Saturday, June 4, 2011


When I run training activities I try to tell the students they can fill magazines, speed loaders or strips anywhere but the gun can only be loaded at the line on command.  The goal is to reduce confusion and to improve performance. 
So it’s a little confusing to hear about bullet stopping power.  Most of the time we say ‘bullet’ when we really mean ‘cartridge’ or ‘round.'  It’s a common misuse.  It’s not the bullet that is responsible for stopping power; it’s the cartridge composed of primer, powder, case and bullet.  But even with all that, we’re still missing a vital component: shot placement.
Stopping power is one of the great ice breakers at shooting clubs and gatherings of shooters.  Ask, “What do you think is the best bullet for stopping power?” and instantly you’ve established yourself as a member of the shooting community.  It’s much more successful than “What’s your sign?”
Gun writers make a living testing and prognosticating the newest cartridge/bullet combination.  The ammunition industry seduces us with new designs and promises of enhanced performance.  Getting any police force bigger than Mayberry to carry a specific round could mean huge profits to any bullet manufacturer from the civilian market.  One might think it would be better to give the NY police ammo for free and make the money from the rest of us.
Do I think performance rounds are bogus?  Just a flim-flam on the unsuspecting shooting market?  Absolutely not.  Performance ammo is the finishing touch.  It’s the cherry on the ice cream sundae, the twelve coats of hand-rubbed wax on a walnut rifle stock, the end of a perfect day.  I am a true believer.
But more importantly than any caliber, bullet or cartridge is shot placement.  A dynamic hit on the center of the available mass with hardball of any caliber is more important than a near miss with a 300 Win Mag with a hollow-point, nuclear-fragmenting, tissue-destroying, water buffalo-stomping bullet.
Only hits count.  Equipment does not make up for lack of skill and practice.

While I’m waxing on ammo, I recently heard of an interesting conversation on tactics.  I believe my source implicitly.
Bobby Boattail: “I got my CCW and I bought a Kimber 1911 in .45ACP as a carry gun.”
Norm Shooter: “Oh, that’s great!  Do you like it?”
BB: “Yes, but I carry one round in it.”
NS: “You mean you carry just one magazine.”
BB: “Oh no, I carry only one round in my gun.”

One filled magazine or eight reloads?
NS (confused but still in the game): “Why would you do that?”
BB: “If I shoot at someone and miss, I don’t want them taking my gun away from me and shooting me.  So I only carry one bullet.”
NS: “Are you a graduate from the Fife Shooting Academy?”

I swear it’s a true story.  I couldn’t make up stuff this good.

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