life to solve the problem, how long your life lasts depends on how well you do it. -Clint Smith

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Rate This | Posted over 5 years ago

 

The term stopping power should mean nothing to anyone. It's a catch phrase as far as I am concerned. As some have mentioned, it is shot placement that makes the determination of a shooting. Do I want to walk into a firefight with a .22? Certainly not. But comparing ballistics of a .45 and .40 or other similar cartridges is somewhat subjective.


Does the .45 make a larger hole? Sure. But it isn't that simple. If you double the mass of a moving object at the same velocity, you double the impact energy. However, if you double the velocity of an object, you triple the impact energy.


Typically, the .45 acp has an impact energy of 340-450 lbs.


The typical .40 SIG ranges from 440-540 lbs.


The 9mm is around 320 lbs.


The .40 picks up where the typical .45 acp leaves off. However there are too many variants and load types to make an absolute energy comparison so it is all academic.


I know a guy (we're talking body builder type) who was brought down and nearly killed when he was hit by single .22 round. Many others have died by this caliber. I know of subjects (not on drugs) that absorbed 27 rounds of .45 ACP Ranger STX before dying, who lived long enough to kill two State Troopers. So all that one-shot-kill percentage stuff doesn't really mean much. What were the circumstances surrounding each of those incidents?


It all comes down to shot placement and volume of fire. Forget all that old school "If I can't hit what I'm shooting at with six bullets, I shouldn't be shooting at all" nonesense. Remember the old school shooters that used to say that? Guys who were never on the job, barely drew their weapon if they were and never were in a gunfight. How many active officers want to trade in their semi-auto for a wheel gun? Didn't think so.


Having served in combat and having been in an OIS I can tell you that I will take 13 rounds of .40/.357 over 8 rounds of .45 cal. Of course you can opt for a high cap .45 if you are able. But if I were going to go to a sidearm that size, I would still go to a higher capacity handgun in a slightly smaller caliber. Officer accuracy drops to as little as 10% during a shooting incident. Officers just like you and I. Men and women that had the same score as you on their last qualification. It's just reality.


No matter what you carry, you may face more than one opponent and one or more of them may not go down just because you put 12 rounds into him. I want as many opportunities to land an quickly lethal or disabling hit that ends their hostile action.


Sorry to seem like I am knocking the .45, I know it is popular with some folks. I own a couple myself and have fun with them. It is a very viable round but just not my choice for duty carry. The original question was a comparison to the 9mm. To be honest, I don't know which I would prefer for duty carry. The .45 has better performance, but many holes are better than single big hole. Just my opinion.


 

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Casscocop says ...



Since I can carry what i want at my current agency, I switched for 40 S&W to 45 ACP, i believe advances in bullet technology make the 45 the best choice now.  When I was a deputy sheriff and had to kill a fair # of road struck deer, I carried a 357 Mag revolver for just that purpose, i did not normally use my duty 9mm (what I carried at that time) for dispatching deer.



I might add that I used remington 125 gr. semi jacket hollow points in my revolver, considered (at least at that time) about the most effective 357 mag round.  All my deer kills (except for one) were one  head shot immediate fatal shots.

1979_max50

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Rate This | Posted over 5 years ago

 

Shot placement is of course the key as proven by my former PD where we used S&W .38 a58 gr round nose lead rounds. The damn things would not go through a windshield and I had a round actually bounce off a tire at point blank distance but we also had five Officer involved shootings in 10 years and four died right there and one for some miricle made it even with a hole in his heart. I think there was only a total of 7 rounds fired too in ALL the shootings combined. Now it was indeed a sorry round and I would much rather carry my .45 with my Federal Hydroshock jacketed hollowpoints. The energy is tremendous and even though I intend on using a double tap if at all possible I feel the second round is redundant.

Jpd_new_max50

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Rate This | Posted over 5 years ago

 

Where I work, we are issued Glock17 9mms.  We carry Speer Gold Dot (one of the best ammos out there).  I know of 4 OIS in which 9mm shots were made and the suspect continued operating for 5-15 seconds before dropping dead (either from more rounds being inserted or just the trama).  I have trained myself to make multiple shots on a target when shooting.  It's too scarry to think what an idiot, who has been hit with a fatal shot, can do in those last seconds.  I'm all for a larger round.


"People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf."
George Orwell

“The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting.”
― Sun Tzu

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Rate This | Posted over 5 years ago

 

Id be fine with 9mm duty rounds. Im lucky that I work at an agency that requires us to field our own sidearms and you can choose .380 on up though i dont know of anyone who uses a .380 except for off duty concealed.  Most are carrying .45ACP or .40S&W.


And I use Speer Gold Dot as my duty ammo as well, in .45ACP, with a Springfield Armory XD .45ACP service model as my sidearm. 13+1 of .45ACP....not interested in carrying a 1911 as my sidearm for LE

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Rated +1 | Posted over 4 years ago

 

I recall reading SOF as a teenager about an engagement in SA or Rhodesia. There was a guy charging one of their wheeled APC things with a 20mm cannon on top. They hit him several times with the 20mm, and had to head cap him, as he was climbing up the side, with a .45. After reading that, I'm pretty convinced that there's no such thing as a pistol that's guaranteed a one-shot stop.