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Best Caliber Handgun for Concealed Carry

Now we’ll see the sparks start flying! bulletsparksflyingIn the concealed carry community of gun owners there exists strongly held opinions. One swears by the venerable 45 and considers anything smaller simply a “mouse gun”; whereas, there are those who tout the effectiveness of the smaller weapons, stating simply “the 22 in your pocket is better then the 45 in your nightstand”. They make this claim based on fact…big caliber weapons are normally not as comfortable to carry nor as easy to hide.

So, what’s the truth? The truth is, in a manner of speaking, they are both right…and they are both wrong. The fact is that no handgun, as I’ve said elsewhere on this website, is fully capable of taking down a hostile, large, committed human being without delivering a direct heart or central nervous system (brain) shot. All other shots may wound, but will often give the hostile individual ample seconds to rain upon you significant injury, perhaps even death.

When I say, “all other shots”, I mean any shot that does not immediately drain your body of substantial blood volume/pressure or catastrophically unhinge the integrity your nervous system to function. Ugly thoughts, I know, but we’re not talking about baking a cake. We’re talking about someone killing you, your spouse, kids or parents.

Story in Point: A chiropractor several years back went into a McDonald’s with her aging parents and just before exiting her vehicle, she removed her concealed carry .357 magnum revolver from her hip holster because, at that time, Texas law made it illegal to concealed carry in restaurants. She watched as armed robbers entered the restaurant and in their killing spree, took the lives of both of her parents…while her weapon sat stored in her truck only twenty feet away. We’re talking about this kind of reality. Ugly, but regrettably happening in too many places in our once civilized nation.

So, again, only a rifle caliber is able to “take down the proverbial angry man”bulletrifle…handguns are not capable BUT they are better than nothing. What makes the difference? Some will tell you caliber, others training, others specific handguns…the possibilities are almost endless. I, of course, have an opinion and since you are still reading…I’ll share it with you.

I read an article published about a year ago of a study performed by a police officer working on his Master’s Degree in Criminology. He reviewed the findings of thousands of actual shootings…noting caliber, number of hits and eventual outcome of the shooting. When I read that article I didn’t have plans to develop this website, so please forgive me if I am not precise with his findings…I read it for my own benefit and here is what I remember.

Remember, a direct single brain or heart shot is deadly with any caliber. Aside from those, only two calibers were capable of enough force to effect our “angry man” with one shot, they were the 44 magnum and the 357 magnum.  ALL other calibers required more than one shot. The interesting part of his study was he graded the calibers. For example, in the actual shootings he would list the 22 as requiring two bullets (2.00), the .380 required 1.75 bullets, the 9 mm required 1.45 bullets, the 40 required 1.20 bullets and the 45 required 1.10 bullets (understand I made up the foregoing numbers, I didn’t remember the actual numbers but they do represent his findings in principle I believe). Again, here is what I learned, since there is no such thing as a bullet and a half (1.45), it is either one bullet or it is two bullets.

Now you might ask, “Why not just carry the 44 or 357 magnum?” Good question, I’m glad you asked. The reason why not is because a man can travel twenty-one feet in seconds and that means that if you miss the target on the first shot, by the time you bring the gun back into position to fire the next round, he can be all over you like “white on rice”. These two weapons have such substantial recoil that it was thought, in the regrettable event you would miss with your first shot, you could never accomplish a second.

The issue of recoil becomes a primary focus of our attention in choosing caliber. If a 22 requires two bullets (2.0) and a 45 requires two bullets (1.10) then a main consideration is which caliber will allow you to most easily bring the weapon back into service after shooting the first round. Well, the answer is easy, the 22 has amazingly less recoil then the 45…so if that is the only factor…we all should be carrying 22s, right? And if you are excellent shooting a 22 and you trust your 22, then that’s all YOU will need.

However, for me, that was not the only factor to consider. This is a personal, highly embarrassing admission: I, Papa Dave, actually stink at shooting small caliber guns. I’ve practiced with 22s, 25s, 380s, etc. and I just can’t seem to hit the target reliably…even close up…it’s pitiful ; however, put a 40 caliber or 45 in my hand and everything changes…I really don’t get it either. Even a 9mm is too light for my liking. So now I’ve presented you with another problem…how to resolve the issue of increased recoil, knowing that there is no doubt that the 40 caliber has more recoil then any 22 or 380 or even 9mm, yet finding some people, like me, are poorer shots with the smaller handgun calibers?

The Armed Americans Complete Concealed Carry Guide to Effective Self-Defense
The Armed Americans Complete Concealed Carry Guide to Effective Self-Defense

In my opinion, this then gets down to the issue of training. Those who find themselves perplexed with their inability to shoot well with the smaller calibers, thus automatically increasing their felt recoil, must train enough to decrease the negative impact of the larger caliber choice and hence, the reason I previously provided the review of The Armed American’s Complete Concealed Carry Guide to Effective Self-Defense.

The realities you must consider are caliber, conceal-ability, wear-ability, recoil, weapon trustworthiness and skill. You must be assured you can trust the weapon you will carry to accomplish the job you need done…first time, every time.

Hence, you have to be convinced that you can deliver the necessary rounds to the target area rapidly enough to overcome any aggression toward you. To me, a 22 is a good gun to buy me the time to get to my “real gun”, because the fact of the matter for me is that I trust my S&W M&P 40 caliber to deliver the force to stop the threat every time, first time, period.

What are your thoughts on this issue? I’d be interested to know.

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