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Thought about small caliber carry guns.

Discussion in 'Strategies, Tactics, and Training' started by TNboy, Jan 22, 2011.

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  1. Snowy Rivers

    Snowy Rivers Member

    Jan 20, 2011
    NW Oregon
    Reread the original Post.

    Ok, here is something that I find few people ever discussing.

    I had this issue beaten into my head back during my earlier years while training with some of the Big named folks.

    The issue of the "Courtroom Pitfall" comes into the picture.

    OK you just toasted an attacker and its over. NOOOOOOOOOOO not quite, the DA convienes a grand Jury to look at the case.

    The prosecuter gets up in front of the jury and starts in, "ladies and Gentlemen of the jury, Mr Jones (you the shooter) used a 357 MAGNUM handgun to gundown his attacker"

    A standard caliber was not good enough, he had to use a MAGNUM.

    The jury likely has little knowledge that the 357 mag was once the mainstay of most LE.

    That little play on words, could make all the difference in the world.

    Do I see an excessive force thing starting to crawl into the picture here ????

    You and I know better, but will this little ditty make the prosecutors case an easy one.???

    Back in LFI 1 we discussed this very subject, right along with the subject of not using HAND LOADS.

    I stress these two items in every CCW class.

    "The court room pitfall"

    I can't make all my students the best defense shooters in the world, but I can try hard to keep them from becoming food for the predators that scour the scene after the fact.

  2. Hoppes Love Potion

    Hoppes Love Potion Member

    May 11, 2010
    It really should be a discussion of actual strategies & tactics and what can be gained in that regard by using a small caliber. Everyone agrees the bigger bullet is better, all other things being equal, but the other things are not equal. The small gun does some things better. So let's look more closely:

    First of all, we will carry our weapons a lot more than we will use them for self-defense. Many of us will carry ALWAYS and deploy NEVER. So size & weight should at least be a consideration, and you could make a case for it being a major consideration. The small gun allows a much greater range of options as far as wardrobe, carry position, lifestyle, even choice of career. Carrying a full-size 1911 can be restricting; the mouse gun is liberating. It allows concealed carry even wearing jogging shorts, swim trunks, etc. It allows you to carry places where guns may be frowned-upon...certain businesses, homes of antis, etc. If there are situations or places you can't or won't carry the full-size rig, consider that a mini might fit those occasions.

    Carry position can also make a big difference in an encounter. The small weapon can be deployed from unexpected places. Some can even be hidden in the hand while you assess a potential threat. I like the idea of spending Condition Orange with my weapon in my hand. I can go right to Condition Red without thinking about holsters or cover garments, slides or safeties.

    Most would agree that shot placement, muscle memory, and familiarity with one's weapon are key factors. Yet there was almost no discussion about the advantage of being able to practice daily, in one's own garage, basement, or back yard. If I ever have to draw my weapon in self-defense, I will take great comfort in the knowledge that I've already put at least one round into the small bullseye today. The ability to practice with my carry weapon using subsonic ammo was one of the deciding factors.

    Another was the realization that the .22 WMR is not as anemic as some might think. It's actually a wicked little round, fully capable of doing its job if I do my job. With Speer Gold Dot and Hornady Critical Defense now available in .22 WMR, we've got defensive ammo designed for short barrels. That should bump up the power a notch and deliver reliable expansion.

    Any other advantages? Cost. Lower purchase price, far lower practice costs. I know we're supposed to spare no expense when it comes to protecting our lives, but not everybody has a ton of disposable income. I can have an acceptable level of protection at a fraction of the entry price, and practice cheaply and often enough to stay sharp. It would be tragic to buy enough gun but not have the money to practice often, or the hands-on experience to avoid making a critical mistake when it counts.
  3. Snowy Rivers

    Snowy Rivers Member

    Jan 20, 2011
    NW Oregon
    Just no way to find fault with this post :)

    All very true,. BUTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTT someone will still argue :rolleyes:

  4. xXxplosive

    xXxplosive Member

    May 25, 2009
    New Jersey
    The Colt .380 worked for John Dillenger............pocket carry.
  5. troyriser

    troyriser Member

    Jan 25, 2011
    Franklin, Indiana
    Many on this thread make a convincing 'bigger is better' argument, but it isn't reasonable to expect many folks who carry to carry large, largely un-concealable weapons. For example, I own a beautifully made S&W Model 14-2 .38 special Target Masterpiece, but carry a .380 Ruger LCP and a .22 mag NAA Black Widow (with the folding holster), both with no visible print, both quickly accessible. God knows I would want the .38 with me if I found myself in a tight spot, but the nature of my work and social environment is such that the very evident presence of the .38 would make most people uncomfortable. The .38 goes with me in the car when I'm taking trips, but rarely is it on my person.

    The best we can do is train ourselves to practice presentation, movement, and marksmanship so that we are able to react appropriately and without hesitation if attacked. I studied martial arts for years when I was younger, engaging in countless hours and endless repetition of kata with just this end in mind. The next thing is that, for most civilian types, violence is alien to their experience. They watch movies and play video games, sure, but when confronted with the real thing or the prospect of the real thing, they freeze up from shock and confusion. Bad guys count on that shock and confusion.

    So yes, .45 ACP will shatter spines and so on, no problem, but only if the man or woman holding it is relatively well-trained and clear-headed and possesses the willingness to seriously harm another human being. That business about scaring off an attacker by showing them the gun? I dunno. If I've drawn my weapon, that means I'm in a fight for my life and I'll be shooting it within the next second or so. That bad guy better talk fast or run faster than the time it takes me to do it.
  6. LAK

    LAK Member

    Jul 28, 2004
    Relatively is the operative word I think. The Tokarev sits right in the middle for bullet diameter of the other smaller cartridges. All can certainly be expected to deeply penetrate soft tissue using full metal jacketed slugs, at least enough to drill vital tissue. Though a rib here and there might argue that outcome too.

    But here I would include everything from the .22 RF magnum to the .380/9 Makarov - and the .32 magnum revolver loaded with FMJ or hardcast. Even a plain lead .22 solid will penetrate quite deeply in soft tissue.

    The real shortcoming of the smaller loads then is that they lack the velocity (and energy) to penetrate sufficiently when a classic silhouette profile target is not presented, shatter bone, and or when other intermediate barriers are present. Certainly I would agree it is in this regard that the Tokarev leaves them well behind.

    Another one that I am sure will prove capable in this regard is the .327 Federal revolver. With FMJ or hardcast bullets it should be able to really drill some holes.


    Je Suis Prest
  7. Deltaboy1984

    Deltaboy1984 Member

    Nov 21, 2008
    Johnson County Texas
    Lets go back to the basics.
    Rule #1 Have a Gun
    Rule #2 Always have it with you.
    Rule #3 Be able to hit what you shoot at.
    Pray God watchs out for you and you never have to use it; Then be like a Boy Scout and be Prepared.
  8. the iron horse

    the iron horse Member

    Apr 16, 2007
    I'm on a tight budget.

    I can agree with many here who think you need more than a .22,

    but I'm leaning towards spending my few dollars on .22 mag firearms.

    I just can't afford anything else. What else can I do?

    Just got back from from doing my taxes and I'm getting spit back.
  9. BLB68

    BLB68 Member

    May 18, 2008
    Bersa Thunder 380 runs about 250-275 depending on your location. Kel Tec PF-9 runs in about the same ballpark. I don't know of any decent 22 mags that are any cheaper, really. The ammo cost on .22 mag isn't going to save you much, if any, money over the .380 or 9mm, and ammo cost is usually much greater than the cost of the weapon itself if you practice enough to become proficient.
  10. mljdeckard

    mljdeckard Member

    Jun 5, 2006
    In a part of Utah that resembles Tattooine.
    If it's a budget thing, eat some mac and cheese for a while, save another couple of hundred bucks, and cruise the pawn shops.
  11. mbt2001

    mbt2001 Member

    Dec 5, 2005
    That said it all
  12. brandon_mcg

    brandon_mcg Member

    Nov 17, 2010
    Macon, Ga
    i have never heard anyone that got in a gun fight say "man i had way too much gun for that fight"

    but if it is really all you can afford then its better than nothing.

    or, is it all you can afford RIGHT NOW. if you can wait awhile, save up and sit back for a good deal.
  13. Rexster

    Rexster Member

    Mar 25, 2007
    SE Texas
    Small-bore cartridges can be quite effective in the real world. The main reason I generally want to carry larger are two: I work for a PD which mandates a .380 ACP minimum carry gun, and, more importantly from a tactical standpoint, I want a weapon that fills my hand and allows me to really haul that trigger back hard, without the muzzle wavering due to an imperfect grip on the gun, or imperfect finger placement on the trigger. Little guns can require me to hold it "just so" in order to place shots effectively. Some small guns tend to actually squirm during the trigger pull, or jump out of place during recoil.

    My Seecamp LWS-32 is actually quite good at being something I can grab and fire quickly, due to its grip shape and nice long reach to the trigger, but falls below the .380 ACP threshold. By PD rules, I can carry it strictly as a back-up to something bigger, but it usually stays in the safe, pending my retirement from LEO'ing. My usual back-ups are snubby revolvers.

    We have a paperweight here at the house, a Kel-tec .32, that definitely falls into the category of too small to shoot well in a hurry. The thing is too narrow for me to grip well, and I have to go to great lengths to place my index finger "just so" on the trigger. My wife doesn't like it, either.

    What do I usually carry concealed? The same P229 pistols and SP101 snubbies I carry at work. Life is simpler if I don't open the big safe so often, and of course, my training is simplified, my confidence in my shooting ability with the weapon of the moment is higher, and as I must furnish my duty weapons, within guidelines, I am getting better value out of the purchases. If I can conceal a P229 in my usual Bulman FDS, on a Kramer belt, so comfortably that I must touch the pistol make sure it is still there, do I really need anything smaller?

    If I didn't have a professional reason to carry duty/service-sized weapons 50-something hours a week, would I carry smaller weapons, with smaller bores, on my own time? Well, I probably would not bother with .40 S&W, which is mandated for my primary duty pistols, so if I owned SIGs, they might well be 9mm. I actually like some .45 ACP and .45 Colt handguns, so I doubt all of my carry guns would be small bores.

    Now, if budget is the reason for carrying a small bore, the cost of ammo should be considered. 9mm is probably the most economical centerfire handgun ammo extant, and there are some excellent 9mm econo-pistols. Much .32 and .380 ammo is sold like it is gold or something. Makarov pistols can be friendly on the wallet, though I cannot address the price of that ammo; I have not looked into it. If all I had was a .22 handgun, I would carry it, if reliable.
  14. MarshallDodge

    MarshallDodge Member

    Nov 7, 2005
    Utah, USA
    DavidE nailed it in post #5.
  15. David E

    David E Member

    Aug 3, 2008
    That's what you pay YOUR lawyer for, to tell them exactly that! Problem solved.

    Jeff Cooper summed it up nicely: "Problem One is defending your life successfully. Problem Two is explaining to the boys with the bracelets. Too many put Problem Two ahead of Problem One."

    In the same article, Jeff Cooper told of a good guy that had used his .380 (Browning BDA) to successfully defend his life, but the problem the jury had wasn't deciding if the good guy was justified in shooting; he was. The problem they had was that the good guy fired "so many times" at the badguy (5, IIRC) that it just had to be murder, since they thought it would take too long to fire 5 rounds and that the badguy surely must've stopped after the first shot......

    Cooper proved that firing 5 shots didn't take very long at all and that a .380 should be expected to require a lot of rounds to be fired. Following Cooper's testimony, the good guy did finally beat the rap.
    Jeff22 likes this.


    Nov 1, 2010
    I would say a gun you have on you is better then no gun at all but if at all possible go with .380 (still a lil weak 9mm would be a better starting point) or bigger.

    Sure any firearm no matter if it's a 22LR or 500 S&W can kill the BG coming after you and your family if you hit the right spot. That bigger round has that much more of a chance of hitting the right spot in a high stress situation where you are not going to be as precise as you'd like no matter how good you are at shooting the bullseye outta the target when you're at the range.

    I've persoanlly seen two incidents of a .22LR tracking the skull of shooting victims and not penetrating into the brain where it would do damage. So with a .22 handgun a head shot might not even do the job. Can you be precise enough to guarantee a vital organ or CNS shot in a soft tissue area while under stress with that little .22 or would you rather have somthing bigger to kind of help your chances of nicking something vital or causing the BG to bleed out? That being said I've also seen a guys hit with multiple 9mm or .45 ACP center mass shots survive but they are not usually able to put up much of a fight in the shape they are in.
    Last edited: Feb 4, 2011
  17. arcticap

    arcticap Member

    Mar 20, 2005
    Central Connecticut
    Quite a large percentage of police firings under stress are complete misses.
    Hits and quick follow up hits are better than misses.
    The .22LR may be an expert's round, maybe not.
    But it all begins with a dose of respect for what the round can do in capable hands, not what the round can't do for someone who chooses not to carry it.
    I shoot enough of it and see enough capable .22 combat shooters to know how fast & accurate the follow up shots can be.
    Is the .22LR a handicap?
    I don't think so.
    Every round has advantages and disadvantages.
    I prefer to focus on the advantages because I have enough respect for the round.
    If someone else doesn't then they will use whatever else they want.
    If a .22 pistol allows a person to shoot with double the speed & accuracy then that's an advantage.
    A quick gun in the hand is better than 2 slower ones in their holster. ;)
    Last edited: Feb 8, 2011
  18. sm

    sm member

    Dec 22, 2002
    Between black coffee, and shiftn' gears
    Read Post 7 again.

    Me, well I suspect not many of you were raised, nor mentored I was. Not to mention doing what all I did, starting at a very very young age. Ruark is correct in regard to Use Enough Gun and nobody had better disrespect Ruark. Got it!!

    Though my elephants are not as numerous, nor as large as others around here, mine were real and I own them.

    The reality is some "threats" were stopped with small caliber firearms. Mentors, whom had "been there and done that" not only shared with me small caliber firearms, also "pen knives"

    Yeah, penknives...

    Mindset, skill sets then tool sets...

    Software- not hardware
  19. Ryder

    Ryder Member

    Dec 31, 2002
    Using 22 caliber bullets to hunt large game even with rifles is prohibited in my state. I've seen and heard enough to know there is a good reason for that.

    I've also seen people so large they give me doubts about the 45acp being a big enough gun. Seriously :eek:
  20. TexasBill

    TexasBill Member

    Jun 26, 2009
    Texas Gulf Coast
    I am perfectly happy with .380 because my .380s are not pocket pistols. I have a Walther PK380 and a Beretta 84FS Cheetah. The PK380 holds nine rounds, the Beretta holds fourteen.

    I guess the closest thing I have to a pocket gun is a Smith & Wesson M637. It fits in a pocket of my jeans or shorts.

    I wouldn't feel unprotected with a .22 Magnum. I wish S&W would bring back the Model 51; I had one of those years ago and it was a sweet little gun.
  21. Laf'n'Larry

    Laf'n'Larry Member

    Dec 2, 2010
    Central Texas
    Like almost everyone else, I've asked that question, "how small can I go? I found Sammie Fousts story at


    to be informative and moving.
  22. orionengnr

    orionengnr Member

    Jan 3, 2005
    Lots of logical fallacies in this thread.

    The most popular being "a .22 in your pocket beats a .45 left at home"...as if those were the only two choices. I carry a .45 every day, and I'm a 54 year old, fairly busted-up (physically) dude who weighs 155 lbs on a good day. It's really not that difficult, if you make up your mind to do it. I don't honestly believe that I value my life more than you value yours. I do believe that I have put a fair bit of thought into it and I am willing to make some committments that you may not yet be willing to...

    Just to keep it real, I own and carried a Kahr PM9 for over three years before I realized I could actually carry a .45 every day. I still own the PM9 and and LCP...I have carried each a day or two in the last two years. Generally if I am too sick to go to work or leave the house.

    The most egregious is:
    No, not "will"...not by a long shot. Try "may" and add "pray" to that, and you are in the balpark...or at least the parking lot...and it's an awful big lot. arelying on the mere display of a gun is nothing any thinking man would bet his life on...or we'd all be carrying blue guns spray painted black.
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2011
  23. david58

    david58 Member

    Feb 14, 2010
    High Country New Mexico
    I've toted a 1911 since I got my CHL several years ago. I just purchased a smaller 9mm, which I think will be plenty easy to conceal either IWB or OWB. I don't know that a .380 would buy me much more as concealment goes, unless I can talk myself in to having less than half the mag capacity. I find myself leaning toward also getting one of the 5-shot snubbies in 38spl, although the new Taurus slim is interesting, especially because of the coupla three extra rounds.
  24. jon86

    jon86 Member

    Feb 14, 2010
    There are a lot of good opinions in this thread.

    My thoughts:

    Sometimes I carry a full size 9 or a compact 40. 95% of the time though, it's a 38 special. I think that a 22, 32, or 380 are better than nothing, but personally my comfortable minimum is 38 special throwing a 158 grain slug or a 9mm. I have nothing against individuals who carry less. That said, it is SO EASY to conceal a 38 special or a subcompact single stack 9mm. It isn't much harder than carrying a 380.
  25. NMGonzo

    NMGonzo Member

    Sep 10, 2009
    Albuquerque & Santa Fe
    Most of the time i carry a .380 mousegun.

    Sometimes I carry a larger .380

    Half the time I carry a small .357

    Few times I carry .44 magnum

    What is the result?

    Always carry something.
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