I get occasional questions about which bullet caliber (and brand) provides the best “stopping power” and I don’t have a ready answer. I have chosen some guns and calibers that suit my little world, but my choices may not fit your world at all. I can recommend that you read Grant Cunningham’s recent online series about self-defense, stopping power, and caliber.
When I first started reading gun periodicals back in the late 1960s, one of the first things I learned about firearms was the never-ending quest for the magic bullet. Article after article dealt with the stopping power failings police officers experienced when using round-nose bullets (ball ammo) in both revolvers and semi-automatics. Many articles of that time noted that Lee Juras of Super Vel had improved stopping power by pushing lightweight hollowpoint bullets to high velocity. With the birth of Super Vel, the commercial race for the magic bullet was born. In the 1970s and 1980s, many police departments began performing their own tests of different ammunition. The discussions and debates continue to this day.
I have all three of the books on stopping power written by Evan Marshall and Ed Sanow, and I highly recommend them. They are full of good information and many interesting stories. The most important thing I ever found about stopping power was the very first sentence of the first chapter of the first book. “Stopping power is an illusion.” No bullet will work 100% of the time.
Below you will find many links pointing to many sites, forums, and articles dealing with stopping power. Many are readily available to search engine keywords “stopping power,” while some are not.
Stoppingpower.net (Evan Marshall site and forum)
Stopping Power (Wikipedia)
A Beginner’s Guide to Stopping Power (Chuck Hawks)
Box O’ Truth
All About “Stopping Power” (R.K. Campbell)
Fackler, Marshall, and Handgun Stopping Power Tests (Chuck Hawks)
Handgun Stopping Power Q&A (Chuck Hawks)
Stopping Power Statistics (Marshall & Sanow)
Ballistics By The Inch
FBI: Handgun Wounding Factors (The Gunzone)
FBI: Miami Firefight Conclusion (The Gunzone)
The Strasbourg Tests: The Goat Papers, Part III (The Gunzone)
Choose Your Ammo … Police Style (Massad Ayoob)