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I am glad to see an intelligent discussion about calibers. It is hard to find among other forums...I really grow tired of the arguments. Again,thanks for a show of intelligence and reason here
 
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You have to use what YOU have confidence in. Period. I have absolutely NO confidence in the 9mm cartridge. Too many friends have had failures with it, and I will not carry it. That said, I carry a 38 special with +P ammo from Corbon that mimicks the performance of the best 9mm rounds, and I have no problem with that. My preference is to the 44 special and the 45 acp, but I will carry my 38 that's not any better than the 9mm that I refuse to carry. This problem is between my ears, and no amount of arguing or logic will solve it. I have to carry what I have confidence in. Period.
 

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This has been a subject of considerable hand-wringing for myself. Taken in present company, I am a novice, green as the new spring grass -- but if I may say -- have learned much.

As has been said before, handguns, in the broad scope of all firearms, really are poor fighting tools. It is their convenience, their ability to be there that makes them desirable.

It is written:
The sole purpose of a handgun is to help you fight your way to your long gun...

And what retired military gunwriter wrote, when asked, what weapon of all the myriad choices of weapons available, would he choose as the very best, answered...
3,000 marines?

So, it's all relative, isn't it?

The recent loss of a lovely Colt 80 Series (which was sold out from under me when I tarried a day too long) has me revisiting the question.

What "major caliber" shall I get? Certainly, some are better than others, and my current .380 doesn't give the answers that I would like to hear from my daily carry gun.

.45 does. And so does 9mm. .45 somewhat better, but 9mm has the enge with costs. A sad and pathetic way to judge a cartridge on which one's life may depend, but costs may translate to trigger time for me, something I sorely need. For a C-note, more or less, I can get a case of 9mm. .45ACP will cost me at least half again that much.

So is this a fair enough yardstick by which to compare? Dare I step into a 9mm because of mere cost?? Because, once the deed is done, another will be long in coming. My choice will be my daily companion for some time to come.

-S
 

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<snip>
So is this a fair enough yardstick by which to compare? Dare I step into a 9mm because of mere cost?? Because, once the deed is done, another will be long in coming. My choice will be my daily companion for some time to come.

-S
That is a worthy question. *How* you use it is more important than *what* you use (within reason - and I agree that the "floor" is a .38 spl +P or a 9mm).

Looking back over the years, one option (not necessarilly the only or best - just something to consider) is a .45 with a .22 Conversion unit.

You cannot learn all you need to know with the .22, you do have to practice some with the load that recoils about the same as your carry load, but you can do many of the fundamentals with it. Jimmy Von Sorgenfri (spelling?) was one of the Early IPSC World Champs. With .45 Ammo running $1 per round in the late 70's in his native South Africa he practiced with a .22 conversion finishing off each practice session with a couple of magazines of .45 Ball. With 9mm being plentiful and cheap in his locale I suspect that tells us what his preference would be.

Personally, I find the Browning in 9mm to be just as difficult to shoot as the 1911 in .45 so if one can afford to have both then he can practice with one and then use less of the more expensive ammo to "polish up"...this last is, however absolutely necessary. I would not say you get by with 100% practice in the lesser caliber... 90/10 perhaps, 80/20 would be better.

Or....start handloading....another fun thing to do if you have time. I used to load .45s for 6 cents a round (in fact at one time I got it down to 2cents but that was long ago and far away), I suppose it is higher now but still quite cheap.

Just random thoughts,
Good luck!
Jim
 

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Thanks for the feedback, Jim.

I do get considerable trigger time in with my .22's, the dilema being, I need more centerfire work. And, all things being equal, I enjoy more centerfire work. My duty weapon serves double duty as daily carry and recreational plinker. I think 9mm might be my daisy.

If cost is a consideration, .40SW and 357SIG is right out. Ideally, I would like both a .45 and a 9mm. That's in the future. Today, I think the .380 should be relegated to backup, with 9mm as a primary.

The hand-wringing is somewhat less intense than it was. I'm coming to realize that I'd best think more about hitting what I aim at and less about The Perfect Bullet.

-S
 
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This is a really refreshing conversation on this subject. We all hear all kinds of opinion on these subjects and the thread as it is progressing has avoided the "if you don't have exactly what I carry, you are better off unarmed" tone that I have seen in many such conversations.

In every basic law enforcement class that I teach we cover a topic of equipment selection, and the longest part of this is firearms (We have a very liberal policy as it applies to caliber and type). In each class there are also several self appointed experts who sit in class then opine on breaktime as to what they will bring to class with them based on there long experience reading gun magazines.

Universally, I am asked by some member of the class, after a discusion of velocity, energy, bullet weight and the ups and downs of each caliber, "If I have a 9mm, will I be underarmed?" (sadly, the question of is a .38 special too little has almost completely gone away)

I generally reply that no, you will not be undergunned with a 9mm if you just hit what you aim at. I also advise that people should get the most powerful weapon that they can shoot quickly and accurately but never to sacrifice speed and accuracy for power. Also, never sacfifice reliability of your weapon for anything, ever.

They then ask what caliber I carry. My answer is always that my primary weapon is a 7 shot 12 guage shotgun. My pistol is merely a backup to that, or what I carry when I don't think there will be a fight.

despite that, I have landed on the 357 sig as a primary pistol round, basically due to it's performance through semi hard barriers and glass, but if I were told to switch to a 9,40, 10mm, or 45 tomorrow I wouldn't lose any sleep over it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #27 ·
Hello. I've come to believe pretty much that placement is power...with certain minimal limits on caliber. For me, that is .38 Spec +P or 9mm, usually in the +P version. While I do opine that the .45 ACP is probably "better" I am not convinced that the margin is as great as might sometimes be assumed. With the ammo that exists today, any of these from .38/9mm to .357 SIG to .40 S&W or 10mm/.45 ACP and beyond can serve their users well IF those users can get the bullet(s) where they need to go and do so quickly.

Given a choice, for purely defensive situations I'd go with a 5" .45 1911 loaded with any of the following: Remington Golden Saber 230-gr. BJHP, Winchester 230-gr. Ranger JHP, Federal 230-gr. Classic JHP, Hornady 230-gr. XTP, or Speer 230-gr. Gold Dots. (All of this assumes reliability in my gun & magazines.)

Having said that I've been quite comfortable (as much as one can be with a handgun as the primary defense tool vs.
a long gun) with a 9mm Browning, CZ, Glock 26, or P7 loaded with Winchester 127-gr. +P+ Ranger ammo, Corbon DPX 115-gr. +P, or Federal 115-gr. JHP's when those happened to be in the gun.

Trigger time and regular practice are essential pieces in the mix to my way of thinking. A "nuclear gut-slinging" load is of little use if it cannot be rapidly used to smack the opponent in a vital spot or spots.

9mm can be shot more economically than can .45 ACP if no .22 conversion unit is used. I use my .22 conversions primarily to work on precision shooting (Yes, I'm old fashioned and "out of touch" according to some, but it is nice to know that a partially exposed head at 15 or 25 yards is not safe or that the dreaded rescue shot could be made) and to stay brushed up on controlled pairs, double and triple-taps and "Bill Drill" kinds of things. Follow it up with some use of the centerfires and we wind up accomplishing nice things at less expenditure of money or ammunition. (I like having significant amounts on hand.)

As Mr. Higginbotham has said, "We all work out our own salvation" and I agree.

I also agree with the folks who prefer to use that which they simply trust even if it doesn't beat, match, or show itself "superior" to a roughly equivalent caliber that they don't. It is important that we have at least a modicum of confidence in our defense guns...we just don't want to trust any of them 100%; expect them to fail and being able to deal with that counts for quite a lot in my experience.

As was noted by another fellow, it is refreshing to see differing opinions expressed both politely and intelligently.
So often this is missing on some sites and as a result, some folks don't share what may be very interesting/informative points of view. When I see terms like "sucks" or other silliness, I pretty much ignore what else is being said; some of it could be informative, but I suspect that those who "know" are more civil. The reason for this is simple. Years ago when I just started getting my "feet wet" in this "stopping power" stuff, I thought I "knew." As I've progress over the decades, I'm not so sure anymore. I THINK I "know" some of what is essential, but don't discount too much without serious thought and experimentation if at all possible.

Thanks to each and every person who has responded for your views. They are truly appreciated as is your profession demeanors.

Best.
 
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With revolvers, I'd think anything from .38 Special +P up will serve and serve well in the hands of someone who can handle the gun and caliber.
Why the .38 is Still Great! Advocating the .38 Special

by David Armstrong, [email protected]
please contact the author at the above e-mail address with any
questions or comments
It has become fashionable in recent years to bash the .38 as a feeble and ineffective cartridge, particularly in light of all the new advances being made with bullet design in the 9mm, 40 S&W, and .45 ACP calibers. Well, guess what? That advanced bullet design has been going on with the .38 Special also, and far from being washed up, the .38 might just be the ideal round for the typical defensive shooter, especially in a 2" snub gun. Few other cartridges have the versatility the .38 does, and few guns offer the historical defensive fighting effectiveness of the 2" snubbie.
Snubbish Let's look at the round itself for a moment. In the original 158-grain lead roundnose configuration, the .38 was somewhat well-known for anemic performance. However, when we took that same bullet weight, changed the design to a semi-wadcutter profile, and beefed it up a little, the first early "wonder cartridge" was found. Referred to as the Chicago load or the FBI load, the 158-grain lead semi-wadcutter hollowpoint .38 Special +P quickly became the standard for American police. Using Marshall and Sanow's findings (very questionable, I admit, but they do provide some basis for comparison) we find this load with a 78% rating from a 4" barrel. Not too shabby, when one considers that the same source gives the infamous .45 ACP Black Talon an 81%! Recent modern loads utilizing the newer designer bullets have yielded even higher numbers for the .38. But, let's be honest about it, friends---anything the 4" .38 can do, the .357 Magnum can do better in the same package. Where the .38 has an advantage is in its comfort factor for the shooter. A good load out of a 4" .38 gives the shooter a nice little push to the hand, rather than the abrupt crash that comes from the .357 mag. This ease of shooting takes us to where the .38 is the King of the Hill---the "pocket gun"!

The 2" .38 Spl., as characterized by the quintessential S&W "J" frame, is without a doubt the most common firearm utilized for concealed carry. Some carry it as a secondary gun, others use it as their primary piece, but it seems like almost everybody that carries has a J-frame. The simplicity of the revolver, coupled with increased reliability in some CCW situations, give the nod to the .38 snub. In airweight form it provides 5 or 6 rounds of a recognized fight-stopping cartridge in a package that weighs less than 1 pound. It can be fired from inside the pocket if need be without jamming, something rather doubtful with any of the autoloaders. It also strikes many, if not most, as being more ergonomic for concealed carry than comparable semi-autos, riding easily in a pocket or in an ankle holster as well as traditional belt carry. However, one might ask just how much effectiveness do we give up in exchange for this light, comfortable package? Will the 2" snub be enough to save us in a fight? Well, ask yourself this--"If I had a 1911 model in .45 ACP, loaded with military hardball, would it be enough?" If you answer yes, then it might surprise you to know that further comparison using Marshall and Sanow shows that almost all of the +P modern "designer bullet" .38 loads in a 2" snub equal or exceed the results achieved by .45 ACP hardball!
Conclusion. Is the .38 the best of the fighting cartridges? I don't think so. But fortunately we usually don't need the best in any situation. Being good enough works fine, and the .38 Special is good enough. In a 4" K or L-frame type revolver, it provides a comfortable round that almost all shooters can shoot well. From a 2" gun, it loses some comfort and becomes a bit of an exacting taskmaster, but still controllable by most shooters. It is an inexpensive round, allowing one to practice a lot. It can be found in a weight, style, and charge to suit just about everyone. The .38 has come a long way, and is still perhaps the ultimate in "average"...and that is all that most people will ever need.

http://greent.com/40Page/ammo/38spl/38spl-advoc.htm
 
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This discussion puts me in mind of a story told by a Mississippi blues singer named R.L. Burnside:

Questioned by a judge on suspiscion of manslaughter, Burnside said, "Naw, Judge, I didn't kill him. I just shot him. After that it was between him and the Lord."
 

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Ran across an interesting photo of side-by-side gelatin tests (Caliber War!) of 9mm, .357Sig, .40S&W, and .45 ACP (6 rounds total) in another forum at this URL:

http://www.tacticalforums.com/ubb/Forum78/HTML/000581.html

It appears to me that there is not a huge difference in penetration, with 9mm 147 gr and .40 180 gr being the "winners" by a inch or so. All penetrated more than 12 inches. Obviously the bigger around the bullet is, the bigger the permanent cavity, but those don't appear overwhelmingly different to me either.

To save you some time sorting thru all the comments in the thread:

- The cavities were dyed red to make them more visible. It appears black in some places, but there is no significance to this.

- The bullets used in the test were all Federal HSTs. There is a second photo of expanded bullets, but these are not the bullets from the first photo. This second photo depicts Ranger Talons, except for the .357 Sig, which is a Gold Dot.

FWIW. YMMV. Etc. ;)

elb
 

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Found this article, just another like hunderds of its type.........
http://www.recguns.com/Sources/IVF1.html

just a few excerpts caught my attention:
quotes from Lincoln R. Carr ([email protected]) "The Facklerite's Case"

Insufficient penetration depth to reach and disrupt the body's major blood vessels is the greatest deficiency of the light--under 120 grains (7.8g) in .38 calibre handgun bullet. The large blood vessels--aorta and vena cava--are located in the back of the abdominal cavity. Their average distance from the front of the abdomen is about 15cm.

The first two types of wounds, CNS wounds and vital wounds, are, given adequate penetration, a function of bullet placement. [8] MacPherson observes, "[T]he trauma resulting from opening up a major artery is relatively insensitive to the bullet that causes the breach and the wound track produced in other tissue."[9] Given good bullet placement, a .25ACP FMJ can work as well as a .45ACP Black Talon
end of excerpt quotes.

The 15cm listed is only 6". So it seems marksmanship is more important than worrying about if the caliber is big enough. And maybe a little study of anatomy too.

og.....just daydreaming again
 

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Here's another quote from someone on another site....

"Sure there are a lot of documented incidents of people surviving
after taking multiple hits from large caliber pistols,
and there are just as many cases of people dropping dead within minutes,
after being hit with a single .22 or .25.

So what does it prove?
Not much other than shooting someone with a pistol,
is pretty much a matter of luck.
Sure you can prepare yourself with the most powerful caliber,
and use the latest, greatest, state-of-the-art hollow-points,
but that still doesn't guaranty it'll save your life.
Police use the best pistols and ammo and are required
to train and then qualify with their weapons
yet they still get killed.
On the other hand there are numerous incidents,
of untrained "little old ladies" using crappy "Saturday Night Specials"
who have dropped their attackers with a single round of .25acp ball ammo.

From what I've seen and heard caliber and bullet choices
are more of a religion than a science.
Pick what you feel most confident with,
then train with it for accuracy and to ensure the reliability,
of the pistol and bullet combination you have chosen.

Then most important of all,
pray that the Good Lord is watching out for you,
if you every have to use it to defend your life!"


FWIW,
og
 
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Hello. "And therein lies the rub": the blurred lines at the differentiation between physiologicial and psychological "stops."

It may never be quantified, but guidelines will probably remain:

1. Get there first with the most
2. Get the hits
3. Use cover whenever possible
4. Shoot until the problem is solved

...and the most important of all:

Avoid the fight if at all possible.

Best.
I concur!

Scott
 
G

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Wow, this is a good discussion.

So, I guess I'll dive in.

Prsonally, my philosophy is that skill is better than a big gun, and that luck is better than both.

That said, it's obviously best to be lucky, skillful, and carry a big gun.

I honestly have to say that I think that .45 or .357 are just about the best of the common SD calibers...

BUT

how much better are they, really, than the runners-up, 9mm and .38 special? How do they compare to one another? Let's find out, shall we?

.45's most common "adversary," the 9mm, offers somewhat better penetration, and with well-made JHPs, gives a level of expansion that is only a few tenths of an inch smaller than a fully-expanded .45, if even that much.
As far as different platforms for these go, the 9 probably wins out. In general, it's going to come in guns that have better ergonomics, due to smaller grips, and in a weapon of equal size, it will almost always offer increased capacity.

.357's most common "adversary," the .38 special, doesn't offer aywhere near so great a level of penetration, but bullet-wise, is almost identical. .357 is also fast enough that it might actually cause a little extra damage based on sheer speed, but personally, I wouldn't bank on that. Some might say "Well, there you have it, the .357 is better because it makes the same bullets go deeper," but these people are neglecting to realize that well-made .38 specials, barring extreme circumstances, were already going deep enough to begin with!
Platform-wise, the guns are identical, but recoil-control witht he .357 will always be more difficult. This means that the .357 is really at its best either against a target who is wrapped up in a LOT of clothing, or in a platform of 30 ounces or greater, whereas the .38 is probably at it's best in a pocketgun, during the summer, when people are wearing less clothing.
What have we, here? You say that in the summer, your clothing gets lighter, and causes you to have to carry a pocketgun, but that during the winter, you can wear more, and hide a full-size .357? How convenient!!

Now then, let's do some cross-comparison.

Let's go .45 vs. .38.

We're now getting strikingly similar penetration, with the .45 winning out by a couple of inches. However, you'll notice something: Unlike with the 9mm, .38 special is often at its very best with heavier bullets, which can often expand a bit better, and hold a straighter path throught the body, due to their greater sectional density. This doesn't completely close the gap between the two, in terms of expanded diameter, but it does mean that the .45, in reality, probably isn't eyelash-batteringly superior to a hot .38!
Platform-wise, the .45 will give you more shots, almost every time, but usually won't fit into a pocket. This whole thing is beginning to look remarkably similar to the .357 vs. .38 platform situation I mentioned earlier.

.357 vs. 9mm is equally interesting.

With the .357, we're most definitely getting significantly better penetration, and the improved penetration and expansion characteristics of heavier bullets. The 9 just can't stack up. However, this doesn't mean that the 9mm is a poor round. Thousands upon thousands of dead men can attest that this little "pop gun" is a killer, in the right hands.
In platforms, the 9mm is the clear victor.
That Glock 17 in your duty holster has about half the recoil of a similarly-sized .357, at roughly two-thirds the weight! It's also packing literally three times the ammunition!!

Finally, let's see the clash of the titans.

.45 ACP vs. .357 Magnum: Lots of fun with some big, big guns.

.357 wins out in pentration -- no contest. However, once again, We must be reminded that barring extreme circumstances, like that burglar who remembers to put on a parka and a fur coat, in addition to the customary four layers of denim that we all know that burglars are wearing, nowadays, the .45 is probably going to give us adequate penetration, to begin with. Does this make the .357's penetration "excessive?" No. It just makes it insurance. The .45 trades this "insurance" for a big, fat bullet that will consistently offer somewhat wider expansion. Be reminded, however, that the .357's best loads are going to offer expansion that, once again, is only a few tenths of an inch, or so, smaller! Also, .357 is a smokin' round. It's probably the only round here that causes sufficient temporary cavity for that aspect of its performance to be a significant wounding factor.
In Platforms, recoil control might be an issue with either gun, depending on the shooter, the weight of the gun, and the ammunition used, so we'll assume parity between the two in that department. Capacity-wise, though, the .45 gets the nod. Even a standard 1911 is going to hold one round more than the average .357, and a Glock 21 is going to double that same .357's capacity.

So what does all this mean?

Well, to me, it seems to mean all of this:

1) Autoloaders still hold more rounds than revolvers.

2) .357 Magnum and .45 ACP require a little extra training to be controllable, but they offer better performance in the trade.

3) 9mm lets you carry a bottomless pit of ammunition.

4) .38 special, barring someone who has wrapped their body in JC Penny Catalogs, is basically a lightly-recoiling .357.

5) .45 ACP makes a big, wide hole.

6) .357, outside of acts of God, always goes deep enough to do the damage it needs to do, and from a 4" barrel, probably offers at least a slightly significant temporary cavity, which is something that the rest of these rounds most likely do not.

Conclusion:

They all have positives and negatives, but any one of these rounds will most likely do its job, in the hands of a capable shooter. In the end, it all amounts to personal preference.

Pick the one you like, and learn to put the shots where they need to go, and you'll do fine.
 

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Since entire books have been written on this subject (from about every perspective or camp), I don't hope to have much impact in a short post.

I don't disagree with much of the above. But having studied this a long time I have seen a few things that don't fit what most folks (including me up to the point of being shown) might assume.

1. It does not always hurt to get shot (I can tell you this from personal experience but also from dozens of interviews). That does not mean it *never* hurts to get shot. Unpredictable.

2. Some people pay no attention to getting shot...and this can include with some pretty potent calibers...not just handguns.

3. While there might be a norm (or a "Bell Curve") there are ample surprising cases. Enough to make me say... "you cannot count on..." These include:
.... a 125 .357 from a 4" barrel that penetrated less than 1"
..... 6 110 gr .357s to the chest that did not make it to the heart
.... a 12 gauge 1 oz slug that bounced off a forehead.
..... a .45 ball round that bounced off the forehead
..... a .38 +P 125 that penetrated the forehead only to the cannelure and stopped...pulled out while the subject was still concious!
I can go one (these are not war stories, I know the poeople who participated in or investigated those cases).

Reliable litereature will cite other similar cases. And it is not limited to pistols. A gentleman once brought me two recovered bullets which he claimed were 30-06 150 gr CoreLokts (they certainly appeared to be) which failed to penetrate 6" in two seperate deer.

None of this means the above is invalid (rather it backs some of it up). I simply find it interesting.

Placement is critical! But sometimes we can fail with good placement.

I think perhaps all ballistic comparisons should start with equally good placement...nothing is big enough or powerful enough to be relible with poor placement.

While I cannot bring myself to say that caliber or power (however you measure it) does not matter... I think some folks think it matters more than it does.

.45s and .357s don't bowl people over. .22s don't always fail.

some things work "somewhat" better than others but there is not a drastic difference. That little difference can be bloody important however!

Onward,
Jim
 

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Jim H. I stand by my theory of the RDL (Random Dumb Luck) factor, it must no longer be ignored!! ;) It's the variable in the equation that is totally out of human control, hence keeping any "stopping power formulae" from being a solidly known number.
 

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Jim H. I stand by my theory of the RDL (Random Dumb Luck) factor, it must no longer be ignored!! ;) It's the variable in the equation that is totally out of human control, hence keeping any "stopping power formulae" from being a solidly known number.
I certainly cannot argue with that one.

I have an additional (but not competeing) theory. I once commented in jest that the .357 magnum showed up so well on some compilations of anecdotes because of flash and blast : the "Acoustic Theory of Stopping Power."

After long consideration, and recognizing that many incidents are indeed "psychological stops" (which cannot be predicted), I am not so sure it is a joke. I even witnessed such a case in person where a subject was momentarilly "incapacitated" (well he hit the ground like a ton of bricks and did not move for a few seconds) by a *miss* from a 2.5" .357.

Please don't think that I beleive you can count on this...but I think it may influence some cases.

Yet another reason why numbers don't work!

Jim
 
G

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Wow, this is a good discussion.

So, I guess I'll dive in.

Prsonally, my philosophy is that skill is better than a big gun, and that luck is better than both.

That said, it's obviously best to be lucky, skillful, and carry a big gun.

I honestly have to say that I think that .45 or .357 are just about the best of the common SD calibers...

BUT

how much better are they, really, than the runners-up, 9mm and .38 special? How do they compare to one another? Let's find out, shall we?

.45's most common "adversary," the 9mm, offers somewhat better penetration, and with well-made JHPs, gives a level of expansion that is only a few tenths of an inch smaller than a fully-expanded .45, if even that much.
As far as different platforms for these go, the 9 probably wins out. In general, it's going to come in guns that have better ergonomics, due to smaller grips, and in a weapon of equal size, it will almost always offer increased capacity.

.357's most common "adversary," the .38 special, doesn't offer aywhere near so great a level of penetration, but bullet-wise, is almost identical. .357 is also fast enough that it might actually cause a little extra damage based on sheer speed, but personally, I wouldn't bank on that. Some might say "Well, there you have it, the .357 is better because it makes the same bullets go deeper," but these people are neglecting to realize that well-made .38 specials, barring extreme circumstances, were already going deep enough to begin with!
Platform-wise, the guns are identical, but recoil-control witht he .357 will always be more difficult. This means that the .357 is really at its best either against a target who is wrapped up in a LOT of clothing, or in a platform of 30 ounces or greater, whereas the .38 is probably at it's best in a pocketgun, during the summer, when people are wearing less clothing.
What have we, here? You say that in the summer, your clothing gets lighter, and causes you to have to carry a pocketgun, but that during the winter, you can wear more, and hide a full-size .357? How convenient!!

Now then, let's do some cross-comparison.

Let's go .45 vs. .38.

We're now getting strikingly similar penetration, with the .45 winning out by a couple of inches. However, you'll notice something: Unlike with the 9mm, .38 special is often at its very best with heavier bullets, which can often expand a bit better, and hold a straighter path throught the body, due to their greater sectional density. This doesn't completely close the gap between the two, in terms of expanded diameter, but it does mean that the .45, in reality, probably isn't eyelash-batteringly superior to a hot .38!
Platform-wise, the .45 will give you more shots, almost every time, but usually won't fit into a pocket. This whole thing is beginning to look remarkably similar to the .357 vs. .38 platform situation I mentioned earlier.

.357 vs. 9mm is equally interesting.

With the .357, we're most definitely getting significantly better penetration, and the improved penetration and expansion characteristics of heavier bullets. The 9 just can't stack up. However, this doesn't mean that the 9mm is a poor round. Thousands upon thousands of dead men can attest that this little "pop gun" is a killer, in the right hands.
In platforms, the 9mm is the clear victor.
That Glock 17 in your duty holster has about half the recoil of a similarly-sized .357, at roughly two-thirds the weight! It's also packing literally three times the ammunition!!

Finally, let's see the clash of the titans.

.45 ACP vs. .357 Magnum: Lots of fun with some big, big guns.

.357 wins out in pentration -- no contest. However, once again, We must be reminded that barring extreme circumstances, like that burglar who remembers to put on a parka and a fur coat, in addition to the customary four layers of denim that we all know that burglars are wearing, nowadays, the .45 is probably going to give us adequate penetration, to begin with. Does this make the .357's penetration "excessive?" No. It just makes it insurance. The .45 trades this "insurance" for a big, fat bullet that will consistently offer somewhat wider expansion. Be reminded, however, that the .357's best loads are going to offer expansion that, once again, is only a few tenths of an inch, or so, smaller! Also, .357 is a smokin' round. It's probably the only round here that causes sufficient temporary cavity for that aspect of its performance to be a significant wounding factor.
In Platforms, recoil control might be an issue with either gun, depending on the shooter, the weight of the gun, and the ammunition used, so we'll assume parity between the two in that department. Capacity-wise, though, the .45 gets the nod. Even a standard 1911 is going to hold one round more than the average .357, and a Glock 21 is going to double that same .357's capacity.

So what does all this mean?

Well, to me, it seems to mean all of this:

1) Autoloaders still hold more rounds than revolvers.

2) .357 Magnum and .45 ACP require a little extra training to be controllable, but they offer better performance in the trade.

3) 9mm lets you carry a bottomless pit of ammunition.

4) .38 special, barring someone who has wrapped their body in JC Penny Catalogs, is basically a lightly-recoiling .357.

5) .45 ACP makes a big, wide hole.

6) .357, outside of acts of God, always goes deep enough to do the damage it needs to do, and from a 4" barrel, probably offers at least a slightly significant temporary cavity, which is something that the rest of these rounds most likely do not.

Conclusion:

They all have positives and negatives, but any one of these rounds will most likely do its job, in the hands of a capable shooter. In the end, it all amounts to personal preference.

Pick the one you like, and learn to put the shots where they need to go, and you'll do fine.
Using this logic, ANY of my 10mm autopistols should accomplish the task with consummate alacrity, shouldn't they?


Works for me!


Scott
 

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1. It does not always hurt to get shot (I can tell you this from personal experience but also from dozens of interviews). That does not mean it *never* hurts to get shot. Unpredictable.

2. Some people pay no attention to getting shot...and this can include with some pretty potent calibers...not just handguns.
After thinking about Jim's statement, which I've heard before from others, including a friend who was shot accidentally in the leg. Reagan didn't know he was shot.
It might be the most profound statement that can be made about the handguns we place so much trust in.

Therefore, I wonder if we place too much trust in our "calibers" and waste too much time on which is best.

After all, if it ain't gonna hurt, then it ain't gonna stop, unless it's CNS or in the brain, or maybe in the heart.
So all our handguns are is surgical instruments in the hands of novice medical technicians, regardless of the caliber.

I'm thinking maybe what we need is more training on anatomy, shot placement, penetration in the right spot, etc. I'm beginning to be a believer that penetration and placement is more important than a big expanding bullet. In hunting whitetail deer, placement is critical or the poor critter runs away.

what say you experts? Am I on the wrong track. ???

og........who is sometimes on the wrong track.
 
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