There are five pistols and maybe three revolver cartridges that offer serious self-defense capabilities. First the concealed carry firearm needs to be concealable and in a caliber that offers serious self-defensive fire power. Not only concealable but controllable as well. After all, if you can’t hit it what good is it?
The revolver rounds are in a 2” to 4” barrel with 5-7 shots. The five shot snub-nosed .38 +P Specials, or six round .32 H&R Mag or .327 Federal Magnum come to mind. At defensive distances of under 25 feet (about 8 yards) they can connect and offer sufficient capabilities to neutralize an aggressor. One cannot discount the Charter Arms Bulldog in .44 Special, a five shot large caliber revolver.
Common Revolver Concealed Carry Calibers
We therefore have five calibers to choose from if wheel guns are our preference: .32 H&R Magnum and .327 Federal Magnum are capable low-end calibers. They offer six rounds in frames the only accommodate 5 rounds of .38 Special or .357 Magnums which constitute the mid-tier in defensive calibers. These are proven man-stoppers and offer ready availability. If a store stocks handgun rounds the .38 Special and .357 Magnum are odds on favorite and found on most shelves. Lastly, we have the aforementioned Bulldog in .44 Special a creditable defensive caliber. Although .45 Colt is also a proven defensive caliber there are not many defensive and concealable guns available other than the .45 Colt/,410 shotgun revolvers and some two shot derringers. Back in the day, High Standard made a compact .22 Magnum 9 shot revolver that was popular as a backup carried by the police.
Automatic Pistol Concealed Carry Calibers
In the automatic pistol realm, we have the .380 Auto or 9mm Kurtz, European designation as the 9 x 17mm. This offers the minimum in serious self defense and is available in many compact and concealable semi-auto pistols. This caliber was also a favorite backup for law enforcement because of the highly concealable weapons that are available. The 9mm Luger, Parabellum or 9 x 19mm is probably the most popular caliber for self-defense in the world. Carried by more military personnel it has even made inroads into Russian use. The modern expanding bullets it can get the job done. We move then to the .357 Sig and the .40 S&W. These are high intensity calibers, meaning the operate at higher chamber pressures than the 9mm and .45 Auto, have significant muzzle flash and offer a challenge to those attempting to master their weapons. The .357 Sig is based on the .40 S&W case. The .40 caliber and 10mm are the same caliber while the .40 S&W is a shortened 10mm. For those who can master these weapons there are no qualms these calibers are capable with modern expanding bullets. Last, but surely in the minds of many, not the least is the .45 ACP. This is an American mainstay from the 1911 Browning designed and Colt manufactured firearm and probably is the most copied firearm design in the world. At the ranges of most defensive confrontations being about 7 yards there is no doubt that the .45 ACP is the reigning royalty of defensive calibers.
Custom Shooting Ranges for Military, Law Enforcement & Civilians
There are many considerations in choosing both the platform and caliber for use as a concealable defensive handgun. There is one advantage to the 9mm Luger, it is the least expensive therefore the economics of ownership should allow for range time. You need to hit it to stop it, and the 9mm is the most manageable of all but the .380 Auto, but costs less. Shooting Range Industries offers custom shooting ranges for your practice and training.