best bullet caliber sizes to use

Bullet Caliber Sizes: What Should I Use?

What's The Best Bullet Caliber Sizes To Stop An Attacker?

If you are carrying a handgun for self-defense then anything under .35 caliber is not going to do a good job. Ammo in the .22, .25 and .32 calibers, commonly called “mouse gun” calibers, will not stop most motivated attackers.

The only benefit is that the handguns are lighter to carry.

At the Middle of the scale, we have the .38 calibers which can be difficult to hold when firing and sometimes unreliable.

In my opinion, the best bullet caliber sizes are the .357 Magnum and the .38 Special. Because they are revolvers then the rate of fire can be reduced to some degree. I would avoid the .38 snub nose revolvers due to their small grips and poor sight's.

Next to consider is the 9mm, .40 and .45 which should stop most attackers with a single shot compared to two shots with the lower caliber handguns. These calibers are currently the most popular choices for concealed carry. Next lets look at some of the terminology used around bullet sizes.

Bullet Terminology Explained


First of all lets talk about the diameter of a gun barrel which is measured in hundreds or thousandths of an inch.

As an example a .45 handgun has a barrel diameter of 0.45 inches and so will need a .45 bullet caliber  (in metrics 11 mm). The diameters of barrels can also be referred to in metrics such as a 9mm handgun.

Centerfire or Rimfire


Rimfire bullets have the primer built into the rim.The firing pin strikes the primer located in the rim and ignites the propellant powder. They were invented in 1845 by Louis-Nicolas Flobert from France. The most commonly used rimfire caliber is .22 with the main advantage being they require low pressure from the firing pin resulting in light and low cost firearms.



The name says it all. Centerfire cartridges will have the primer located in the center of the cartridge. They have thicker cartridges than the rimfire and are preferred by the military as the thicker cartridge makes them safer to handle.

Centerfire cartridges are used for most calibers these days apart from the smaller sizes. They can withstand higher pressures due to the thicker cases which in turn gives the bullet a higher velocity.


The centerfire was invented in 1829 by another frenchman, Clement Pottet. However, the design was not perfected until 1855.

Handgun Capacity

The capacity of a handgun can give you one of the easiest comparisons. The calibre of the handgun is going to determine how much ammo it will hold. With 9mm rounds being smaller than .45 you are going to fit more 9mm into a cartridge than the .45 rounds. Using the table below we can compare the carrying capacities of Glocks;
ModelCalibreHolding CapacityGun Weight
Glock 179mm1732.12 oz
Glock 22.40 S&W1534.42 oz
Glock 21.45 Auto1338.30 oz


The laws of physics dictate that you cannot have a big bullet with high velocity. To achieve high velocity you would need a small bullet. So we are forced to make a compromise.

Most law enforcement have been using the .40 Smith and Wesson from 1990 when the FBI popularized the use of them. This model was chosen by the FBI as it was a compromise. It had more capacity and less recoil than a .45 Model but with more power than a 9mm.

Recently the FBI have changed to the 9mm as they say it is more accurate and faster and of course a better compromise. Other law enforcement agencies will probably follow the FBI's example and it gives you a good example of what to buy. This should not stop you from trying out other options though.

Why The 9mm Is So Popular;

  • Reliable
  • Widely available
  • Holds more ammunition
  • More accurate
  • Good range of ammunition options
  • Lasts longer
  • Affordable ammunition
bullet caliber sizes chart


  1. By no means an expert, but consider a long forgotten cartridge not mentioned here. The 38 Super +p in some brands of ammo has more muzzle energy than the .45 acp. .40 s&w and beats the 9 mm. .38 special and does it with less recoil. The 357 sig. and 357 mag. both beat the 38 super +p but both have more muzzle blast and recoil.

    1. Check out Buffalo Bore, Double Tap, and other ammo companies. They offer SAAMI standard .38 Super +P that will equal or exceed the .357SIG, especially since the Super can be had in a 5″ barrel, something you’re not going to find available in the .357SIG. I shoot the .38 Super in three pistols, two of them are 5″ 1911s. Full power Super ammo has the velocity and energy of the vaunted .357 Magnum 125gr JHP without anything remotely like the Magnum’s recoil.

      The downside to the .38 Super is that guns are far less common than the 9mm and other mainstream calibers, won’t be found in many gunshops, ammo is more expensive, and only aficiandos like you and I are willing to put up with those shortcomings. New and/or less “gunny” folks are not going to bother with a .38 Super, they can’t be bothered. And that’s okay! It’s not for everyone. Sometimes you just have to suffer quietly and know you’ve got something really cool while everyone else carries and shoots their Same-same 9mms.

  2. Nothing finer than the 45 ACP. It is definitely a cartridge for those who want to stop an assaliant with one shot.

    1. “One shot stops” happen, but so does the perfect storm. Counting on one shot stops is a good way to get hurt badly. PRACTICE AND EXPECT to have to keep shooting an assailant until he stops attacking you, and stop thinking in terms of “one shot stops,” folks. A bigger cartridge does not make you into Superman either. (It just makes it a harder gun to shoot for people with less experience or those who don’t practice enough.)

  3. For home self defense keep a shot gun handy aka Hall Sweeper.
    1. Handgun first and most importantly is the ability to hit at 15 to 21 feet accurately without using the sights.
    I practice with my ccw handgun and a laser cartridge. Can’t say how many door knobs, light switches, and other various objects at varying distances I have shot developing the feel. Practice drawing and firing from your carry holster. Don’t aim but develop a feel so the gun hits where you are focused.
    2. Carry self defense rounds and do live fire practice with them to be comfortable with the extra recoil. Ideally you want a round that will not exit on a center of mass hit. This is for two reasons. One you don’t want it going down range and killing a neighbor. Two a round that stays releases all its potential energy into the target and thus has better stopping power.
    3. Carry a caliber that allows you to achieve the above.
    Odds are I will never have to use deadly force, but if I am going to carry then it is my duty to be as best prepared as possible.

      1. You miss the point! You may not be able to rely on your sights. You are in a low light situation and aren’t able to properly align your sights. Being able to hit a pocket sized area just by feel and focusing on it is indispensable.
        It isn’t hard to learn and it helps develop competency with your weapon. I’ve been taught most self defense occurs at the 15 -20 foot range. This technique is for more real life close range situations and is just common sense.

  4. Just as a FYI, I work in a large city trauma center. Recently, I very large male (around 320 lbs) was brought into our ER with a GSW. The round was a .380. It penetrated his chest, went through 1 rib, through the lung, through the scapula, and exited cleanly through his back. I was very impressed with the damage that the .380 did. I can’t say anything bad about that caliber anymore.

    1. Well, there you go, after reading many acocount’s of differant peoples and differant cal. hand guns, target picture , and placment, I dont think that you can replace target accusation. End of story. period. Fire a handgun that you can handle, make your rounds go safley downrange, and hit your target many times, body mass, and head shots if you can. I dont know about you, but I dont want a bunch of 98 HP. hornet’s on my butt, much less my head or body!

    2. I was very impressed with my 380 it was very accurate even when being rapidly fired,it was Russian made

    3. Through and through penetration is a bullet that didn’t do what it should have done, which is penetrate then expand, and stop in the body.

  5. There is a lot of information in these article paragraphs that is just not true!! The bestest and safest thing to do is to
    go to a training class, or classes. Live fire training classes. It was mentioned above that the “smaller calibers” are not
    good ammo / calibers, because they will not stop an attacker. A motivated attacker if memory serves me?. That is not necessarily the case. There are many variables in play in any & every attack situation. I’ve done a pretty fair amount of shooting up until the present day. I have seen some truly bizzare things happen with seemingly regular and common
    calibers & cartridges, that I otherwise would prob never believe if I had not seen with my own eyes. A couple quick examples of that, I fired a .38 caliber bullet (bullets plural, actually) at a vehicle being used in a training exercise, specifically at the windshield. 2 of the 6 rounds fired actually did NOT penetrate the class! I have seen (on several occasions) 9mm rounds doing more damage, penetrating various objects deeper, than its big brother the .40 caliber or the 10mm cartridge. .40 cal & 10mm cartridges are very, very similar in size as well as power. On April 19’th 2013 there was a fire fight (shootout) in my town/city when the Boston marathon bombers stopped at a vehicle they had parked on the side of the road, in order to load explosives into their stolen vehicle. Immediately after loading up the stolen Mercedes the police were behind them. When the operator saw a 2nd cruiser about to pull up he realized the jig was up. Long story short, after an 8 or 9 minute shootout (super long time when being shot at, no question) the operator (older brother) was still attempting to fight with the police after his pistol emptied and he was shot already 8 times!!
    Yes that is correct, shot eight times already by Glock 23 .40 caliber pistols and he was still on his feet swinging fists!!
    In my opinion the start of that article is not entirely accurate. An attacker can be stopped by even a single small caliber shot i.e. , .32 cal or .35 caliber. That said, don’t forget a larger caliber round may or may not stop a “motivated attacker.” The best thing you can arm yourself with as well as a firearm is ALL the knowledge you possibly can about your firearm, and the ammunition inside it!! Plenty of practice, practice, practice, also. When your able to put rounds down range
    where you intended to place them, your almost ready haha. Shot placement, is as important as caliber and weapon type

    1. You made some excellent comments. there are a few mistakes in the blogger’s comments.

  6. Any one have any thoughts where a .357sig fits in these categories?

    1. .357 sig is an auto loading round designed to replicate the ballistics of .357mag. it is typically fired from the same frame gun as a 40 S&W and usually only requires a barrel change on .40 to make it a .357 sig.

    2. The .357SIG is not very popular, and mainly a niche round today. It is an expensive round to shoot, both practice and carry ammo. It was hyped to mimic the .357 Magnum but it falls at least 100fps short of achieving true equality with the .357 Magnum. It tends to have recoil that some feel is sharp and it has a loud blast. People don’t like shooting it in the main. Reloaders who attempt to save money don’t like it because it uses a bottlenecked case, which complicates the reloading process–every case must be lubricated. With its parent round, the .40S&W, fading very rapidly on the American scene, I predict the .357SIG will fade as well. Not many (any?) companies are still making .357SIG pistols other than SIG-SAUER, of course. A few major LE departments adopted it, but will they stay for the long haul? The FBI ditched the .40 and went back to the 9mm, which is truly having a renaissance, and like I said, I think with the .40 being dumped by the police like yesterday’s news, and the .357SIG already a niche cartridge at best, can it be long for obsolescence?

  7. Bullet caliber sizes are very important because every bullet have different nature when a person fires a bullet then due to its recoil and pressure he will also miss his target but if the will using its own caliber like i am using 9mm then they won’t miss. So its and ideal approach to select the caliber wisely but many people don’t focus on these aspects. I have found an interesting article for you

  8. A Deputy Sheriff told me early on in my quest to get my CCW, that a hole in a body is a hole in the body and that once you kill someone, you will always be a killer. I have zero patience for the machos who utter garbage about killing a bad guy dead. With my .22, I have 11 chances to hit my attacker and with segmented rounds, that makes the potential for 44 holes in the bad guy, that is if I’m not shaking like a leaf when it comes time to defend myself and blowing high velocity rounds all around my target. Less recoil = quicker on-target in any situation I let myself get into.
    This is not combat. Situational awareness and avoidance is part and parcel to any defense.

    1. You need to learn from history. Over 30+ years ago a farmer in Arkansas shot a home invader 17 times with a 22 rifle (mostly hits to the torso). The invader subsequently stabbed the farmer to death and his wife to death before running 1/4 of mile before the invader died from blood loss. Yes the farmer had “killed” the invader, but he certainly didn’t stop him. You want to stop someone or kill them. BIG DIFFERENCE

      1. Some history lesson. 17 hits with none to the head… He literally would have done better swinging the rifle like a bat, ’cause shooting it wasn’t his thing. If he hit his attacker 17 times, then some of those initial shots slowed the guy down, enough to start placing/landing headshots, especially with a rifle he apparently had good recoil control over.
        This article implies the evaluation of the best weapons to use in a situation of minimal advantage. This is NOT the situation you describe above. He and his wife paid for his lack of adequate competency with his rifle. History lesson learned: shoot better! More specifically: practice the shots your caliber requires, whatever it is. Do this, and you will stop anyone (incidentally, by killing them).

        1. Even if we were somehow using more powder per bullet, .22 is not going to stop a charging man unless you’re a very good shot under pressure. Most aren’t.

        2. The difference in ammo does not improve a persons aim,lol

      2. Lol,so very true,although not really a laughing matter that’s what I feel like doing when people tell me to use a 22

      1. Deer don’t shoot back or try to stab you to death

    2. Bought my wife a Browing 1911 22 caliber. She wanted something to shoot that was not loud or have a kick. She loves it and will hit you center mass at 21 feet, which is the closest I told her to let anyone get to her in a situation. I know several people who say it will not stop the intruder. Well if she had something larger like my 9 or 45 she will not want to fire it because of the recoil and will probably not hit the bad person and no one has ever been killed by a loud gun noise. So if she has something that she likes to shoot and comfortable with and can hit you center mass, then by all means I would want her to fire 6 times at the bad person. I do not think anyone who is hit 6 times center mass with a 22 hollow point will want to continue, if they still come at her she has 5 more rounds to stop the threat. How many of you want to be shot 6 or a total of 11 times with a 22 hollow point?

      1. This is a guy that thinks before he acts! Im glad you told this story. The most deadly weapon in the world is any weapon in the hands of someone who is afraid to use it properly, doesn’t know how to use it properly, or thinks they know how to use it properly. You were wise with your choice sir. And with some time spent getting to know the firearm, I would bet that will have all the confidence to upgrade to something more powerfull. But whats important is the person holding the firearm be comfortable enough to use it properly if forced to. Thanks. And good luck!

        1. I agree Michael if a person is afraid of kick or noise they should not be shooting any weapon

      2. Nobody does. I had a friend that I can recall laughing about another friend of ours for carrying a 22. Ruger. He was a hell of a man in size and strenghth. Buit that way naturally and just a big ol county boy by birth. Ironically he was shot with a 22 a couple of years later and died. He was a fine man but the point being it went in his abdomun and ricocheted. If I had to take my chances of being shot with a 22 and a 9mm or bigger sure I’d take my chances with the 22 but the 22 is no joke. Its quiet but deadly and this I know. I personally carry a 45 but the 22 will end things and is not to be laughed at.

        1. Sorry about your friend but my Dad spent most of my childhood in the army and was in Vietnam and he carried a high standard .22 as a civilian and he always told me the caliber is not as important as shot placement. He grew up a country boy and admitted he shot more deer with a .22 than anything else. I know that a .45 is a man stopper but there are acceptions with anything and the type of ammo is more important than the caliber. I use handloads and in my Glock 17 and I watched a off duty police officer shoot his Glock 17 at a burning barrel and only dent it and then I shot it and went through both sides. So really your ammo is the key

    3. Actually you are much more likely to have 44 pieces of bullets ricochet off everything half ass solid in your home leaving everybody shot, including yourself and other innocent people that you may be attempting to protect. Home defense weapon of choice should be chosen VERY CAREFULLY. And there are a handful of factors that EVERYONE SHOULD KNOW AND ADHERE TO. Everybodys situation is unique, but certain factors are universal. Your ammunition must be dictated firstly by the environment which you are likely to use the firearm. Got a pistal for home defense that’s accurate at 40 yards huh? Whats the length of your largest room or longest hallway. I doubt its nowhere near 120 feet long. Also the smaller the caliber bullet, the less penetration you will get out of it. So 1 side of that coin will leave you with 44 fragments of bullets bouncing off everything in the house until it hits something soft enough to lodge into. The other side of that coin is for example a .45 caliber. This bullet is going to punch through multible walls if not every wall in your home. Depending on your home of course. But if you live in a manufactured home. Expect evry round you fire to penetrate every wall in your home including the exterior wall and continue sailing with enough force to kill someone outside. Not to mention whoever else may be in those rooms inside your house. Apartments are the worst! if yo live in a building with small apartments and let a high caliber round fly, you should immediately start praying. because that bullet will be your neighbors worst nightmare. if you didn’t know your neighbors before you fired, you sure as hell will know most of them on your floor down range in the direction you were aiming. With this the case. And yes these are general examples of general scenarios so argue w someone who doesn’t know what they are talking about. I simply don’t have the care to go over the stopping power and mass of each item that might be in everyones home. Might point is factual. Not arguementable. So which caliber is best? That depends on your situation. And your situation will prob change each time you move to another residence. Soooo, and heres where the cry babies can argue with me if you want. I wont see it anyway. 12 ga pump shotgun. One of the most versatile weapons made. There are hundreds of different types of shotgun shells made from hundreds of manufactures. Versatility is the reason its my personal choice. the rounds I use are dictated by my environment. And each has the stopping power to stop anything with 1 shot. 6 months ago I lived in a rural neighborhood. My closest neighbors on each side were about 50 yards away. My round of choice there was number 1 buckshot. One squeeze and you let loose 18 thirty two caliber rouns. I live alone. So having the option to shoot through any 1 of my walls fit me perfectly. And I wouldn’t sail a stray trough my walls and over to my neighbors. Now I have not a single neighbor for a qrtr mile min. My choice is oo Buckshot. 9 thirty six caliber rounds that WILL PENETRATE EVERY WALL and almost everything in my house and continue to fly straight and true. Best of all, for a home invasion, the sound of the CLICKCLACK of a round being chambered is enough to send anyone hauling ass without the glamorized act of killing a mutherfucker. Also, I use a high powered GREEN light that’s turned on by a pressure switch I have attached to my forearm or slide. Green doesn’t completely wipe out your night vision. Anyone caught in the beam is gonna take a second to wonder what the hell is happening. The light paints your target but most of all it allows you to positively identify friend from foe. People, when shitgoes down, its not like the movies. Shit gets REAL. You will prob make a mistake. Just control that adrenaline, focus, identify your target. Take it out with as few rounds as possible (for legal reasons) and ALWAYS be aware of where everyone in your home is at before you even consisder deadly force. Also get to know your weapon. The first time you have to use it should not be the first time you EVER used it. PAY ATTENTION TO WHAT YOUR DOING! Shoot straight and watch your background. GOOD LUCK!

      1. Well put! Another consideration that coincides with intentional discharge of your chosen deterrent stated previously, situational awareness is paramount, as you will now have lost one of your 5 senses–your hearing. Trying emptying a magazine in your hallway and then tell me you or anyone in your home you are trying to defend can hear you, or will you be able to hear invader movement. Take extreme care after you have drilled the intruder, is the next movement you see hostile of friendly?

        1. Luckily I only have2 friendlies in my house and if the movement isn’t him then it isn’t friendly

    4. Interesting point that deputy sheriff made. Of course, we can only pass judgment on those based on their actions, so from that person’s perspective you only become a killer upon actually having killed someone. Respectfully, I disagree in that it’s not the action that makes someone a killer; it’s the will. Some people don’t have it in them to take a human life willfully and in full knowledge of their actions. And there’s nothing wrong with that. Some would go so far to avoid taking a life as to allow their own lives to be endangered. If there were more people like that, the world would probably be a better place. But some are killers to begin with; not macho, not eager, not even slightly excited by the prospect. My family is composed of such people. Some have joined the military to pay for college or to support their families, understood combat deployments were likely, and accepted it as the price to be paid. Some have dealt with home invasions.

      My mother drew down on a man who got out of his car at a stop light to bang on her windshield; my infant brother was in the car, and I was just a few years older. She took a Beretta Jetfire from her purse, chambered a round, and was waiting until the guy broke through the glass to fire since she would be protected under the state’s Castle Laws. Thankfully the attacker ran once he realized he was looking down a barrel and the woman behind it was dead calm.

      I had a similar event take place, though at the time I was not old enough to own a handgun. In college, I stopped at a gas station to ask directions from a guy getting into an SUV a couple parking spots away. He tried to carjack me, and got in through my window, one arm against my throat and the other across my steering wheel to reach my keys. It felt dreamlike; I took out my pocket knife and drove it in through his arm near the elbow. When he withdrew in panic, the blade split him from elbow to wrist. He fell to the pavement. That’s when I saw his shirt had risen up enough for me to see the gun in his waistband. And I knew that giving him room to draw it or even think was going to get me killed, so I kicked open my door, popped my seatbelt, and started for him. By then he’d scrambled to his feet, clutching his arm to his chest. He was looking at me like I was the devil, then spun and ran. It was caught on security tapes, and I called the police to report it. It wasn’t until I’d been back home for a long while that I realized that there had been no qualms over killing that man. I’d not been panicked or excited at the prospect. It was just something that needed to be done. I’ve asked myself whether or not that made me a bad person for years since. I think it would had I looked forward to it or wanted to do it. Instead, all I can say is that I’m a pragmatist and came to accept how circumstances can sometimes arise in which you have to decide who lives and who dies, and if you haven’t done the math before the time comes, it’s too late.

      As it relates to caliber, a .22LR hollowpoint isn’t exactly bad. My mother was an ER nurse, a 20 year vet. She saw plenty of GSWs, and the worst was a case of a 300 pound 6’8″ monster of a guy coming in under his own power. He was gutshot. And based on how bad off he is they figure he was maybe nailed with a .45 ACP. Lots of bleeding in the intestines. But as soon as the get one hole closed, another leak pops up. They had to infuse something like 4 pints of blood just to replace what he was losing while they worked. Turned out it was a .22LR hollowpoint. Shattered in his belly, each piece like shrapnel a bit bigger than a few grains of sand.

      It did a lot of damage alright. Thing is, you might notice I mentioned he walked in. When someone is charging you with the intent to beat you to death with whatever body part they can rip off you, you need stopping power. I normally say that the best caliber is whatever you’ve trained the most with. Being able to hit your target under high stress is probably one of the biggest factors involved, so familiarity is important. But you can’t ignore the benefits of kinetic energy. This particular article is erroneous in that it says you just need the one shot with the larger calibers. While that may be true if you’ve been in the military and have a good deal of combat experience, the general rule of thumb is that the only reason you stop shooting with ammunition left in your weapon is that your attacker is down on the ground. I’d urge you to give a largely caliber, something similarly flat-shooting, a try. And if you like it and get to be a good shot on the range, there’s a way to induce stress similar to a life/death scenario to practice. Set out several magazines, each with 3-5 rounds in them. Start with an empty magazine and run through a weapon jam drill, ejecting the spent magazine and locking back the slide. Set the weapon down, then drop and knock out 10-15 pushups. Take up your weapon, load a magazine and fire its contents at your target as quickly as you can squeeze the trigger. Eject the spent magazine, put the weapon down, and do more pushups. Repeat until you’ve gone through all your magazines or reach muscular exhaustion. The increased respiration, heart rate, shaking upper body muscles, cortisol release, it will give you some idea of how well you’ll shoot should you really need to at something other than a paper target.

      1. Lol,I hope I never have to kill anyone and I hope I never find myself in the position of kill or be killed cause I sure don’t want to be killed by some maniac and I totally agree with you,the best weapon is the one you practice with the most and the most familiar with

      2. You’re even more wordy than I usually am. 😉 …but good comments. I would say that choosing the caliber you’re most proficient with is fine, but don’t use that as an excuse to choose a puny cartridge. Choose something useful like a 9mm (minimum, and GET PROFICIENT with THAT.

    5. USAF SAMTU/CATM Weapons Instructor 13 years. High Standard .22 Supermatic Trophy is my home defense weapon. Practice makes perfect. Plus at my advanced age, I’m still an aggressive home defender if the situation presents . Range time while active shooting, dodging, hiding, reloading etc… makes ” You ” control any home invasion on your terms. Range Practicing, by placing multiple rapid fire head shots on paper at 15 yards using ” Natural Point of Aim ” places you into this control zone thus building confidence. Home invasion is more like 10 -25 feet, so : You Got This ! Our Sportsman’s Club closes at dark ( no artificial lighting on the ranges. ) As the RSO I will stretch to that point for low light home invasion crouching/walking rapid firing /reloading drills at 15 yards and advancing on the target ( One on One behind and to the left and with, the firing student. ) Have 50 years of handgun experience so all this shooting talk about size and caliber/recoil of weapon is second nature for me. No chills, no excitement, no jitters, just muscle memory, trigger control, Natural Point of Aim and 4 rounds through an Eyeball/ or just in the head if the invader once had practice breaking into houses and escaping. I recommend Ongoing Continuing Realistic Range Training for all and even those with decades of handgun and weapons knowledge. PS: My guns with mags are my friends. I Field Strip , clean, reassemble and function check after every use .

    6. Speaking of combat…..there’s a reason the M16 uses a 5.56mm round. It’s all about velocity and most important, shot placement.

    7. And also if you don’t miss while you are shaking like a leaf,my husband always tries to pawn a .22 cal on me,I won’t here of it,although I do have a .22 rifle if I have to defend myself I believe I will reach for one of my 9mm or my AK47 I might can live with that

  9. Contrary to some blogs; I am considered to be somewhat of a firearms expert as I have taught rifle marksmanship to well over a thousand law enforcement personnel, have fired over 1,600,000 rounds myself, was considered by many to be the best Gun Builder in the world for about 20 years as owner of the JOHN RIGBY company. Having said all that, I can say with some degree of surety that reliability has absolutely nothing to do with caliber for one…….Revolvers are MORE reliable than semi automatics generally . Bullet placement is key PERIOD! Bigger is generally better. Automatics are easier to conceal generally though. Bullet construction is important insofar as effectiveness…… a 9mm hand gun is just a 38 special +p with lighter in weight bullets…so is a .380 with even lighter bullets…..A 357 is a faster 38 special with exactly the same diameter size bullet with subsequently more energy, recoil, and blast ! It is considered (with proper bullets) to be the best fight stopper along with the various .45’s. However, most folks cannot handle the blast and recoil well and I always recommend a small 38+p with heavy (158 grain) good expanding bullets for most folks and insist of a program of at least 200 rounds through the gun that they are going to carry. Starting off with .38 special wadcutters (low velocity and recoil) Then move up to standard velocity 38’s in 158 grain lead target loads, and winding up with 100 rounds of whatever +P’s you are going to use for carry ammo………I do all this in one day and then repeat in a week later. If an individual cannot put in the time and expense to become proficient with the gun they are going to carry….they shouldn’t carry a concealed handgun at all. If they are concerned mainly with home defense, get a pump shotgun…..If the individual is knowledgeable regarding firearms then non of the above really matters and he/she will have their own favorite firearm to carry….I carry a Smith & Wesson Airweight revolver in 38special+p with a Crimson Trace laser in the grip zeroed where the bullets will hit at 15 yards with 129 grain Hydra-Shoks. That completely solves the short crude sight radius issue….I also carry a small Kimber .45ACP loaded with Hornady 185 grain personal defense rounds…also with a Crimson Trace set up……I carry slightly lighter them maximum weight bullets in these very short barreled guns so that I have sufficient velocity left to penetrate thick clothes because of the velocity loss as a result of the short barrels. Because of my extensive experience I can say that all automatics will experience a jam or a failure to completely feed sooner or later generally speaking……I have never had a revolver fail except as a result of bad ammo…and even the all I had to do is pull the trigger again. For the average person, I absolutely recommend the 38+ revolver option, keep it clean and every 500 rounds have a qualified gunsmith take it completely apart to clean and oil it. The gun should have the cylinders, barrel and frame cleaned every time the gun is shot more than 20 times. If you really feel your life is going to depend on it one day. If you’re just looking to effect your Second Amendment rights as a matter of principle and you have a favorite handgun and can legally carry concealed in your State, go with your choice.

    1. This is solid advice you should highly consider. There is a reason that the revolver has been around for 150+ years and the .38 Special has been stopping bad guys for 100+ years.

      1. Bow and arrows have been stopping bad guys for many more centuries than 38 specials. Maybe you’d prefer them 🙂

    2. Revolver equals less moving parts. Which definitely means less potential for something to malfunction. Easier to use too then semi. You would be amazed how easy it is to loose your bearings when shit gets real and you are suddenly without warning forced into a deadly situation. Anything you can do to lessen your chances of making a mistake will increase also help ease your mind. Because even a fraction of a second can be the difference between living, spending life in prison, hurting the people your trying to protect or making a clean shot and receiving a handshake from officers arriving on the scene. Personally handguns are over rated. And its not from lack of experience that my conclusion is drawn. They are limited with where, how, why, when is a reason that’s actually warrants the use of a handgun. With that said, a .38 special with pacmyer grips and a mid sized length barrel is by far my favorite ever owned. Next is the .357 with the same grips and barrel length. Stay safe! And PAY ATTENTION TO WHAT YOUR DOING everytime al the time! Good luck.

      1. When is the last time you opened up the inside of a revolver and counted the moving parts?

    3. I’d love to know your opinion of the incident where the police officer (just convicted of 2nd degree murder?) 4 years ago shot the teenager who was brandishing a 4″ blade knife, 16 times with his official weapon?

      1. A knife can kill you just as quick as a gun,ask the Indians

      2. Or even better ask General George Armstrong Custer and the 7th Calvary

        1. The Indians had Winchester repeating rifles, the 7th Cavalry only had single shot rifles. Thought you should know.

    4. I have seen and experienced revolvers fail, if you haven’t you haven’t been around long enough. Ejector rods bend, ejector rods come unscrewed (S&W reversed thread direction to prevent this, eventually), most often, crud gets under the extractor and jams the cylinder tightly in the frame and trigger binds. Sometimes the revolver binds due to out-of-spec ammo, or bullets which jump forward during recoil and will not clear the forcing cone as the cylinder attempts to turn. Clearly you have a revolver prejudice, and that’s fine if that is your preference, but it doesn’t follow that you should try to shove your prejudice down everyone else’s throat.

      While I have carried and shot both revolvers and semi-automatics tens of thousands of rounds, I have primarily carried semi-autos for decades–and those I carry simply do not malfunction, despite your comment that “all automatics will experience a jam…” etc., sooner or later. In point of fact, a “jam,” which is one specific type of malfunction which cannot be fixed via an immediate action drill, is so rare as to less common than finding a chicken with teeth. Other malfunctions, like a failure to feed or eject, which you also mention, are also now extremely rare in 2019. The state of the art of both manufacturing and maintenance products has mainly solved this issue–something also say about revolvers.

      However, using the malfunction case to boost our personal prejudice for one platform or the other ended a long time ago and it’s time to drop that gambit. Choose what you like, present other, more realistic reasons for choosing what you prefer–capacity, reloading ease, shootability, or better yet, elucidate the reasons both exist and leave your prejudice at home.

      A bit of education on the 9mm Luger cartridge. It is NOT a .38 Special with a lighter bullet. It runs, on average, about 200fps faster than the .38 Special +P. Say 1150fps vs 950fps. the .38 will usually carry a little heavier bullet, say 129 to 158grs, to the 9mm’s 115 to 124grs. Note these are average numbers–for numbers outside the range on one, there exist numbers outside the range for the other. The 9mm is a better cartridge, and the current primary FBI issue.

    1. I personally carry my .380 as a backup carry weapon, although I have no issue as a primary one, either. The ballistics are close to a 9mm Luger, just a less charge due to the 2mm shorter case length (9X19 vs 9X17). My particular .380 carries 7 in the magazine, plus 1 “in the pipe,” i.e., a round already in the chamber. Also, it is a DA (Double Action) only. If push came to shove and you have only that one weapon, by all means, carry it.

      1. “Close” only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades. The .380 doesn’t stack up well at all to the 9mm. Only .380 apologists are trying to get the world to believe that. Consider this, the vast majority of uniformed police in the USA are issued 9mms for duty. NONE are issued .380s for duty. If they were really that close, might you not expect a few would issue 380s? Maybe for the smaller male or female officers? They don’t. they know they are going out on patrol against thugs and criminals and they are thusly armed with weapons that have a realistic chances against these criminals. Consider this next time you read another .380 apologist article by someone who is more concerned that his gun isn’t upsetting the line of his slacks than he is that he can actually stop a bad guy attacking him.

        Don’t get me wrong, folks. Of course all guns will kill, and sometimes all guns will STOP. You’re playing the odds. If you are violently attacked it’s already the worst day of your life. How much luck do you have? Do you really want to tempt fate and simply hope this is one of those days when you will be cool as a cumcumber (though close to dying any second), that you’ll have your best shooting day ever, that you will not be facing one of those unstoppable attackers, and that the .380 you are about to shoot him with will be like one of those apocryphal stories that people tell in blogs like this that convince other people that the .380 is “close to the 9mm?”

        I believe in being a little more realistic and what I hope is a little more prepared. Thank God armed citizen shootings are rare enough most .380 carriers won’t have to die finding out they gambled and lost.

    2. Which is more important, the ability to respond to a deadly attack with a gun that you can shoot easily, using sights you can see, a trigger that you can manipulate properly, a gun which fills your hand in order to contribute to repeat, accurate shots as long as you need to shoot, firing a cartridge that has the ability to stop an attacker with several shots–even a six and a half foot tall drug addict out of his mind on drugs who only sees you as an impediment to his next score, and who will not feel the same pain you feel when you stub your toe hit your head on a door jamb…

      …or “easy concealment?”

      If you decide to carry a gun, do it because you feel it is worthwhile to keep deadly force on your person in order to respond to the worst moment of your life, should that rare occurrence ever come.
      Don’t do it on a whim, or because it seems like a good idea, or because you can legally do so now. Do it because you wish to take your own personal protection (and that of your loved ones, if applicable) as a personal responsibility. And as a personal responsibility, you have decided that if attacked with deadly force, you are willing and able to respond with deadly force.

      Otherwise, don’t carry.

      If you decide it is the right thing to do, don’t muck about with a pocket .380. If you ever have to use it for real you will wish very badly that you had something with more power, and frankly something that is a lot easier to shoot accurately under STRESS–HORRIBLE STRESS–to shoot accurately and fast.

      I cannot stress accurately enough. We underestimate how badly we will shoot under the stress of DYING or seeing our loved ones attacked. Your skills will deteriorate at least 50%.

      I’ll end with this, do you want to be trying to rip a tiny .380 pocket pistol out of your pants when the worst day of your life is about to start?

  10. First of all, .22 is NOT useless for self-defense. It’s not as effective as 9MM; but it WILL stop a person if you hit them right. Second, no caliber not even the .45 is guaranteed to stop an attacker with one shot.

    1. I would bet my entire nutsack (which is not much) that just one .50 AE will stop ANY (human) attacker…

      1. One 325 grain hollow point, 50AE, with half inch well’s can just about rip a criminal in half.
        But, it can cause lateral damage to by standers, if you have to explode em, place the metallic slug in center mass, ribs, Sternum, where you get effective kill and hopefully your skill won’t frag stand bye’s.

        1. Raging Bull,. by Taurus, nice 360 grain, you drop a bad situation, .375 H&H Magnum can drop a Kodiak Grizzly, 1 shot through lungs, but he is 900 pounds of terror…..if it’s defensive, be objective about placement. Long Colt 255 grain, good mountain revolver, I was chased by pack of timber wolves in Wasatch,U T and WY mountains, I survived thankfully on the north rim trail, you never stop to fight 250 pounds of fangs and cunning, I free climbed cliffs, they they were, rock slides, still found me, lucky after a 9,800 ft., decent I got away from there nose and keen cunning.

          1. Glad you did not have to shoot at them,people are one thing but nature is an altogether different ballgame

      2. That’s just overkill. I’ve also seen one smartass at the range fire just ONE round from a Smith @ Wesson with a 12 inch barrel. It’s as close to heavy artillery from a handgun as any, replacing the .44 Magnum for the intended purpose of killing big game up close.

    2. If you get that perfect shot placement, at the close enough range, it can still kill. And that round is a surgeon’s nightmare, considering it will tumble and worm it’s way thru the human body.

      1. Very true and I knew a good man that is longer here because of this very thing happening. One shot in the abdomen and it was over. He was much bigger than the average man too but it didnt make a difference. There was an altercation with another guy that was obviously intimidated and that was all she wrote.

    3. The operative term here is “if you hit them right”.
      Are you willing to gamble on your being just as accurate in a tense situation as you would be plinking with a .22? Or maybe you should just get a caliber with an actually decent chance of stopping them.

    4. That’s true but I would rather have one of those than a .22

  11. I strongly disagree with the author’s negetive review on the 38spl it was the duty caliber for over a century but he highly praises the 9mm i am a professional Gunsmith if you put a pair of calipers to a 9MM it will measure inner bore to inner bore will be .355 where a 38spl is .357 ” a 9MM is basically a European 3 special! He says he does NOT recommend a 38 revolver or snub nose for defense what does he expects the snub nose is designed for close quarters and not long range soo the sights and small sights should NOT be a issue I will NOT take this guys advise to heart.

    1. I totally agree with you. I am not a gunsmith, but being retired military and have carried anything from the old issue Browning M1911A1s, .38 Special S&W service revolvers and the M9 as my issued sidearms on my watches (BTW I own an M9 myself), 12 ga shotguns and fired that MaDeuce (MA2), I think I am qualified enough to say the author is one of those “macho” guys who thinsk bigger is better. Trust me, I fired my wife’s .357 Taurus snubnose AND her .38 SPL snubnose, belive me it will get the job done if needed, no problem. BTW, as you well know, a 9mm Luger (9X19) is just a shorter .38SPL. When I carry my M9, I use the 125g XTDJ bullets for the slower velocity, reducing the chance of overpenetration.

  12. good info , i will just stick to somewhere in the middle , my .40 caliber glock 23 suits me just fine

  13. A great comparison would be of the size ammo that is around 9mm, or .38, there are a wide variety at this size.

  14. Ballistically, the larger caliber ammo does not expend all of its energy in flight like the faster ammo. Secondly, the larger frame on the M1911 model .45 keeps the muzzle jump down better than the lighter frames like the 9mm.

    1. Ummm… what? Are you saying that .45 ACP has more energy down range than 5.56mm?

      Rick, what happens when you put a 9mm in a 1911 frame? Yes, those exist. But more to your point, Even the weight of the 1911 isn’t enough to make it a better option for quick follow up shots. Take a look at action pistol shooting competitions. 9mm is favored unless it is given a points penalty or forbidden from a category.

  15. got tired of all the noises and fast talking in the video and moved on…..

  16. “45 guaranteed to stop in one hit” The 45 has low velocity and only a little higher energy. Also requires bigger guns and results in less capacity. Shot placement is the end-all. With more rounds you are more likely to hit something important.

      1. Real life doesn’t agree with you. It often takes multiple hits (of any caliber) to incapacitate the aggressor. So says the FBI and many other LEOs.

        1. Maybe you should ask your FBI friends exactly how many times you can shoot someone and claim self defense. In my state of Arkansas, definatley a pro gun state, you can use deadly force if you are protecting yourself, your loved ones, and/or your property from harm. But you squeeze that trigger more than 3 times and guess what, you will be the one facing a jury. A friend of mine got manslaughter and served 8 years in prison because he fired a shotgun twice. The reason the charges stuck…the first shot immobilized the intruder and the second shot was considered an act of violence. NO BULLSHIT!

    1. its all about the man behind the trigger my .45 is very accurate if I practice regularly I am too. and the new defense rounds are pushing close to 1659 f.p.s.

  17. What is a ‘380 special? Think you meant .38 special,and neglected to reference the .380 ACP at all.

    1. Author

      Thanks for pointing that out. You are correct and we have updated that reference.

  18. Military soldiers prefer the .45 ACP over the 9mm. When one shot usually stops a drugged up terrorist and multiple hits with a 9mm. Military not allowed to use JHP while the enemy does. The Geneva Convention needs to be updated, its old school.

    1. – It’s actually the Hague Convention that dealt with ammunition. And the US was not a signatory to that portion. And even if we were a signatory it would only be binding in conflicts with other signatories.

      – As a military veteran, I do NOT prefer the .45 ACP over the 9mm.

      1. As a military veteran, I definitely prefer .45 ACP for close combat. I’m a good enough shot that I know if I hit the enemy in the vitals; I will destroy my opponent with that one well placed round. For stopping power there is no comparison. I was in the USMC in the early to mid 80’s, just as they were phasing in the Baretta 9’s. For me at least…..I would rather have 7 rounds in old slab sides (my issued M1911) than double that in the Baretta. Guess everybody is wired differently, eh.

        1. As a retired Navy member, I qualified on both and yes, the “Gunies” training and scoring me told me I should try to be a sniper. Like anyone who serves or served, you make do with what you got. I have no preference myself, but for comfort out in the “real world”, I like my personal .45 is lighter and is a CZ75 clone both for simplicity, weight and easier to conceal than my own personal M9 (which I love to shoot, but hard to carry concealed unless it’s in shoulder rig).

          1. 45…. well….. you should check out the 357 Sig specs. Faster, more foot pounds of energy, smaller, lighter & car door & windshield tested & approved.
            What’s not to like?

    2. In your opinion.

      I have a .45 Expert Rating (USMC). I was happy when they gave me the M9 (Barretta 92). 15+1 and less recoil – more rounds in critical mass at a quicker rate.

      Just my opinion.

      1. I love mine, but now back in the effed up real world, it’s hard to carry concealed comfortably, unless in a shoulder rig.

    3. Not to mention 115g FMJs for the 9mm is a light bullet compared to the 230g .45ACP. Twice the weight of the projectile with close to double the energy. What’s going to hit more powefully?

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