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FBI Claims Stopping Power A “Myth”

On the heels of the Army looking to replace the 9mm Beretta pistol as its standard sidearm, the FBI’s Training Division released a “new study” in May that was recently leaked to the public.  The Study claims that the 9mm Luger pistol is the best option for law enforcement.  Suggesting that departments shouldn’t switch their sidearms to larger rounds.

The FBI Study shows there are a number of reasons for their conclusion.  But their rationale is laughable.

Looking over a copy of the FBI study I found their conclusions and assumptions to be rather simplistic.   Among their justifications for the 9mm being a superior round are:

  • Law Enforcement Officers aren’t skilled enough to shoot a larger round nothing that they missed 80% of the time with a 9mm so to increase the caliber means increasing the miss rate

  • FBI Shooters shoot better with the 9mm Luger

  • You can hold more rounds with a 9mm magazine

  • There is no difference between damage inflicted with a 9mm and that of larger calibers

  • Stopping power is a myth

Using the utter lack of training and failure rate of LEO’s is not the most reassuring basis for choosing a pistol caliber.  In fact, .22’s hardly have ANY recoil and it is used in the OLYMPICS where shot placement is vital.  In a world where stopping power is a myth and shot placement is paramount, the .22 would seem ideal for the FBI’s conclusions.

The fact that FBI shooters prefer the Luger 9mm as basis for an FBI study recommending the Luger 9mm is a bit “fox guarding the hen house” no?

With the advances gun makers have made there are pistols that come in .40 that can hold 16 rounds standard which is only one less than the Luger 9mm magazine.  And even double stacked magazines of .45 can hold up to 18 rounds.

There is a difference between the damage of a 9mm and that of higher calibers, even if its only the size of the bullet hole going in which means more stuff can come out.

Stopping power is a myth?  Then let’s arm our military and police with .22 pistols that hold 30 rounds and have them aim REALLY good.

And yes, I know that shooting someone isn’t like in the movies and they go flying back like they were hit by an imaginary truck.  But as for stopping power, my old Sgt. would tell us that the Beretta 9mm would stop someone…eventually but the 1911 .45 was a “DRT”…as in “Dead Right There”

I’m not going to turn this into a fanboy article about t.45 v  9mm v .40 but I do question the FBI’s motives.

Basically I think THIS reason that I gleamed from the study is the most telling reason why the Government wants the 9mm to be accepted as the sidearm of choice:

9mm Luger offers higher magazine capacities, less recoil, lower cost 

It comes down to money.  Just like they told us in the Army, our rifle is made by the lowest bidder so we best take care of it.

The rest of the “study” is just words to justify a bureaucrat’s budgetary decision.


  • Injun Trouble

    My first thought was ……….. If I was being shot at, I would also want the bad guy to use a 9 mm gun.
    Why, you ask …….I have shot at a 55 gallon steel barrel, with a 9 mm pistol and the bullets would not
    pierce the barrel ……. the bullet did dent the barrel only. The distance was 50 feet.
    I know for a fact that a 38 cal, 40 cal, 44 cal, and 45 cal. all would have pierced the barrel.
    Is the F.B.I. planting seeds in our minds, so they do not have to go up against the bigger calibers ????

    • Bullets First

      Good point. It’s the government so things aren’t always as they appear. Plus, considering that the government seems to be incrementally BECOMING the bad guys maybe its a good thing they go with 9mm and leave all the .45 and larger calibers to us 🙂

      • marco01

        Just because things are not always as they appear, it doesn’t mean the government is engaging in some super seeekrit plot to enslave us all.

    • Klingon00

      .38 special has less energy than 9mm Luger. There are training videos from WWII that show the .45 ACP out of a 5″ 1911 Not able to penetrate steel helmets at moderate range. Pistols generally suck at penetration.

      • marco01

        Not an expert, but I think WW2 helmets were made of a harder steel than steel barrels.

    • marco01

      Careful with that tin foil hat

  • durabo

    So why have the Alphabet Soup federal departments ordered .40caliber JHP rounds in the zillions? Also, has anyone at the Feebs reviewed Dr. Don Fackler’s woiund ballistics data?

  • Molan Labe

    The 9mm is as effective as the .40 assuming you are using the proper ammo. Just look up ballistics on Speer Gold Dot 124 Grain +P if there are any doubts.

    • RDB

      Ballistically the 9 is faster, but you forgot to view the energy data, which is what stops the criminal. The old 1911 .45 can’t be beat, as proven time and again by the military solders of WW I, II and Viet Nam. It has the proper ballistics and combined energy to stop a person on the spot when hit in the correct area of the torso.

      • Bullets First

        Speaking of which: 1911 .45 The gun, the myth, the legend:

      • Molan Labe

        The .45 is my favorite caliber and I don’t disagree whatsoever as to energy data when it comes to the .45. My comment above was in comparison to the .40 where in my opinion if using the right ammo there is little to no difference with regard to effectiveness.

  • Klingon00

    The problem with your argument is that .22 fails to meet minimum FBI standards for penetration in ballistics gel. 9mm Luger with modern ammo performs the same as .40 S&W or .45 ACP in ballistics gel tests.

    • keith plumley

      9mm is a turd. Just ask doctors about treating a 45 wound compared to a 9. Also gabby giffords would not be alive had the shooter used a 40 or 45.

      • Klingon00

        Anecdotes are not scientific and I’ve not seen any scientific studies by Doctors on what caliber is more deadly. I can however find reports of industry accepted scientific FBI ballistics tests that show with modern JHP rounds, the differences are negligible. We are not talking FMJ here.

  • countryboy8

    I have many friends who are bear hunters in Maine, hunting over bait mostly. Most bear shootings happen late in the day along towards dark. Sometimes a bear is only wounded and can move away from the site. The hunter has to pursue it in the failing light. Every single one I know carries a 44 magnum revolver, the Redhawk being quite popular. A wounded bear is a very dangerous enemy and one may only get one chance so you need to make sure. Stopping power is NOT a myth to these guys!

    I once watched an EMT show on tv and this guy had gotten shot with 9mm, right in the bridge of his nose. The bullet was still in his head. He was lying on the gurney in the ambulance talking to his family. All I could think of was what would he have looked like if that had been a 44 mag or the good old .45.

  • George Talbot

    The FN Five-Seven has 20 and even 30 round magazines for the pistol. And it has crappy lethality and stopping power because the bullet is too slim – in the Fort Hood shooting he generally had to shoot people 4 times to stop them.

  • Jerrydgeek

    I’ve said it before and I will say it again: Why not give them a superfast .389 Super in a gun with a compensated barrel? It ‘feels like’ a 9mm luguer, but is capable of much higher velocities. With the compensator, it achieves a 1400FPS velocity and the most advanced bullets available to the 9mm Luger can be used.

    They can’t hit what they’re shooting at? Give them a dot-sight. If the red dot is on the target, they will hit it. No need to achieve sight picture and sight alignment (which they are apparently incapable of doing).

    The FBI rejected the 10mm, which would perform as well (or better), because were afraid of it. It bounced too much. Ignoring the need for training of prospective shooters, it’s obvious that they need a gun/caliber combination which goes (blip) instead of >BLAM!<.

    Apparently the need is to improve shooter skills, and give them a 'productive' round. It seems that they have focused on the 9mm Luger because it doesn't bounce, and it shoots soft. Never mind the fact that the can't hit the target .. given enough rounds in the magazine, the seem confident that eventually they would 'get lucky'.

    I personally think this is a bizarre concept, but since they claim to be the premiere man-hunters in the continental United States and are oblivious of the concept of 'training with your carry gun until you are proficient with it", it appears that they require a gun which is soft to shoot, easy to shoot, efficient at its job (which they are not), and doesn't scare them.

    Oh, shit. Give them a damn poodle-shooter and let them make up their excuses for missing. It doesn't matter what gun/caliber/configuration they use. If they won't practice, and they are frightened by their own freaking firearms, they deserve whatever they get.

    But we can at least TRY to give them something that is sufficiently soft-shooting and easy to use.

    Not that it will dp much good. And I do wish that someone had the guts to tell them that their wimpy ways are their biggest enemies … not the Ten Most Wanted or the guns that are "too scary!"

  • Tanta Mount

    I think they want a 9mm because they can qualify their agents faster, cheaper, less rounds fired. Plus cheaper rounds they give to the agents to practice every month.

  • AD_Rtr_OS

    Mil is limited to hardball ammo, LE is not – but, it seems at the FBI, hardball describes a shoulder growth.

  • RE Hafner

    And the Fumbling, Bumbling, Idiots fart through their mouths again. The problem is the FBI agents cannot hit their asses with both hands and think more rounds is the answer. Also female agents do not like recoil causing the 10mm to be replaced by the ,40 S&W which is nothing but a cut down version of the 10mm to make the limp wrists happy. When comes to facing Billy bad ass good marksmanship and the .45 ACP cannot be beat. That is why the .45 ACP replaced the wimpy .38 Special during the Philippines Muslim insurrection that Gen Pershing crushed.

  • alexander fernandez

    Although I’m a .357mag full power 125gr. type guy , I can understand the argument that you can’t stop or kill what you can’t hit. My father , a former cop in the 60s’ and 70s’ had the unfortunate luck of having to shoot and kill 3 people during his yrs in law enforcement . They were killed with .38s’ to the head and torso. Placement is the absolute factor !

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