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The Case for the .45 ACP

Discussion in 'The Powder Keg' started by Jesse, Jul 30, 2004.

  1. Jesse

    Jesse G&G Enthusiast Forum Contributor

    Mar 9, 2002
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    The Case for the .45 ACP
    by Jim Higginbotham, [email protected]
    please contact the author at the above e-mail address with any
    questions or comments

    The .45 ACP is not a very powerful cartridge. Now that may come as a shock to those who are thinking "if this is an argument in favor of the .45 auto then I'd hate to see the other side". It might come as even more of a shock for those who recognize me as a vocal - if not infamous - supporter of the cartridge for self defense. I start my treatment of this subject this way because too often we tend to exaggerate a bit when developing positions in the eternal debate of which cartridge is best for a given mission.
    The mission, in our case, is obvious but, never the less, must be stated. The mission of the defensive pistol is to save the life of its user - or an innocent third party he is authorized to use lethal force to protect. In more specific terms it is to end a lethal attack as expeditiously as possible. Since it takes very little time for an attacker to strike a potentially mortal blow (either with a firearm, edged weapon or blunt instrument) then it is imperative that the cartridge chambered in your sidearm be as effective as practicable - for you may not have the luxury of more than one or two shots before the blow is struck.. In truth, no handgun round is effective enough on a determined human attacker to achieve this goal unless the central nervous system is disrupted (this does not mean just hit - it means serious damage must be done to the brain or spine). Unfortunately, these targets are extremely hard to locate on a three dimensional target in a dynamic situation and are next to impossible to hit reliably. That leaves us with disabling the adversary by causing a loss of blood pressure, and thereby, depriving the brain of oxygen which brings about gradual incapacitation. While no handgun round (and few rifle rounds) are effective instantly with this type of hit, some do a better job than others. Obviously, the faster we can drop blood pressure the quicker the incapacitation. The simple fact is, the bigger the hole(s) the faster the drop in blood pressure. I cannot find any evidence of some "force" or "energy" or any other property which causes rapid incapacitation (as opposed to relatively slow incapacitation due to clinical shock) in and of itself. Of course a simple way to increase the size of the hole is to shoot again, repeatedly and often. However, in trained hands, at normal defense ranges (about 10 feet or less) a .45 Auto can be fired as fast and accurately as a .22 auto. It is more a matter of training than of caliber choice up to a point. Depending on the shooter, and to some extent the weight of the gun, somewhere about the level of the .41 or .44 Magnum full power loads we get into recoil that is unmanageable in rapid fire for most people.

    I see a hand raised at the back of the room. "What about ‘hydra-static shock’?" I do not mean to sound boastful or arrogant but I have been experimenting with firearms in the hunting field for over 30 years and I have been involved in law enforcement both as an officer and a trainer for over a quarter of a century. Does that make me the ultimate expert - absolutely not! What it does mean is that I have been searching for answers to terminal ballistic questions for a long time. In that time I have shot a lot of game, interviewed a lot of folks who have been shot, have been shot myself and seen dozens of films and videos of people actually being shot. I have shot critters from 10 to 400 pounds (and witnessed bigger stuff go down) with bullets from .22 to .70 caliber and velocities in excess of 4,000 fps. I have not noticed anything consistent that I could call "hydra-static shock" other than in vermin in the 10 to 30 pound weight range and shot with fragile bullets that impacted at 3000 fps or more. I have shot larger animals with bullets that impacted at well above 3,000 fps and, while the permanent wound cavities were impressive in some cases, I have not noticed any consistent "magic" instant incapacitation when bullets did not strike the Central Nervous System (CNS) or at least hit close. If a 150 gr. Rifle bullet at 3500 fps (.300 Weatherby) will not instantly take down a deer by virtue of its "hydrostatic shock" or "kinetic energy dump" with a lung or heart shot, then what chance does a 9mm have (or a .45) at 1/3 the velocity? Having studied terminal ballistics on both game and humans I have concluded that a 200 pound deer is much easier to incapacitate than a 200 pound determined attacker (note that there are many cases of "undetermined" attackers who have been stopped by warning shots, insignificant wounds or even threats).

    Some advocates of small to medium calibers usually opine that shot placement is far more important than any considerations of caliber or "power". They are ALMOST right. The key to rapid incapacitation is, of course, what the bullet destroys. This is not exactly the same as "shot placement". Once the bullet strikes the surface of a target "shot placement" has run its course, what the bullet actually destroys inside the body is now subject to terminal ballistic properties. The .22 long rifle solid is noted for its tendency to tumble and change course after it impacts a large target. It is quite "lethal" though it is not noted to be a "stopper". No doubt, however, if a .22 bullet strikes the brain or the spinal cord (with enough force to damage it) rapid incapacitation would be a result. The trouble is a bullet that is placed perfectly, say on the sternum, may deflect or disintegrate and not reach the organ it was intended to destroy.

    So, if what the bullet hits, and the amount of permanent damage done to vital organs is the key to stopping an attack then what is wrong with using medium bore cartridges like the 9mm or the .357 Magnum. In truth, IF one is willing to take the conservative approach with well constructed bullets which might expand a bit but will "stay the course" and penetrate to the vitals from all angles, there is little wrong with them. The trouble is that pundits and experts want to push the "shock" or "energy" properties to the maximum and that leads to light weight, fragile bullets which are less likely to penetrate to the back of the chest wall or to the spine. This does result in some spectacular wounds and in some cases of rapid incapacitation. But it also results in spectacular failures, exemplified by the failures of the 9mm silver-tip in the infamous "Miami Massacre" or the gunfight in which trooper Mark Coates shot his assailant 5 times center mass with a .357 Magnum, only to be killed with a .22 mini revolver.

    Even modern technology does not completely overcome the laws of physics. This fall I shot two animals with the hot 9 X 23 cartridge. I used both the Winchester USA factory load – a 125 gr soft point at about 1525 fps from my 5" 1911 and a handload of a Speer 124 gr. Gold Dot at just under 1600 fps. This performance is at the upper end of the scale for medium bore defense loads. These loads both expanded a little (but not like the pictures in magazines) and held their weight fairly well and both penetrated about 10". While both hit ribs, neither hit major bone except the Gold Dot which bumped up against a leg bone on the off side with no damage, ending its travel. While neither bullet was by any means a failure neither was the damage done to the animals spectacular. Both produced holes in lung tissue about the size of your thumb. I have seen similar wounds with .45 ball bullets that tumbled (this happens in large targets as often as not).

    One might logically ask "so why choose a .45 if a good 9mm produces equal wounds?" The simple answer is that, while the best (or worst depending on your point of view) 9mm wounds are about equal to the least effective .45s - and in some cases produce even larger diameter but shallower wounds - you pay for this by compromising the consistency of your cartridge performance. A 9mm hollowpoint that gives consistent 12 inch penetration in ordnance gelatin in the lab sometimes gives 8 – 10" penetration in real flesh and blood targets and sometimes it gives 3 or 4" penetration and I have seen as little as 1/2" penetration with 125 gr. .38 +P jhp (and no it did not disintegrate nor glance off - it just stopped). If you happen to be shooting the one that gives 3" penetration (and poor Mark Coates had 5 in a row with his Magnum) then it does not matter if you shoot well – you might as well be shooting spit wads.
  2. Jesse

    Jesse G&G Enthusiast Forum Contributor

    Mar 9, 2002
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    So far we are comparing the best medium bores to the least spectacular larger bores. If you compare bullets of similar technology the larger bore shows proportional performance. A .45 230 gr. Ball round destroys about 1.7 times as much tissue as a 9mm ball round. A 230 gr. .45 jhp destroys about 1.7 time as much tissue as a 9mm 124 jhp that expands. The thing is, due to its mass the 230 grain .45 gives more consistent penetration. While it is difficult, you can make a .45 an inefficient performer. You do this by lightening the bullet and increasing the velocity. While some 185 gr. .45’s, reportedly, are well constructed and give fairly consistent penetration, some are not. I have had 185 gr. Winchester Silver-Tips fail to penetrate 8 pound ground hogs – this is not confidence inspiring.

    While I have come across some lethal encounters that took a lot of rounds to settle they mostly were the result of either poor hits (or complete misses) or lack of penetration. Nearly all of the high round count cases I have reviewed involved 9mms, .38s, .357’s or smaller calibers. This is not to say they do not occur with major caliber rounds. It is to say I have been collecting data for 30 years and have not encountered many cases in which multiple hits (more than three as two or three shots are a fairly normal reflex action) from major caliber cartridges to the center of the chest have not been sufficient, - the single exception being a case involving the .41 Magnum loaded with JSP bullets which did not expand - they did penetrate - it took five hits center mass to stop the attacker - and have not encountered any with the .45, even with Ball. I have encountered several with 5, 6 or even more hits to the center of the chest with .38, .357, 9mm and .223 rifle rounds failing to stop. Almost every one could be traced to lack of penetration with a couple of exceptions that hit the heart but just did not cause enough damage to be effective quickly. Note I am not talking about "torso" hits. There is a lot of area in the torso in which a hit will seldom produce rapid incapacitation even if hit by a 12 ga. slug or a 30-06 - we simply cannot count such data if we are going to learn anything.

    Please note that I am not saying you should avoid cartridge X because it has a track record of 50% "stops" and there are cartridges with better records - the information available in these data bases is simply unusable to predict what a cartridge will do in terms if incapacitation. It is thought by some analysts that in as many as 50% of recorded cases the subject stopped the fight for psychological reasons - and this is not a caliber issue - so we cannot use such data to support conclusions about power. Add to this that many data bases are polluted by inclusion of bad hits or a questionable definition of "incapacitation" and we get into very muddy water. What we can do is take note of the failures and try to figure out the cause.

    So, do the medium bores lack "stopping power", "shocking power" or what ever term you choose to use. Yes they do. So do the .45 Auto and the .44 magnum and the .223 so that is not the defining issue. The issue is that they are less likely to drive their bullet - given equal placement - through an important target with adequate damage to the organ. In short, in the popular loads, they fail to reach or damage their intended target more often than the larger calibers. To be sure there is the issue of overpenetration but I feel that it is overblown. There are so many different types of tissue and bone in the human anatomy that one cannot precisely predict how much penetration he will need nor how much he will get. We have seen where bullets that give 14" of penetration consistently in ordnance gelatin can sometimes give 3" in the human body. We need a good bit more margin for error than this for rounds to be effective in their mission. Personally I want rounds that give 12 to 14 inches in gelatin as a minimum, not a maximum and frankly I really want 18 inches but there are few loads with give this and expand also.

    In conclusion, having a reasonable amount of experience and study I have no doubt that the larger caliber handguns are more effective that the smaller ones, given exactly the same placement of bullets on the surface of the target, but not because of some energy, force or power which bowls people over or carries some sort of "shock". It is because they more consistently drill holes - larger holes - through the intended organs. Does that mean they are better for you. Perhaps, but if you do not shoot your weapon well it does not matter. On the other hand I have encountered cases in which people shot their medium bores well - extremely well - and still died because their bullet did not do their job. It is a dilemma of some import.

    Perhaps the best advice I have heard on this matter is "shoot the biggest caliber you can handle". My admonition is, don’t settle for less if you don’t really have to. And if you do have to, use a bullet that will drive through to the vital organs from any angle and through simple barriers (like arms). There are many other factors to selecting a defense handgun, capacity, ergonomics, reliability, accuracy, concealability and so forth (not in that order). All are at least as important as the caliber you select but remember - failure in any one area means failure to carry out the mission. What I am saying is don’t get lulled into the idea that the choice of caliber is unimportant or that a medium bore is big enough if the weapon meets all the other requirements, because .... a .45 is not big enough!

    Appendix 1: Ammunition I don’t like to give recommendations as to specific loads. The main reason for this is that manufacturers change these loads at will, especially the composition of the bullet and they do not give notice. This can greatly effect the performance of the load. Still folks like to have some idea so I will offer the following as a general guideline:
    1. Loads to avoid due to inconsistent penetration: Glaser Safety Slugs, Mag-Safe or other "pre-fragmented" bullets. Winchester 185 gr Silver-Tip. While I have no experience with the Federal 165 P.D. load I suspect it is also too light to give consistent penetration if bone is hit.

    2. Loads which give 12 to 14 inches of penetration and good expansion (.70 to .80 caliber): Federal 230 gr. Hydra-Shok, Winchester 230 gr. Black Talon (or newer +P Ranger), Speer Lawman 230 gr. Gold Dot, Remington 230 gr. Golden Saber. This list is not all inclusive. Not doubt there are others that will work but I have used the ones listed.

    3. Observations from the hunting field - not recommendations just a general report (handloads for defense are discouraged). The Winchester 230 gr. JHP handloaded to 1040 fps is an outstanding performer on deer and wild boar giving complete penetration on broadside shots and expanding to about .77 caliber. The 200 gr. Hornady XTP will disintegrate at about 1500 fps (from a .45 Win Mag.) and loses its jacket at about 1100 fps. The Sierra 185 gr Power Jacket expands to about .90 at 1150 fps but only penetrates about 8 to 10 inches and will break up on heavy bone. 230 gr. FMJ-RN often tumbles on game in the 200 pound range giving about 14 - 18 inches of penetration. A 260 gr. Keith bullet can be loaded to 1000 fps in a 5" .45 auto and can go lengthwise through a 200 pound deer - it is far less likely to tumble than RN.

    Send comments and questions to [email protected]
    All text, images, and HTML code Copyright © 1998-2002 Todd Louis Green or their respective owners. All rights reserved.
  3. Shaun

    Shaun Retired Moderator

    Mar 15, 2002
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    good article Jesse -- I agree with what he says about being determined and surviving pistol shots. That's why I have always said if someone were to take a shot at me good luck they will die before I will -- Shock is the killer not the bullet in many cases.

    45 just makes the blood loss happen faster

    one of my common defenses when some says if you shoot them you will kill them -- the answer is no -- death is just a side effect of blood loss (ie... shock) - I fired to stop the threat that's all.
  4. jerry

    jerry G&G Evangelist Forum Contributor

    Mar 15, 2002
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    Nice article.
  5. Logansdad

    Logansdad Guest

    a lot of food for thought there..Thanks Jesse
  6. Logansdad

    Logansdad Guest

    shameless bump

    *as I'm still waiting for my Colt* :hmmm:
  7. Logansdad

    Logansdad Guest

    Why the Nine? Advocating the 9x19mm

    by Todd Louis Green, [email protected]
    Probably no other handgun cartridge has been so misunderstood and maligned as the 9x19 (also called 9mm Luger, 9mm Parabellum, or just 9mm). But in a world where new calibers seem to go in and out of vogue almost daily (10mm, .40S&W, 357SIG, 400CorBon, what's next?), the venerable 9mm still seems to be a popular choice for shooters. Why?

    The reasons are legion and depend, to a great extent, on each individual asking the question. However, the basics can all be boiled down to what I call the Three E's of Ease of Use, Economics, and Effectiveness.
    Ease of Use Compared to most other defensive calibers, the 9mm has relatively little recoil and muzzle flip. This affects both new shooters and more experienced handgunners.

    Beginners frequently have problems taming recoil. This can lead to bad habits such as flinching, which makes accuracy almost impossible to achieve. More importantly, a shooter who is recoil sensitive might get discouraged trying to learn with more punishing rounds and give up shooting altogether. With the light recoil of the 9mm, inexperienced shooters can learn the basics of sight picture, trigger control, etc., without being battered by the gun.

    Of course, with experience, most shooters learn to handle recoil properly and can move on to other calibers if they choose. However, recoil force has a direct impact on things like muzzle flip, which in turn affect how quickly and accurately a person can make follow-up shots. This shouldn't surprise anyone. The more the muzzle flips up, the more time and effort it takes to bring it back down and on target. Time equals marksmanship, and the more time you have to take your aimed shot, the more accurate you will be. Therefore, the 9x19 allows a shooter of any given skill level to be faster and more accurate when firing multiple rounds.

    Most tactical handgun trainers agree that the ability to put multiple rounds downrange into a target is critical for self-defense. The obvious conclusion, then, is that the 9mm gives the shooter an edge when performing double taps (two rapid shots to Center of Mass, or "COM") and similar defensive techniques.
    Economics Nine millimeter ammunition is just plain cheap. Places like Natchez and Cascade regularly have sales at around $7/box of 50. You can find even better prices if you find a reputable commercial reloader or quality surplus ammo at gun shops and gun shows. In fact, 9x19 ammo is so cheap that it's almost a waste of time and effort to reload for it.

    By comparison, most other defensive ammo calibers are significantly more expensive. Discussing just practice ammo (like FMJ or Blazer), the 9mm is usually two to four dollars cheaper per box than comparable .40S&W and .45ACP ammo; 10mm and 357SIG ammunition can be twice as expensive! Of course, shooters of these other calibers can save money by reloading, but that requires (1) an outlay of substantial funds to buy the reloading equipment and (2) time and effort spent sorting brass and loading ammunition. Many shooters would rather not be bothered with all of that, myself included.

    Also, in my experience, great deals (like specials, sales, etc.) on 9mm ammo are much more common than for other calibers. Surplus NATO 9mm "ball" ammo makes an excellent training/practice round.

    Less expensive ammunition, of course, means more ammunition. Whether you want to spend $10 or $100 or $1000 each month practicing, you'll get more for your money with 9mm. More ammo means more practice, and more practice means greater skill.

    In a defensive shooting situation, shot placement is much more important than tiny differences in so-called "stopping power." The only way to improve shot placement is by practicing. By switching to 9mm from .40S&W or .45ACP, you can practice half again as much for the same cost.

    When considered along with the 9mm's inherently reduced recoil, the economic efficiency of shooting 9mm means that you get better, faster, cheaper.
    Effectiveness This is the big one, of course. Many of the "big names" in the gunzine world disparage the 9mm right and left because, they claim, it lacks "knockdown power" or "stopping power" or whatever they're calling it this month.

    I won't lie to you. They're right. The average 9mm load probably isn't as effective as a defensive round as the average .40S&W, .45ACP, 357SIG, or 10mm round.

    Whoa, hold on a minute! Did he just say the 9mm isn't as good as those others?

    No. I said that the average load wasn't as good. When you start to look at the best loads in each caliber, you begin to see that they're almost identical in terminal performance (ability to penetrate, expand, and otherwise wound a violent threat).

    Here are some samples of performance in bare gelatin:
    Round Penetration Expansion Wound Area

    Federal HydraShok

    9mm 124gr +P+ 13.3" 0.67" 44.8 sq. in.
    .40S&W 155gr 13.3" 0.68" 47.9 sq. in.
    .45ACP 185gr +p 12.9" 0.69" 31.5 sq. in.
    .45ACP 230gr 13.7" 0.71" 28.4 sq. in.

    Federal PDA

    9mm 135gr 11.5" 0.72"
    .40S&W 135gr 9.6" 0.68"
    .45ACP 165gr 11.3" 0.78"

    Remington Golden Saber

    9mm 147gr 12.8" 0.68"
    .40S&W 165gr 12.5" 0.67"
    .45ACP 230gr 14.1" 0.76"

    As you can see, the 9mm versions of most "premium" loads are very close and sometimes superior to the .40S&W and .45ACP versions. It's all about bullet design, not bullet weight or velocity.

    The problem is that while there are few "bad" loads in the other calibers, there are tons of "bad" 9mm defensive choices out there. Many rounds either fail to expand or fail to penetrate, or both. It is important that you, as a shooter, do a little research and choose 9x19mm ammunition which is tailored to your particular needs.

    So for 9mm, load selection becomes paramount. (Click here to see CALIBERS recommendations in 9x19mm) But once you choose a good load, it works just like a good load in .40S&W, .45ACP, or any of those other calibers. Sure, it's not as heavy as the heavy bullets, and it's not as fast as the fastest bullets. But if it penetrates the same, expands the same, and disrupts tissue the same, who cares? All else being equal, I'd prefer a cheap, easy to control gun rather than one that makes me work harder and spend more money to get the same results.
    Conclusion. The 9x19 certainly isn't the choice for everyone. Plenty of people are very hardware dependent or simply lack confidence in the 9mm because of anecdotes and the performance of some of the "bad" ammo discussed above. That's fine. Those people are certainly free to use bigger guns which generate more recoil, which they cannot afford to practice with as often, just to have the same terminal performance ("stopping power") as my wimpy little 9mm.

    Oddly enough, I haven't found a single person so far who is so unimpressed with the stopping power of a 9mm that he is willing to stand downrange and catch one fired out of my Beretta. :cool:

    Stay safe ...
  8. BattleRifleG3

    BattleRifleG3 G&G Enthusiast

    Mar 15, 2002
    Likes Received:
    9x19mm and 45 ACP have the same kinetic energy. An extremely blunt relation to stopping power (which is a misuse of the term "power") would be that kinetic energy would relate to the pressure exerted by the frontal area of a round multiplied by that frontal area multiplied by the depth it penetrates. In other words, 0.5m*v^2 = P*A*depth = Force*distance applied

    With a 9mm, you trade mass for velocity but get the same kinetic energy. The lower cross sectional area should generally mean the bullet will penetrate farther with the same enmergy if there's no tumbling or deformation. But in this case that relates to the energy being transmitted over a longer area and leaving a smaller hole in the target.

    9mm bullets designed for expansion generally expand to 45 caliber or so, so you have the same cross sectional area as a 45 ACP FMJ. The same energy would normally relate to higher penetration, though realistically at the higher 9mm velocities you'd be trading depth of penetration for a faster shock. What this basically means is that an expanding 9mm gives most of the results of a 45 ACP.

    The problem with 9mm is that the military and others use FMJ bullets. Using civi-legal expanding bullets would solve most of the 9mm's shortcomings for use against soft targets.

    Thing is, if HP 9mm can do that much, think about HP 40 or 45 ;)
    I use 40 S&W hydrashoks. Two friends of mine use the same in 45 ACP. I hope we never have to use them, because if we did, it would be messy.
  9. Troy

    Troy G&G Newbie

    Sep 25, 2004
    Likes Received:
    thanks you guys, i've been looking for info on the 9mm since i got my CZ. great timing.
  10. Logansdad

    Logansdad Guest

    Why consider a 357SIG Caliber
    Why 9mm Bullets Get No Respect

    (see the 357SIG Information Site for more information on 357SIG ammunition)
    By Peter Jordan, [email protected]
    Dick Metcalf states: "The 357 Sig is the best 9mm cartridge made. It shoots like a 357 Magnum, recoils like a 9mm Luger, operates more reliably than a 40 S&W, requires no significant new engineering or tool-up costs to produce, and there are already eight high-performance, new-tech, premium-brand commercial ammo loads on the market (not to mention all the handloading tools and components...)."

    Let's see why this new cartridge continues to gain converts. Discounting wildcat cartridges, the 357 Sig is the first bottlenecked handgun cartridge to hit the mainstream in over 75 years. The following paragraphs discuss a number of reasons for the above quote:
    1. A 3.86" barrel can push a standard 124/125 grain 357 Sig bullet between 1306 and 1418 fps. A 4.5" or longer barrel can push a bullet to 1450 fps and beyond, putting it into the IPSC Major Category for the sports minded. Yet, the compact 357 Sig cartridge can easily fit into small to medium size combat/defense pistols.

    On the other hand, the 9x23mm Winchester cartridge also easily makes IPSC Major. But, because of its long cartridge length, it is by necessity used in large framed pistols to house it. So while the 9x23mm Winchester is an excellent sport cartridge, it lacks the versatility of the 357 Sig --- See Attachment 4.

    For those interested in a semiauto that is generally comparable to a 4" 357 Magnum revolver, but has faster follow up shot capability, the 357 Sig fits the bill. The 357 Sig has a softer perceived recoil than a 357 Magnum revolver of equal size and weight. Although the SAAMI specs from a 357 Magnum test barrel is 1450 fps, a typical 4" 357 Magnum often generates about 1350 fps, which happens to be the same velocity as the 357 Sig caliber from a 4" barrel --- See Attachment 6.
    3. Typical 357 Sig bullets have a diameter of .355 as opposed to the 357 Magnum with its .357 bullets. If other cartridges can be marketed in such a way that a .36 caliber bullet is loaded into a 38 Special cartridge, etc, then a 9mm (.355) bullet has just as much right to be used in a 357 Sig cartridge.
    4. Perceived recoil of the 357 Sig varies a great deal, depending on whom you talk to. To me, the 125 grain 357 Sig round feels similar to shooting a Corbon 135 grain .40 S&W round. Ed Sanow states, "Given pistols of the same weight, action and ergonomics, the felt recoil of the .357 SIG 125-grain JHP is LESS than the .40 S&W 155, COMPARABLE to the .40 S&W 180-grain loads and MORE than the 9mm 115- and 124- grain +P+ and 147-grain loads".
    5. Given the pressure levels and slide velocities of the 40 S&W and the 357 Sig, you can use the same recoil spring. In fact, the 357 Sig may even improve the functional reliability of your 40 S&W pistol.
    6. You get even more feeding reliability *insurance* using a bottlenecked cartridge --- ramming a 9mm bullet into a 40 S&W chamber opening. "Straight wall" fans may scoff at this; but the facts are the facts. The 357 Sig is a Superior feeding auto pistol cartridge period.

    Glock engineers actually took advantage of this bottlenecked cartridge when they engineered their new .357 Glocks. As a result, these new 357 Sig barrels have a fairly tight chamber as well as a fully supported chamber in the 6 o'clock position.

    You get one other advantage with the bottlenecked 357 Sig cartridge, which it shares with its bigger brother for large framed pistols, the 400 Corbon. The velocity spreads can often be less than 20 fps, which is quite excellent. (If you are interested in more information on the 400 Corbon, contact Cor-Bon (605-347-4544) or read the following web pages: rec.guns and/or

    Accurate Arms Company stated, "This is without a doubt the most ballistically consistent handgun cartridge we have ever worked with. The standard deviation for every single load developed was less than 10 fps. The average SD was 5 fps. This is impressive for any cartridge but especially so for a handgun. The small bottleneck and high working pressure of the round must both contribute to this amazing consistency..."
    7. The 357 Sig conversion kit is simply a drop-in barrel replacement in the fabulous 40's. The 357 Sig and 40 S&W can easily co-exist and be used interchangeably based on application needs.
    8. Several ammo companies are now supporting the 357 Sig, with the lower priced factory practice rounds from Remington and CCI/Speer Lawman labels to the more exotic 2200+ fps cartridges --- See Attachment 3.
    9. The 357 Sig is really cheap to reload and shoot, ($4.00/box), because of using the universal 9mm bullet. (Rainier plated 9mm 124 gr FP, $43/1000). Rainier bullets use an electro-plating process that produces a molecular bond between the copper and lead.
  11. Logansdad

    Logansdad Guest

    10. For the generations of American shooters who have never seen or fired a bottlenecked handgun cartridge before, here are the only extra reloading steps needed for a "straight waller". Just like bottlenecked rifle cartridges, you lube the brass before resizing and dry it after crimping, as well as check the case length to make sure it stays within trim specs after firing. My 357 Sig reloads have never needed trimming. The 9mm bullet must also have a short nose to seat properly, with a preferable diameter of .355, to assure a tight non-slipping bullet crimp; Don't deform the bullet during the crimping process. Safety means passing the thumb pressure test --- See Attachment 5.
    11. You can now get a 'standard' +P+ 9mm-like semiauto (the 357 Sig) that is within SAAMI specs, unlike the standard 9mm pistol. This can be an important point when agencies make pistol bids, and to standardize on the only REAL level of effective 9mm bullet 'velocity' that scores in the over 90% one-shot-stop category. Put another way, the 357 Sig is the best 9mm Magnum duty cartridge available --- See Attachment 3.
    12. The strong brass was constructed to handle a standard 40,000 psi, as opposed to the 35,000 psi SAAMI spec for the 9mm and 40 S&W.
    13. The 357 Sig has the option of pushing heavier bullets like the 147/150 grainers, to higher velocities than a standard 9mm pistol is able to do (1127-1218 fps from a standard 4" barrel) --- See Attachment 3.
    14. The 357 Sig and 40 S&W 135 grain rounds both produce over 500 ft/lbs of energy. But the 357 Sig is clearly ahead if you have application needs using lighter bullets that penetrate well --- See Attachments 1 & 2.
    15. The 357 Sig has the energy and trajectory of a lighter weight 40 S&W bullet, yet the 357 Sig penetrates like a 180 grain 40 S&W bullet. Once again, you get two for the price of one. Ed Sanow stated, "The Glock 31 firing .357 SIG 125-grain JHPs has about the same felt recoil as a Glock 22 firing .40 S&W 180-grain JHPs. With 50 percent more energy, the .357 SIG has better tactical penetration." --- See Attachments 2, 3,& 4.
    16. Tests by a number of gun writers have shown that the 357 Sig is inherently accurate --- See Attachments 3 & 6.
    17. Besides the AMT DAO Back up, KBI's 1911, Laseraims's Velocity, and Sig's P226, P239, and P229, Glock also began manufacturing 357 Sig pistols in early '98 (M31, M32, and M33). As a result, I'm guessing that other large firearms companies such as S&W may join the pack too. Incidentally, Sig-Saur and Federal worked together to design and introduce the 357 Sig in the summer of '94.
    18. A number of Agencies are now using the 357 Sig.
    19. The 357 Sig caliber is recognized in the new IDPA (International Defensive Pistol Association), which has an edge on 'practical' defense shooting with stock duty/defense guns. The IDPA also uses a more realistic power factor rating for duty cartridges. Unfortunately, the IPSC/USPSA (United States Practical Shooting Association) still uses the 'obsolete' major power factor of 175 along with a different, biased point standard for those that shoot in the major category.
    20. Many people haven't even begun to tap into the versatility and capability of the new 357 semiauto (The 357 Sig) --- See Attachment 7.
    In summary, quoting from Handguns, April 1996:

    "However, for the shooter who wants it all (high energy, flat trajectory, high velocity, extreme accuracy, high firepower and deep penetration) in a single cartridge that fits in a concealable, shootable handgun, the 357 Sig is just the ticket."
    1 Here is a comparison of Ed Sanow's penetration data comparing the Federal 357 Sig standard round with the Corbon 40 S&W 135 grain round:
    Cartridge Penetration Expansion Crush
    C.C. Stretch
    357 Sig Federal 125 gr JHP 13.7 .59 3.7 43.4
    40 S&W Corbon 135 gr JHP 9.8 .56 2.4 69.1

    Note: The 357 Sig Federal bullet is engineered to not fragment, while the 40 S&W Corbon 135 gr bullet violently expands and fragments.

    A number of agencies are buying the 357 Sig for the express purpose of penetrating through car bodies, glass, etc in order to get the job done. A Corbon 135 grain 40 S&W could not do this kind of work; but it's excellent for an open head-on confrontation.

    I'm not saying that you can't tune a light weight 40 S&W round to excel in the 357 Sig's domain. But I don't buy the argument that a 357 Sig isn't needed because the 40 S&W 135 grain cartridge 'exists'; this argument is for people that are too lazy to switch barrels (just kidding).
    2 Here is a chart based on a FBI test comparing the standard 357 Sig 125 grain Federal load with a 155 grain Hornady XTP 40 S&W load. It's interesting that the chart is based on a 3.86" Sig 229 barrel and a Glock 22 4.49" barrel, which gives substantial velocity advantage to the Glock. The velocity increase from a 4" to a 4.5" 357 Sig barrel is dramatic. I'm guessing that a Glock 357 Sig Carbine would be a real smoker.

    FBI Eight Step Test Results: (Penetration in inches)

    (357 Sig barrel: 3.86"; 40 S&W barrel: 4.49")
    Cartridge 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
    357 Sig 125 gr Federal 14.0 20.1 22.9 17.1 19.5 13.8 20.5 12.1
    40S&W 155gr Hornady XTP 14.5 18.1 23.0 14.0 18.3 10.7 15.9 12.1
    115gr 9mm Win Silvertip 10.0 11.8 12.7 12.9 13.1 9.2 10.5 10.5

    [editor's note: for more info on the FBI test series, see FBI Ballistic Protocol page at this site)
    3 Here is a non-exclusive chart showing several 357 Sig Factory Rounds that provide excellence in penetration, accuracy, and high energy:

    (based on a 3.86" 357 Sig 229 barrel)

    This chart doesn't even take into consideration 4.5" to 5" 357 Sig barrels that are available now.
    Cartridge Penetration Velocity Energy 25m Accuracy
    Magsafe 64 gr defender 11.3 2230 707
    Corbon 115 gr Sierra jhp 12.5 1450 537
    Federal 125 gr jhp 13.7 1418 548 2.13
    Corbon 124 gr Bonded HP 16.5 1400 540
    Federal 125 gr FMJ 17.5 1394 536 2.25
    CCI-Speer 125 gr Gold Dot 14.5 1374 520 2.00
    Speer 125 gr TMJ 17.0 1355 505 2.13
    Remington 125 gr jhp 14.0 1339 485 2.38
    Hornady 124 gr XTP 13.5 1306 460 1.88
    Hornady 147 gr XTP 13.7 1218 480 2.13
    Federal 150 gr jhp 13.25 1127 422 2.50
  12. Logansdad

    Logansdad Guest

  13. Logansdad

    Logansdad Guest

    too bad he can't spell Defense..maybe he should go to a football game

    Self-Defence Myths and Realities,'s NOT the Gun Stupid...It's the Bullet!
    by Brian M. Abshire
    Owning a firearm for self-defence is politically and culturally risky; even though the number of armed Americans increases almost daily, STILL the popular perception of a firearm owner is some kind of paranoid "red-neck" gun-nut who is more danger to his family and neighbours than to any criminals.
    Of course, the statistics that show firearms being legally used millions of times a year to prevent assaults, rapes, burglaries, etc., never enter the mainstream consciousness because the media refuses to acknowledge that private ownership of firearms serves a vital function in ANY society. The reality is that more often than you think, owning the RIGHT kind of firearm can mean the difference between life and death.
    Guns are not magic devices. When waved in the general direction of a problem, they don't make it go away. The average person purchasing a firearm for self-defence is more likely to have developed his understanding of the function, purpose and usefulness of a weapon from television and movies. Hollywood creates all sorts of myths about the destructive effects of magical guns that blow massive holes through walls, make cars explode or throw a 200 pound man ten feet backwards from the shock of being hit with a bullet weighing a fraction of an ounce.
    In reality, a gun is simply a device that uses the application of certain basic principles of physics. It is a way of concentrating force. For example, if you hit a man in the chest with your fist, you might hurt him, but will unlikely cause him any serious injury because the force of the blow is spread out through the knuckles and fingers and across his chest and ribs. However, if you hit a man in the chest with a knife, you will seriously injure him, possibly even fatally, because the same force is concentrated in the point of the blade to a specific point on his body. That's the reason why sharp blades are more effective than dull ones; sharpening something allows more force to be placed on a smaller area. The more that the force is concentrated, the more effective it is in penetrating or cutting.
    A gun works the same way; it is not REALLY the type of gun that is important, as the type of round that is being used. Sure there are differences between makes and models of firearms; some are more inherently accurate, some more reliable, some more ergonomically designed, etc., but whether some people like to admit it or not, the LOOK of the gun actually has more influence on their perception of its effectiveness, than anything else. How else to explain the "assault weapon" ban in America? The so-called "assault weapons" are simply semi-automatic rifles that are otherwise perfectly legal, EXCEPT, they look really, REALLY mean.
    Because certain guns LOOKED bad, therefore, some people were convinced that they must BE bad! They unconsciously adopted a myth about firearms and then enacted that myth into law. But many others on the opposite side of the gun-issue also believe in pretty much the same myth. All one has to do is peruse a random copy of any gun magazine to see various companies capitalizing on the "look" of the firearms they offer for sale. The naive buyer assumes that the effectiveness of a weapon is tied to its appearance.
    For example, I have known a number of gun-owners to spend a lot of time and money deciding which pistol to buy, but never give ten seconds of thought as to which rounds they are going to use in it. I have known some otherwise very smart, well educated people spend a small fortune on an expensive pistol for self-defence, and then only use full metal jacket rounds! At best, they simply ask the gun store owner for his advice, or the advice of the "gun store cowboys" who always seem to be hanging around. But too often, they go to Wal-Mart or such and just pick up the cheapest box of ammo they can find.
    Full metal jacketed rounds are the LEAST effective bullets ever devised and were only "invented" in the first place to make guns LESS lethal! British soldiers had discovered in one of their colonial wars that if they cut a cross-shaped notch in the tip of their bullets, it would literally blow a hole in the enemy. The notched bullets expanded upon striking, increasing the diameter of the bullet, thus making a significantly larger hole and obviously increasing the possibility of catastrophic damage. These bullets, called "dum-dums" (possibly because they were developed at the "Dum-Dum" arsenal in India) were horribly effective; so much so that international law forbade their use in military conflicts. Thus modern day military weapons are required to have "full metal jackets" (bullets composed of a soft composite core surrounded by a thin copper jacket). These bullets will not normally expand when hitting something; in fact, they will often pass right through a body leaving only a small hole. Now as they enter and exit something, they WILL impart a portion of their energy to that body, causing serious damage. But they are not the instant killing devices as commonly supposed.
    During the battle in Mogadishu, dramatised in the movie, "Black Hawk Down," some American soldiers reported firing entire magazines into attacking Somali gunmen before they would go "down." The high velocity M-16 bullets are small and punch nice, neat little holes in a person that, eventually, may kill them, but often will not stop them when they are pumped up with adrenaline and drugs (as many of the gunmen were). Full metal jacket rounds are politically correct, but are not terribly effective.
    Americans should know better; after all we faced a similar problem in suppressing the Moro guerillas in the Philippines at the turn of the 20th Century. More than a few US Army officers armed with .38 caliber revolvers were killed after emptying their revolvers into machete wielding fanatics hopped up on drugs. The bullets simply lacked sufficient force to stop an attacking adversary. As a result, the US Army developed the .45 ACP which was our standard pistol round until the 1980's-when it was replaced by the Beretta 9MM. Actual battle use has shown that the 9MM is not an adequate caliber in its military format; the high velocity 9MM full metal jacketed round simply will not stop an attacker. While the target may later bleed to death from his wounds, those wounds will not stop him before he does a little wounding of his own.
    My favourite story about the 9MM comes from an Israeli army officer (during one of their wars against the Arabs) whose command bunker was attacked by a suicidal fanatic. He said, "I don't know why you Americans are so against the 9MM. Why, I shot him 7 times and he went right down!" He was using an UZI, a 9mm machine pistol with a large capacity magazine. I do not know about you, but if you HAVE to shoot something, do you really want to have to shoot SEVEN times before you can stop the attack? Will you even have TIME to shoot that many times?
  14. Logansdad

    Logansdad Guest

    Special Forces in the US military and Police SWAT teams have now gone BACK to the .45 just because, though they are still restricted on the type of bullets that can be used, they know that a BIGGER bullet means a BIGGER hole; it ain't rocket science. While bullet placement is ALWAYS important, the simple fact is that a bigger hole means a quicker stop.
    Now having said that, the 9MM CAN be quite effective with the right round, and careful bullet placement; even a 9MM full metal jacketed round in the head or heart will most likely cause instant death. But no matter how good one may be punching holes in paper targets on the range; few shooters in the real world can achieve that kind of accuracy in the stress of a lethal force encounter. I have seen numerous police gunfights caught on the dash-mounted video-cameras of patrol cars where officers, extensively trained, emptied 14-18 rounds of 9MM at point blank range at armed felons, and MISSED! Not for a moment am I disparaging these brave men's professionalism or expertise; it is a whole different world when the target is firing back!
    But if you are involved in a lethal force situation, you do not have the luxury of having a platoon of men surrounding you with rifles, machine-guns, tanks and artillery. And now, thanks to our gun laws, you probably do not have a high capacity magazine available, either. All you have is what you are carrying on your person. You do not necessarily want to KILL your attacker, but you do not have the luxury of wounding him in order to demoralise his comrades. You have to STOP him, and the cowboy myth of shooting the gun out of his hand, or wounding him in the arm or leg will get you killed (nothing makes a bad guy angrier than being shot; they tend to take it real personal).
    Therefore, for self-defence, you must have three things; a caliber that is large enough, with enough power behind it, and a bullet that will dump the energy into the target to stop the attack as quickly as possible. Granted, people have been killed by even the smallest calibers like .22's (a weapon designed for shooting rabbits, squirrels and other small varmints); but there are enough cases on the book to show that men have been shot 20 or more times with a .22 and still killed their victims; better not depend on "mouse guns" in an emergency.
    Thus, when purchasing a handgun, forget the looks. Instead, focus on the caliber (how large a round it fires) and the type of bullet you plan to use. For the average person, that means some sort of "hollow-point" ammunition. A hollow-point is a bullet with the centre scooped out; essentially capitalising on the "dum-dum" concept invented by the British. When a "hollow-point" round hits a target, the force makes the edges peel back, increasing the diameter of the bullet, thus making the hole larger in the target as well as increasing resistance and imparting more energy. You do not want a bullet that travels through the attacker, exiting out the back and then possibly hitting someone standing behind them. You do not want a bullet that will expand too quickly and thus not penetrate deep enough to cause disabling damage. You want something, that will, if possible; impart sufficient energy into the attacker to increase the likelihood of the wound being catastrophic enough to cause unconsciousness or death almost instantly.
    Now I could get really graphic here and describe, from my research library, all the gruesome details of what happens when a bullet hits a human body; but what is the point? I enjoy a good steak, but have little interest in the details of how beef goes from the feedlot, to the slaughterhouse, to my grill. I just would rather not know. In the same way, I'd rather not know all the medical facts behind bullet injuries; all I want to know is that if I ever HAVE to use my firearm for self-defence, it will do the job quickly and effectively with minimum risk to me, my family, or my neighbour down the street. We all pray that we will never be placed in a situation where we have to use lethal force, but sometimes, we simply do not have a choice. Either we take the shot, or we, or someone we love, is going to die.
    Which brings us all the way back to my friend "Bob." Bob never hesitated. Before coming to look at a vicious looking bear in his yard, he took his .45 caliber pistol out, loaded Federal Hydra-Shock bullets and jacked one in the chamber, and was ready. He was not looking for trouble, but just taking a sensible precaution. Federal Hydra-Shocks are well-tested hollow pointed ammunition, and in a .45 caliber round, have a well deserved reputation for effective stopping power.
    Thus, when the bear jumped over the railing of his deck, at a range of literally 36 inches, Bob shot the bear once in the head; settling once and for all the .45 vs. 9MM debate. The bear dropped down dead. Maybe he could have called the county animal control officer (though where he lives, they would have probably told him to shoot the stupid brute and not bother them over such trifles). But remember, he has little children who play outside all the time, and now a family of bears had determined that his home was their new picnic area. Furthermore, all the myths of "Gentle Ben" went out the window when that bear charged his wife .
    But "Bob" didn't believe the myths; either about wildlife or the magic stopping power of guns. He had enough "gun," and enough "bullet" to do the job. He had practiced with his weapon and knew what to do when there wasn't enough time to think. He saved himself, and his wife, from a vicious mauling or even death.
    That makes him a hero in my book; and a smart one at that. Did I mention that he had a friend staying over that night - a friend who was armed with a 12 gauge shotgun loaded with triple nought buckshot to back him up? "Bob" is no fool; if something went wrong (as it did), even his .45 might not be enough to stop a charging bear so he had "back-up." Even a .45 is no GUARANTEE against something as large as a bear.
    If you are going to have a weapon for self-defence, make sure it can do the job you need it to do, when you need it to do it. I hate to think what would happen to some people I know, carrying a small caliber pistol with full metal jacket ammunition.
    This story might have had a far different ending; and a more gruesome one. As it is, "Bob" survived a lethal force situation, protected his family, and even has a great "war-story" to tell because he understood the difference between gun myths, and reality. Do you?

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  15. mark8252

    mark8252 G&G Newbie

    Sep 13, 2004
    Likes Received:
    Nice job (Logansdad).
  16. Logansdad

    Logansdad Guest

    Thanks..but all I did was cut and paste :right:
  17. Logansdad

    Logansdad Guest

    maybe he's a Canadian :...: or British
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