How much is too much for a CCW?


October 3, 2007, 09:41 AM
Howdy folks. I'm not talking price here, I'm talking caliber. The .22 for SD comes up quite often and the debate begins, but what about the opposite side of the spectrum? What's TOO big? Now I know that .460 S&W and .500 S&W are the strike of obvious, but what else does THR consider overkill?

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October 3, 2007, 09:59 AM
44 magnum with defense loads (NOT hunting ones) and 357 magnum. For defense, anything bigger is for people that have other problems, like small... :rolleyes:


October 3, 2007, 10:31 AM
What's TOO big?

Any bullet, regardless of caliber, that is capable of passing through a human being at normal defensive shooting distances. (0-21 feet)

October 3, 2007, 10:32 AM
I would considder .44 spl, .45LC (standard SD loads, not the "Ruger only" super loads)and .357 mag to be the upper limit in revolvers. 10mm in Semi-autos.

Edit to add:
I forgot the .41 magnum for revolvers.
I'd only be comfortable with the ones I mentioned, but that's just me.

October 3, 2007, 10:48 AM
Anything you can't shoot reliably is too big.

October 3, 2007, 11:33 AM
halvey said it correctly, its not a question of whats too big, its a question of whats too big for YOU. Whatever you can shoot most proficiently is the right caliber for you. Obviously other factors like overpenetration, etc, will factor into your defensive load choice, but in the end, you will know with enough practice.

October 3, 2007, 11:35 AM
Anything you can't shoot reliably is too big.

October 3, 2007, 11:43 AM
Too elaborate further on what has been said above, I have many students who are elderly (I'm an NRA instructor in Florida). Many of these students come to my class with 1911s and Glocks that they purchased from gunshops as well as .357 revolvers, many of these individuals have severe arthritis and dexterity issues where they cannot rack a slide or handle the recoil of a full house .357, and they say to me.
" The gunshop guy said that I need at least a .40SW or a .357MAG for an effective defense cartridge!"
My answer.
" Don't worry about him, he's not paid to ask you the right questions about your hand size, your ability to handle felt recoil, and your arthritis issues, thats what I am here for. He should be asking you those questions, but he is paid on commission"
Their response.
" My dad was on the police department and used .38 specials, whats wrong with those?"
My response
" NOTHING!!!, todays bullet designs and .38+P loads are exceptional and well respected defensive cartridges. I don't feel an ounce outgunned having Speer .38+P Gold Dots in my Smith & Wesson J Frame"
My further response.
" You must understand that there is nothing wrong with a Sig or a Glock, but its not the right gun for YOU, it may be right for law enforcement or someone with better physical agility and health, but ultimatly handgun choices are VERY PERSONAL decisions. It by no means that you are undergunned with a .38 Special revolver and a proper load."
Their response: "smile"

Glad I could help.

October 3, 2007, 12:23 PM
I will carry anything from .380 ACP to .357 Magnum. Much bigger than .357 and it gets too bulky physically. Everyone's different, but mypersonal limits in weight are 20 ounces max for a pocket carry and 30 ounces max for IWB unloaded weight. I might go as high as 35 ounces for an IWB, but anything over 30 gets real old for all day. Everyone has their own personal tolerance, though. Some can carry a 27 ounce SP101 in a pocket and not complain, or an N frame Smith IWB, and of course all the 1911 worshippers think 40 ounces is nothing. I'm just telling you my OWN PERSONAL limits. These sizes limit caliber. Not too many 44 mag that weigh less than 35 ounces and those that do I don't think I'd wanna fire a full house magnum out of too many times a range session.

Steve C
October 3, 2007, 12:57 PM
I agree with MCgunner. For me its the size of the pistol that can be concealed and carried comfortably. This is depends a lot on time of year and the clothing one wears. For me a snub nose .38 or Glock 19 gets carried more than any others. For carry in the vehicle its a full size pistol from 9mm to 41 mag depending upon my mood and arbitrary whim.

Deer Hunter
October 3, 2007, 01:08 PM
I don't buy into the "overpenetration" bit. I'd rather have two holes instead of just one. And usually muggers don't pick victims out of a large crowd of people.

That being said, if you can shoot a .44/.50/.45 LC/.41/.454 etc well and can conceal the firearm, then go for it.

October 3, 2007, 01:09 PM
"And usually muggers don't pick victims out of a large crowd of people."

Surely you jest?

October 3, 2007, 01:55 PM
A sawed-off bazooka would be a little too much, IMO :p

October 3, 2007, 02:00 PM
:) A sawed off bazooka would probably be illegal or a class III weapon:)

October 3, 2007, 04:41 PM
Well I intend on buying a sawed off bazooka once I buy my trauma plates and duct tape ;) Hopefully I can get a permit in CA.

CSA 357
October 3, 2007, 06:22 PM
Whats too big to carry, i do carry a 4 inch 629 in the winter, why? i want to! in the hot parts of the year glock 27, smith mod 60, if you can hide a 12 ga go for it!:neener:

October 3, 2007, 06:33 PM
Anything that is a " pain " to practice with , be that physically or financially is too big . Other than that its all compromise .

October 3, 2007, 09:33 PM
outline under your clothes. Self defense carry has little to do with the actual bullet diameter you plan to carry, and mostly what you can conceal under your everyday clothes in your climate. I consider my 380acp P3AT my greatest caliber for most of my defense purposes in south Florida. It will do the job at the ranges that most life scenarios happen at, and is the ONLY one I can carry in every scenario, even in swimming trunks at the beach. In the winter, I have a Glock17 or my trusty 1911 series 80 if I have a jacket (rare). Practicing with the small rounds you actually can carry every day are more important than choosing the round you think is a lethal stopper for a life and death defense scenario. Many people will not be running at you with even two rounds of 380, or 22LR for that matter if you know how to shoot them. I'd rather have my PLR and toss a few 223 rounds down if I could conceal it, but defense is mostly a choice of concealment, not what you want to have. Ask all those that have been killed by a 22, and they will agree.

October 3, 2007, 09:42 PM
With a good IWB you can conceal an N-frame Smith under a loose shirt, no problem. I sometimes carry my 325PD 45acp that way, with absolutely no print. The gun only weighs 22oz.

October 3, 2007, 10:00 PM
I live in CA and we can only list 3 handguns on our permits. We also cannot carry loaded guns in vehicles without a permit, as is legal in many states without a permit. I keep a 7 1/2" SRH in .454 in my truck, so I've listed it on my permit. It's certainly too big and too powerful for everyday carry. While 4 wheeling, I got trapped in a remote area by some unsavory folks and I'm real glad I had that gun with me, but more glad I didn't have to use it.

the naked prophet
October 3, 2007, 10:23 PM
If you're talking ballistics, I don't think you can physically fire anything that's too big for self defense.

How many people, whose life had just been saved by killing someone who was trying to kill them, have said "gee, I wish I had shot him with a smaller gun..."

Let's go to the largest gun you can reasonably hold and fire. The .500 S&W Magnum. John Ross carries one daily. I personally witnessed him pull one from the crotch of his jeans.

Too powerful? If overpenetration is your concern, you can pick a very light bullet with a wide, aggressively expanding hollowpoint, loaded to the max. Yeah, the 500 grain load is more powerful against an elephant, but that's because of the penetration. The best load for any caliber is the one that expands the most yet still penetrates at least 12 inches - and the one that expands most won't penetrate much more than 12 inches. I'd hate to see what someone looked like after getting hit with a 275 grain solid copper hollow point coming from the .500 mag at 2000 fps, expanding to over an inch in the process.

You wouldn't think it was excessive if the guy shot with it was coming after your daughter with a knife and a grin.

If you can shoot it effectively and practice enough...

October 3, 2007, 11:45 PM
I carry my 3" K-frame .357 magregularly (hence the name), but my Dad carries his Taurus 3" .44 mag (really a 2" with the last 1" being a compensator) almost daily. Luckily he is almost deaf in one ear already, so he wouldn't mind shooting it in his truck. :what:

October 4, 2007, 06:21 AM
kframe357: Thats just all the more reason for him to protect the hearing he has left!

Personally I would want to avoid fireing anything larger than a .357 mag without hearing protection, and especially if I have to defend myself in a confined space such as in a car. I know the whole "no man has ever been in a gun fight and wished that he brought a smaller gun" bit, but I dont buy it. When you sit in the hospital after having obliterated your assiliant completely with a super expanding, super hot loaded .500 SWM fired from a snubbie, and the doctor slips you a note that says "you better learn to read lips, because your deafness is permanent.", you might wish that you had double tapped with a 9mm instead.

October 4, 2007, 08:58 AM
To me, the big issue is weight. I live in the hot and humid southland. I would almost rather be unarmed than carry my 44 mag (model 629) not to mention the possibility of over penetration and hitting an unintended target.

I lean toward my S&W bodyguard in .38 spl. but I have been known to carry my 45 ACP. After weight, comes over penetration.

Calibers smaller than a .38 worry me that the BG will shoot me after I have shot him!


October 4, 2007, 05:12 PM
Ninja: I understand what you're saying. I'm an LEO and former Marine, I've got lots of trigger time. I know the importance of hearing protection and the effects of gunfire on your hearing. That being said, I prefer to carry my
S&W .357 or Para .45, and my Dad, who owns 14 handguns including a j-frame .38 and a Bersa .380, likes his Taurus .44.

Deer Hunter
October 4, 2007, 05:26 PM
Regarding my last post, I worded it rather confusingly.

What I meant to say was, the chances are not very high that you'll be mugged in the middle of a bunch of people. Idealy, those other people would come to your aid. A mugger would try to catch you off guard, away from other people. In that case, overpenetration is the least of your concerns.

October 4, 2007, 05:30 PM
If you can't shoot it one handed, and close in to your body, from any awkward position, it is too much.

If you can't do it without getting whacked in the head by the front sight, it is too much.

If you are blinded by the fireball, and deafened by the muzzle blast, it is too much.

If it will shoot through eight walls of your house, six walls of your neighbors house, and still kill someone, it is too much.

For most folks, in most situations, full power .44 Mag is too much.

October 4, 2007, 05:38 PM
Duplicate post.


October 4, 2007, 06:05 PM
"How much is too much for a CCW?"

We've all see or heard of shooters trying to run too much gun. Don't be those guys.

Most are advised to stick in to the usual .38 special to .45acp range. There's a reason they're "the usual."

October 4, 2007, 07:52 PM
I personally wouldn't carry the .44 unless I'm hiking in bear-country, but I'm not my Dad.

My father is 5'8 240 lbs and has worked construction most of his life, he has no problem shooting hot loads one handed, close to his body, without getting whacked in the forehead by the frontsight, wears his sunglasses if he's awake, and already almost deaf. :) plus he has a real nice Yosemite Sam mustache. :D

Ala Dan
October 5, 2007, 02:46 AM
The .50 A&E as fired from a Desert Eagle would rank among handguns that
are considered overkill~! :scrutiny:;)

In most instances, "the big three" [9m/m, .40 S&W, and .45 ACP] would suffice;
eliminating most threats from humans. Maybe, a Taurus Judge with 3" tube for
both humans and beast; as its capable of firing the .45LC and .410 gague shot

October 5, 2007, 01:45 PM
Inside a car or a pick up Their all going to mess your hearing up Just some more than others. My self I'll learn to read lips. I rather be alive .and todays dvd movies have subtitles. Won't miss what passes for music today

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