We’ve all heard stories of Colt 1911’s throwing “bad guys” backwards and there will always be a group of dedicated .45 ACP fans hailing the power of the one shot stopping power of larger calibers.
But go ahead and try to concealed carry a 1911 (or really any .45 for that matter)…
I bought into the stopping power hype, tried it, and gave up after less than a month.
Sticking with the larger caliber stopping power myth (yes, I said myth—more on that in a minute), I moved on to the Glock 22 in .40. People told me to “be a man” and “carry a real gun.”
Now, I’m right around 6 feet tall, but with my frame the Glock 22 was printing so bad you could see it at almost any angle.
As I type this, I’m sitting comfortably with a Ruger LC9 and even though I’ve gone from .45 ACP to only 9mm (what most people consider the bare minimum in stopping power), I feel safer now than I ever have.
First things first: People don’t go down like they do in the moves.
You’re never going to hit a target and watch him flip over backwards. It’s unlikely (unless you hit the spinal column or brain stem) that they’ll go down in one shot.
Most of the time, true incapacitation is all about blood loss and protecting yourself is about hitting your target.
Sure, everyone is going to react to being shot differently, but (as I’m about to prove) most bad guys are going to stop after you pump a round into them of any caliber.
What I’m saying is that in concealed carry situations…
You Actually Have to Hit Your Target
Most people can handle full-size .45 or .40 caliber pistols with no problem. But here’s what you need to consider…
Most larger caliber pistols are unsuitable for concealed carry. Just like my Glock 22 and 1911, you just can’t comfortably wear them around. At 40+ ounces, full size pistols are just plain unmanageable for every day carry.
So most people resort to pistols in the 20-ounce range.
Lighter is better for carry comfort, but when it comes time to shoot, you’re going to miss the heavier piece.
Pistol weight plays a huge role in accuracy. It’s simple physics: The heavier your pistol is, the less recoil it will have.
Yes, bigger pistols have more stopping power. But they are also harder to carry. And light pistols with large calibers? They are more likely to be inaccurate.
And You Have to Hit Your Target Where It Matters...
If a bad guy isn’t backing down even after he is hit, blood loss is going to be your best friend.
How do you get massive blood loss?
You need to register a hit in the sternum. Anything below may cause massive blood loss, but nowhere near quickly enough when seconds count.
With a smaller, more manageable caliber, you’ll experience greater accuracy.
Just Take a Look at Real-World Research…
One of the only existing complete studies of caliber in real-world situations was published by Greg Ellifritz.
Titled “An Alternate Look at Handgun Stopping Power,” his study complied statistics from 1,800 shootings and all calibers. From the tiny .22 rimfire right up to rifle rounds and shotgun slugs, Ellifritz studies incapacitation and stopping power in real-world shooting scenarios.
What he discovered might surprise you…
After studying fatal hit percentage, rounds to incapacitation, number of people who were implicated, one-shot stops and more, a common trend emerges from Ellifritz’s statistics (especially as it relates to handguns).
When it comes to one-shot stops (essentially the very definition of what you’re attempting to do in a must-shoot concealed carry scenario), it turns out that one-shot stop rates from .25 ACP to .44 magnum were nearly the same.
So Does that Mean You Can Carry .25 ACP and Still Have Stopping Power?
The percentage of people who were not incapacitated at all was much higher with lower calibers. With .25 ACP you’re unlikely to put someone down instantly with a single shot.
What Ellifritz did determine is that the vast majority of aggressors will turn tail and run once they are hit.
Moral: The Best Concealed Carry Caliber is the One in the Pistol You Have On You!
Ultimately, the best caliber to have is the one in the pistol you have on you.
Beyond that, it’s the one you can shoot most accurately and carry comfortably in a real-world must-shoot situation.
Any reasonable caliber (even .22 rimfire or .25 ACP) is likely to stop an aggressor in a real world situation.
The difference is, with a lighter concealed carry pistol chambered in a larger caliber, your accuracy is likely to go down.
My suggestion: Carry what you are comfortable with, even if it’s only a mere 9mm, it’s still statistically likely that you’ll be able to thwart a would-be threat to your life with just a single shot.
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