Which Caliber is Best?

I have become convinced that any round from 9mm and up is worthwhile. I love the powerful heaviness of the 45ACP, and the 9mm PARA is a dream to shoot in nearly any size firearm. I don’t have much use for the .40 myself. I find the recoil a bit to snappy for routine range work. If I want a cartridge with more chutzpah than my normal 9, I’ll grab a 45.

There are, I believe, two major factors that come into play when selecting a handgun caliber. The first is the Shooter’s ability to handle the recoil without getting worn out and control the muzzle flip to get a second shot on target as quickly as possible. The second factor is what the pundits call knock-down or stopping power.

With practice and adequate instruction, over time, the average Joe should be able to do the following:

  1. Put 5 rounds in a 5 inch circle at 5 yards in 5 seconds – from the holster.
  2. Put 1 round in each of five 2.5 inch circles at 5 yards in 5 seconds – from the holster.
  3. Put 10 rounds inside the circle of a paper plate at 15 yards.
  4. Earn the NRA Expert Pistol Marksman award.

If this is the level of training we have pursued, then we have obviously overcome the reaction of the gun when firing, and the accuracy achieved allows for more precise shots. Taken together, these factors minimize the caliber debate.

I have settled on the 9mm as my caliber of choice. It costs less than 40S&W and 45ACP, is easy to reload and easy to handle. I own handguns in calibers ranging from 380ACP to 45ACP, but there are many, many more 9mm handguns in my collection than any other caliber. In fact, I have converted several carbines to 9mm, so when home defense becomes necessary, I can use the same ammo in many different firearms.

When the caliber debate begins, we should all remember, “The caliber of the man is more important than the caliber of his firearm.”

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