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“One Shot Stop” Handgun statistics, and why they’re a load of crap

In my last CCW class, I had somebody talk about the famous “Marshall & Sanow One Shot Stop Statistics” and about how this student was going to use a 97% round instead of a 92% round. 

 

Okay, if you aren’t familiar with these, basically these two guys, Marshall & Sanow, supposedly looked at a ton of actual shootings, where people had been shot once in the torso with a bullet, and then they measured what percentage of those resulted in an immediate stop, i.e. immediate cessation of hostile action.

 

Then they published their work, and all bullets were rated.  Immediately, people who were not given to critical thinking, accepted these percentages as gospel, and you could hear people arguing at gunshows and on the interweb about how they’re more tactically saavy because their handgun load was a 94% stopper, while yours was a meager 82% stopper.

 

Over time the flaws in this stuff became apparent, and luckily we don’t have to hear about it as often as we used to.  But it still pops up once in awhile. 

 

Let’s break this down as to why this idea is massively flawed.  First, assuming that their data was not fabricated (because of lot of the shootings weren’t documented by anybody other than them), this wasn’t exactly scientific data.  It wasn’t like they lined up 300 death row prisoners, shot each one in the chest with a different brand of .45 and then watched the clock until they quit kicking.  Supposedly these were incidents from actual gun fights. 

 

And since gun fights by their nature are fluid, dynamic, and always suck, we can also assume that they’re going to be different.  To illustrate:

 

Shooting 1:  Subject is 105 pounds, soaking wet.  Pacifist.  Faints at the sight of his own blood.  His book club calls him “Todd.” Has never been in a violent encounter in his entire life.  Plays Barbara Streisand records to get “charged up”.  Gets shot in the abdomen with a Brand X .32.  Bullet lodges in the belly button.  Barely breaks skin.  Subject faints because of loud noise.  .32 Brand  X = 100% stopper.

 

Shooting 2:  Subject is 310 pounds of prison hardened muscle.  Has a spider web tattooed over his whole face, and his friends call him “Death Train”.  Subject 2 is high on coke, crack, meth, elephant tranquilizers, No-Doze, and Cherry Pepsi.  While robbing a bank during a tri-state killing spree, Subject 2 engages in a running gun fight with police and is shot through the lung with a Brand Y .45.  Subject 2 then carjacks a busload of handicapped nuns to escape.  Later has friend who flunked out of Vet School remove the bullet with a pair of barbeque tongs.  Subject 2 then goes to 50 Cent concert.   Brand Y .45 = 0% stopper.

 

So from this illustration, you are far better off carrying the Brand X .32 than the Brand Y .45. 

 

Now obviously, that is flawed, because of the nature of the subjects.  Death Train and Todd are not equivalent in any way.  Death Train would EAT Todd.  However, they’re both people that got shot in the torso with a single round, therefore they are valid M&S stats. 

 

Then you’ve got people shot in the heart vs. those shot in the gut.  Both bad, but one is usually fatal in a matter of seconds by the basic facts of biology.  However, both are one shot stops.  So if the guy carrying an inferior round, is a better shot, that round gets a better percentage. 

 

And then my personal favorite, they disregard multiple shots.  Because if you shoot the guy twice, then that doesn’t count.  I don’t know about you guys, but anybody worth shooting is worth shooting five to seven times.  I’m not going to shoot the guy once, and then wait around to see what percentile he falls into.  My gun is going to sound like a friggin’ jackhammer until he decides to leave me the hell alone.

 

Once again, before you jump onto any Gun World bandwagon, exercise a little critical thinking.

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