What’s gonna stop the bad guy?


It always does our hearts good to see feedback from our wonderful readers!!!  Today we will share some insight with you regarding a question from Mike N. out of Bristol.  Mike read our post “Personal Defense….Hollow-points in every caliber?” from a couple of months ago, and wanted more shots!  Well Mike, as per usual, we’ve got you covered! Mike wanted to know….”In regards to defensive round capabilities, which is better to stop the bad guy:  penetration or the transfer of energy?”  Well Mike, as with most things in the world of guns…the answer to this question varies depending on who you ask!

Mike, the cut and dry of it is that technically it’s both!!!  But, if in the perfect world this wasn’t true, then it would be penetration and we all would save tons of money on carrying ball ammo.  Wait a minute…it’s actually transfer of energy and we all need to be carrying around $2 per round ammo!!  Mike….let us break it down for you a little bit more.

Rounds dedicated to penetrate (Ball Ammo; FMJ).  My dear old dad used to say:  Ball ammo is the gift that will keep on giving!  In other words, ball ammo or those pesky FMJ rounds do most of their damage by basically drilling a permanent wound channel.  These rounds are dedicated to going into the bad guy with no attention being paid to tearing flesh. These rounds, once they strike the bad guy, will do little damage to flesh, organs, nor surrounding tissue unless they hit them directly (in other words, damage is done…but it could definitely be worse!).  We have even found that some locales have banned the use of FMJ rounds when hunting bigger game.  Experts feel that the collateral damage from a heavy caliber FMJ round is too high, and these rounds have been banned. Understand one very important fact Mike….these rounds will definitely hurt and possibly kill, but if you are in a situation in which you need to protect the lives of your loved ones, you’ll need a little bit more bang!

Rounds dedicated to transfer energy.  The local gun shop would be nothing without a couple of tall tales!  About a week ago, we heard a shooter tell a story of his dad.  As the story goes, his dad was one fateful day shot at close range with a .270 Winchester round.  His dad on this day was wearing armor, and luckily the round bounced off the armor and only pushed the man back a few feet!!  Well, if this tall tale was true, then it is a perfect example that illustrates one point: “knock-down power” (by itself) is all but a dream (of course only considering handgun rounds and most high powered rifles).    The dad in this story (with his lucky self!!!), undoubtedly experienced energy transfer, but no penetration.  These types of rounds are dedicated to expand almost immediately on contact.  These rounds also do a wonderful job of creating massive damage to organs, tissue, and flesh.  These rounds include hollow-points, frangible, and the like.  Rounds that only concern themselves with the transfer of energy are missing one important thing….penetration!

The advent of YouTube (and other video applications) make it possible to easily see the results of a myriad of tests done to prove the effects of both types of rounds.  The optimal thing to do is to find the right balance.  Find that sweet-spot that allows the shooter to maximize stopping power and penetration.  Mike, this is very well gonna be a result of what you and your gun like to shoot.  Train and practice with your firearm and the ammo you defend with.  Find the capabilities of the ammo…the gun.  Identify the strengths and weaknesses in your firearm and ammo, and adjust accordingly. Remember….In a gunfight the bad guy will be fighting too.  In efforts to protect you and yours, it is imperative that you find what works towards your strengths and does its best to minimize your weaknesses.  Find a firearm and ammo load that works for you!

***  If you are unfamiliar with firearms and/or their accessories, and want to learn more, PSA strongly suggests that you find, enroll, and attend a comprehensive and reputable firearms safety course. Firearms safety is all of OUR responsibility.  

We want to thank you for taking out the time to stop by our lane at the shooting range!!  We hope that you enjoyed your stay and hope that you stop back by early and often to catch up on all PSA updates!  We truly hope that we were able to hit the target, and if you ever have any questions please don’t hesitate to shoot them our way!!  We look forward to shooting the breeze with you soon again!!

And as always….remember to watch your six and stay low!!!


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