Caliber Choice in Self Defense Handgun

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    Tennessee Jed
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    Caliber Choice in Self Defense Handgun

    Post by Tennessee Jed on Mon Jan 12, 2015 6:55 pm

    It just hit me that we don't have any discussions around here regarding caliber preferences for self-defense handguns. In other, lesser forums, caliber discussions tend to turn into "mine's better than yours" and other silliness. I think everyone here is civilized enough to handle a reasonable discussion, though.

    So I am curious, what handgun caliber do you carry or keep available for defensive purposes and why?

    I prefer the 357 magnum, with magnum ammo, at magnum velocities, with one caveat that I'll go into below. I like it primarily due to its track record, with decades of successful experience. I shoot magnum ammo regularly at the range and in competitions, and I'm comfortable with my ability to shoot it reasonably well.

    The one caveat for me is nightstand gun and use in otherwise tightly enclosed areas. The 357 mag is ear-splitting outdoors. I can't imagine what a 125 grain jhp would be like inside a tightly enclosed area.

    For that reason, I prefer the 9mm for a house gun. I don't entirely buy into the theory that the 9mm is just as effective as everything else, but I think we've come far enough with experience in that caliber in major city law enforcement usage where I can at least buy into its effectiveness with certain ammo, and it certainly doesn't have the head-pounder blast wave that a 357 mag does. I also like the 9mm for a house gun due to the fact that I won't likely have a belt with speedloaders on it at the time, but will have 15 - 17 rounds in the gun when I grab it.

    However, I will admit there are times that I've considered changing over to 9mm for carry as well. I'm not there yet, and may not ever get there, but will admit to thinking about it once in a while.
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    Devereaux
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    Re: Caliber Choice in Self Defense Handgun

    Post by Devereaux on Tue Jan 13, 2015 11:29 am

    I love revolvers. I really do. But the truth is that I shoot them poorly instinctively. This has been true since I was a shaver. I hunted rats in a dump during the summer of '68 before I went into the Marine Corps. I found I had a heck of a time hitting running rats with a Model 15 that was otherwise beautiful, but I could hit one at a good 20+ yards with my Colt Commander or Browning Hi-Power. So the only time I carry a loaded wheel gun is when I am out shooting prairie dogs; I carry a 5-shot S&W Lightweight with shotshells.

    I carry primarily somewhere other than home, since I don't have a CCW in Illinois. That means I have to transport the weapon and holster system in my suitcase, which goes through the airlines. As a result I generally carry a smaller auto, and often in a pocket holster. That means I carry either a PPK or Shield, mostly the latter of late. I also carry 2 extra mags. I found a company called Pearce that makes bottom plates for Shield mags with the little finger flick that make holding the Shield so much easier to hold - $10 each. I use Critical Defense ammo for the .380 and and Critical Duty for the Shield.

    For the home I have what strikes my fancy, but Sig. So I will either have a 229 in .357 Sig or a 226 in 9 or a 227 (obviously in .45). It sort of depends on what I want to dry fire at night - that then is ruled out as the loaded nightstand gun.

    If I had to pick a defensive calibre it would be the .357 Sig. That is only because I think it matches the real-world ballistics of a 125 gr .357 Mag round. The scientific studies say that that's the most effective handgun calibre, while the others all bunch together. However, no allowance for shot placement is made in these studies - it's just what seemed to work best in real gunfights. SO many other factors could be involved. Still, it's something.

    The one thing I mostly don't account for is my wife's ability to shoot. She is OK with a .22, but not so much with centerfire stuff. So perhaps I wind up with the 226 in 9 more often in the nightstand. It stays there when I'm gone. Maybe I should get a second Shield and leave that with her.

    But ultimately I don't trust handguns thoroughly - so there's a 12 ga with Critical Defense ammo in the clothes closet.
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    Tennessee Jed
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    Re: Caliber Choice in Self Defense Handgun

    Post by Tennessee Jed on Tue Jan 13, 2015 2:35 pm

    Thanks Dev. I think the 357 Sig is a VERY interesting cartridge. I started messing with it in a Glock for a while and liked it quite a bit. I picked up handloading a little later and still haven't gotten around to handloading the 357 Sig, but one of these days . . .
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    Devereaux
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    Re: Caliber Choice in Self Defense Handgun

    Post by Devereaux on Wed Jan 14, 2015 12:04 am

    I have the dies, and am collecting brass. I have a couple K of frangible .357 Sig I bought from GunBroker before all the noise about scarcity. I also bought 1K of Lawman .357 Sig. I have also purchased a couple boxes of more serioius SD .357 Sig.

    Some say it is hard to reload because of the bottleneck. Others not so much. My sense is that they would reload very well in a single stage, but probably pretty well in a Dillon too. Just haven't tried it yet. I would consider this a case to lube before reloading.
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    Cornmastah
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    Re: Caliber Choice in Self Defense Handgun

    Post by Cornmastah on Wed Jan 14, 2015 10:44 am

    My daily carry is a 9mm g19. However, I keep my S&W 8 shot .357 magnum in a lockbox downstairs by my computer. I am a computer guy so I spend lots of hours on my computer. Sometimes I end up working from home in the wee hours when crimes are usually committed. I figure if someone kicks open my front door, I would need to have something close by--and the 8 shot revolver fits well for that. I have a streamlight tlr-2 attached to it (light laser combo). I have glock and shotgun by the bed when I retire for the night. I also have a smith airweight and ruger lcp on a bookshelf hidden just in case.
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    Charlie Foxtrot
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    Re: Caliber Choice in Self Defense Handgun

    Post by Charlie Foxtrot on Wed Jan 14, 2015 10:57 pm

    Next week I take my MO CCW class. Given the elevated interest in CCWs in St Louis, I should have my permit in a couple of months. Then, I'll be carrying my G23 in .40 S&W.

    Provisos: I carry top-notch Ranger-T self-defense ammo. I've already determined that I can shoot the 40 with acceptable accuracy and speed. The 20-25% energy advantage over the 9mm was my deciding point.

    That being said - after a while, I might just change calibers and platforms. SHMBO can't shoot the 40 and dislikes Glocks. So for commonalty's sake, I might just end up with a S&W M&P-9.

    The things we do for marriage. Wink
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    Devereaux
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    Re: Caliber Choice in Self Defense Handgun

    Post by Devereaux on Wed Jan 14, 2015 11:17 pm

    I think I might really like your SHMBO. Anyone who dislikes Glocks is OK in my book.
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    Charlie Foxtrot
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    Re: Caliber Choice in Self Defense Handgun

    Post by Charlie Foxtrot on Wed Jan 14, 2015 11:41 pm

    Devereaux wrote:I think I might really like your SHMBO. Anyone who dislikes Glocks is OK in my book.

    Oh, that hurts (rum and decaf out the nose...) Wink
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    Dirty Bob
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    Re: Caliber Choice in Self Defense Handgun

    Post by Dirty Bob on Thu Feb 26, 2015 1:27 am

    Caliber-wise, anything from a 9mm or larger (autopistol), or a .38+P or larger (revolver) is fine, as long as you use good hollowpoints and can hit your target!
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    Devereaux
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    Re: Caliber Choice in Self Defense Handgun

    Post by Devereaux on Thu Feb 26, 2015 3:31 am

    Dirty Bob wrote:Caliber-wise, anything from a 9mm or larger (autopistol), or a .38+P or larger (revolver) is fine, as long as you use good hollowpoints and can hit your target!

    9x17 should count also. The stuff out there in SD form has 95 gr running >1,000 fps.
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    Dirty Bob
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    Re: Caliber Choice in Self Defense Handgun

    Post by Dirty Bob on Fri Feb 27, 2015 11:52 pm

    Devereaux wrote:
    9x17 should count also. The stuff out there in SD form has 95 gr running >1,000 fps.

    I agree! Especially if you hit your target where it matters.

    Regards,
    Bob

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