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Giving up proficiency in favor of power.

Discussion in 'Handguns: General Discussion' started by Ankeny, Aug 27, 2011.

  1. Ankeny

    Ankeny Well-Known Member

    I have been going to pose this question for awhile now, but I have been hesitant...just because. ;)

    We all know there is an endless debate over capacity vs. caliber, etc., and some folks will always weigh in on the side of accuracy and proficiency. I agree, proficiency is important, but just how proficient is good enough and what about trading off a bit of proficiency in favor of "power"?

    At one time I carried a lightweight commander sized 1911 stoked with 230 grain Golden Sabers. As the miles accumulated on my hands and joints, I dumped the lightweight commander and the heavy loads in favor of a Glock 19. I opted for less recoil and higher capacity. Over time, I migrated back to the 1911 platform and I picked up a Kimber Pro Ageis. Try as I might, (over the course of several years) I just couldn't get over my love affair with the 1911 in .45 caliber. I know the lightweight 1911's in .45 are becoming more difficult for me to shoot "fast and accurately", so this time around I went for an all steel commander sized pistol, a Dan Wesson V-Bob to be exact. I am shooting 230 grain XTP loads that chrono at 900+ and there is a bit of recoil.

    Honestly, I can shoot both the Glock and the Pro Ageis faster on the clock in the case of multiple shot and multiple target scenarios. Heck, countless IDPA and IPSC shooters have shot millions of rounds that give us stats showing the difference in "proficiency" between "major" and "minor" loads in comparable (or the same) platforms in the hands of shooters with similar skill sets.

    I guess the question is this. How much proficiency are you willing to give up of a larger caliber? How does one decide?
  2. klutchless

    klutchless Well-Known Member

    Strictly up to the person and their capabilities. I know people who carry 22 for defense simply because of speed and accuracy.I don't carry anything less than a 9mm once again it's just what I am comfortable with.I make no sacrifice with power over proficiency. If I can't shoot it well it doesn't matter what caliber or load it is.
  3. buck460XVR

    buck460XVR Well-Known Member

    I too see no reason to give up proficiency in favor of power. One of the most used phrases on this and every other gun forum is "shot placement is key". This is true whether the handgun is used for SD or for hunting and for good reason. I hunt deer with .357, .44 and .460 handguns. Recoil from any of these is much more than with my 5' Colt Government and 230 ball ammo. Even so, I use 200 grainers in the Colt for SD, because they shoot the best, and are the most accurate....for me. If I couldn't hit squat with the .45, I'd have no problem moving down to a 9mm, if it were a tackdriver in my hands.

    The problem I see way too often is folks trying to compensate for their lack of proficiency by going to a bigger caliber or shooting "hot" or "+P" loads in their handguns. Their reasoning is "if I make a bad shot, the larger, faster bullet will make a bigger hole." I ask, "a bigger hole in what? The air beside them?". Shoot what you are accurate with and you won't need to worry about power.
  4. chhodge69

    chhodge69 Well-Known Member

    I've read several of these threads lately and it boils down to personal preference and comfort. And, since only a small fraction of us civilians will ever have to
    USE our guns for their intended purpose, it's academic.

    but, to answer your question I chose .45 ACP/8 rounds min and I don't feel I personally sacrificed anything since I've never shot a 9mm 'carry' pistol faster than I can shoot my .45
  5. Burt Blade

    Burt Blade Well-Known Member

    There is a certian value for "confidence".

    If you are comfortable with your choice, and confident it works, you project that state. An opportunistic predator does not normally go after an alert, comfortable, confident target.

    Confidence helps defeats fear. You are more likely to survive if you beleive it ahead of time.

    "Good enough" is good enough. The alert, confident, and skilled person with a .25 Baby Browning is far more formiddable than an oblivious and fearful novice with a .50 GoblinBopper.

    I much prefer a .45, but will carry a .32 if the need for concealment is great.
  6. oldfool

    oldfool Well-Known Member

    How much proficiency are you willing to give up of a larger caliber?


    a 22 rimfire will never be a 45, be it 45 acp, 45LC (or 454 Casull)
    and no handgun will be comparable to a same bore rifle, not with both loaded to same relative SAAMI specs for each

    but misses do not count at all, and something like 85% of gunshot victims survive (IIRC), provided the response team is not excessively far away, pretty much no matter what handgun round is chambered

    but aside from extreme disparities in caliber, shooting what you can shoot most accurately quicker, and can bring sights back on target quicker for each successive round thereafter trumps the power factor difference in any of the 'popular' SD handgun rounds

    one shot kills don't really happen that often
    one shot stops involve a great many things, many of which go beyond the actual damage done by that 1st shot
    mostly... don't ever depend on one-shot, irrespective of caliber
    but it takes more than 3 or 4, you are probably doing it wrong

    aim, practice, shoot what you hit with best
    make the that 1st shot count, and be ready to let the 2nd one go when the sight picture is there
    there are very few of the 'very best places' to hit that 'target' and those places are actually pretty small
  7. Old krow

    Old krow Well-Known Member

    My answer is probably none at all. That will however also extend to giving up proficiency for capacity as well. I've seen this debate go both ways. That is of course assuming that there is a quantifiable amount of disparity between any two calibers or platforms that I am comparing for their given purpose.

    As long as I am choosing a gun in one of the more common calibers I am generally okay with the power. If it's an extremely close race (hitting a gnat vs. taking off a gnat's appendage), I'd opt for capacity provided that the caliber were one of the 4 common calibers used.

    Right now the closest race that I personally have going is between my 9mm and the 1911. The 9mm is still trailing behind but the practice sessions are closing the gap. That could change. I base that on; weapon manipulation, 9ispeed, accuracy, sight acquisition, follow-up shots, shooting from behind cover, shooting from a draw, and not necessarily in that order or all inclusive.
  8. waidmann

    waidmann Well-Known Member

    Dealing with family members and others facing age and debility due to disease etc. I'd rather have them picking off shirt buttons with a PP in .32 ACP than scraping ribs or punching clouds with a .45 ACP.

    I can not disagree with the idea of carrying all the gun you can handle. but, shot placement is still king.
  9. 9mmepiphany

    9mmepiphany Moderator

    Shot placement is king, but there is a trade-off of power and proficiency

    In .45ACP, I was willing to give up the power of a 230gr +p load over a normal pressure 230gr loads, because the heavier load was harder to maintain a rate of fire of 5 shots a second...I was barely able to shoot at 4 shot a second...with equal accuracy.

    In 9mm, I was willing to give up the additional accuracy of the 147gr slug (~.5"@15 yards) for the additional velocity of the 125-127gr slug...plus it seemed to run smoother in my gun.

    I really believe that there has to be a hard deck in defensive ammo. Not because I believe smaller calibers can't be as effective...I've seen some devastating shooting with a .22lr...but because defensive shooting is often conducted from less than ideal positions and at less than ideal angles. A .22lr is excellent when targeting the central nervous system, but you can't guarantee that you'll have a clear shot at those areas
  10. DenaliPark

    DenaliPark member

    There is essentially very little difference between service calbers in terminal performance, so says DocGKR and a whole bunch of other really smart ballistics scientists, that translates as "why restrict yourself to only eight, when you can have seventeen that work just as well?"
  11. Damon555

    Damon555 Well-Known Member

    All the power in the world won't do any good if you can't hit what you're shooting at....
  12. sixgunner455

    sixgunner455 Well-Known Member

    Placement and penetration count. The popular service calibers all penetrate to about the same depth, and do about the same amount of permanent cavity tissue tearing up on the way.

    I have a 9mm, and .38 Specials, and one .357 for hiking (makes me more comfortable in black bear and mountain lion country, though it's probably not really necessary). Except for when I'm hiking, that .357 only ever has .38 Specials loaded in it. The magnum loads have a specific mission that the service loads aren't as suited for. In the SD context, I'm not enamored of more recoil, and avoid it at the range, too. I prefer guns that are comfortable to shoot, that I shoot extremely well. Nothing wrong with that.
  13. Shadow 7D

    Shadow 7D Well-Known Member

    Close counts in horse shoes and handgrenades
    Maybe they need to learn how to throw?
  14. Ankeny

    Ankeny Well-Known Member

    Thousands of competition shooters, shooting millions of rounds of ammunition, have established databases with hundreds of thousands of entries that clearly prove beyond any doubt that it is easier (if the same scoring is applied) for a competent shooter to run with a minor caliber vs. a major caliber (such as 9mm vs. 45 ACP) "fast and accurately" (multiple target transitions, follow up shots, etc.) in identical guns within popular platforms (Glock, 1911, XD, etc.). Furthermore, the ability to shoot fast and accurately is diminished as the power factor of the ammo used increases with the same gun, such as a full size 1911 shooting a 200 grain slug at 165 pf (825 fps) vs. a 230 grain round going 900+ fps. Physics is physics and recoil has its effects.

    I too bought into the idea that all good loadings in self defense rounds are pretty much equal and I didn't want to give up any proficiency. That's why I went with a 9mm. If one buys into that logic it is foolish to shoot anything larger than a quality round in a 9mm auto.

    Still, I think the .45 ACP with a stout loading has a place on my hip. This is a great piece of advice "If you are comfortable with your choice, and confident it works, you project that state." The same poster also said, ""Good enough" is good enough." That thought should apply to proficiency and caliber equally. In my feeble mind, I am still good enough with a .45 even though I am better with a 9mm (that is changing with age). I suppose where the rub comes in is I am still hard pressed to believe I am better off with a 9mm just because I can shoot it better. After all, if I shoot a .45 good enough, and if I have more confidence in the .45 over the 9mm as far as terminal performance, isn't it OK to sacrifice some speed in the equation of speed, power, and accuracy?
  15. valnar

    valnar Well-Known Member

    When I read the title of this thread even before the first post, I thought somebody was going to argue that they had to go below a 9mm because recoil, like a .380 or .22lr. Now that I see you only went down to a 9mm, I don't see what the fuss is about. 9mm is more than adequate to take someone down with accurate shot placement - no more or less than with a .45.
  16. BADUNAME37

    BADUNAME37 Well-Known Member

    It's a tough argument, if we are talking strictly defense shooting, say anything within about 7 yards (21').

    I think, if shooting something that is 10' away, it isn't going to make much difference if the bullets are flying at the maximum speed possible for that bullet at the expense of having a group that is perhaps up to .5" larger at that range!

    Now, change 10' to 20' and over, and I think there is a valid argument.

    That is just my opinion.
  17. MrBorland

    MrBorland Moderator

    So, what is proficiency, anyway? A Master IDPA shooter is more "proficient" than a Sharpshooter, and may win the match, even though the sharpshooter may have dropped fewer points. Nonetheless, both shooters demonstrate proficiency. If the master gave up a bit of one type, they gained it in another.

    I don't think it's as much a matter of how much proficiency to give up, so much as when there's a glaring lack or disregard for it. Caliber/capacity doesn't trump that.
  18. InkEd

    InkEd Well-Known Member

    I tend go with the majority opinion, that there is a balance between the two factors. Most anything under 500lbs would be stopped easily with a .44mag BUT it is bit too much for most situations and the recoil is rather serious. The popular handguns calibers .380 and above seem to work well and can be adapted to a variety of platforms.
  19. Daveboone

    Daveboone Well-Known Member

    The bullet that misses doesnt accomplish anything, and if you are counting on the 2nd, 3rd of 15th round to do the job, maybe the other guy counted on his first.
    I have carried and shot .38s, several 9mm, I forget how many .357s, .380s, .22 rimfires, big frame, small frame, etc. Ultimately the arm that I consistently got out and got on target the quickest was an inexpensive .22 PPK knockoff. It fit my hand, had a doable trigger pull and just plain fit. at 10 yards for some reason I could draw from concealment and shoot that quickly and consistently better than anything else. That is not to say that at the target range I shot that best. Because of that, I prefered to carry that for many years more than anything else, but I have simply worn the little bugger out and will not replace it. For the past several years I have been carrying and shooting a J frame .38 alot, and shooting it much more. I am now becoming close to the consistency of the .22. I would never bother to carry something I didnt have total instinctive familiarity with., and knew I would hit what I want, where I want.
  20. BullfrogKen

    BullfrogKen Moderator Emeritus

    I'm not sure if you've defined what you're giving up accurately. Rather than call it proficiency, we could describe it as top edge speed and performance.

    Accurate, quarter second splits is still fast shooting. I'd be more concerned about the ability to work the gun one-handed, in unconventional stances, while maintaining accuracy at an acceptable level of speed.

    My hands have gotten worse over the years. I can control a .45 in a lightweight Commander, but my times are slower. I don't shoot .357 magnums much in my revolvers, but I can handle .38 Specials just fine. The days my hands and wrists are a real mess I carry a revolver. The disease can make the ability to work a semi-auto questionable some days. Otherwise I'm usually carrying a moderately powered 38 Super. Not quite Major PF, but not wimpy either.

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