The point of my post on stopping power isn’t to engage in caliber wars. Nope. I think that the suitability of a handgun caliber for self defense (against human sized opponents) is, like many things, a bell curve. On the left side of the curve, a caliber is unsuitable because it is underpowered, and on the right side of the curve handgun cartridges are so powerful that they are unsuitable because the handguns that fire it are just too large for practical carry.

In the center of the bell curve, the differences between one cartridge and the other are small and not really significant from a self defense standpoint. At that point, the features of the handgun itself overshadow the effectiveness of the cartridge to everyone except the writers of shooting magazines (the publications, not the feeding devices).

For the reasons above, I don’t get into caliber wars. My criteria is this: the left side of the curve for a self defense begins at the .380 level and progresses through .38 Special, 9mm, .40S&W, .357Sig, .44Special, .45ACP, and on to the right side of the curve with .357Magnum, .44Magnum, and 10mm. Mixed in there are the less popular calibers of similar capabilities. Outside of the ends of the curve are calibers like .22lr, .32ACP, and the .500 S&W.

The trick is to locate your handgun on that curve. Do you need a smaller caliber handgun like a .380 for concealability or control reasons? Or can you make a large from handgun like a 10mm work for you? I have a large selection of handguns, in most of the above calibers. (I don’t have a .44 or a 10mm- yet) I have guns by Beretta, CZ, Glock, Sig, Smith & Wesson, Taurus, and others. I have owned pistols by Colt and Kimber. I have revolvers and Semi Autos. I have each for a reason. Some I carry, others are only range guns.

Don’t become too much of a fanboi of one gun, brand, or caliber. Guns are tools. Buy quality. Learn to use them. I’m a gun guy. I, like many gun guys, have heard from my wife about how many guns I own. She thinks that it’s overkill. I just like guns.

Categories: Guns


Matthew W · November 12, 2022 at 5:14 pm

Oooooh, I said “Calber Wars” but did not mean to instigate any thing !!!!
I’m the guy that has a .380 for my EDC (was a .22 for a year before that)

    Divemedic · November 12, 2022 at 5:22 pm

    LOL. Don’t worry about it. This post was coming anyhow. You just gave me a good title

Steve S6 · November 12, 2022 at 5:21 pm

Too many…. could apply to purses, shoes, clothes, packs, etc.. Just about everybody has something they like and practically speaking own too many of.

AC47spooky · November 12, 2022 at 5:52 pm

Personally, I like .357 magnum and .45ACP. I carry 9mm and .38 special as well. You gotta bring the side arm to bear in a severe way and … your shots need to be effective.

I’m liking the Mossberg Shockwave (or equivalent – RemArms Tac-14 etc.) for close quarters.

Not me · November 12, 2022 at 6:51 pm

“Know a guy” that Carrie’s a Keltec 32. Why?? NPE (non-permissive environment) 50% of the time. You make a choice – follow the law and leave your family’s security in someone else’s hands…..or you choose to violate laws, deep carry, and protect your family……

It's just Boris · November 12, 2022 at 11:56 pm

The best caliber? The one Mrs B likes to shoot, and shoots rather well, as it’s the caliber that gets us to the range together more often than the others. 🙂

Angus McThag · November 13, 2022 at 2:00 am

9mm is a bit better than .380 ACP and the gun I currently carry has more 9mm rounds in a smaller, lighter and easier to shoot package than the .380 I used to tote.

No need for a caliber war.

I think we always acknowledged that .380 was not quite as good as 9mm, but the guns were smaller and easier to shoot than 9…

…Until recently that is!

Ratus · November 13, 2022 at 2:29 am

This is why I always say ‘all handgun calibers suck, some more than others.’

Jonesy · November 13, 2022 at 9:53 am

Some calibers may be more effective than others…deeper penetration, larger wound channel, etc. Thats up to the individual to decide. Shot placement is king. If you can’t put rounds on target in the right spots (brain box, heart/lungs, or maybe pelvic girdle), it doesn’t matter what caliber you use.

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