Choose the Best Round and Caliber for Self Defense

The topic of self-defense is hotly debated among gun enthusiasts, and there are countless options when it comes to the best self-defense choice for you. The model and caliber that you choose will vary according to your personal needs and experience.

Careful consideration is crucial when selecting the handgun that you will rely on for protection. Take time to research the best options for you before making this potentially life-saving decision. After deciding, it is important to outfit your gun with the perfect concealed carry holster and other accessories that complement its use.

Bullet Choices Matter

The caliber of a firearm determines which type of rounds can be used with it, and the construction of a bullet determines what a round will do to achieve its purpose. In self-defense situations, the purpose of a round is to stop an attack, and there are various rounds available that are tailored to this purpose.

Lead bullets, though common, are not the best choice for a self-defense weapon because they will not penetrate the target as well as their copper-jacketed counterparts. In a self-defense situation, however, there is also a high risk of collateral damage if the bullet penetrates too well.

Full metal jacket (FMJ) shells are an ideal defense ammo option. They typically consist of a lead core encased in copper, which enables them to penetrate well. The softness of the lead then prevents an excessive transfer of energy, in comparison to other round options.

Jacketed Hollow Point Bullets

Many gun enthusiasts agree that the jacketed hollow point (JHP) bullet design is highly effective for defense situations.

The JHP is an advancement on the FMJ, with the copper jacket partially extending to cover the lead core, which leaves the nose exposed. This portion of the lead has a hollow tip, and this enables the ideal balance between energy transfer and penetration.

Bonded Bullets

Bonded bullets inhibit the jacket and core of a bullet from separating upon impact. They are produced through both electrochemical and mechanical bonding, and both options ensure that the copper and lead components do not detach from one another, which lets the bullet maintain its weight for penetration. This makes bonded JHP bullets the premier choice for self-defense purposes.

Power

Several important factors play into making one bullet and caliber a more attractive choice for self-defense than another. These are power, speed, and capacity.

A bullet’s power, or effectiveness, refers to its ability to stop an attacker as quickly and effectively as possible. Various formulas have been developed that attempt to calculate the stopping power of a handgun, but, because the conditions of emergencies vary so significantly, this is difficult to do.

For example, a bullet that would have a detrimental effect on the chest cavity might have little to no effect on a dense, bony area. Because the chest cavity represents the largest mass of a target and has the highest contact probability, this is the area that emergency responders are trained to aim for and where a bullet’s stopping power is typically calculated.  

This implies that the best stopping power is afforded by bullets that affect debilitating pain to an attacker.

Speed

The faster the bullet, the quicker it can neutralize a target. Advances in the development of Kydex holsters allow for reduced retrieval time and, coupled with high-velocity rounds, eliminating a threat has never been faster.  

The speed of a bullet will affect the penetration of a target. The higher the rotational velocity of a bullet, the further it can penetrate the attacker. Speed also plays a role in how much a bullet expands, which determines the amount of damage that is inflicted and whether collateral damage will be a concern.

Those who opt for a lighter, faster bullet will find that they offer reduced recoil, which is essential for carriers who cannot withstand heavy recoil.

Capacity

The capacity of a handgun is a final and straightforward factor to consider. The smaller the bullet, the more rounds a handgun can carry.

A Glock 17 will always hold more 9mm Lugers than a Glock 21 holds .45 AUTOs. It is important to consider that, though a 9mm pistol may hold more ammunition, it is still a lighter firearm than any .40 S&W or .45 AUTO when loaded.

Gun Calibers


One go-to choice for personal self-defense is a revolver. A revolver will carry either .38 Special or .357 Magnum calibers. The advantage of a revolver is that it is easy to operate and learn how to shoot, making it an ideal choice for high-stress situations.

Revolvers do have limited capacity, which may be a disadvantage for some. With proper training, however, this is not likely to be an issue.

Some semiautomatic handguns can hold up to seventeen rounds of 9mm ammo, as well as .40 S&W and .45 ACP. This type of firearm is easily reloaded and allows users to keep their eyes on the threat. However, semi-automatics must be cocked to fire, which may be inconvenient for some.

A user’s experience and comfort level in handling firearms will likely determine what type of gun or caliber they decide to use. For those with less experience, a revolver with .38 Special bullets is an ideal option. A more experienced carrier may find that a semi-automatic handgun, such as a Glock 17 or Glock 19 with 9mm Luger bullets, is the most suitable option for their skill level.

The Best Choice for You

Deciding on a firearm for self-defense requires a compromise between size, speed, and capacity. Larger bullets will never have a higher velocity than smaller bullets, and a handgun with more power will almost always have more significant recoil. The best choice for a self-defense weapon comes down to your personal preference and the factors that are most pertinent to your concealed carry use.

Being an accurate and practiced shot is more important than what type of firearm or bullet you choose to use. Once you have made your decision, it is essential to test the feel of different rounds at your shooting range.

Consider factors like level of comfort in the hand, recoil control, and capacity. There are also various options for how to conceal and carry your weapon, the most popular of which is an in-the-waistband or IWB holster.

A firearm is a serious tool that is used only in the most critical of situations. Because of this, it is paramount that any carrier is fully comfortable and capable of using their weapon of choice for their own and others’ safety.

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