Firearms Food for Thought: Caliber versus Shot Placement

It’s a frequent argument, one prone to sparking tempers in person and on social media – pretty much any time it comes up. Is shot placement truly everything and if it is, does that mean it doesn’t really matter what caliber of handgun you conceal carry? Is carrying a pocket pistol chambered in .380 ACP or even .22LR justifiable if you’re confident in your ability to make the perfect shot when your life is on the line? Or should your EDC be something bigger, such as a .45 ACP or 10mm? With a larger-caliber handgun there’s a sizeable permanent wound cavity, which means maybe – just maybe – you’d have a bit more leeway when it comes to placement. Or does a bigger caliber mean you’d actually have a harder time making that shot thanks to recoil, and maybe even be less likely to carry it since it’s harder to conceal? There are endless questions and countless angles. This is one of those questions that draws a line in the sand, one those on both sides are unlikely to ever agree to crossing.


Remington’s RM380 which is, as the name suggests, chambered in .380 ACP

In recent years the .380 ACP has enjoyed a significant increase in popularity due in part to its small size and lighter weight. It is absolutely accurate to say women are part of what is driving up sales of pocket pistols. Smaller guns may be less intimidating and they are certainly marketed towards women from their candy-themed colors to the salesmen pushing them. There is even women’s clothing specifically made for pocket pistols including tank tops and corsets.


The new SIG P220 is chambered in 10mm

Of course, guns chambered in .45 ACP are often classics – think 1911. Fans of the cartridge speak highly of its size and ability to create a large wound cavity. It may be hard to conceal but it isn’t impossible. One thing it has in common with the .380 ACP is a fresh surge in sales. It seems there have been more 1911s making the rounds lately from re-releases to custom models. Then there’s the 10mm which is another larger caliber favored by growing numbers of shooters for both self-defense and hunting.

There are other options out there, and one in particular which tends to cause heated debates on a regular basis: 9mm. But that’s a discussion for another day.

What do you think? Is shot placement so important it truly negates the need for a larger-caliber handgun?


This may seem to be a rifle picture, but it’s more than that: there’s a 10mm holstered at my right hip, and it’s always there when I hunt.

TFB Staffer

TFB Staff, bringing you the latest gun news from around the world for a decade.


  • Wolfgar

    Depends on what your shooting. Shot placement is most important but if the bullet doesn’t penetrate far enough to hit vitals it is a moot point any way. I know small framed girls who handle 9mm, 40 S&W, and 45ACP handguns better than most men. Bottom line is practice with the best cartridge you feel confident with and as your skill grows your choices will too.

  • James

    Another thing which may be worth considering is the issue of cost; larger calibers are almost always more expensive, and especially for those in less than perfect financial situations, this means they only have a given amount of money to expend on a pistol and more importantly training ammunition. Shot placement, volume of fire, larger bullets, what have you, are only effectively used if you train well and train often. A smaller, cheaper cartridge could facilitate this.

    • JumpIf NotZero

      Slow down there Tex, This is a no-training zone. We pride oursleves on ignorance here.

      Wish /s

      • Edeco


        Hey, I’ve totally had an entire hour of paid 1-on-1 instruction in firearms proficiency.

        • JumpIf NotZero

          I wish there was a way to truthfully poll the number of people who own more guns than they have hours of formal training or education. I’d even give a 1.5x:1 or 2:1 allowance and I still bet the result staggering low.

          • Big Burd

            didn’t realize to be trained you needed to drop cash to be told the fundamentals which are basically common sense…

            My “non-formal” training came from my father which covered the basics you’ll get in these “formal” training classes

            Now paying for an education in your state’s book of stupid laws is another thing

          • Don Ward

            Yeah I know. It’s so tough to remember whether a firearm is loaded or not and to to muzzle people with your finger on the trigger.
            It’s so tough not to shoot a burglar fleeing your home in the back.
            Nah, I need to pay someone two grand so I can pretend like I’m fighting off an entire biker gang of ninja jihadists while learning Advance to Contact techniques. I just need to remember to Bring Snacks!
            Such realism. Such wow!

          • JumpIf NotZero

            Unknown unknowns brother.

            Most carbine classes are at least 1/2 manipulation. Because shooting a carbine is monkey-easy. But how many sources and lifetimes of info was your Dad leveraging when he taught you? One probably. Where formal training with two instructors of different backgrounds is getting you 20 people’s techniques and knowledge condensed down into what that trainer feels like works well.

            Trust, there is no repalcment. I could have spend YEARS on the range, and never ever stumbled upon when when moving with a carbine, that a “high port” / “high ready” makes a TON of sense for me compared to a traditional low ready. Took about 8 hours to sell me on it, can’t go back.

          • n0truscotsman

            Thats incredibly closeminded and ignorant.

            By paying for training, you are expanding your knowledge base, and will probably have your misconceptions and biases challenged and stomped, depending on the instructor.

            If learning something new is frightening to you, then perhaps you are missing a key life essential that is emotional maturity?

            The reasoning behind ‘oh i dont need to pay for training, im good’ never ceases to amaze me.

          • KestrelBike

            JumpIf, if you can point out a trainer you’d approve of in the northern virginia area, I’ll go to him (assuming he isn’t $2,000/hr… I’m in school atm and I’m eating on ~$5/day)

          • R

            KestrelBike, I’m also in Northern VA and have had great experiences with the training courses taught at at Silver Eagle Group. You can also go to the NRA website to find certified instructors in the area. Hope this helps.

          • KestrelBike

            Ah thanks for the info!

          • JumpIf NotZero

            Dude, east coast is so easy! The circuit is strong there.

            I really trying to get back with Kyle Defoor! So look him up on BCM’s training link. They keep a good list going. William Petty, and Steve Fisher make it to VA I’m pretty sure. Magpul goes East iirc. I don’t know who is at Magpul right now for carbine or handgun (Caylen runs precision and he’s the man!), but Magpul gets their people.

            For you, run an AR in a carbine class, then when you get that MP5 you have coming up, run that! It’s a world of difference. If you can, shoot house with the MP5.

            Also, look for anyone doing UTM, force on force, or simunitions. It’ll change everything you think about handguns. 21ft “rule” gets real serious after you’ve had a 220lb brick wall bowl into you and slap you around like a puppet 😉

            If you’ve never done anything at all, I’d say Pistol Carbine with anyone. Names I’d avoid are Suarez, I was at one of theirs once, they didn’t get shooting until 2pm the first day – they have mostly legit ideas, it was just slow.

            For price: I try to not spend anything over $200 a day, but never under $100 either. The “per day” is another thing, so instructors like to end class at 3:30 in the summer after people burn out… So I’d say Spring And Fall, avoid a typical class in August. People don’t drink enough water.

          • KestrelBike

            Amazing, thanks for writing all that! Will weigh my options.

          • Don Ward

            Hate to burst your bubble Jump. But that isn’t “training”. The courses you described are a tactical “dude ranch”. I’ve looked up the guy’s website. Now this isn’t to denigrate the individual(s) running them or the customers going to them. They look fun. And for $500 bucks it’s a relatively cheap vacation if you want to go to a 2-5 day course and run around in tactical gear learning how to stack for Close Quarter Combat. But the courses described are no more “training” than guys who go to a dude ranch for a week aren’t cowboys. Or the guys who go to Spring Training in Arizona for a week to shag balls and take batting practice with current and former MLB players aren’t Major Leaguers. And the folks who go to Star Fleet Academy dressed in costumes aren’t really Klingons.
            I’m not saying that by signing up for one of those adventures that you won’t learn useful firearms techniques. Not everyone has grown up in a firearms-oriented culture nor do they know where to go to become proficient in their use.
            Actual “training” is more akin to what you see at USAShooting dot Org with Junior and Olympic athletes training in shotgun, target rifle and pistol shooting. But since USAShooting isn’t tactical, this wouldn’t be considered training in Jump’s very narrow view of shooting sports anyway.
            And having taken one of those courses, Jump, doesn’t give you the right to trot around here being an obnoxious troll.

          • n0truscotsman

            That is training, even if you dont think that it is.

            That is like arguing that TC3, which takes less than a day, ‘isn’t training’ because it is not a full fledged EMT course. Of course thats a load of horsecrap.

            There is a difference between training somebody to be relatively proficient with their firearm, and training a MLB player.

            I can see that comments in regards to training have pissed some people off here, so they see it fit to throw the baby out with the bathwater. Shame. Because there is an excellent selection of trainers and courses that will only make gun owners better people in general.

          • Don Ward

            Like I said. It’s “training” in the same way as I can go down to the rally car track literally down the street from me, spend $500 for a two hour course and now I’m a trained rally car driver. Or – as I mentioned – you can spend a few days down in Arizona during spring training and do a lot of the same drills and now you’re a professional ballplayer. Or the same way I can bring you up to Bristol Bay this summer, I can get a seven day “dude” crew license for you to work on my fishing boat and now you’re a salty commercial fisherman.
            And that’s the issue. Just because you’ve taken a course that is “training” doesn’t mean you are “trained”. Particularly when there are hundreds of different firearms shooting styles, techniques and sports which can take one person years to master.
            And this is why it is quite annoying watching our beloved keyboard commando strutting around here like he’s the second coming of Massad Ayoob telling someone like Alex C to “get training” when in reality he is just lording up the fact that he took a couple of tactical courses.
            So sure, spend $500 and take one of these Close Quarter Combat courses or whatever. I’m sure there are some handy techniques a person will learn. But again, just because you have taken “training” doesn’t mean you are “trained”.

          • n0truscotsman

            If you cannot distinguish Jump’s previous clashes with you and the whole idea of receiving training in one of those courses, I cannot help you.

            Jesus christ, what is it with you people? The lack of logical reasoning here is killing me.

            So what the eff is the alternative, do pray tell? *NOT* getting training? just treating your guns as a talisman to ward off the ancient evil propensities of certain folks in society?

            Because those like myself that actually do pay for training, to expand our experiences and knowledge base, prefer to benefit from something than take the easier route of pretending ‘to know better’.

            “Just because you’ve taken a course that is “training” doesn’t mean you are “trained”.”

            Yeah, no kidding.

            But how are you any farther away from your magical threshold of ‘trained’ by taking a course, than *not* taking one?

          • JumpIf NotZero

            Jesus christ, what is it with you people? The lack of logical reasoning here is killing

            Now you see my issue? It’s PRIDEFUL anti-intellectualism.

            This site for whatever reason has turned into a breeding place for people who love not knowing things.

          • Redfoot

            T Triple C definitely is training, but to the lowest common denominator, due to people’s skills sets and primary MOS being vastly different. However, there are also different levels of training and what you hope to get out of it vs the material/didactic and practicum nature. You can call just about anything training, but you also have to place the value per hour.

            For instance, a few years ago I would say that a decent rimfire handgun would be a cheap and easy way to help master handgun accuracy. Now in the days of diminished free time, increasing price and availability of rimfire ammo and gun price (and selection in California), I would say that paid training and rounds through the gun you carry (and purposeful range time) trumps putting rounds from a .22 solo anytime.

          • bob

            Unless you are Military or LEO, why do you need to learn how to run around in Tac Gear,practice stacking, etc.? Your belief is like saying
            if you want to become a better driver, take “swim lessons” after all it is all “Training”

          • n0truscotsman

            Why not?

            You are a member of the unorganized militia, and sometimes, in extraordinary circumstances, the last line of defense between roving rioters and innocents caught in the middle. Look up LA watts, katrina, etc sometime

            Such training can’t hurt you. On the contrary, it will make you a better person, shatter your ego, teach you new things, and highlight limitations you may have (like PT, gear, etc). Its the best way to distinguish theory from reality.

            “Your belief is like saying
            if you want to become a better driver, take “swim lessons” after all it is all “Training””

            And what relation does swim lessons have to do with driving?

            Conversely, shooting tactically IS shooting or using your firearm.

            One would think I shouldn’t have to explain the differences in what you’re trying to compare, but obviously not.

          • JumpIf NotZero

            My TCCC was more than a day, but yea, you’re right.

            The distinction I make is formal training be hitting the range. These guys think hitting the range and getting their blast on is “as good” as formal training. And it’s not. It’s practice. You can’t practice until you know what to do, how, when, and why.

          • n0truscotsman

            I agree actually, although from the sounds of it, it appears they have more issues with your previous encounters with them rather than training in general 🙂 If this is the case, I cannot help anybody.

            “These guys think hitting the range and getting their blast on is “as good” as formal training”

            That is a common human condition called ‘anti-intellectualism”

            The assumption that ‘one’s own ignorance is just as valid as another’s fact’.

          • Old Vet

            I learned in a manner similar to the Colonel in Glory firing a revolver right next to my head while trying to concentrate on reloading for my next shot……okay, maybe not that badly, but U.S. Army instructors were not too kind….haha Since then in civilian life I was trained in a police academy and spent countless hours at the range on my own. I became quite good, but thankfully only discharged my weapon one time in the line of duty, non-fatal. That’s when the adrenaline kicks in and you seem to go into a trance-like state, at least for me, and the learned behavior kicks in. I had been around guns my whole life though, having acquired my first .22 rifle at age 7. Now the complete loss of sight in my right eye makes it very difficult to shoot accurately since it was my dominant eye. You have to know your limitations and compensate for deficiencies.

          • bob

            Try finding an IDPA Match in your area. It will show you what you need to work n and give you an opportunity to practice those skills.
            I think you will find the other shooters to be friendly and most importantly very helpful, willing to give you tips that will be useful in real life. Generally the matches are aprox 100 or so rounds and cost some where in the $15.00 range. Just skip eating for 3 days and you will be all set.

          • Navy Davy

            Excellent training at any IDPA match. Wee bit costly yes but learn a lot of skills just by going a few times. Far cheaper than one-on-one training. And you get to talk with lots of very proficient shooters. And shoot lots of rounds as fast as you are capable of shooting while moving. And lots of safety rules. 2 Thumbs up for IDPA.

          • KestrelBike

            I actually did my first few competitions w/ IDPA, but then switched to just 3-gun for the variety. I might have to go back to IDPA to focus on CCW/pistol thinking. Thx for the tip. IDPA isn’t real life, but it’s better’n sitting on a couch.

          • BaconLovingInfidel

            Are you close enough to Va Beach?

          • KestrelBike

            That’s a 3hr roll-the-i95-dice drive away, but that’s better than travelling to another state… have a good link?

          • Paul White

            Huh. I think I’m at like 3:1. Ooops

          • Edeco

            yeah, really. A lot of people would BS and deny they’ve had any training or downplay it in order to seem cooler. Turn it into a whizzing contest.

          • Lt_Scrounge

            Until I took that 4 day defensive handgun course this past May, I probably would’ve been one of them. But I also have over 45 years of experience shooting, including tens of thousands of rounds down range. I spent more time teaching people in the Army how to shoot than I did being taught how to do so.

        • Lt_Scrounge

          I have been shooting since I was 5, been an Army officer, and took a four day defensive handgun course at Front Sight in Nevada. While stationed at Ft Sill, I was an almost daily fixture at the personal handgun range. Shoot during the day and reload at night. I put more rounds down range each week while there for Field Artillery OBC than I fired the rest of my 3 years in the Army. The experience of having my own 1911 put me in the unenviable position of having to teach the Captains on battalion staff how to disassemble and clean their issued sidearms. I just have to wonder exactly how much they would’ve been worth in a fight? I doubt they would like my assessment.

        • M Rutherford

          I’ve trained for 45 years with my father who is a retired Command Sargent Major, Special Forces/Ranger. I do not hunt with people who muzzle sweep others, or themselves, or who have no earthly clue of how to handle a weapon, or handle themselves while in possession of a weapon. There is absolutely NO EXCUSE for this crap. It’s how people die, NOT accidentally, because it is not an accident, it is negligence and ignorance. People get some training if you didn’t grow up, and I mean all of your life, around guns and being told and trained on how to be a safe and responsible gun owner. NO EXCUSE!

          • Edeco

            Don’t worry, you’re hanging with Audie Murphy here, my man.*

            *paraphrased from Platoon (1986)

      • BrandonAKsALot

        Gosh you’re just so fun. Just to give you some jumping off points: I’m a collector, have plenty of safe queens, have a dumb amount of money tired up in magazines that I will never use because they are valuable collectibles, and I shoot once a month at best. Go ahead and begin your derision toward my differences!

        • Nicks87

          So you collect AKs and expensive magazines? Talk about fun! But still how does that justify not learning how to properly use your coveted collectibles?

          • Don Ward

            You must not know how things work here. Brandon is replying to Jumpif Snot Zero who has a tendency to strut around here accusing absolutely everyone of not having any training while steadfastly refusing for almost two years now to detail exactly what “training” he has had and with whom. This is at the same time advocating rather questionable firearms techniques like “mortoring” expensive museum quality firearms and creeping through ones house at night with the lights off cuz it’s easier to kill a man that way.

          • Nicks87

            Oh I know how things work around here just fine and you have displayed your ignorance on more than a few occasions as well.

          • BrandonAKsALot

            You must miss this guy’s frequent comments about how stupid it is to collect firearms and related materials. If you aren’t a tier one super operator you shouldn’t even talk about firearms because you can’t possibly know anything.

            That being said, I know my firearms intimately and I feel I can operate them reasonably well. I could be much better, but I do spend a lot of time at home keeping reloads and all that stuff fresh. I just don’t get a lot of time at the range lately. I take a lot of pride in spending time smoothing my actions, fixing up triggers, and ask that super exciting stuff too.

          • Nicks87

            So what you are saying is: how you enjoy your firearms is better than how he enjoys his? I think jump is 100% correct and you can tell by the comments that most of the people that post on TFB talk a big game but probably can’t back it up.

          • Don Ward

            No, what is happening is Jump is strutting around spouting off about how – as a real example – how Alex C doesn’t know what he’s doing because he didn’t “mortor” a museum quality firearm after it got a jam. Or how he constantly goes around criticizing people for not having training while conveniently ignoring every opportunity to list his training. It’s not a hard concept to get around. I’m sure someone of your intellectual capacity can figure it out. You might have to take off your socks and shoes to help with the mental arithmetic but I’m confident that you will.

          • Nicks87

            So repeating yourself is how you get your point across? I’m convinced..

          • Don Ward

            So being a sounds-like-Nick and defending a troll is how you get your point across? Good to know!

          • Nicks87

            Calling someone a troll works too, apparently.

          • BrandonAKsALot

            That couldn’t be more opposite. I really don’t care how anyone enjoys firearms. My point is don’t be an ass to others over it and act like you’re better because you play navy seals in the tub. Not directing that at you by the way. If you love to train and do tactical drills, that’s awesome. I think it would be fun, but not something I’m doing every weekend. This guy just seems to hate anyone who think firearms can be fun as well as tools.

          • Cymond

            I don’t care how JINZ enjoys his firearms, but he sure does seem bothered by his we enjoy ours.

            And you won’t see big talk coming from me. Again, talking big seems to be the specialty for a certain 1337 operator with super secret training he refuses to discuss.

          • JumpIf NotZero

            Not at all.

            I do love specific irony that a few big mouths are calling the probably one of five people on this site that’s actually qualified to talk about this stuff in real terms, of wanting to “play navy seal in the tub”

            You hear that Nick? FLETC was for nothing! You had a tub all along brother!

          • JumpIf NotZero

            It’s a fundamental gap in people like us who care about the use and people who only care to collect. I’ve sold everything in my safe that was inferior to another thing I owned, I have formal instruction on every platform I own. It’s a requisite for me.

            I see gun collecting as absolutely the same thing as beanie baby collecting.

            The world needs far fewer “collectors” IMO.

          • BrandonAKsALot

            It’s funny because most people in the firearms community can get along and enjoy them as a passion and then there are the few uber tactical guys like you. You go around belittling everyone because you claim their choices are inferior and they are idiots for choosing to do anything that isn’t exactly like you. Yet, you keep coming back and trash talking everyone and then vanishing when you get called out. What’s annoying is, there were a couple times when you were actually decent and made some interesting and valid points about some things here and then spiraled back into that crap again. I just can’t understand how you can have so much negativity in you toward everything.

            Personally, I genuinely enjoy all aspects of firearms and I love getting to talk with others who are also very passionate about them. Often it can lead to some heated debates, but nothing usually nasty. They aren’t just a self defense tool; there’s so much more. History, production, variations, how they’ve affected the world. It’s a whole interest with so much to offer for everyone and yet you’ll insist so much of that is a waste of time because people like me are beanie baby collector’s.

            I absolutely love building, maintaining, and understanding firearms which is why I got into the collecting part. I’ve also learned a lot of useful skills from all that like metal working, machining, basic metallurgy, wood working, welding, and so on. I would definitely be better suited as an armorer or something like that than a soldier were I in the situation, but that doesn’t mean I don’t practice when I can and I am able to use my firearms proficiently. I’m no competition superstar or anything close, but I do what I can and I love what I do. If anything, we need more positivity, support, and togetherness in the community and I see no need to put anyone down for being interested in firearms in any way.

            I’m honestly not sure why I even bothered typing all this up because I know it won’t mean anything, but whatever.

      • Don Ward

        Careful boys. Jump has been trained in all aspects of Sulsa Do Corp and has mortored a man to death with his jammed SKS.

        True story.

      • Nicks87

        No, they are just typical type A personality gun owners that will never admit somebody might know more than they do about guns and shooting. Training is a reality check for most people and ego-centric people can’t handle it when their veiws about their own skills are proven to be false. They would rather convince themselves that training is pointless and stupid than to face the fact that they can’t shoot worth a $hit.

        • JumpIf NotZero


          I used to think women didn’t take training because of intimidation. But that’s not it. It’s that (from my point of view) they’re usually unaware of how to get started or understand what it’s actually like vs they think it’s like.

          It’s men who I’ve found to actually be intimated much more. I’m not sure I’d go suspecting that every scoffer who yells “tacticool”, “oper8tor!”, “lol CoD” when it comes to legit training is Type-A tho. That could be it, it’s hard to explain, but there is a difference because I’ve seen lots of types in classes, lots of type-As who are there to learn.

          But yes! The simple truth is that I think most gun owners are too intimidated to show up to a class alone, have an instructor present a different theory, show them what they are doing wrong, and won’t understand that it’s OK other students shoot better you aren’t there to compete against them.

          1-2% is the number of gun owners I figure have more formal training hours than they have guns. Sad. But what’s worse are the people who straight up mock the idea, and you and I both know how well they work when the stress kicks in.

          • Suppressed

            I’m not intimidated, I’d love to go to one. I just don’t have the funds yet. But here’s some data for your survey, I only have 3 guns and am selling one of them. It seems like the more I learn about guns/shooting, the more I realize that I’m pretty ignorant. I only really got into all this stuff like 3-4 years ago, and if you would’ve asked me 2 years ago, I probably would’ve said I know most of what is needed to know, and I would’ve been wrong.

          • JumpIf NotZero

            Good on you bro.

            Something I’ve always kept trying to strive for was to own nothing that I wasn’t formally trained on. So, when I inherited an m1S90, I took a defensive shotgun class, was expensive, travel, 600 rounds of 00 and 200 rounds of slugs, cost me more than a nice new shotgun overall. But now I can run that mid-90s Benelli pretty damn well.

            I know it seems like a lot of money sometimes, but it’s more valuable than a gun collecting hobby.

        • JumpIf NotZero

          Also, did you see the Sphinx video up on article from this one? Dude flags himself with his handgun 7 times in a 5 minute video and they toss “TFB” on it like nothing is wrong O.o

          I’m betting you and I could both reasonably count that the number of times self-flagged in the last 5 years is lower than 7.

          THAT is the difference in backyard-shooting and formal training.

          • Tabitha Martin

            What does “flagged” mean?

          • Jim Nanban

            New to me… probably means the muzzle was pointed at something you don’t want to shoot. Silly jargon term, just say what you mean.

          • JumpIf NotZero

            … It’s an entirely proper term.

          • Edgy

            For Instructors !

          • JumpIf NotZero

            Flagged: Pointed a gun at yourself or someone else.

            Breaking safety rules of firearm use. TFB posts a video where one the guys repeatedly points the gun at himself on the range, slide closed, having just fired or is about to fire, and almost no one has an issue with that because of mass ignorance to why it’s an issue I suppose.

          • Zebra Dun

            Aiming at a target or pointing your weapon at a target you did not wish to shoot and destroy accidentally through lack of situational awareness and tunnel vision.

          • Tabitha Martin

            K, ta, thought so but dident want to assume.

          • Mikial

            Kudos to you, Tabitha for actually asking a question and taking the risk that some of these people will use it as an excuse to start dissing you. I’m amazed at the level of venom on here. What should have been a simple discussion on the topic of the article turns into a hate fest among people who don’t even actually know each other. 0.o

          • M Rutherford

            We call it “muzzle sweeping”. A most definite no no.

        • bob

          Nicks87, you are Absolutely spot on.In my state I give the CWP class, am an NRA Instructor and both shoot and am Match Director
          for several disciplines of Competition. Most people buy a handgun,
          shoot it 1 time, put it away and pronounce themselves a “Pistolario”
          I very seldom ever see any of my former students come out and try to improve their skills.

          • bigtoad45 .

            Training classes are a great asset. When I was younger and “knew everything” nobody could tell me I was wrong. As I grew older I realized that training classes are truly golden. When I started looking around my area I was amazed at the number of qualified/certified classes that were available. This is important when one gets older and gimpy. The instructors help you to work with and around your issues and disabilities. Well worth the time. With some hand issues I have had to drop to smaller calibers. With training and practice I don’t feel I am at any disadvantage. It doesn’t hurt to contact a local instructor and discuss your situation. Most are more than happy to work with you.

          • Edgy

            I think it’s because Libtards are making it harder to find places to Shoot , by Outlawing them !

        • DeathFromTheShadows


      • Jon

        The site got off topic rrriiiigggghhhttt about ….here.

    • Zebra Dun

      Well said and articulated.
      There is a math formula I believe to back up this.

  • Tom

    I recall watching a documentary on gunshot wounds and a surgeon stated that quite simple the only difference is rifle vs pistol calibre is for the most part irrelevant. Most data seems to back this up. Of course there are reasons why you might discount some calibres such as reliability or lack of penetration. Basically once you have a round that will shot reliable and penetrate sufficiently to incapacitate a target then its entirely a personal decision. But the old adage that its better to hit with .22 than miss with a .44 is still true.

  • nova3930

    Don’t forget capacity as part of the argument. All other things being equal, I’d rather have a .45 than a 9mm because the larger round does have less margin of error. All other things are not equal though. In similar size weapons, I can get more rounds in a 9mm than a 45, which is important to me in a CCW role. When my ammo load is all I have and I can’t retreat to a rifle, the extra rounds might be enough to keep someone’s head down long enough for me to get outta dodge. Secondarily if I have to stand my ground between my family and harm, the extra time the ammo affords may be the difference between them escaping without harm and not.

    • LG

      If more than one magazine or cylinder of ammo is really needed then by definition you are in a fire fight. Something crew served or belt fed is therefore necessary.

      • nova3930

        Ammo is like toilet paper, better to have it and not need it than need it and not have it :p

        • LG

          Yes, but know when the diarrhea reaches the state where you need a doctor. More ammo is better, but at a point the delivery system matters.

          • nova3930

            Oh I know. If in could realistically tote a 240B or something I would but I cant. Nothing wrong with preparing to tackle the worst case scenario with the tools you can reasonably have at hand.

            My personal optimal situation is to run away as fast as my feet will carry me if at all possible. I don’t get paid to shoot it out in the street with random people.

    • Swarf

      Quality 9mm is just as effective as .45acp, so I will take the higher round count all day long.

      Sure, it’s unlikely that any situation I would realistically find myself in would need more than a few rounds, but…

      Then there is the significant price difference.

  • Bullphrog855

    It’s not that shot placement negates large caliber rounds, if you miss the CNS or other vitals then it doesn’t mater what round you are using, the results will be the same. Same if you hit them. Shot placement is important regardless to what round you are using.

    The problem with “large” caliber pistol rounds is that you can get 9mm or even 380 depending on the brand to have similar wound cavity and penetration as the larger calibers, or at least meet FBI requirements. Then other things come into play, weight, cost, capacity and personal bias, and in most those cases, the smaller round wins.

    But if you shoot better and have more confidence with .40smith 10mm or .45 knock your self out. I would argue that’s more important than weight and cost

  • Mmmtacos

    Shot placement is king, pure and simple. I’m in the firm belief that between the major calibers of 9, .40 and .45 the ballistic difference between these in regards to incapacitation with concern to JHP ammo is insignificant. That is to say it’s not so significant it merits sacrificing capacity and putting up with additional recoil and weight. Ergo, I choose 9x19s for carry and home defense (a Glock 19 and VP9, respectively).

    I’ve read plenty and came to my own conclusions here. With regards to incapacitating with FMJ I would take .45ACP all day, every day over 9×19. However, Mr. Ayoob has an article that should scare any rational person into buying a box of JHPs and loading them up.

  • Evan

    Obviously shot placement is paramount; a hit with a .22lr is better than a miss with a S&W 500. That being said, I think you should use the biggest caliber you can reliably get those hits with. If your life is on the line, it always helps to create bigger, nastier holes in what or whoever is putting it there. If a .380 is all that you can reliably hit your target with, then go with that. If you can handle a 10mm, there’s no reason to carry a .380.

    • Swarf

      The reason is that any 10mm is going to weigh at least 6 Ruger LCP’s.

      • FightFireJay

        “…any 10mm is going to weigh at least 6 Ruger LCP’s.”

        False. A Glock 29 weighs 2.75 LCPs


        • DancesWithGlock


      • Tabitha Martin

        I prefer to have a heavier weapon. It makes me steady. I actually carry a S&W Governor as my EDC. And since its a revolver, yeah, i value both shot placement and caliber. In fact i have quite a bit of versatility with this weapon as it is loaded “mix six” fashion. With two Winchester PDX defense rounds in .410, followed by two .45ACP hollowpoint, followed by two 45LC star hollowpoint. Followed up if needs be by speedloaders with more 45LC.

        • BaconLovingInfidel

          That .410 will come in handy if you’re attacked by pigeons bearing rattlesnakes. The gubner is also great for clubbing people or hammering stakes.

          • Tabitha Martin

            Its not loaded with birdshot…

        • Zebra Dun

          A .410 slug from a shotgun barrel has the same terminal ballistics as a 158 gr. round nose lead .38 spl.

          • Tabitha Martin

            Not a slug. Winchester PDX1 Defense rounds.

            12 pellets


            Three .380 copper discs

            It wont blow a fist sized hole in a bad guy, but it does pack a nice little punch. 🙂

          • Zebra Dun

            Bullet Placement is what stops and kills.

            The .410 Winchester PDX round is @ 7 yards doing 750 fps will penetrate 10″ of ballistics gel out of a Judge. The pellets penetrate the least.
            After 7 yards the pellets spread in a circular fashion wider and wider as range increases and slow down as well, the copper disks also begin to spread and each weighs less than the one .38 spl bullet, penetration and hit potential drop off.

            The .38 spl 158 gr round nose lead at 7 yards hits 755 fps and penetrates 12.5″ of ballistics gel out of a 2 ” barrel snub nose. The .38 spl 158 RN will drop after 7 yards by a few inches and deliver every bit of it’s 158 gr load into the target.

            The .410 Slug out of a shotgun length barrel will perhaps hit 1000 fps at the muzzle and it’s weight plus distance will make the slug arrive at the target at about the same terminal ballistics as a .38 spl 158 RN bullet.

            If you use the judge and the PDX round keep your range short I personally would use the excellent .45 Colt in place of any shot load except for squirrels, Rabbits, snakes or rats.

            Nice meeting you Tabitha! Nice choice of Weapon and ammunition for it!

            My .45 Colt is a S&W M-25-5 four inch barrel.

          • DeathFromTheShadows

            no it doesn’t. the .38 will have greater effect due to the ability to mushroom that the .410 slug lacks due to projectile design

        • Mikial

          She never said anything about birdshot. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the Winchester PDX 410 round, the three discs leave the muzzle of a .410 handgun at around 750 fps (fairly close to the 831 Federal Hydroshock .38 Special generates from a 3″ barrel and more than the 700 the same ammo generates from a 2″) and their penetration in ballistic gel is a round 13 inches. So the round puts out three discs that can disable an attacker and 12 pellets that will disorient and cause pain, and possibly blind them in a face shot. Sounds pretty effective to me.

          Is it my choice? No, I my own EDC is a full sized G21 with HTPs but then I’m not the person carrying it so it doesn’t really matter what my choice is.

      • Evan

        It’s also going to comfortably fit in my hands, which a Ruger LCP does not, have a sight radius of more than an inch, and be a gun designed as a gun, not as a miniature. I dislike all those micro concealed carry pistols, they put so much stock in being small that they give up too much gun. If you are gonna carry a .380, make it a PPK or something that can actually fit in adult hands.

      • CavScout

        This article was pointless, but on the point you’re mentioning…. who cares about 10mm? Sort of a limited crowd there. The .40S&W crowd is a ton bigger, yet the caliber wasn’t even mentioned. I carry a 9mm Shield, and sold off another in .40 because it wasn’t managable. But it was the same very concealable size and weight of the 9mm.

        Pointless article though…

        • All the Raindrops

          Extremely pointless. But it will get the neckbeards squawking in the comments section. “”9mm won’t penetrate a cashmere sweater, and 45 will lift a man clear off his feet”

    • Lt_Scrounge

      Other than the 2-3 people behind your target that the round will pass through before finally coming to a stop. I can’t imagine why anyone wouldn’t want to take that kind of a risk. A 10 mm is a good round for hunting, but I wouldn’t want to be carrying one for self defense in a US city. I’d have to carry an attorney in my pocket to handle the criminal charges and lawsuits that would come from the round passing through the target and into the people beyond it. If you’re roaming around some third world cesspool, knock yourself out. I’ll stick with something that I KNOW my over penetration issues will be minimal with.

      Why do the 10MM fanatics always pop up on these boards? It was designed for one purpose and was found to be unsuitable for that purpose. The resulting downsizing of the round created the 40 S&W. Now the FBI and numerous police departments are even dropping that as unnecessarily powerful as new bullet designs have made the round no more effective than the smaller 9mm that is easier to control, allows for a higher magazine capacity and costs less. The 10mm has found a resurgence as a hunting round. A field of endeavor where over penetration is less of a factor than in a crowded city. I’ve seen the 10MM fans even claiming it was the ideal round for the military to adopt, not taking into account the minimal amount of firearms training that soldiers receive, or the fact that the handgun has to be able to fit a female soldier’s smaller hands. BTW, I love 45 ACP 1911s, but they are not as easily concealed as the guns I carry on a daily basis. I could go to a Kahr CW45, but with my K9 being loaded with frangible rounds, all I would gain would be more recoil resulting in slower follow up shots.

      • bob

        I take it, not only are you not a fan of 10mm,but in all likely hood you have never shot one with SELF DEFENSE Ammo. I use 135 grain hollow points..
        They penetrate 12 to 14 inches in ballistic gel.It is a Great SELF DEFENSE round.The FBI dropped the 10mm for several reasons, none of which were over penetration. At the time they began using the 10mm,there were no suitable guns to shoot it in. Also many Agents had difficulty getting accurate hits with it. You sound more like a Theory talking shooter than a practical shooter.
        Your frangible rounds are great in certain situations, but hope you never have to use them against a heavily clothed Foe. You should also keep in mind that by their very nature All handgun calibers are inherently weak when compared to a rifle caliber. Also if you are unaware, hunting rounds for a 10mm are generally 180 or bigger and made to penetrate deeply,vastly different from SELF DEFENSE.Ammo. As for the military, Troops in places like Greenland are issued 10mm Glocks for protection against Bears.

        • Lt_Scrounge

          Do you have ANY evidence of a frangible round NOT being effective against heavy clothing (other than body armor) because I would love to see it. EVEN if the round failed to penetrate the clothing (unlikely) the resulting blunt force trauma would break the ribs and possibly induce cardiac arrest, like frequently happens when a soft body armor vest isn’t backed up with a trauma plate. In fact, the blunt force trauma may actually incapacitate someone faster than a FMJ round that penetrates. Sort of like hitting them across the chest with a tire iron. Repeatedly.

          Considering Greenland is mostly a glacier covered snow field, exactly where would these troops encounter bears? I personally wouldn’t want to use ANY semi automatic handgun except possibly a 50 Desert Eagle against a polar bear. That’s what rifles are for.

          • DeathFromTheShadows

            talk about talking out your ass “EVEN if the round failed to penetrate the clothing (unlikely) the resulting blunt force trauma would break the ribs and possibly induce cardiac arrest, like frequently happens when a soft body armor vest isn’t backed up with a trauma plate” where you get this cardiac arrest crap is beyond me, but then again I don’t read “graphic novels”

          • Lt_Scrounge

            Try getting your information from something other than one of the various NCIS shows on CBS. Even class III vests allow for up to 1 1/2 inch of deformation to the rear of the vest (depending on caliber) which means if there is no trauma plate present to dissipate that force and prevent that deformation from impacting the skin, the wearer gets a 3/4″ across about 1 1/2″ deep dimple pressed into his chest at high speed. If you think that won’t crack ribs or induce cardiac arrest, please feel free to try it and let me know how great it feels later.

          • All the Raindrops

            Lol did this guy just advocate frangible rounds for carry?

      • Billca

        The frangible rounds offer no serious benefit over high quality JHP ammo with the exception of ricochet safety. Most of the ones I’ve tried in the past leave a shallow wound and/or the individual fragments fail to penetrate very deep.

        But more to the point of the article, there is merit to using whatever platform and caliber you can shoot well — if you stipulate that the cartridge you’re using will penetrate sufficiently to stop a threat (e.g. using a .22 short won’t cut it). If your best combination is an H&R break-top in .32 S&W it may be wiser to look your second-best choice if it performs better if the differences in accuracy aren’t large.

        There’s no magic formula for a perfect handgun cartridge that will do everything including a one-shot stop. They’re all compromises in one way or another.

        • Lt_Scrounge

          Have you tried DRTs? From what I have read, they leave impressive wound channels. Like I said in another post, I’m okay with them not penetrating as long as they dump the full 200+ft lbs of energy into the target’s rib cage/sternum. Especially since I am going to shoot them twice. Without trauma plates, torso hits into body armor can be fatal from the blunt force trauma to the chest cavity. I don’t care if an attacker is stopped because one of my bullets punctured an internal organ, or because a shard of one of his own ribs did so, as long as he’s stopped. In fact, it’s probably legally better for me IF he is killed by the blunt force trauma than from a gun shot wound. Of course if being hit in the chest doesn’t stop the attacker, the next round is center of the face. At that point, pretty much any frangible or hollow point will do the job.

          • brainy37

            Energy transfer is meaningless. The energy is dissipated. You’re talking about an amount of energy that is below average for a human punch. Boxers range from 450lbs-1000lbs depending on weight class and experience. 200lbs is like Barney from accounting with a limp wrist.

            Energy transfer is meaningless and holds very little value when it comes to incapacitation.

          • Lt_Scrounge

            Ever read what happens to a police officer who is shot in his kevlar vest if it doesn’t have a trauma plate? Most of them end up in the hospital with broken ribs. Some even go into cardiac arrest. Other than being shot by a 22 or a 25, they all end up with some nasty bruises.

            As for your punch analogy, the difference is how much area that impact is spread out over. A punch would be like a bullet hitting a trauma plate. Yes the punch may have more power but it is dissipated over a larger area. When the area of the punch is 40 times greater than the area of the bullet impact, the bullet impact will have substantially more effect than the punch. Surface of a 9mm round is .396 square inches. The surface area of a fist is at least 15 square inches. For a punch to have the same impact per square inch, it would have to be almost 38 times more powerful than the bullet.

          • DeathFromTheShadows

            incorrect. it is WHERE the energy is transferred that matters. externally as a general rule is simple blunt force trauma. But when it is transferred to the interior of the body cavity it then becomes very injurious, and an fyi on boxers that glove spreads the force out over a larger area diminishing it substantially

      • Kable Holding

        If you really knew what you were talking about, you would know that when the study was conducted by the FBI that lead to the 10mm, it was found that there is no such thing as over penetration in handgun defensive rounds. This was in fact the reason the 10mm was chosen. .45 was actually so close in performance, but seems how the federal gov. had just gotten rid of 45 is was not a politically viable choice.

        • Lt_Scrounge

          They dumped the 10mm because they found the recoil to be more than the average agent could handle. Either way, feel free to carry the 10 mm if you want. I’ll carry something that I can shoot accurately and not have to spend a fortune to but ammo for. Then when you don’t get a solid body hit and the round injures someone behind your target, you can say “Oops, that’s not supposed to happen.”

      • DeathFromTheShadows

        Sadly you are clueless on bullet design, expanding rounds rarely shoot through and through, but hey what do facts matter on the internet, right?

    • Mikial

      You can expect a lot of flack over this because you are speaking pure common sense. Carry the largest, most powerful gun you can efficiently carry, and learn to place your shots under extreme pressure.

    • All the Raindrops

      Lmao at this article. Beating a dead horse is one thing, but at least get the info somewhat correct.

  • Politiwars

    Shoot whatever you can hit the target comfortably with and forget the rest.

    • JumpIf NotZero

      If that were actually the case, everyone would carry 22lr.

      • Hilltop

        The only thing I’d say against a .22 is that the primer is inherently less likely to ignite than a typical center fire.

        • BattleshipGrey

          About 10 years ago I read the NRA’s “good guys win” (or whatever the column is called) in which one account of a home invasion ended when the intruder was shot in the head with a .22lr handgun and it only knocked him out cold. Obviously that still counts as a win, but there’s been others who’ve been killed with it too. .22lr seems to vary too much for me to be comfortable carrying one for SD/HD, especially with the issue you addressed as well.

          • Nicks87

            Yep, you nailed it, too many variables with .22 lr that disqualify it as a legitimate defensive round.

          • Swarf

            If I weren’t skeeved by the primer ignition issue, I would feel comfortable arming my mother with Velociters or another HV .22 round.

      • RickfromPaso

        If I recall, I believe according to the FBI .22LR is the most popular caliber used in shootings across America.

        • Swarf

          I think that’s a “quantity not quality” issue.

  • USMC03Vet

    Caliber doesn’t dictate shot placement, it dictates the time/effort required for sight realignment for the next shot.

  • Anonymoose

    In a perfect world, we’d all carry Glock 21s, but not everyone can do that in summer.

    • nova3930

      Think bigger. 21s converted to 460 Rowland

      • Hilltop

        Or 40 super

        • nova3930

          Just carry the old Desert Eagle in 50AE

      • Anonymoose

        Why not .50 GI?

        • Edeco

          There just have to be more 50GI guns. Drives me bonkers. Given the popularity of regular/non-magnum cartridges in approx. 35 cal., 40 and 45 it seems like there should be at least a 10mm level interest in a non-magnum cartridge beyond 45.

          Come on FNX50 Tactical!

    • Don Ward

      Sounds like a dystopian helllscape to me.

  • ltulrich

    Shot placement and stopping power are not mutually exclusive. The only reason not to strive for both, is capacity. A 9mm auto generally carries 40% more rounds than a .45. It’s a tough argument but I’d MUCH rather have 17 rounds of 9mm than 10 rounds of .45.

    • Ah, but what about 17 rounds of 9mm vs 13 rounds of .45 ACP?

      • ltulrich

        That gets us a lot closer!

    • CommonSense23

      The terminal ballistic differences of modern 9mm hollowpoint versus .45 hollowpoint is negligible. Sometimes favoring the 9mm these days.

    • Tabitha Martin

      Many times i have seen footage of a Police Officer, shooting at a suspect, from 6-10 feet away, emptying his entire magazine, and never hitting the guy once.

      Men have a habit of throwing large quantities of lead down range, as fast as they can pull the trigger, ASSUMING they will hit their target through sheer volume of shots dispenced.

      “I have a glock, the mag has 17 rounds, i cant possibly miss a moving human sized target at 8 feet while pulling the trigger as fast as i physically can.”

      Wild Bill Hickok won many a gunfight, NOT because he was fast on the draw. But rather because he was deliberate and took his time with his shots he took the time to AIM. sure the bullets were whizzing by him, but from scared guys trying to fill the air with lead and HOPE that one found its mark.

      I am a pretty decent shot. And i am calm in emergencies AND in combat. Yes, i have seen my fair share of combat. Most of it actually at VERY close quarters. NONE of it with the military (i was Navy).

      And ONE actually AIMED shot is worth more than your entire magazine of random misses and HOPES/macho expectations of a hit.

      My EDC is a S&W Governor, loaded “mix six” fashion. I have moon clips of .45ACP and speedloaders of 45LC. for IF i need to reload. I have crimson trace laser to assist my aim if i feel i need it.

      If you REALLY pride yourself on your accureacy and training. Why do you STILL feel the need for a semi auto with 17 rounds?

      • ltulrich

        Multiple assailants/extended engagements. I’d prefer to spend as little time as possible reloading.

        • Tabitha Martin

          And what is gonna stop you from doing what most do? Rapid firing your way through your 2-3 mags and being empty halfway through the fight and still maybe not having hit a thing because you depended on ammo capacity.

  • john huscio

    I shoot 9mm & 45acp…..would/do carry both……..thinking about adding a pocket .357mag (LCR) for those hot humid summer shorts days….

    • Tabitha Martin

      Heh, try concealed carry while wearing a sundress……

  • gusto

    concerning hunting
    bigger is better but not as a replacement for training and good hunting skills.

    too many thinks it compensates for their lack of skills.

    a bigger calibre does not make a bad shot better, the thing it does is make tracking of wounded animals easier due to more blood

    and don’t get me started on wildcats, too many people get som obscure calibre and swears by it but most of them hardly ever shoot their rifles because ammo is xpnsv or they can’t be arsed to handload etc etc, who cares that your wildcat has a flatter trajectory and hits like a 30-06 at 800yards you don’t train enough to do ethical shots at that distance anyway.
    if more people just got the most common calibres it would be less expensive for all of us

    proud 6,5xx55, 358win, 300winmag and 9,3×62 owner I can succesfully hunt anything I want in europe/northamerica and not totally lost in africa either

    • LG

      Bigger is always better, if one can handle the caliber or afford the weapon. I had a friend and my PH killed by a bull ele in musth. He, as he had for years, used what he could afford, a 458 Win Mag. He had wacked many an ele and buff. But the charge was too determined and too close. He got one round off with the 458 before he was stomped and gored. I am certain that his shot placement was as good as could be from the angle and position that was presented. But the ele lives to this day. I can not stop thinking that if he were to have had a 500 Schuler, 505 Gibbs, of a 500 NE he would still be alive today. Hy son asked me why I hunt with my 500-3″-NE and told him that is was simply because I could not afford a 600 NE.

      • gusto

        bigger is not always better

        now it is hard to debate this with your friend getting tragically killed and all that but maybe he could have gotten two shots of with a lesser calibre?

        some rounds are inherently more accurate then others two,

        I mean if I am going on a mountain hunt I take my 300wm not the 9,3×62
        better trajectory, better range
        but bear hunting with my dog, I want the wallop of the 9,3 or the 358win
        rifles are set up differently to (probably go with the BLR in 358 because it is a lighter carrying weapon)

  • adverse

    Best way to stay out of an argument is don’t.

  • Jerrydgeek

    The best carry gun is one that you will carry, every day. Big guns are great … I have both .45acp (1911) and 10mm (STI), but I don’t carry either of them. The P3AT is small, inconspicuous, and always in reach. Not the best defensive caliber, no .. but it’s marginally more effective than harsh words when I find myself in a situation where I can’t just run away.

  • paulm53

    Carry the weapon you shoot best. That gives you the highest likelihood of hitting your target most often. Shoot until the threat has stopped. Making that your priority, caliber is less important. Hitting the target is the goal. Having bigger gun food, not so much.

  • Hilltop

    Too often, the discussion about caliber centers around that one off case where the crazed junkie takes 10 shots in the chest and keeps coming etc. Your chances of running into this particular type of a$$hole is passingly remote. The average criminal assailant is going to try to avoid being shot with anything especially, if he has already been shot with it once. Of course, if I knew for sure that I was going to need a handgun today, I’d carry a 10mm or a .357 Mag. If you just want some insurance a much less potent round will do just fine. It just needs to go bang with you pull the trigger and it helps if you hit what you aim at…

  • Bill


  • Twocents

    Regarding the .22lr for home defense, when I sold guns I would tell people that good shot placement is not something that should be relied on in an adrenaline-pumping self-defense situation. That means the hits you do make need to make them loose blood-pressure asap. So I would suggest at least a .38 caliber weapon for self-defense.

  • Twocents

    lose blood pressure*

  • mosinman

    i think it’s both. carry the biggest caliber that you can shoot and conceal to your level of comfort but you also have to get rounds on target too or the gun and it’s chambering are useless to you

  • I thought that was Stan Lee until I scrolled up and looked again.

  • beenonreddit

    For carry: 9mm handgun. Done. Capacity, effective defense loads/JHPs, easy follow up shots… There’s absolutely no point in having anything else unless you just need muh fuddy five.

  • Don Ward

    The reality of the situation is that so many gun owners get caught up in the gear aspect of owning a firearm. Or they’ll take unrealistic training courses where they make believe that they’ll fight off an entire biker gang of Nazi zombie ninja strippers and the only way to do that is to have this expensive piece of kit.
    In reality, must civilian American gun owners will never have to use their weapon to defend themselves. If they do draw their weapon, the vast majority of the time they’ll never have to fire it. And if they do fire, the vast majority of the time they’ll only ever need one or two shots. And this is all regardless of the caliber of the weapon and the placement of the shot.
    Carry the gun you’re comfortable with or that you can afford.

    • Nicks87

      Just stop already, you sound like a broken record. Everybody enjoys their hobby in a different way and just because you can’t hack a little professional training doesn’t mean you have to bad mouth people that are into that sort of thing. As a cop and a firearms instructor I recommend everyone get proper training, from a vetted professional, on the firearms that you own/use. Even if you don’t carry concealed on a regular basis, you owe it to your neighbors and the guy shooting next to you at the range. Too many accidents occur because gun owners don’t know how to check their egos and admit that they could use a little extra training.

      • mosinman

        then again we have people who claim to have training lording it over people like they’re the biggest hotshots this side of the internet. Sure training is great and makes you more proficient but it doesn’t make you the end all be all in firearms discussions nor does it mean that people that don’t have formal training are completely ignorant about firearms usage either.

        • JumpIf NotZero

          lording it over people

          Friend, I think your insecurity is showing.

          • mosinman

            how is it insecurity to point it out? i’m secure in the fact that i don’t have any formal training.

      • Tabitha Martin

        “Vetted”, just discover this word recently?

        Cop and firearms instructor? Check their ego’s?

        Yeah, ok… BTDT… not impressed…

  • ozzallos .

    Caliber is a hedge for shot placement.

  • Mattblum

    I don’t think there is one best caliber. I don’t think .22 is a great choice for self defense, but it’s way better than nothing. If you are good enough to hit something vital. The FBI is moving back to 9mm, but they get a lot of training. Does that make it the best? Only for them. Find a round that you can shoot accurately and then train train train. I’m a crumby shot, but I have years of unarmed training. The one thing I know for certain is that a strike that doesn’t land is worse than useless. A shot that misses is pretty much the same, with the added danger of hitting something entirely unintended.

  • Patrick K Martin

    I love the binary “Either/Or” thinking. I carry an XD40, or a 2″ .357 snubbie, or a 9×18 or whatever I think is appropriate given the weather, my clothing, the perceived threat level, or whatever I decide that day.
    My checklist;
    1) have a gun
    2) have a gun appropriate to the situation (whatever that might be at the time)
    3) have spare ammo
    4) be trained to use your weapon quickly and decisively

    My wife can handle and carry less weapon than I can. I can conceal more gun in the winter than the summer. I refuse to fall into the “Best” argument, what is best today may be different for you than for me. Best might very according to a variety of factors most of which are subjective. Lastly, all handguns suck for killing or stopping, but rifles and shotguns suck for concealment, still a handgun is better than harsh language.

    • Swarf

      I’ve meet some women whose harsh language might put the lie to that statement. My own mother being one of them.

  • RICH

    Carry what you are confident with and what you train with…… and pray that you never have to test your skills in a real life scenario ! ! ! IMHO !

  • Nate H

    I shoot USPSA with the gun I carry; XDm-9 4.5″. I’m a big dude and carry this firearm concealed in all weather types. I understand that USPSA isn’t the best source for “training”, but I consistently hit A and C zones from all distances setup. That instills the confidence I need to face down any threat I may encounter. Long post made short, shot placement is the winner for me.

  • Tom – UK

    I write from an un-educated point of view in this area and am just dropping in my musings.

    Has anyone ever conducted a study where those involved in defensive shootings have been questioned about their point of aim when shooting and then compared it to where the rounds actually landed?

    I would be curious to determine whether in the heat of the moment people aim for centre of mass, the head, in the general direction or just squeeze the trigger as fast as they can.

    I presume (perhaps wrongly) that Police and those with defensive firearms training may aim for the centre of mass. For me personally I believe that the vast majority of defensive shootings will be against people without body armour and at close range, given the stress levels and amount of movement I think that 9mm type calibres off the ability to fire off several rounds with relative accuracy into the centre mass of a target. I think a quality 9mm round will have a controllable recoil for rapid shots on target with magazine that leaves rounds to spare.

    As mentioned given the stress and main target area I believe shot placement is likely to be quite vague (the torso), and so it is more important to hit the target at all than focus on something that will really obliterate it if you do manage to hit it.

    In addition a final thought is that I can imagine the shock of being shot (mentally, I.E. wham, OMG I’ve shot!) is likely to be roughly equal between for example .380 and 45ACP)

    Just my thoughts, I hope they brought something to the conversation.

    • Tabitha Martin

      Law enforcement are trained to shoot center mass.

  • derfelcadarn

    Shoot the heaviest round you can shoot really well. DUH !

  • Lew Siffer

    A study of defensive gun use in Canada a little over a decade ago revealed that two out of three defensive gun uses were against…any guesses? Home invaders? Carjackers? ATM robbers? Nope. Animals. Dogs, wolves, coyotes, etc. Anyone remember former Texas Governor Rick Perry’s defensive gun use? If not, look it up. So here is my question — how do the ballistic wound tests of our Famous But Incompetents relate to stopping an attack by the neighbor’s escaped pit bull? And is your 9mm still as good as my .45 against it?

    • Swarf


      • Lew Siffer

        We will never know, because my .45 will be home in the drawer and I’ll shoot the dog with my .380 LCP. Did you look up Governor Perry?

  • Tony

    IPSC and USPSA shooters recall the acronym DVC. These latin words mean speed, power, and accuracy. Each of these elements is important.

    The elements are also dependent upon the shooter, including his style of shooting and his level of proficiency.

    In my experience, a large number of shooters are faster and more accurate, that is, more accurate when shooting quickly or faster when shooting more accurately, with a 9MM than with a 45 ACP. Given the small targets which must be struck in order to stop a determined aggressor, this seems like a significant observation.

  • Joshua

    I’d rather be hit by a .22 than missed by a .45

    you see it’s a joke? of course shot placement is more important than caliber, it’s not even a question. how many studies have come out to show that handgun cartridges, with the exception of the big magnum revolvers, out of handguns, do not have enough energy to cause the kind of hydraulic shock and gel-ification that rifles do, and thereby, shot placement is paramount.

  • Sulaco

    Two of the shootings I responded to in my early career was 1: Kid shot though the chest with heart wounding with a .44 mag. He lived. 2: Moron fired off a .22 short and it hit neighbor in the chest across two house yards. He died. You can hope you are changing the percentages of a gun fight in your favor if it makes you feel better, but its all a crap shoot and I think that is why you get this heated debate. Real world it just proves you CAN NOT really have any real influence on outcomes except on the margins and that makes most people who want to believe they matter and have control of the world nuts.

  • nobody

    After spending a ton of time over a few months reading studies about what it takes to actually stop someone and the damage that bullets cause, I’ve concluded that any shot to a place other than the brain, spine, or possibly the heart (haven’t been able to get a definitive answer on that one, it’s a no if the attacker is determined but I’m not sure if it will cause enough of a change quickly enough to increase the chance of a psychological stop on a less determined attacker) that stops someone in a few seconds is due to purely psychological reasons and they would have stopped no matter what hand gun they were shot with or if the bullets hit in a slightly different location. No shot elsewhere will cause enough blood loss and most certainly will not destroy enough tissue to make any noticeable difference quickly and lungs take to damn long to collapse (also, large temporary cavities causing damage only happens with rifle rounds if you hit specific organs like the liver, otherwise you’re stuck with the bullet just damaging what it directly hits like pistol ammunition). For handgun ammunition, I concluded that unless the round you’re using has enough energy to reliably fragment like a rifle round (such as .44 magnum or .460 Rowland) which allows for poor shot placement to result in hits on important bits, there is little reason to consider how powerful handgun ammunition is besides how deeply it penetrates in ballistics gelatin (at least 12″ and preferably 18″) and penetration through the windshield of a vehicle if you consider that to be important.

    • Tabitha Martin

      Finally, someone who factors in determination. Its amazing how powerful mind over matter and determination can be.

  • SmithTech22

    I practice with a .22lr 1911 every week. 100 rounds or more.
    My defensive pistol is a 9mm 1911, mainly because .22lr isn’t reliable enough.
    I can split eye glasses at the cross bar 95% of the time at 10 yards with my 22/45 but even with CCI I still get occasional FTF/FTE’s

  • Nattleby .

    I carry a 9×18 Makarov chambered gun, a Polish P64 which is essentially a clone of the PPK. 9×18 is kinda like a 380+P with a slightly larger bullet. I don’t feel under armed with it.

    Before the .380 boom, Makarovs and other pistols chambered for the 9×18 were quite popular for CC. The guns are reliable, compact, and durable and do not cost a fortune.

  • Dave

    Once I rented a cartload of small carry guns, and the one I shot best with (to my surprise) was the Glock 27 in .40. So, that’s what I bought. I think it would work.

  • Charlie

    Death to my attacker is not my primary concern. If he can make it to medical treatment and survive the incident is fine with me as long as my primary concern has been accomplished. My primary concern is to stop the aggressor and stop him as quickly as possible. A single or multiple wounds from larger calibers deliver more knock down, pain, and blood flow even when they do not directly strike a major organ. Also, because of the larger path of destruction chances of damage to a major organ increase with shots that may not be “perfect.” My weapon of choice is the .45 acp. However, there is the other side of the argument as far as comfort and CC. Even when I carry the .45 I have either a LC9S or a LCP on me as a back up. I live in a sub tropical area and hot days with thin clothes are common in the summer months. During these times I will elect to go with just the 9mm or .380. Yes it is a trade off but even the LCP is much better than nothing to defend yourself with at all. For comfort and conceal ability, it is a worth while trade off.

  • durabo

    In real estate, it’s LOCATION – LOCTION – LOCATION. The gunner’s corollary is PLACEENT – PLACEMENT – PLACEMENT.

  • ED/PHX

    As my very 1st trainer told me…”Ya got to hit em to hurt em”…u can have a .44, blow someones left arm nearly off, but if he’s right handed, ur prob gonna take 1 as well…shock takes as long as 3-4 sec’s to set in, as can be testified to. Just from 35 yrs yrs experience…. I shoot GL 26’s, plural…carry and other…

  • Hugo Stiglitz

    You can have the best of both worlds. My Springfield XDs .45 is very concealable, accurate, reliable and the recoil is surprisingly manageable. Mags come in 5, 6 or 7 rounds. Lots of holsters and accessories available.

    I do agree with the author that the S&W Governor is a good option as well except for concealability. Very versatile with some nice light loads available if recoil is a big issue.

  • Arch

    I carry a Model 1911 cocked & locked, loaded with 185 gn Hornady XTPs alternating with 230 gn FMJs. I practice without my glasses and shooting with either hand. A recent addition to my scenarios is reclining popped up on my left elbow shooting up at target 10 feet away aiming at the belt buckle. It I jerk a round and hit a little low, it will turn a bass into a soprano. It’s my Polar bear drill.

    My backup is a M1911-380 loaded with 90 gn XTPs. I keep 9 mm in both cars – a Bersa Thunder in my wife’s Highlander and a Beretta 92FS my BMW. Also, in the trunk of my old 328i is a loaded M1 Garand and a bandolier with 48 spare rounds.

  • Aries144

    I thought this was settled science? The damage difference between .45 and 9mm in meat, HP or FMJ, is so insignificant that it can’t be measured. .380 HPs still don’t penetrate the FBI’s minimum 12″; you still have to use FMJs which are an overpenetration risk to bystanders.

    The only advantage to a bigger, heavier bullet is when more penetration through meat is needed to reach vital organs, like with a bear or moose. Pick the round with the least recoil that allows the highest capacity that still meets your penetration requirement with the needed bullet construction.

  • Michael B

    I’ve actually been pondering this myself as of late. I used to carry a G23 3G converted to 9mm every day, everywhere. An OTJ injury relegated me to something smaller that I could use off hand for awhile, and that’s when my affinity for the Ruger LCP .380 came about. Now, though, I do feel undergunned. I’ve never subscribed to the belief that any gun is better than no gun garbage, and have come to believe that short barreled pocket guns offer false senses of security. Inasmuch cognizant of caliber, barrel length is paramount, too, along with quality sights, otherwise your chosen caliber means nothing. So, I’ve returned to the G23 3G, still configured for 9mm, where I run Hornady’s 135gr+P Critical Duty comfortably os to 50yds. in an 8 inch grouping under stress. I think today’s threat of terrorists and armed maniacs with an agenda to make the news, requires a handgun capable of putting your chosen caliber on target up to 50yds away, at the velocity and energy that round requires, to effect maximum potential. For me personally, and the settings and environment in which I live, I’ll personally never go below a 4″ barrel in 9mm as my primary edc. I do readily admit that little Ruger LCP .380 is still a cute little duffer & more often than not, is in my boot anyway – Having an opinion is one thing, taking a chance is another, lol! YMMV.

  • Lt_Scrounge

    The correct answer is all of the above. A huge caliber bullet that misses the vital organs is no more effective than the small caliber one that fails to penetrate far enough to reach them. One gun writer talks about how on his first day as a police officer, he and his training officer were on a call about a shooting. An irate ex boyfriend had shot his former flame multiple times with a stolen 45 ACP. Where did they find the victim? At the bus stop waiting on the bus for a ride to the hospital. Despite numerous gun shot wounds to the torso from a 45, the young lady (he described her as being around 120 lbs dripping wet) had simply walked to the bus stop to wait for a ride. None of the rounds had hit a vital organ. On the other end of the spectrum is the 80+ year old retired Green Beret Master Sergeant who shot a burglar in the forehead with a 22 pistol. The round failed to penetrate the front of the skull. It did stun the burglar and give him a pounding headache that caused him to toss his cookies and run away, but he wasn’t incapacitated either. In these two cases, one shooter failed to hit his target and one (who later took a lot of ribbing from fellow retired Green Berets) failed to bring enough gun. Of course the latter said that he was happy with the results because he didn’t have to clean up any brains splattered all over his house.

    So do you have to carry a cannon AND hit vital organs? Let’s look at a couple of historical figures. Wild Bill Hickok carried a pair of Colt 1851 Navy pistols with cartridge conversions and Billy the Kid carried a six gun chambered in .32-20. One carried the equivalent of a 38 S&W and the other a .32. Would you REALLY want to face either of them in a gun fight, no matter what caliber of handgun you were carrying?

    I would have to say that the answer to the riddle over which is more important is neither are more important. BOTH are important and one without the other is pointless. Virtually any good center fire handgun cartridge (and some rim fire ones) will get the job done, IF you adjust your point of impact accordingly. A Desert Eagle that you miss with, is less effective than the North American Arms mini revolver that you shoot someone through the eye or throat with. However if that same mini revolver round hits a bone and doesn’t penetrate, it will be equally useless. If all you can carry is a gun firing a tiny round, choose your target wisely and make sure you hit it. If you can carry a bigger gun, make sure that you can hit where you aim with it. I used to carry a .380 ACP Beretta 84F. Except when I was in feral hog territory, I never felt under gunned because I could hit my target with it repeatedly. Even loaded with hydro shocks, it just didn’t have the penetration for feral hogs. I carry a Kahr K9 daily or if the weather permits the bulkier clothing, a Glock 23.

  • Herk

    I’ve never shot anybody, but I have met several people who have. All of them (and by “all” I do mean without exception, ALL) that I have *personally* met carry a 9mm Glock. The closest thing to an exception to this that I’ve found is that some of them carry either a .38 snubby or some other sort of sub-compact, single-column, plastic-framed, striker-fired 9mm as a BUG to their 9mm Glock (S&W Shield and Walther PPS in particular).

    I think this is one of those “clues” that they talk about in the Mickey Spillane novels.

  • Bob

    As a retired LEO, I will say both are factors, accuracy and caliber size. Training is most important and I mean the ability to hit the target with speed and accurate follow up shots. This should include both aim and point shooting. You may not have the time to raise the muzzle and take aim and must learn to shoot accurately with the point and shoot method at close distances. Remember almost all SD situations are very close up. Any other training you do (combat or SD courses) will be of no use if you can’t hit the target, except that type of training may help you to find cover and eliminate being shot.

    But until you are in a life and death situation you will never know how your body will react. The mind senses a threat and the adrenalin takes over. That steady hand and smooth trigger pull is gone. Your whole body is shaking to the point that all that training will be tested. The average person who has never experienced this adrenalin rush will have a difficult time at best hitting their target. That is one of the reasons why over 80% of police shots miss their target. Finally caliber and gun size should be determined by what the user can shoot well, while being able to control the recoil, and the size of gun by what they can conceal. I personally use a S&W Shield in 40, as I feel the 40 caliber beats both the 9mm and most 45acp SD ammunition. My Corbon SD ammunition muzzle velocity is 1325fps and a whopping 526 foot pounds of energy. I can control it but not everyone would be able to control the recoil of that ammunition.

  • bob

    I agree with Evan,before you can create a wound channel, you have to HIT the target. In many, but not all self defense situations,if you put a bullet in someone,the dynamics change
    and the attacker will try to flee further injury. However a more determined or enraged attacked will in all likely hood continue the attack. As the Miami Shootout proved,the only way to stop a determined Foe other than fatal head shots, is for them to “leak out” meaning
    they have to bleed out. In that situation the more holes you put into your Foe and the Larger size the holes are, the quicker he bleeds out. So depending on the situation,not only shot placement , but caliber size may play a vital role. One thing however is absolutely clear, there is NO magic, whiz bang bullet of Any caliber.

  • Jim Drickamer

    Let’s back up and consider a few other criteria before we talk about caliber vs. placement. What kind of threat are you preparing for? Someone preparing for a home invasion or burglary has different needs than a store owner who must take the daily deposits to the bank. When you say you want a firearm for EDC, is that EDC in your car or on your person? What kind of shape is your body in? Some people can easily conceal a larger firearm than others. How do you dress for the weather in your area? Those who wear heavy, winter clothing have different issues than those who go around in shorts and a tank top. How competent and well trained are you in the use of firearms? Are you willing to take another human life to protect your own? After we have these things sorted out, we can talk about caliber and placement.

  • James B.

    (Caveat: I’m a guy, 6’2″, so size is not a huge issue for me)

    I would never buy a pistol smaller than a 9mm, even a tiny concealed-carry weapon, because I have a full-frame 9mm and tons of ammunition for it. Shot placement is going to depend on practice, so never carry something you can’t easily get affordable ammo for, or you won’t get much practice time in.

  • bigtoad45 .

    When I went to qualify for my concealed carry permit I took my Ruger SP-101 in .327 Magnum. That’s my house gun. When we got to the range I noticed that almost everyone carried a semi auto pistol most of which were .380’s and subcompact 9mm’s. Quite a few women were there, young and old. The two older gals used a Ruger .22 target pistol and at various distances put all their rounds onto the center of the target. The rest of the group emptied their guns as fast as they could pull the trigger. Their targets looked like they had taken a shotgun to them. Many rounds missed the target all together. I was astounded. Myself and another older gent using a S&W 10 .38 finished our qualifying with ammo left over as every one of our rounds hit the target. For everyday carry I have a Kel Tec P-32 .32 acp. At normal self defense ranges ( seven yards and under) I can put every round into the head of my target every time. Do I need a bigger gun? Hell no. If I can hit what I aim at why pack a heavy cannon every day. I can carry my P-32 anywhere and everywhere. Try that with even a subcompact on a hot day.

  • Billca

    I’ve advocated for a long time that the gun you want in a crunch is one that you’re the most comfortable and confident in shooting. Whatever your choice is, you want both the gun and its ammunition to meet the following;
    1. Reliable – It has to work all the time, every time. No ejection or feed failures.
    2. Accurate – If you can’t make hits you can’t win the fight.
    3. Penetration – Bullets must penetrate far enough to reach vital organs at every angle.
    4. Effective – The bullet type must be as effective as selection allows (i.e. not FMJ)
    5. Controllable – If follow-up shots are needed you have to recover quickly.

    Anything else is essentially angels dancing on the head of a pin, gilding on the lily. Which caliber is irrelevant if it meets the above criteria.

    Reliability means your gun-ammo combination always works. Not seldom jams, but never jams. Not sometimes fails to feed the last round, but always feeds it. You have to test the combination yourself in your gun. Just because your pretty polymer pistol is the same one I use doesn’t necessarily mean it will work best with the same ammo mine uses.

    Penetration is being able to reach the vital organs and structures from various angles you may be forced to use. You must reach the important parts to stop your opponent. But that may mean being able to penetrate deep enough into that 6’6″, 300 pound goon with a beer belly and man-boobs.

  • Zebra Dun

    Shot placement is what kills and stops the attacker.
    The projectile must have the ability to penetrate the target.

    That said shot placement at 50 yards with a .22 CB cap is lacking.
    Lack of proper shot placement with a .50 BMG is still lacking.
    Only with the 40 mm Grenade from a suitable grenade launcher is more forgiving of Shot placement.
    The best method is something in the 40 Watt range from a Phased Plasma rifle.
    Nuking from orbit is absolutely the only way to be sure.
    Until then I’ll use a .357 magnum from my revolver and a .45 acp from my Colt Gov model series 70.

  • oldwestman

    Like the .22 WMR in a double or single action revolver with Hornady V- Max ammo.

  • Will

    When we are all sitting around offering our opinion in this argument we must consider the physiological and psychological aspects of being in a life threatening situation and having ACTAULLY been shot at or having shot at someone in order to save your own life.
    It matters not what you carry and use for target practice. If you are trembling so badly you can hardly hold a gun, much less acquire a decent sight picture you’re shot placement with any caliber is irrelevant.
    Find a gun you shoot well then train, with it, as bough your life depends on it. Training will help you survive.
    While target practice is part of training however do not confuse the two. They are completely different.

    • BrandonAKsALot

      For most of us, I don’t even know if training could truly replicate the psychological effect happening during a real life or death type situation. It just so rarely happens to citizens who aren’t in lines of work where they face that kind of stuff frequently. It would definitely help with keeping muscle memory during stress. I personally take my bedside pistol out at least once a week and practice simple operations with dummy rounds like reloads, slide racking, and so on to help keep my mind fresh on those controls and the feel of it all.

      I know the few times I’ve been in some situations that were truly scary, my mind was almost blank and it’s almost like you’re watching yourself do things and aren’t in control. I had a night I thought someone was beating down my back door and grabbed one of the rifles in the bedroom and once I made it to the view of the door, I realized I didn’t have a round chambered and the safety was on. Since then I try to keep that kind of practice up.

      I’d like to take some handgun courses considering I just don’t feel super confident with them, but having to travel and my work have just not fell in line to have the chance yet.

  • tincankilla

    I have no reservations with carrying a .32ACP with sufficient capacity and if the barrel is long enough to get the round up to speed.

  • Bob

    Back in the years, our Department’s officers carried the powerful 357 magnum revolvers. Our issued ammunition was hollow point. One of our guys shot an attacking perp, who had a machete, and who was high on PCP. The perp did not drop until the being hit a 5th time. Each hit stopped him for a second or two, but did not drop him. None of the shots were head or heart shots, but three were mid-body hits and one in the arm. The 5th shot was in the abdomen and it finally dropped him. So this shows that even a powerful cartridge may not do the job. The perp survived. A bigger/stronger caliber is better as long as you can control it, but this also shows that location of the hits are very important.

  • Southron_Doug

    Never could afford a 1911, so I got what felt best to me, a Ruger P-345. Being 6’4″ and 250 + lbs., this gun was of a size I could carry comfortably (even concealed if need be), and since I’m an “all or nothing” type for defense, I use Hydra-Shok 230 grain hollow points.

  • iksnilol

    Eh, big bullets would make sense if wadcutters are used.

    Otherwise the simple fact that human tissue is very elastic makes the large calibers equally ineffective as the small ones.

    So I lean towards “small” stuff like 9mm or 7.62×25.

  • maodeedee

    Practical considerations are what determine which gun you will carry every single day of your life. Such considerations may necessitate carrying a smaller gun at times. But that doesn’t mean we need to rationalize carrying a smaller caliber gun by coming up with theories that smaller calibers “are just as effective” as larger ones. The fact remains that the bigger the hole in the hull, the faster the ship will sink.

    But unless you carry every day of your life, you are never going to be able to pick which days you should be carrying based on some psychic intuition that will tell you with absolute certainty which days you will NEED to carry. If we could know what specific days our lives were going to be threatened by feral humanoid recidivist predators, we could simply stay home that day and be armed to the teeth with some serious ordinance.

  • romney2011

    Do get tired of some of the questions and academic replies. I know what common sense tells me. Now, here is an extreme case, but still proof of how far an argument can go. In the early 1900s an ivory hunter by the name of W. D. “Karamojo” Bell took a bet that he could NOT kill an elephant with a .22. He did kill an elephant with a .22.
    If I were attacked in my home or in many other defenses I would like to have a .50 cal.

  • RPK

    You should carry whatever caliber you are most comfortable firing. Recoil, sight alignment and so on do not matter worth a hoot if you use a cannon round you can not control at the point of impact. Collateral damage of a bystander = definite law suit. Wound cavity doesn’t mean jack if you can not hit your intended target in the first place. Depending on the weather conditions and apparel, I tend to carry anything from a .380 to a .45ACP. “Evan” seems to agree somewhat with my analysis…if it works for you, go with it! It could also be said that any firearm is better than having no firearm at all when the need arises to employ deadly force (as a last resort).

  • Kivaari

    Only good hits count if the goal is to kill or disable a bad guy fast. A hit into tissues not needed to support life, probably could take multiple hits and just cause pain. That being the case, hitting anyone with any caliber gun is likely to stop the fight. Not many people will keep going after any GSW. People drop to the ground from just being shot AT, and not wounded.
    We all know where subjects absorbed high numbers of GSWs and kept on fighting. Hitting the heart, aorta, femoral artery and spine and head bring people down. The bleeding wounds can take longer, and the person remains a threat. My advice is avoid having to shoot or be shot. It doesn’t hurt as much.

  • Jason Bourne

    Ok. So I think shot placement trumps cartridge size every single time. BUT, smaller caliber is NEVER a substitute for PROPER training and practice!! It seems that in the “Gun World” everyone with whom I talk is an expert. Yet, so many are unwilling to take a class because they are “Self-Taught.” How many times have you heard that? I have heard it numerous times, and I often hope that I am never in a self defense situation around that person. Nothing is a substitute for PROPER training. Just ask a highly trained professional, i.e. Navy SEAL, Army Ranger, etc. and ask them the importance of training. Just my 2 cents. Hopefully it’s common sense.

  • Peyton Quinn

    Shot placement is more critical that caliber.But in real world shooting it is the factor we have the least control over. Virtually nobody can use the sights of pistol is real gunfight I can absolutely assure you of this from experience and research. Not even an officer I interviewed who has shot 14 felons in 12 diffrent shoot outs never got to the point that hew could use the sights. You better learn to point shoot good people but bring the waepon up into your field of vision so it registers on the cerebral visual cortex. You won’t be looking at sights but this helps a lot. No cowboy shooting from the hip unless there is no time for anything else.

  • Mikial

    Sorry, but in my humble opinion, this is a stupid argument overall. Everyone should carry whatever gun fits their lifestyle and capabilities, and train, train, train to be proficient with it to the point that they can put a killing shot on an assailant at combat ranges under pressure. A .22LR CAN be as deadly as any other caliber, but you have to train a lot more to be able to stop a threat with it than with a larger caliber gun . . assuming you can hit anything with it. So do it.

    If circumstances prohibit you from carrying anything larger than a .380 subcompact, then so be it . . . train to be deadly with it. If physical restrictions beyond your control prohibit you from carrying anything larger than a .22LR, then so bit it. Train to be proficient with it. This whole determination of what to carry is not rocket science, but the gun gurus and bloggers have tried to make it so.

    I choose to carry a G21 full sized .45 ACP. I am very good with it. My wife used to carry a Beretta 92 and is very good with it, but has since decided she prefers a 1911. She is also very good with it, but she is a strong girl who lifts weights and can deal with a gun like the 1911.

    This whole argument over caliber vs placement is stupid. How about placement is number one with whatever caliber you choose to carry? One thig is for certain, no matter how big a gun you decide to carry, if you can’t hit anything with it under pressure, you might as well be unarmed.

  • Hilltop

    I have a 686 that I LOVE. Mine is a big old pre-lock w/ a 6″ barrel and it is a magnificent creation. Mine is also 7 shot. I wouldn’t carry it because of the size. But, if you can carry yours, I’m sure it will do the job.

  • Xeno Da Morph


  • scaatylobo

    One consideration that is left out of the argument is ,GUN SIZE.
    I would like to hear anyone argue that its is easier to hit AND shoot accuratly better with a 1911 in .45 acp —– over the same sized gun in .22 rimfire !.
    I see the .22 RF winning everytime.
    Comparing an LCP to a 1911,or any full framed gun is silly.
    Sighting and barrel lenght [ sight plane ] alone are cause for the larger caliber to have an edge.
    Make it apples to apples and see how this works out.
    I will bet the .22RF wins,as would a .22TCM/9R ,even more so.
    Most attacks and your response will be less than 10 feet.
    That is THE fact,if you can train to put 2 or more rounds on THE vital spots ,regardless of caliber the vital hits will be the deciding factor.
    In case you wonder,my primary CCW is a Glock 23 and I carry a BUG that is usually .38 or more.
    BUT the 3 rd BUG is often a .Beretta .22 70S.

  • GrumpyCat

    I am more accurate with my full sized .40S&W than with my tiny .380 simply because I can hold it with full hand and not just 2 fingers.

    But I agree with the premise of this article, that any caliber with which one can hit the assailant is better than any caliber for which one is likely to miss. And that any caliber one has is better than any caliber one does not.

    • AlDeLarge

      I was going say something similar about my 45 & 380. The grip extension changes it from unpleasant to easy to shoot, but you still have tiny sights with little radius. My 6.5″ 357 is the most accurate of all, but who’s going to conceal carry a foot long revolver?

  • Ben Pottinger

    I only read the first 15-20 comments and saw lots of arguing over penetration (a non issue with modern self defense rounds honestly) and even some of over penetration (really, has there ever been a documented case, outside of TV and movies, where a bystander was killed by a pass-through from a handgun?? I’m seriously curious). Honestly that one feels similar to the Internet “wisdom” that your going straight to jail if you have any aftermarket items on your self defense gun or use a SBR as your house gun.

    Personally I go by the stats. The stats say most self defense shootings occur at close range and involve lots of misses. The best comprise seems to be a reliable pistol you can cofortably carry that carries as much quality self defense ammo as possible. A 45 acp of similar size to my personal favorite, the glock 19, only holds 7-10 rounds giving the 19 a 60% or better capacity gain.

    Sure, if I could carry around my Noveske SBR I would, or if I could comfortably carry my HK USP Tactical 45 I absolutely would (it’s a softy on recoil honestly) but I can’t so I carry my G19 and some days even my G43 (with +2 extensions because 6 just doesn’t cut it psychologically for me. Lol).

    So carry the biggest, highest capacity gun you can comfortably carry *everyday* and still hit something human sized at 6 yards.

  • Old Vet

    In days gone by shot placement was all I worried about. I carried a .38 Colt Det. Spec. with +P HP’s. Now that my eyesight is not what it was then, I carry a .380 Star SM with HP’s, which gives me two more shots. I still rely on my learned skills to take the best shot under duress though. As a police cadet, I was always messing with the range master by taking head shots on a lot of my targets. I was that good then, now I would never try that, center mass only.

  • Old Vet

    As Clint Eastwood once said: ” a mans got to know his limitations”.

    • 1911a145acp

      Actually-that was Detective Harry Callahan ……

  • tagalog

    First of all, you should carry what you prefer.

    That said, it’s always a compromise between compactness, weight, caliber/stopping power, and your ability. My handgun of preference is the Beretta PX4 Storm full-size in 9 mm., which I am a good shot with, which is sufficiently small and light that it can be carried comfortably for the periods of time when I’m out in public, has a decocker and safety that reassure me that I can carry safely with a round in the chamber, cocked and locked, and I’m a convert to the stopping power of the 9 mm. and consider that caliber very controllable. Because I’m aware of the effect of stress and adrenaline, I also like it that the Beretta 9 mm. magazine can hold 17 rounds.

    • Mikial

      Common sense and well said. Carry the powerful gun you can handle, and make the best of its capabilities. I carry a Glock 21 everyday. It is the gun I am most comfortable with. It holds 13+1 and I carry a spare mag. To me it is the perfect combination of power, absolute reliability and accuracy. And although it has never failed me in any circumstances, I still carry a 9mm BUG “just in case.” Two is one, and one is none.

  • Mikial

    After reading so many of these comments, I had to break my own rule about arguing with fools and jump into this argument that seems to be raging about training.

    If you think training intended to help you survive in real world, life and death situations like an active shooter are a waste of time and foolish, and fodder to make fun of people who take those classes, then you are the fool. Terrorism was never really restricted to the Middle East or Afghanistan, there were active shooters long before 9/11 ever happened, but they were simply considered crazies like the Tower Shooter in Texas or the Columbine “kids.”

    The more training in close encounters with armed and motivated individuals you have, the more muscle memory you develop, the more of a common sense attitude to implement . . and the greater the chances you and your wife/husband, and your 9 year old daughter and 14 year old son go home alive. I just don’t get why people who don’t want any training make fun of people who do.

    It’s like the saying about the difference between people with tats and people without. People with tats don’t really mind if you don’t have any, but people without seem obligated to dis people who do have them. So, if you don’t want to take “tactical” training, or learn how breaching works, or what a stack does . . then fine . . please don’t. Because when some Muslim or wild eyed right wing crazy, or just some guy PO’d because he got fired bursts into the restaurant where you and your family are enjoying a meal, then I will at least have another clueless sheep between the bad guys and my family as my wife (who carries and is very well trained) and I get ourselves to safety.

    Trust me, by the time the police arrive it’ll be all over and you will be dead with your subcompact EDC .380 still in it’s pocket holster. That is not to dis anyone who carries a .380 sub if that is what works best for you, but please train with it and learn to use the darn thing to the peak of it’s capabilities.

    I guess what gets me, is WHY would anyone not want training in how to deal with life and death situations? I am not some keyboard ninja. I was a Combat Arms officer, worked as a probation officer, and spent over 2 years in Iraq and many other trips to other garden spots as a private security contractor. Believe me, people . . . the chances of you being involved in a violent encounter with a criminal or nutcase go up every day.

  • FL-Wolf

    That’s exactly what I’m always saying: A miss with a 50 cal. from a Desert Eagle gun is worth less than a bulls eye with a 9mm or even a 22 cal. In critical situations, which occur often totally unexpected, the accuracy of a shooter can be much less than on the shooting range, shooting at a static paper target with all the time in the world! And please get off this “you need a 45 cal. gun for stopping power” BS, which is especially popular among 1911 lovers. I’d much rather have 16 9mm rounds in my gun than 8 45. cal rounds in a 1911. After all, it’s not always just one attacker, it can very well be a group of thugs looking to hurt, mug, or even kill you.

    One more thought on self defense shooting at home. Have you ever discharged your 9mm or 45 in a room, without any ear protection on? Hmmm… hope you’ll never have to!

    • Mikial

      That’s why I carry a G21 with 13+1 .45 rounds. And yes . . I have discharged and heard other’s discharge guns in rooms and vehicles.

      Pretty exciting, Hoowah?

  • Anthony “stalker6recon”

    Every time I hear this topic come up, I just giggle. 99% of those making the argument have never been on the working end of a gun, so they have no foundation to make their basis from, just silly ballistics tests and unwavering foolishness.

    I defy anyone to take a round, then say “it didn’t even slow me down”. Right, sure it didn’t as you limp off to the nearest emergency room, and why are you limping, the entrance wound is in your thorax?

    In the end, what you fire at someone isn’t nearly as important as hitting the target. You can pull out the goofy, made for Hollywood desert Eagle, point five ohhhhh, if you don’t hit the target, it means nothing.

    So carry what you are comfortable with, make sure you can hit the target, that is what matter in a fight. The rest of you, who have never been a bullet magnet yet insist on knowing that caliber is most important, become a bullet sponge before shouting down everyone else.

  • FL-Wolf

    Pretty painful on the ears, isn’t it? Most people don’t consider this point, when they see shooting scenes on TV or in movies. So you’re carrying a Glock G2 with 14 rounds of 45 cal. That’s a heavy load! What type of holster are you using?

    • Mikial

      Yup, it definitely makes them ring for a while. I use a Crossbreed IWB. I tried an Alien Gear but it didn’t carry it the way preferred. But it’s comfortable with both of them. I’ve never had any problems carrying a full sized gun, and I like to have the stability and firepower.

  • Nigel Tegg

    So here’s a hypothetical…

    If you lived in state with 10 round magazine restrictions, would you rather;

    A.) 10 rounds of 9mm
    B.) 10 rounds of .40 S&W
    C.) 10 rounds of .45 ACP

    • John Yossarian

      .45 ACP – Hands down. Low pressure round, it can shoot with a slow push. Expands well and makes bigger hole.

  • Ruben Vasquez

    Shot placement is super important but it doesn’t negate the choice of caliber. The issue becomes a matter of terminal ballistics; i.e. what kind of damage the bullet does once it hits its target. If you are to hit your target center mass but the bullet doesn’t penetrate into the internal chest cavity to cause an incapacitating wound, then you’ll need to follow-up with more well placed shots to incapacitate your opponent; HOPEFULLY before they incapacitate you. A .380 or even a .22lr is certainly capable, but their terminal performance is extremely questionable; especially as the distance to your target increases. Rounds like the 9mm, 357 sig, .40 s&w, .45 acp, and 10mm, etc are all highly capable rounds that, if properly placed, all have excellent terminal performance.

  • Wynter

    It’s obvious that shot placement is number one, however, in a real life gunfight perfect shot placement is extremely rare. Most folks seem to think they will simply rise to the occasion and their tight groups at paper people will carry over but that just doesn’t happen in real life. Perhaps SOCOM guys are impervious to the effects of fear and adrenaline, I’m not an operator so I don’t know. As a former police officer I’ve seen firsthand how different range training and real life are. While we default back to our training, you cannot train for how to perform while being shot at with real bullets and the risk of dying in a close quarters gunfight.

    Keeping in mind that ideal shot placement in such a stressful and frightening situation is a matter of luck in the best case scenario, I prefer to use a larger caliber. The often quoted FBI testing of the main 3 calibers showed that all three were effective inside the “center mass area” with the .45acp scoring near perfect, the .40S&W a bit lower and the 9mm last but still qualifying as effective by their standards. However, when looking at their performance in peripheral hits outside the chest (abdomen, arms, legs etc), the 9mm scored so low as to be labeled “ineffective”. The .40S&W was “effective” however just barely. While the .45acp proved not only to be effective but also maintained it’s near perfect score. So as long as your shots are center mass any of the three will work but as I said that’s an unrealistic expectation in a real gunfight where you are being shot at. That’s why I choose the caliber with the best effectiveness regardless of where the bad guy is hit.

  • Dolphy

    Well, it’s not not at all inconceivable that the comment section for this post ended up becoming a quagmire of bickering. However, I didn’t expect to see a dedicated flame war be fought over the 10mm Auto.

    The main flame war in this thread started with caliber vs aim and degenerated from there. Personally weighing in, there’s an excellent post on TTAG titled something like ‘is 22 best for defense’ — go check it out; it even has graphs using hard evidence. Anyway, from there it should’ve been obviously inevitable that a caliber war would’ve starter — I just thought it wouldn’ve been between the 45 Or Die crowd and the 22 Is Lethal crowd. Instead, it turned into fighting about the 10mm auto, starting with arguments about which is more important, having a big gun with powerful but uneconomical bullets, or using a smaller cartridge that is cheaper and easier to use. This led to a fight about the utility of the 10mm Auto, which, as we all known, has pretty much failed commercially, but did give us the 40S&W that makes a lot of people happy.

    Then we had a few disagreements about what counts as training, how much training there should be, what is good training, and whether or not there ought to be a golden rule of training hours to guns owned. This had an unexpected three factions: pro-professional people who want to see people getting accredited, mostly defense-based training, people who griped that the only real kind of training that counts is effectively bullseye training, because tactical training is supposedly the same as paying for an interactive theme park experience, and then people who were proud of not really having any professional training, which led to intertwined flaming about training and anti-intellectualism.

    Needless to say, it’s normally only Nat F who makes posts this contentious.

  • CavScout

    Pointless article, and mentions 10mm several times, yet never .40S&W. That makes no sense, since 10mm is pretty rare to see someone carry, yet many people and LE carry and/or use .40 a lot. Still though, I’m not sure what the point in general was. Sales are up across the board, for everything. So what’s the point? And this is nothing that isn’t generally obvious??

  • DeathFromTheShadows

    this is ALWAYS a misconceived concept. nothing negates shot placement, However the proverbial one shot drop is the point. I can explain this to 100 people until I am blue in the face and every time only one person will get it. Death (complete incapacitation) is caused by brain death, not destroying the heart or lungs, and shooting to destroy the brain stem is an almost impossible shot in defensive handgun shooting. Hence the Center of Mass target to destroy the circulatory system since the target is larger and easier to hit. This is where caliber makes a major difference. The faster the target succumbs to exsanguination the faster they are immobilized. To put it in terms even the least well informed can understand, little holes bleed slow, big holes bleed fast. A.45 caliber bullet is quite literally equal to four .22 caliber bullets in diameter. ( trace the diameter of a ,45 and then stand 4 .22LRs in the circle and see what I mean, proving it to yourself is more effective than any graphic I could post) add the additional damage done by the hydraulic pressure the larger round creates within the arteries involved, the damage that can cause death up to 72 hours later even though the wound itself is repaired and you are less likely to be sued by the perp for defending yourself. And bear in mind, I am not referring to the temporary wound cavity.
    I have done extensive research on this subject, and find that very few people realize or even consider the mechanics of physiology when choosing a firearm. And invariably, unless they have a good instructor tell them outright that their choice od a diminutive caliber is stupid as opposed to unwise, they end up at some point putting themselves at risk

  • Archie Montgomery

    A hit with a smaller gun is better than a miss with a bigger gun. However, a hit with a bigger gun is better than the same hit with a smaller gun.

    Suit yourself.