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Old February 6, 2012, 07:42 PM   #1
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Is caliber really all that important for ccw

I see alot of threads where the caliber for concealed carry is vibrantly discussed. Some think a 22 is fine where as some believe it needs to be a 45 and up. So I got to thinking; once a person is hit with a bullet whither it be 22 or 500 mag, they are most likely not going to keep walking your way like they are the terminator or something. If they did for some chance keep walking after getting hit, a follow up shot should surely slow them down no matter the caliber. If stopping the person from coming at you is the goal, then I think in most casses, the caliber probably does not matter. There will always be an exception to the rule but For the most part that is how I see it.
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Old February 6, 2012, 07:49 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by mo84
once a person is hit with a bullet whither it be 22 or 500 mag, they are most likely not going to keep walking your way like they are the terminator or something. If they did for some chance keep walking after getting hit, a follow up shot should surely slow them down no matter the caliber.
Uuuh, no. Handguns don't work like that. I've known folks who get wounded in a gunfight and don't even realize it for several minutes. When I got shot, I didn't know what had happened to me, I thought I had a bad charley-horse in my leg. All I knew is that my leg didn't work like it should, and I didn't understand why. Coupla minutes later: Oh, bullet hole. That explains it. Take me to a hospital.

Without getting into all the "why's" about caliber, larger is generally better. What most folks do is try to balance cartridge size with handgun size, something they can conceal easily.
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Old February 6, 2012, 07:49 PM   #3
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I agree that it's probably not as critical as some would make it sound, but then again, if I'm going to try to beat someone senseless, I'm going to grab a baseball bat and not a pair of chopsticks. There are far more cases of a .22 or .25 round getting caught up in multiple layers of clothing compared to .40 or .45.

If you put any stock in the FBI penetration testing, there seems to be a big difference between ".380 ACP and larger" and "everything smaller". There's even a pretty fair jump between .380 ACP and 9mm. So all else being equal, I'd probably consider one of those rounds as my minimum for a SD gun.
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Old February 6, 2012, 07:59 PM   #4
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If you put any stock in the FBI penetration testing
I don't.
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Old February 6, 2012, 08:01 PM   #5
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Shoot the largest caliber that you are accurate with and can be reasonably quick with follow up shots, if needed.

Multiple hits with a smaller caliber are better than a miss with a larger caliber.
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Old February 6, 2012, 08:02 PM   #6
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If you put any stock in the FBI penetration testing
I don't either.

I say carry what you're comfortable with.
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Old February 6, 2012, 08:03 PM   #7
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A lot of those ideas are pandered by folks who've not actually used a handgun to shoot anything but targets.
I'm fully confident in the 9mm I carry. If I wasn't, I'd be packing something else.
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Old February 6, 2012, 08:07 PM   #8
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I think it more important that if you are going to carry to have a gun you will carry routinely and practice with.

With modern hollow point ammo I would not want to be shot by any of them myself. A 22 lr is better than a stick IMHO...
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Old February 6, 2012, 08:42 PM   #9
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I'm pretty sure you can do a bunch of math and the numbers will show that certain calibers would indeed cause more damage than others, and you can take a bunch of targets and shoot them and see more or less visible damage. The bottom line is with proper training any caliber can be deadly. A well placed shot with .22lr to the base of the brain will give the same end result as a .44 mag...the aggressor will never, ever move again.

I carry a M&P 9c and a Springfield LW Champion Operator 1911. I train with both weapons. I carry a hollow point variant for both not just because they cause more damage but because I want to avoid over-penetration.

Which ever firearm/caliber fits the individuals hand, can be controlled, shot accurately, and properly concealed (if that's the case) is the firearm for that individual.
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Old February 6, 2012, 09:30 PM   #10
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So I got to thinking; once a person is hit with a bullet whither it be 22 or 500 mag, they are most likely not going to keep walking your way like they are the terminator or something....
Caliber doesn't matter as much as having a gun, any gun when you need it.

Now, consider what you said, and how you said it. Someone walking at you (with clear intent to do injury or murder) is only one possible situation.

Another possible situation is several someones advancing and threatening you. There are almost as many possible situations as there are things and people in our lives.

If small calibers didn't ever work, we wouldn't have them.

Everything above mousegun increases your odds a bit, until you reach the point of having too much cannon to manage.

If the situation gets to having to use the gun, then the one you can make the most effective is best. And that is a combination of bullet performance, gun performance, and your performance.

Caliber matters, but only hits count.
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All else being equal (and it almost never is) bigger bullets tend to work better.
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Old February 6, 2012, 09:39 PM   #11
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I think after the second or third big "bang" with no injury would probably boost the bad guy's confidence!

I carry either a 9mm, .45 acp and don't worry about em a bit!
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Old February 6, 2012, 09:54 PM   #12
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Is caliber really all that important for ccw?

The cartridge you use is lower in importance than a) Will to use it, B) Skill to use it, C) Tactical knowledge to use it, D) Weapon platform to use it.

Yes it's nice to have a .45, it is a bit better than a .40, and a .40 is a bit better than a 9mm, and a 9mm is a bit better than a .32, and a .32 is a bit better than a .25.

I have read of one case where a NYPD woman cop interrupted a bank robbery where three felons, all armed, and one with a .45, and all she had was a J .38. She shot all three and captured them.

Does that mean I think the J .38 is the cat's meow of CCW? Heck NO.

But don't get to wrapped up in the caliber wars.

Use the most powerful weapon you can control, hit with, and conceal. But it a .45, 9mm, .357 Sig, .38 Spl, or even a .22!

“To you who call yourselves ‘men of peace,’ I say, you are not safe without men of action by your side” Thucydides
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Old February 6, 2012, 10:30 PM   #13
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I can tell you from personal experience that a solid sternum hit from
the venerable .45acp is not always the manstopper that some internet
gun experts would have you believe. In my case, the individual didn't
appear to react at all to being hit. I would choose the largest caliber
that I could shoot accurately. I have moved on from carrying the
.45acp and now carry the .357 Sig. Hopefully, it will never be needed.
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Old February 6, 2012, 11:45 PM   #14
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I think that caliber does make some difference, but not as much as many would have you to believe. To my mind, handgun cartridges are separated into three basic categories: small/deep concealment cartridges including .22 Long Rifle, .25 ACP, and .32 ACP; medim/service cartridges including .38 +P, 9mm, .357 Sig, .40 S&W, .44 Special, and .45 ACP; and large/magnums like .41 Magnum, .44 Magnum, .454 Casull, and .500 S&W.

With small/deep concealment cartridges you're pretty much completely dependent upon penetration and very precise shot placement and their main advantage is light recoil and availability in very small, light packages. With these types of cartridges, FMJ or other types of non-expanding bullet are the best choices in order to ensure adequate penetration. The upper limit of this type of cartridge which, with the right loading, can perform more like a medium/service caliber are .380 Auto and standard pressure .38 Special.

Medium/service cartridges are the best choices for the majority of people as they offer good performance with manageable recoil in a still practical size and weight package. While placement and penetration are still paramount, medium/service cartridges also offer JHP ammunition which can both expand reliably and penetrate adequately. The upper limit of this type of cartridge which can, with the right loadings, perform more like a large/magnum cartridge are .357 Magnum and 10mm Auto.

Large/magnum cartridges deliver quite possibly the most impressive performance available in a handgun, but only with carefully selected loadings in the hands of a shooter experienced with heavy recoil. Many of the loadings available for these types of cartridges are designed for hunting and will likely blow clean through an erect biped with little or no expansion. Also, recoil is usually rather heavy and a great many shooters simply cannot handle these sorts of cartridges with an acceptable degree of speed and accuracy. These cartridges also often come in large, heavy packages that may be impractical for many uses.

By and large, cartridges in each class perform much more similarly to each other than differently. While I think that there is a pretty significant difference between a .25 ACP and a .44 Magnum; 9mm vs. .45 ACP not so much.
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Old February 6, 2012, 11:45 PM   #15
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Is caliber really all that important for ccw
Caliber (and cartridge) ARE important for CCW (as well as hunting and military). If you are being attacked by a drug addict, would you prefer to rely on a few .22 Shorts or a couple of 9mm, .38, .40, .357 or .45 rounds? A knife is better than a toothpick; a .22 short is better (probably) than a knife; a 9mm is better than ... and so on. This doesn't mean you need to carry a S&W 629 .44 Magnum. It means that you should carry a firearm chambered in a cartridge adequate for self defense if you choose to carry.
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Old February 7, 2012, 12:05 AM   #16
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I must admit that everyone I have seen get shot with a handgun lived and that most of the people I have seen shot with rifles did not. There is an important lesson right there. If you really believe that calibers do not matter you are fooling yourself. They matter quite a bit. Energy, mass, sectional density all play a role. Handguns are closer in power to each other than CFR are to handguns, still.

Other things matter more. Like shot placement, luck, target and a host of other issues.
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Old February 7, 2012, 12:40 AM   #17
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The cartridge can matter, but perhaps less than some people think.

There are four ways in which shooting an assailant actually can stop a fight:
  1. psychological -- "I'm shot, it hurts, I don't want to get shot any more."
  2. massive blood loss depriving the muscles and brain of oxygen and thus significantly impairing their ability to function
  3. breaking major skeletal support structures
  4. damaging the central nervous system.

Depending on someone just giving up because he's been shot is iffy. Probably most fights are stopped that way, but some aren't; and there are no guarantees.

Breaking major skeletal structures can quickly impair mobility, but someone with a gun can still shoot. And it will probably take something bigger than a .22 or .32 to reliably break a large bone.

Hits to the central nervous system are sure and quick, but the CNS presents a small and uncertain target. And sometimes significant penetration will be needed to reach it.

The most common and sure physiological way in which shooting someone stops him is blood loss -- depriving the brain and muscles of oxygen and nutrients, thus impairing the ability of the brain and muscles to function. Blood loss is facilitated by (1) large holes causing tissue damage; (2) getting the holes in the right places to damage major blood vessels or blood bearing organs; and (3) adequate penetration to get those holes into the blood vessels and organs which are fairly deep in the body. The problem is that blood loss takes time. People have continued to fight effectively when gravely, even mortally, wounded. So things that can speed up blood loss, more holes, bigger holes, better placed holes, etc., help.

So as a rule of thumb --
  • More holes are better than fewer holes.
  • Larger holes are better than smaller holes.
  • Holes in the right places are better than holes in the wrong places.
  • Holes that are deep enough are better than holes that aren't.
  • There are no magic bullets.

The bottom line is that a lower power cartridge with a smaller caliber bullet will make smaller holes and may not be able to as reliably penetrate to where those holes need to be to be most effective. On the other hand, a small gun that you actually have with you and that you have trained with and can manage well will serve better than the larger, more powerful gun that is so large you left it home or so powerful you can't shoot it accurately.

So it comes down to a compromise. If you can learn to manage a more powerful gun and find ways to keep it with you and handle it effectively, you're likely to be better off.
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Old February 7, 2012, 12:51 AM   #18
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Old February 7, 2012, 01:12 AM   #19
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Myself, I created a "carry window".

.380 Automatic
9x18 Makarov
.38 Special
9x19 Parabellum/9mm Luger
.40 Smith & Wesson
.45 Automatic Colt Pistol

I don't know why I typed them all out. Sometimes they seem kinda cool that way. I'm a geek.

Anyway, anything smaller or larger than that (very rough) window I'm not interested in carrying concealed. Those rounds, to me, represent the bare minimum defensive round against a human target (.380) to the maximum I can shoot comfortably in a concealable handgun (.45).

To me, the sweet spot for small/medium guns is 9x19, for large guns it's .40/.45
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Old February 7, 2012, 01:14 AM   #20
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Somewhere there is a happy medium between .22 Short and .500 Magnum.

Usually a small frame revolver in .38 Special, or one of the newer sub-compacts in 9mm fill the bill. They meet the power to size equation very well. They'll also be plenty effective in most situations.

On the lower side of those two choices are mouse guns (.32 ACP is as low as I'd personally go) and on the upper maybe a Commander Size 1911, Glock 19, K/L frame, etc.

Any bigger, or smaller than the above and problems of low power, or increased concealment difficulty are encountered.

However, if an individual is comfortable with a .22 Short mouse gun, or a 6.5 inch .44 Magnum strapped on under a sport coat...well, to each his own.
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Old February 7, 2012, 01:16 AM   #21
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Sure it is, for several reasons.

1. Terminal performance varies from caliber to caliber, especially if one considers the entire spectrum of calibers (.22Short up to the magnums) used for carry.
2. Caliber selection affects capacity for a given size carry gun.
3. Caliber selection affects shootability.
4. Caliber selection affects practice costs.
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Old February 7, 2012, 03:38 AM   #22
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The only thing that matters in a gun fight surviving.

You survive by will, hitting the target and putting it on the ground.

A miss with a 76 cal supermag exploding elephant stopper is a lot less effective than multiple hits with a 22 lr.

If you can't hit your target because you can't accurately shoot the Major caliber your carrying, then you need to get a different pistol or practice a lot more. But it is to late to discover this fact when the fight is on.
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Old February 7, 2012, 05:27 AM   #23
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Drugs and/or adrenalin are missing from your argument. A person amped up on killing or robbing you most likely won't take no from a 22 or 25. I would rather carry OC.

40 S&W and 45 ACP are proven stoppers in testing and street statistics.
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Old February 7, 2012, 08:19 AM   #24
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Of course caliber matters. Within the range of effective choices the differences start to get less important, but caliber certainly matters.
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Old February 7, 2012, 08:34 AM   #25
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I don't view the issue as "Is caliber really all that important for ccw". The laws of physics don't take a holiday for "ccw" and projectiles don't act differently in the human body because it's a ccw situation.

I think the FBI did the best job possible at the time of finding a way of modeling handgun ballistics and wounding through various barriers.

The FBI certainly has shown a willingness to switch caliber and sidearm if the field experience of their agents doesn't verify predicted results from testing.

So anyway, I do put stock in the FBI tests. And I do think caliber is important in any situation where you're defending yourself with a firearm.
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