Due to “my previous life” working in the medical field, I ran into quite a few GSW. These were all prehospital where I was the one plugging the holes and trying to stabilize the patient for transport. Here are a few things that I realized based upon observations. This isn’t scientific and I am not sure how many other paramedic/Navy Corspmen came to the same conclusions, but this is what I have seen:
1) Stopping power is really misleading. I have seen people shot with .22 mag that went down immediately where those shot with .45 auto didn’t. My observations are that a lot really depends on the person shot. It is now my belief that the more “stopping power” isn’t nearly as important as the shock and fear that can be put into the person getting shot. That shock and fear is what disallows the person with lead poisoning to either ignore it or keep coming at you. Stories of individuals on drugs getting shot multiple times and still coming at the shooter help to universally support my hypothesis. These people were beyond shock or fear so the damage from bullets was mechanical only.
2) Getting shot hurts (yes…. .22 lr to the leg when I was a kid), but the pain was easily ignored. Some people I have seen shot with .22 lr fall to the ground and you would have thought that they had been gored by a bull or a tiger was eating them alive from the sounds of it. One guy I worked on had been shot by a .44 mag and even though a good sized hole was through his shoulder, he was helping to hold the dressing while I bandaged. He even tried to set me up with his niece/cousin/relative (can’t remember which anymore) while I worked on him. There were not any physical indications of shock. He just didn’t get too worried since he wasn’t in too much distress.
3) Gimmick rounds are just that in my mind….. A gimmick. Having hunted for my entire life, I believe that it is more important to match up your cartridge with your usage than to go in and buy a name brand. If you want penetration then you get a bullet designed for that. If you want a big hole, then get something desiged for big holes. “Defense rounds” are rounds built to the designer’s specifications and understanding of what a self defense round should be. They haven’t matched up their product to what your individual needs might be. They shoot some ballistic gel, build up a marketing campaign and then push their product upon the public. IMO, if you want self defense rounds for your particular needs you should do the research and reload…..
So, in summary based upon my observations and opinion:
If you want to shoot through cars: get a .50 BMG and AP bullets loaded close to max. If you don’t want penetration set up a round that flattens out and dissipates the energy to the target quickly. If you want something in between then do your research and don’t ignore the concept of reloading your own.
******Some of those expensive “defense rounds” do look menacing, though. Hydroshocks with that little dohickey in the middle of the hollow point? Ouch on any level.
*******Another edit****** Here are the rounds that I use as a self defense round inside my home. They don’t penetrate walls like other rounds do, hit like a brick due to the massive expansion, and I can reload a bunch of them quite cheaply. My other self defense firearm is a 12 gauge with lead #2 shot. I feel that this combo of “stopping power” and “penetration” through sheetrock is as large of a pellet as I want to go inside my home. Many will “poo-poo” my choices, but that is why there are options…. No one can agree on a single item.