Self-Defense: Persistent Myths

As some of you may already know, Sheriff Jim is on safari somewhere in sub-Saharan Africa. He’ll be back in the land of the big PX sometime ’round the end of the month. In the meantime we bring you some of his recent columns from Shooting Illustrated.

Persistent myths about self-defense. Sheriff Jim WilsonIt is absolutely amazing the way some myths about self-defense continue to get passed around year after year and generation after generation.

Just about the time it appears they have been proven false and dismissed, the same stuff pops up again. Part of this is probably due to the fact there are always new people who finally realize they need to do something about their personal safety and begin seeking answers. Unfortunately, it is also due to the tendency of some people to pass on advice they have heard, but never took the time to find out if it is really true. Since it sounds cool, it must be right.

This is one of the many reasons why defensive shooters need to receive professional training. With a good, professional instructor, it is remarkable how many of these myths quickly fall by the wayside and are replaced by cold, hard facts. Let’s look at three of the old self-defense myths that just won’t die and discuss the truths they conceal.

1. Hit him anywhere with a .45 and it will knock him down.
This myth probably started with the advent of the .45 Colt, back in the 1870s, but it has been repeated most often when people refer to the .45 ACP. Nowadays, you will hear it touted regarding the .44 Mag., the .41 Mag., the .40 S&W or whatever new pistol cartridge that has just been introduced.

The truth was only discovered way back in 1687, when Sir Isaac Newton published his third law of motion. Newton simply stated that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. In other words, if a bullet shot from a handgun was so powerful that it could actually knock a person down, it would also knock the shooter down.

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39 Responses to Self-Defense: Persistent Myths

  1. Winghunter says:

    Having heard the undeniable truth of physics – A bigger and slower bullet brings a kinetic energy that a smaller and/or faster moving one may not (Depending on what the bullet hits)

    “45 ACP – This caliber has been around for almost 100 years and is still the top rated round. More police agencies are using this round due to its proven stopping ability. The large diameter, heavy bullet is the basis for the “momentum” theory of stopping power however actual results in shootings show a mix of “light and fast” and “slow and heavy” rounds. The Remington 185 grain Golden Saber was involved in 148 shootings and caused 142 one shot stops for a 96% rating followed closely by the Federal 230 grain Hydra-Shok which caused 200 one shot stops in 211 shootings for a 95% rating. Eight of the 16 loadings examined rated above 90% one shot stops while 5 others rated in the 80s. The poorest stoppers were the Remington, Federal and Winchester 230 grain FMJ rounds which achieved 62% one shot stops.

  2. My Uncle, a Lt. Col. With the 11th Armored, Patton’s III Army, has the same knock capability notion for the .45. An event in my little country farm town county seat indicated differently! Our City Marshall, a good, good man, heard a commotion from across the corner of the elevated court house square and when he went around the NE corner of our Square he saw a fellow with two double bit axes come out of the Western Auto Store. That man was a WWII disabled veteran who had what was back then called ‘shell shock’. Sometimes he was lucid; some times not. That day he was ‘totally gone’! Mr. Hall knew the veteran, like most everyone in our small community who either knew the man or knew of him. The vet, having cleared the store and sidewalk of customers began to meet Mr. Hall and two warning shot that broke the Ford dealership 2 story tall showroom glass near the top and the begging for him to stop had no effect. One ax thrown missed Mr. Hall and the other the vet kept swinging from side to side. Hit by the remaining 4 bullets from the S&W M1917 .45 ACP rimmed ctg. revolver, he was only stopped by the head shot at almost arms length distance. Back 60 years ago when this happened we had PEACE OFFICERS, folks that were just like us . . . and Mr. Hall never got over that incident; resigning and moved to the Gulf Coast and was said to have ‘lost his health’ from dwelling on this incident. But that was way back then . . . and this is now. The emotional results of such a shooting may well be the same now . . . but one wonders . . .

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