45 replies [Last post]
Offline
Location: Utah
Joined: 03/03/2005
Posts: 383
Best Self Defense Caliber: 9mm, 40 S&W, 45 ACP

Bullet construction and weight (i.e. choice of ammo) are more important than caliber! Either the 9mm, 40 S&W, or 45 ACP will be fine for self defense - given the right bullet.

Choose the weapon that fits you best and as far as caliber is concerned, they generally perform the same as far as wound ballistics are kept by PD's and emergency room doctors.

If you shoot a lot of ammo at the range or are small in stature, the 9mm has an advantage. Otherwise, it's a toss-up, as far as self defense is concerned.

Often, it's best for a beginner to startout and become proficient with a 9mm and only move up after a lot of range time. Many 40 caliber owners have intermediate handgun skills (but not all). Only recommend the 45 ACP for shooters who've master basic handgun skills and range proficiency.

147-gr. bullets in 9mm, 180-gr. in 40 S&W. and 230-gr. in 45 ACP are more apt to outperform lighter bullets in their respective calibers. Suggest you consider Ranger T's, Golden Saber's, or Gold Dot's for choice of self defense ammo.

cowgal's picture
Offline
Moderator
Location: Colorado
Joined: 03/10/2002
Posts: 1787
Best Self Defense Caliber: 9mm, 40 S&W, 45 ACP

I do enjoy my handguns. Fortunately have never needed for self defense. I also have a tendency to purchase handguns more for accuracy than for concealment (small size).

I agree, the 9 mm is great for target shooting and practice. I like to shoot a 115 grain FMJ in my Browning hi-power.

45's are lots of fun to shoot. The H&K shoots a 185 grain JHP very well.

For practice and plinking I love the Ruger Mark III competition model.

I generally select inexpensive ammo, since I like to shoot a lot at the range. Have not thought about any special ammo for self defense.

Right now my wishlist includes a couple 357 magnums and a Colt 45 1911.

Offline
Location: Utah
Joined: 03/03/2005
Posts: 383
Best Self Defense Caliber: 9mm, 40 S&W, 45 ACP

Lady Moderator:

Nice to here from you! Big smile

I too shoot a lot of 9mm at the local range and it's hard to beat the price of Winchester White Box (WWB) 115-gr. loads from Walmart for target work. After each 9mm range session, I usually shoot a box of WWB 147-gr. in FMJ and/or Ranger T's as this is my CCW and nightstand load.

147-gr. loads only kick about 5% more than the 115's, and both are noticeably less than 124-gr's, especially the +P or +P+ versions, even though none have enough recoil to worry about.

My wife and kids also use a Ruger Security Six with 4" barrel. They shoot a lot of Remington 130-gr. 38 Special MC (metal case) target loads for practice ($6.95 per box of 50). The wife uses the revolver for self defense in the home stoked with Federal 158-gr. +P LSWCHP's at 890 fps (AKA - FBI or Chicago Load) and equally likes it along with the 9mm semi-autos.

For hunting deer and revolver protection in the wild, we rely on 357 Mag loads of 180-gr. Winchester Supreme (Nosler) Partition Gold or Federal's 180-gr. Hard Cast bullets. Both have heavy penetrating power and are excellent rounds to consider.

Moreover - my two boys and three girls also get a lot of range time with 22 caliber Ruger pistols and rifles. I went through the actions and upgraded the triggers of 4 Ruger 10/22's for the family and we all enjoy the new Ruger Mark III Hunter pistol and a standard Mark II. Too bad we only have one 22 competition pistol. sad

Wouldn't mind getting a 45 ACP, but we're having too much fun with the other calibers that cover all out bases.

cowgal's picture
Offline
Moderator
Location: Colorado
Joined: 03/10/2002
Posts: 1787
Best Self Defense Caliber: 9mm, 40 S&W, 45 ACP

Hello 147

I've enjoyed shooting a variety of Ruger 22's. All are accurate, even the older ones. Isn't the new Hunter the one with the fluted barrel? I like the sights better on that Ruger too. The competition has the plain black sights. I need to check and see if those Hi-Viz sights will work on mine. How do you like them?

I have found that the 45 I shoot has less recoil than a friend's 40 Glock.

I'll check into the ammo you recommended. Now on the +P or +P+ versions, doesn't your handgun have to be designed to handle those loads? I do like hi-velocity loads in some of the handguns. On the overall I find it jams less than standards.

Offline
Location: Utah
Joined: 03/03/2005
Posts: 383
Best Self Defense Caliber: 9mm, 40 S&W, 45 ACP

Any newer handgun in good condition should be able to handle the higher pressures of +P+, even though I don't shoot them anymore because the heavier for caliber bullets at standard or +P pressures usually outperform them.

Higher pressures don't always result in significantly higher velocities. Using the 9mm 124-gr. Gold Dots as an example: standard pressure = 1,120 fps and +P version = 1,180 fps, and +P+ = 1,220 fps.

It's also possible to get higher velocities and stay within specs, as exemplified by rifle loads in the Hornady Lite Mag and Federal High Energy lines that have LOWER pressures than some of their competitors' standard ammo.

Example:

They do this by using specially blended (cooler burning) powders not commercially available: loading the case 5/8 full with one powder - then compressing it - then putting in another 5/8 of a case of a 2nd type of powder - then compressing it the second time - then adding the bullet for the 3rd and final compression.

Reloaders who've pulled the bullets marvel at how much powder they get in these compressed loads and cannot even fill the case backup without having 25% +/- extra powder. Obviously, how they achieve lower pressures using cooler burning powders are corporate secrets.
______________

Back to Pistols:

The $17.50 High Viz sights are great and should work on your Ruger 22's - pistol or rifle. I even like them on the shotguns for enhanced accuracy. They come in several variations of red, green, yellow, or orange (as in light or dark red).

The Hunter Competition pistol does indeed have the fluted barrel and is a joy to shoot.

Have a great weekend.

Location: Minnesota,
Joined: 08/28/2004
Posts: 259
Best Self Defense Caliber: 9mm, 40 S&W, 45 ACP

would a ruger .45acp be good for back up? The reason I ask is 'cause I have used a Glock .40 for me I couldn't hit the ground with it if I tried Then I tried a kimber .40 smooth as silk got on paper every time the ruger is in my price range under $500

Offline
Location: Utah
Joined: 03/03/2005
Posts: 383
Best Self Defense Caliber: 9mm, 40 S&W, 45 ACP

Ruger's new P-345 in 45 ACP has a better grip angle than the Glock 40's, so yes, I believe you'd probably benefit from this pistol. Kimber's 1911-style grip and sight radius are similar to or much closer to the Ruger P-345's than all of the Glocks, which take more time getting used to. Not knocking Glock pistols, as I like them, but their grip angle points the muzzle more downward than the Kimber / Ruger 1911 style pistols that plenty of folks like.

FYI:

Ranger T 230-gr. +P (RA45TP) at 990 fps or Double Tap's 230-gr. +P Gold Dot at 1,010 fps are the best two performing 45 ACP self defense rounds.

Example:

Ranger T 230-gr. +P (RA45TP) = 15.7" & .78"
230-gr. +P Doouble Tap Gold Dot = 15.25" & .85"

Steve

P.S. Early edition Ruger P-345's have received a few upgrades, so if buying a new one, check to ensure the pistol is fresh from the Prescot, Arizona factory. Otherwise, Ruger will perform the upgrades for free and even send you a box with UPS labeling for direct pickup from your home. IMHO: Ruger's customer service is second to none.

cowgal's picture
Offline
Moderator
Location: Colorado
Joined: 03/10/2002
Posts: 1787
Best Self Defense Caliber: 9mm, 40 S&W, 45 ACP

Thanks for the info 147 Grain!

Big smile

Offline
Location: Olympia, WA
Joined: 04/25/2005
Posts: 69
Best Self Defense Caliber: 9mm, 40 S&W, 45 ACP

I'am a fan of the .40 S&W, the 9mm. just does'nt have the knock down power, and the .45 ACP is just too bulky and heavy for a concealed carry gun.

Offline
Location: Utah
Joined: 03/03/2005
Posts: 383
Re: Best Self Defense Caliber: 9mm, 40 S&W, 45 ACP
147 Grain wrote:
Bullet construction and weight (i.e. choice of ammo) are more important than caliber! Either the 9mm, 40 S&W, or 45 ACP will be fine for self defense - given the right bullet.

Choose the weapon that fits you best and as far as caliber is concerned, they generally perform the same as far as wound ballistics are kept by PD's and emergency room doctors.

Generally Speaking:

I respectfully disagree that a 9mm doesn't have the knockdown power of a 40., as it can with the right ammo.

Since all handguns are lacking for self defense and they "generally perform the same as far as wound ballistics are kept by PD's and emergency room doctors" - shot placement and selection of a heavier bullet (for penetration) makes a bigger difference than choice of caliber.

Also, according to Winchester and their Ranger T line-up, a 9mm 147-gr. load consistently outperforms the 40 S&W's 165-gr. bullet across the board, with penetration being about 1 1/2" more for the 9mm and expansion being about the same.

Steve

P.S. Only after upgrading the 40 to 180-gr. loads does it equal and/or slightly surpass the 9mm. Same principle applies in using Speer Gold Dots and Remington Golden Sabers (upgrading from 165-gr. to 180-gr.) versus 147-gr. in 9mm.

P.P.S. See also my signature for case in point.

Offline
Location: Western Canada
Joined: 03/27/2005
Posts: 77
45.

I'm Canadian and "we" don't have the "right" to defend ourselves or our property like some of our neighbours to the south. Our govt likes us to be victims..Oh! i'll stop here because i'll get Pi$$ed off and start rambling about our lame a$$ govt system up here...

But..for academic study purposes only..i would have to choose the 45 to drop some freaked out crack head busting into my home. I don't know about the 40. I saw police footage of a pitbull that grabbed hold of a person and the cop tried to get the dog off with no luck, then the dog turned on him. He fired two shoots into the dog with his 40 cal (not sure of the pistol model, i think it was a 96) and the dog ran off and died a few yards away. I would think one round from a 40 would drop a pitbull..but obviously not.

Did you see the footage of those two Boston cops that pulled over a really fat guy that was stoned out of his mind. He started beating both of them. The cops feared for their life and i think they shot the guy 7 times and he was still standing and fighting. He eneded up bleeding to death i think. His layer of fat stopped the bullets from penitrating too deep into his vital organs. He kept fighting for a bit. So i think a question should be " A best self defense caliber to defend against ______." Personally, i think the 10mm is the best all around defense calibre..

Related Forum Threads You Might Like

ThreadThread StarterRepliesLast Updated
30 06 round for bearVeloxlock2907/19/2005 21:45 pm
358 WinchesterHuntnFish212/21/2008 21:27 pm
Best caliber for dangerouse game ??Harald504/17/2008 09:01 am
Self Defense In Canadahawkeye270312/27/2010 12:28 pm
One CaliberTrophy_Hunter_416503/29/2008 01:46 am