From: Dr. Ignatius Piazza
Founder and Director
Front Sight Resorts
We left off in our last report with recommending the largest caliber, heaviest bullet loaded as hot as you can handle to still be able to deliver two quick thoracic cavity shots.
The debate over which cartridge and which bullet type is best will never end as long as there are gun magazines, advertising dollars to be spent, and different manufacturers of the latest and greatest “wonderound.”
Understand this: Handguns are woefully inadequate in their stopping power as compared to a shotgun or rifle. So why do we carry handguns? Because we can! They are small enough to always have on our person for an emergency and they allow us to immediately respond in a defensive manner. (If you know you are going to a gunfight don’t be an idiot with a handgun -- take a shotgun or rifle.)
Knowing that handguns are inadequate in terms of stopping power as compared to a shotgun or rifle should lead you to want to carry the biggest handgun that you can readily conceal, in the biggest caliber, with the heaviest bullet loaded as hot as you can handle it to deliver a couple of quick shots to the thoracic cavity or a single round to the cranio-ocular cavity of an extremely dedicated opponent.
You want big holes in your opponent and you want him bleeding through and through. That means you want large, heavy bullets that penetrate.
Pretty simple, wouldn’t you say?
Yes, it is pretty simple and that’s the point.
No need to overthink it.
Focus on your ability, not the equipment, because it is YOUR ABILITY to place the rounds you choose to carry in your gun that will determine whether you live or die in a gun fight.
OK, I know you still want recommendations. Here they are. Don’t get too hung up on them. A gun in any caliber is better than no gun at all.
.45 ACP. Our grandfathers knew it in World War II and our grandfathers’ grandsons are figuring it out again in Iraq. A .45 stops ‘em best.
.40 S&W is the next best choice and in most handguns allows more magazine capacity compared to the .45ACP.
.44 Special, .357 Magnum, .357 Sig, and 9mm Plus P all run near third place.
.38 Special and 9mm are in distant fourth place. You can plan on delivering a cranio-ocular shot after two to the chest to end the fight with these calibers.
.380, .32, .25, and .22 -- Don’t even bother shooting your opponent in the chest with these. Your standard response with these pocket pistol rounds is two to three rounds to between the mustache and eyebrows (cranio-ocular cavity).
If your carry gun is one of the smaller lighter calibers that is OK. You just need to understand that you must train that much more with a short sight radius, pocket pistol to be able to deliver fight stopping multiple rounds to your opponent’s head than you would if you were carrying a 1911 in .45 or a Glock in .40 caliber and delivering two shots to the chest.
Please stay away from fragmenting bullets. Those bullets that are designed to prevent over penetration will get you killed. You WANT penetration. Because even the hottest handgun bullet is slow and mediocre compared to a rifle, you need all the penetration you can get. You want the greatest amount of linear tissue damage possible for the best chance of incapacitation (immediately dropping your opponent). You want penetration. Penetration is your friend.
So why not a .44 Magnum, .50AE, 10mm. etc? Because these guns require bigger frames due to greater chamber pressure generated and larger cartridge size, they tend to be very hard to conceal. These big guns, although they have slightly better stopping power than the .45 and .40, do so at the expense of portability, recoil control and practical use.
That leads me into the next report I will send you in a few days where I will share a very revealing discussion on carrying concealed handguns.
Dr. Ignatius Piazza
Front Sight Founder and Director
Front Sight Founder and Director
PS I had a number of e-mails after my last report on gun selection asking why I did not cover revolvers and whether or not I recommend revolvers as self defense weapons. Remember our motto, “Any Gun Will Do — If YOU Will Do.” A revolver is fine and is just as fast to the first five to six shots as a semi-automatic pistol. After 6 rounds, the semi autos will have an edge SO MAKE YOUR SHOTS COUNT.
You definitely will need to practice more trigger control and reloading drills with a revolver than you would with a Glock or 1911 due to the long double action trigger pull and more complex reload of a revolver. With practice you can get pretty fast at reloading a revolver, but the same amount of practice will make you lightening fast with a magazine-fed pistol.
PPS Front Sight’s Dry Practice Manuals cover all of the techniques for all the different types of handguns and long guns we see in our Four Day Courses. Click on this link to save a ton of money on our complete set of 7, Front Sight Dry Practice Manuals.