Largest practical caliber for SD?


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Ninja42
July 29, 2007, 06:04 PM
In my personal expirience, when people on various gun forums attempt to get recommendations on what gun or caliber they should use for self defence, the discussion usually starts out with someone suggesting the questioner to carry the largest gun he can carry in as large a caliber as he/she can handle, and the inevitably the Clint Eastwood quote: "Ive never met a man who had been in in a gunfight, and wished that he brought a smaller gun" pops up.

Now, generally speaking I can see how this statement is true, but surely there is a point where a gun would be so powerful that further increasing the power would just increase the risk of damaging the defenders hearing and making the gun less controllable, while the attacker would be stopped just as effective by a smaller and more practical caliber, right? If we forget those of you shooters out there who need your gun to protect you against larger than human dangers for a second, where would you draw the line between enough power and excessive power?

Just curious.

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MontanaBighorn
July 29, 2007, 06:14 PM
that question is relative to each individual shooter. personally i dont believe in anything less than 9mm +P.

Pistol Toter
July 29, 2007, 06:23 PM
When I think of self denfense calibres, my mind goes to the .357 maginum, the .45 acp and the .44 Special. Others will do just as good a job; after all it there is NO magic bullet or calibre. There are many factors to consider! South Carolina Highway Patrolman Coats was killed with a .22 in a shoot out where he shot his assailant 6 times with a .357 mag.. I carry a .357 or a .45 and can hit with either one accurately and consistantly. If I do my part, the gun and selected mmunitions will perform!

Technosavant
July 29, 2007, 06:23 PM
Largest that's practical? Depends on your definition of "practical." I'd have to say that with the most generous definition of a self defense handgun that I would use (with a touch of work it can be carried and reasonably concealed), I'd have to say the .44 Magnum. They do make those in platforms which can be carried reasonably well. You can also practice to the point where lead can be placed on target in an acceptable manner. Anything larger than that will have a platform that is far too heavy or large to be adequately concealed, no matter what people think about the Desert Eagle.

Bezoar
July 29, 2007, 06:42 PM
well in the 1600s, those nice 68-75 caliber horse pistols were considered quite practical. Most of us would say a handgun of that size would be most impractical.
Really have to ask yourself, what are you expecting to have to defend yourself from? Black bear or a stoned football player? crack junkie with a switchblade or a SUV?
And what can you actually shoot well ALL the time? Doesnt mean crap if you can get a single clover leaf group at 20 feet with a 357 out of every 400 rounds fired at a single session. But if that little 380 you have puts them in the same size group ALL the time, well thats what you should be carrying.

MontanaBighorn
July 29, 2007, 07:21 PM
in the 1600s, those nice 68-75 caliber horse pistols were considered quite practical.in fall fairness, carry in those days was not only socially acceptable, it was as normal as wearing shoes. im actually dumbfounded that so few "good-guys" carry today.

revjen45
July 29, 2007, 07:27 PM
12 Ga.

alucard0822
July 29, 2007, 08:09 PM
12 Ga

damn beat me to it, well ladies and gentlemen there is your answer.

PotatoJudge
July 29, 2007, 09:33 PM
Enough power: any bullet with about 12-14 inches of penetration and expansion over .65 inches.
Too much: any bullet with 18+ inches of penetration or fragmentation of the bullet (due to velocity, not poor bullet construction).

The 38, 357, 45 ACP, and 44 special all have "enough" power with the right loads.

tinygnat219
July 29, 2007, 09:45 PM
Largest practical caliber?

Anything .380 and above. NOTHING rimfire, or .32 related.

Nomad, 2nd
July 29, 2007, 11:10 PM
The biggest thing you can doubletap with.

Wether it's a 10mm or a .380.

rj112275
July 29, 2007, 11:27 PM
I love this quote from rec.guns FAQ

"If you have a 12 gauge shotgun you own the most effective and
devastating short-range firearm ever created. If you simply want to know
the best defense load, go out and buy: 12 gauge 2 3/4" shell 00 buckshot.
You shall live happily ever after, as this is the most effective
man-stopping firearm cartridge yet devised by man. "

Geno
July 29, 2007, 11:35 PM
For me, in autoloaders it's either a .45 ACP or a 10MM. In revolvers, a .357 Mag, .41 Mag are real easy to handle. A .44 Mag begins to push in terms of fast follow-up shots. But, when you start talking home defense, forget pistols/revolvers...take the 12 gauge. Even the 20 gauge is better than any of these handguns.

zinj
July 29, 2007, 11:53 PM
"If you have a 12 gauge shotgun you own the most effective and
devastating short-range firearm ever created. If you simply want to know
the best defense load, go out and buy: 12 gauge 2 3/4" shell 00 buckshot.
You shall live happily ever after, as this is the most effective
man-stopping firearm cartridge yet devised by man. "

Slugs are far more impressive than buckshot.

Back to handguns, I'd say the largest practical caliber is .50, as anything above that can be declared a destructive device by the BATFE.

zeroskillz
July 30, 2007, 11:56 AM
Where are all the 10mm fans that have been floating around lately
:D

k-frame
July 30, 2007, 12:58 PM
Would seem you'd want to consider some other factors in addition to caliber:
- what's behind the target? Could the shot get through and into someone or something else?
- where are you? What's the situation? (on a street, in your house, in a car?)

My personal choice for home defense is a .38 S&W revolver. Mechanically simple, adequate stopping power, has a fair chance of staying inside the BG and not ending up in my neighbor's house or in my wife or dog. And, maybe most important, I find it easy to aim and shoot. That's going to be the most critical variable anyway; shots on target.

Scorpiusdeus
July 30, 2007, 01:14 PM
Anything HP, reputable, between 9MM and .357 Magnum would work IMHO.

buzz_knox
July 30, 2007, 01:16 PM
I've spoken with one gentleman who used a modified Grizzly .45 Win Mag on occasion. Another carries a .45 Super.

For me, 9mm or .45 does quite well.

AndyC
July 30, 2007, 01:18 PM
It's subjective; basically, the largest caliber that you personally can comfortably control.

My personal little test is 2 headshots at 10 yards from low ready in 1 second; if I can't do this, it's too much gun for me.

finalcut
July 30, 2007, 02:08 PM
You need to learn about different ammo and how the loads will perform.
All .45, 9mm, .44, .40, 380, 10mm... come in different configs....

Your environment is important for one. If you live in a big City you don't want a load that will go through the bad guy and then two people standing behind him. You don't want a load so powerful that it will go through multiple walls of an office building if you miss. Then you get to go to jail, and you do a lot of bad PR for the rest of America's people who want to carry.

If you live in the cold where people are wearing a lot of thick layers you may want more than a 380, or a 9mm.

You also need a round that you can control, so you can group your shots.

Pick your load & weapon wisely and get some training, because with one wrong decision you can cost innocent people their lives and land your self in jail.


Now... having said all of that I like .40 & .45 cal with various different loads. 10mm is great for the woods, but I think overkill for CCW for the above reasons - same with .44mag

If it's for your home a 12 gag. Simple

M1 Shooter
July 30, 2007, 02:08 PM
12 Ga.

http://i61.photobucket.com/albums/h49/762mmFMJ/ser_shorty_big.jpg
:evil:

The Lone Haranguer
July 30, 2007, 02:23 PM
The largest practical caliber is whatever you can shoot accurately and control in rapid fire.

arctictom
July 30, 2007, 02:36 PM
357 for social work and 44mag for wildlife , their what I can shoot accurately and are not bad to carry.
I have a 460 smith , but its is to heavy and clumsy to carry around , I prefer my 45-70 guide gun to the very large revolvers , 460 , 500 etc.

General Geoff
July 30, 2007, 02:56 PM
.50GI comes to mind, as does 10mm auto. They're very powerful catridges, but still have viable platforms for daily carry consideration.

doc2rn
July 30, 2007, 05:41 PM
I would not use an alaskan or anything above a .460 saw a guy set a tree on fire at an outdoor range with the muzzle blast. Guess if you wanna burn down the house that would be okay.:what:

doc2rn
July 30, 2007, 05:42 PM
I would not use an alaskan or anything above a .460 saw a guy set a tree on fire at an outdoor range with the muzzle blast. Guess if you wanna burn down the house that would be okay.:what:

RobMoore
July 30, 2007, 06:00 PM
I disagree with the "18+ inches of penetration" in ballistic gellatin being the cutoff for not using a round. The overpenetration "risk" is blown way out of proportion, but underpenetration is surely something that WILL make your gunfight last longer than it should. You want your bullets to cut holes as deep and wide as possible into your adversary to give the biggest permanent wound cavity. Wanting a bullet to "dump all its energy" into something isn't asking very much, from handgun rounds especially.

Carry whatever will do that. My idea of that is hollowpoints (Gold Dots) in .357SIG to 45ACP.

McCall911
July 30, 2007, 06:12 PM
Upper limit for caliber: .45

Upper limit for terminal performance: 10mm (most), .41 Magnum (loadings of less than 210 grains), .44 Magnum (about 180 grains.)

atab68
August 2, 2007, 07:07 AM
I don't know of anyone who carries anything larger than a .45 on a regular basis. The most important thing is that you can be comfortable and not have to worry about. personaly I carry .40 and .45 and .38/.357.

Shear_stress
August 2, 2007, 07:25 AM
I don't know of anyone who carries anything larger than a .45 on a regular basis. The most important thing is that you can be comfortable and not have to worry about. personaly I carry .40 and .45 and .38/.357.

Great point. Isn't the "largest practical caliber for SD", by the definition, the largest one you can actually shoot well defensively? If you can't shoot it well, than it ain't practical.

brutus56
August 4, 2007, 11:21 PM
12 gauge can't be beat but a 1911 in 45acp has always been my favorite.
Lately as old age has been creaping up on me I find a 45 Colt revolver
loaded with a 265gr. wfngc bullet and 8.5gr. of unique handles every situation I might find myself in.

Nomad101bc
August 5, 2007, 03:06 AM
Go all out and use a golden or bright silver .50 cal. Dessert eagle the official gun of the men with small penises lmao. JK Dont get offended if you really do own one of these.

Nematocyst
August 5, 2007, 03:42 AM
.357 mag.

If it'll take down a deer
at 30 yds (with a 3" revolver)
or 90 yds (with an 18" carbine),
then it's good enough for me.

I've got control with the revolver for a fast double tap
(which I won't necessarily have with .44 mag)
and accuracy with the carbine.

MP5
August 5, 2007, 08:40 AM
Great point. Isn't the "largest practical caliber for SD", by the definition, the largest one you can actually shoot well defensively? If you can't shoot it well, than it ain't practical.

Agreed. The actual science of ballistics and wounds is all well and good, but first and foremost, I need something I can consistently and confidently be on target with.

billybob44
August 7, 2007, 07:21 PM
If you look at the specs. a .357 Mag, in 125gr. has almost the same knock down as a .45acp. in 230gr. There is a totally different "feel" in the 2 loads/guns, but they are about equal. I like both. My S&W 681 does well, as does my Series 80 Colt MK 4.

Bilt4Comfort
August 7, 2007, 08:07 PM
The 3 I carry work for me.
The question is, what works for you?
I cannot answer your question.

hankdatank1362
August 8, 2007, 01:17 AM
For your self defense? I dunno, .45ACP?

For my own hide? Nothing is too big... even .600 NE... I'll buy the neighbors a new dog or window, but mr. home invader is going down, and going down immediately!

Of course, I'm joking. I usually carry 9mm +p and feel fine.

Houston Tom
August 8, 2007, 01:24 AM
As has been said what you can carry and use effect. go and try some out and then pick what works for you.

Nomad101bc
August 8, 2007, 02:12 AM
.50 Caliber dessert eagle with hollow points he he. Not sure even body armor has a hope of stoping that i saw video where it pierced several layers of steel.

1911 guy
August 8, 2007, 10:46 AM
As big as you can hide.

All handgun calibers are somewhat anemic looking as soon as you stack them up against even very modest rifle loadings. For example, the old and venerable 30/30 generates more oomph at the recieving end than a .44 mag.

If you're totin' a handgun, tote as big a handgun as your situation allows. It may be that due to whatever reason you're down to a .380. So be it, at least you've got something. If however, you can go larger, do it.

Glockman17366
August 8, 2007, 10:58 AM
Seriously...what ever caliber gun you have most accessible when you need it.
This could be any caliber at all.
With me, it'll probably be a 9 mm...but might be a .38 Spl.

Those are the two calibers I always have handy.

BeJaRa
August 8, 2007, 11:19 AM
I personally like to carry a 45 ACP not just because it is a "45" but I feel it gives me as potent caliber in a handgun as any but is (for me anyway) easier to shoot and if I did have to fire the weapon in SD while I am out and about it will not make my ears bleed. I don't feel I am any more sensitive to a firearm's report than most, but I did fire a 125 gr JHP from a 6" 357 mag revolver one time without hearing protection and it was simply a painful experience. So I don't think I will be carrying a 44mag 357, 10mm or any other high velocity handgun for that simple reason. the 45 is loud but it doesn't have that "crack" but more of a boom. I assume that the other faster calibers have it since they are breaking the sound barrier. Plus I feel all handgun calibers are insefficent anyway but tey will give me a better chance to get to my long guns or escape.

40SW
August 8, 2007, 12:03 PM
Practical for whom?
The general rule of thumb is that one should have their primary CCW in the largest caliber that they can shoot effectively. Now, since different people have different builds, different sensitivities to felt recoil, medical challenges such as arthritis, etc, etc. , no one can give you a definitive answer since it varies from person to person. I carry a Glock 20 in 10mm, , now my mother is 70 years old with arthritis and diabetes, she is small and fragile, I am big, tall, and husky, so for her its a Smith J Frame in .38 spcl, which is the upper end of what she can handle recoil wise, she also has a Beretta Tomcat in .32ACP. Some folks can't handle anything larger than a .32HR or even .22LR, Again, the rule is that whatever the upper end of your felt recoil spectrum is, go with that, of course that changes overtime as people gain muscle memory and confidence with firearms. Good gunshop owners ask novice shooters probing questions, others don't. Hope I've shed some light on this great topic. and always remember, barrel length, specific load, bullet type/shape is almost as critical as caliber.

coelacanth
August 13, 2007, 12:59 AM
I'll assume we're talking about handguns only and not mention the 10 guage shotguns. :D But seriously folks, there are several .50 cal rounds out there to choose from - I believe the .50 GI has already been mentioned and it's chambered in a 1911 auto platform and then there's the .50 AE available in the Desert Eagle and if you are a wheelgunner Hamilton Bowen can fix you up with the .50 AE or the .50 special in a rechambered Ruger Redhawk. Any of those half inchers ought to be sufficient for defense of self without inflicting more damage from recoil than was expected from the attacker.

MCgunner
August 13, 2007, 10:31 AM
All handgun calibers are somewhat anemic looking as soon as you stack them up against even very modest rifle loadings. For example, the old and venerable 30/30 generates more oomph at the recieving end than a .44 mag.

If you're totin' a handgun, tote as big a handgun as your situation allows. It may be that due to whatever reason you're down to a .380. So be it, at least you've got something. If however, you can go larger, do it.

Well, I have walked into a convenience store with my scoped .30-30 contender under my hunting coat in my Uncle Mikes shoulder rig after a morning on the deer stand and the clerk never knew it was there. How's that for maximum concealed power? :D Sorta makes the .44 mag look lame, especially out at 100 yards. Of course, you have to make that one shot count. :D

GunTech
August 13, 2007, 10:57 AM
The right caliber is the one you will always have with you. Unfortunately, muggers don't call up and let you know that they'll be mugging you Saturday the third, sometime between 10:00 and 10:30.

I personally carry a 38 snubbie most of the time, although when working with clients, I drop a 380 Colt Mustang into a pocket holster. Not everyone react well to a carried handgun and when your income relies on othet people, you gave to make compromises. It's also often not practical to carry a large handgun based on wardrobe. I don't want to be wearing a coat to cover my 1911 when it's 105 outside.

The reality is that the difference between a 44 mag and a 32 auto is less than a handgun and a rifle by far. And relying on 'studies' like Handgun Stopping Power is foolish as the data is sanatized, heavily skewed and suspect.

According to the Journal of Trauma the primary factor in handgun strikes is not caliber, but what you hit. Also, the number of times hit is a more important factor than caliber. Please note this is only statistical data. It' not always a good idea to rely purely on statistics. There is always that data that fall out of the norm.

My take is that you must carry something with enough power to penetrate to vital parts, and shoot the offender until they stop doing whatever made you shoot them in the first place. I suspect the 'effectiveness' of the heavy calibers like 45acp has more to do with the skill of the user (since pros tend to go for the heavies) than with the caliber itself.

Finally, and all of the above being said, 380 is the smallest I go. But if I had a choice between 32acp and nothing, I'd take 32acp. I have a friend who's been known to carry her Seecamp 32 in her swimsuit on super hot days. That ain't happening with a 1911 or even mini-Glock.

Dravur
August 13, 2007, 12:00 PM
or a 16 inch gun.... You didn't say SD against what....

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