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Here is an excerpt of an article posted here at Concealed Carry Forum about ammunition choices for handguns.

This has to be the most heavily debated topic of any given gun related forum. Starting as "9mm vs. .45" during WW2, with many new caliber choices the caliber wars continue to rage. Some believe in big bullets...some believe in lighter, faster bullets with higher simple energy numbers...some believe in shot placement....all are equally mistaken. The potential effectiveness of any bullet in a defensive shooting is always an issue of probabilities that factor in caliber, weight, velocity, shot placement, (resulting in penetration and expansion), and even the physical condition (drugs, rage, size, etc.) of the threat you are attempting to neutralize. You will hear of threats dropping immediately from a .25 ACP and you will hear of threats that continued to fight despite a solid .44 Magnum hit but these are rare exceptions and should never be considered representative in any way of overall stopping power potential. They are nothing beyond extremely rare incidents that have minimal impact on the overall averages used to calculate overall stopping power potential.

If you remove the human element (your ability to shoot, for example) and limit your comparison to bullet performance its hard to argue with "bigger is better". Despite lower simple energy numbers, bigger and particularly heavier bullets carry more stopping power potential and this is clearly substantiated in history.

Just as it had in the previous century, the .45 Long Colt proved itself by dropping the Moros Tribesmen most often with a single shot (yes, a single torso hit from the .45 Long Colt proved superior to 5 and 6 shots from the .38 Long Colt!). This is documented US history and there is no disputing it. The .45 Long Colt played a crucial role in winning the war, and this directly lead to the development of the .45 Automatic Colt Pistol (.45 ACP) which served our troops equally well through two world and many smaller wars.

In and of itself with all else being equal (shot placement, etc.) hitting a threat with a 230 grain .45 caliber slug is not the same thing as hitting that same threat in the same place with a 115 grain .355" slug despite its considerably higher velocity. With typical handgun velocities at typical defensive handgun ranges bigger simply is better....but how much better is the question, and at what cost? 20 years ago there was significant difference in ballistic performance of the 9mm compared to the .45, but modern ballistic science has brought the 9mm closer to the .45 than ever before. While I still believe bigger is better (you don't shoot elephants with small and fast bullets, you shoot elephants with big, heavy bullets), it's hard to argue with a 147 grain 9mm bullet that penetrates 14" and has been shown to expand to .72" (147 grain federal HST).


Although true and accurate, does the example of the Moros Tribesmen mean that everyone should carry the .45? Absolutely not. Although the .45 would serve anyone very well just as it has throughout history, this does not make it the superior choice for everyone. .45 caliber weapons are either relatively large or they have very limited capacity and this limiting factor rules out the .45 for many. To confuse the issue even more, although I firmly believe that all things equal bigger is better, all things are rarely equal when you factor in the human element. Although the 180 grain .40 offers slightly more stopping power potential than a 124 grain 9mm that does not necessarily make it a better choice for carry due to many reasons. If you find the .40 recoil uncomfortable you probably wont be able to hit with it with as much confidence as you would with the 9mm. Capacity is another issue, especially when you factor in cover fire. Is it better to have 8 rounds of .45 in your weapon or 16 rounds of 9mm? The answer to this question will be as unique as the individual in question. The following is a comparison of caliber with my assessment of each round:



.22 LR
Good:
Weapons are small.
Ammunition is cheap and plentiful.
Adequate as a backup weapon.

Bad:
Not adequate as a primary weapon.

Notes: - If you carry this caliber for a backup weapon, carry CCI Mini-Mags.



.25 ACP
Good:
Weapons are small.
Better than nothing.

Bad:
Not adequate as a primary weapon.
Not adequate as a backup weapon.
Ammunition is extremely expensive.

Notes: - Please don't carry this caliber. I have literally witnessed the .25 ACP knock over Coke bottles at 50' instead of breaking them.



.32 ACP
Good:
Weapons are small.
Better than nothing.
Adequate as a backup weapon with FMJ ammunition.

Bad:
Despite its relative popularity, the .32 ACP is not adequate as a primary weapon.
Ammunition is relatively expensive and choices can be limited.




.380 ACP
Good:
Weapons are small.
Adequate as backup weapon with FMJ ammunition.

Bad:
Despite its popularity the .380 ACP is not adquate as primary carry weapon with any ammunition.
Ammunition is relatively expensive.




.38 Special
Good:
Adequate as a primary carry weapon in 158 grain +P loads.
Adequate as a backup weapon at standard pressures.
Compact weapons.
Economical to shoot.
Very popular caliber with many great choices in weapons and ammunition.

Bad:
Limited capacity (revolver).
Marginal when loaded at standard pressures.




9mm Luger
Good:
Excellent as a primary weapon in 147 grain loads or 125 grain +P/+P+ loads.
Ammunition is cheap and plentiful!
Most popular handgun cartridge in the world offering a nearly unlimited selection of weapons.
High capacity even in compact designs.

Bad:
Marginal performance from light loads at standard pressure.

Notes: - The 9mm Luger has been around a little longer than the .45 ACP and has attained unmatched global acceptance. Most every modernized nation in the world today issues combat side arms chambered for the 9mm Luger. Because the 9mm is considerably smaller and lighter than the .45 the weapons chambered for it are able to carry more rounds, as are the soldiers who carry them. 147 grain loads make the 9mm a truly viable defensive caliber and this is the ammunition I recommend if your weapon will cycle it reliably. If choosing 115/124/125/127 grain loads, carry only +P.



357 Sig
Good:
Excellent as a primary weapon.
This round just sizzles - 125 grains @ 1450 fps!
Penetrates hard objects like no other handgun round.

Bad:
Ammunition cost literally twice as much as 9mm.
Ammunition selection is limited in most areas.
Generous recoil (relative).

Notes: - Were it not for cost, the 357 Sig would be the best recommendation I could make for carry. The US Secret Service chose this round to protect and defend the President of the United States.



.357 Magnum
Good:
Excellent as a primarly weapon.
Most versatile handgun round with huge ammunition selection.
Can practice with cheaper .38 Special ammunition.

Bad:
Limited capacity (revolver).
Generous recoil (relative).




.40 S&W
Good:
Excellent as a primary weapon.
Economical to shoot.
Large ammunition selection.

Bad:
Snappy recoil (relative).

Notes: - Offering the perfect compromise (without compromising performance) between the 9mm and the .45 ACP, it's quite hard to find fault with the .40 S&W. The .40 was born indirectly due to LE rejection of the 9mm after the famous FBI shoot-out in Miami in 1986. Offering more stopping power potential than the 9mm and more capacity than the .45, the .40 fills the gap between the two perfectly. You really don't give up much stopping power potential compared to the .45, and you aren't losing much capacity compared to the 9mm. The .40 is the ideal carry caliber.



.45 ACP
Good:
Ballistically superior as a primary weapon.
Big, heavy bullets.
Effective even in FMJ.
+P not required for superior performance.
Abundant ammunition selection.

Bad:
Weapons are either large or have limited capacity.



There are other calibers worth mentioning because they are viable defensive rounds, yet I don't typically recommend them for various reasons.

Super .38: While ballistically superior to 9mm, the choices in the Super .38 platform (both in weapons and ammunition) are few and far between. Dealers who do stock ammunition offer a very limited selection and what they do have is extremely expensive. The Super .38 is a handloader's caliber.

10mm: Ballistically the 10mm has stopping power potential matching (and in some loadings exceeding) the .45 ACP. Though the 10mm is thought by many to be the ultimate caliber, instead of expanding this platform the 10mm has been downloaded to the point that most 10mm loads available are only marginally better than .40 S&W while costing twice as much. There are a couple decent 10mm loads out there but they most always require placing an order and waiting. Like the Super .38, the 10mm is a handloader's caliber.

.41 Magnum: The .41 Magnum is a beautiful round with beautiful ballistics that never found the glory it deserves. Although it would serve anyone very well, industry support for this round is dying.

.44 Magnum: "The most powerful handgun in the world" generates some very impressive ballistics but I don't feel weapons chambered for .44 Magnum are (typically) practical for carry.

There is an almost infinite number of calibers not mentioned, but these are the only ones I would even consider for carry.
 

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Thanks Glockcarry23 for this thread. I will make this a sticky because I remember when I bought my first gun I did not know a FMJ from a JHP. This is a good reference for Beginners.
 

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Even if you have the best ammo in the world, if you don't hit the target just right the ammo won't do you any good. When I go to the range now I mostly practice point and shoot instead of target shooting. There is a big difference between the two. Point and shoot requires you to acquire the target in a split second like in real life. With target shooting you can take all day to get a perfect hit but this is not good for self defense shootings.
 

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Even if you have the best ammo in the world, if you don't hit the target just right the ammo won't do you any good. When I go to the range now I mostly practice point and shoot instead of target shooting. There is a big difference between the two. Point and shoot requires you to acquire the target in a split second like in real life. With target shooting you can take all day to get a perfect hit but this is not good for self defense shootings.
When you point and shoot, are you drawing or just picking the pistol up and tapping off a round?
 

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When you point and shoot, are you drawing or just picking the pistol up and tapping off a round?
Unfortunately the range that I frequent does not allow me to draw from the holster but I compromise by having the gun by my side and then raise it, aquire the target and shoot as quickly as possible. I try not to rely on the sights of the gun. You would be amazed how accurate you can be doing it this way. I also dry fire my gun at home while practicing my draw.
 

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Most people in the know stress shot placement over the relatively small differences in velocity and penetration once you reach the 9mm plateau and above.

That said, here is a pretty good idea of the comparative wound channels of the various calibers useful for self defense. I believe the medium is ballistic gelatin, but I'm not 100% certain.

 

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Dang, that 10 mm looks like a bomb went off.:ak
 

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LEO's in clay co. went to .45cal from 10mm that was expensive ; )
Y/D
 

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What is the source of that image? I carry a glock29 and have a glock20, I have a small group of friends that all shoot 10mm, one is about to receive a custom 1911 in 10mm from fusion firearms. I love the round. The 20 has similar recoil IMO to a full size .38 +p revolver, and the 29 isnt too much to handle. Brass is expensive but the internet is a wonderful thing, DoubleTap makes awesome loads in a variety of weights, and georgia arms make affordable target loads.
 

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Hi TallyG! I sent you a PM with some information in response to your question. Basically I had seen that info posted several times in the Sig Forum whenever there would be one of those spirited "caliber war" threads in the forum.

I did some Google-fu and found it posted along with some commentary in The High Road Forum. It appears to be from a study done by a man named Doug Carr.

Here is that link. Scroll down to Post# 50.

http://images.google.com/imgres?img...Comparisons&start=100&ndsp=20&um=1&hl=en&sa=N
 

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That looks like a photo I recall being associated with Dr. Gary Roberts, DDS of the IWBA. I am not sure if he created it, or simply used it to demonstrate his point.
 

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That was a really interesting photo..

Got me to think about the different ammo, caliber and size..Besides from reading online, is there somewhere I can get some classes on how to identify and recognize a bullet? Getting the ballistics and learn what the different is?

Even the basic, such as "ranking" the bullet in size, is that simple as saying 22. 9. 40 and 45? Then where does the 10mm and 44 along with the 357 and "weird" calibers like 500 fits in?
 

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From the report:

If you remove the human element (your ability to shoot, for example) and limit your comparison to bullet performance its hard to argue with "bigger is better". Despite lower simple energy numbers, bigger and particularly heavier bullets carry more stopping power potential and this is clearly substantiated in history.

I'd like to know the name of the author who's has been quoted. Clearly the author is stating opinion as fact here as the 125 grain 357 held the best track record on all pistol bullets for decades, even over the vaunted 45acp, and by quite a margin as well.

Don't believe everything you read in this quoted article, there are opinions stated as facts that history actually has shown to be incorrect.

Brownie
 

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From the report:

If you remove the human element (your ability to shoot, for example) and limit your comparison to bullet performance its hard to argue with "bigger is better". Despite lower simple energy numbers, bigger and particularly heavier bullets carry more stopping power potential and this is clearly substantiated in history.

I'd like to know the name of the author who's has been quoted. Clearly the author is stating opinion as fact here as the 125 grain 357 held the best track record on all pistol bullets for decades, even over the vaunted 45acp, and by quite a margin as well.

Don't believe everything you read in this quoted article, there are opinions stated as facts that history actually has shown to be incorrect.

Brownie
And that is why 125's are in my .357 Speed Six as we speak.
Also it's what we carried before we transitioned over to 9 mm
 

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From the report:

If you remove the human element (your ability to shoot, for example) and limit your comparison to bullet performance its hard to argue with "bigger is better". Despite lower simple energy numbers, bigger and particularly heavier bullets carry more stopping power potential and this is clearly substantiated in history.

I'd like to know the name of the author who's has been quoted. Clearly the author is stating opinion as fact here as the 125 grain 357 held the best track record on all pistol bullets for decades, even over the vaunted 45acp, and by quite a margin as well.

Don't believe everything you read in this quoted article, there are opinions stated as facts that history actually has shown to be incorrect.

Brownie
I agree Brownie, plus......These stats do not take into account any other bullet type other than JHP. If you want to SEE a really impressive energy transfere pic look at one of a Magsafe, Glaser Safty Slug etc............
 

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Point is that bullet placement, amount or rounds on target, bullet speed, bullet design, bullet weight, target location (what am I shooting at body in shirt, jacket, BA, etc etc) plus target structure such as Body shot, big guy, small guy, side on, head on, head shot, range of body etc etc All play into the performance and outcome.

If you want to keep it simple, regardless to caliber, the general rule is you want good penetration with maximum energy transfer to put the body down......Job done.
 

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can't remember where I found the link but I thought of this to be pretty accurate
Ballistics as viewed in a morgue
good reference, too

"I'm not schooled in ballistics and I make no assumptions that require that I be. I'm only stating what I've seen in the morgue, which I consider to be the finest university of self-defense. I'm far from an expert in ballistics, but having been a cop for seven years, a hunter and avid handgunner for half a century, and having seen thousands of autopsies gives me a unique perspective."

"It's PENETRATION. Pure and simple. Give me guaranteed penetration to the vital organs with whatever caliber you like and I'll take it to a gunfight any day, 9mm included. As I said in another post, you don't have to shred the heart, just hit it, and a BG with an artery nicked by a 9mm is just as bad off if it were hit with a .45"
-gc
 

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can't remember where I found the link but I thought of this to be pretty accurate
Ballistics as viewed in a morgue
good reference, too

-gc
GlockComa,

I went round and round with this guy over his more than obvious subjective choice of the 45acp and in the final analysis it came down to the fact that Every one of the people he talks about were on a slab and had been killed with every caliber of bullet.

His view is jaded IMO. Those people ALL died from bullets. For his "opinion" about the 45acp to be correct, the majority of people he viewed would have had to have been killed with that caliber. As well, the majority of shootings he's seen are with ball ammo, where the 45acp will reign supreme over most other pistol bullets.

What was I carrying today? A Glock 30, 45acp. What am I carrying tonight when I go out to that party I have to attend? Two 38 snubs, one in each back pocket. I'm no more well armed with the 45 than I am with the two snub 38's. Why? Because I'm capable of carrying one of the best loads, if not the best load in each caliber [ unlike his streets morgue results the majority of time ]. In carrying a representative of the best loads in each caliber, the differences between their effectiveness is minimized to the point of almost not worth mentioning.
 

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well, the point was his opinions on all the calibers in general..

i dont see the problem with his opinion on .45 - probably missed that part?

he mostly praises it
 
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