Firearms myths and legends deserve some debunking

Anyone, in any business, could probably go on and on about the strange ideas some of the people they come into contact with have about the their area of expertise. 

I’m sure a day hasn’t gone by where I haven’t heard some outlandish claim of how great one thing is and how terrible another is. 

I couldn’t possibly remember them all from the last 20 years but here is a sampling:

  • You can’t really hit a deer with a .303 British at 2,200 yards just because the military sight is graduated to that distance. Hmmm. You would probably have to aim at the top of the Eiffel Tower to hit its foundation that far away.
  • The .308 Winchester cartridge is one of my favorites for hunting, and is very accurate, but if you are building a long-range rifle DON’T build it in .308. Now I know you are sitting there thinking, “Then why do the military and police snipers/counter snipers use it?” 

The military uses it because it is an established military cartridge. The police use it because the military does. 

Both would be better off with something like a .260 Remington or 6.5 Creedmoor. These 6.5 mm rounds shoot much flatter and have less recoil as a bonus. They also put more power on target at long range. 

Obviously, for even better performance there are a plethora of magnums out there.

  • The 380 ACP (Automatic Colt Pistol) is not just a short 9 mm. Well, actually, yes it is, BUT it is only half as powerful, no matter how you measure it. 

With standard ammo or full-power +P rounds, if you compare apples to apples, it’s still a 50-percenter.

  • While on the subject, I have even seen gun “experts” put the 9 mm Luger and .38 Special as equals in power. This is definitely NOT the case. 

With standard ammo in service weapon-size handguns, the .38 S&W Special has about 200 foot pounds of energy, while the 9 mm easily has 350 foot pounds –  almost twice the power. In more effective +P loadings, the .38 gets up to about 275 and the 9 mm close to 450 – again, a BIG difference. You can get +P+ loadings for both rounds as well. 

The .38 goes up to just under 400 foot pounds and the 9 mm to almost 500, which narrows the gap, but if you think you are going to shoot +P+ loads in your 2-inch snubbie, you’re wrong. Speaking of the 2-inch barrel .38, the power is significantly reduced from the 4-inch barrel figures quoted above.

  • The .22 Magnum (.22 Winchester magnum rimfire, to be correct) is NOT a powerhouse! 

I think many shooters look at the ballistics of this cartridge in a 22-inch rifle barrel and don’t realize that their 2-inch revolver barrel is not going to come remotely close to delivering that amount of power. 

Even in a rifle’s long barrel it produces around 300 foot pounds of energy or slightly higher, about the same as a REALLY wimpy 9 mm out of a handgun. 

I’ve also repeatedly heard that a .22 magnum bullet will penetrate body armor. The standard soft body armor is level IIA and the 22 mag. absolutely will NOT get through it, even if you smear the bullets with Crisco! 

Seriously, I had someone tell me once that if you can put Crisco on a .38 bullet, it will go through a bullet-proof vest.

  • The .22 long rifle really stinks as a defensive round. In real-life defensive shootings, the lowly .22 is, at best, able to stop an attacker 30 percent of the time with a shot to the chest. To put that in perspective; the best 9 mm loads will do it with a 91 percent success rate. 

Contrary to popular belief, the .22 is NOT better than the .25 ACP either. 

In average, everyday ordinary loads, they are about equal but ask yourself how many .22 rimfires you have seen misfire? How about the much more reliable, centerfire .25 ACP? 

The .25 also feeds much more reliably in the little semi-automatic pistols that are most often used in these calibers. The 25 is also available in Glaser and Mag-Safe loadings which really ups its effectiveness. 

Nothing like that exists in .22 L.R. There is a great saying: “If you shoot someone with a .22, don’t tell them about it; they’ll get really angry.”

  • I am a huge fan of the .45 ACP cartridge and carried one daily during the cooler months for years, but it is not the “Hammer of Thor” that some seem to think it is. I don’t know how many times 

I’ve heard someone say, “If you hit a guy in the thumb with a .45, he’s goin’ down!” HOGWASH! 

If you shoot a bad guy in the hand with a .45, he’s going to have a half-inch hole in his hand, be really ticked off, and that’s it. 

Defensive use of a firearm requires placing bullets in the right places, no matter what caliber it is. 

Two things cause incapacitation by firearms use: (1) shutting down the body via trauma and (2) blood loss.

On that note, I heard a woman on the TV news ask, “Why don’t the police just shoot the guns out of the criminals’ hands?” It’s hard enough for even a trained individual just to hit a bad guy anywhere in a life-and-death struggle; shooting guns out of hands is a laughable idea. 

I can recall one situation in which a police sniper shot a pistol out of a man’s hand when he was threatening to commit suicide, and it worked. 

I think I remember one other case where a police sniper did this to a hostage taker. 

This action prompted other police experts to do some testing with confiscated firearms that were going to be destroyed anyway. In these tests, more often than not, the guns FIRED when struck externally by a sniper’s bullet. I’d rather the sniper/sharpshooter take out the bad guy and not put any innocent citizens at risk.

I will most likely revisit this subject in the future as the myths and legends are epic and vast in the firearms world, but for now this should get some arguments going. 

Remember: Facts don’t mean a thing in the middle of a good argument.