Opinions, as you will expect, are hot, sharp and divided into the two usual categories:
Knockdown & stopping power
Get this. Stopping power, knockdown power are relative terms. Afore you jump my case about my use of said terms, make sure we are talking the same thing. You'll get my definition as you read through this.
The shot placement crowd is wrong, so wrong. In the case of the Big 5 and other dangerous game, possibly dead wrong. As in the critter they try to kill turns and kills them.
Shot placement is important, yes indeedy! But shot placement is not even in the same league as knockdown or stopping power depending on how you wanna phrase it.
The "shot placement" crowd will eventually admit as much if you back 'em into a corner. Immediately upon admitting this and realizing what they said, they will start making excuses.
In case you didn't get the idea, I am firmly, absolutely and without question on the side of knockdown and stopping power.
As the late Col. Jeff Cooper said, "Use enough gun."
Stopping and knockdown power matter. How hard you hit something matters. How much force you bring down with that hit matters.
Drive a rail spike through a trestle with 12-ounce hammer and get back to me.
You can hit that spike dead square on the sweet spot repeatedly. How far is the spike going into the wood?
Take that same spike, same trestle and get an off-center hit with a 10-pound sledge, Now tell me how far that spike penetrates.
"Baker, yer being ridiculous now."
No, I'm being realistic.
Elephants and other big game are poached in Africa with the 7.62x39. Successfully poached, as in the critters die. From videos I've seen of elephant culls using the AK platform, the elephants can die pretty quickly too. The "however" in this one is, the shooter, more accurately shooters, dump a banana mag into the elephant. Two shooters, two mags.
This is the rough equivalent of using a framing hammer to drive a rail spike. It's doable, but you need a LOT of hits.
I have personally dropped a 1,500 pound animal dead in its tracks with a .22 rimfire. Yup. Got witnesses.
Does that mean I'm going to hunt half-ton animals with a bullet that has the approximate knockdown power of a framing hammer in the hands of an experienced carpenter? Rhetorical question.
Professional hunters and professional DG guides pack big rifles with big bullets. These are the experts. They are in the field, not armchair quarterbacking. Listen to them.
KNOCKIN' EM DOWN
Lemme put this another way.
You can hunt prairie dogs with a .50 BMG. You can also hunt 'em with a .17 HMR. By far the most popular doggin' rounds are in the .22 centerfire group, .223, .222, .22-250, .222 Swift, etc. A body shot ANYWHERE on a p-dog with one of these rounds at under 500 yards and you get the Red Mist. Shot placement is simply not the vital part of this equation.
Nor is shot placement the most important part of any hunting equation.
Knockdown power or stopping power is the most important part. See Col. Cooper quote above.
You need to use enough bullet to cleanly and humanely dispatch the critter you hunt.
Yanno WHY law enforcement does not pack .22s as their primary firearm? A .22 is just as lethal as a 9mm, .40, .45 acp. Yes, it is, if you believe shot placement is the most important part of the equation.
Law enforcement believes stopping power is critical because in the heat of a shootout, taking time to drop a pill into the dead center of a perp's forehead is not going to happen. LE is taught to shoot center mass, the largest part of the target. LE knows it needs ENOUGH bullet, ENOUGH knockdown power, ENOUGH stopping power to get the perp off his feet as fast as possible.
A .22 in the torso is lethal, given time. A .45 in the torso is lethal a whole lot faster.
Stopping power. Knockdown power.
ONE MORE TIME
Aaight, let's put this another way One. More. Time.
Two elephants were killed with a .22 rimfire (look it up). So the venerable .22 is certainly capable of taking down Jumbo. If you get the shot EXACTLY right.
Take that same elephant. Shoot it with a 20mm Lahti. Shot placement is suddenly not nearly as critical. A lower leg shot will cripple the critter, probably not deliver an instant kill. Any body shot, death in minutes.
Go a step further. Shoot said pachyderm with a Sidewinder missile. Now you have elephant parts scattered across the landscape no matter the impact site.
That is knockdown power. That is stopping power.
It matters more than shot placement.
If shot placement is the most critical part of the equation, we'd hunt everything with a .22.