http://sigforum.com/eve/forums/a/tpc/f/410601935/m/5411033841/p/1 cliffs- discussion on whether the .357SIG is really all that better than 9mm or .40. guy has a very interesting perspective on it all, especially the issue of whether or not the temporary cavity created by something below 2000 fps will affect wounding to tissue in a meaningful way. the post appears about halfway down the first page. and here it is, in its entirety I usually don’t bother with discussions like this because most of the participants who have strong opinions on the matter will not be swayed by anything that can be presented in a brief Internet exchange. Because of the emotional investment that people have in their beliefs, all that usually happens is they deteriorate into “I’m right, you’re wrong” affairs that stir the emotions and waste everyone’s time. When someone makes a blanket statement that supposedly reflects all the “expert” thinking on this subject, though, I will sometimes respond with a, “Not everyone believes that” comment. My purpose is to alert the novice or uneducated person that there’s more to learn. If they want to take the hint, they will benefit from the effort; if they don’t, they don’t. As you made an effort to address me directly, though, I’ll respond with a very brief and incomplete statement of my position. I have read many (certainly not all, of course) claims that projectile energy has no effect on wounding unless it is travelling above some magic figure. That figure has risen over the years depending upon the authority involved and the cartridge(s) under discussion. At one time it was close to 1200 feet per second (some arbitrary figure like 1180, IIRC), then it went to 1300, then 1500, and I even saw it as high as 2000. I don’t know where it is now. It can’t be too much higher because we’re approaching true rifle ranges and there isn’t much room left. The important thing, though, is that the magic velocity is always just above what common defensive handguns are capable of producing. This fact alone is of course a clue about what the people who make this claim really know. If the effect is real, then it must have real characteristics that all who are supposedly studying the subject in a scientific, objective manner are capable of discovering and agreeing upon. Many of the people who study wound ballistics claim to be scientists, but unfortunately they don’t do a very good job of acting like scientists. This is one reason why I am skeptical when they pontificate to the benighted masses who gather around the bases of their towers. What’s more, sometimes the magic velocity figure is clearly made up on empirical grounds (if any) by people who know a lot about guns but very little about wound ballistics. But because they know a lot about guns and shooting, many of their fans believe they must also know a lot about all subjects that are related in any way to shooting—such as wound ballistics. For example: Many years ago, Lt. Col. Jeff Cooper was regularly claiming in print that a single hit from the 45 ACP cartridge loaded with a 230 grain full metal jacket bullet and fired from a 1911 pistol “stopped” aggressive action 95 percent (19 out of 20) of the time. In fact, I strongly suspect he coined the now much-maligned expression “one-shot stop.” There’s no question that Chairman Jeff knew many things relating to shooting. He also made immeasurable contributions to the shooting sports and to combat shooting and tactics, handgun development, etc. As venerable a figure as he was, however, he was wrong about the 19 out of 20 one shot stops with .45 “hardball.” To his credit, he himself recognized that he was wrong about the claim and stopped making it after scientific studies of the subject began appearing in the 1970s. Mention was made of the Thompson-LaGarde test that was conducted way back in 1904. That study involved shooting ammunition of the day (nonexpanding low velocity handgun bullets) at cadavers and live cattle. Today the number of victim cows involved is a little unclear—claims range from eight to 13—but it certainly wasn’t a large investigative sample. Further, cattle are much, much larger than people and differ from us in many other important ways when considering the subject wound ballistics. Even Adam and Jamie of the Mythbusters know that pigs’ bodies resemble ours much more closely than cows’ do. In the infamous “Strasburg” tests, goats were chosen as the subjects; again because their bodies are much closer replicas of ours than cattle’s. (Yes, I know that some people dispute whether the Strasburg study was even conducted. If it was not, its inventors knew enough to pick an animal that made the whole thing at least seem plausible.) As for the cadavers in the Thompson-LaGarde test, they were, well …, dead, not alive. And as I hope everyone knows, dead people don’t react in the same way as live ones. These major flaws in the Thompson-LaGarde test along with other defects that could be discussed at length make it nothing more than a quaint historical curiosity today. Another venerable personage is Dr. Fackler. Again, he is someone who deserves a lot of credit for doing much to popularize a previously poorly-studied and known subject. He didn’t invent the science of wound ballistics by any stretch of the imagination, but he advanced it in many ways. But like other Venerable Personages, Dr. Fackler seems to have fallen into the trap of the authoritarian speaker syndrome (ASS): when we’re surrounded by people who hang on our every word and never criticize anything we say, there’s a tendency to believe that we know everything. For example, I know a lot about SIG handguns. Someone might come to me with a question about Glocks and if I let the praise I’ve received for solving SIG problems go to my head, I might decide I was equally as knowledgeable about Glocks. I’m not, of course, but people who suffer from the ASS often don’t let that get in their way when it comes to providing advice. A couple of illustrative points: Dr. Fackler’s depictions of different full metal jacket military rifle bullets passing through “ballistic” gelatin appear in many sources. There would be nothing wrong about that except that they’re all the same. What’s worse, they invariably consist of the results of one single test. Anyone who knows the least bit about testing of this sort (and it’s not limited to ballistics) also knows that such tests virtually never produce exactly the same results every time. The pictures don’t make that clear, however, and therefore many people receive a flawed understanding of one very simple ballistics phenomenon. It may be that Dr. Fackler isn’t himself at fault for misuse of his published data (though I believe he contributed to the problem), but there’s more. As a clear example of the ASS, Dr. F wrote an article for a police publication a year or so ago (IIRC—again I didn’t look up the date) about the idea of using the pelvis as an alternate point of aim if a subject is wearing body armor. Dr. F did a masterful job of explaining why the pelvis was a poor part of the body to shoot at. He discussed vital organs, nerves, bones, and blood vessels and demonstrated that shooting into the pelvis with a handgun probably won’t immediately incapacitate the subject of the gunfire. That by itself would have been okay, I suppose, but that’s where the good doctor left it. To paraphrase him: “The pelvis is a poor target; so forget shooting at it. And, no, I’m not going to suggest anything else. The End.” Even assuming that Dr. Fackler knows whereof he speaks when discussing effects of gunshots on the pelvis, how did he contribute to the question of self-defensive shooting with that article? What should LEOs shoot at if the subject’s torso is protected by armor? Without belaboring the question, the simple answer is that putting a bullet into the pelvis is a better result than missing the head or legs or having the bullet stopped by a sheet of Kevlar. Much of what I’ve read by Dr. Fackler over the years has been of this sort: “That’s no good. Period. End of discussion.” No, he doesn’t impress me all that much. Okay, I promised to keep this short (yeah, I know ). How about the experts of the FBI? The FBI also deserves a lot of credit for exploring the question of defensive handgun wound ballistics over the years. My files contain results from ballistics tests published in the FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin going back to the early 1970s. Do they know it all? Really? Then why did they test, study, and issue a round like the Winchester 9mm 115 grain Silvertip hollow point one day and decide that it was totally unsatisfactory the (figurative) next? The fact is that ideas about things like wound ballistics continually evolve over time. If the Nazis had conducted massive wound ballistics tests on a few thousand inmates of their death camps and had had the bullets and cartridges we do today, we would have better data than we can obtain from shooting at gelatin blocks. Even then, however, the next time someone developed a new bullet or cartridge, we would be faced with new unknowns. To turn to my own ammunition preferences and beliefs, it may indeed be that temporary cavitation caused below a certain threshold velocity doesn’t cause apparent damage to tissues and therefore doesn’t cause apparent wounding. The fallacy is assuming that that has no effect on the living, breathing person who is hit by different types of projectiles. If the biggest, strongest guy in my department hits me in the torso with his fist, it’s unlikely to produce an effect that could be seen if I were killed and autopsied. The same would be true if the weakest woman hit me in the same spot. Would I feel a difference, though? Of course. At this point someone will point out that being hit with a fist isn’t the same as being hit with a bullet. Yes, and thank you for that brilliant insight. It doesn’t have to be the same, however, for it to be a useful analogy. A stronger blow (more energy) affects a person more than one with less energy. Even if we assume for the sake of argument (which I don’t in fact accept) that nonvisible effects don’t affect wounding per se, it’s deliberate blindness to assume that a projectile that transfers 20 percent more energy to a person’s body than another won’t have some greater effect on the person’s reaction to the shot. Wounding is not the only effect that gunshots have on people, and that’s a fact regardless of what some authorities would have us believe. Autopsy results and gelatin blocks don’t reveal everything that’s important. It’s hard to prove and demonstrate this fact, though, because the effects I’m referring to are transitory and sometimes disappear very quickly. For example, users of the 357 SIG cartridge have often reported seeing brief whole body reactions to hits with that round that are not reported with other cartridges. If it’s a real effect, could it be useful in a gunfight? I’ll take it; if you don’t think it matters, don’t. It is imagination at work? Perhaps. It’s not the only reason I chose the 357 SIG as my defensive handgun cartridge, but those reports and a number of other beliefs I’ve developed over the past 45 years are. Thus endeth my comments.