Tuesday, February 11, 2014

The Incredible Shrinking Self-Defense Caliber

Two interesting pieces from good friends of mine on the Internet this week. The first is from Kevin Creighton at Misfires & Light Strikes blog:
Am I the only one to notice a shift in the online gun world ever since the Glock 42 come out? It used to be ” 9mm is barely able to stop a rabid hamster, you need a pistol caliber that starts with a ’4′ to be safe.” Now that Glock has a mini .380 out, I’m seeing a lot more chatter about how with the right bullets (I’m a fan of Hornady XTP’s, myself), .380 ACP is a viable self-defense round. 
Amazing how common sense changes once changes become more common…
The second comes from good friend Dave Spaulding on DRTV:
One of the “trends” crossing the internet is the “re-emergence” of the 9mm in law enforcement circles and any number of ex-spurts are adding their opinion to the fray. Much of this discussion is led by the FBI returning to the 9mm because they struggle with getting recruit agents through the firearms portion of the basic academy. Many laugh at this assertion as it was the FBI in the late 80’s and early 90’s that spearheaded the creation of the .40 via their “10mm lite” cartridge after the “failure” of the 9mm Silvertip in the famed Miami Shootout of 1986. Much was learned from this event and we are still learning, in this case it is that the .40 S&W cartridge can be tough to shoot due to the added slide velocity of the cartridge and the effects this has on the shooter via felt recoil. In the end, if you can’t hit your opponent quickly and repeatedly with a given handgun cartridge all of the on target power is for nothing.
In short, 9mm is emerging as the top defensive round. Dave and I have talked about this a lot over the years. I was trying to remember when I went from the .45 to the 9mm as my EDC cartridge...I think it was around 2005. I know in 2008 I got the Para Carry 9 LDA, which remains one of my all-tie favorite carry guns (note to self...ALWAYS buy lots and lots of magazines for obscure guns!). Before that I'd carried the STI LS9 a lot.

I went to the 9mm because my own thinking had shifted from the "one perfect shot" to "how many times can I hit the bad guy who wants to do me harm?" The more you move toward the "how many times..." the more 9mm makes sense.

I started thinking I was headed in the right direction when a good friend of mine, who was both a top gunsmith and one of those international high-risk executive protection specialists, mentioned to me that he had started carrying one of the little Kel-Tec 9mms. He paused after he told me, waiting for my derision. I told him I'd started carrying the LS9. "Really? Cool!" he said. "If you think about it, it makes more sense than a .45."

As bullet technology has narrowed the gap between .45, .40 and 9mm, to me it makes so much more sent o be able to deliver the second, third or even fourth shot if necessary, and very quickly.

ADDENDUM from BreachBangClear:
So, to wrap this up, repeat after me: “There is no magic bullet. There is only shot placement.”

17 comments:

MackTheKnife said...

So, what's the point where the falling "caliber" curve meets the rising "shots on target" curve? That point where shots on target becomes less important than caliber/"power."Or have I just opened another "can-o-wurmz"?

Tom said...

Massad Ayoob used to write.. If you shot a guy more than twice.. The judge will say you tried to kill them, rather than just stop them.. and that could get you into trouble..

Anonymous said...

Well, an important thing to remember, is no matter how much he pretends, Ayoob is not a lawyer.

The other thing to remember, is JMB designed the 38 super for civilian use - and it's still a magnificent caliber, with a mild recoil, despite some impressive potential ballistics - and the same capacity as a 9MM.

Anonymous said...

My Dad is a cop in FL. He always told me you keep firing until the threat is down.

Sheepdog1968 said...

I think people should choose the caliber (within reason) that they are comfortable with. Being more confident with a particular firearm and caliber I think is more important than the caliber itself.

In a few classes I've taken, I didn't get a chance to get a good zero prior to the class. It annoyed me the whole class and I didn't feel as good about my performance. Having taken the same class with a solid zero, I felt much more confident during the class and I'm sure I performed a bit better. That's my personal experience.

I think the same will be true to the caliber and firearm that are chosen.

On a slightly different note, I do hear lots of folks say that modern 9 mms are better and the gap between 45s and 9s are more narrowed. Ok. That also tells me that modern 45s will be even better than the defensive ammo available 30 years ago as well. I don't hear that argument made very much. Again, I don't care what caliber you choose. It's your life and your potential gunfight.

sheepdog1968 said...

I should also point out that there have been times in my life when becuase of specific circumstances the only firearm I had was a 22 rifle. I still slept soundly and felt I could take care of myself if I needed to.

Most folks should spend more time training with the tools they own rather than looking for new firearms.

Bill Lester said...

While I've not been one to be hidebound when it comes to cartridge selection, the 9 x 19 will never replace the .45 as my defensive round of choice simply due to the era in which we live of chronic ammo shortage. The Nine needs the highest quality hollowpoints to maintain it's recently earned reputation as an effective fight stopper. Unfortunately such ammo is often hard to find and quite expensive when you do locate a box or two. Neither condition is conducive to confidence in one's defensive handgun. Can I REALLY be sure a given JHP will work when three chops are down if I can only try a couple of twenty round boxes?

Contrast this to .45 Ball. While not the best choice, it does have a far better reputation at settling accounts than 9mm FMJ. It's also available and affordable when JHP's may not be. Even now, in a relatively stable period for centerfire ammo, my preferred Federal HST's are hard to come by. But 230-grain Ball is commonplace. It works equally well in a full-size 1911 or a sub-compact XDS. Something to consider.

Bill Lester said...

That should read "when the chips are down." Fat fingers and little phones can make for amusing entries.

George said...

45 vs 9: the debate will go on forever. I don't think it really matters. Consider the graveyards of the Axis and Allies in northern France. Therein lies thousands slain by both calibers.

John Block said...

ANNND you can cast wide meplat bullets to hand load your brass, for a revolver....just sayin'......

Anonymous said...

amen

DamDoc said...

Simple solution... own a few of each

Anonymous said...

And the .380 guys make similar comparisons and make the same argument why their caliber is OK versus the 9mm. Will the .25 guys be next to challenge the .380?

Life Member

Sheepdog1968 said...

Hi Michael,
Here is some breaking news from CA 9 Circuit court of appeals that is a huge deal. Needless to say I'm very excited about this.

Court strikes California law limiting concealed weapons


http://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/Court-strikes-California-law-limiting-concealed-5232386.php

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Self Defense

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