Tuesday, October 7, 2014

The FBI, the 9mm, Science and Opinion.

If anyone was in question over how I felt about caliber, "stopping power" and associated topics pretty much had their questions answered when I wrote about it last month for Breach Bang Clear.  In May of this year the FBI circulated a memo that eventually made its way to the internet and I have had people tagging me in posts about it on Facebook ever since.  The FBI is looking to go to 9mm.  If this is the first time you are hearing this and you need a minute to clam down, please take it now.  

Breathe deep.

You good?

im good.  Continue.
Okay, moving on. For those who have not looked at it, the FBIs May 6th memo cites a number of reasons why they should move to the 9mm round and they are all great reasons.  They are the same reasons they used in the late 1980s to move to the .40 S&W round (after the 10mm debacle, of course).  See the FBI Academy Firearm Training Unit did up a paper that should be considered the bible for handgun selection, Its called Handgun Wounding Factors and Effectiveness  and it addresses damn near every topic of argument you could ever see in any forum, anywhere, over caliber.  Since then we have had a great deal of amazing research put forth by Dr. Gary Roberts and others into which bullets are more shooty than others and which ones make bad people go away faster.  The (not in any way) surprising conclusions are always about penetration and shot placement, not caliber.

Now, the FBI, myself or Dr. Williams have not addressed the Glock vs 1911 debate so we will have to table that one for now but for everything else, the jury is in fact in and has been in since 1989. For those that didn't know the verdict was back, I have provided links.  For those that hate science, or disagree based on opinion, I hear there are places in Pennsylvania you can go where they dont have the internet; however punching babies is just as illegal and frowned upon there as it is here.

Obviously 1989 was a while back and if you are my age or younger, you probably missed the report coming out because the internet wasn't really a thing and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles was on.  I first came across the report in 2002, which is also a life time ago in internet argument years.  It might as well be the beginning of time because memes hadn't been invented then that could be used to underscore your point or attack someone elses.  How did we ever debate anything back then?

So in 1989 and again in 2014 the FBI said the same thing.  Why should we listen to the FBI when Deerhunter1980, 1911guy,  ISIShunter22 or Beantownbadass "know" a guy, who statistically is a SEAL, who shot (x) number of people with the .45 (or .40) and his opinion is that the 9mm isn't good enough to blow out backs?

Well, all due respect to the gun store counter (both sides of it), the FBI has people employed full time to research ballistic performance.  It is literally their thing.  We cant have scientific controls in place on a gun fight, but we can best examine the performance of the bullet.  This isnt good enough since anyone with patience and/or a debit card can order Ballistic gel on the internet, we have plenty of disputed performance claims for each round because, well because we are curious by nature and some may even have their SEAL buddies reputation at stake.  Personal research is awesome.  Making the research fit your opinion instead of the research helping form your opinion is ridiculous.  Thank god the same approach isn't taken to brain surgery or gravity.

My point here isn't to rehash my position since I pretty exhaustively covered that already, rather I would like to think that those who want to espouse the holy properties of the .45 over everything else or swear their undying allegiance to the .40, .380. .357 SIG (or original .357 you unwashed heathens) do so with a stiff shot of education.  Sometimes it tastes bad going down but its far better than unqualified advice.  I am wary of gun store gospel for the same reason I dont take fitness advice from a random guy in the gym.  hes in the right place to know what hes talking about, he may even look like he knows what hes talking about but that doesn't mean his advice is not going to lead to a violation of common sense.

For those who say "shoot what you are comfortable with, caliber isnt important" I applaud you; I just hope that this advice is given impartially and not to defend the practicality of a low capacity weapon over a higher capacity weapon because you believe a few rounds are going to do the trick.  7-8 rounds is nice; 15-20 is better.  If you then want to talk about accuracy and how you should be able to do it in single digits, I would suspect a lack of experience in actual uses of force and either no access to the internet or no knowledge that www.google.com exists.  There is mountains of data to the contrary and while every gunfight is going to be unique, there are commonalities.

Contrary to some opinions, im not actually promoting any one caliber over another.  I like the 9mm; which in no way can be understood as me saying "you should carry a 9mm" unless you pulled a bender last night drinking paint thinner and cayenne pepper.  What I am suggesting as loudly as I can is to actually put in an hour or so to read up on the topic from reputable sources.  I believe that every shooter has a responsibility to be factually knowledgeable about the performance of their ammunition and that information should be based on credible research not shooting milk jugs.  Knowledge of handgun ammunition performance in general can go far towards changing assumptions and helping personal planning on magazine capacity, number of mags carried and paying greater attention to shot placement.

Since for some owning a gun is almost the same as being an expert in all things gun (it is, right?) and the same may have a very emotional investment in all their choices, this argument/debate is going to rage until we are arguing whether or not the 40 Watt plasma rifle is a good choice for home defense over the EM-1 Rail gun.  Arnold preferred both so im waiting on the FBI to release some impartial research on their performance.

just for the TL; DR crowd

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