I’m a strong advocate that you should own a firearm to protect yourself, your family, and your home from a home invasion.
If you’re new to guns, however, you’ll quickly discover that there’s a dizzying array of choices available in firearms.
This is true even if you live in one of the states that has recently cracked down on gun ownership.
There are a lot of handguns and even shotguns and rifles (what we would call “long guns”) on the market.
When you’re choosing a firearm, one of the factors you’ll likely consider will be the power of that weapon to stop someone who is attacking you.
But what is power, exactly… and is there a difference between stopping power and killing power when choosing the best weapon for home defense?
Stopping Power vs. Killing Power
Yes, there is a difference (and it’s a big one) between “stopping power” and “killing power” when choosing the best weapon for home defense.
Killing power is simply the ability of a given round or weapon to deliver a mortal wound, regardless of how long it takes for the person to die.
Stopping power is the ability of a bullet that hits an attacker to prevent that attacker from being able to continue attacking you or returning fire.
This is an important distinction because your attacker may already be mortally wounded – in other words, when his body finally catches on to the idea he’s been gravely wounded, he will die, so you may already have “killed” him.
But this might not happen before he can fire his own weapon and somehow hurt or kill you.
Let me explain…
The Dead Man’s 10 Seconds
In the Old West, the time between shooting a man, and that man being able to return fire or otherwise continue attacking you, was called “the dead man’s ten seconds”.
Someone who is attacking you with a contact weapon like a club or a knife, even after you’ve shot him several times, still has time to continue hitting you or stabbing you before he eventually expires.
The fact is (sorry to say) that most handguns are, relative to the human body, fairly underpowered.
They will kill, yes, and they may even stop an attacker quickly, but in a lot of cases it will take some time for that to happen.
The bottom line is this…
Prepare For Survival AFTER You Shoot
Understanding that if the attacker is coming at you with a club or a knife, it will likely take some time for him to die after you’ve put those bullets in him, unless the weapon you are using has extraordinary stopping power.
Just because you shoot a man, don’t expect he will automatically fall down or stop his attack.
He may not even slow down.
He will almost always have some time, measured in seconds if not minutes, in which to continue attacking you.
That’s the reason good firearms instructors will tell you that you should:
- Get off the line of attack. This further confuses your attacker and if he reactive shoots where he was aiming, you won’t be in the bullet’s path.
- Seek cover. Even if you are in a bullet’s path, having something that can stop the bullet will grant you better survivability.
- Increase the distance between you and the attacker. It’s simple “gun math” that the further you are away, the more accurate your attacker’s shooting must be to hit you. Even more so if he’s in shock from the chaos and his wound.
Bottom line is that you need to prepare not just for getting your rounds in your target and stopping a threat.
In order to survive a violent home invasion, you need to consider that time between when your bullets strike him and when he dies from a mortal wound.