Defensive Carry Handgun Capacity

This is a discussion on Defensive Carry Handgun Capacity within the Defensive Carry Guns forums, part of the Defensive Carry Discussions category; The handguns discussed here range widely in ammo capacity, from 5 shot revolvers to 18 shot semiautos. Those who post comments show a range of ...

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Thread: Defensive Carry Handgun Capacity

  1. #1
    VIP Member Array pogo2's Avatar
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    Defensive Carry Handgun Capacity

    The handguns discussed here range widely in ammo capacity, from 5 shot revolvers to 18 shot semiautos. Those who post comments show a range of opinions on the importance of capacity as a factor in handgun selection. I am interested in what people think about capacity as a consideration, compared to other criteria such as reliability, caliber, ergonomics, size, finish, brand and appearance.

    My own opinion is that capacity may be somewhat overrated by many posters, and that 5 to 9 shots in the gun will be adequate for 99% of the situations a civilian gun carrier will encounter. I base this on stories and videos of actual defensive encounters I have seen, in which the presentation of the gun, or firing the first shot from the gun, is adequate to make the attacker give up, fall down or run away. I will admit that there are occasional situations where there are multiple attackers or very determined attackers who do not give up easily, and more shots may be needed. But I think these situations are fairly rare.

    In short, I am the type of CCW holder who is content with a 5-6 shot revolver or 7-9 shot semiauto as my defensive handgun, along with one reload. I do own some 14 to 16 round semiautos, but don't feel compelled to carry them most of the time.
    Firearms are second only to the Constitution in importance; they are the Peoples' Liberty's Teeth." - George Washington

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    VIP Member Array wmhawth's Avatar
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    Since I'm not in law enforcement and I don't do any kind of security work I believe that the chances of me getting involved in a prolonged running gun battle that would require a lot of ammunition and tactical reloads are slim. I bet my life on six rounds (sometimes 5) every day. With my lifestyle I'm comfortable with that.

  4. #3
    ntg
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    I think your basically on track, pogo. Along those lines, I don't think that the average Joe needs to pack a bug and/or bunch of extra mags either. I don't live in some of the crazier places in this country, however. If they feel they need all that extra firepower to make them comfortable in the situations and locals they have to visit in their course of life, so be it. I definitely prefer someone to pack more than they need vs. not packing at all. The stories of those jacked up on drugs that won't go down after repeated (and oftimes good) hits concern me...so feed them more lead until...you never know what you may face, I guess.

    My XD9SC hits the middle of the compromise road fairly well for me. Sizewise, it's fairly easy to pack (I didn't say the easiest). It can hold 14 rounds, which should be plenty if I ever have to shoot my way out of trouble, as you've already discussed above. Also, never once had a malfunction.
    M&P Shield9; RIA 1911 Tactical 9mm;...many long guns

  5. #4
    JD
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    Officer Down: A Warrior's Sacrifice
    Resistance to Gunfire
    Mettinger absorbed nine rounds from Borders' .45—six of which hit him in the torso and two more of which literally severed his right foot—without any significant effect on his fighting ability. This would have been remarkable even if Officer Borders had been firing marginally effective rounds, but he was using .45 caliber Gold Dot ammunition, which is considered by many to be the best man-stopper on the market.

    Officer Down: The Peter Soulis Incident

    The Aftermath
    Remarkably, Palmer had taken 22 hits from Soulis' .40-caliber Glock, 17 of which had hit center mass. Despite the fact that the weapon had been loaded with Ranger SXTs considered by many to be one of the best man-stoppers available Palmer lived for more than four minutes after the last shot was fired. His autopsy revealed nothing more than a small amount of alcohol in his bloodstream. Although Soulis could not have known it, Palmer was wanted for murder in a neighboring state.
    Harlem man survives being shot 21 times by NYPD

    More than 50 bullets were fired, almost all of them by the police. At least 21 of those bullets pierced Alvarez's body.
    Luckily for Alvarez — whose criminal record includes at least eight prior arrests — none of the bullets hit his brain, heart or major arteries
    . His family members say that even though his arms, legs and torso were riddled with ammunition, Alvarez is "doing all right" and talking. It's believed he'll survive. A forensics expert told the New York Daily News' Simone Weichselbaum and Virginia Breen that Alvarez is probably the new holder of a somewhat dubious record.

    "I would say more than 20 gunshot wounds is a record," Dr. Vincent DiMaio, a forensic pathologist who specializes in gunshot wounds, told the paper. "Of course, the real issue is where you get shot. One bullet can kill you, but believe it or not, a body can survive a lot of bullet wounds."

    My XDM-9 with 19+1 is looking like a pretty darn good option.

    Too big?

    I'll let you all be the judge of that:




    N

  6. #5
    ntg
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    JD's post is a reminder to me that handguns are not the best "man stoppers" regardless of capacity or caliber. It would be different if it was easy to carry hi-cap 12 gauges.
    M&P Shield9; RIA 1911 Tactical 9mm;...many long guns

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    Senior Member Array Landric's Avatar
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    Capacity is pretty low down on my list of considerations when it comes to a carry gun. My carry guns consist of two 5-shot revolvers, one 6-shot revolver, one 8-shot .45 ACP, and one 9-shot 9x19mm. My duty gun is a Glock 23 RTF2, but I never carry it off-duty, and if I could select my own duty gun it would be a 9-shot .45 ACP.
    -Landric

    "The Engine could still smile...it seemed to scare them" -Felix

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    VIP Member Array shockwave's Avatar
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    Your research is the same as mine - the defensive shooter just needs to get away from trouble, not engage in a sustained shoot-out. Police have to stay on the scene and resolve the problem. So reports of bad guys taking lots of hits don't necessarily reflect what you or I might have to deal with. Most real-life shootings tend to be resolved simply by showing or, even more rarely, firing the handgun once or twice.

    If you carry a handgun for self-defense and live in a low-crime area, you'll probably never need to use it. So 5 or 6 rounds should be adequate for most situations and, statistically, the .38 caliber revolver is the most-common concealed weapon. Dead simple and utterly reliable.

    All that said, the practice drills I've run at ranges and at IPSC events eventually led me to opt for a high-capacity semiauto for CCW, but I prefer the .357 and shotgun for general HD. Given the non-shooting defense stats that we have, I also think that whatever you carry should have good brandishing qualities.
    "It may seem difficult at first, but everything is difficult at first."

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    Senior Member Array DUNDEM's Avatar
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    Can't remember where I read it but I think FBI had some statistics at one point that showed that gun fights averaged 3 rounds fired. That could be 1 shot for one situation and 5 for another...lol. From a legal stand point more rounds fired usually means more explaining of why you couldn't flee.

  10. #9
    los
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    My CCW will only be used (hopefully never) in a CQB-UCP self-defense situation. Within those parameters, I doubt I'll need more than 5 rounds to achieve neutralization.

    Until then, I'll rely on my intuition, and my feet, to avoid the situation.

    I carry a 5 round j frame revolver.
    What we've got here is failure to communicate.

  11. #10
    VIP Member Array ccw9mm's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pogo2 View Post
    I am interested in what people think about capacity as a consideration, compared to other criteria such as reliability, caliber, ergonomics, size, finish, brand and appearance.
    Short answer: The most important factors to me are reliability, suitability to purpose, ergonomics (ie, position and ease of use of controls), concealability. That presumes a minimum power that I deem sufficient, of course, hence I'm comfortable with .380ACP, .38spl and anything more powerful, so long as the other factors work for me.

    Long answer ...

    It's a very subjective and personal decision. Some rely upon "statistics" apparent from one's local newspaper reports of crimes. Some rely upon police experiences, such as those spoken of by Ayoob and others in the field as to how many shots are normally used in close encounters. Crimes of all sorts occur, and instances can be found of requiring no shots to requiring at least one reload (of a magazine).

    Averages are fine. Three shots, two, twelve, whatever. The point to remember is that, with any average, fully half the people experienced the need for more than that number, and no "average" I've ever seen has described the spread (which are dismissed as "outliers"). Imagine what might have happened to such "outliers" had they failed to bring that much ammunition.

    Handguns aren't the best stoppers. They're a severe compromise to the purpose: stopping a threat immediately. Practically any choice of any handgun is going to be a paltry substitute for a long gun, in terms of getting the firing/striking job done, but obviously its suitability is to accommodate the need for portability, concealability and the related weight/size/recoil characteristics that go with it. Personally, I'd love to carry a semi-auto shotgun in 12ga that could be concealed and carried with no more concern than a small 9mm pocket pistol, but we're hardly there yet in our human technologies. Soon, perhaps, a device with the "stopping" power of such a gun will be readily available that'll impart a 60mins "sleep" time to an attacker, sufficient time for the cavalry to come and scoop up the next attempted murderer for processing into jail.

    As well, there is an old adage common amongst military, fighting people: there's no such thing as too much ammunition.

    So, the real question is: how much is going to be enough in the next crime against us, if any?

    If you ever get a conclusive "answer" to that question, let me know. I'd like to hear it. Though, I doubt your crystal ball is any less defective than those of others. So it comes to whatever a person is comfortable with.

    Me, I suppose I prefer ten or more shots, with at least two reloads (mags). However, I did carry a 5-shot revolver for some years. Never was very accurate with it, nor was I ever truly comfortable with the capacity. And in the one, lone, incident in which I was forced to draw my firearm in self-defense I found that no shots were actually required to repel the two-on-one aborted mugging of me. Not that the incident portends any details about the next encounter, should it ever occur. Since then, I've bumped capacity up to 10+ in my primary weapon, 6+ in my backup/BUG (which is occasionally carried as primary). And in situations where I'm absolutely forced to be without my firearm, I carry a pocket knife, as well as a stout walking cane, which is entirely possible given my gimpy walk.

    Like as not, any encounter with a single violent criminal is going to require somewhere between zero and five shots before the threat is gone. With multiple attackers, who's to say. And so, I continue to generally carry 10+ with multiple reloads, along with the occasional BUG of 6+. Works for me. YMMV, as is reasonable.
    Your best weapon is your brain. Don't leave home without it.
    Thoughts: Justifiable self defense (A.O.J.).
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  12. #11
    VIP Member Array varob's Avatar
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    Regardless of the capacity of my carry gun(s), I carry an extra mag. Not so much for added capacity, but for added reliability.
    Don't believe what you hear and only half of what you see!
    -Tony Soprano

  13. #12
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    I think that capacity is something that people who do not shoot well worry about more than those who are confident. Plus, it's one of those "what if" things we like to play with in our minds, kinda of like the, " if you could only have one gun...." for the average Joe or Jane, who is not an accomplished shot, then there will never be enough ammo or bugs carried. From my point of view, if you can't resolve it in a couple of shots, then it's time to get away, or take the k-bar, ballbat, or tire iron and get busy, providing retreat is not an option. People have not become superhuman in the last 30 years or so when a 38 was considered good medicine, and I'd say it still is.

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    VIP Member Array jonconsiglio's Avatar
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    I've always carried 1911's but lately it's a Glock 17 or M&P and sometimes a 226 all in 9mm. the AR is in the office and bedroom, but a handgun is always on me. I train to shoot them to the ground and that may take 4 or 5 shots. If there's a couple of them and God forbid the others don't take off, I'm left with 4 rounds in my 1911 and two mags on my belt. Not as bad as a 5 shot revolver, but still not as good as having 13 left in the Glock or M&P.

    They're have been some home invasions here where 4 guys kick the door in with vests and different types of guns (reasoning for the AR). A lot of assaults are committed by numerous attackers. It's not Hollywood and it takes more than 1 round, many times 3 or 4+, to put someone down. People can be viscous and criminals don't always start shaking when they see a gun. For example, the woman who had 3 attackers enter her and her husband's home and shot at them and she emptied the handgun into one attacker. He was yelling for the others to shoot her and when she looked out from the other door to her bedroom, she saw him squatting with his handgun waiting for her to poke her head out. The husband, while this was going on, was struggling with another attacker and was shot in the side, and it still didn't stop.

    She fired 10 rounds, I believe, and even though the one died a little while later in the driveway, it did little to run off the other attackers. This, the story with the old Marine with the two attackers that tried to heard him and the clerk to the back and the guy from M4carbine that got shot in his hand when him and a few of his buddies were robbed at their friend's office at gunpoint by one man.

    All of those stories have one major thing in common, they all ran out of ammo. One reloaded while the other two did not, though the guy that got shot in his hand(s?) was able to clear a failure of some kind. Two were carrying 1911's while the woman had a 22 pistol with 10 rounds. There are many more stories like this, but this is enough for me to want to keep my in-gun-capacity high.

    Glockman10mm, I agree that then it's time to get away, but none of these 3 were in any position to go anywhere and their only options were to fight or die. So, I like to carry my Glock with 18 Ranger T's and 2 mags with +2's filled with HST and Ranger T on my belt. Same for the M&P and 226, just no based extensions - though the Arredondo +6's would be a nice option on the M&P, just too bulky!

    **Oh, and this "too big" thing?? First off, I've found most that say a gun is too big never actually carried it or if they did, it was for a day or two. That's like these people that trash a gun they rented at the range, that's just ridiculous... For those that have tried, it most likely was not the best holster or belt choice. With the right holster and belt, I have no issues with the Glock 17, 226, M7P, 1911 full or Commander, HK45, etc. I'm 5'8" and 175. I wear jeans and a t-shirt or button down untucked in South Texas. if I wear a suit, it's still a full size gun. If I take the jacket off, I've used the tuck feature a couple times with a full size 1911. It's easily done.

    I think most people are overly concerned that they'll be made. For most, if they get over that irrational fear (not an insult when i say that) they'll find it much easier and usually a much better choice. I have a few small guns, but they never get carried by themselves, only in addition to my full size guns if I feel the need. If you can't comfortably conceal a Commander sized 1911, most likely it's the carrier and not the gun. I've yet to hear someone say that they realized no one would make them, that they used the right combination of belt and holster, wore it in the right position, gave it a serious try (at least a month or two, not a freaking' hour in a cheap Don Hume on a Wal-Mart fabric belt) and still found it too heavy.
    Proven combat techniques may not be flashy and may require a bit more physical effort on the part of the shooter. Further, they may not win competition matches, but they will help ensure your survival in a shooting or gunfight on the street. ~Paul Howe

  15. #14
    kpw
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    Capacity isn't a huge deal for me but being that I carry for what I consider the worst scenario, having more rounds available sure doesn't make me uncomfortable. I've also never heard anyone complain that they had too much ammo after a gun fight. I put my faith in myself first and my tools second but that doesn't mean I don't put some serious consideration into those tools.
    "In a republic this rule ought to be observed: that the majority should not have the predominant power." -
    -- Marcus Tullius Cicero

  16. #15
    Distinguished Member Array Dragman's Avatar
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    Two guns with two magazines each for me please! and if I make it to my truck I will have at least a third wepon!

    I will never be killed for lack of shooting back.
    To crush your enemies, to see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentations of their women

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