How did you choose the caliber for the gun that you carry?

This is a discussion on How did you choose the caliber for the gun that you carry? within the Defensive Carry Guns forums, part of the Defensive Carry Discussions category; I have been thinking about this thread for quite a while and even typed up several versions and looked for something similar in the search. ...

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Thread: How did you choose the caliber for the gun that you carry?

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    Member Array MJClark's Avatar
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    How did you choose the caliber for the gun that you carry?

    I have been thinking about this thread for quite a while and even typed up several versions and looked for something similar in the search. While there has been quite a bit of discussion, the other threads never quite provided me with the info that I was looking for.

    Then last weekend, a CPL instructor referenced a study done that showed that a 9mm is not likely to penetrate a skull unless it is a +P round. I was surprised to hear this but he mentioned a story of a cop friend of his that was once shot in the head and the bullet traced his skull, but never broke through. He said that while he has nothing against .22, 380’s, or 9mm, he would never tell someone to carry anything less than a 40. He even mentioned that is 5ft 2in 120 lb wife carries a 40 (Glock)

    I have seen several places where it is recommended that a person carry the largest caliber handgun that they can safely and effectively handle. Something tells me that most people in here could easily handle something more than a 9mm, yet is seems to be so darn popular.
    Personally, I bought a 9mm for two reasons. One, ammo was cheaper, and two, it was available. I still have not seen a 40 Caliber M&P Shield available at my LGS, but have seen several 9mm Shields come and go. Having said that, I plan on getting a 40 Caliber M&P Shield for my next gun, and my wife would keep the 9mm in the house and for target practice. I had planned on doing this even before I bought my 9. First one available so I have SOMETHING, and buy the other when the chaos calms.

    So poses the questions…
    1) Do you think that a 9mm is sufficient to carry? Yes it is better than rocks, but by how much?
    2) How did you decide on the caliber to carry and why don’t you go bigger?
    3) What do you think is the minimum caliber that would be effective carry?
    4) What is the largest caliber gun that you can safely and effectively carry? Do you carry it? If no, why not?

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    Distinguished Member Array onacoma's Avatar
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    How did you choose the caliber for the gun that you carry?

    The biggest, bad ass, fastest bullet, that I can put on target with follow up shots!


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    Senior Member Array Tzadik's Avatar
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    it had a 4 in it

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    Senior Member Array FLSlim's Avatar
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    I think your instructor has a serious bias against the 9. Even a 22 LR will penetrate a skull. That said, I am of the bigger is better school and like to carry a 1911 in 45 acp. However, when the occasion requires I will carry a 9 or 38 special, and I do not feel undergunned. Caliber is important, but no more than the reliability of the weapon you choose, how well you shoot it, and whether it is one that you will actually carry every day.
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    Senior Member Array txron's Avatar
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    I chose the 9mm as my first hand gun and I love it. It is my EDC and I don't feel under gunned at all. 22lr will penetrate the skull, so I am not sure where your instructor got his information. I do have a 45 when I thought I needed to upgrade to a larger caliber, but I shoot the 9 better and faster than the 45. With round capacity almost being equal in the polymer pistols between the 9, 40 and 45 now days, the capacity arguement is mute, but with modern defensive ammo, the 9mm is just as deadly as the 40 and 45. I also chose the 9 due to economics of the 9 mm cost is less than my 45, so I do have to admit I do shoot it more which may be the reason I am more comfortable with it and more accurate with it. Shot placement is everything, so if you are comfortable with the 9 and shoot it better, I don't think you need to go larger.
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    Member Array Moby's Avatar
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    1) Do you think that a 9mm is sufficient to carry? Yes it is better than rocks, but by how much?
    2) How did you decide on the caliber to carry and why don’t you go bigger?
    3) What do you think is the minimum caliber that would be effective carry?
    4) What is the largest caliber gun that you can safely and effectively carry? Do you carry it? If no, why not?

    1. Many carry the 9mm because of it's size and low recoil. However the USMC used .38 revolvers in the Phillipine war and decided they were not effective. The Colt .45 was created. The Military went back the the 9mm, only to recently again turn back to the 1911 .45. The 9mm round can of course stop someone and many have. The odds are simply better with a .45

    2. I'm a former LEO with the Coat Guard. It's what I've always carried.

    3. All federal agents are now carrying the Glock 27 .40. I feel the round is plenty hot but I get back on target faster with a lower velocity .45

    4. I now carry a Glock 30SF .45 ACP that hold 10+1 Very small foot print and conceals very well.
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    My dad carried a .45 ACP in WWII and was highly impressed with it. I stared down the business end of a 1911 .45 ACP once and was highly impressed with it. There was no decision to be made in my mind.
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    Senior Member Array dV8r's Avatar
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    How did you choose the caliber for the gun that you carry?

    I didn't chose the caliber, the gun's designer, John M. Browning did.
    I just chose to use it as designed and intended.
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    If you knew you were going to walk out of your house tonight and get into a gun fight what caliber would you pick? I would NOT pick a .380 when I could have a .40 or a .45 acp or a 357sig. Pick one.
    "Confidence is food for the wise man but liquor for the fool"

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    Member Array CJ_mp40c's Avatar
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    Bigger is better but getting back on target for subsequent shots is key. Also If you are a little weary of the recoil, you probably won't get a good shot off.

    Nothing replaces good shot placement. You have to be comfortable with the caliber you are shooting.

    My wife shoots 9mm, I carry and shoot .40
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    Such myths behind the caliber wars, pointless to even dive in. It's almost Freudian and shows lack of knowledge. Like humans are made of ballistic gelatin or something. In any case, the most important thing to me, is to carry, everywhere I legally can, no exceptions. As well, more bullets=more time in the fight. I'd rather be missed with a .45 than hit between the eyes with a .22, point being, practice practice practice. Now let's sit back and hear all the posts about "knockdown power".
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    I chose the platform first and the caliber was secondary.

    It was the late 80's when I was looking for my first defensive handgun, and the "wondernines" were all the rage. You couldn't pick up a gun magazine without seeing the "9mm vs 45" debate on the cover. The choice at the time was fundamentally between 9mm or .45 ACP; .40 S&W was just making its debut and didn't have a track record, and .38 Super guns were scarcer than the ammo. I really liked a a lot of the S&W pistols like the 469, but their triggers uniformly stank. The one DA pistol that actually had a great trigger was the Star 28, but then that disappeared. When it came time to plunk my money down, I chose a full-size 1911, and with that choice came the .45. Over the years other acquisitions have included 9mm and .40, but the .45 is my "go to" round for lots of reasons. Never had any regrets.
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    Quote Originally Posted by CJ_mp40c View Post
    Bigger is better but getting back on target for subsequent shots is key. Also If you are a little weary of the recoil, you probably won't get a good shot off.

    Nothing replaces good shot placement. You have to be comfortable with the caliber you are shooting.
    +1 It doesn't make any difference with which caliber you miss your target. You can probably put more shots on target in a shorter time with a .22 semi-auto. I would recommend finding the caliber that is best for you by shooting several. Go with the caliber that allows you the best first shot and follow on shot placement in the shortest amount of time. I prefer the 9mm myself. Personal preference.

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    Member Array MJClark's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by NorthernVandal View Post
    Such myths behind the caliber wars, pointless to even dive in. It's almost Freudian and shows lack of knowledge. Like humans are made of ballistic gelatin or something. In any case, the most important thing to me, is to carry, everywhere I legally can, no exceptions. As well, more bullets=more time in the fight. I'd rather be missed with a .45 than hit between the eyes with a .22, point being, practice practice practice. Now let's sit back and hear all the posts about "knockdown power".
    You are correct, I have a lack of knowledge about this, thus the reason I ask the question.

    The only reason I gave anything that my instructor said any credibility is is very long bio of both practical application with ridiculous military experience and police departments, and being a pistol trainer for both military and police.

    Do you carry a 40 or a 9mm and why?

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    I'm a firm believer in the "Bigger holes make deader bad things" theory.
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