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Discussion Starter #1
The pevlic shot as a "plan B" backup to center of thorax has been around at least 20 years in LE, but not everyone has bought into the program. Dr. Fackler had hysterics over the concept and all too many folks are hung up on headshots as the alternative.

With due apologies to Charlie, the headshot isn't a high percentage handgun target for average folks. The target area is small, very well protected and exceedingly mobile. I'm personally aware of 2 incidents where headshots achieved instant stops-by concussion. That's not something you can count on. In fact, there's thought now that the base of the throat is a high value target, much less mobile and less highly protected. As such, it's preferred over an attempted head shot in most cases.

For those late to the party, the pelvic shot is suggested because it's a compartively large target, not particularly mobile and contains some large arteries/veins and a lot of bone. There's a substantial body of evidence that a bone hit in that area tends to transmit shock to the spine and drop the subject if bone damage doesn't. However, keep in mind that nothing short of a tactical nuke is 100%.

Basic loads: I'm not sure what the basic load was in horse cavalry days, but since you can't count on resupply (or supporting arms) under any/all circumstances, great heaping gobs of ammo is a good thing when you're in hostile territory.
 

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Re: Special Ops saying no thanks to the SCAR

The first I heard about pelvic shots was in one of Mas' columns, in reference to stopping a knife attack. He also warned about the possibility of being labelled a "gut shooter", if an incident went to court.
 

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Re: Special Ops saying no thanks to the SCAR

No apology needed and you have a valid point.

I also like the neck shot and have used it often as a hunter but it is a smaller target.

I seem to recall a target that had a narrow, elongated oval high value area that ran from the forehead to the sternum which covers most bases...

I still can't get on board with the pelvic shot simply because I don't see it as an improvement over a good center of mass shot and it would be counter inuitive in a stress situation when everyone trains for center of mass.

If I was going to plan B it would be the mozambique which was a standard IPSC exercise for years and seems to me to have a higher probability of a happy ending.
 

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Re: Special Ops saying no thanks to the SCAR

Charlie Petty said:
I still can't get on board with the pelvic shot simply because I don't see it as an improvement over a good center of mass shot and it would be counter inuitive in a stress situation when everyone trains for center of mass.
I have no stake in trying to convince you where to aim but the term "center of mass" is a gross misnomer and, in the opinion of a few of us who have medical backgrounds, anatomically misleading.

The center of mass of the human body is in the upper pelvic region, about two or three inches below the navel.

Just as a hunter is advised to learn the anatomy of his quarry, the warrior - for lack of a better term - is advised to learn the anatomy of his human assailant. Dr. James Williams, an emergency physician, teaches this in his Tactical Anatomy program. With the understanding that the brainstem is a particularly small and difficult target to reach, Williams, from top to bottom recommends the following targets:

  • Brainstem[/*:m:2nageugu]
  • Upper mediastinum[/*:m:2nageugu]
  • Lateral pelvis[/*:m:2nageugu]

As my former teaching partner was fond of saying, "It's your gunfight."

(Time for a moderator to split this topic?)
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Re: Special Ops saying no thanks to the SCAR

I'll second the motion on a separate thread. The medical terms are interesting and educational if what I linked to is correct. The base of the neck hold appears to target the spine and Superior Mediastinum (includes a whole passel of major blood vessels), especially if the round(s) go a wee bit low.

The shifting definition of "center of mass" is a known issue. It's why I specified "center of thorax" as the primary aiming point.
 

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We may be down to splitting hairs and I would agree that "center of thorax" might be more anatomically accurate but common use- right or wrong- still prevails.

But if you play like you practice- and were trained to hit the 10 ring of a B-27- the pelvis is a foreign country.

If one has the time and skill to pick a shot between the running lights seems a better choice.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
BGs wearing body armor also figures into the pelvis. Yeah, the head shot avoids that but we're back to time (never enough), ability, light, range etc. as variables that make the shot somewhere between difficult & damn near impossible.
 

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I AM PROBABLY VIOLATING ANY ONE OF A NUMBER OF FORUM RULES BUT THIS IS PART OF SOMETHING I DRAFTED THE OTHER DAY FOR THE THREAD “Special Ops saying no thanks to the SCAR” ALSO HERE UNDER “Charlie Petty's Art of the Gun”. (ALL OF THE REFERENCES HERE RELATE TO THINGS SAID IN THAT THREAD.)

I’VE BEEN TOO BUSY TO FINISH IT (I WILL TRY TOMORROW) BUT WHEN I SAW THIS NEW THREAD THIS AFTERNOON, I FIGURED THAT AT LEAST SOME OF IT WAS APPLICABLE (AND POSSIBLY HELPFUL) HERE AND THOUGHT THAT I SHOULD PASS IT ALONG IN CASE I GET RUN OVER BY A BUS BEFORE I GET IT DONE.

SO, IN DRAFT FORM I OFFER:

…Furthermore, while both “ArmyCPT” and C.J. Chivers do touch on (from different directions and perspectives) the ammunition this gun currently employs, both of them also bring up the fallacy of one-shot (and, occasionally, more-than-one-shot) stops and how to train around them. And once again, I cannot agree more.

For at least the last twenty years of my life, I have been teaching people how to fight successfully with a handgun and one of the first things I do, is (re)emphasize (if they hadn’t heard it before) how a pistol is no substitute for a long gun and how while I know that one shot stops do occur, they are generally more a matter of good fortune (on the part of the defender) and a lack of determination (on the part of the offender) than a matter of course in such actions. I firmly believe that it is the same thing here. While we can try to optimize the cartridge we fire in all kinds of ways, because of the limits such small arms (handguns and long guns) have, we cannot expect them to always put someone down as effectively or as easily as we’d like. That’s why for the same twenty-plus years, I have also taught people to fire (controllably) until the threat was negated; the same approach touched upon by “ArmyCPT” and C.J. Chivers.

“spwenger” then brings up diameter. Earlier in this post, I mentioned that I am big bore fan so I agree with him. In handguns (he was discussing long guns – I’ll get to that in a minute), it is one of the few things we can depend on to help us. Assuming that we keep minimum penetration levels constant among any of our choices in caliber and individual rounds, making a bigger hole just makes more sense. First of all, the chances of hitting something worthwhile are increased but most of all, by making multiple, “big” holes in a part of the body that is both easy to hit (a relative concept) and filled with cardiovascular components, that ability to make the offender bleed out and/or suffer a drop in blood pressure so that he or she cannot think or so they cannot act upon any thoughts they might have, is also increased.

Then Charley chimes in about “head shots” being “the answer”. And you know, he’s right. But unfortunately, it’s not as easy as all that. I have never been too keen on what I think is a sometimes overemphasis on two-to-the-body-one-to-the-head drills in police and civilian training. First of all, I hate to say it but even at close (combat?) distances, most people (the “average” and generally unpracticed shooters) just aren’t good enough to perform them successfully and the third shot is often wasted. And as such drills are often proffered (these days, not so much when they first became better known) as body armor drills, even if one was a good shot, stop and think how most people would react getting smacked that hard twice in the chest and what their head would be doing as a result: not necessarily just sitting there unmoving and waiting for the third round to find a home.

And that’s the problem with headshots in general. Not only is the targeting area greatly reduced but often it is moving even if the body is not. And while it can be a very good place to strike (especially with the more reliably penetrating rounds we have today), if we again look at that average and generally unpracticed shooter, we cannot expect them to reliably target and hit this area successfully with a handgun, and in many cases, not with a long gun either, when faced with the stress and the time frames of a life-threatening situation. As a result, we are probably still best in recommending that previously mentioned, upper thoracic zone (and in recommending it being struck with as many large diameter projectiles as required to negate the threat).

But in an effort to be objective, if we look at “spwenger’s” interest in diameter, his earlier recounting of Cirillo’s problems with shotgun hits to the chest not always working to put people on the ground, my belief in the upper thoracic area as something “hittable” and susceptible to damage, and Charley’s thoughts about head shots, then maybe it’s time that for certain applications (and with some of the amazingly improved 12ga ammo out there today), we look at the shotgun fired into the head or neck as a very viable option; maybe with the carbine perhaps being directed to this area as well. We should also at least consider some of these same areas with the handgun too but in its case, perhaps just look to expanding its strike zone up from that upper thoracic location to also include (at least the base of) the neck.

Shots to the base of the neck and the area just below it not only retain some choice circulatory targets, but they also include the airway and the esophagus; both of which are not only very susceptible to incoming fire but both of which can, if damaged, cause, for various reasons, a disruption (or redirection) of the thought process.

One can look at this the way we look at certain chemical agents. Some people can “will” their way through lacrimating (tearing) agents but fewer people can function clearly when their breathing passages are negatively affected by various pepper compounds. So I believe that severe damage to the throat can be disruptive to even some of the more determined adversaries for the same reason. You can try all you want but if you are gagging or struggling just to breathe, it does make it hard to focus successfully on much else. Additionally, there is also the possibility of spinal damage by shots to this area but obviously, that cannot always be counted upon.

The same is true for shots to the face. The only ones that can be counted upon to do serious harm are ones that actually make it into the brain. Forehead shots often result in glancing blows (as can anything not very well centered side-to-side). Open mouth shots might get all the way back to the brain stem but often they (along with many if not all closed mouth shots) get broken up or redirected on the teeth. And even severe damage to the teeth and jaw structure can be overcome in the short term. So we need to look at shots into the eyes and maybe parts of (or near) the nasal area. The good thing here is that even if the projectiles don’t tunnel as deeply as we’d like, many people (even many determined people) do not do well when their eyes or their view are affected.

So looking at the big picture here, perhaps the upper thoracic area (I believe still the best balance of being large enough to hit, being vulnerable and not moving much) could be expanded upward into the base of the neck. For while it is a reduced target area, it is still a good-sized one. It is located above the level of most armor, ammo pouches, and heavy clothing. And it has only slightly more potential for movement than the torso itself. Perhaps we could go further and include the neck as a whole. But it must be recognized that it is a much smaller area and while it is fragile and a good source of things to damage, it is subject to a lot more movement. I think that these three areas (upper thoracic, lower neck and the neck itself) are all addressable with a handgun or long gun. The head (often overlooked in many training programs) should be considered if the weapon of choice is a shotgun and maybe a carbine.

Before moving on, and I am saying this with the greatest amount of respect for the things I have seen posted in the past by “Retmsgt.”, I must add that I will never believe that pelvic shots make sense.

Now I know of two incidents where bone related structural damage (they were upper leg shots) got the offenders to drop but even then, it didn’t get them to stop fighting. And in both cases, looking at the number of rounds that were expended, I think that it finally became a matter of the amount of projectiles launched vs. things that could be “hit” before anything good came of it. Personally, I think if those rounds had been directed into the upper thoracic area (or the head and/or neck) both incidents might have ended sooner.

So look at the hip and look at the size of the single projectile being fired. How many rounds must be spent before something of value is damaged enough to cause a change in function? And even if the joint is somehow destroyed, will that end the fight? Or even the will to fight? I’m not saying it might not work (remember I didn’t say that one shot stops don’t happen) but will it work enough of the time to make it a consideration? I don’t think so. Rather than hoping I destroy the hip joint and knowing that many of the shots to that area will just pass thru the bone structure will little or no immediate effect, I would rather concentrate those shots into an area where I know the damage is more likely to do more good: the head, the neck and the upper thoracic area.

As a side note, years ago when a noted wound ballistics expert was just coming into public view, a very close friend visited him and was shown quite the collection of military images dealing with severe pelvic wounding that had not stopped the men in the photos. Lots of holes; not a lot of stops. In many cases, not even a lot of immediate slowing down...

MORE LATER. AGAIN, I APOLOGIZE FOR THE ROUGHNESS OF THIS DRAFT BUT I THOUGHT IT WAS APPLICABLE TO THIS DISCUSSION AND WITH MY SCHEDULE BEING WHAT IT IS, I DIDN’T WANT TO LET THINGS GO BY. HAVE A GOOD EVENING.
 

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pmarlowe, thanks for the interesting read. I look forward to reading more of your posts.

Honestly, I don't believe that a pelvis shot is a guaranteed stopper. I do believe, however, that it more than likely put someone on the ground. The 2nd order effect here is a subject, now on the ground, yet most likely still able to continue the fight.

Along these lines, I think that Paul Howe's F2S Drill (5 COM followed by 1 to the head) is a pretty good drill. Especially when done with a carbine.
 

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Well, there's certainly a lot of wisdom here to consider, but after not some small amount of cogitation, I remind myself that there's no one-size-fits-all answer.

We all have to predetermine our own responses should the balloon go up based upon our individual skill levels, mindsets and preferences.

A pretty sage fellow once told me: "If you can make head shots under duress at 20 yards, the size of the BB doesn't matter."

Personally, I'm hoping that particular duress never finds me.

But, of course, hope ain't a strategy... :)
 

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Somewhere along the way we got to apples and oranges again. The original thread dealt mainly with the 5.56 but some of the points, including mine, really are more applicable to handguns.

Marlowe is right and if I had a choice I'd much prefer the woefully underpowered 5.56 in a shoulder weapon to anything that could be crammed in a handgun. Most of our members are civilians and don't have the option of an M-4 for daily use.

If I had a shoulder weapon I'm surely not going to waste time shooting a suspect in the pelvis unless that was all I could see.

A very good point was made about the impact- pun intended- of a hit on body armor and have seen first hand the blunt force trauma result even though the bullet didn't penetrate. It tends to distract one from the fight.
 

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Re: Special Ops saying no thanks to the SCAR

William R. Moore said:
I'll second the motion on a separate thread. The medical terms are interesting and educational if what I linked to is correct. The base of the neck hold appears to target the spine and Superior Mediastinum (includes a whole passel of major blood vessels), especially if the round(s) go a wee bit low.

The shifting definition of "center of mass" is a known issue. It's why I specified "center of thorax" as the primary aiming point.
Again, referring to Br'er Mas (I started reading his articles in the late '80s); he commented on the similarity in size of a bowling pin to the neck/central chest area of a human--this in an article on pin shooting competition.
 

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My comments on targeting the neck from a different venue 6 years ago:

A solid hit there is certainly likely to be a good hit. Carotid arteries, trachea, spinal cord and the brachial plexi are all crammed in there. A hit on any one of those is a potential fight stopper. The problems I see with intentionally targeting the neck rather than the head:
1) A near miss of the ocular window is at least a hit. As a bonus, if you pull your shot way low under stress, you get, ta-daa, a neck hit. In fact, the case report which prompted the Gunsite Mozambique doctrine was a head shot that went low, hitting the neck and ending the fight. A near miss laterally of the neck is a complete miss, and if pulled low, it's a chest hit. Presumably we were only targeting the neck because the chest has proven ineffective.
2) I'm not convinced that the neck is that much less mobile than the head. Are people ducking bullets by moving their head or is it just that the head is at the end of the torso that is most free to move?
As for the torso aiming point, on a frontal target I try to stay within the triangle formed by the nipples and the sternal notch. As the target turns, the aiming point has to shift; 3rd button down on frontal target is a good hit; hit that same button on a target turned 90 degrees, and it's at best a grazing hit.
 

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Context, like location, my dear Marlowe, is everything.

"spwenger" then brings up diameter. Earlier in this post, I mentioned that I am big bore fan so I agree with him.
I assume that you refer to my listing of several big-bore options on the AR-15 platform. That comment was intended as a tongue-in-cheek reply to a statement, back in the SCAR thread, "Personally, still want .50BMG energy in a 5.56mm case...physics be damned :D"

Personally, I carry three S&W Centennial revolvers (2 1/8" and 1 7/8" barrels), loaded with CorBon's 110 gr. .38 Special +P DPX load and sleep with a Bushmaster Dissipator, loaded with American Eagle 50 gr. JHP's, next to my bed.
 

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ArmyCPT said:
pmarlowe, thanks for the interesting read. I look forward to reading more of your posts.

Honestly, I don't believe that a pelvis shot is a guaranteed stopper. I do believe, however, that it more than likely put someone on the ground. The 2nd order effect here is a subject, now on the ground, yet most likely still able to continue the fight.

Along these lines, I think that Paul Howe's F2S Drill (5 COM followed by 1 to the head) is a pretty good drill. Especially when done with a carbine.
"ArmyCPT":

While I used to teach both subgun and carbine classes a lot (and I am a real fan of the shotgun for certain applications), most of what I ever get to do these days is handgun related. And with that, most of it revolves around soft-clothes employments. Therefore, most of the real-world applications that the drills I offer up relate to, are very close and very fast (because of the distances involved).

In return, the hits on the targets have to be as action-stopping as possible for any continuation of the fight (and believe me, I am realistic enough to know that nothing out of a handgun can be expected to stop things instantly), will more than likely cause injury to the defender; unfortunately something not often discussed with the student.

My concern about pelvic shots is that with a handgun, I'm not too sure that it will (reliably) put the offender on the ground. I am not arguing with you that it can (I'm sure that it can) but it doesn't necessarily do that much to disrupt the thought process of a determined individual and it certainly doesn't do much to stop the control of their arms and hands that, in turn, control the weapon that required such a response in the first place.

Granted, someone on the ground is obviously easier to run away from (another thing often not discussed with the student - and I am not saying to run away from one's responsibilities in the matter but to run away to a position of safety) or to continue to shoot again if necessary. In fact, in one of the two bone-damaging incidents I mentioned earlier, that's exactly how things ended: with shots fired against the still-fighting aggressor after he fell to the floor.

As such, I still think that for that average (generally unpracticed) shooter I mentioned earlier, multiple hits into the upper thoracic area (a place also more in keeping with a conventional parallel-to-the-ground line-of-sight) and perhaps the base of the neck can be more helpful. And for the more skilled shooter (who also has the ability to perform under the pressure of a real life engagement - something few of us are sure about until it happens), looking at the distances involved, shooting (and hitting) directly into the face (with a caliber and a projectile capable of driving deeply into the head) is probably the better option.

I gotta run but thank you for the kind words in your post. I've been able to contribute a bit here since starting out this summer and hope to be able to continue for some time to come. It's a great site with an equally great bunch of people.
 

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WaltGraham said:
Well, there's certainly a lot of wisdom here to consider, but after not some small amount of cogitation, I remind myself that there's no one-size-fits-all answer.

We all have to predetermine our own responses should the balloon go up based upon our individual skill levels, mindsets and preferences.

A pretty sage fellow once told me: "If you can make head shots under duress at 20 yards, the size of the BB doesn't matter."

Personally, I'm hoping that particular duress never finds me.

But, of course, hope ain't a strategy... :)
"WaltGraham"

I very much agree that there is "no one-size-fits-all answer" and I hope that you and the others here didn't get the impression that I was trying to suggest one.

I also agree with you that an effective response is obviously determined (or at least greatly affected) by one's "individual skill levels, mindsets and preferences".

But I think that we owe it to our students (and ourselves) to look for those responses that perhaps have the greatest potential for helping them in most situations while also making them aware of the shortcomings that such responses might also possess and of the shortcomings that any other responses might have as well.

I hate to use the term and I am lucky in that what little time I have to devote to such things today, most of it is aimed (sorry) at instructors and advanced shooters but I really aim (sorry again) much of what I do to the proverbial "least common denominator" that they have to go back and teach for we need to find techniques that are usable by that previously mentioned unpracticed shooter and his or her "individual skill levels, mindsets and preferences".

That is the reason behind my closing remarks in the immediately preceding response to "ArmyCPT".

I don't shoot nearly as much as I used to and I am not foolish enough to believe that I can shoot as well as used to. So I know firsthand that even those among us who have in the past, performed at better-than-average levels must also be aware of the fact that attempting to do some of those things with a gun today would be foolish in the generally short time frames of a close up, life-threatening situation. This too, points to the need to look for those techniques that perhaps can serve us best and to focus on the one (or at most two) that could benefit us the most and most of the time. For while I am certainly one who understands the concept of adaptability, if someone pops up close by and puts me in fear of my life, I won't have the time to make many decisions (other than the ones determining if I am justified in using the firearm and then, how to use it). So if for most of the cases I can envision ahead of time, I can find a good, generally all-around approach for the bulk of them, then I believe that I am helping myself immensely.

It's just that with my current skill level and employing a handgun at the distances I would generally be allowed by law to use it, and within the timeframes and under the circumstances I would be forced to use it, I think that destructive (and disruptive) shots to the upper thoracic area, the junction of that area with the lower neck, maybe the neck as a whole, and possibly the eyes within the face, have the greatest potential for assisting me in negating (not just reorienting) the threat as quickly as possible.

Just a thought and not the only one but one that I think is defensible and perhaps applicable to others of varying skill levels in a wide variety of cases and situations.
 

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My concern about pelvic shots is that with a handgun, I'm not too sure that it will (reliably) put the offender on the ground. I am not arguing with you that it can (I'm sure that it can) but it doesn't necessarily do that much to disrupt the thought process of a determined individual and it certainly doesn't do much to stop the control of their arms and hands that, in turn, control the weapon that required such a response in the first place.
You'll have to take my word for it but Jim Cirillo assured me that every felon who had ever been shot in the pelvis by members of the NYPD Stakeout Unit fell to the ground. I have reason to believe that some of those shots were with 158 g. RNL .38 Special loads (standard-pressure, so far as I know).

While a pelvis shot that ruptures the ileac or femoral artery will likely prove fatal, many of us who teach the pelvis shot do so because, at closer ranges, it is likely to limit mobility and allow the safe creation of distance. The fact is that only 20 to 25% of gunshot wounds in the US prove fatal anyway.

While fractures of pelvic bone would be gravy on the potatoes, I believe that the most likely mechanism for dropping people with a pelvis shot is shock to the major nerves of at least one leg. I once had a guy pointed out to me who had a severe limp. He was a USMC veteran of Vietnam, who had had his hip joint broken with a 7.62x39mm round. He not only continued fighting, he helped load all of his wounded buddies into the Medevac choppers before he would board one himself. I assume that if he was standing when he was hit, he went down, even if he was able to get back up and perform extraordinary feats later. My point is that while I teach the pelvis shot, I do not assume that follow-up shots may not be necessary.
 

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Charlie Petty said:
Somewhere along the way we got to apples and oranges again. The original thread dealt mainly with the 5.56 but some of the points, including mine, really are more applicable to handguns.

Marlowe is right and if I had a choice I'd much prefer the woefully underpowered 5.56 in a shoulder weapon to anything that could be crammed in a handgun. Most of our members are civilians and don't have the option of an M-4 for daily use.

If I had a shoulder weapon I'm surely not going to waste time shooting a suspect in the pelvis unless that was all I could see.

A very good point was made about the impact- pun intended- of a hit on body armor and have seen first hand the blunt force trauma result even though the bullet didn't penetrate. It tends to distract one from the fight.
Charlie:

I just posted my complete response to the "Special Ops saying no thanks to the SCAR" thread and it does go more into depth about your remarks regarding the use of a shoulder arm. However, I am completely in tune with you regarding the fact that most of the people here are going to be limited to handguns for personal defense.

But looking at the shorter distances generally involved in these matters, rather than a carbine, I might move toward the extremely destructive benefits and the very often-overlooked value of a shotgun for many things in today's world. One of these days, maybe I'll start up a thread about that.

A legal but still short-barreled 12ga with a moderately constricting choke and a Big Dot Express Sight, loaded with some of the more recently engineered buckshot rounds, should prove extremely destructive when fired repeatedly into the upper torso, neck and face.

And while I have always been a fan of the pump gun (hunting with a '97, shooting competitively with an 870TC and a 682 Skeet, and working and teaching with 870's and 37's), I have a real interest in some of the more recently introduced semi-autos that are not only more reliable and tolerable of both the shooter and what he or she shoots but are also more comfortable and somewhat faster than what we've seen in the past.

Being able to truly replicate the shooting of the anti-personnel drills that we routinely perform with handguns and rifles with a shotgun (and not just fire them as companion drills or exercises in a three gun match) could teach us a lot and perhaps also do a lot in showing people that in certain personal defense situations (like at home?), the shotgun might truly be a far better choice and not just something promoted (incorrectly) thru stories, hyperbole and old wife's tales that exaggerate their effectiveness and scare people about their recoil and lack of control.

Like I said, maybe a separate thread…
 

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spwenger said:
You'll have to take my word for it but Jim Cirillo assured me that every felon who had ever been shot in the pelvis by members of the NYPD Stakeout Unit fell to the ground. I have reason to believe that some of those shots were with 158 g. RNL .38 Special loads (standard-pressure, so far as I know).
I don't doubt this happened, but I'm not sure this helps us. If I am surprised by multiple armed men whose ROE are such that I know they will stop shooting me if I fall to the ground, I may very well fall to the ground with the first hit anywhere. That doesn't necessarily mean that the shot put me down. Just as there as psychologic and physiologic stops, there can be psychologic reasons the BG drops. I want to optimize my technique so that it relies on physiologic mechanisms
 
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