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Best Caliber Handgun for Concealed Carry Revolvers & Semi-Automatics; .380 ACP, 45 ACP, 9mm Kurz (Short) or Other?

Considering a concealed carry weapon, but you’re fairly new to firearms? Automatic versus revolver, what to choose? First to consider is weapon type, they both have their pros and cons. We won’t consider two or single shot derringers. Derringers have their proponents and purpose, but do you really want to get into a potential gun fight, possibly with multiple adversaries with only a two shot weapon?

Best Revolvers for Concealed Carry

Revolvers are reliable, usually very reliable. All operations are internal, protected from dirt and debris. But revolvers are limited to 6 to 9 shots as a rule. Some .22 magnums hold up to 9 shots, and the .22 magnum at close range can be deadly. The .327 magnums run 6 rounds in concealable short barred revolvers, offering that extra shot over the typical .38 Special or 357 magnum weapons. A .327 can go up to 8 shots in the typical defense weapon. Other practical carry revolvers are limited to 9mm, .38 Special and .357 magnums. They hold usually between 5 rounds for the short barreled ‘detective specials’ to four or six inch barreled weapons with 7 shots. Under the pressure experience in a deadly force encounter, and considering that your motor skills will most likely deteriorate, revolvers are harder to reload, even with speed loaders.

Pistol Barrel Length

Larger caliber weapons or longer barreled guns are for hunting or extreme open carry situations. Bear, cougar or moose can be dangerous is many situations and demand a heavier caliber for quick humane kills. These weapons are employed for hunting, and rarely for defense. Handgun hunters prefer 8 to 15 inch barrels. So the concealed carry revolver aficionado will carry a .22 magnum, .327 Magnum or a .38 caliber weapon chambered in either .38 Special or .357 magnum. These calibers are the most practical.

Semi-Automatic Handguns & Auto Loaders

Autos, actually technically semi-automatics, or in Europe, self loading pistols are generally the most accepted worldwide. Offering cartridge capacity from a low of about 5 or 6 rounds, up to as many as 33 rounds, autos are versatile, flat for easier concealed as compared to a revolver, and if maintained they’re reliable. Most auto pistols carry the ammunition in the handle, facilitating reloading in difficult or dark conditions, as it is done “hand-to-hand.” Even though some states limit magazine capacity to ten cartridges reloading is surer, and usually quicker with an auto-loader. For a person considering an auto-loader, the array of choices is staggering and confusing. Weapons from .22 long rifle up to .45 ACP are available. Hand fit is consideration. A double column magazine (they are not clips) is thicker and could be problematic for the small handed individual.

Bullet Stopping Power

That some ill defined, but desirable characteristic of a defense arm and ammunition is stopping power. All that will be said on the matter in this forum is “he with the most wins if it can be put on target.” It is generally agreed the penetration through heavy winter clothing into the bone enshrouded body cavity is a must. A bullet must penetrate into the vital organs to be debilitating. But internal energy transfer and the wound channel figures into the “stopping power” of cartridge consideration. Remember you are trying to curtail aggression, not necessarily kill an assailant.

.380 ACP VS 45 ACP VS 9mm Kurz (Short) & More

In Europe .32 autos are used by the military and police. But in the United States and the Americas in general, a .380 ACP or 9mm Kurz (German for ‘short’) is considered by many to be the mainstream. The ubiquitous 9mm is a first choice of many. After all the military uses it, doesn’t it? True, but the conversion from 45 ACP to 9mm was primarily a political decision, not necessarily one based on merit of either round. Just let it be said, a 9mm ball is not going to expand, but neither is a .45 ACP get any small. Again a personal preference. Ten millimeter automatic and the .40 Smith & Wesson represent a reasonable compromise between the high velocity, smaller caliber crowd and plodding velocity and heavy bullet of the large bore adherents. The 10mm as is the .357 SIG are snappy rounds and uncomfortable for many shooters. The 10mm, 357 SIG (40 S&W necked to 9mm) and the 40 caliber are high pressure rounds with significant muzzle blast and for some excessive recoil. The .45 ACP is still the top practical general defensive and combat caliber available. It is interesting but military special operations units and police SWAT teams still have access to and some prefer weapons chambered in .45 ACP.

Portable Shooting Ranges, Realistic Simulation Equipment & State of the Art Firearm Training Accessories

Choosing a personal defense weapon is, well personal. Whichever weapon you choose; it is important to be proficient, train regularly and visit the range often. Shooting Range Industries specializes in the design and build of custom modular ranges. Contact our office to learn more.

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