Why do you choose the gun and caliber you use for defense?

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In the beginning, I chose the 1911 and .45 ACP because I grew up in a non-gun household, and therefore had to learn about firearms by reading. Historically, the 1911 had been used by Cpl. Alvin York in his heroic feat, and had been favored by many other men who used them in historically documented accounts. (I am a history buff, from an early age.) Then, as I approached the age I could buy a pistol, I read the writings of such men as LTC Jeff Cooper and Mas Ayoob, who favored the 1911. (Yes, Mas was a proponent of the 1911 and .45 ACP at the time.)

Later, I had to use revolvers as a rookie LEO, and made it a point to really learn the platform, even if I thought sixguns were becoming obsolete. Thanks to excellent academy instructors, plus reading the writings of such folks as Bill Jordan, Skeeter Skelton, and Jim Cirillo, I grew to really appreciate sixguns. I still occasionally use large/medium-framed sixguns, but more often use SP101s these days. I have actually fired a hot .357 Magnum in self-defense, and am satisfied that it performs well. There is nothing obsolete about revolvers.

I reverted to .45 ACP 1911s for duty and personal-time concealed carry for a while. I have kept my best 1911, a Baer TRS, though it has been relegated to a recreational weapon for now.

I am presently required to carry a .40 autoloader as a primary duty pistol. When I first switched, I could have used a G22, a P229, a Beretta 96G, or an obscure decock-only 3rd-Gen S&W, the model number now forgotten. I liked the P229 the best, but settled for a G22, for monetary reasons, and because I couldn't seem to really be able to reach the SIG's trigger in DA mode. (I must buy my own duty firearms.)

In 2004, I got to handle a P229 with a short factory trigger, and was able to reach the trigger just fine. The first shooting session confirmed that the P229 is a much better pistol for me than a G22. As I built skill, it seemed the P229 may be a better pistol for me than a 1911. Time will tell if I ever go back to the 1911 as a first-line, go-to pistol.

Even though the .40 S&W is my mandated duty cartridge, I do like it quite a bit. I had briefly experimented with a .40 BHP when they were introduced. I don't believe there is much, if any difference in on-target performance between the .45 ACP and .40 S&W, and since I believe shot placement trumps the tiny difference in bore diameter, by far, I will stay with .40, and the P229, for now, rather than divide my training time and budget between two dissimilar platforms. Notably, my SIGs and revolvers complement each other; practice with one aids my performance with the others. (My main carry/duty SIGs have DAK triggers, which mimic S&W/Ruger revolvers' trigger pulls.)

The P229 is big enough to be a duty pistol, and small enough to be a concealed-carry gun most of the time. The SP101 can handle real magnum loads without killing my hand, and the factory grip LOCKS into my grip like no other handgun. Life is good!
I think a lot of people carry guns that are too small to shoot well. I would recommend shooting an IDPA match with your carry gear to make sure it works for you.

Good idea, but many of the calibers that folks carry (.32, .380) are not allowed in IDPA or USPSA. Besides, why risk findng out that you're not as good as you think? ;)

I draw my line at 9mm with premium JHP ammo. IMNTOHO, there is no reason to ever go smaller, given today's guns, unless you simply cannot control 9mm or larger. (and that is mainly a practice/technique issue)

Currently, I'm packing a .45 Kimber Lightweight Compact, as I shoot it fairly well and it's pretty easy to carry and conceal.
It's probably easier to answer this not on the basis of caliber alone...but on a "weapon systems" level.

I have chosen the two:

1. A lightweight j-frame (.38 +P). It's on the "effective enough" caliber level. The revolver is fool proof. Highly dependable in an emergency. It's small enough to carry in most settings.... yet large enough gun to hang on to in a stressful situation.
I would add carrying the LCP in (.380) as back-up.

2. On occasions when it is possible, I prefer to carry the Glock 27 in (.40 cal), with one or two reloads. When I consider the size of many criminals (younger, stronger, bigger due to muscle and fat), I feel better armed with a .40 cal.
Politics and ergonomics: most of my weapons are made in the U.S.A. by companies that support the US Military and LEO with excellent weapons, and then one of their creations has to fit MY hands. After that, the last 5 years of internet resources has really made things easy for researching customizers and long distance gunsmiths. Shipping my M&Ps off to Dan Burwell guarantees a product returned that is up to my specs of performance and being easy on the eyes.

Now, you might ask, why in the world would you mix such a goofy political ideation into your fun gun hobby? Without the guarantors and protectors of our rights, freedoms, and liberties I would be using our weapons to fight an oppressive government that is more and more corporation controlled. Literally. Look around the world. We are spoiled and take our freedoms for granted. We cannot ASSUME that tomorrow when we wake up that the Bill of Rights will still be there, or that our local Law Enforcement officers were up all night taking care of bad guys: they need our support in ANY fashion you find is right for YOU to deliver it to them.

I can use ANY pistol or long-gun for self defense effectively with lots of practice and studying the mechanics of the weapon, IF it fits my/my wife's hands and I enjoy practicing with it. Those are 5 Smith and Wessons and one recently purchased FNP. .22, 9mm, 10mm, .40 and .45. Plus a Dan Wesson 44 Mag CTG that is one of the most pleasurable 44 Mags to shoot with 44Special loads. AN STI Target Master in .45 which is again, the pleasure side of heaven for shooting .45 ACP at 50+ yards. They have gotta be fun to shoot 200 rounds through at each range visit. They have gotta make me stand back and say WOW, that is great to shoot! It's another great day to be an American!!:)
With the S@W autolock, your revolver is NOT fool proof. Mine locked up tight, and took a gunsmith to fix.
With the S@W autolock, your revolver is NOT fool proof. Mine locked up tight, and took a gunsmith to fix.

Oh? We need details !

What did the 'smith do after he took it apart?
Browning BDA .380. For me its a great combination of concealabilty, capacity, and accuracy. 13 rounds of .380 in a mid-sized package very accurate.
HK USP compact in .45 for carry, I love HK's reliability and the compact's thinner than a g19 with 8+1 rounds of .45, which I chose simply because it's a proven cartridge and I shoot it the best out of any others, which is really all that matters.

For times I absolutely need the smallest, I take my Walther PPK in .380.

I keep my FN SLP in 12 gauge loaded for HD purposes.
The design of the lock made it likely that under heavy recoil, in a light gun, that it would lock the gun up.

Not designed for a light, heavy recoiling gun, properly.
XD subcompacts in 9mm; two of them.

Why the XD subcompact?
* Fits my hands well
* Points quicker for me than larger guns
* Easy to carry
* High capacity (14 or 17)
* No safety switch or decocker
* 100% reliable
* I shoot it better than any other handgun I've owned or rented

Why the 9mm?
* High capacity in a compact gun (14 or 17)
* Good enough ballistics with 124-gr +P
* Cheap steel-cased Russian practice fodder
* I don't enjoy time spent reloading or shopping for components, but I do like to put 1,000 rounds a month through my carry guns

I also like the Remington 870 in 12 gauge, and have two of those as well. I consider them backup guns for home defense, because one of my XDs will always be closer.
Just a quick note:
In California, they have pretty much made the large calibers the best choice. 9mm magazines over 10 rounds are illegal, so you might as well carry a .40 or .45.
Long time ago I shot IPSC alot. I do mean alot.

Most of the other guys used 1911s (as I did at first, being a Jeff Cooper fan) but I noticed that 1911s jammed an awful lot in the matches (this was in the late 70s and all the way to 1990.)

Well I sure got tired of my Colt 1911 choking just when I'm flying along on a stage. In fact one guy got so pissed when his 1911 jammed he threw the mag over the backstop.

So I went to a Browning High Power. Yes P-35. Yes 9mm. I won a lot of matches not because I was a real top shot (I did make class A though with that P-35) but because my gun never failed! It just chugged and chugged and chugged but no jams!

I got to prize reliability a lot because of that. But the P-35 bites the hand that feeds it in my case.

And along came the Glocks. Yes Glocks. Dang thing worked even better than the P-35 (as if that were possible) and fit my hand better. Plus it never bit me like either a 1911 or a P-35. Used it for many years in IDPA and some in IPSC. I know the system as well as the P-35 (if not better.)

As for the 9mm .vs. 45 debates, sure the .45 is better. I agree with that. But the 9mm, in JHP form today, ain’t bad, and is easier to control. Yes I have .45s, and I have .40s, and .357 Sig, and .357 magnums, etc… And shoot them to.

But since I do pack that gun everyday I find the Glock 26 fits right. Mine has a grip reduction done by Bowie Tactical Concepts and it fits perfect in my hand. Hinnie night sights, NY-1 + 3.5 connector, and FIST IWB holster. 10 and 12 shot Glock mags loaded with +P+ Winchester 127 gr. Ammo.

It’s good to go and I have no doubt it will do it’s part if I do mine.

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