Quick note – I can’t remember where I got this from, but it generally reflects my experience and training when it comes to the question, when you are defending yourself, do you shoot once or more? My answer goes in hand with years of military training along with many other courses I have taken since leaving the military. Read my blog on Defensive Shooting fundamentals. Attend a class and see my expanded answer, but in a quick sentence, shoot until the threat is no longer able to threaten you. — Keith
My conclusion that no handgun is powerful enough to physically stop an assailant comes from Col. Martin Fackler, M.D., a battle surgeon and world class expert who until his retirement headed the Armed Forces’ Wound Ballistic Laboratory. He cites an instance in which a victim shot at short range with a shotgun had his heart shredded yet managed to run 60 feet before collapsing.
Now technically there is a place on the body where a bullet strike should immediately physically stop an assailant. A bullet that penetrates through the eye and into the brain will shut everything down immediately. Note that that is ANY bullet. A .22 will do it just as reliably as a .45. The problem is that no one is trained for that kind of shooting because it just isn’t practical. The brain is a very small and difficult target and people engaged in violent confrontations are liable to be moving their heads around.
Col. Fackler cites the experience of hunters that often animals shot through the heart nevertheless remain able to run for hundreds of feet. Attesting to his own experience he writes:
“I live on a 90 acre farm. I lease 75 acres to a farmer who has about 30 breeding beef cows and one bull. Two years ago, coyotes killed two of his newborn calves. So I put my 6mm PPC bench rest rifle on a sandbag just inside the glass door of my glassed-in back porch. Happened to spot a coyote walking across the pasture, I opened the door and she stopped long enough for me to get off a shot. She ran for about 30 yards and then collapsed. It was a 35 lb female, shot in the heart at 230 yds.
“Some years ago I hit a deer just forward of its heart with a .30-06 165 gr. This is 4-5 times the energy of a potent handgun round. It severed all the blood vessels from heart to brain, and left about a 2″ exit hole. The deer still ran about 30-40 yds before collapsing.
“I was told some years
ago that FBI had a training program of some manner, one focus of which was
‘just because you’re shot doesn’t mean you’re dead.’ It was an effort to
counteract by training the natural response to being hit, which is to collapse
regardless of whether the wound is physically incapacitating or not.”
than Newton, simply ask how many deer get knocked down by rifle bullet hits? In
my meager experience of shooting six of the small German Reh deer through the
big blood vessels just north of the heart (German hunters sell the meat — and
the heart is meat) with a .243 Winchester –all just ran off giving no
indication of being hit –to be found dead within 100 yards. In no case was a
deer’s body displaced noticeably by the bullet.