What Is The Best Caliber For Self-Defense?
What Is The Best Caliber For Self-Defense? by: Eve Flanigan – Off the Grid News
Few topics can light up a range-side or gun store discussion like handgun caliber. Most every long-time handgun owner feels strongly about one caliber or another being the best. When speaking of defensive use, the term “stopping power” almost always enters the discussion. Is there a best caliber for self-protection? This article looks at both professional opinion and conventional thinking to answer that question.
For purposes of framing the discussion, we’re talking primarily about the differences between two common choices for a defensive handgun: 9mm Luger and 45, whether it be the ACP, Long Colt, or any other sub-category of 45.
What Is the Goal of Defensive Shooting?
To defeat a common myth from the start, defensive shooting does not have killing as its purpose. The sole purpose of a lawful self-defense shooting is to stop the attack. Despite what movies and TV would lead us to believe, only one in six people who sustain gunshot wounds die. Also counter to typical media portrayals, a single round fired from any caliber handgun has less than a 25 percent likelihood of stopping an attack. Odds go up substantially—to about 63 percent—with two shots.
It’s important to distinguish defensive ammo—including hollow point, jacketed hollow point, and newer variants (HP)—from target ammo, typically with full metal jacket (FMJ) bullets. In any caliber, FMJ is made to penetrate and cruise on in as straight a line as its speed and mass will permit. HP is made to expand in size, and sometimes fragment into smaller projectiles, after a certain distance after impact with solid tissue. The wider the expansion, the more dramatic the fragmentation, the greater the would channel and the more “stopping power” might be conferred upon the round, under ideal conditions. By ideal conditions, I’m referring to a center mass shot on a typical 12-14-inch thick critter, whether two-legged or four. Miss slightly, and that round may sail through muscle and exit the other side, perhaps not even slowing down the subject.