My Opinion On Some of The Common CCW Handgun Calibers

Discussion in 'Handguns: General Discussion' started by LookAtYou, Sep 7, 2022.

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  1. LookAtYou

    LookAtYou Member

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    .45 ACP: It works because of the sheer size of the round. It doesn't need to expand to be potentially effective. In smaller guns, .45 often doesn't expand, until you reach like a 4.5"+ barrel. When it does expand, expansion is large, and penetration is decent as well. .Velocity is low, relatively speaking. Recoil can be anywhere from mild to stout, but usually less than .40 or .357mag. Capacity is also lower than .40, yet better than .357mag. Usually 10 rounds or less.


    This is from a 4.5" barrel.
    Screenshot_20220907-122007.png


    .357 Mag: This has the most velocity and energy out of the the .40 and .45, which helps it also yield the best penetration out of the 3 calibers as well. Expansion is very reliable due to high velocity, but it is relatively small often times, similar to the size of 9mm JHP. Recoil can be stout. More than .40 or .45 often times. Capacity is often low, capped at 7 rounds usually.

    This is from a 2.125" barrel, so kinda diminished results I'd say. In a 3" barrel penetration would be more.
    Screenshot_20220907-121816.png


    .40 S&W: This is somewhat similar to .45 acp, but it has higher velocity, and higher energy many times being. This makes the .40 much more reliable to expand in smaller size guns, which makes .40 excellent for ccw. .40 out penetrates .45, and expands much more reliably. It also is more powerful often times than .45. This does come with more recoil, but many still shoot the .40 well to this day. Capacity is typically better than .45 or .357mag, with 10-15 rounds being common.

    This is from a 3.5" barrel. Still did excellent.
    Screenshot_20220907-122011.png

    I think .40, even though to some it's considered a sub-par caliber, is actually the best "powerful" caliber for CCW purposes. Very good ballistics, shootability, and capacity balance.
     
    Last edited: Sep 7, 2022
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  2. Riomouse911

    Riomouse911 Member

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    :thumbup:

    Stay safe.
     
  3. Rule3

    Rule3 Member

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    Popcorn time!:)
     
  4. buck460XVR

    buck460XVR Member

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    Everyone has and is entitled to their opinion. IMHO, one should carry what they are comfortable with, confident in and proficient with. Period. Don't matter what others think or want to convince you of.
     
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  5. jmr40

    jmr40 Member

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    At the end of the day those as well as 9mm all do exactly the same thing.
     
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  6. bdickens

    bdickens Member

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    Oh goodie. Another caliber thread. About time; its been more than a week.
     
  7. AJC1

    AJC1 Member

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    As long as your using a normal case not 32 acp or 25 it's all good. 9, 40,45 they all get the job done. Obviously there wasn't enough choices so 30 supercary came to confuse things even more.
     
  8. westernrover

    westernrover Member

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    Here's a few counter-arguments for your consideration -- it's not like we're going to settle the great caliber debate here, but think about these things with respect to some of the conclusions you've drawn.

    You wrote that 45 doesn't need to expand to work, but 36 caliber bullets like 9x19mm and 357 will expand to 75 caliber and they will have a blunt leading edge as opposed to the rounded un-expanded 45. When a 45 does expand, it often lacks sectional density and it under-penetrates. To drive 45's to good expansion diameter and still achieve good penetration will consistently result in a lot more recoil than doing the same with 35 caliber bullets.

    Among popular carry cartridges, 357 Magnum possesses the widest range of effective velocities. The short autoloader cartridges cannot match the velocities from a long magnum case loaded with bulky progressive (slow-burning) powders. There is a trade-off to those magnum velocities in recoil, but 357 Magnum can also be loaded to pip-squeak levels and in a revolver it does not have to cycle the action. With the wide range of velocities available, it can be loaded to match the ballistics and recoil of any of the other cartridges (380, 38, 9, 40, 45). Compared to the other popular cartridges, 357 Magnum also allows the greatest variety of bullet weights. While larger calibers have a theoretical advantage in wound-channel diameter, the bullets for 357 Magnum that are on the heavy side for this caliber offer the greatest sectional density which is a key factor in penetration.

    Expansion is not just a function of velocity, but also of bullet design. 36 caliber bullets are available that will consistently and reliably expand to 75 caliber and from 9x19mm and 357 Magnum, they will also consistently penetrate to meet standards. While 40 and 45 caliber projectiles can theoretically expand to even greater diameters (as great as 100 caliber), they lose a lot of sectional density in doing so and will penetrate poorly. To get a ~45 caliber projectile to expand to 100 caliber and penetrate deeply, we need more case capacity or chamber pressure than 45 ACP offers. 454 Casull will do it, or 44 Magnum, but we're going beyond what's practical for most people to control in a carry gun.

    The big bore thing is attractive until we account for the tradeoffs and reckon that we're ultimately dealing with something like a triangle: penetration, expanded diameter, recoil. For practical reasons, we can only accept a triangle that's so big. Beyond that, although the benefits of penetration and expanded diameter are attractive, the increase in recoil makes it untenable at some point.

    As popular carry guns continue to get smaller and lighter while offering the higher capacities that ultra small and light guns of the past lacked, recoil has become a major factor to consider. Guns like the Shield+, G43, Hellcat, P365 and so on are around 20 ounces. Most people are going to shoot those weight guns in a 9x19 better than 40. We also understand that only hits count and good hits are better. The big bore just can't be powerful enough to make misses count. The 45 ACP and 40 S&W were designed for guns that weighed 39 and 37 ounces and guns in that weight aren't popular for carry these days.

    If you want to train around the challenges and are willing to carry a heavier gun, then 357, 40, and 45 are capable of effective work. There's a slim chance any additional effectiveness they offer from a bullet diameter that's just a few hundredths of an inch larger and any possible extra penetration will make any difference. What are the chances of a person making a hit with a 45 that takes effect, where a 9x19 would have failed? Yet the difference in the guns carried is very tangible. The difference in people's performance with them is also often evident.

    It's a reckoning of these things that has made 9x19 by far the most popular. It doesn't hurt that it accommodates good capacity, but I think 30 Super Carry which offers even more capacity will fail to catch-on in a way that it ever usurps 9x19. 5.7x28 once promised the same, but has only recently resurfaced as a novelty after thirty years of relative obscurity.

    Personally, I don't carry 9x19, but I can see why most people would be stupid not to. I load my 357 pretty close to 9x19 ballistics and carry it in a gun that's twice as heavy as most popular carry guns. Most people would balk at this and I don't expect them not to. If you want to carry 40, it's a perfectly viable option, but don't expect the choice to come free of trade-offs.
     
  9. CDW4ME

    CDW4ME Member

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    My opinion on these calibers for self defense:
    22/25/32/380 - No thanks
    9mm/40/45 - Yes
    38/357 - Performance might be there but revolvers are low capacity.
     
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  10. Pat Riot
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    Pat Riot Contributing Member

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    Thanks for your study @LookAtYou

    I prefer carrying .38 Special or 9mm and for a truck, car, bike gun, .357 Magnum. Quite honestly, I have only ever fired a couple of .40 S&W guns and have no experience with it. For years I was a big proponent of .45 ACP, but I wanted to “carry” a gun, not lug one around. A 1911 is a tricky conceal on hot days. Then I discovered Glocks. Gave my last 1911 to my daughter and switched over to 9mm and .38 for carry.
     
  11. WisBorn

    WisBorn Member

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    @LookAtYou thanks for the write up/study. As mentioned earlier we haven't had a cartridge/caliber discussion thread going for a little while.
    I will go with what most good data driven stupies have determined, that the 380 and up are effective for ccw.
    There is just not enough data for the mouse cartridges. The 30 super carry will need to be around for awhile before the jury of popular opinion decides. Some of the 32 caliber cartridges can be effective also. The 22 and 25 can work but are truly not recommended.

    The popularity of the 9mm Luger and cheap to produce polymer pistols will keep it on top.

    My personal favorites include 38 special & 380acp for pocket carry. I also like 357mag & 41mag where four legged threats are and have recently added a 44mag to that group.
    When I feel the need for higher capacity and welcome more energy I will add my 45acp XDM compact with 9+1 or 13+1 in addition to my pocket carry.
    The 40 is loosing popularity but does have a following as the 10mm is growing in popularity for wilderness carry.

    The most important thing about ccw is to carry when and where you legally can. The 32acp in your pocket is much more effective than a 45 left at home because it is not comfortable to carry.

    Stay safe!
     
    Last edited: Sep 8, 2022
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  12. Archie

    Archie Member

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    Sounds about right. I tend to doubt the use of high volume handguns in this context. If a defender knows how to shoot, the problem is usually over in at most a few shots. But the popular myth is seven or eight misses is preferable to one properly delivered shot.
     
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  13. beeenbag

    beeenbag Member

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    Probably should have included 9mm in this, considering it is currently the most popular cartridge in the concealed carry world. However, I would agree with your assessment of 40 being the most powerful of the bunch that fits a decent amount of rounds in a smaller sized firearm. I really wish gun manufacturers would release some of the newer small guns in 40, such as the p365, shield plus, or even the glock 43. Unfortunately, I do not see the 40 being made in most new guns unless there is a massive market turn in favor of the 40.
     
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  14. DR505

    DR505 Member

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    I like them all. I have carried .357, 9mm, .40 S&W, and .45 ACP as LE duty weapons. I was happy with all and qualified equally well with each, though I prefer magazines to speed-loaders! I don't have an issue concealing a 1911 or an N-Frame revolver, but Pat Riot is correct about hot-weather dress sometimes being a challenge...so then it is a G43X or a G27 in a cargo pocket.

    I am with everyone who says that one should carry whatever cartridge, in whatever bullet launcher, they are proficient with, can get into action quickly, and with which they can hit their target.
     
  15. fxvr5

    fxvr5 Member

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    The numbers show the 40 has less recoil than the 45 in the same weight gun. The examples below use a gun weight of 2.5 pounds. (gunpowder weight is set at 0.)

    45 ACP, 230 gr at 850 fps = 4.85 ft pounds.
    40 S&W, 180 gr at 1000 fps = 4.11 ft pounds.

    The 40 data is from a 4" barrel, and the 45 data is from a 5" barrel. If you bump the 40 S&W up by 50 fps which it would gain by 1" more barrel:

    40 S&W, 180 gr at 1050 fps = 4.53 ft pounds.

    It's still less recoil than the 45 Auto.
     
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  16. jstert

    jstert Member

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    this…talking about “normal” suburban civilians, not soldiers, cops, guards, bail bondsmen, big game guides, ranchers…

    what caliber do you enjoy, financially and physically, to practice with alot? what caliber can you hit with consistently? what handgun fits your hand and you would actually carry day in and out? which one will you regularly fieldstrip and clean?

    if i am choosing just 1-2 calibers mine are 22lr and 38sp, but i could add 32acp and 380acp too for their platforms that i like. of the traditional centerfire handgun choices, 38sp revolvers are straightforward and simple. 38sp can had from mild wadcutters to wild +p. most gun folks likely don’t like my choices for protection and that’s ok.
     
  17. .38 Special

    .38 Special Member

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    As always, I consider most handguns underpowered for self-defense. Almost no one would go after a 200 pound leopard with a .380 or a 9mm (or a .40 or a .45 or a...) but we mostly have talked ourselves into believing that they are fine for an enraged 200 pound criminal.

    So for me it is simple: carry the most powerful handgun you can control.
     
  18. .308 Norma

    .308 Norma Member

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    :rofl:
    Ha,ha,ha,ha! In my head, I pictured a Professional Hunter in Africa claiming the reason he carried a Ruger 10-22 to back up his leopard hunting clients was because he could "quickly deliver 10 bullets on target" with a 10-22 due to the almost complete absence of recoil and muzzle blast. :p
     
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  19. .38 Special

    .38 Special Member

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    I hadn't heard that one!

    The one that does stick with me was written up in - I believe - Craig Boddington's book on dangerous game hunting. Apparently two separate professional hunters had followed up wounded leopards while armed with 12 gauge shotguns. Both men apparently hit their leopards with 00 buck and still got badly mauled, and both subsequently switched to their big stopping rifles for such tasks - after they got out of the hospital.

    Obviously wounded leopards are not exactly analogous with meth heads and stick-up artists, and obviously the .380 does occasionally work for self defense. I personally will continue to stick with as much power as I can reasonably control.
     
    Last edited: Sep 8, 2022
  20. TransAmConvert

    TransAmConvert Member

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    That's a weak .357 load for comparison. I can drive that bullet at least 100fps faster from a snub for major expansion, or a 158gr could bring some serious penetration.

    It's also kind of silly to compare cartridges that come in wildly different guns (yeah, Coonan, ok). There's a lot that goes into one's choice of carry and cartridge is pretty far down the list I think. Well behind platform. Once you have a platform you can discuss its various chamberings in light of that platforms particular strengths and weaknesses.
     
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  21. .308 Norma

    .308 Norma Member

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    I can certainly agree with that. As I've mentioned before, both my wife and our daughter carry Smith EZ Shields. However, our daughter's is a 9mm, while my wife's is only a .380. That's because, due to the arthritis in my wife's right thumb joint, she can't handle 9mm recoil in a small package like a Smith EZ Shield.
    I guess it would be considered kind of ironic that our daughter got a .380 EZ Shield first (before my wife got hers), and my wife borrowed it so that she could see how it shot. My wife loved it, and within a couple of days, bought one of her own.
    Then, as soon a Smith came out with the EZ Shield in 9mm, our daughter turned around and traded her EZ Shield .380 in on one - which she claims, "doesn't kick any harder than the .380 I used to have." However, our daughter doesn't have arthritis in her right thumb joint like my wife does in hers, so when my wife shot our daughter's EZ Shield 9mm, she said, "IT DOES TOO KICK HARDER!" :eek:
    BTW, my wife has an old Sig P239 9mm that she loves and loves to shoot. The thing is though, a Sig P239, even though it's considered to be a "compact" pistol, it's still bigger, heavier and harder for a 5'2", 120lb woman to conceal than a sub-compact Smith EZ Shield. ;)
     
    Last edited: Sep 8, 2022
  22. Buzznrose

    Buzznrose Member

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    Well, I’m good with most any center fire pistol round, as long as it’s in a Glock!

    :neener: :rofl: :cuss:
     
  23. DeepSouth
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    DeepSouth Random Guy

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    That’s crazy. A 9mm punches a .35” hole and can never under any circumstances punch a .45” hole. And we all know that .1” is the difference between “that stung a little” and 100% effective one shot stops, regardless of shot placement.
     
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  24. WisBorn

    WisBorn Member

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    Well I have to disagree about the Glock thing unless you are accurate at throwing the jamomatic :evil::rofl::cool::p:D
     
  25. .308 Norma

    .308 Norma Member

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    Well, I'm pretty "good" with both of my Glocks too. Not as good as I am with better pistols though. And while I like my Glocks, I'll readily admit there's a LOT of better pistols out there. :neener:
     
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