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Old 04-23-2016, 12:25 AM
Naphtali Naphtali is offline
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Default Is formerly underpowered small pistol ammunition now satisfactory?

I was in Missoula today and stopped to look through the library's freebie magazine stash. I found a 1996 Guns & Ammo magazine in which was an article that identified best "one-shot stop" ammunition for calibers from 22 LR through 45 ACP. Identifications were based upon a large database of shootings compiled by people named Marshall and Sarnow??, neither of whose name means anything to me. I found the information on 32 ACP interesting because Winchester silvertip ammunition was identified as being abnormally effective to me while 45 Colt ammunition was, again to me, less effective than I would have thought.

Assuming the database continues to be compiled, is information based on it useful for making valid choices for buying and using factory ammunition intended for self-defense? Regardless whether it is, 1996 ammunition for self-defense in smaller bore sizes, such as 25 ACP, 32 ACP, and 380 ACP, has almost certainly changed for the better.

So what is now "cutting edge" self-defense 32 ACP ammunition - if such a thing exists? And how effective is it when compare with 9x19 mm and 38 Special in handguns intended, more or less, for a similar purpose ?
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Old 04-23-2016, 12:56 AM
alwslate alwslate is offline
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Is your real name Rip Van Winkle and did you just wake up? Just
kidding :-), but you do need to get to town more often and subscribe
to some reading material. To be brief, no magic bullet exists that will
make the .32 ACP equal to the best loads of larger ctgs like the 9mm
and 38 spl. With the smaller auto pistol rounds like the .32 and .380
ACP there are two different schools of thought as to which is the most
effective option for them, FMJ or whatever HP is in vogue. Pay your
money and take your choice. There is no ongoing debate over the .32
ACP vs .45 Colt that I am aware of.
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Old 04-23-2016, 01:06 AM
hkcavalier hkcavalier is offline
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All the buzz these days is with the Hornady XTP and the Speer Gold Dot bullets. Though if I were forced to carry one I'd probably go with the Buffalo Bore +P 75gr (if my gun was reliable with it).

Small, relatively slow bullets need to penetrate well to get that critical central nervous system hit. No .32ACP is going to reliably "blow away" a determined attacker with non-CNS hits. Be careful of the "fatal wound" stats. How long did it take for the assailant to die? If he dies in the hospital from liver failure or toxemia, that doesn't matter much if he stabbed me and my entire family to death.
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Old 04-23-2016, 08:06 AM
dmar dmar is offline
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It all depends on your placement ability.

Of course, bigger/faster is usually best, and can make up for some deficiency in your ability to place shots correctly...
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Old 04-23-2016, 08:44 AM
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Buffalo Bore has increased the effectiveness of most small calibers to make them sufficient for SD. Their little old 32 S&W with a hard cast bullet is actually equal to a 38 Special wad cutter and about up to the old lead round nose in terms of ballistics. That's pretty remarkable since these old 38 loads were used by LE for decades. I'd feel OK carrying a 32 with these loads.
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Old 04-23-2016, 08:52 AM
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Some swear by the Marshall and 'Sanow' data, and others at it . I'm sure no one will chime in on either side now that you mentioned them...

Newer loadings of small caliber handgun ammo are probably more effective than those available in 1998 (or 2008, for that matter), but none have repealed the laws of physics. No commonly carried handgun will stop a conflict 100% of the time but a full .357 (for example) is more likely to do the job than a .22 LR, .25 or .32 ACP or similar.
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Old 04-23-2016, 09:48 AM
moxie moxie is offline
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Google is your friend. Check "Marshall and Sanow." Note it's Sanow. No R.

Two good choices in .32 acp are the Win. Silvertip and the Fed. Hydra Shok. Check youtube for .32acp and review tons of tests.
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Old 04-23-2016, 10:02 AM
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Being the Luddite that I am, I hold the view that we don't really enjoy quite the increased efficiency of the results of "expanding bullet technology" that we collectively think we do and it's still up to shot placement.

The "super-bullet du jour" that is chased incessantly by a generation of shooters is more marketing than super-bullet.

I also hold that there hasn't yet been made the .32 ACP cartridge that even comes close to the .45 Colt.
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Old 04-23-2016, 10:55 AM
30-30remchester 30-30remchester is offline
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Those surveys I take with a grain of salt. Slightly useful but severely lacking. They never tell you how many people were shot per caliber, bullet placement and bullet type. In one well documented survey, the lowly 32 ACP out performed all other caliber. How many people were shot with this caliber compared to other more popular calibers. Just think, if one person was shot in the head with a 32 and dies instantly, and 200 people are shot in various places in the body including earlobes and toenails with a vastly popular round, the 32 would have a 100% rating while the vastly more popular round would fair far worse because of the shot placement. The same scenario plays out with bullets used. These are interesting studied to look at but nothing real can be gained from their data until every aspect is evaluated.
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Old 04-23-2016, 11:10 AM
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As a physicist who has taught college statistics classes, I feel the need to point out that there are lies, blatant lies, and statistics.

The problem with a collection of single-parameter statistics from anecdotal events is illustrated by the fact that more people are killed with .22 rim fires than any other cartridge, yet no sensible person would then conclude that a .22 should be your carry gun of choice.
As soon as you limit the data to ONE SHOT events without also studying distance, location of shot, number of events, etc. the results may well be flawed and misleading. Any shooting I would ever be forced to do would not fall in the ONE SHOT category because I am trained to double tap COM and keep shooting if they are still standing.

See the problem with taking statistics with arbitrary criteria from uncontrolled, non-repeatable events?
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Old 04-23-2016, 11:15 AM
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In many cases like mentioned above,
The bullet performance in these smaller caliber has been improved.
In the days of yore, most all ammo for the smaller calibers- 25, 32, 38, 380 etc was all FMJ.
Even in the widely used 38 Special, the 158 round nose jacket bullet was very common!
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Old 04-23-2016, 11:27 AM
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There's a good article on personal defense calibers in this month's "Handloader" by Dave Scovill. He references tests conducted by the US Army at the Chicago stock yards at the turn of the 20th century on livestock (not ballistic gelatin). Interesting conclusions.
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Old 04-23-2016, 11:34 AM
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Marshall and Sanow's book, "Stopping Power" provides a lot of information on real world performance of various rounds and bullet types, but has been roundly criticized by many for its various methodology flaws. It makes for interesting reading, but don't believe all it says. Regardless of the caliber or bullet type, effectiveness depends on only two factors - adequate penetration and bullet placement. Meaning a brain or spine shot with a .25 ACP will do far more damage to a determined opponent than a pinky finger shot with a .44 Magnum.
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Old 04-23-2016, 12:44 PM
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No, 32 ACP is no better today than 100 years ago. It doesn't have enough power or sectional density to both expand and penetrate effectively, meaning the ONLY choice is non expanding, with hollow points for the caliber serving the purposes of maybe shooting rats and small varmis at point blank ranges. It is an example of where the ammunition industry will produce something just because they can, just because people will buy it, not because there is any valid reason anyone should ever in any circumstances carry it in self defense.

.380 and regular pressure 38 Special are considered to be base minimum consideration and recommendation by most for very good reasons, and there are very valid arguments for carrying non expanding ammunition in THESE loads, much less 32 ACP and 25 ACP, for which the poor performance of expanding bullets make them an instant, unarguable no no. Your pocket pistol caliber doesn't magically become a 9mm, 40, or 45 the second you want to believe it can achieve high end expanding bullet performance from them. Also the mantra that "expanding bullets are always better" applies to the standard service pistol calibers, which are in a completely different league of performance from mouse guns.

Just think about what you are shooting. How much weight, sectional density, velocity, and total power do you have? How much does a 32 FMJ or solid lead bullet punch through without a hollow point? How good of a penetrator is the non expanding bullet before we even consider reducing its penetrating capabilities? Do we even have any penetration to sacrifice before we lessen it with an expanding bullet? Are we going to ensure we will drop from subpar penetration with a non expanding to absolutely certainty of failure with a hollow point?

Firearms may be extremely refined, with weapons of incredibly tight tolerances, incredible accuracy, ect., but remember terminal ballistic wise we are just throwing chunks of metal at things at high velocities. We kill through physics, not engineering. Today's expanding bullet 32's have about the same anemic power of the original loads, something that has not changed since its inception. Engineers can't magically pull the same anemic penetration from a bullet AND make it magically expand at the same time. That isn't the thinking o scientific advancement, its the magical thinking of "inevitable progress", which isn't always inevitable.

Expanding takes energy, and pushing a larger diameter bullet through tissue takes energy, both things the 32 ACP does not have. No magical engineer with his magical lab coat, and his magical laboratory, is going to change the laws of physics. Its like telling an engineer to build a bridge across San Fransisco bay using pine 2x4's and cheap bolts. The engineer could build the bridge, but not with the materials and conditions you demanded of him. The limitations of the cartridge are beyond solving, no matter what industry "experts" (marketing people) tell you.

As for Marshall and Sannow, their work is worthless at best, with such poor methodology, and their conclusions were nothing more than "conclusions" they drew before doing their work to fit popular ideas at the time.

Sorry if I went on longer than usual even, but I find this whole "have things changed about 32" to be a good question with some really poor answers, because "NO" is the only one that can be given. You're not going to be towing a 12,000 pound trailer with your Geo Metro, pound in posts with your 12 oz claw hammer, or magically get expanding bullets for a 32 ACP that work.
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Old 04-23-2016, 01:51 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Naphtali View Post
I found a 1996 Guns & Ammo magazine
I spotted the problem!

I had a subscription 30 years ago. I started noticing different writers actually contradicting themselves from article to article. And, they never met a gun they didn't like.

Towards the end, I only had it for "Cooper's Corner".

Today, I consider G&A to be the National Enquirer of the gun magazine world.

Of course, that's just my opinion, I could be wrong!
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Old 04-23-2016, 02:22 PM
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In small pistol's I am guessing you are saying .380 and smaller ..

I think .380 +P ammo is adequate but would be hesitant on anything smaller .. but with any caliber shot placement is the key for stopping someone ..

Any caliber above .380 +P police have demonstrated to be adequate to stop someone !

Other the LEO's the people I know who carry the majority carry 40 .. with 9mm coming in a close 2nd .. 6 to 5 .. 1 friend carries a 45 and 2 ladies carry .380's .. I have never asked them why .. the reason I do is I like the S&W40 caliber round .. because I shoot it pretty well ..

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Old 04-23-2016, 04:27 PM
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One thing M&S is probably right about. A 12 Ga rifled slug is 100% on one shot stops.
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Old 04-23-2016, 04:47 PM
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I was a working street cop for 30 years and used my issued .38 to save me more than once. What I learned was if properly trained and equipped you can come out on top, with a little luck. I retired in '97 and now carry the M&P .380 (after years of carrying a J frame) b/c I no longer go in harm's way and mind my own business. Gun writers not withstanding, one shot stops are a myth.
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Old 04-23-2016, 09:58 PM
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If the loads were good back then..................

I would think that twenty years of improving a SD bullet by
the ammo companies, would make the ammo even better.

Speer, Federal and Hornady have all come a long way to make things a lot better for home defense and the LE people.
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Old 04-24-2016, 02:46 AM
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Marshall and Sanow worked very hard at presenting documented data on actual shooting of human beings by other human beings. They scoured Police Agency reports for write-ups on shootings. They categorized those reports by caliber, ammunition, hits required to stop and fatal/non-fatal. They then personally interviewed the surviving participants if possible. I knew Evan Marshall as he was active in the training field for training of LEO Instructors. He and Sanow knew they were not "scientists", but rather interested, self educated observers of a vital sensitive subject. They tried their best to present their data objectively. For some to say that they went into making conclusions on preconceived notions is the furthermost thing from actuality.

The Strasbourg Goat Tests were published about this time. I read both with great interest. It was apparent that both studies showed considerable collation in comparable ammunition. A renown bullet designer by the name of Tom Burczynski was working about this time on a design that became well known as a 'break through' design called the "Hydra-Shok". Evan Marshall knew of Tom Burczynski and they discussed bullet design for the 'optimum stop' we all were interested. Tom Burczynski went on to design the 'Starfire' and the 'Quik-Stop'.

I credit Tom Burczynski with starting the huge effort most of the ammunition manufactures began to obtain the ultimate in stopping power for their handgun projectiles. Most handgun ammunition is of vastly lower power as compared to rifles. Ever better projectile designs as put into production with Tom's Hydra-Shok caused a huge increase in stopping power of all handgun ammunition. While bullet placement will always be of paramount importance, the choice of caliber has become much more subjective because of the superb bullets and factory self defense ammo we have available now.

I credit Evan Marshall and Edwin Sanow with making the first major contribution to making the public, gun users, LEOs and Ammunition Manufacturers aware that there were huge differences in handgun ammunition performance. I was proud to know Evan. I never met Ed Sanow. Their books are still available from Amazon. .....
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Old 04-24-2016, 06:38 AM
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Jeff Cooper always said never carry anything in .32. He is still correct.
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Old 04-24-2016, 07:04 AM
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I would say most of those small mouse gun rounds are no better now than in the old days. In my opinion, if you one some sort of one-shot super stopping power round, get a .357 Magnum, 10mm/.40, or .45 ACP - loaded with high velocity JHPs. All of these calibers are available in light and compact pistols these days. I'd much rather have 5 .357s over 6-7 .32s any day of the week.
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Old 04-24-2016, 01:45 PM
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I've given up on the whole stopping power/handgun round debate. As far as I'm concerned, if it can fully penetrate human size targets and break every bone along the way, it's good enough for me. I know all of the service rounds can do that. I'm not sure if any of the .380 and below rounds can do it with other than solids in those calibers.
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