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  1. #1
    Razorback58's Avatar
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    Smallest caliber for carry?

    I'm not trying to start a big debate here, but what is the smallest caliber pistol that you would use for your main carry, and why?

  2. #2
    bruce333's Avatar
    bruce333 is offline HGF Forum Moderator
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    almost the same thing: What do you Carry mainly

    Shot placement is much more important than what caliber you choose to carry...
    Bruce, Life Member: NRA, NCRPA, GRNC, GOA

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    "I personally think we developed language because of our deep inner need to complain."--Jane Wagner
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    Pistolero's Avatar
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    FMJ .32 ACP is pushing MAYBE enough. Hollowpoints in this caliber tend to under penetrate.380 ACP is, technically, a 9mm round and has a much more solid track record. While shot placement really is important, proper penetration is the other side of the equation in an effective defensive round. Don't accept less than .380 ACP or 9mm Luger for your defensive needs if you can help it.

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    Why don't you ask yourself "which caliber would I NOT want to stand in front of?". If you are NOT afraid of a .22 then you are a braver man than I am. Stopping power agruements generally do NOT apply as engagements are typically within 20 feet which breaks into the "3 steps/1 second rule". The dischage of a firearm will or won't influence an opponents intention to attack based on MANY factors including but not limited to: intoxication, inebriation, state of mental health. Factor in the defenders skills to not only draw, but fire and place a shot UNDER DURESS and the whole caliber debate (specifically in handguns) is absolutely moot. If you had a shotgun on your hip loaded with slug ammo, the stopping power arguement would THEN and only then be valid.

    What can you draw, employ and place a shot best with? THAT should be what you should ask yourself. Then ask yourself if you can beat an aggressor if the "3 in 1" rule is pulled on you.

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    NRA.Hog is offline Junior Member
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    Let me start with a story and then I will answer your question. Three weeks ago I was in a situation where I had to pull my gun along with one other guy. The guy causing the problem had a bat, weighed about 320 lbs, and was moving in every direction at once chasing his wife.
    I know everyone says it's all about shot placement and for them it is fine, but as far as me I was just thinking I hope I can hit this guy somewhere if he doesn't stop.
    It was at that point I was really doubtful if my 9mm would stop him so I decided that from now own I would carry nothing less than the biggest stick I could in hopes that it does have stunning and stopping power. For me that is a 45.

    Since then I have also started practicing drawing and I hit the range at least once a week. And I hate to say it but everyone needs to be in a real situation at least once to show them their weak spots.

  6. #6
    DevilsJohnson is offline Senior Member
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    Being someone that has been in situations where I needed a weapon I have to agree with the ones touting the greatness of shot placement. The bigger weapon is great but if you can't hit what you are aiming at ten it's just a liability and you run the risk of being hurt with your own weapon.

    I have been in situations more than once. They were different enough to the point that one situation didn't make any real difference in another. You are pretty stressed and the only thing that you can do for yourself is try to keep yourself as calm as possible. Getting worked up to the point that you're shaking will not help you any.

    Back to topic. Any weapon that you are going to try and defend yourself with needs to be the right weapon for you. You can get 30 people to answer this post and they all will tell you something a little different. You need this caliber, this gun, these rounds etc. None of means a thing if you are not totally comfortable with your weapon and the caliber of round that it uses. what I carry has no use to you outside of the report on how reliable the weapon has been to me. Find the caliber that you shoot best. Then look for the weapon that fits you best. and pray to the higher power you see fit to that you will never need it. But if you do that you will be able to protect yourself.

  7. #7
    Razorback58's Avatar
    Razorback58 is offline Junior Member
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    Good points by all, thanks for your replies! I know that shot placement is important, but I also think that the proper weapon for you is important (as someone has already pointed out). I wouldn't want to carry a .22, but I also don't want to carry a cannon that I can't afford to fire. I'm pretty much torn right now between the 9mm and the .40 and was hoping to get some insight on which was the most popular to carry.

    Thanks again to all that replied!

  8. #8
    scottaschultz Guest
    Quote Originally Posted by NRA.Hog View Post
    It was at that point I was really doubtful if my 9mm would stop him...
    Unless the guy is wearing body armor, it seems to me that a 9mm shot anywhere would at least stop him if not kill him outright!

    Quote Originally Posted by Razorback58 View Post
    I'm pretty much torn right now between the 9mm and the .40 and was hoping to get some insight on which was the most popular to carry.
    Don't shoot what's popular. What is good for me or anyone else may not work for you. Shoot what you are comfortable with and what you can handle.

    Scott

  9. #9
    biohazurd is offline Junior Member
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    Well for my Main CCW I personally would not shoot anything under 9mm for Auto, 38 Special for revolver. But backup carry is a different story, I carry as secondary back up gun a NAA black widow 22mag on my ankle... i doubt ill ever have to use it but hell its lightweight enough that i dont even notice it so why not?

  10. #10
    Todd is offline Banned
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    My EDC is a 9mm, which is a cartridge I switched to from the .40 about a year ago. The smallest I feel comfortable carrying is my .380 P3AT.

  11. #11
    Razorback58's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Todd View Post
    My EDC is a 9mm, which is a cartridge I switched to from the .40 about a year ago. The smallest I feel comfortable carrying is my .380 P3AT.

    Do you mind if I ask why you switched from a .40 to a 9mm?

  12. #12
    Todd is offline Banned
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    Quote Originally Posted by Razorback58 View Post
    Do you mind if I ask why you switched from a .40 to a 9mm?
    At the time I was carrying an XD40 Service model and wanted to switch to the sub-compact. But since the .40 has some snap to it, I didn't want to deal with the muzzle flip of the .40 combined with a 3" barrel, so I bought the XD9SC. Recently I sold both XD's and got a Sig P229 in 9mm. I feel the round is perfectly capable of doing what it needs to do in terms of defense and practice ammo is a lot cheaper, so I can afford to shoot more than I did when I had the .40, so I stuck with the 9mm.

  13. #13
    Razorback58's Avatar
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    Sounds like a good reason, thanks!

  14. #14
    NRA.Hog is offline Junior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by scottaschultz View Post
    Unless the guy is wearing body armor, it seems to me that a 9mm shot anywhere would at least stop him if not kill him outright!


    Don't shoot what's popular. What is good for me or anyone else may not work for you. Shoot what you are comfortable with and what you can handle.

    Scott
    I am not trying to argue, if you believe the 9mm is the best round then great. My entire point was this, I just decided that in my case more was more. Everyone seems to want to say what is the smallest I can get away with. My new theory is, what is the biggest I can carry with a bit of comfort.

  15. #15
    zhurdan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by NRA.Hog View Post
    Let me start with a story and then I will answer your question. Three weeks ago I was in a situation where I had to pull my gun along with one other guy. The guy causing the problem had a bat, weighed about 320 lbs, and was moving in every direction at once chasing his wife.
    I know everyone says it's all about shot placement and for them it is fine, but as far as me I was just thinking I hope I can hit this guy somewhere if he doesn't stop.
    It was at that point I was really doubtful if my 9mm would stop him so I decided that from now own I would carry nothing less than the biggest stick I could in hopes that it does have stunning and stopping power. For me that is a 45.

    Since then I have also started practicing drawing and I hit the range at least once a week. And I hate to say it but everyone needs to be in a real situation at least once to show them their weak spots.
    Not picking here, but just a bit of my crazy logic for your consumption. If you are concerned that a moving target is going to be hard to hit, wouldn't you want more chances to hit it? (aka larger magazine capacity) A 9mm gives you that in most cases. Personally, I carry a .45 or .357Sig, depending on the situation (clothing).

    If you are concerned about shooting at things that are moving, try this. Tie a balloon or two to a 4-5' tall stake in front of a good backstop with about 3' or string. On a signal, draw and fire one well aimed shot. It helps in tracking moving targets (wind cooperating of course). It's a fun excersize.

    Zhur

  16. #16
    babs's Avatar
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    I'd have to say I'd go with a 9mm minimum as you can now get a small enough carry pistol in 9mm to justify the jump from .380, nothing against the .380 though.. But I have sufficient enough experience with 9mm I know the recoil and can hit with it. That's the real reason.

    However a little pocket wonder in .380 like the P3AT or LCP, etc.. Nice way to go if that's the max size a person was willing to carry. Better something than nothing, with good ammo and ability to place shots with it.. The latter as stated, being the most important factor.

    Having said that, I just picked up a .45ACP XD. Reason, I was just drawn to that particular model and want to get my feet wet shooting the ACP round. It would NOT be a carry gun however until I've proven myself capable of placement with it confidently. Until then, I'd first grab my 9mm Sig as I know where the holes are going with me behind the trigger.

    To put it short... Carry only the caliber/pistol model combination you know you're proficient with, even if that's just a .22 or a .38 or a 9mm or other.

  17. #17
    Razorback58's Avatar
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    Lots of good advice here from everyone, thanks! I guess that my main concern is what is the smallest caliber that would be enough to make it worthwhile to carry. If you can make good shots with a tight shot group a .22 would be plenty, but if you are in a dark area and are surprised, are you going to be able to fire that tight shot group? I guess that I'm trying to decide on a good mix of carry size and stopping power. I know that bigger is better, but is a .50 cal. always convenient to carry?

    Thanks again to everyone for their replies!

  18. #18
    babs's Avatar
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    Every person will have various varied opinions on caliber and it usually is contested.. In auto's.. Anything between a good 9mm and 45ACP is typically the preferred sizes for carry in larger than pocket-carry pistols.

    Trick is to become proficient at least with a 9mm if you're a newbie shooter.. Try different rentals if you can. You may shock yourself and find that you can handle larger calibers with practice, which is never a bad thing.. Gives you options.

    9mm is easy to shoot. .357 Sig and .40 S&W are kinda "snappy" meaning they have a bit more recoil. 45 ACP is a good bit more recoil, even, though some find that it "pushes" rather than "pops" making it not that much more to learn to control than the .357 and .40 "middle" rounds. I may have to eat those words when I get mine into the range and have a sore wrist the next day. heheheWe shall see.

  19. #19
    spacedoggy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bruce333 View Post
    Shot placement is much more important than what caliber you choose to carry...
    Hey bruce: I have heard this many times and agree but I will never count on where the shot will end up in a shootout situation. So my rule is to carry the most powerful caliber I can just in case my hands are shaking. Many other factors such as comfort and concelment come into play. Most of the time I carry a 45acp with a 9mm backup, then when it becomes 100 degress outside it's just the 9mm backup and my cain. The other factor is magazine capasity so you get less the higher you go so you need to take the time to place that shot. Looks like a wash.

  20. #20
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    For perspective sake, the father of a roommate of mine when I was in the Army was killed by a .22LR. It was an ND from outside, traveled through the wall of the trailer and into his chest lodging in his heart. He died before the ambulance arrived (within 8 minutes). Yes, a .22LR WILL kill just like any other caliber as that is what the basic design of a firearm is intended to do.

    What YOU feel MOST comfortable AND most PROFICIENT with is what you should stick with in a caliber AND firearm. If it ends up being a .22 in your pocket or ankle holster, then so be it. Buying anything because of POPULARITY or any marketing HYPE is just not an intelligent decision IMO. I could run on and on about any of my SiG's. Doesn't mean they will be to you what they are for me. They just fit, feel and work best in my hands compared to anything else I've tried and so that is what I own. Do you have the same sized hands as I do, likely not. Will my guns feel as comfortable to you as they do to me when drawing, aiming, firing, resetting, firing a follow up shot? I do not know but again, not likely.

    I appreciate you wanting information and feedback. But forum threads should only be a fraction of the formula that determines your end results. Go out anf get your hands on as many as you can, your hands will tell you more than you think they can. When and as often as possible shoot any high prospects (rentals at ranges, going with friends that have a variety among them). Something may fit fine enough in a store, but when discharging a round may convince you otherwise about comfort and feel.

    Reliability, maintenance and recall information would also be an area to gather information on. Most produced these days are just fine in all respects, but keep in mind that isn't always the case. The LCP for instance was (and still is) a very popular recent release. It was not so good out of the gate and a recall was ordered by Ruger. It addressed the problems and by most accounts is a decent handgun. However, it has lost (IMO) significant ground in the realm of trust as a primary CCW buy most owners. Eventually time may convince owners more one way or another regarding their trust of it, but that isn't going to happen over night.

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