Gun enthusiasts enjoy a wide variety of options when it comes to ammunition. Ammo comes in various sizes and designs, making choosing the best type difficult.
There are quite a lot of factors to consider before choosing the best caliber for concealed carry weapons. There is no single best option, and your choice will mostly depend on your experience with guns, the stopping power, and recoil.
The 9mm has been a popular choice for concealed carry, especially for self-defense, because most of its corresponding guns are easy to conceal. Throughout this article, we will cover the most popular caliber ammunition for concealed carry.
Things To Consider Before Picking the Best Caliber for Concealed Carry
Before choosing the best caliber, you must first understand the factors that affect its quality. Shooting a target isn’t just straightforward, and you have to consider the distance you need to shoot. Having a good handgun and the best caliber won’t save you if you’re not skilled.
Before you even pick a good gun and caliber, first ensure that you’re well trained. Make sure to practice your shooting skills for accuracy. Other than your skills, the next best thing would be to do some ballistics research.
The best way to do this kind of research is to go to manufacturers’ gel testing shoots so that you can have first-hand experience instead of relying on salespeoples’ hype. Your main concern in self-defense should be to prevent or stop the threat instead of killing or harming the perpetrator. Other factors include:
TV shows have given us a flawed view of the effects of shooting a gun. Not every gunshot causes the target to be incapacitated — sometimes, fat can protect organs and prevent bleeding. Your main goal in self-defense is to incapacitate your target, which requires impactful shots.
Stopping power measures how successful a weapon, especially a firearm, penetrates and injures the target enough to stop them. The stopping power indicates the energy a bullet transmits to the human or animal being shot.
When choosing the best caliber for stopping power, you need to consider the number of body tissues you’re hoping to penetrate.
The more grained the bullets are when choosing ammo, the more impact you get. The principle is the same even with bullet size. Typically, the minimal penetration requirement for ammunition is about 12 inches.
Impact of the Bullet
The impact depends on how big the cavity is. Some shots are so powerful that they leave substantial permanent cavities on a target’s body. The bigger the cavity, the more likely you will incapacitate the target.
Aside from the permanent wound, a bullet will also cause a temporal wound. Once shot, a bullet will transfer kinetic energy to the surrounding tissue. When it comes to temporary cavities, a shot that causes them won’t lead to the desired penetration and is therefore not suitable for concealed carry.
Kinetic Energy (KE)
Kinetic energy represents how fast a bullet moves once discharged. Once you fire a shot, the kinetic energy of a bullet slowly decreases as it moves through the air. A bullet’s velocity and size will affect its penetration power, and ideally, the grain should be heavier and the muzzle’s kinetic energy higher.
Some bullets won’t remain intact after hitting their target. Bullets can break into smaller chunks, which causes even more damage to your target. Fragmentation depends on the speed at which the bullet moves and its design. The primary purpose of fragmentation is to control a bullet’s stopping power. Remember, you only want to incapacitate the target.
This kind of research involves looking closely into your firearm’s features. This includes the manufacturer, rated muzzle energy, velocity, gun type, barrel length, cartridge type, gun type, and weight-grain. You also need to consider the recoil.
Kickback or recoil, in this case, is the pushback that a shooter feels when they fire a gun. When a gun launches a projectile forward, according to the laws of physics, it will produce an equal force in the opposite direction. There are several ways to prepare yourself for gun recoil:
- Look for a heavier handgun.
- Practice consistently to better prepare your body for the recoil.
- Practice proper stance.
Best Caliber for Concealed Carry
As previously discussed, the best caliber varies from person to person. Below, we’ve listed some of the most well-known concealed carry ammo. You can pick the best for you according to your needs:
.45 Automatic Colt Pistol (ACP)
The .45 ACP is among the most sought-after caliber for self-defense, especially because of its availability on the market. These guns were a military issue during WWI, and it was the standard-issue ammo for the Colt M1911 handgun.
The .45 ACP was developed by John Moses Browning in 1904 and is a rimless and straight-walled cartridge. Although it is not as popular as the 9mm, the .45ACP has earned its space in self-defense. This is largely due to the numerous improvements it has undergone over the years.
This caliber has a manageable recoil for shooters of average weight. Because of its availability on the market, the 45 ACP is also quite affordable. Another great advantage is its compatibility with guns from most gun manufacturers.
The 9mm is also very available and a favorite among handgun enthusiasts. This caliber’s popularity and availability are driven by the fact that most defense agents in the US use 9mm guns.
You can find the 9mm ammo in varying grain sizes and designs, and you are even spoiled for choice when it comes to the materials you can choose. There are lead, copper, and even polymer bullet designs for this caliber. The 9mm is compatible with several compact, sub-compact, and full-size model pistols.
You’ll experience low recoil, reliability, and affordability with this gun. Its reliability stems from its accuracy, and the 9mm has adequate stopping power without compromising the accuracy of a shot.
The .380 ACP is also known as the 9mm browning and is easier to find than the 9mm and the .45 ACP. Handguns compatible with this kind of ammo are cheaper and easier to conceal and operate.
This caliber is also rimless and straight-walled. The .380 ACP was introduced to the gun market in 1908 by John Browning and was mainly marketed as a self-defense weapon. It’s slightly smaller than the 9mm and has a simple design.
The .380 ACP is used as a primary weapon by law enforcement outside the US. You will experience less force and recoil when using .380 ACP guns, which contributes to their high accuracy levels.
The .357 Magnum ranks among the top five most popular handgun cartridges today. This cartridge isn’t only compatible with handguns, but also some rifles and carbines.
This rimmed, centerfire cartridge was developed in the 1930s and is commonly used in revolvers. Its popularity stems from its high stopping power and versatile compatibility. Aside from rifles, carbines, and handguns, the .357 Magnum is also compatible with the .38 special.
When it comes to volatility, the .357 Magnum takes the cake. The gun has a powerful recoil that can pack a punch when you shoot, but its stopping power compensates for this. It’s manageable when you use a duty-sized or large-framed revolver.
The handguns compatible with this ammo are pretty heavy, and you may not enjoy rapid-fire shots. However, the handguns are pretty steady, ensuring the accuracy you need.
The .40 S&W is a 90s invention necessitated by the 1986 Miami-Dade Shootout. The FBI wanted upgraded rounds for the frequently-used 9mms. This caliber is a straight and rimless pistol cartridge popular for small pistol primers and medium-frame handguns. It’s an excellent choice for concealed carry.
The change to 10mm came with an increase in velocity and reduced recoil. The magazine upgrades also allow the guns to carry more ammunition. You can easily reconstruct the .40 to 9mm by changing the barrel and magazine.
You can find a variety of ammo ranging from 155 to 180 grain for these cartridges. They are compatible with pistols such as the Glock 22, 23, and 27. You can also use the cartridges on the Smith and Wesson M&P 2.0 and the Springfield XD.
You may experience difficulty finding the .40 caliber handgun’s ammunition.. You will feel the recoil with these guns, which may make them less of a suitable choice for concealed carry.
The .22LR is the most popular and affordable handgun caliber in the US. The 22 was developed in the 1850s and has stood the test of time due to the slight adjustments of the BB cap.
The caliber is quite versatile and many models are chambered for it. It’s used mainly by amateur shooters and is perfect for shooting competitions. This is probably because of the low noise and recoil experience once this ammo is fired.
Despite the low power, 22 LR guns are famous for self-defense because of their low weight, price, and short-range accuracy. We recommend it for short ranges because of its low stopping power.
Despite its popularity, this caliber doesn’t come with specialized rounds, which is definitely a negative. You are also limited in the choice of handgun models, but you can still choose compatible firearms from manufacturers such as Browning and Ruger. In general, this is not a caliber we’d recommend for concealed carry.
The .25 ACP was created to duplicate the ballistic performance of the .22 LR rimfire. It was first made in 1905 and designed for early blowback pistols with no breach locking mechanisms and semi-automatic pistols. .25 ACP guns were quite popular in the 80s and 90s.
The only good thing about this caliber is that it can handle smaller pistols than other calibers. Otherwise, this caliber has low stopping power, is short-ranged, and is more expensive than its twin .22 LR. It’s also used in self-defense because of its centerfire case design.
The gun is too small for a regular-sized hand, making it uncomfortable to shoot. Because of all these disadvantages, finding .25 ACP compatible guns in gun shops is quite tricky. You will experience low recoil when shooting while using this caliber.
There’s not a big difference between the .38 and the .38 Spl. The .38 has a .357-inch bullet diameter, and the special is just a subcategory of the caliber. The .38 is more than a century old, and you’ll find very few firearms compatible with these bullets.
This cartridge was created by Smith & Wesson and designed as a rimmed centerfire cartridge. It is typically used in semi-automatic pistols and carbines. This type of ammo was also used primarily by US law enforcement in the 1900s.
The main difference between the .38 and the .38 Special is the case length and pressure. The latter has lower pressure and slower bullets. With this caliber, you get less recoil, more accuracy, and a variety of .38 unique chambered pistols.
Because the .38 special caliber has black powder, it produces less smoke and therefore clogs up your barrels less.
This caliber yields itself well to small pocket, hammerless revolvers.
The 10mm cartridge is the ultimate cartridge for self-defense and hunting. The caliber was launched in 1983 for the Bren Ten Pistol and gained its popularity after the Miami-Dane Shootout.
Despite its superiority, the 10mm had one issue: its powerful recoil. Aside from the recoil, however, the 10mm is quite versatile in terms of models chambered for the ammo. You can get 10mm Glock Pistols from manufacturers such as Storm Lake, Double Diamond, and Barnes.
This has been a comprehensive guide to the various calibers you can use for concealed carry weapons. To truly determine which is the best caliber for concealed carry, you have to take a look at your shooting requirements. We hope that we have provided you with enough information to help you further define your requirements and the caliber that matches them. Remember to practice your shooting form and skills!