A "combat medic" argues that 9mm and 5.56mm rounds are ineffective in combat . . . then undermines his own argument.
I was an EMT and a trauma tech working on a truck and in a trauma room for about 10 years and I was an army combat medic for eight years ... I have treated an inordinant amount of gun shot and blast injuries in places where surgical treatment was often well over an hour away ... I kept mission logs and patient logs ... I have recorded 371 gun shot wounds and significant blast injuries.
. . .
In just about every country I have been in, our host nation counterparts — army and police — used the 9X19 NATO round ... I’ve seen a lot of pistol shootings, much more than US police would ever see, and much more than experienced by most medics deploying solely with US personnel. And yet, I have zero, not one single experience, where a single gunshot wound from a 9X19 NATO round killed someone prior to them being able to return fire or flee. This includes people shot in the chest, back, back of the head (one hit behind the left ear) the neck and the face. None.
Unfortunately, the same goes for the 5.56 NATO round. I have yet to witness a single shot quick kill with this round ... in every experience, at ranges from zero (negligent discharges) to 35 yards (my closest, and worst-placed, shot on a person) to 400 yards (our average initial engagement distance in Afghanistan) individuals shot with a single 5.56 NATO round had time to fire, maneuver, or both. Did I see single shots that killed eventually? Yes. Does that matter in combat? Not one damn bit if you are the one they are still shooting at.
. . .
Take from that what you will. For me, what I learned is, when it comes to combat, shoot the heaviest rifle round I can, shoot at what I can hit, and then shoot it again if I can.
. . .
As an aside, Chris Kyle (FWFS, brother) was a friend of mine, and while not so patiently listening to one of my Crown-induced rants on the 5.56 NATO, he suggested that it was not caliber I hated, but the bullet. He told me to load up the case as fast as I could, push a 64 grain or heavier soft point round and see what happens. So I had Underground Tactical built me an AR in 5.56 which I swore I would never own, and built rounds ranging from 64 to 75 grains with it. I’ve taken 11 deer with them, and the wound tracks are nothing like I saw with the NATO round. I’ve never had to look for an animal, and a little Underground 5.5lb AR in 5.56 is my go-to hill country deer gun now, which is just crazy.
There's more at the link.
Talk about cognitive dissonance! The author's last paragraph undermines almost everything he's said before, but he can't see it.
For the record, I agree with him that 9mm and 5.56mm military ball (i.e. solid, non-expanding) ammunition is by no means a reliable "stopper" in either cartridge. I've fired enough of the stuff myself, in both military and civilian environments, in actual engagements, to be satisfied that its performance is marginal. Sure, there are always those who argue that better shot placement will solve the problem; but in a high-intensity firefight, when both you and your opponent are moving, ducking, dodging and weaving, you aren't going to be able to take out the brain stem or cervical spine with laser-like accuracy. It's simply impractical. Under such circumstances, you want to slam your opponent as hard as possible, as often as possible, and repeat the treatment until, as Jim Higginbotham puts it, "the target changes shape or catches fire". True dat.
Military ball ammunition is not designed to do that. It's designed to be subject to the restrictions of the Hague Convention of 1899 (whether or not the nation concerned is a signatory to that treaty - the USA is not). Those restrictions limit its terminal effectiveness. Hunting rounds, on the other hand, are not so restricted. They use soft-point and hollow-point bullets, or larger solid projectiles with more effective designs (e.g. "wide flat nose" or "full wadcutter"), that greatly increase the effectiveness of the round. As the author notes in the final paragraph cited above, the same 5.56mm cartridge that he derides as ineffective becomes much more effective when loaded with better-performing bullets. He never stops to think that it might become just as effective against human beings as against animals, if similar bullets are used.
When looking at solid bullets, without expanding features, I agree; 9mm and 5.56mm are not optimal, and I would hesitate to trust my life to them unless I had no other choice. However, when modern expanding ammunition is available, they are boosted to a whole new level of performance, and become much more reliable. I agree with naysayers who argue that larger calibers such as .45 or .308 are more effective, with their bigger, heavier bullets. That's undeniable. Nevertheless, the smaller rounds do become more viable when the right projectiles are used.
For defensive use, in 9mm I've standardized on Federal's excellent HST range as my primary defensive round. I carry the 124gr. JHP +P round in my larger pistols, and the 147gr. JHP at standard velocity in my smaller 9mm. pocket pistols and my Ruger PC carbine. I have little doubt both will perform well if I need them the hard way. In 5.56mm, I use either the Winchester Ranger 64gr. Power-Point round, or Beck Ammunition's loading of the 64gr. Nosler Bonded bullet, a soft-point bullet that's a proven performer on game up to deer-size. I'm confident it'll do what's needed against two-legged foes, if necessary. Any of these rounds, or those recommended in this exhaustive analysis at AR15.com, should serve you well.
IMPORTANT NOTE: Whatever defensive ammo you select, you should put at least 100 rounds of it (I prefer 200) through your chosen defensive weapon, using your defensive magazines, without a single malfunction, in order to prove that they work well together. Even one malfunction should cause you to start the entire test all over again. Two malfunctions, and I'd ditch that round and go to another one, again testing it to make sure it's 100% reliable in your gun and your magazines. Yes, it's expensive to do that . . . but so is finding out the hard way, when a bad guy is about to shoot or stab you and/or your loved ones, that your gun and ammo combination don't work. Check that out beforehand!
Finally, be careful when reading articles such as that cited above. If they're talking only about military ball ammo, with no more effective projectiles in the mix, they're definitely not addressing the current reality of the situation for civilian or law enforcement defensive shooting. (Sadly, New Jersey does not allow private citizens to own or use hollow-point ammunition, so in that state, you might have to adopt alternative measures.)