Monday, July 13, 2015

July 13 2015 The Great American Issue—What round do I shoot people with?




I have heard more criticisms of 9mm as an effective caliber than I care to think about—so I am amused to see it is coming back into favor. Actually, there are good reasons for it as the article below makes clear. The full piece may be found at

The article makes the valid point—that cannot be overstressed—that all 9mm rounds are not equal—and it is the projectile (bullet), not the caliber, that does the actual damage. In short, any old 9mm won’t do. You want the right one.

Being a thriller writer, who likes to feature action in all his thrillers (I write non-fiction too) I try to track firearms technology. Whatever one thinks of the effects of firearms, and guns in general, I find them fairly fascinating things—and fun to shoot. In that context, 9mm scores highly. It is powerful, with excellent penetration, but it is fairly easy to control.

I still have a weakness for some of the smaller, high velocity, flat trajectory rounds, which can penetrate soft body armor—increasingly common these days—and have equipped my main protagonist, Hugo Fitzduane with such a weapon—an FN FiveSeven which is compact, takes a 20 round magazine as standard, and uses the hot 5.7x28mm cartridge.

It fires a ridiculously light projectile—only 30-40 grains depending on the version used—but combat reports say it is highly effective. Above all, felt recoil is significantly less than larger calibers, so shot placement tends to be better with it.

Shot placement is the key to the whole thing. As my late friend, Joe Sperrazza—who studied over 4,000 fatalities in Vietnam to come up with his findings—the most important thing is to get a hit, not the size of the projectile.  He used to emphasize this point during his lectures by throwing chalk at his audience and shouting: “Get a hit! Get a hit! Get a hit!”

He normally did—and he was.

I meet some interesting characters in my line of work.FN Five-seveN®

But, now over to the FBI. They have a different view.

“May 6, 2014

FBI Training Division: FBI Academy, Quantico, VA

Executive Summary of Justification for Law Enforcement Partners

  • Caliber debates have existed in law enforcement for decades
  • Most of what is “common knowledge” with ammunition and its effects on the human target are rooted in myth and folklore
  • Projectiles are what ultimately wound our adversaries and the projectile needs to be the basis for the discussion on what “caliber” is best
  • In all the major law enforcement calibers there exist projectiles which have a high likelihood of failing LEO’s in a shooting incident and there are projectiles which have a high ting incident likelihood of succeeding for LEO’s in a shooting incident
  • Handgun stopping power is simply a myth
  • The single most important factor in effectively wounding a human target is to have penetration to a scientifically valid depth (FBI uses 12” – 18”)
  • LEO’s miss between 70 – 80 percent of the shots fired during a shooting incident
  • Contemporary projectiles (since 2007) have dramatically increased the terminal effectiveness of many premium line law enforcement projectiles (emphasis on the 9mm Luger offerings)
  • 9mm Luger now offers select projectiles which are, under identical testing conditions, I outperforming most of the premium line .40 S&W and .45 Auto projectiles tested by the FBI
  • 9mm Luger offers higher magazine capacities, less recoil, lower cost (both in ammunition and wear on the weapons) and higher functional reliability rates (in FBI weapons)
  • The majority of FBI shooters are both FASTER in shot strings fired and more ACCURATE with shooting a 9mm Luger vs shooting a .40 S&W (similar sized weapons)
  • There is little to no noticeable difference in the wound tracks between premium line law Auto enforcement projectiles from 9mm Luger through the .45 Auto
  • Given contemporary bullet construction, LEO’s can field (with proper bullet selection) 9mm Lugers with all of the terminal performance potential of any other law enforcement pistol caliber with none of the disadvantages present with the “larger” calibers

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