What Caliber Handgun For Everyday Carry?

Originally published by AmmoLand.com.

Strasburg, OH – I am constantly amazed at the number of people I meet that think they can fix the problem of self-defense by purchasing the ideal handgun.

For much of the CCW crowd, this is defined as the small .380 that they can carry in their pocket with ease.

To others, the choice may be a custom 1911 or Glock 17. Few people really consider the ‘reality‘ of what happens in 90% of self-defense scenarios. Shootings and gunfights involving handguns take place at close range….police, military, & private sector all share these facts. Some folks will tell you that pistol marksmanship skills should include 25 and even 50 yard precision abilities.

AlphaHolster Belly Ban... Best Price: null Buy New $16.95 (as of 10:45 EST - Details) While being able to shoot well at long range is nice, and a desirable skill, it really has little to do with reality. People that try to sell you on the importance of this are simply way off course of needs vs. wants. The ability to make a head shot at 5 yards in 2.5 seconds is far more critical than the ability to hit a torso at 50 yards in 4.0 sec.

Let’s be real here about all those folks that carry these little .22, .25, .32 & 380 pocket guns: they are perfect self-defense guns as long as they never need them!

Luckily, most people that carry guns will probably never need to use them, thus a little blaster will work just fine. I get it, any gun is better than a sharp stick, but, if you ever need to defend yourself or your family, you want a gun that you can shoot accurately and effectively under stress. Howard Leight by Honey... Best Price: $39.99 Buy New $48.99 (as of 11:00 EST - Details)

I am often asked about calibers of choice. When I first got into this business back in the 1970s the gun of choice was either a .357 Mag revolver or .45acp 1911. Typically the 45 1911 was popular in the holsters of the ‘gun guys’, most of whom could shoot far better than the average gunner. Today, I note a high percentage of those who pack a .45 acp caliber handguns have the attitude that while they know they are poor shots or not highly skilled with a sidearm, the .45acp round will solve the problem even if they can only achieve peripheral hits. Kind of the mindset that a 45 hit in the little finger will make the targets head explode.

Guess what, it does not work that way. One is always better off with a weapon you can use with skill, caliber is secondary to shot placement.

After all these years, it is my belief that a .45 round is about 10% better than a 9X19mm…..ball round vs ball round or JHP vs JHP. Ten percent isn’t much unless your life is at stake–then it is a whole lot. On the other hand, if you told me that I have to carry a 9X19mm pistol, I’m not going to throw a hissy fit. A nine will work just fine if you can place the round where it needs to be. It is not the number of shots fired, or the splits between the shots fired that matters (anytime I hear some talk about ‘splits’, I push the delete button on them……splits don’t mean shit in the real world). While all of us would choose a gun that holds more bullets, how often does round capacity really matter in the real world? If you miss a lot, then high capacity handguns are a great choice. Remember, shootings and gunfights are generally won by those that hit their targets with accurate shots.

Like many of the M4Carbine.net fans, I enjoy testing and trying new handguns and gear. There are huge numbers of excellent sidearms on the market to choose from. Every year we see more and more entries. What matters is that you pick one that works for you and you can use well. For most of us that means a handgun that you can afford to practice and maintain your skill with. For most, based upon much of what I have seen over the past few decades, I recommend guns like the Glock 17 and Glock 19. I have both, but if I could have only one it would be the G-19. For the money it is a slam dunk choice. I love 1911 pistols, carry one daily and have total faith in my 1911s. I’m constantly asked to recommend a ‘good 1911′. I typically reply, “buy a Wilson Combat“. This usually gets a response of something like: Wilson Combat 1911’s are really expensive. Yep. If you can’t afford one, maybe you should select another pistol design. Quality of the 1911 pistol in the main stream market varies widely.

Wilson Combat Custom Supergrade 1911
Wilson Combat Custom Supergrade 1911

Currently I see excellent results with Springfield Armory 1911 pistols. The Colt 1911 pistols made today are some of the best 1911s Colt has ever made. Maybe not up to prewar standards, but compared to the guns made from 1980 and on, the Champion Traps and Tar... Best Price: $11.55 Buy New $11.99 (as of 08:55 EST - Details) current guns are excellent. I have three different Colts made over the last few years and they are outstanding guns right out of the box. I have been shooting an H&K VP9 since last Summer and I consider it one of the best 9X19mm pistols on the market. I have a couple of 9X19mm S&W MPs that have been tweaked and work well.

While many people like to “MF” the Beretta M9/92, I think they are great pistols, overly large for most CCW purposes, but extremely reliable and soft shooting. I find them to be very accurate out of the box and great for belt holster carry. I am not a big fan of the .40S&W. Carried one as a duty sidearm, have a few, but the caliber just never ‘rang‘ for me.

What I can tell you about sidearm choice and recommendation is very simple. Whatever gun you choose, practice with it doing drills that reflect ‘real world’ requirements. Never accept mediocre skill, get it right, and never leave the range saying ‘I suck’.

If you do, you have already planned the outcome of the fight when that moment comes. And no matter what…..be aware of your environment. Don’t be the one surprised.

Reprinted with permission from AmmoLand.com.