Saturday, October 18, 2014

My Barber Asked My Opinion

Whoa! My barber, whom I consider THE firearms guru. sent out an email to me and his circle of "gun people" asking our opinion on the FBI's proposed move from .40 cal to 9mm handguns.

Now, it's no secret that I'm a big fan of larger calibers, the .45 ACP in particular. However, I'm also an advocate of utilizing the handgun with which you can put the most shots on target. A .380 that puts all its rounds in the kill zone will serve you better than a .454 Casull that won't let you hit the broad side of a 40' storage container.

Anyway, my barber referenced an article on the LoadOut Room site by Mark Miller. The following quote from the article distills the FBI's rationale into a few salient points:

· 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”)

· LEOs 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.

Notice the crucial point here. In an armed confrontation, the bureau has statistically established that law enforcement officers miss from 70 to 80 percent of their shots. This statistic has remained consistent over the years.

In 2007 I posted an article that cites an FBI five-year study which reports that while 70% of offenders in a shootout put at least some shots on target, only 40% of LEOs could hit their adversaries. Should we blame the caliber of  their weapons or their training?

I would consider myself remiss if I did not point out that the FBI switched from the 10mm to the .40S&W in 1997 for precisely the same reasons that they say they will now switch to the 9mm. Their agents did better at the range with the lighter load of the .40 cal. (see here)

Evidently, the bureau sees the poor performance of LEOs in actual gunfights on too much bang or too big gun. Hence the search for a magic bullet.

To be continued.

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