Technology has touched nearly every endeavor that we are involved in. Shooting is no exception. Back in the 1860’s Smith & Wesson introduced their No. 1 revolver. This was chambered for the longest running production of any cartridge in the world, the .22 Short. It was actually considered a viable defense caliber, loaded with black powder it was the first commercially viable cartridge loading revolver. The S&W No. 1 ½ revolvers upped the ante to a .32 caliber and it was a rimfire like the .22 Short.
Self Defense Gun Calibers
The cap ‘n ball calibers tended to be either .31, .36 or .44 caliber, with the weight and power going up proportionally. With the introduction of the .45 Colt and the .44-40 we come closer to modern cartridges that are still viable today with nitrocellulose propellants (smokeless powders). In the US we have often preferred the larger .45’s for defense in either rimless pistol rounds or rimmed revolver loads. Today the 9mm and .45 Auto have also transitioned to revolvers. Beginning in the late 1960s to the 1970s the 9mm began to impact the American markets, being adopted by police and civilians alike. For a while if you were shooting a semi-auto pistol you had two choices, 9mm Luger or .45 ACP. But things changed.
In a shootout with bank robbers in 1986 two FBI agents were killed, and at least a lot of blame was based on the fact that the agents where using snub-nosed .38 revolvers. This led the FBI to consider upgrading their agent’s personal armament. The 10mm was chosen for its power and penetration. Being a bit stiff for female agents and many male agents to master, the 10mm’s little brother, the .40 S&W was introduced. The Secret Service then went to the .357 SIG, a .40 S&W necked down to .355 inch or 9mm bullets. Hence the birth of those two rounds.
Semi Automatic Rounds
Today for semi-autos we have 9mm Luger, .357 SIG, .40 S&W and the venerable .45 ACP. Defensive revolver rounds are the .38 Special, the .357 Magnum and the .44 Special. Some may include the .380 ACP on the low-end auto rounds and the .32 Magnum/Maxum rounds for revolvers. But that is just about all. As mentioned earlier more and more revolvers are being chambered for the 9mm Luger and the .45 ACP rounds. In any single engagement being a deadly force situation between two combatants they could be carrying comparable equipment. Gangs and many others place a lot of faith in 9mm for the same reason and it is popular for concealed carry. The guns for this caliber are compact, they carry somewhat high capacity magazines and the ‘nine’ isn’t a bad performer with modern expanding bullets. The Glocks have become very popular on both sides of right and wrong. The .357 SIG was an attempt by Sig Sauer to provide an automatic with .357 Magnum performance. Although the SIG shoots bullets of .355 not .357 it does deliver. The least popular of the defensive round it is kind of like a 9mm Magnum for autos. It was adopted by the Secret Service.
.40 S & W Caliber Pistol
The .40 S & W is gaining popularity. Of the two high intensity cartridges, the .357 SIG and the 40 S & W is really winning the hearts and minds of the concealed carry community. The only downside to these two cartridges is that they are high intensity cartridges, i.e. higher chamber pressures than the 9mm and the .45 ACP. They are bit harder to master because of the increased recoil and in low light conditions they tend to give off more muzzle flash. As the .40 was designed to operate in 9mm frames they are a little hard on the frames and other parts. The downside of the .45 auto is the size of the gun and the generally restricted magazine size due to the robust cases on this caliber. Though there many to contend your not really armed if you carry anything less than the .45 auto.
Custom Shooting Ranges for Self Defense Practice & Training
This is just a quick review of the defensive calibers available. At one time the numbers favored the ‘wheel gun’ but revolvers have fallen out of favor and the autos reign supreme. Whatever defense caliber you choose, you will want to practice and train to feel confident and be competent with your weapon in the event you may need it to protect your loved ones. Shooting Range Industries designs and builds custom shooting ranges. Call us to learn more today.