There are many theories about stopping power and what constitutes a good bullet design to maximize the potential for rapid incapacitation.
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While there will never be 100-percent agreement among those who study these things, many can agree on these points:
- Handgun rounds are generally poor performers. Handguns are carried due to their portable nature, not because they are superior man-stoppers. When circumstances allow, carry a shotgun or rifle into a dangerous situation. Both of these weapons are more likely to stop a violent attack than a handgun.
- Shot placement trumps bullet design. Where the attacker is shot is more important that what he is shot with. A low-power .38 Special to the chest is far more likely to stop an attacker than a .357 Mag that misses. Therefore, quality firearms training is more important than ammunition selection. Only after officers are proficient with putting accurate fire on target in realistic situations should an agency worry about which ammunition to carry.
- Modern self-defense bullet designs are vastly improved when compared to older designs. In the past, bullet expansion in tissue was inconsistent. Velocity was the only reliable way to ensure bullet expansion, but that was often paid for by reduced penetration. Modern bullet engineering allows for bullets that expand at lower velocity, reliably perform through clothing and stay intact when encountering intermediate barriers.
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