So we've all read about, maybe even participated in "Caliber wars" both online and in person. The day before yesterday, a salesman spewed the same stuff to my wife, trying to talk her into moving from a 9mm to a .45 cal. When we got in the car, I told her that he was full of it. Today, after reading a few other things, I came upon a post in another forum that made me reassess "Best Caliber." I've had a few people talk to me about buying handguns, and I want to make sure I give them good information. So, as I'm thinking about it, here's my answer to "Best Caliber." I want to know what you all think, and what you would add to it.
"Best Caliber" (BC) and "One-Shot Stopping Power" (OSSP) for caliber and round are really worthless ideas, because it is dependent on so many other factors. Here's what you need to think about.
1. A Center of Mass (CoM) shot is always better than a grazing shot to the ribs. If you can't get a good comfortable grip on your weapon, or it's too heavy, bulky, etc., then the caliber doesn't matter, that gun in that caliber is a bad caliber for you, and it will have very low OSSP.
2. If you can't control the recoil, then the likelihood that you're going to get a second shot off in time is vastly diminished. One-shot stops are as much a fiction of Hollywood as anything else. It's far more likely that you're going to pull the trigger multiple times. So the BC for any one person is a weapon that he or she can reestablish aim at CoM and pull the trigger again, fast. (They can figure out if their gun is "pushing" or "snapping," so I don't need to go into that, I think).
3a. It is true that a bigger wound path will do more damage. So the highest caliber that you can handle is the BC for you. However, "handle" also means that you are able to deal with kick both physically (see #2), and also mentally. So if you can handle say, a .40 physically, but for some reason you continue to anticipate the kick and just can't train yourself out of it, then a .40 still isn't the BC for you.
3b. If you find yourself in a situation like 3a, make sure you look around for other models in that caliber. For instance, the XD40SC has less kick than a Glock 27, even their both subcompact .40's. Try both, and see if you can control one better than the other. For some, the slight size difference between the two will make a difference, for others, the kick will make a difference.
3c. Different rounds produce different amounts of kick. Experiment with some different JHP rounds, but remember, it's always better to use the same JHP rounds that the local or state police use.*
4a. The gun has to be comfortable to shoot, but also comfortable to carry. If it's not the first, then you won't shoot it often and thus, not gain the familiarity you need with it. If it's not the second, there's a good chance you'll find reasons to leave it at home, or leave it in the car, or in your purse (if you're a woman). A Desert eagle is a bad caliber and has no OSSP if it's left at home, or if your purse is taken from you.
4b. (EDITED IN) Another element of being familiar with your gun is putting bullets down range. If you can't afford to practice shooting a .50 cal because the rounds are too expensive, then don't buy a .50 cal. (of course, this is a generalization, since it's pretty dang near impossible to afford any target practice rounds right now!)
5. So - the conclusion is, the "Best Caliber" for personal defense is the highest caliber that is fun to shoot, easy to carry, feels good in your hands, and easy to control. After all, it's far better to put twenty .22 bullets in a person's chest and head, than graze a person's rib cage with one .45 bullet in the same amount of time.
*Use the same Hollow Points that the LEO of your area use. This way, when you're on the stand and the over-zealous prosecutor pounds his fist into the podium and points at you, then says, "You bought 'Golden Saber' hollow points! Golden Saber, like some kind of medieval killing sword that slices through it's victims! Why did you by these? Was it your intent to be a killer?" You get to calmly answer. "No sir, I just figured that the city police department knows what's the best round in case their officers get into trouble, so I bought the same thing. That's all." Unless the prosecutor wants to then accuse the entire city police department of being killers, that line of questioning is effectively over.
Thoughts? Did I miss anything? Part of what I want to do is disarm salesmen that see people like my wife or my friend's wives that haven't been around firearms, and then try and talk them into big, powerful weapons that they can't handle.