Stopping Power - History

History

The concept of stopping power appeared in the 19th Century when colonial troops (e.g. American in the Philippines during the Moro Rebellion, British in New Zealand during the Land Wars), engaging in close action with native tribesmen, found that their pistols were not able to stop charging warriors. This led to larger caliber weapons (such as the .45 Colt being returned to service, and the .45 ACP being developed), intended to stop opponents with a single round.

During the Seymour Expedition in China, at one of the battles at Langfang, Chinese Boxers, armed with swords and spears, charged the British and Americans, who were armed with guns. At point blank range, one British soldier had to empty four bullets into a Boxer before he stopped, and the American Captain Bowman McCalla reported that single rifle shots were not enough, multiple rifle shots were needed to halt a Boxer. Only machine guns were effective in stopping the Boxers.

British troops used expanding bullets against native tribesmen in the Northwest Frontier of India, and in the Sudan (see The River War by Winston Churchill). Hence Britain voted against a prohibition on their use at the Hague Convention of 1899, although the prohibition only applied to international warfare.

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