END THE DEBATE: 9mm versus 45 ACP versus whatever…

END THE DEBATE: 9mm versus 45 ACP versus whatever…

Mine’s Bigger Than Yours

So the other day I posted up on our Facebook page the question of what caliber peopler prefer: 9mm, 40 S&W, or 45ACP with the expressed intent of essentially inciting a pissing contest to give me the opportunity to rain some knowledge down on y’all….. School circle on the Sarge for a few minutes…

There is often the misconception that bullet size is directly relative to “stopping power” in reference to the caliber’s ability to stop a threat. Let us clear up that little myth for a second here: stopping power is bullshit fed to us by ammo manufacturers to get us to buy bullets that are more gooder than their competitor’s bullets. All bullets have the potential to stop an aggressor, whether or not they do it effectively is the crux of the argument.

Here’s the post:

Now we had a few interesting responses regarding what caliber people prefer and I agree with the majority of them, or at very least can see the point of the person responding. One thing kind of stuck in my mind as something that needed to be addressed and that is this notion of kinetic energy being the cause of threat stoppage post bullet strikes. My friend and fellow Jarhead, Josh VanSteenwyk of J&J Tactical hit the proverbial 10 ring with his responses: kinetic energy has nothing to do with threat stoppage. Think about it. If a round were to be able to stop a man in his tracks it has to overcome the energy being presented by that man, while imparting an equal and opposite reaction to the person firing the shot. Anyone ever seen Mythbusters?

There is only one way that a single round is going to stop a threat every time: hitting someone in the ocular cranial cavity (technical term for face) inducing instantaneous de-animation (technical term for turning out someone’s lights). Rounds to the center mass of a target often do not stop the threat immediately. If an attacker is motivated enough and/or chemically impaired, even multiple rounds can be ineffective at immediately stopping the threat. Don’t get me wrong, enough combat effective hits on a target will stop the threat sooner than later, but nothing should be considered to be absolute. Go for the high percentage shot based on the center mass of the available target area.

Basic Ballistics


Now lets talk about wound cavities caused by different caliber handgun rounds. If you notice in the above photo, there is little difference between 9mm, 40 S&W and 45 ACP in regards to both temporary and permanent wound cavities, and overall penetration. The edge does go slightly in favor the the 45 as we see that there was quite of bit of tissue disruption within the initial 6 inches of penetration into the ballistic gelatin. What does that mean? In simple terms, more stuff got messed up by the round as it passed through. Excluding variables such as bullet deflection off of bone/clothing/etc, there appears to be a greater level of effectiveness within the desired space. Shots into the thoracic cavity are intended to have the effect of disrupting the major organs in such a way that the body simply stops functioning due to blood loss and failing circulation and/respiration. Organs are fragile and it does not take much to cause irreparable damage when a projectile passes through. All rounds go past the minimum required 12 inches of penetration so penetration really isn’t the issue.

I’m purposely trying to avoid the temporary versus permanent wound cavity issue here as it is a bit of a moot point when talking handgun rounds. (Rifle rounds are a different story) The temporary wound cavity refers to the stretching of tissue as the round passes through the body, whereas the permanent wound cavity refers to the damage left behind. Remember that little bit about bleeding out? Yup… That’s right folks, the bigger the permanent wound cavity the better. Ergo, the bigger the bullet, the bigger the permanent wound cavity. Don’t take my word for it though. Here’s what the FBI had to say in 1987:

Kinetic energy does not wound. Temporary cavity does not wound. The much discussed “shock” of bullet impact is a fable and “knock down” power is a myth. The critical element is penetration. The bullet must pass through the large, blood bearing organs and be of sufficient diameter to promote rapid bleeding. Penetration less than 12 inches is too little, and, in the words of two of the participants in the 1987 Wound Ballistics Workshop, “too little penetration will get you killed.”42, 43 Given desirable and reliable penetration, the only way to increase bullet effectiveness is to increase the severity of the wound by increasing the size of hole made by the bullet. Any bullet which will not penetrate through vital organs from less than optimal angles is not acceptable. Of those that will penetrate, the edge is always with the bigger bullet.44

Click here for the full document

Once again, there is no magic bullet and a 9mm… hell even a .22 is better than no gun in hand when involved in a lethal force situation. Threats are stopped by three things: disrupting the Central Nervous System, causing massive blood loss/permanent tissue disruption, or denying mobility (taking the legs out from underneath the threat). Nothing is guaranteed so shoot to stop.

My personal preference goes to the 45 as years of carrying one on duty and thousands of rounds in training have made me very comfortable with the caliber. I like the softer recoil impulse of the 45 as compared to the 40 S&W and prefer the ballistics over a 9mm. But that’s just my opinion. Take it for what it’s worth.

Having stated the above, logic dictates that you should bring as many rounds to the party as is reasonable. Bring a reload or three. You never know when the zombie hordes will be lurching up your street hell bent on smearing your brains on a Ritz cracker for a midnight snack. (Insert Zombieland references here)

That being said, logic also dictates that in areas where the powers that be have restricted our freedoms to ten rounds or less, bring the bullet that will have the greatest ballistic effect on the target. We can’t EDC a 12 gauge with rifled slugs here in Massachusetts so my M&P45 with 180gr JHP +P loads rides my hip. Add in a spare magazine and we have 21 total rounds on board. Would I like more, yup. Situations don’t always allow for it but my bailout bag has another 2 mags in conjunction with some Active Shooter Response equipment. (Review on that to follow)

Enough Already!!

Bottom line is this folks: train with what you have until you can effectively place multiple shots in combat effective zones. More importantly, never be satisfied with your level of accuracy. Always train and seek to improve. Seek instruction (we know some guys who can help) and NEVER be absolute.

And stop the madness when it comes to which bullet is better. Getting shot with anything sucks. You could also get hit by a bus. Cease the pissing contests on the interwebz and get on the range.

Don’t forget to share this post, follow our blog, and like our Facebook page for more great content!


– Rob

Safety First!

Safety First!

So I happened to be hanging out on Facebook this morning and saw that Harris Tactical posted a video that showed this one particular Darwin Award runner up providing a review of his new-to-him knockoff Ithica model 37 shotgun. During this video the numbskull with the shotgun yammers on for a few minutes providing you with the least accurate information possible on the model 37 as well as making himself look completely foolish.

I was nearly about to close out the browser on my iPhone when I see Mr. Oxygen Thief reach down, produce a 12 gauge shell, insert it into the loading port, DEPRESS AND HOLD THE TRIGGER, and rack the action forward! Needless to say… He blew a hole in his ceiling and scared the crap out of himself. Ahhh… Makes you feel better about yourself, eh?

I figured that this video would provide a good moment to just hit everyone with a little reminder of some common sense knowledge that everyone should already possess and practice. Humans are a funny bunch however….

1: KEEP YOUR FINGER OFF OF THE TRIGGER UNTIL READY TO FIRE. This should be a no brainer. Why do we keep having negligent discharges?!?!?

2: When demoing or reviewing a firearm, ESPECIALLY ON VIDEO, please keep all sources of ammo in another room. Take the source of ammunition completely out of the equation and you will be ok. If the fail is especially strong with you, just don’t do a video review at all. Murphy’s Law anyone?

3: Know your subject matter. While in this case the negligent discharge was the icing on the proverbial cake, the jackwagon doing the review didn’t set himself up for success at all. Do a little research. You might actually learn something!

4: Stop and think!!! Assumptions with firearms can not only make an ass out of you and me, they can also potentially cause a condition known as death. I personally don’t want my tombstone to read “Died of rapid onset lead poisoning while acting a fool on the interwebz.”

To watch this gem of a video, click here.

As always, please like and share this post and don’t forget to check out our training calendar for more class dates!

Concealed Carry: Do’s and Don’ts

Concealed Carry: Do’s and Don’ts

Concealed Carry Do’s and Don’ts

The other day we put a question out on our on our Facebook Page  asking our followers to give us a few topics to blog about. One of our followers, Ed, brought up the discussion point of Concealed Carry Do’s and Don’ts and we felt that it was a good starting point for a few posts. We will focus the topics down a bit as we go along but this post is dedicated to the obvious. The majority of these are common sense but as we know… common sense isn’t all that common and some folks need a little reminder every now and then.  That being said… away we go!


Carry consistently! You may never have to use your firearm but you sure as hell do not want to get caught in a situation where you needed your gun but left it at home. Murphy’s Law dictates that you will be caught with your pants down (more figuratively than literally, but you never know…) in that 1% of 1% scenario. Remember: we don’t choose the moment, it chooses us.


Bring a reload or two, or three. Although in most gunfights, whether in the law enforcement or civilian realm, very few rounds are fired you do not want to run out of ammo if you end up in a prolonged fight or your primary magazine decides to start double feeding. At that point you’re probably hoping you attended our Defensive Handgun I course and learned how to deal with such a problem. If you didn’t… Here’s to learning on the fly! Lesson: Its better to have and not need, than need and not have.


Keep checking to see if your gun is still where you left it. Trust us. It is still there. As police officers we are trained to look for signs of telegraphing that someone is carrying a gun such as constantly adjusting a specific area on a belt line, tapping an elbow on either the left or right side, etc. You may not be “printing” but you are definitely screaming out “I HAVE A GUN.” If you have to worry about your firearm falling out of a holster, your holster sucks. Get a good one. 


Open carry. I know, I know… its your right were legal. I get it. However please consider this: Not only does everybody see how proud you are of the Constitution and exercising your Second Amendment rights, they also see that you have a firearm on you. At that point, consider your tactical advantage gone sir, gone. You stand a better chance of responding to a threat from concealment as you have options. You drive the bus and choose the moment to engage… or not. Sometimes the best shots we take are the ones we don’t have to.

Additionally, you also could draw unwanted attention from law enforcement.  The unfortunate reality is that the majority of citizens are afraid and intimidated by someone carrying a firearm openly and they will most likely call the police. Some officers will respond differently than others but be prepared to at least have an interaction. Now you may have wanted to do just this, to which I refer you to the previous paragraph as to why you’re being an idiot. At this point I’m sure that I will get flamed by all of the open carry advocates so bring it on.


Practice drawing from concealment with an unloaded firearm pointed in a safe direction. It takes thousands of repetitions to form muscle memory… go practice please.

I will be adding more to this series as we go here so stay tuned! Be sure to follow, share, and like this post on Facebook!

More to come….



Training vs. Gear: The Dilemma

Training vs. Gear: The Dilemma

Training versus Gear

We hear it all of the time during classes… “I bought this gun” or “I have to get the newest tacticool piece of kit out there” or some combination of the two. live fire trainingNow I’m not about to tell you how to spend your money or what you spend it on and in full disclosure, I do have a vested stake in where you spend you money. I do however, feel that it is crucial to attend some form of training in order to improve yourself the most. Here’s a few reasons as to why:

  1. If you are forced to use deadly force to protect yourself or someone else, no one is going to care if your blaster cost you a cool thousand bucks or your kydex holster was handmade by elven holster cobblers in Mordor. The law is going to care if you had training, made good decisions, had cause to fire, etc etc. The public and media are going to crucify you anyways more times than not regardless of the type of magazines you used. When was the last time you took a class on use of force? 
  2. How many pieces of gear have you bought and never used? We’ve all done it. A sweet deal pops up on Ebay and next thing you know you have another chest rig in the camo pattern du jour solely because you heard on the interwebs that another trainer endorsed it. It then sits and collects dust/dry rot in the basement and never sees the field. Efficient spending? Nope.
  3. You have 30 firearms, carry one daily, but have never taken a defensive pistol course. That’s sort of like collecting guitars but being unable to play them. (my apologies to Col Jeff Cooper…) Seriously though… it makes as much sense as using a football bat to play water polo. The standard licensing courses simply cover firearms safety and nothing else.

Now I’m not ragging on those of us who like to collect guns but not train with them. To each their own. However there is one simple fact you need to embed into your brain housing groups: if you plan on carrying a firearm, you are taking on the responsibility to not just yourself but your family, friends, and the general public to be as proficient as humanly possible with your firearm. Every round has a lawyer attached to it, and collateral damage is simply unacceptable.

So what’s the point?

The point is this…  Spend your money wisely. You will reap the rewards ten times over if you focus your efforts on seeking instruction from reputable instructors. You will find that you may be a high level shooter already, and just need an outside perspective to determine what minute fundamental error you may be making. Trust me… it beats the pants off of wasting your hard earned cash on ammo and getting nowhere.

A question that I ask often to my students in classes is “how long to you have to survive a gunfight?”

My answer: the rest of your life.  Are you ready?

– Rob

* As always, please like/share/follow/email/etc. Spread the word!!!

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