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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
My opinions - based on having own and fired these:

38 special and +p - ok for close work on light targets with light weight bullets. Minimum power that I would suggest.

9mm - slightly less power than the 38+p and the only "advantage" is larger magazine capacity. It tends to make people worse shots because they have more rounds to shoot.

357 mag - ok for shooting to 50 - 60 yards on targets to 300 pounds. Shoots 38 ammo so you have more versatility. Recoil can be hard for small people or those sensitive to recoil or muzzle blast. Tends to "over-penetrate" with heavy bullets - better with 140 grain hollow points.

40 caliber - ballistically identical to 45 ACP. Good stopping power - good to 30 yards against 250 pound targets. Like all autos lacks versatility but has more rounds. (advantge if you learn to shoot like you only have two bullets)

10mm - ballistically similar to 357 mag. not for recoil sensitive folks and the guns are a bit larger than small people can handle easily.

41 mag - not very popular - ammo is not plentiful. This is a hunting cartridge that needs at least a 6 inch barrel but good to 60+ yards on targets to 300 pounds. On the down side , there is no 41 special ammo to shoot but you can load down if you reload your own.

44 special - power level is between the 40 caliber and 45 ACP. The guns are heavy and large but handle easily and recoil is manageable even for small folks. Ammo is hard to find and expensive in most areas.

44 Mag - this gun has lost some of its appeal although it is a great gun for all-round use. More powerful than the smaller magnums and can fire the 44 Special loads for practice. The guns are big and the recoil is the primary reason for its loss in popularity. Even though it is capable of killing anything on the North American continent it tends to "over-penetrate" on lighter targets.

45 ACP and 45 Colt (sometimes called long Colt) - these guns fire a 230 -250 grain bullet at 800 - 900 fps and are the best man stoppers that were ever built. They are not meant to hunt with but can put down dear sized game if you can place the bullet correctly out to about 30 yards. In spite of the worn guns that gave it a reputation for not being accurate these 45s can group very well with a well tuned weapon. These are the ideal for personal defense. The auto has a big advantage over the revolver because the revolver is a big gun that is difficult to master. The auto also carries 8 or more rounds in the full-size models.

I prefer revolvers for several reasons:
1. with only 6 rounds you tend to practice and shoot smaller groups.
2. I reload - I HATE chasing brass. Using a brass catcher is like wearing a diaper - it is distracting and you don't want anyone to see you with it.
3. Autos tend to have "fail to feed", "fail to fire" and "fail to return to battery" problems more than revolvers. The Colt 45 that I owned was a mess out ofthe box. It would not return to battery with factory hard ball ammo. I had to hone the burrs off every part of the action, lap the slide, and cut the ejector to get it to function 99% of the time. It never got completely reliable. Remember that you cannot afford a failure to fire on a protection gun.
There are many who never have any problems with autos and there are a lot of LEOs who carry them daily. If you ever have a jam or a failto fire with your auto don't carry it for defense. The one time you need it most, may be the next time if fails you.

Ok, the fore-going is my opinion - lets hear yours.
 

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Discussion Starter #2
I do expect different opinions. This will help folks looking to buy having never owned a handgun before.
My opinions are of little importance to anyone but me and I understand that - I am looking for others to express their opinions as well.
 

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I have also had many on your list and shot them all of them over the years. I've have come down not to just 3 calibers, 9mm, 45 ACP and 45 Colt in hand guns. Now my reasons are the difference with modern JHP ammo in the 45 ACP, 40 S&W and 9mm is miniscule in real life situations. FMJ well the 45 ACP is more of a stopper however all are capable of stopping some one none will stop every one with a single shot unlike the movies like to show. The 40 S&W is a 10 mm bullet in a smaller case and fact is it isn't better than the 9mm or 45 ACP.

Now why the 45 Colt well that is easy really. It can be loaded depending on the gun, to handle loads that are stronger than the 44 Mag and almost to the power of a 454 Casull. I might add if you have to kill a black bear it will do it while a 38/357 won't nor will the 45 ACP, 40 or 9mm etc. Besides as some one once stated, a hand guns purpose is to give you time to get to your rifle and that is a 45 Colt and 45-70 Gov both lever guns. But to each their own when it comes to weapons. Oh and I've loaded my 45 Colts with bullets as heavy a 325 gr without a problem that is a Ruger Blackhawk and a Rossi M92 rifle. My favorite load is a Ranch Dog 290 gr pushed by 25 gr of Lilgun.
 

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The one you didn't mention I will is 22LR. Seems like a lot of folks like it and some hate it. The little bugger is good for small game,
good for children to use, good for training, good for women (maybe even men) that are uncomfortable with firearms. Its like a gate
way drug :) The best part is you can put 300 rounds in your bug out bag and not worry about running out of ammo. Try that with
9mm, 223, 38, etc .... heavy heavy heavy and space consuming too.

No it doesn't have stopping power, but a well placed shot will accomplish the same thing at 120 yards as a 9mm, 38, etc. And thanks
to its ease of use hitting that target at 120 yards is more feasible for some.

Oh and my other round I am capable of discussing is the 338 Lapua. Finally hit the 5 gallon bucket last weekend at 850 yards - that
was my goal. Took me $125 worth of ammo to get there, but ok. This is important to me because that's the distance between my
look out spot and where anything other than armor would have to stop and maneuver themselves through fences/gates onto my
property.
 

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The one you didn't mention I will is 22LR. Seems like a lot of folks like it and some hate it. The little bugger is good for small game,
good for children to use, good for training, good for women (maybe even men) that are uncomfortable with firearms. Its like a gate
way drug :) The best part is you can put 300 rounds in your bug out bag and not worry about running out of ammo. Try that with
9mm, 223, 38, etc .... heavy heavy heavy and space consuming too.

No it doesn't have stopping power, but a well placed shot will accomplish the same thing at 120 yards as a 9mm, 38, etc. And thanks
to its ease of use hitting that target at 120 yards is more feasible for some.

Oh and my other round I am capable of discussing is the 338 Lapua. Finally hit the 5 gallon bucket last weekend at 850 yards - that
was my goal. Took me $125 worth of ammo to get there, but ok. This is important to me because that's the distance between my
look out spot and where anything other than armor would have to stop and maneuver themselves through fences/gates onto my
property.
I gave up on 22 semi autos as almost every one was either ammo picky or had problems with dependability. Now a rifle or revolver no problem just don't own one at this time. I actually have a 22 cal. Pellet gun that is almost as good and better at small game.
 

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I put aside the minor performance differences in pistol rounds because when it comes down to it,....there pistol rounds. There not rifle rounds with a larger difference in terminal damage, range, wind cutting ability, and penetration on soft and hard targets. There pistol rounds. Nothing but rounds in a gun you should be using to fight your way back to your rifle when shtf and you were foolish not to have your rifle closer. What matters to me most as a prepper for shtf is commonality with reasonable perfomance and that means 9mm and than .45auto after it. 9mm is still the current military for us and our so called allies and it's the most common civilian defensive round to my knowledge also.
 

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Number one hit your target, number two hit it again no madder what caliber you are using
 
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Totally understand. I have a ppk/s in 22LR and its finicky. I would not want my life depending on it and fortunately rattle snakes don't shoot first on one's draw. I still love
the little gun and enjoy carrying it - so small and easy to conceal. My Dan Wesson M-15 22LR is super reliable. The poor thing has done over 5k rounds and just keeps going.
Only problem I ever have is applying the ammo the 22LR conversion, the ppks or the MKII didn't fire to it.

A bolt action 22LR in the hands of a novice though can provide you some very accurate support in a tough time.

I gave up on 22 semi autos as almost every one was either ammo picky or had problems with dependability. Now a rifle or revolver no problem just don't own one at this time. I actually have a 22 cal. Pellet gun that is almost as good and better at small game.
 

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Totally understand. I have a ppk/s in 22LR and its finicky. I would not want my life depending on it and fortunately rattle snakes don't shoot first on one's draw. I still love
the little gun and enjoy carrying it - so small and easy to conceal. My Dan Wesson M-15 22LR is super reliable. The poor thing has done over 5k rounds and just keeps going.
Only problem I ever have is applying the ammo the 22LR conversion, the ppks or the MKII didn't fire to it.

A bolt action 22LR in the hands of a novice though can provide you some very accurate support in a tough time.
My favorite 22 of all times I gave to a son, a Ruger single six with both the 22 and 22 max cylinders. Oh and I don't say 22LR because it fired both 22 shorts (don't think they are made any more) and the 22 LR no matter what brand of ammo it always fired. Now if I was to buy another it would be perhaps one of the new 12 shot versions.
 

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I'm a big fan of .22LR for several reasons that have already been covered. It is not to be under-estimated.
 

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For those who don't have a favorable opinion of .22 pistols, here's a video of the Ruger SR22 that I recently purchased. The video demonstrates a few different brands of ammo through it. This gun is phenomenal and is a lot of fun to shoot. I've had crappy .22 handguns in the past that jammed all the time. This one does not. At least, I haven't found any ammo yet that causes FTF's or FTE's in my SR22.
 

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My thoughts on carry guns basically boils down to the fact that all major ammunition manufacturers test their ammo to the same standard (FBI standards generally). If their ammo passes those tests they're all going to exceed the basic level of performance that we all require. Therefore the chambering of the the firearm in question makes little difference, what matters is rounds on target. If you can't hit vitals at 25yds with your carry gun then you either a) need a lot more practice or b) need to find a gun that you can do it with. Let's face it there are some guns that are just not comfortable to shoot for each individual.

Without a doubt some of the cartridges you listed were not designed as defensive rounds. Those should be left out of the equation when it comes to choosing a defensive weapon. I generally don't like magnum cartridges for defensive work do the higher risk of over penetration. Magnums like the .357 or .44 work great for defensive work if loaded with the .38 Special or .44 Special but their magnum loads should be reserved for hunting work IMHO. These magnums are usually prohibitive to carrying due to their sheer size. I would consider a magnum in bear country but would probably opt for the .454 Casull if I were spending a lot of time in the woods. In this respect I think the .45 Colt is also an excellent hunting round in an appropriate revolver, I load a .300gr slug over a generous helping of Unique and would have no qualms about hunting up to black bear sized critters @ 50yds. A 255gr Keith Style hard cast lead bullet will do an excellent job on deer sized game or even 2 legged varmints for that matter if needed.

We can talk about stopping power all we like but really it's a myth, what may stop one attack may very well not stop another. Think hopped up Meth head, there's a good possibility that being shot once won't stop him and you may have to keep shooting until he loses enough blood to shut down his system. I've seen a lot of bad guys over the course of my life that have been riddled with bullet holes and are still walking and talking. I've seen guys that have slugs still in their heads and are still fully capable of committing other crimes. Most of those holes have been from 9mm or .38 Specials but I don't think that's why they aren't dead. It's been my experience that stuff that would kill you or me these people will survive with very little trouble.

Remember that a handgun is a defensive weapon and should be used as such. They are for fighting your way to a rifle or for getting yourself out of a bad situation. Don't expect any handgun to put a bad guy down in his tracks, if it happens it's because your shot was well placed and did enough internal damage to shut his system down not because of the particular cartridge used. I like the .45ACP but it's a lot of gun for some people and not comfortable to carry in which case I would recommend a smaller handgun probably a 9mm. If that's still too much step down to a .380 ACP, it's better to have a handgun that you will carry and are proficient with than a .45 ACP that you leave in your safe. The bottom line is that what your gun is chambered for makes no difference in a gun fight, having a gun is what makes the difference. Buy what fits you well and one you can shoot well and don't worry about whether or not so and so says it's only rated for __% 1 shot stops.

-Infidel
 

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Fuzzee and Infidel I agree with, a pistol is just a way to get back to your rifle.

But for .22 pistols I've used a Rugar mk 5 for years and it is very reliable, my dad has a Colt with the same results.

My CC is a Glock 36 in .45 caliber, it is light and the other upside, it is a Glock. Only a 5 shot mag but like others said before it makes you think about shot placement and not rounds down range (the army likes to call it fire superiority).

The only other pistol caliber I own is 9mm, who can go wrong with a current military caliber. I though about adding a .40 as that seems to be the standard police state issue but I refer back to the first sgt in the movie We were soldiers, "if I need one, there will be plenty of them lying on the ground".

Oh yea and I almost forgot. When using a pistol: head, spine or legs is the only sure way to stop them.
 

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I prefer to use military type ammo like 9mm and 45 auto and rifle 5.56x45 (223) and 7.62x51 (308) or older 30-06. When picking a cartridge they did a lot of testing and like the 9mm and 45 auto it has been around for about 100 years so they must have done something right.. If you look at the difference between the 223 rem and 5.56x45 even thought they are almost identical the 5.56x45 was designed a little different in that the round can handle dirt better without jamming in the gun they have a little bit difference in the shoulder angels. In fact I use the same reasoning on buying a scope for a rifle, if the military uses it then there has been a lot of testing. Some scopes the military accepts are Acogs, Eotechs, Nightforce, aimpoint,and Elcan. Now I know there are some that will say their Leapers and Tasco scopes are just as good and a little cheaper. But I personally would rather have something that has been tested under extreme conditions. Also its good to remember rounds like the 5.56x45 and 7.62x51 are designed to be used in self loading guns. And sense the we aren't confined to mainly FMJ bullets like the military we have a much better choise of choosing the right ammo for the job.
 

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357 magnum is my smallest concealed carry round, and is one of my favorite woods walking rounds.
My favorite farm carry handguns are 22 magnum and 32-20.
I prefer 44 Special, 44 Magnum, 45 ACP, 45 Colt. But then, I'm old school and tend to stick to what works.
I do own one 9MM, a Walther P-38, but it's not for defense.
But, as noted above, most handguns are relatively weak performers compared to a rifle. The exceptions would likely be 460 S&W, 454 Casull, or others in that power range.
 

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Rifles? .223 and .308, plus one in .38/.357. Pistols .40 and two in .45 AP and one revolver in .357. The rifles reason, because I wanted 'em and the calibers because they are NATO/DOD/LEO calibers. .38/.357 because it is one of the most versitile catridges to load for. I reload for all of them.
 

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Interesting bit of trivia... the most common caliber for a "hit" is a .22. From what I understand it is because it is quieter and nearly impossible to collect ballistic information from the bullet. The casing is another issue. The "hit man" is caught if he's dumb enough to leave a casing behind. In almost every instance, if both the weapon and casing are compared there is more than enough proof to show the casing came from that particular weapon. Better than a fingerprint.
 
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