9 Critical Concealed Carry Lessons: Ep. 9 Ammo Selection

Where do you draw the line when it comes to caliber selection?

The last thing we’re going to discuss in this series is what caliber? And what ammunition?

This is probably the most hotly debated topic amongst concealed carriers, and it is sure to draw the ire of at least half of our audience. No one wants to acknowledge that they made a poor choice — or worse, that their caliber isn’t “manly enough.”

To each his own, as they say. But I personally have a floor when it comes to caliber. I don’t go below 9mm. This is usually the part when some rocket scientist chimes in with “.22LR kills millions of people every day” or “Maybe you should stand in front of my .25 Auto and let me shoot you; see how good it feels, tough guy.”

Bullets do strange things; so does shrapnel. Just because there is at least one known case of a soldier being killed by a staple, as the result of weatherstripping hitting him in the head during an IED attack, doesn’t mean we should all switch to 15-grain bullets.

Historically, yes, the Mossad has killed a lot of people with .22LR. And yes, a .380 ACP is better than nothing. And, yes, all handgun bullets are underpowered compared to rifles. But what we are looking for is the bullet that has the highest chance of success, balanced with enough capacity to deal with our problem, and controllable enough to shoot well. In concealable-sized autoloaders, this usually comes down to a choice between 9mm, .40 S&W, or .45 ACP.

Check out all the episodes in this series:

First, let’s talk about 9mm. The FBI recently said that 9mm is as good as .45 ACP for disabling assailants, or some other lawyer-speak term for shutting down bad guys. Neat.

Asking the FBI what round kills the best is like asking a Nun what positions from the Kama Sutra she likes. How the hell would they know? Not to slight the Feds, but they investigate mostly white collar crime. In the modern era, they aren’t exactly getting in gunfights on the regular. A street cop, that is an opinion worth listening too. A Fed in a tweed coat? Not so much.

Let us also not forget, it wasn’t that long ago the FBI told us 9mm wasn’t nearly good enough, we needed full bore 10mm. And then we needed .40 S&W. Now they are back to 9mm, but it bears examination that agents are issued Glock 17s. When we are talking about full-size, double stack guns, I agree, 9mm is good enough. But I can also shoot really fast, so if it doesn’t start out good enough, I can get it to where it needs to go. Threat eliminated.

When it comes down to autoloaders, it’s really a choice between 9mm, .40 S&W and .45 ACP.

.40 S&W is my favorite round for pistols because it is a very happy compromise of speed and bullet size. It weighs a nice 180 grains, which is less likely to be deflected by bone or other stuff compared to 115-grain 9mm. Lots of them still fit in the magazine, at least in a double stack.

And finally, our old pal .45 ACP. Biggest of the common calibers, with a fat 230-grain projectile. Hollow points look like you are chucking ashtrays down the hallway. The mythical beast, used by both Wyatt Earp and your grandfather at Iwo Jima. (I know the Wyatt Earp part isn’t ACP. Let me have this one.) Guaranteed to stop a Rhino at three paces. I don’t have any full-size guns chambered in .45 ACP, but it is what I carry. What? How?

Simple math. Almost every concealed carry gun that is actually small is a single stack. So not carrying .45 ACP usually yields me one extra round if I switch to .40 S&W or 9mm. All other things being equal, I will go with the one that makes the biggest hole. The “+1” isn’t worth it to me. If I only get a very small amount of bullets, I pick .45 ACP every time.

There are a million arguments to this. It was recently stated “Get 3 five-gallon buckets. Put a 9mm-, .40 S&W-, and .45 ACP- size hole in each. They drain almost at the same speed.” Maybe, but if we are still betting with other people’s money, let’s start adding layers to those buckets. Dollars to donuts, the 9mm gets defected first. 40 vs .45, I don’t know. We have a strange velocity vs surface area fight on that one. But the .45 ACP hole is still bigger. Proper expansion might make all of that negligible, but the nice thing about .45 ACP — it doesn’t get any smaller.

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How about ammo selection? Every major ammo maker has good hollow points these days, and some companies make only carry ammo. Gold Dots are great, as is Critical Defense.

Two things you need to be sure of. One, go test them in your gun. Make sure they run. If it’s a new gun and new ammo, I would run at least 50 rounds to make sure they cycle correctly. The time to find that out is the range, not in a shootout with MS-13.

Number two, even if you have to make a special trip to an indoor range, make sure they have low flash powder in them. I have shot very expensive ninja-grade expanding death stars that look like a flamethrower is pushing them toward the target. Fun, but blinding! It is worth your time to fire a few off in the dark before you have to fire a few off in the dark.

Personally, I like Federal HSTs, mostly because they have a huge government contract with DHS. I might not need it, but it is good to consider for a civil suit. Carrying the same stuff as your local police department is about as good a defense as I can imagine.

About the author: Clay Martin is a former Marine and Green Beret, retiring out of 3rd Special Forces Group. He is a multi-decade and -service sniper, as well as 3-Gun competitor and Master ranked shooter in USPSA Production. In addition to writing about guns, he is the author of “Last Son of The War God,” a novel about shooting people that deserve it. You can also follow him on twitter, @offthe_res or his website, Off-The-Reservation.com

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  • Irish-7 January 15, 2018, 10:58 am

    I have always favored the larger calibers. I own multiple handguns in .357 Magnum, .45 Automatic and .45 Long Colt. I have one .380, a Walther PPK/S, but I rarely carry it. I rotate a Ruger P345 and Smith & Wesson 457 as daily carry. I periodically take a revolver in .45 LC or .357 MAG as back-up. I like the Federal 230 grain Jacketed Hollow Points. They chamber in all my .45 ACPs (Colt Gold Cup & Remington M1911s, S&W Governor and EDC guns previously mentioned). I bought 2 boxes of Hornady XTP .45 ACP+P in error. I don’t believe I have a weapon capable of firing the higher pressure rounds. I wrote to Colt, Remington, Ruger and Smith & Wesson. ONLY S&W replied! Their rep said “Do NOT shoot +P rounds in the M457 or Governor. I am wondering if any fellow weapons enthusiasts have fired +P rounds in similar guns.

  • Capt Bar November 15, 2017, 9:11 am

    A 1911 went BANG when my M16A1 went click (grit on the ammo, apparently). I KNOW beyond any doubt that .45 ACP is effective. I carry a Kel Tec P11 in my pocket as a backup if I should need 11 more rounds. I occasionally carry a .357 SP101 in cross draw holster for access or for bear loads in black bear country. I have Hornady Critical Defense loads in everything. I trust 9mm with the CD for antipersonnel work. I’ve never had a Hornady round refuse to feed or malfunction. I carry a Ruger old style Vaquero in brown bear country with bear loads but it is difficult to conceal. Yes, SSA revolvers do still work for defense.

    I’ve played “you bet your life” with .45 ACP and I survived the game. Why would I choose an unknown round?

  • Scot McClintock September 9, 2017, 1:00 pm

    I agree with a 9mm as a minimum. I don’t personally own a 9mm. If I carry my choice is my trusty .38 special snubby. For me it’s a good choice because I shoot mostly revolvers. I load double ended wad cutters with a stout plus p load.
    I do carry a 10 mm double eagle occasionally depending where I will be and how long I carry it.
    No matter what you decide to carry for a weapon, the most important things are ammo selection, shot placement and proficiency. If you are not proficient leave your gun at home

  • George September 8, 2017, 9:39 pm

    I didn’t read all 115 comments, but there appear to be about 115 best cartridges.

    Clay’s piece (“How the hell would [the FBI] know?”) ignores the FBI’s claim that the game changer is modern bullet design:

    “The new 9mm round —the 147-grain Speer Gold Dot G2 — is significantly more effective than what FBI agents carried into the field in 1986. According to Cook, the bullet has been rigorously tested and has received high marks in the FBI’s most important category for bullet selection: penetration.”

    Don’t know which to believe, so I’ll go with the FBI (I grew up listening to “The FBI in Peace and War” when J. Edgar was a national hero).

  • Mal Cap September 7, 2017, 4:48 pm

    I’ve been listening to this Yip-Yap since 1969. First it began with SuperVel, then the argument of semi-autos vs. revolvers and their caliber. This will go on forever. I’m a retired LEO who carried for 32 years, .38 Spl. Model 10 only the last five with 9mm semi-auto. Then of course off-duty with the Model 36 and later after retiring another Titanium Airline and now a Smith 9 Shield The only time I had to use my firearm was the Model 36 on duty in civilian clothes. Unless a person has been in the street hauling a heavy hawgleg or has been in an “active shooter” (love the new nomenclature for an armed scumbag), the rest of what you will do with what you carry is all fantasy. Another time on duty carrying the Model 10 I actually held fire holding fast with a group of uniformed officers who exchanged shots with three bad guys holding a hostage and hurling rounds at us using a .44 mag rifle and a shotgun using a sporting goods store owner as a shield. The police responded with about 24 shorts and caught the one bad guy in the stomach. One uniformed cop caught a pellet in the shoulder. The sieged lasted for three days and ended with one cop shot dead, one shot in the knee and ten or so hostages saved by a civilian who brought them up to the roof to safety and he was armed with a Chief Special. Everything changes in the fog of police response. Shoot Safe!

  • Eddie J September 7, 2017, 1:15 pm

    I’ve always preferred The Hornady XTP in 9MM. It might not expand as much as the Federal HST or have that opened up super scary look that everyone is looking for. But it will drive deep and hit Hard. Accurate and was one of the first to pass the So called FBI gel tests. And it’s Called XTP for a reason…. Xtreme Terminal Performance……

  • Jay September 7, 2017, 12:08 pm

    I am a .40 S&W fan. I carry either a Glock 23 or Glock 27. I have the G27 in a shoulder rig as I type this. The G27 doesn’t carry much more than a revolver but, the 13 rounds carried in the G23 is satisfactory for me. However, in the shorter barrels I opt for the 165gr JHP in the G23. I like Corbon’s 135 gr in the G27.
    I make no claims that my choice of pistol or rounds are the best of them all, they just happen to be the best choices for me, in my personal situation.

  • robert bennett September 7, 2017, 11:20 am

    You are wrong on one point. The FBI does know what they are talking about when it comes to bullet efficiency. They are responsible for compiling data from all reported shootings in CONUS and all territories. They put this data out every year. This data was partially used to determine the caliber of handgun they would choose. I have been the lead firearms instructor for my department for 30 years and used this data when we switched from Federal 147 ammo to 124 + P Gold Dot. The 147 grain ammo was purchased to run out HK MP5 SD’s and after 2 shootings it was determined that the Federal Ammunition failed to perform out of a Beretta 92G. I used the FBI’s data to support the costly change to the Gold Dot. I am surprised that it took them this long to use their own data.

    • Willie-O September 7, 2017, 1:49 pm

      Your primary assertion is correct – the FBI does collect shooting statistics. The old saying “figures don’t lie, but liars can figure” comes to mind……. that’s a conversation for another time. As for using their own data – their data is what initially led law enforcement agencies to move away from the 9mm in the first place – for those not familiar with the Dadeland Massacre you should read about it. Anyway, this incident led to the short-lived 10mm craze, with many (if not most) departments transitioning to and settling on the .40S&W. On a personal note, I have at least (1) handgun in every caliber except 10mm (it’s next). I typically carry a .45acp on and off-duty.

      • Don September 7, 2017, 10:41 pm

        Gotta use 9mm so the “small folk” can qualify. Make the statistics work the desired result.

      • Don September 7, 2017, 10:42 pm

        Gotta use 9mm so the \”small folk\” can qualify. Make the statistics work the desired result.

  • Colin September 7, 2017, 9:15 am

    I still prefer the options I have with 10mm, winter, summer, large beast, car doors, etc.

  • Craig Ramsey September 7, 2017, 12:22 am

    Total BS. Chances are about 18x greater your wife is going to shoot you vs a bad guy. So use your own judgment.
    The best gun is the one you have, so if your 10mm is at home its no good. If your .32acp is in your swimsuit pocket then A Men.

  • Kilkenny September 6, 2017, 11:34 pm

    Historic statistics show .357 magnum 125 grain HP has highest one shot stopping power…for what it’s worth as that caliber/carry piece was around for decades for law enforcement.

    I recall reading a person killed instantly from .22 shot thru the eyeball in a drive by, another instance where self inflicted .44 magnum head wound and person lived. I’ve seen hog in Texas shot in head with .45 LC and rise back up. Also seen small hog from hell foot long have lower body destroyed by 7.62×39 round, only to remain upright after getting filled with .45 acp and .357 slugs. Screeching like a devil and staring at us. We walked away and it sort of collapsed. I’m sure it would pop again if we approached, though obviously dead…at some point.

    I’ve read account in war of Louis L’Amour western writer/historian noted the numerous gun wounds gunfighters took and kept fighting, shot 11-14 times. Of course, modern ammo should be better. Though IL cop who shot perp 14 or so times with .45acp Gold Dots may beg to differ. Dude kept fighting.

    Clearly, a human or animal’s will to live is a factor. Or maybe a panic, programmed response from TV show blather: “I”m shot, I have to fall down and die now.”
    I’ve also read account of street detective in major city say 3 rounds in the chest of any caliber will get the job done from his experience of witnessed slayings.

    CNS shots best bet to stop a threat, that’s narrow hits from throat to eye level, gonna need firearm to control. .380 underpowered but I can do the duty — face shots 25 yards ARX polycase ammo… polymer/ceramic mix does some nice things in this load. Otherwise HP’s .380 can have lack of penetration seems.

    .45 ACP from a small gun — can’t think of anything more useless in my opinion, since I have hard time shooting. From full size pistol, now we’re talking. .40 cal I’ve no use for. .357 SIG either. Why bother when can have +p+ Winchester Ranger T in 9mm? Similar high pressure. Otherwise 147 grain Federal HSTs. 10mm with proper full powered Underwood ammo handles nicely, on the road car gun or home defense.

  • loupgarous September 6, 2017, 9:38 pm

    I agree whole-heartedly about .40 S&W being the best carry caliber. I can shoot two 50-round cartons of ammo through a carry piece at the range before my groups start to widen from fatigue, .45 ACP, not so much. And part of the drill for carrying concealed is regular range practice, just as it is for street cops. And while I can shoot .357, .38 and 9mm all day at the range, 40 S&W is more likely to end whatever discussion you’re having with a bad guy. Especially in hollowpoint.

  • BC Jensen September 6, 2017, 8:56 pm

    OK…I get it. I often hear the “bigger is better” argument. Ten years ago I would have agreed with you. However with the improvements in bullet design and powders we have seen a considerable change in bullet efficiency. As for the FBI – I’m good with their data. They don’t all sit behind desks and chase white collar criminals. They actually have some excellent ballistic experts there and some good firearms handlers. I’ve worked with several police agencies over the years, and the 9mm has not been found lacking. I sit very comfortable with my G19 or Shield 9 knowing I can use it effectively when needed (though I hope I never have to…).

    I just wholeheartedly disagree. But what do I know, 26 years in LE, 20+ as a firearms instructor, and even a little time as a gun writer.

    Carry what you shoot best, practice, know your laws/legal requirements, and be ready to account for what you do. It’s that simple. Be careful out there…

    • BC Jensen September 6, 2017, 8:59 pm

      One last thing….train to use your mouth and brain to get out of any situation possible before you ever have to use deadly force. Once you fire that round you can’t take it back. You’ll have to live with the consequences…

    • Billy Bad Ass September 6, 2017, 11:40 pm

      Well said. Also, carry pocket sand…sha shaw! (Dale Gribble/King of the Hill reference)

  • Ira S. Cohen September 6, 2017, 8:39 pm

    what about the round you didn’t mention? 357 sig, I know it’s a little more expensive than 40 cal. but it seems to be more accurate for me. (125gr) I bought a Glock 33 barrel for my G-27 & I get better results than with my 40 ca. ammo.

  • FirstStateMark September 6, 2017, 8:07 pm

    Good video Mr. Martin and well put.

  • John cline September 6, 2017, 8:07 pm

    I know it is not normally considered in this analysis of carry/ defensive weapons but my vote will always go with my carry gun… 38 super.

  • James T. Wilbert September 6, 2017, 7:54 pm

    Got a Browning High Power that I keep with either Winchester Silver Tips (115 gr) or Federal Nyclad (147 gr)
    Wish i could find more Nyclads, but i think they stopped production yrs ago.
    Expansion and Penetration are more than adequate.
    Have also been known to carry a Browning BDA with either Black Hills 90 gr HPs, or Remington HTSs. The 13 rnd capacity is nice to have, but if I had my “Druthers” I’d druther”have my 1911 with me.
    Carry what You’re good with, and remember- SHOT Placement is everything.

    • loupgarous September 6, 2017, 9:42 pm

      Nyclads, if I remember correctly, were legislated out of existence as “cop-killer rounds”. Because, of course, no self-respecting bad guy wears Kevlar to a mugging.

  • Smitty September 6, 2017, 7:00 pm

    Clay, if you never read the comments. I understand why.

  • James Lawrence Kelly September 6, 2017, 4:57 pm

    I have 9MM, 40 S&W, 10MM and .45ACP handguns, and a number of them in each caliber. Unlike the author of this article, the only caliber that I don’t regularly shoot is the 40 S&W. If you think 40 S&W is a great round, then man up and shoot !0MM instead of “short & wimpy”. As much as I love 10MM and .45 ACP, I always carry 9MM for the simple reason that 9MM’s traditionally give you a lot more shots/magazine, weigh less in general and with new personal defense rounds such as Underwood XTreme Defense rounds, truly are as fatal to the bad guys as any other caliber.

  • Grant Stevens September 6, 2017, 4:41 pm

    As proven in the trenches of World War I, on the battlefields of World War II, over the frozen Korean hills, in the tunnels of Vietnam and on the sands of the Middle East, they all fall to .45 ball. Its proven performance in the real world makes all other ballistic rationalizations for lesser handgun calibers moot. The Nazis loved their 9mms and feared the Yankee Fist. “Speak softly and carry a big stick.” The .45 with 230-grain ball speaks for itself. End of discussion.

  • Ian Kilov September 6, 2017, 3:55 pm

    Clay Martin has done a great, no BS series. The only thing I can never understand from professionals is that they don’t follow the 4 basic rules of gun safety. Every time you point a firearm muzzle at yourself or even cover your wrist with the muzzle you are sending a message to people who don’t know better that this OK. It’s not.

  • Lawrence Myers September 6, 2017, 3:32 pm

    Issued HK USP Compact .40SW for use on airlines. Still what I carry. 1000s of rounds downrange. Awesome firearm/round. Federal Premium 180gr HST.

  • John Woods September 6, 2017, 3:28 pm

    What about a simple .38 revolver?

  • Pete September 6, 2017, 2:33 pm

    Shot placement is everything in self defense. “Dirty Harry” was amusing, but the chance of getting off a quick second shot with a .44 magnum is about zero. Practice, practice, practice! Five rounds of .25 ACP in the face and neck is likely to be far more effective than one round of .45 ACP in the torso.

    • don comfort September 6, 2017, 6:05 pm

      I agree there is no magic bullet or caliber. If you buy the most modern whiz Bang magic bullet and miss ,how effective is it ? The second part of the equation as mentioned in the article is readability. I have ammo that works fine in some guns but has feeding problems in other same caliber pistols.

    • Roy September 6, 2017, 6:51 pm

      Lucky for Sacramento sheriff they carry 9mm his gun was taken and at 6feet he was shot in face with his on weapon first shot gun malfunctioned suspect cleared them shot 2nd round in face ..cop survived never went out and no back up weapon radioed in help as shooter runs away.. lucky they carry 9mm had it been .40 as CHP carries as I ccw also .45 he for sure wouldn’t be here today..but what if he was shooting a suspect..??

      • Eamonn September 7, 2017, 3:37 am

        Not to be a dink, but the author specifically addressed (well, I think) anecdotal scenarios like you mentioned. Many people have been killed with .22 short. That doesn’t make it the best round for carry. Because you have a single experience does not change anything.

  • Lui Pestana September 6, 2017, 2:13 pm

    I rather you miss me with a 45 then get hit with a 22. That said, my ideal choice would be 9mm because of the ammo capacity compared to a 45. But I also have a 25 that I carry which is much easier to conceal when I am wearing lighter clothing.

  • John H Baumgaertner September 6, 2017, 1:39 pm

    One extra round is no big deal when you’re comparing a 16rd capacity to 17rd. Seems like a bigger deal to me when you’re comparing 5rd to 6. That said, we don’t know which of the pros and cons are going to come into play in the one situation that matters (if it happens) so carry what feels right even if it’s because of something you saw in a movie or you like the color of the grips.

  • Rocket Scientist September 6, 2017, 1:12 pm

    Maybe you should stand in front of my .25 Auto and let me shoot you; see how good it feels, tough guy. Seriously though, thanks for the excellent article on caliber and ammo selection.

  • TOM the Marine September 6, 2017, 12:49 pm

    Like about everyone posting, I have a lifetime of gun use of over 60yrs. As a Marine in VN, a small arms instructor & shooter with 23yrs active duty, as a police officer, etc.

    I grew up with a 45 acp, getting my first one at 12yo. So, my first love is a .45. Of course, carried & used in VN & there was no comparison with any other pistol round then used.

    It is what I carried when I got my first CCW in 1969. (in commie Calif no less) Carried the same Colt Cdr until 1990s, when I got the Kimber Ultra Carry.

    So now I’ve laid the base line! I like .45s. I also know & like how they kill bad guys.

    As one guy said, he had 30 hand guns. Well I have 26 .45 acps. Plus many others from .22 – 500 S&W.

    In the last few years, with the advent of much better bullets in all calibers I started to carry various other calibers, depending on clothing.

    If just running to store I might put the S&W 380 in my shorts cargo pockets, or put the Ruger LCP 9mm in a belt holster. I could also carry a 38Air Weight, or a 325PD in 45 or various 45 autos.

    Well, a few weeks ago, was at the store with my wife & granddaughter & 3 scumbag illegals, looked like MS13s or similar, were obviously eyeing GD & making vulgar remarks in Spanish.(used to understand & speak it pretty good as a kid) so I knew what they were saying.

    I had to get in there face to make sure nothing happened. Well, I was carring the 9mm Ruger. You know what I was thinking – ah sh**, this just ain’t enough gun!!! Why aren’t I carrying my 45!

    So, carry what you want, but my experience is, .45s do the job & you will NEVER be undergunned. Yep, went to the Dr. today & had that .45 Shield in my belt. Matter of fact, it’s right here on the desk next to me.

    I would never try to argue anyone out of doing what they want. Natural selection is a great tool.

    • Tony September 6, 2017, 5:41 pm

      Outstanding comments, Tom. I was a rangemaster and couldn’t agree more. 45 is my favorite, then 40. I recently got a 10mm, which I really like, need more range time with it.

    • don comfort September 6, 2017, 6:13 pm

      Semper Fi !! I too was a Marine in VN,retired LEO, competition shooter yada,yada. I also have a shield in 45 with CT laser. You are right,it is a great little gun. You are also correct that the “Pucker factor” increases greatly when you find yourself in one of those situations ans are either unarmed or under gunned. Makes you want to carry a M-60 the next time

  • Tom Neuhoff September 6, 2017, 12:37 pm

    My wife grew up here in L.A. and hates guns. I was rabbit hunting in Chilton, Wisconsin when I was ten years old with a 20 gauge shotgun that was handed down from my grandfather. I had a Ruger .45 stolen from me 15 years ago in Echo Park, CA.. In late May, the LAPD sent me a letter saying they just found it on a 16 year old drug dealer in East L.A. Then I had to apply to the California DOJ to get my gun back. That was 3 months ago today and still nothing. California sucks.

    • Mario Ortega September 6, 2017, 3:51 pm

      Patience sir. Like you had mine stolen. Had to go down to Sheriffs Office (I believe) and sign for it. They even gave it to me with a trigger lock! It won’t come to you but you will get’r back.

    • Christopher Sourp September 6, 2017, 4:45 pm

      Yes, it sucks. That’s why I moved after 40 years growing up in Whittier. They just lost an LEO to a scumbag.
      I moved to freedom loving gun popular Arizona. Good luck.

    • CWO USN Gunner November 3, 2017, 5:52 am

      I had a High Power stolen from my auto in Camarillo, CA where I lived. 7 years later San Diego police tracked me down in DC/VA where I had moved. Had to go to the local PD and retrieve it. Was a little scuffed up, but nothing a new blue job couldn’t fix.

  • OldSchool44 September 6, 2017, 12:30 pm

    It’s all a matter of personal choice and what they are comfortable with carrying both concealability wise and shootability wise. Most people don’t start out with a .45 handgun or a 12 gauge shotgun or a 300 Win Mag. If they did they would all be recoil sensitive and have terrible marksmanship skills. I was always taught and teach start with a smaller caliber become proficient and move up to a bigger caliber and so on and so on if you can handle it. I Love and appreciate every caliber I’ve shoot just find the one(s) you like and shoot we’ll. As far as it goes with defensive ammo; majority of today’s defensive ammo is great for self defense. Most of use aren’t going to be shooting at a moving car and need glass or sheet metal penetration. Just make sure it functions 100% in your pistol, you can make accurate follow up shots, and remember every bullet fired has a liability factor. IMO… I love autoloaders and I love revolvers. For me they all have a specific purpose. Remember if you like to carry only a 9, 40, or 45. You can carry an autoloader for your main weapon and a revolver for a backup using those calibers and the same ammo for both.

  • TheBlackJesus September 6, 2017, 12:26 pm

    I am only posting here because I want to join all the toolbags on the internet who think that people actually GAF about there opinion. Hello everyone…

    • TOM the Marine September 6, 2017, 12:51 pm

      LOL good one. I probably just wast 10 minutes writing mine!

    • john P. Debest September 6, 2017, 1:05 pm

      Too funny mister ! I like reading them to see how insane people can be.
      Check out Breitbart comments, they are the most rabid. YouTube comments are just profanity and insults. Welcome to blah, blah, blah ….

    • Eamonn September 7, 2017, 3:48 am

      Hmm. I actually enjoy reading the commentary of informed people, whether or not I agree with them. It’s impossible to learn everything through personal experience, so what else can you do?

  • Bob B September 6, 2017, 11:56 am

    Shoot the largest caliber you can easily control, what’s so difficult about that concept? I don’t go below 9mm either, but I do hand-load defensive rounds with middle scale powder charges with a low flash powder (Titegroup). My staple bed guns are .38 Spl Smith 442 and 9mm Shield loaded with XTP bullets. Yes, there is a loaded AR and 870 in the gun safe in my bedroom, just in case.

    • don comfort September 6, 2017, 6:17 pm

      Bob B. you may want to rethink hand loading defensive rounds. Depending what part of the Country you hail from.you could get
      crucified in Court,Civil and or Criminal.

  • Tommy Barrios September 6, 2017, 11:47 am

    YA’LL can have all those fancy pistols!
    I’ll just keep carrying my S&W Model 15 with 158 Gr Hornady meat mashers!
    If I can’t get’em with six, I need to be carried by six!
    Elmer Keith is my handgun hero BTW! Listen to what he said about handgun shooting!

  • BR549 September 6, 2017, 11:22 am

    I recall taking a refresher course years ago on a computer simulator. The technology was really quite interesting, though certainly not new. A squeeze of the trigger activated a pneumatic response from the slide, while an invisible laser’s hit was recorded on the screen of an interactive video. Depending on how far you allowed yourself to get drawn into a “situation”, the outcome could go any number of ways. The potential perp could be heard in the audio, conceivably speaking to the person in the training session, and that person could also practice getting out of their “deer-in-the-headlights” response by verbally engaging with the perp.

    Well, when it came time for the perp to be stopped, I watched other participants blow through half a dozen rounds into the parking lot, a bridge abutment, the LR quarter panel of a Honda Odyssey, and who knows what else. Out of all of the shooters, it was rare to find anyone who managed to hit center mass. Replacing one stress for another, a real life situation for performance anxiety, I assumed that too many of these people were too busy assessing how much like Bruce Willis they looked like in front of strangers. Either way, they then fumbled with their dialogue as well as figured that just pulling the trigger until the “clip” emptied would somehow create enough barrel ejecta to drop the bad guy.

    With that, and I had seen the same thing on the range doing urban simulation drills, all the testosterone building .40 and .45 cannon material isn’t going to get anyone SQUAT unless they can land at least one round where it counts.

    “Oft-apprehended Jerrol Harris, 27, was busted around 1:10 a.m. when a single bullet — out of 84 fired at him — pierced his calf to end a blocks-long police pursuit through Bushwick, cops said.”

    “it appears that all nine of the victims were struck either by fragments or by bullets fired by police,” Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly told reporters ….”

    I’m not trashing LEOs here, since this appears to be happening across the country, but since they are claiming to be “professionals”, what can we expect from the average person on the street? I’d say that anyone who frequents a range would fair considerably better; better than, say, someone who merely owns a gun but who can’t seem to to prioritize range time in their busy lifestyle.

    My point here is that I think you make a rash assumption in believing that size is the final arbiter. A bullet only counts when you hit what you aimed at, made even more difficult when having to do so under stress. That same size and weight issue that you need to support your hypothesis is further complicated when the user’s body weight, age, degree of mobility, and type of clothing are added to the picture.

    Oh, and how did I do that day in the refresher course? Verbally engaged the guy throughout the exercise, waited long enough to see that he indeed had a gun under his shirtfront, ……. vertical sweep, one pop, left eye-socket. And yes, I was going for a head shot. I was using a Glock at the time, but he would have gone down just as easily with a 22LR.

  • Billy September 6, 2017, 11:02 am

    Good article. I do agree 9mm is the minimum. I’m not a fan of the 9 ever since the Miami shootout in ’86. But since then many companies have made very reliable 9mm that does a good job of one shot stops. My daily carry is either a .40 or .45. Lucky Gunner website has some testing they did with the big 5 (9, 38, 357, 40 and 45) on ballistic gel with fabric. Very interesting. I believe ammo type is more important now days as is caliber. Good ammo, regardless of caliber, works.

    • Jimmy Joe Meeker September 6, 2017, 12:44 pm

      If your takeaway from Miami ’86 is that the 9mm is undersized, congratulations! Propaganda worked perfectly on you. After over 120 rounds were let loose one bad guy was hit 12 times (that’s counting five times from each round of buckshot) the other six. Naturally, most hits were of the glancing blow variety. Of course, the FBI can’t be at fault, so the ammo was to blame. This led the FBI (at great expense, naturally) to develop the 10mm round, which they had to quickly abandon since nearly none of the agents could qualify with it. At the range. While not being shot at.

  • Bill September 6, 2017, 10:57 am

    As a former career LEO I have carried and shot 38+P’s, 9MM in 115 grain and 147 grain, and 45ACP in 230 grain. I always stressed bullet placement with whatever round we carried. The best information I ever obtained regarding incapacitating bullets was a video from the military surgeons office. The larger the round, the larger the permanent wound channel, the faster the bullet, the larger the temporary wound channel. Taking into consideration that the bullets were of the same type FMJ, or hollow point. High velocity small rounds created the temporary cavity by pushing tissue away from the path of the bullet, this tissue would then return to it’s original placement due to the body being mostly fluid. Larger rounds damaged that tissue in it’s path. I never found that the smaller caliber rounds were fired more accurately, no matter the firearm I carried, just the opposite was true for the distances one would find themselves in a defensive conflict. One aspect of the presentation that is important, and lightly discussed, is that of muzzle flash. Take your firearm to a safe location and fire at night. See how long it takes you to regain your sight picture after you fire your first round. Make your own decision as to what round offers the least recoil, muzzle flash, and works the best for you. I am currently breaking in a Sig Sauer compact 1911 in 45 ACP for my personal carry weapon.

  • Gem Gram September 6, 2017, 10:56 am

    Talking to someone who participated in the FBI testing, I found out that the bullet with the best results was the Barnes solids. I have carried Glaser “Safety Slugs” and “MagSafes” for years based on actual testing by me on actual living objects AND on the names if it ever came to jury. Based on that discussion with the person participating in the “Testing” I decided to re-evaluate solids for some uses. Doing so I discovered Underwood and some fantastic ammo for both penetration and size of wound channel. Really quality ammo, with very low flash, and devastating impact even after going through some hard stuff and impacting ballistic gelatin. Still, I have great faith in that old Mag-safe stuff for its impact on fluid filled objects such as living animals. I have not found anything with as much lethal killing impact as the hotter stuff from the old Mag Safe. This includes on hogs and deer. A 250 lb hog really is a good indicator of the effect of a bullet and round on a 250 lb man. So until I get to shoot a live animal I am still using the MagSafe, but alternating with an Underwood +P+ “Penetrator” every other one. Why not when I train students to always double tap. Owning approximately 30 handguns I have my choice of what to carry but what do I really carry; since I carry EVERY day? Most often it is a .380 polymer pocket pistol weighing 10 oz. or less when in shorts or light weight slacks. In cooler weather I wear a Kahr P9 (it was the closest thing to a miniature Glock in 9 MM when I bought it), when jacket weather comes around OR when I am going to a known higher risk situation I carry a Glock 17 or a Glock 22. Why? Because after firing at least two or three HUNDRED thousand rounds through all sorts of combat pistols the Glocks simply work better. Why? Because they are more controllable under stress, movement, getting shots on body, and they work EVERY TIME, without fail. My custom Gold Cup is much more accurate true, but if I need to trust something with my life I will always pick the thing that ALWAYS works. AND by the way that little .380 is ALWAYS with me, and is far more lethal in my pocket and hand than the in the safe custom Gold Cup, the Sig, either of the other 20 pistols I have bought on whims and good deals before, or even that old Colt single action that was bought in a South Texas general store and kept alive a young Mexican when he rode off to follow Villa into the Mexican Revolution between 1910 and 1911. 🙂 By the way the ONLY one of those handguns I own that has ever really killed any humans is that old Colt that rode off across the border to join Pancho Villa. But the man killing revolver stays at home and the pocket pistol is always with me.

    • Oaf September 6, 2017, 1:36 pm

      Good luck explaining to a jury why you have a “fruit salad” of penetrating ammo in your handgun if, God forbid, you ever need to use it in a situation and others are killed or injured by your “penetrating” ammo. Hell, even the bad guys lawyers/prosecutor will have a field day with your use of several different kinds of “penetrating” ammo. Stick with what your local cops use, it’ll save you lots of grief if you ever need to use your handgun.

    • frandanco September 6, 2017, 3:13 pm

      Gem Gram —
      Thanks for your comments –
      Not wanting to get too off topic here but that last paragraph meant much to me..
      My Grandpa on my Mother’s side actually rode with Pancho Villa as a 17-18 year old teenager, and being very well educated, was used by Pancho Villa to read all the Wanted Posters to him.
      Later, My Grandpa developed a pay system for all the Soldiers, since there was none in place at the time..
      My Grandpa spoke of running across the tops of houses, bullets flying everywhere and so much more.
      Later, when he knew the end was near for this Revolution, he went to El Paso, where he began his lifelong ministry in the spanish speaking Methodist Church, throughout, Texas, Arizona, and California..
      Your words, sound exactly like him, thanks for the memory reminder..
      In that famous picture of Pancho Villa and his officers standing close behind him, my Grandpa is to his right and is the youngest in that picture..

  • watchcmdr September 6, 2017, 10:40 am

    The US Border Patrol duty carry ammo is 40 cal 155 grain.

  • Tom September 6, 2017, 10:38 am

    I tend to like lower pressure rounds as they are a little easier on unprotected ears and follow-up shots tend to be quicker.
    As to not going by what the FBI recommends, they do have one of the most rigorous testing protocols and they have a Hostage Rescue Team (HRT). You even allude to the FBI protocol when you mentioned: “…let’s start adding layers to those buckets.”
    As far as DHS, Coast Guard uses .40 S&W, Air Marshals and Secret Service use .357 Sig.
    Because multiple hits are required with any handgun round, I tend to like lower pressure rounds as they are a little easier on unprotected ears and follow-up shots tend to be quicker.

  • Dr. Jeffry Smith September 6, 2017, 10:26 am

    To paraphrase Bruce Lee: Buckets don’t shoot back. I too would like to see some real world research: what caliber has stopped an attacker literally dead in their tracks the most consistently? You may only get one round off, under the most stress you have ever experienced. Good luck with “perfect placement.” Add this factor: you are facing a 300 lb. psychopath who is high on PCP, and I’ll bet you will wish you had the biggest caliber, with the most muzzle energy… In most handgun self-defense incidents (watch the videos that are out there) the perp doesn’t react to being shot at all: they turn and run. Mr. PCP Psycho above won’t do that. As long as he can move his trigger finger, he is a threat to your life. My home defense choice is a 12 ga. shotgun with 8 rounds. My carry guns: primary: .357 mag. SW M627 with 8 rounds and 16 more in moon clips; sometimes HK Expert .45ACP with 12+1, and 24 more in extra mags. Hornady Critical Defense in both. I carry both guns on me at all times in Crossbreed holsters. At the range, I practice a lot of head shots and my goal is instant incapacitation of the central nervous system.

    • Fred Ziffle September 6, 2017, 11:38 am

      I’m very much in agreement with your opinion here, both in caliber variety and target of choice. My cop brother-in-law used to scold me about the regret I’d have after cleaning up the mess from ending the home invasion with a 12 ga. I told him back then and I still say it today, I’d rather clean up the mess than BE the mess! My wife and I have a variety of firearms in every room in the house; concealed but easily and quickly reached. We routinely rehearse and practice reaction drills, as well as ingress and egress routes from different rooms under varying scenarios. We aren’t fanatical about this, but we do have a rehearsed plan that allows for contingencies. Overall, we simply don’t want to be caught off-guard or unprepared.

      • Dr. Jeffry Smith September 6, 2017, 1:06 pm

        Thanks, Fred!
        You make a great point: notice in the stories of home invasion that turn out well for the homeowners – they all have one thing in common – door is kicked in, homeowner shoots invaders as they come into the room! I don’t think the homeowners had time to wander upstairs, punch in their code, retrieve firearm, load said firearm, and repel boarders. Their gun must have been either directly on their persons, or really close to hand. When seconds count, don’t let your gun be minutes away! =)

    • Goose September 6, 2017, 1:10 pm

      O.K. Doc you are an educated person, I have many guns I really like guns but for home security I will not use them unless it becomes an all out war then everyone dies but maybe one, including the kid’s sleeping in there beds and maybe one of your neighbors or there child. no sir there is only one instrument of defense it is quite and personal that is a machete keep it between your mattress, it slides out very quite plus you will never put six rounds threw the bathroom door and say you thought it was an intruder not my wife sitting on the throne which has hapend, I’m sorry that was Australia?

      • Ed September 6, 2017, 4:07 pm

        It was South Africa and Pistoris was convicted of vol mslghter on evidence of his chronic, violent temper tantrums against his lovely girl friend.

  • David Grimes September 6, 2017, 10:12 am

    The gun on my hip whenever I leave the house is a Colt Defender in .45 acp, 7 Hornaday Zombie Rounds (just in case) in the magazine and one in the chamber, hammer down. I know, I know, it is a perfectly safe pistol to carry cocked and locked but hammer down makes me a bit more comfortable and in my Galco tuckable inside the belt holster I think it would be slightly less likely to snag with the hammer down although I have never had a snag in about a zillion draws at the range.

    I agree that I want the sheer hitting power of my .45 and I’ll surrender the extra round.

    • High Noon September 6, 2017, 11:53 am

      David Grimes: If you don’t carry a 1911 in Condition 1, and you’re not comfortable doing so, you shouldn’t be carrying a 1911. This is known as Condition 2 and it is not safe for 1911s. You will eventually have a Negligent Discharge, which may result in serious injury or death to you or someone else. Do yourself and everyone else around you a favor and carry your 1911 in Condition 1. If you absolutely must carry a 1911 and cannot bring yourself to carry in Condition 1, then carry in Condition 3, also known as the “Israeli Carry” (chamber empty, full magazine in place, hammer down). At least with Condition 3, you eliminate the possibility of an ND.

      • James T. Wilbert September 6, 2017, 7:21 pm

        That which You posted about what “Condition” the .45 is carried in is only true if it’s a Series 70 Colt 1911. Were it a Series 80 it is perfectly safe to carry in “Condition” 2.
        I own both 70 and 80 series 1911’s. The 70 is carried, as You stated, in “condition” 3, but my Para series 80 is carried in “condition” 2

  • Larry E. Carey September 6, 2017, 10:01 am

    Unless you are a shooting savant, proficiency comes mostly from practice. For years, I carried the Beretta 92FS or Glock 26 as my carry pistol. If it costs too much to put in the range time, shooters won’t practice as much as they should. But in recent years, I’ve found that aluminum-cased ammo works in my guns, and is usually cheaper by far than brass. (Don’t reload any more.) As for accuracy, I shoot a better group with my Para double-stack .45, than I do the Glock. The heavy frame and long barrel is very stable, and the recoil isn’t much more than a 9mm. 50 rounds at W-Mart is about $15, and 14 rounds when you carry is a lot of power. It removes the need to change magazines, and keeps you focused on the threat…

  • r September 6, 2017, 9:44 am

    I have a P64 I would love to carry, but living in LA County, Ca, I couldn’t get a CCW with my daughters’ smiles. It is impossable to get a carry permit here if you are not a LEO or work for an amoured car company. The P64 is all steel, seemed to be unissued and is very accurate.
    I have not tried any HP ammo in it yet, but I would be very interested in what works well.

    • Jonarhan Olenick September 6, 2017, 10:28 am


    • T September 6, 2017, 1:49 pm

      r get rid off the p64. They’re better combloc handguns out there. The p64 has a short barrel and low capacity as well. Get the p83 (this replaced the p64) this is a great gun to shoot and handle. More capacity plus better accuracy.

      • Red September 6, 2017, 6:43 pm

        CZ75B Comes in both 9mm or 40, 16rd capacity, full metal. Used by a lot of competition shooters.
        I carry the 9mm version.

  • Tenbones September 6, 2017, 9:38 am

    I live in one of the prairie states and we don’t have a lot of crime so I weight the odds of my chances of using my CCW with the comfort of carrying it all day. As a result, I primarily carry a NAA in 22 mag in a pocket carry. It’s comfortable to carry and the 22 mag is potent enough for that slim chance I might need to use it. However, I agree with Clay’s assessment, carry what you are most comfortable with, and if I was given only one caliber choice to carry, it would be the .45 “Man Killer” ACP.

    • Jonarhan Olenick September 6, 2017, 10:30 am

      I have only had to shoot a human once (military) and the.45 ACP from at 1911a did the job very well. Jon.

      • Gem Gram September 12, 2017, 11:36 pm

        Shot someone with a military .45? You are truly a rare bird. Other than a few “tunnel rats” and an old Sargent from Song Be in ’65 I have never heard of anyone actually shooting an enemy with a .45. Though I have known one old cop nicknamed “Snuffy” who could not really shoot all that well, who shot several bad guys with a S&W double action .45. He apparently simply did not freeze up in confrontations, he calmly shot the bad guy. 🙂 And from hearsay, I guess shot the bad guys when sometimes those who qualified with higher scores were missing, or trying to hide behind something. Snuffy retired from the Minneapolis Police Department several years ago. He was a real fun guy and a real good cop. From personal observation, less than 10 % of people react calmly and shoot straight under stress (or shoot and anything with purpose). Or react calmly at all if attacked in anyway. Most humans are really the prey and seek flight, no matter how macho and dangerous they make themselves out to be. ONLY practice mitigates this for them. But there are those small number who simply react calmly and like Snuffy, may not need that much practice. Don’t bet your life on which you are, practice. Unless you have been there you just don’t know. AND very few reading this have been. 🙂 So practice until you at least shoot in the right direction.

  • Stormrider September 6, 2017, 9:33 am

    A cogent, straightforward assessment. The conflict space for citizens is changing and the possibility of multiple targets in an engagement is greatly increased. As a long time 1911 fan, I have switched to a double stack 9mm for that reason. I miss my.45 but I do not want to have to carry multiple magazones and possibly have to do multiple reloads in an incident. Situation amd terrain still provide the necessary parameters of engagement patterns. No argument the .45 ACP is superior in temi al ballistics, but for most of us mere mortals, weight and multiple rounds are significant variables that nees to be considered. Hats off to Clay for a great argument. Put two of us in a room and we will come out with at least three opinions😎

    See to your weapons and stand to your horses,

    • ValFitzAndrew September 6, 2017, 11:48 am

      I carry a Glock 19 (15+1) and two spare mags. Can never have to much ammo, only to little.

  • Ryan September 6, 2017, 9:12 am

    Hey Clay. What kind of watch are you wearing? Thank you.

    • Steve G September 6, 2017, 10:23 am

      I think he wears Isobrite. He has a video out there about them from SHOT.

    • Zupglick September 6, 2017, 1:00 pm

      Who gives a F__K!

  • Alex September 6, 2017, 9:05 am

    I would like to see some actual research here instead of opinion and experience. Not that either of those count for nothing. I carry a 9 much more often than a 45. I only load 147 gr bullets. No matter how well you can shoot a 45, you can always shoot a 9 faster and with more accuracy–and have extra rounds to back it up, which isn’t a moot point.

    • Zupglick September 6, 2017, 12:46 pm

      The government has been doing research for decades. Each time they come up with different results. Mostly because they use different parameters in the research. You can usually find the results online if you really want. There is a lot of private research results online too.

  • Norman September 6, 2017, 8:36 am

    Amen to placement.

  • Reginald September 6, 2017, 8:34 am

    I have summer guns and winter guns. I carry a Kel Tec 380 in my pocket in the summer. It doesn’t print or pull my shorts off. In the winter I carry a CD 75D or a 1911 in 45 or 10mm. I live in an open carry state but never carry open as I feel that is an invitation for trouble.

    • Cary Kieffer September 6, 2017, 9:38 am

      Same here, open carry state but I never do. It’s entirely based on what I’m wearing. At the beach it’s a NAA 22mag, dead of winter a Glock 10mm. For weather in between its a G42, G43 or XD-9 Subcompact. All depends on clothes….for everything but the 22 mag I roll my own ammo. The 22 mag I use 45 grain Critical Defense. I shoot all these guns 3 to 4 times a month. Practice, placement, situational awareness and mindset are all important factors, I feel more so than what it is your carrying. Just carry something you’ve practiced with and try your best if the bad time comes.

  • Paul D. Higgins R.N. September 6, 2017, 8:30 am

    .357SIG is my choice not mentioned. Though not as common definitely not an “orphan”.

  • William P Dorsey September 6, 2017, 8:27 am

    I agree with clay on the fact that .45acp is better and you should use the best quality ammo that you can shoot accurately and know your pistol will function with it. I have friends that buy white box plinking ammo to carry and I ask them is that your carry ammo ? And they say yea it’s cheap. And I say if that’s all your life is worth to you than why carry a gun at all? On a side note though there are a lot more choices for ccw pistols available in 9mm. I carry an ultra carry stainless or a Walther ccp. They both get loaded with gold dots. Airborne Rangers oorah!

  • Mike September 6, 2017, 8:13 am

    Speaking ammo only i fully agree with author. Nor really debatable. The issue is balancing size and weight of gun with carry options (attire), body shape of carrier, recoil sensitivity, and proficiency. I hope if the day ever comes i’m carrying my 229 sig in .40. Just have trouble concealing it in shorts and a t shirt.

  • DOUG September 6, 2017, 7:59 am

    I carry both large and small. A Walther PPL in the summer in .380, and a .45 cal Ruger 1911 in the winter months. I agree bigger is better, but I’m good with putting small bullets in tight groups. Nothing but hollow points in both. Two small hollow points in center mass won’t equal one .45 slug , but better than throwing rocks.

  • Jay September 6, 2017, 7:58 am

    I’ve settled the 9mm and or 45axp debate foe me personally. I’ll carry either or, depending on dress and proper concealment. I’ve hunted and harvested deer with the 9mm and 45acp both bullets did expand and do what they were suppose to do. The 9mm went through a rib and both lungs, exit hole I could stick a finger in. The 45 did the same but never exited the other side, was actually between the hide and ribs, with about an inch of expansion. Both were shot at almost the same distance of 42 and 46 yards. Neither ran more than 60 yards after impact. The 9mm was the Winchester 147gr JHP, the 45acp was the Remington 230gr JHP,. I’m with Clay on the bottom line though, nothing under 9mm for me either! The FBI said the main reason for going back to it (9mm) was supply of ammo, cost, firearms availability and the simple fact that more people could shoot the 9mm better.

  • SantaWalt September 6, 2017, 7:57 am

    First let me say that I’m strictly an amateur. I don’t get into all the statistics of ammo, either handgun or long gun. I do read a lot or articles such as this one and the bulk of what is said makes sense to me.
    When I first got my handgun permit I began to search out information about difference kinds of defense ammo. One that seemed to be fairly popular at the time was the Glaser Pow’RBall. I use it in my Glock 23 (40 cal) and have had what I call good success. I have never shot at a person or been involved in testing ammo.
    My question is what happened to that ammo? Several places still carry it–in fact I just ordered 100 rounds from Cabella’s. If it was as good as they said several years ago, why it still not as good? It is never mentioned anymore and I wonder why. Has research passed it by and its no longer as good as it was as compared to newer ammo, or is it that everyone wants to jump on the bandwagon or some new ammo and the manufacturer claims to better.
    What’s the scoop on the Glaser Pow’RBall?

    • Tim September 6, 2017, 10:31 am

      My experience with Pow’RBall is that it’s a good round if you have a gun that doesn’t like to feed hollow-point ammo, it’s essentially a hollow point with the a ball in the end to give it a profile of a full metal jacket (FMJ). I’ve had some mouse guns from Kel-Tec and Ruger that just hated to eat hollow-point but would chow-down on FMJ all day long. There have always been better defense rounds, but rounds like the Pow’RBall can help with a gun with feeding problems (eating disorder).

    • IraC18 September 6, 2017, 9:17 pm

      the reason I Still believe is COST, the 9mm ammo is less money than the 40cal. period! Nothing to do with ballistics or pistol model…

  • Ktcarpentry September 6, 2017, 7:36 am

    I’m sure there are many experts on the internet who can refute this with statistics and ballistic evidence, but I have been told in the past that the .380 in your pocket every day is more accurate, with greater stopping power than the .45 ACP you saw online but haven’t ordered yet. I have two .380s, both loaded with Federal hst, 99 gr jhp. I practice regularly with Winchester white box wad cutters, and I bring it to combat pistol and CCW classes several times per year. The last time I was at the FBI training center in Chicago, he said they reload 9mm, but if I carry a .380 every day, next time I should bring my own box of .380 and shoot with that. Better to carry a piece you are comfortable and proficient with than a hand cannon you aren’t. This from the FBI, SWAT Chicago team leader.

    • Alan September 6, 2017, 9:04 am

      I have .380’s and load and shoot all calibers these across the board except the .357 Sig. (I’m a .400 Cor Bon fan)
      Now, the .380 is I fact a good round, but whoever told you it is more accurate is a damn fool.
      And although “stopping power” is NOT a ballistic term, the idea it has more than the .45 ACP flies in the face of the one absolute in all of humanity and the universe, mathematics. Another damn fool, to say the least.
      Math doesn’t lie, but people do, and opinions are bogus when Math says different.
      If you’re good with the .380, stick with it.
      There are NO “manly” calibers, but there are manly men with idiot opinions.

      • Tim September 6, 2017, 10:16 am

        I think what Ktcarpentry was saying is a variation of “A .380 in you pocket is better than a .45 in the glove box.” (assuming you’re not in the car)

      • Mark R September 6, 2017, 11:01 am

        I’m pretty sure you misunderstood what Ktcarpentry was saying. He didn’t say that the 380 has more stopping power than the 45. He said that the 380 has “greater stopping power than the 45 ACP you saw online BUT HAVEN’T ORDERED YET. In other words, the 380 you carry has greater stopping power than the 45 you have back at home in your gun safe. And as far as accuracy is concerned, the 380 can be fired more accurately thanks to lower recoil and faster recovery time to place multiple shots, at least for your average untrained shooter in an adrenalin fueled life or death shoot out. I agree with everything else you said, especially the last sentence.

    • Ktcarpentry September 6, 2017, 6:12 pm

      Sorry if I was unclear. Recently I’ve been shopping online for full-size 1911s. 5″ government model? 4.25″ commander? But I’ve got the new Browning 1911 in .380 ordered. Probably pick it up next week. Point is, I have several Beretta 92s, several other full-size 9mm duty pistols. All fine pieces, but I don’t like carrying them. I have this Beretta Cheetah in .380 that goes with me EVERYWHERE. So, I have a full-size 9mm with 16 rounds of +p, jacketed hollow points, sitting in the safe at home because it prints, and it’s heavy, and it scrapes my fat ribs. But this little .380 is with me every day. And it isn’t that tiny. In fact, it’s YUGE for a .380. almost a 4″ barrel, aluminum frame with steel slide and barrel. But it’s still half the size of my 92. So…more accurate with better ballistics than most pocket guns, but still half the size of a duty pistol. So, the mouse gun you have in your pocket? Or the full-size hand cannon locked in the safe? (Or online cuz you haven’t even bought it yet?)

    • Jay September 7, 2017, 5:09 am

      Ktcarpentry, although I Do Not recommend this, the .380 is just a short 9mm, it will fire in a 9mm but usually will not cycle a semi auto but hand cycling it will fire!

  • J September 6, 2017, 7:31 am

    Take this comment for what you will and apply it to (insert scenario of your choosing) but, please don’t rely on Gold Dot ammo for protection. As a LEO I was in contact with another agency who was in an armed confrontation with a suspect inside his vehicle. Their departmental ammo at that time was Gold Dot. Several rounds were fired at the windshield and wouldn’t even penetrate but, skipped off.
    As a result I shot LOTS of different ammo at LOTS of different types of glass. While I can concur that windshield glass is tough, I will still stress to factor in glass if you carry Gold Dot (as in traveling in your car). I do agree with the Federal HST. My department carries it, I carry it personally and feed, function, flash, and accuracy have always been excellent. Just some food for thought.

    • Phil September 6, 2017, 10:14 am

      Making a blanket statement like “please don’t trust Gold Dots to protect yourself” is disengenuous. The answer to the problem you present is not as simple as “switch to Federal HST.” The truth is that ALL hollow points have trouble with auto glass. Windshields are made of safety glass and additionally have an angle to them that bullets have to overcome to penetrate. Physics make them want to skip off. I’ve seen a Federal .223 round fired straight at a windshield and fragment before hitting the target on the other side. Safety glass is tough. Carry ammo like Gold Dots, HST etc are designed to stop people, let’s leave it at that. Also, consider that a percentage of the audience here is not pro-police and may use your insights against you.

      • Stephen September 6, 2017, 11:05 am

        Why would a civilian need to shoot through a windshield, isn’t that what a gas pedal is used for, 1 ton vs 124gr.

  • Chris Baker September 6, 2017, 6:52 am

    I agree with Greg. My 357 stays at home loaded with 125 gr JHP ammo. My 44 stays at home loaded with 240 gr JHP ammo. My Beretta 32 ACP is what goes with me and is loaded with 60 gr JPH Gold Dots. I’m handicapped and carrying a larger weapon is debilitating. Shooting the larger weapons has reached the point of difficulty that I’m considering getting rid of the 44 even for recreational shooting, it’s just becoming to painful. I am considering carrying my Ruger MK II instead of the Beretta or perhaps in addition to, with the B as a backup purely because I can shoot it more comfortably and place my shots better. I like CCI Stingers for that job. They work so freaking well on coyotes that they just have to impress a bad guy with good shot placement. I know coyotes are much smaller than the typical bad guy but hey! shot one that took about 10 feet to fall over and die coughing up blood. If I shoot the bad guy with that, at the very least he’ll be drawn towards me instead of others and that gives others a chance to get away or do their own shooting at the bad guy(s).
    You should have seen one coyote I shot. He took off just as I pulled the trigger and I think I took off the tip of his tail. It was a lot like you see in the cartoons. He was running and then he was off like a video run at fast forward. Man was he fast.

  • Mike September 6, 2017, 6:37 am

    What about the 10mm it’s my carry gun 🙂

  • Greg September 6, 2017, 6:23 am

    The problem with the more powerful calibers is 2 fold. The size and weight of the guns often has them sitting back home on the nightstand rather than on your person when needed. Like \”survival knives\” 😊 The uncomfortable recoil of the very small ones, discourage practice.
    The other problem is shot placement. There are NO stopping calibers; only stopping shots. And those can be done just as well with a lighter caliber that is more likely to be comfortable to a person to shoot enough to shoot it well. A properly placed 22 will do far more than a poorly placed 44 mag. I saw it over and over in Vietnam.

    • Wayne R Cook September 6, 2017, 6:27 am

      I agree. Our own SEAL teams have and still use silenced Ruger 22’s for close range work. Not a very helpful article. IDF snipers have been using Ruger 10/22’s for years. Moving on.

    • Benny Teague September 6, 2017, 7:31 am

      I totally agree with your assessment. Being able to shoot accurately with a pistol that fits YOU are the two keys to protecting yourself. I have a Beretta .25acp I’ve have had for more than 20 years. At ten yards (give or take), I can place all rounds in a Coke can. I carry it often depending on what I’m wearing for that day. Most often, I carry my Ruger LC9S Pro in a belted holster that is as close to the body as you can get. I have a good Alien Gear IWB but haven’t used it since I gained a few pounds. All in all, I prefer the Critical Defense in the 9mm but I can never find good ammo in a .25acp.

    • Scott Price September 6, 2017, 9:15 am

      You are absolutely correct sir. I have done extensive penetration tests on book, refirigerators, wood, almost everything other than ballistics gel. I always find the same thing to be true. It’s also obvious as a hunter. Shot placement is what determines whether you survive an attack. You have to be comfortable enough with your firearm to hit the vital areas of the target. This goober also never mentioned the danger of over-penetration. What if you shoot through you assailant and hit someone on the other side? Then it’s not just a civil suit, it’s most likely manslaughter or murder. Thank you for your service sir. I appreciate you.

    • Jonarhan Olenick September 6, 2017, 10:38 am

      In California .22 LR is NOT AUTHORIZED for your carry permit. Jon.

  • Greg September 6, 2017, 6:22 am

    The problem with the more powerful calibers is 2 fold. The size and weight of the guns often has them sitting back home on the nightstand rather than on your person when needed. Like “survival knives” 😊 The uncomfortable recoil of the very small ones, discourage practice.
    The other problem is shot placement. There are NO stopping calibers; only stopping shots. And those can be done just as well with a lighter caliber that is more likely to be comfortable to a person to shoot enough to shoot it well. A properly placed 22 will do far more than a poorly placed 44 mag. I saw it over and over in Vietnam.

  • Peter allen September 6, 2017, 6:10 am

    Personnel defense
    Ever heard of a 400 Corbon, of course you have , so why does nobody write about it?
    I could hit a fat man at 200yds

  • Michael Spinelli September 6, 2017, 5:42 am

    I will stay with the 38spl. Wheel gun. Reliable 1st and second shot. No jams, misfire just pull trigger again.

    • IraC18 September 6, 2017, 9:23 pm

      try reloading that 38 in a stressful life & death situation?? I have one also, but only as a backup…

  • Michael Campbell September 6, 2017, 4:56 am

    Cogent, well written, logical case for ammo size nd type. Something that anyone who works professionally on our business MUST be prepared for__seems to have become almost a DAILY query or topic of conversation.

  • Wayne Baker September 6, 2017, 4:48 am

    I had a gun shop for twenty years around the corner from the F.L.E.T.C., Glynnco, GA. While my favorite rounds are 9mm and .45acp, during the summer in Southeast Georgia(about six months long), I made do with a polymer framed .380acp. When a tee shirt and shorts are mandatory to avoid indecent exposure charges, there’s not much room for anything else. Something around 12oz, or less, in a front pocket holster allows movement without feeling like there’s a brick swinging around in there, and it’ll still keep you out of most trouble. The Gold Dots are terrific, in service calibers. I’ve done quite a few impromptu autopsies on smaller wild hogs and Coastal deer, and the results were always impressive. I’ve also experimented, way more than my pay grade should allow, with MagSafe loads in various calibers, and I believe in the pocket-rocket category they’re the top choice, at least at nasal application distances…

    • IraC18 September 6, 2017, 9:27 pm

      what about the 9’s the same size as your 380’s?

  • John September 6, 2017, 4:22 am

    In the video , i thought you were going to explain if it was worth it to carry .357 mag in that s&w 327 with the short barrel. Is .357 actually an advantage over .38+p in a pistol with a 2in. Barrel? Maybe i misunderstood the video or what you were saying.

  • Bill September 6, 2017, 2:44 am

    Good article and great info. I do disagree on the .380 not being good enough, especially if loaded with RIP rounds.

    • Alex September 6, 2017, 6:41 pm

      You lost all credibility about anything guns and ammo when you said RIP rounds.

  • Will Drider September 6, 2017, 2:19 am

    The main reason for the FBI recent change “back” to the 9mm. Was the advancement s in bullet design technology.
    And the did select a specific cartridge containing a magic bullet that I’m not going to advertise. That said, all those folks that are now born again 9mm fan boys better be using the same cartridge as the FBI or they are just packing a pipe dream of getting the same results. So ask the 9mm fans what cartridge in in their 9mm and you get the whole spectrum of retail ammo so the FBI selection really means very little.
    We know if it was not for magic bullets, the FBI would have sucked up other know issues of larger calibers like recoil, wear, and capacity just as they had done in the past. I will say the FBI has incredible ballistic expertise and without doubt scientifically made the choice. We also know that sometimes things that need to be neutralized don’t cooperate. A reasonably prudent assesment of any bullet is to review its results based on worst case and the “magic” does not happen. Now if you were to select a the best cartridge based on FMJ Ball ammo results, THEN add the Magic: you have a real performance!
    I’ll leave out my choices as they only matter to me.

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