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Discussion Starter · #61 ·
Re: Best gun/ammo for home defense with least over-penetrati

Yeah, I get that. Which is why I think I'll just have to pick one based on what feels more comfortable to me physically, and trust my guts. Or invent the phaser.
 

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Re: Best gun/ammo for home defense with least over-penetrati

jacoby75 said:
I believe you, and it sounds like a good idea. But I've read several places that a .223 will over-penetrate, or "unintentionally non-bad-guy penetrate" less than any handgun round.
For the answer to that you need to look further up in the thread.

Penetration depends on bullet momentum, construction, sectional density.

A .223 bullet of 55 grains (fairly typical for the use in question) can leave a carbine muzzle at about 3000fps (depending on various details). This works out to roughly 23.6 pound feet per second.

A 9mm Luger bullet of 90 grains (again, a fairly typical choice) can leave a 4,5 inch pistol barrel at around 1500 fps (again, details depending). This works out to roughly 19.3 pound feet per second. This is about 80% of the momentum of the .223.

The .223 bullet has a frontal area of around 0.04 square inches, while the 9mm bullet has a frontal area of nearly 0.1 square inches. The 9mm bullet therefore has more than double the frontal area with less than double the mass. This means that the .223 bullet has higher sectional density.

The .223 is more inclined to tumble within a target, which messes with sectional density calculations, but even assuming a 4:1 length:width ratio, it won't be vastly worse than the 9mm round, especially since the .223 doesn't have a rectangular profile. As briandg pointed out, the 9mm can easily expand to 11mm assuming the hollowpoint works properly, which also massively decreases its sectional density. Broadly speaking, we can call that a wash.

For some serious investigation, examine the following:
http://www.theboxotruth.com/the-box-o-t ... and-walls/
http://www.theboxotruth.com/the-box-o-t ... x-o-truth/
http://www.theboxotruth.com/the-box-o-t ... th-part-2/
http://www.theboxotruth.com/the-box-o-t ... le-rounds/

In none of those did a .223 substantially underpenetrate compared to a 9mm round, as far as I can see.

The most positive message I can get from all that, is to the effect that a .223 hollowpoint might come apart if you hit a bad guy - but do you want to bet on that? I don't. And after sailing through a couple of layers of light board and siding, the .223 might not even be tumbling at all and still will definitely be capable of lethal damage whether or not it's tumbling.

Now bear in mind that the comparison would look different with a smoking hot max pressure load from a .357 Magnum. I can push a 110 grain bullet out of a revolver at nearly 2000 fps, and that is a wicked round. I use a load similar to that for varmints (although I prefer to fire that from my carbine, because I'm concerned about flame cutting the top strap of my revolver with H110 powder) and it does massive destruction - but given that it's sailing out of the front of a carbine at over 2200fps packing twice the mass of the 55 grain .223 bullet, it has higher momentum even though it still has less sectional density. That means that it dumps its energy very hard into whatever it hits. I have hit a possum lengthwise with that bullet and what I got was more or less a possumskin bag of possumburger. But there was still a hole in the dirt behind the possum.

So no. Sorry. If you want to justify a choice of .223 as a defensive round, there are lots of good reasons to do so, but none of those reasons outweigh the performance of a 9mm round in the context of the restrictions you set forth in the opening of this thread.

Now, if you didn't care about the folks in the same dwelling, or the same area, we could have a fine discussion about the value of a Mosin Nagant with a mounted bayonet as opposed to a Marlin 1895 guide gun chambered in .45-70 Government. A Sierra Gameking hollowpoint at 300 grains with a stiff load will leave the muzzle at an easy 1800fps, and will tear a hole through the bad guy who just broke in your front door as well as his buddy right behind him. They will probably both drop on the spot and be dead of trauma and subsequent blood loss before the ambulance arrives. On the other hand if they're both too high to realise how dead they are, the Mosin Nagant's 7.62x54R round will not only tear through both of them but you'll have a bayonet and a steel buttplate with which to continue negotiations.

But if you miss, both of those bullets will sail on, possibly for a couple of miles depending on trajectory and barriers.
 

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Discussion Starter · #65 ·
Re: Best gun/ammo for home defense with least over-penetrati

Okay, I'm not done yet. I've learning more and more as I continue reading reviews and the studies on this site as well as discussions on other sites, and I'm starting to get a grasp on things a bit. It really sounds like .223 or 5.56 won't behave much differently than a 9mm as far as penetration, other than the depth of penetration after going through drywall first, as it appears is pointed out in that "best ammo for self defense" article on AR15.com.

And I fully understand that anything potent enough to stop a bad guy will likely blow through our home when/if I miss. Some slightly less than others, perhaps, but they all will.

So, I'm ducking as I write this, but what about a .22 rifle? I'm ducking because I have a feeling Painless is going to cyber-slap me in the mouth for even suggesting it, but several folks use a .22 carbine for home defense and it seems a tradeoff to less penetration through walls in the event of misses. In Painless' study, I think his .22 pistol round went through the equivalent of three drywall walls, if I remember correctly. With a rifle sending the .22 a little faster, maybe it would do slightly better, maybe not. But if I miss, I'd feel a little better missing with a .22 than a 12ga shotgun. Plus, with the minimal kick, from what I'm seeing a .22 is kinda like shooting a BB gun, so the odds of missing with multiple shots I would say is greatly reduced over missing with a 9mm or 12ga. I realize that most say a .22 isn't enough force to "stop" an attack based on pushback alone, and that it will likely take more hits with a .22 to stop somebody unless you get them right in the heart or head. But it sounds like it might be a decent tradeoff. Several folks have even shown that out of a rifle at long distances (100+ yards), a hollowpoint .22 can do some damage to ballistic gelatin. Granted, if I wind shooting someone from my living room who is over 100 yards away, I'd have some explaining to do to the judge, no doubt.
 

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Discussion Starter · #67 ·
Re: Best gun/ammo for home defense with least over-penetrati

Of course, there's always the fact that you can't FIND any .22 ammo anywhere these days. That alone might take it out of the running in the immediate future. I'm hoping to decide on something this week so I can get it in time to go up north next weekend and practice on some coffee cans.
 

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Re: Best gun/ammo for home defense with least over-penetrati

Let me stop you right there.

  • Yes, .22lr can do severe, even lethal damage to bad guys.
  • Yes, it is better than a middle finger and a bad word.
  • Yes, it has minimal felt recoil.
  • Yes, it will still penetrate your dwelling and severely hurt someone on the other side.

The only projectile which will probably not sail through your dwelling and really hurt someone badly is a BB from a Daisy. You don't want to defend your family with that. I understand that you want minimal penetration, but you also want reliable, adequate penetration to stop bad guys. Anything less should not make your list, and a .22lr is not on that list.

Your best bet, based on what's available, would be a low momentum, low sectional density pistol round such as a 9mm Luger hollowpoint or maybe something in .380 or .38 Special. Lighter buckshot (such as #1 buck) is also a plausible choice because those spherical pellets don't have high sectional density, but then you're dealing with shotgun spread. When considering shotguns, bear in mind that the pellet doesn't know what size shotgun fired it, just how fast it's travelling. A 12 gauge will fire more pellets, but the only difference at comparable muzzle velocity from a 20, 16 or even 10 gauge is the density of the pattern.

The only reason I can think of to get a .22lr firearm in this context would be because it's one which easily converts to a more potent round when you need it, but lets you practice with rimfire. And the conversion kit costs more off the shelf, so based on your budget, don't do it.

I would, and I could, defend myself with a .22lr if that's all I had, but believe me I'd rather have a .44 Magnum if it came to a gunfight. And if we're considering gunfights, I'd rather have an M14.

Again, apply the acid test: your daughter's bedroom, 11:59PM, strange man with knife and duct tape. Do you want to hit him with a .22lr, or would you prefer to have a 9mm Luger hollowpoint on your side, either in pistol or carbine delivery?

I'd take the 9mm every time, and shoot and keep shooting until BANG turned into CLICK. Then I'd reload.

Edited to add a little more information on shotgun pellet characteristics.
 

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Discussion Starter · #69 ·
Re: Best gun/ammo for home defense with least over-penetrati

Understood, thanks. I know it's something that COULD theoretically work, but it's not the best bet. And ultimately if I'm going to pull a gun on someone in the home, I'd best be prepared to kill 'em or be killed, and I'd want something that would give me the best odds of that happening. There have been some intersting studies, though, on the effectiveness of .22, but nobody recomends it as the "best choice" for home or self defense, except in the case of someone with grip issues, or a dainty lady, who would still probably be better off with a .38sp.
 

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Re: Best gun/ammo for home defense with least over-penetrati

Remember that combat is always a gamble. You never, ever know going in what the outcome will be. A lucky swing, or a lucky shot from a freaked out rookie can take down a veteran.

The key is to slant the odds to benefit you. How? Know what's going on, have allies, have good equipment and be trained to use that equipment under stress. Train how you fight, fight how you train. You could paint yourself with woad and charge with an axe hoping that your berserker rage will carry you through, but you're probably better off using a gun you can field strip blindfolded, hit a running man at a hundred yards with using your weak hand, and proven room clearing tactics.

So get a real gun in the right power range, and a pile of ammo heavier than you are. Practice until that pile is all gone, then reload your empty brass.
 

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Re: Best gun/ammo for home defense with least over-penetrati

If you're shooting, your yelling is probably irrelevant.

And if you're yelling while covered in woad and hacking with an axe, it may come up at trial. I'm not sure how a jury would feel about it. Especially if you were otherwise naked.
 

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Discussion Starter · #73 ·
Re: Best gun/ammo for home defense with least over-penetrati

Here's a link to a really interesting article explaining why a .22 hasn't fared much worse than a 9mm in gunfights, and has actually been more effective by some measures:

http://www.thetruthaboutguns.com/2012/06/foghorn/ask-foghorn-22l-for-self-defense/

Most notably:
1) More gunfights ended in a fatality when a .22 was involved than a 9mm. (Approx 33% to 24%, respectively). Every caliber that started with a "4" fared worse than the .22. A big part of that I'm sure is attributed to ease of fire and follow up shots. Of course the highest percentage of fatalities went to shotguns.
2) The .22 took on average one less round to incapacitate an offender than the 9mm did. (approx 1.4rds to 2.4rds, as I read the graph), with only the shotgun outperforming the .22. The author does note that 9mm's are frequently double tapped, so in that respect the numbers may be skewed.
3) The most salient negative statistic was the fact that approx. 31% of incidents with a .22 failed to incapacitate the offender, as compared to approximately 13% of incidents involving a 9mm.

All that being said, by the numbers the .22 is a fine caliber for self-defense, and by all accounts the risk of over-penetration with the proper ammunition would be minimal. However, I think I am going to go with a 9mm. The biggest concerns for me with a .22 are that the AR rifles that I've seen are usually plastic toy guns, and are often described as "a fun toy for plinking." They're often flimsy, have fake parts on them that simulate AR parts but serve no function, the cartridges are cheap and often don't fit the gun well. They are never described as a "self-defense gun," and the .22 is never described as a "self-defense round." If anything, it's commonly referred to as a "plinking" round or a "varmint" round. And no serious study of ammo penetration in any caliber, be it through drywall or ballistic gelatin, includes the .22 as a serious candidate. Also, as I've been reading reviews on different 9mm ammo, I have read things like, "This 9mm hollow point will work well for summer months, but in the winter when thicker clothing and coats are worn, you'll want something stronger." If the strength of a given 9mm ammo is such that it gives cause for concern regarding whether it will penetrate a perp's winter jacket, I can only assume the .22 would be even less likely to penetrate. And being in Michigan, home of one of the harshest winters in history last winter, that is a serious consideration. Plus, the aforementioned inability to find .22 ammo anywhere makes it almost pointless to buy one right now.
 

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Re: Best gun/ammo for home defense with least over-penetrati

I'm going to be a fly in the ointment, and say that from your perspective the only graph which matters is the last one.

You don't care about lethality. The other guy dying three hours later under the knife in an ER is irrelevant to you.

You care about stopping power, and the 9mm is much better than the .22lr on that front.

If you really want to stop someone, the .357 Magnum is just about the sweet spot. I have a variety of suspicions about why that is, which I won't go into right now, but the fact is that the .22lr is not a good stopper. That guy with the knife and the duct tape? You don't want to kill him, you want to stop him and on that front the .357 Magnum is the empirically observed gold standard among handgun rounds. The 9mm isn't all that much worse, and with a fat magazine full of rounds your odds of a successful stop are pretty good.
 

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Re: Best gun/ammo for home defense with least over-penetrati

jacoby75 said:
Here's a link to a really interesting article explaining why a .22 hasn't fared much worse than a 9mm in gunfights, and has actually been more effective by some measures:

http://www.thetruthaboutguns.com/2012/06/foghorn/ask-foghorn-22l-for-self-defense/
That "article" is wrong on many levels and full of bad advice and information. You have been given good advice, but are not listening.

A .22 "kills" more people because it is used a lot more than any other caliber. Not because it is "the best", but because it is what a lot of people are shot with.
 

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Discussion Starter · #77 ·
Re: Best gun/ammo for home defense with least over-penetrati

I won't argue with you. As I said I'm going to go with a 9mm. But I just wanted to point out that in this particular study, the number of 9mm incidents far outweighed the .22 incidents studied (approx 450 to approx 150), yet the .22 still outperformed the 9mm in some areas statistically. But that certainly does not mean it's "better" than a 9mm. It just means that in this particular instance it's not because more people used a .22. But he also does note in the study that unless you happen to hit a vitally important organ with a well-placed .22 shot or two, it doesn't do much damage. And then there's that pesky "fly in the ointment" that shows that almost three times as many .22 incidents as 9mm incidents did not end in the perp being incapacitated. That, along with my other observations above about the nature of "plinky" .22's, and 'apple's observation about ending a conflict vs eventually killing the person, leads me to chose the 9mm between the two. Still not the best, by your hierarchy of AR-Shotgun-pistol. But the more I think about the layout of our home, tight corners and thin walls, (I even ran a "drill" of sorts yesterday, trying to picture how I would engage a perp if he/she broke in to various entry points in our home) I think the pistol makes the most sense for our situation. It will likely be closely followed by a strategically placed shotgun, if I'm able to convince the wife of that as well.
 

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Re: Best gun/ammo for home defense with least over-penetrati

In my (nonprofessional, limited) experience of introducing women to firearms, I would like to suggest that you make a sincere effort to find your wife a firearm which makes her comfortable, for her to shoot, and to be hers exclusively.

I would almost arm her before you arm yourself. You're a big, muscular, physically intimidating man. She's not. Statistically speaking, she's probably spending more time around your child (and possibly home) than you are (I could of course be wrong about this).

The sooner she is comfortable with shooting, and grasps (intuitively, at least) the advantages, disadvantages and general realities of firearms, the sooner she will be comfortable with saying that you should, or should not have a shotgun, or a rifle (of some sort) for purposes including 3-gun competition, hunting, defending the homestead or whatever. The more fun she has shooting holes in paper or soda cans or tictac boxes full of tannerite, the more open she will be to the whole thing. In other words, to use the horrible slang of the people who currently infest our halls of power and universities, she needs to be empowered and engaged so that her involvement is willing and active.

You might, depending on the nature of your relationship, phrase it the following way:

"Honey, I can maybe look after myself. I'll go to a sports supply shop and pick up a softball bat for myself and make do, but I want no harm to come to you when I'm not there, so I want you to have a pistol which really works for you first and foremost."

Just a few thoughts.
 
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