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May6,2014

FBITrainingDivision:FBIAcademy,Quantico,VA

ExecutiveSummaryofJustificationforLawEnforcementPartners

Caliberdebateshaveexistedinlawenforcementfordecades
Mostofwhatiscommonknowledgewithammunitionanditseffectsonthehumantarget
arerootedinmythandfolklore
Projectilesarewhatultimatelywoundouradversariesandtheprojectileneedstobethe
basisforthediscussiononwhatcaliberisbest
Inallthemajorlawenforcementcalibersthereexistprojectileswhichhaveahigh
likelihoodoffailingLEOsinashootingincidentandthereareprojectileswhichhaveahigh
likelihoodofsucceedingforLEOsinashootingincident
Handgunstoppingpowerissimplyamyth
Thesinglemostimportantfactorineffectivelywoundingahumantargetistohave
penetrationtoascientificallyvaliddepth(FBIuses1218)
LEOsmissbetween7080percentoftheshotsfiredduringashootingincident
Contemporaryprojectiles(since2007)havedramaticallyincreasedtheterminal
effectivenessofmanypremiumlinelawenforcementprojectiles(emphasisonthe9mm
Lugerofferings)
9mmLugernowoffersselectprojectileswhichare,underidenticaltestingconditions,
outperformingmostofthepremiumline.40S&Wand.45AutoprojectilestestedbytheFBI
9mmLugeroffershighermagazinecapacities,lessrecoil,lowercost(bothinammunition
andwearontheweapons)andhigherfunctionalreliabilityrates(inFBIweapons)
ThemajorityofFBIshootersarebothFASTERinshotstringsfiredandmoreACCURATE
withshootinga9mmLugervsshootinga.40S&W(similarsizedweapons)
Thereislittletononoticeabledifferenceinthewoundtracksbetweenpremiumlinelaw
enforcementprojectilesfrom9mmLugerthroughthe.45Auto
Givencontemporarybulletconstruction,LEOscanfield(withproperbulletselection)9mm
Lugerswithalloftheterminalperformancepotentialofanyotherlawenforcementpistol
caliberwithnoneofthedisadvantagespresentwiththelargercalibers

JustificationforLawEnforcementPartners

Rarelyinlawenforcementdoesatopicstiramorepassionatedebatethanthechoiceofhandgun
calibermadebyalawenforcementorganization.Manyvoicetheiropinionsbyrepeatingtheold
adagebiggerisbetterwhileothershaveheardofthisonetimewhereasmallercaliberfailed
andalargercaliberwouldhaveperformedmuchbetter.Someevensubscribetothebeliefthata
caliberexistswhichwillprovideaoneshotstop.Ithasbeenstated,Decisionsonammunition
selectionareparticularlydifficultbecausemanyofthepertinentissuesrelatedtohandgunsand
ammunitionarefirmlyrootedinmythandfolklore.Thisstillholdsastruetodayasitdidwhen
originallystated20yearsago.

Caliber,whenconsideredalone,bringsaboutauniquesetoffactorstoconsidersuchasmagazine
capacityforagivenweaponsize,ammunitionavailability,feltrecoil,weightandcost.Whatisrarely
discussed,butmostrelevanttothecaliberdebateiswhatprojectileisbeingconsideredforuseand
itsterminalperformancepotential.

Oneshouldneverdebateonagunmakeorcaliberalone.Theprojectileiswhatwoundsand
ultimatelythisiswherethedebate/discussionshouldfocus.Ineachofthethreemostcommonlaw
enforcementhandguncalibers(9mmLuger,.40Smith&Wessonand.45AUTO)thereare
projectileswhichhaveahighlikelihoodoffailinglawenforcementofficersandineachofthese
threecalibersthereareprojectileswhichhaveahighlikelihoodofsucceedingforlawenforcement
officersduringashootingincident.Thechoiceofaserviceprojectilemustundergointensescrutiny
andscientificevaluationinordertoselectthebestavailableoption.

UnderstandingHandgunCaliberTerminalBallisticRealities

Manysocalledstudieshavebeenperformedandmanyanalysesofstatisticaldatahavebeen
undertakenregardingthisissue.Studiessimplyinvolvingshootingdeathsareirrelevantsincethe
goaloflawenforcementistostopathreatduringadeadlyforceencounterasquicklyaspossible.
Whetherornotdeathoccursisofnoconsequenceaslongasthethreatofdeathorseriousinjuryto
lawenforcementpersonnelandinnocentthirdpartiesiseliminated.
Theconceptofimmediateincapacitationistheonlygoalofanylawenforcementshootingandisthe
underlyingrationalefordecisionsregardingweapons,ammunition,calibersandtraining. 1

Studiesofstoppingpowerareirrelevantbecausenoonehaseverbeenabletodefinehowmuch
power,force,orkineticenergy,inandofitself,isrequiredtoeffectivelystopaviolentand
determinedadversaryquickly,andeventhelargestofhandguncalibersarenotcapableof
deliveringsuchforce.Handgunstoppingpowerissimplyamyth.Studiesofsocalledoneshot
stopsbeingusedasatooltodefinetheeffectivenessofonehandguncartridge,asopposedto
another,areirrelevantduetotheinabilitytoaccountforpsychologicalinfluencesandduetothe
lackofreportingspecificshotplacement.Inshort,extensivestudieshavebeendoneovertheyears
toproveacertaincartridgeisbetterthananotherbyusinggrosslyflawedmethodologyandor
biasasaprecursortomanipulatingstatistics.Inordertohaveameaningfulunderstandingof
handgunterminalballistics,onemustonlydealwithfactsthatarenotindisputewithinthemedical
community,i.e.medicalrealities,andthosewhicharealsogenerallyacceptedwithinlaw
enforcement,i.e.tacticalrealities.

MedicalRealities

ShotstotheCentralNervousSystem(CNS)atthelevelofthecervicalspine(neck)orabove,arethe
onlymeanstoreliablycauseimmediateincapacitation.Inthiscase,anyofthecaliberscommonly
usedinlawenforcement,regardlessofexpansion,wouldsufficeforobviousreasons.Otherthan
shotstotheCNS,themostreliablemeansforaffectingrapidincapacitationisbyplacingshotsto
largevitalorgansthuscausingrapidbloodloss.Simplystated,shotplacementisthemostcritical
componenttoachievingeithermethodofincapacitation.

Woundingfactorsbetweenrifleandhandgunprojectilesdiffergreatlyduetothedramatic
differencesinvelocity,whichwillbediscussedinmoredetailherein.Thewoundingfactors,in
orderofimportance,areasfollows:

A. Penetration

Aprojectilemustpenetratedeeplyenoughintothebodytoreachthelargevitalorgans,namely
heart,lungs,aorta,venacavaandtoalesserextentliverandspleen,inordertocauserapidblood
loss.Ithaslongbeenestablishedbyexpertmedicalprofessionals,experiencedinevaluating

1
HandgunWoundingFactorsandEffectiveness:FirearmsTrainingUnit,BallisticResearchFacility,1989.
gunshotwounds,thatthisequatestoarangeofpenetrationof1218inches,dependingonthesize
oftheindividualandtheangleofthebulletpath(e.g.,througharm,shoulder,etc.).Withmodern
properlydesigned,expandinghandgunbullets,thisobjectiveisrealized,albeitmoreconsistently
withsomelawenforcementprojectilesthanothers.

B. PermanentCavity

Theextenttowhichaprojectileexpandsdeterminesthediameterofthepermanentcavitywhich,
simplyput,isthattissuewhichisindirectcontactwiththeprojectileandisthereforedestroyed.
Coupledwiththedistanceofthepathoftheprojectile(penetration),thetotalpermanentcavityis
realized.Duetotheelasticnatureofmosthumantissueandthelowvelocityofhandgunprojectiles
relativetorifleprojectiles,ithaslongbeenestablishedbymedicalprofessionals,experiencedin
evaluatinggunshotwounds,thatthedamagealongawoundpathvisibleatautopsyorduring
surgerycannotbedistinguishedbetweenthecommonhandguncalibersusedinlawenforcement.
ThatistosayanoperatingroomsurgeonorMedicalExaminercannotdistinguishthedifference
betweenwoundscausedby.35to.45caliberprojectiles.

C. TemporaryCavity

Thetemporarycavityiscausedbytissuebeingstretchedawayfromthepermanentcavity.Ifthe
temporarycavityisproducedrapidlyenoughinelastictissues,thetensilestrengthofthetissuecan
beexceededresultingintearingofthetissue.Thiseffectisseenwithveryhighvelocityprojectiles
suchasinriflecalibers,butisnotseenwithhandguncalibers.Forthetemporarycavityofmost
handgunprojectilestohaveaneffectonwounding,thevelocityoftheprojectileneedstoexceed
roughly2,000fps.Atthelowervelocitiesofhandgunrounds,thetemporarycavityisnotproduced
withsufficientvelocitytohaveanywoundingeffect;thereforeanydifferenceintemporarycavity
notedbetweenhandguncalibersisirrelevant.Inordertocausesignificantinjuriestoastructure,
apistolbulletmuststrikethatstructuredirectly. 2

D. Fragmentation

Fragmentationcanbedefinedasprojectilepiecesorsecondaryfragmentsofbonewhichare
impelledoutwardfromthepermanentcavityandmaysevermuscletissues,bloodvessels,etc.,

2
DiMaio,V.J.M.:GunshotWounds,ElsevierSciencePublishingCompany,NewYork,NY,1987,page42.
apartfromthepermanentcavity 3 .Fragmentationdoesnotreliablyoccurinsofttissuehandgun
woundsduetothelowvelocitiesofhandgunbullets.Whenfragmentationdoesoccur,fragments
areusuallyfoundwithinonecentimeter(.39)ofthepermanentcavity. 4 Duetothefactthatmost
modernpremiumlawenforcementammunitionnowcommonlyusesbondedprojectiles(copper
jacketbondedtoleadcore),thelikelihoodoffragmentationisverylow.Forthesereasons,
woundingeffectssecondarytoanyhandguncaliberbulletfragmentationareconsidered
inconsequential.

Psychology

Anydiscussionofstoppingarmedadversarieswithahandgunhastoincludethepsychologicalstate
oftheadversary.Psychologicalfactorsareprobablythemostimportantrelativetoachievingrapid
incapacitationfromagunshotwoundtothetorso. 5 Firstandforemost,thepsychologicaleffectsof
beingshotcanneverbecountedontostopanindividualfromcontinuingconsciousvoluntary
action.Thosewhodostopcommonlydosobecausetheydecideto,notbecausetheyhaveto.The
effectsofpainareoftendelayedduetosurvivalpatternssecondarytofightorflightreactions
withinthebody,drug/alcoholinfluencesandinthecaseofextremeangeroraggression,paincan
simplybeignored.Thosesubjectswhodecidetostopimmediatelyafterbeingshotinthetorsodo
socommonlybecausetheyknowtheyhavebeenshotandareafraidofinjuryordeath,regardlessof
caliber,velocity,orbulletdesign.Itshouldalsobenotedthatpsychologicalfactorscanbealeading
causeofincapacitationfailuresandassuch,propershotplacement,adequatepenetration,and
multipleshotsontargetcannotbeoveremphasized.

TacticalRealities

Shotplacementisparamountandlawenforcementofficersonaveragestrikeanadversarywith
only2030percentoftheshotsfiredduringashootingincident.Giventherealitythatshot
placementisparamount(anddifficulttoachievegiventhemyriadofvariablespresentinadeadly
forceencounter)inobtainingeffectiveincapacitation,thecaliberusedmustmaximizethe
likelihoodofhittingvitalorgans.Typicallawenforcementshootingsresultinonlyoneortwosolid

3
Fackler,M.L.,Malinowski,J.A.:TheWoundProfile:AVisualMethodforQuantifyingGunshotWound
Components,JournalofTrauma25:522529,1958.
4
HandgunWoundingFactorsandEffectiveness:FirearmsTrainingUnit,BallisticResearchFacility,1989.
5
Ibid.
torsohitsontheadversary.Thisrequiresthatanyprojectilewhichstrikesthetorsohasashigha
probabilityaspossibleofpenetratingdeeplyenoughtodisruptavitalorgan.

TheBallisticResearchFacilityhasconductedatestwhichcomparessimilarsizedGlockpistolsin
both.40S&Wand9mmcalibers,todetermineifmoreaccurateandfasterhitsareachievablewith
oneversustheother.Todate,themajorityofthestudyparticipantshaveshotmorequicklyand
moreaccuratelywith9mmcaliberGlockpistols.The9mmprovidesstrugglingshootersthebest
chanceofsuccesswhileimprovingthespeedandaccuracyofthemostskilledshooters.

CONCLUSION

Whilesomelawenforcementagencieshavetransitionedtolargercalibersfromthe9mmLugerin
recentyears,theydosoattheexpenseofreducedmagazinecapacity,morefeltrecoil,andgiven
adequateprojectileselection,nodiscernibleincreaseinterminalperformance.

Otherlawenforcementorganizationsseemtobemakingthemovebackto9mmLugertaking
advantageofthenewtechnologieswhicharebeingappliedto9mmLugerprojectiles.These
organizationsareprovidingtheirarmedpersonnelthebestchanceofsurvivingadeadlyforce
encountersincetheycanexpectfasterandmoreaccurateshotstrings,highermagazinecapacities
(similarsizedweapons)andalloftheterminalperformancewhichcanbeexpectedfromanylaw
enforcementcaliberprojectile.

Giventheaboverealitiesandthefactthatnumerousammunitionmanufacturersnowmake9mm
Lugerserviceammunitionwithoutstandingpremiumlinelawenforcementprojectiles,themoveto
9mmLugercannowbeviewedasadecidedadvantageforourarmedlawenforcementpersonnel.