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How to Choose Best Calibers For Concealed Carry

Updated on June 29, 2015

Why It's Important

The difference in calibers is more than just how big the bullet is. Although, even if it was that simple, personal preference plays such a big part in what caliber gun you should carry. Guns are expensive, you don't want to choose wrong when you go to the store to pick up your concealed carry. Going to the range and firing different calibers is definitely the best way to find out what suits you, but the information here will give you an idea of what to expect. Click on the link below for a great video on what things to consider when choosing what caliber to carry.

Best Handgun Caliber

1) .380 ACP

The .380 cartridge was designed in 1908 by none other than Mr. John Browning. This is the smallest caliber we'll be discussing today; anything smaller is going to have a difficult time dealing with an adult attacker.

The .380 ACP is popular amongst smaller people, this caliber is suited for the most compact handguns. The .380 doesn't have the most stopping power but most guns make up for it by holding a high number of rounds. Remember, a small firearm that you can comfortably conceal is better than a bigger gun you might leave at home. Check out the video below to get an in-depth explanation of why the .380 is good for a concealed carry.

.380acp Adequate For Self Defense?

2) 9mm

The 9mm is the most iconic caliber there is, but popularity doesn't determine quality. That being said, the 9mm has repeatedly proven itself as an effective round since its creation by George Luger in 1901. In fact, most law enforcement uses the 9mm cartridge for their everyday carries.

A 9mm round produces minimal recoil, and its popularity means you'll have endless platforms to fire it from. This ammunition is cheap and available everywhere, these traits alone have made the 9mm a strong contender for anyone who chooses to carry a concealed weapon. The video below lays out one person's choice for using a 9mm for self-defense.

9mm and Self-Defense

3) .40 S&W

In 1990 Smith and Wesson and Winchester developed the .40 caliber round. The FBI and other law enforcement agencies decided to adopt this larger round after being outgunned in the famous 1986 Miami shootout.

The .40 S&W has more stopping power and recoil than the 9mm and the inverse when compared to the .45 ACP. This ammunition is just as abundant as the 9mm but be prepared to shell out a bit more cash.

Concealed Carry Calibers

What do you think is the best self-defense ammo for concealed carrying?

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4) .38 Special

The oldest round of the pack, the .38 special was created by Smith and Wesson in 1898. It saw over 60 years of service for many police agencies, back when the revolver was law enforcement's weapon of choice.

Today, this round is most popular for target shooting and self-defense. Many people still choose revolvers when it comes to concealed carrying due to their reliability and simple operation. This round is going to cost you a bit more than the 9mm but you shouldn't have a hard time finding it. Check out the video below if you'd like to see a comparison between the 9mm and .38 special for concealed carrying.

9mm vs 38 Special for concealed carry

5) .45 ACP

Developed in 1904 by John Browning, the .45 ACP is the big daddy of the group. This round is most commonly associated with the world renowned 1911 pistol. US Armed Services used this round for over 70 years in the stander issued sidearm. Like the 9mm, this round is popular around the world among civilians and military personnel.

This cartridge offers the most stopping power out of the group. Naturally this means guns that are suitable for concealment are going to hold less rounds, but you won't need nearly as many to take down an attacker. The .45 ACP will also cost you more than any of the other rounds mentioned, but it is readily available at most retailers. If you are considering a .45 concealed carry handgun watch the video below for more information.

9MM Vs .45ACP For Self Defense?

In Conclusion

Overall, choosing a handgun cartridge to conceal carry comes down to stopping power, round count and pistol size. The best anyone can do is offer you their insight but ultimately the person carrying needs to make the decision for themselves.All this information is only useful to an extent. You can read a thousand reviews and watch a thousand videos on which round is the best, but ultimately it comes down to personal opinion and what feels comfortable.

Make sure you head to the range and try them all out for yourself; if you are ever in a situation that requires use of your concealed carry, you are going to want a caliber that you have trained with extensively. My last and best piece of advice is to pick a caliber you are comfortable with and shoot often. No matter how big the bullet is, it won’t matter if you miss the target.

Did we miss anything? Are there any calibers you think are more suitable for concealed carry? Please leave any questions or comments you have in the section below.


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