Firearm Stopping Power: Important Things to Consider

  • by Casy Smith
Firearm Stopping Power: Important Things to Consider
Time to Read: 2 minutes
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When you get your concealed carry license or purchase a firearm for self-defense, you hope to never resort to lethal force to defend yourself. However, if you're put in a life-or-death situation, you heavily rely on the small pieces of metal you have loaded in your weapon to stop an assailant.

When looking for ammunition, you may have heard the term “stopping power” mentioned alongside the bullet caliber and type. While a bullet's caliber, weight, and design are all easy to document and quantify, stopping power is harder to concretely define. While this may be the case, there are several important points to consider about stopping power and its relevance to you as a firearm owner.

So What does “Firearm Stopping Power” Mean?

If there were one metric that could help choose a type of ammunition for your self-defense firearm, it would be how much the ammo slows down or hurts an attacker. Unfortunately, creating a measurement for this effect is easier said than done. 

According to one expert from the National Rifle Association, the term stopping power describes a bullet's ability to create ballistic wounds sufficient to incapacitate a target. Essentially, the idea of stopping power comes from the combination of sheer force mixed with the ability to cause pain. 

Handgun being shot to demonstrate firearm stopping power

Richard A. Mann with says that there are a few elements to stopping an assailant that come into play whenever you are measuring the stopping power of a particular round. These are:

  • Creating a lethal wound. 
  • Landing an immobilizing shot to the nervous system or major bone structures. 
  • Causing enough pain to make them cease their attack. 

Stopping Power Considerations: Pain vs. Damage

When you are trying to defend yourself, it doesn't matter how lethal or accurate your shot is if the assailant cannot feel the round's immediate impact. You are trying to eliminate a threat in moments, not in minutes. This is where the consideration of pain versus damage comes into play.

A lighter round with more expansion is more likely to cause pain. However, it's less likely to immobilize your target because it won't hit with as much impact as a heavier round. A clean shot through an attacker's body may cause more damage, but if the bullet's path is straight it may not cause as much immediate pain.

Knowing the tradeoff that exists between the amount of pain and damage inflicted on your target is an important consideration to be aware of as you look for the right kind of self-defense ammunition.

shots fired at paper target of a person

Stopping Power Considerations: Selecting a Self-Defense Ammunition

It's essential to remember that you can't determine how much your shot will impact the person attacking you. You can only choose a round that you think will find the best balance of power and immediate discomfort.

Even though here in this blog we will not dive into all the various types of defensive carry ammunition, it is a wise idea to talk with your CCW instructor or other self-defense experts for insights on finding the best ammunition for your setup.

While you may never find the ammo with perfect stopping power, there are other elements to consider in your concealed carry setup. Regular training and target practice will help you land shots in critical situations.

While you aren't carrying, your firearm needs a secure location while you are at home. You can find great home concealment decor options for your firearm at Liberty Home Concealment. Our variety of concealment products makes it easy to safely store your firearm in a location that's easily accessible to you. 

Have questions about our products? Visit our contact page to get in touch with our team!


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