The Fallacy of A One Shot Stop

The Fallacy of A One Shot Stop – We have all heard the wars in the calibers talking about being more effective than another, and it is something that despite all the data out there that speaks to calibers, loads, testimonials there is still a ton of arguing about the “one shot stop”. Truth is there is no such thing in my opinion, and I feel I can back that up with reasoning and logic, but I will leave it for you to decide. The definition itself varies but is typically centered around one bullet stopping the target from doing what it was doing immediately and/or no longer being a threat.

Bigger caliber = Guaranteed one-shot stop


One of the biggest myths is that the bigger the gun, the better the stopping power. Now at face value, it appears to be true. If you shoot a bad guy with a 45-70 versus, say a 22, he will more than likely stop. However, the thing that this doesn’t address is where the shot impacts. I know this may seem like a trivial point but hear me out. If you hit someone in the arm with a 22LR, there is a chance they are still a threat, but also a chance they may decide that it hurts, and they aren’t that interested in whatever it was they wanted originally. The second part of it is a poor shot with a larger caliber might get you a similar result as a well-placed shot and a smaller one but just not as fast. If the recoil on your 44 magnums prevents you from hitting solidly on a charging bruin and winging him in the arms, odds are you’re not effective based on our standard above. Same situation with 9mm and 15 rounds of +P solids in the head and vitals you may be in business.

Smaller calibers aren’t as effective


This used to be my frame of thinking. I couldn’t hunt with anything less than a .30 caliber rifle, and my carry gun was a 45 (God’s caliber to my line of thinking), and I did so in my Original holster at 3 o’clock carry because that was how it was done. However, in the last 13 years, I have been in the service, I have seen the effectiveness of smaller calibers, and I can say on good authority that they do have pretty good terminal effects. Is there the odd ISIS fighter that soaked up several rounds from the meth he was on going to keep going, yeah, adrenaline also does a lot to longevity in a fight, but consistent hits in the A zones (a reference to IPSC target of center mass or right in the brain housing group) and it doesn’t matter the size of the bullet. This is true in hunting where I used both a 308 WIN and a 6.5 Creedmoor on two similar-sized deer. Both were shot in the heart at the same distance, and you know what, they both were DRT (dead right there). I have also changed my thoughts on where I carry, working with the appendix and the Original thank God is adaptable enough that I don’t need another holster.

There is a lot to be said about a smaller bullet moving fast and accurately as being effective in stopping threats, but I will tell you that unless you are toting a 12 gauge slug or a 338 WIN, shot placement will always trump a bigger round.

Author: Ian Bolser