A GLOCK 27, an Olight, and a Benchmade make up this pocket dump. The 27 is a Gen4 meaning it isn’t someone’s holdover .40 S&W from long ago. But we’ve talked about the .40 before so let’s attack this from a different angle.

How much gun is enough for self-defense? Where do you draw the line, personally? .380 ACP? 9mm? .45 ACP? What’s your bare minimum for concealed carry…and can you back up your choice with facts and testing?

 

110 COMMENTS

        • I’m getting old. I have to use a magnifying glass to see if the .9mm is fmj or hollowpoint. And where are you getting hollowpoints for only 1.50 a round?

        • JWM, try Sportsmans Guide. Box of 25 Hornady Critical Defense 115 grn 9mm for 18.52 for members, a buck more for non members.

        • Rad, Sportsman’s Guide for Critical Defense 115 grn for .74 per round for members, buck more for non members. They often have free shipping for orders over 50 bucks..

        • Marty. Thank you. But we’re engaging in an ongoing ttag riff about the non existent .9mm. The gun ignorant media are constantly mislabeling the 9mm as the .9mm. We just started running with it.

          It gets constant use like the creedmoor.

        • Man, where are you guys going to spend $$ on hollow-point. Check out Luckygunner.com. Buy in bulk and save.

    • I carry 9 mm most days G43 and Sig 365, but also a Shield in .40 and occasionally a Detonics or Cold Officer’s in .45 when I can carry OWB. Honestly, though, I’d carry my little tip up Beretta in .22 short I use to dispatch wounded deer in the field if that’s all I could or had at the time. Still better (for me) than an asp or knife.

      • Obviously Colt, not Cold (thanks to spell checker)… Hell, w/o the edit feature we must really look like a bunch of morons to those who didn’t attend public schools over the past 20 years or so…

        The Feds make you take that away, Dan??? It would appear so.

  1. The bigger the hole in the bad guy, the better off you are. The more holes also. Pretty weak looking blade.

  2. Bare minimum I carry is .380. A few .380s to the chest and face will change the mind of most assailants.

    I usually carry a single stack 9mm with a spare magazine, and sometimes have the .380 in my pocket as a backup, but I don’t feel unprotected with the .380 alone. Nobody wants to get shot, and if two to the chest don’t stop him, I figure one to the maxillary sinus will.

    In a perfect world, I’d open carry my 686 but….

  3. Whatever caliber and type of handgun you’re comfortable with is the shiznit for self defense. A reliable .22 will serve the average person on the street as well as any other round.

    All the argument is amongst the tactifool crowd and those seeking to exploit their ignorance for clicks.

      • I have when it was all I had. And .25. Which ain’t really the point I was making. Most gunfights are over before the first shot is fired. Simply having a gun puts you in a good place when trouble comes. Cause it ain’t Hollywood. Most bad guys leave when the ‘victim’ gets all gunny on them.

        Hell, I ran 2 guys off with a pocket knife one night. Turns out most folks don’t want to get shot or cut.

        When I carry, it’s normally a .38.

        • I agree. I responded to a guy getting “zipped up” with a .25 ACP one night. Seven rounds. First one just above the belt buckle. Last one in the right cheek. He answered every question I asked him. Of course, he wasn’t feeling well. If he had a weapon he could have defended himself. The suspect was a suspected illegal alien. Case open today. Twenty+ years later. Nah, we don’t need a wall. How could that have helped?

        • I agree. Most criminals/attackers are just opportunists, not psychopaths.

          I guarantee you a chest full of .380s will make most of them change their minds. Or 32s, or .22s.

          Nobody wants to get shot.

    • Interesting points you present. I’ve thought it every once and awhile.

      Something like a PMR-30? Shoot bad guy with 20 or so rounds in couple of seconds….I would think bad guy threat would be stopped…

      interesting

      • Shoot an attacker twenty times, you’d better be ready to prove in court that each round fired was absolutely necessary, otherwise an anti-gun judge will decide it was excessive force and you will very likely do time.

    • Key word: “most” … 50.1% is most of 100% but is that really enough?

      While you can’t prepare for every possibility, this kind of logic is only looking at one common class of crime.

      There are statistically still a lot of other violent and potentially fatal things that could happen where simply having some kind of gun on you will NOT do the job… especially when you factor in the fact that many people do not understand how they should interact with criminals.

      • GDMF,

        The overwhelming majority of attackers are looking for an easy score. And many attackers who are much more hardcore have no desire to go toe-to-toe with an armed victim.

        In my estimation:
        — about 90% of attackers will immediately leave if their victim produces a firearm for self-defense, regardless of caliber
        — of the remaining 10% of attackers who continue their attack after their victim produces a firearm, about half of those attackers will immediately leave when their victim starts shooting at the attackers, regardless of the victim’s firearm caliber

        Therefore, I believe that close to 95% of victims of violent attacks will survive without any further significant physical injuries after they produce a firearm and start shooting at their attackers in self-defense, regardless of the victim’s firearm caliber.

        What that means is that caliber and capacity are only relevant in something like 5% of violent attacks. And those attacks almost entirely involve suicidal attackers (spree killers, terrorists, and stalkers) and drugged up attackers (typically on PCP or methamphetamine).

  4. Today, while out pushing snow on my backhoe and wearing a long barn coat, I needed a backup because I’d never get my primary out from under the coat. In this case I placed my PPK in the pocket of the coat, easy to get at. Otherwise, a 9mm is my minimum.

      • Yup, one of the most accurate 380’s I’ve ever owned. Use to have a German PP, awesome 380, but like a dummy, traded it off like so many other great weapons I’ve owned. I’m older and smarter now, what I have, I keep.

        • Damn! You must be an old fart like me. Went through a divorce a few years ago. Then a high maintenance girlfriend, but decided I like firearms better. Been rebuilding since. In fact need to get over to Red Hills Trading Company this week to pick up a rifle that I won on auction last week.

        • Yea, I’m one of the lucky ones as my wife has never bitched about me buying more guns. But like you said, I’m and old fart and will probably never shoot some of the guns I have. I keep telling myself I don’t need any more, but then another comes up that I just gotta have. Oh well, my daughter has been a shooter since she was 4, and she says she will never sell any of my guns when I pass. You know, I believe her.

        • Still kicking myself for a half-dozen sells / trades from the 70’s and 80’s…by the time the mid 90’s rolled around I had learned…keep ’em all…just buy another safe.

        • Funny, that’s my story. Haven’t sold or traded a gun since the mid 90’s Had to buy another vault (that made two) then had to add a cheepie Stack on a couple of years ago.

  5. My “pocket gun” = Kahr CM40 with Federal HST 180gr. Beats the hell out of anyone’s 380. Speaking of 380’s, my choice there is the Taurus 738, with a stainless slide. ONLY Buffalo Bore ammo in the 380.

    • i second the PT738 with stainless slide. i load mine with XTP’s though after watching a few STB gel tests.

      Never been a fan of the .40 cal, but a lot of people still pack em.

      minimum caliber for me is 22WMR. i carry the TCP sometimes and a LC9 sometimes too. I’ve also carried 38 special, and 357 mag before.

  6. My “pocket gun” = Kahr CM40 with Federal HST 180gr. Beats the hell out of anyone’s 380, 22, 32, etc. Speaking of 380’s, my choice there is the Taurus 738, with a stainless slide. ONLY Buffalo Bore ammo in the 380.

    • I have the same Pocket Rocket (CM40). A Hogue Handall Jr helped immensely with the recoil control (small slick grip). I actually prefer the recoil profile of 165 grain pills. Oddly enough, I prefer shooting it over my 642 loaded with 38+p. Also, I love the Kahr long smooth trigger over the 12 pound grip strength tester J-frame.

  7. .380 for me. It’s not that I don’t think a .22 to the face won’t stop someone, or that a .380 to the chest is much more likely to stop them; it’s that a .380 platform is the smallest I comfortably shoot yet it is highly concealable. I have never been in a situation where my .380 could not be hidden (it can be used as an underwear gun). Why go to something even marginally less powerful unless there’s a good reason?

  8. I’m a firm believer that ANY gun you have and are willing to use defensively has value. That being said, There are lots of choices, and let the arguments roll on. Remember the second rule of gunfights….have a gun.

    1st rule. Don’t get into gunfights

  9. I own a SIGP238 a .380 but haven’t fired it in over 5 years. Not enough gun.
    Minimum for me is a 9mm lately a PPQ SC with the 15 round mag.
    9mm need a lot of bullets.
    9mm Sig P938 when I don’t want to carry a gun.
    9mm go to round 124gr HST +P.
    Daily carry is a Commander size 1911 in 10mm.
    I feel appropriately armed with Double Tap 135 grain all copper at 725ft lbs. Nice pop in them. Me likeeeee.

    • All said and done.
      Id be just as happy with my Beretta 22 Tom Cat?? I think its called. My shirt pocket gun.
      But given a choice the largest I can shoot and shoot well so its the 10mm for me.

  10. “How much gun is enough for self-defense? Where do you draw the line, personally? .380 ACP? 9mm? .45 ACP? What’s your bare minimum for concealed carry…and can you back up your choice with facts and testing?”

    clickbait nonsense.

    how about keep it simple: first, have a gun with you. then worry about caliber

  11. I normally carry at least an LCP.

    I would not feel unarmed with my PP 32. Or a Ruger MkII 22.

    I prefer 380 and above. Unless I don’t have those.

  12. Gun, knife, fists, teeth, whatever. Weapons are nice, but knowing what giving up really means is the only real motivator.

    • B I N G O !!!
      Perfect comment after I just read about the trail runner that choked out a young mountain lion THAT HAD JUST POUNCED ON THE MAN’s HEAD.
      You best better HAVE some gumption, ‘cuz you can’t buy that anywhere.

  13. I’ve been in fights and DGUs and used various weapons against actual armed felons. I can personally attest to people on PCP and dirty meth not going down easily. By that I mean still coming after 15 plus rounds of handgun shots. A 5-shot .38 is better than nothing, but a lot less firepower than a good semi auto. I don’t see a great difference between 17 +1 of 9mm +P, 15 +1 of .40, or 13 +1 of .45. I also load Underwood .357 out of an 8 shot 627 PC. There is no average armed altercation. I want to be well prepared since I might have another one and my last altercation with a meth head was less than two weeks ago.

    Sure, anything is better than nothing, and a 12 gauge is better than a handgun, and won’t blow your ears out shooting indoors. And a bigger, higher capacity handgun has more firepower than a snubbie revolver. Y’all may have better luck than me but I like to be prepared for the worst.

    • You’re a cop. We expect you to ride to the sound of the guns. Me, I’m an unsworn citizen. I can go the other way.

      How you been? Haven’t seen much of you lately.

      • Yea, and we cops expect other cops to run towards the gunfire. Shit like what happened at the Florida high school is a black mark on all law enforcement.

      • I drive towards the sirens but we all walk the same streets.

        I’m working way to hard but doing well, thank you! Hoping to go on an elk hunt. How are you?

        • Good. Trying to work my skill levels up with a bow to try some small game hunting next rabbit season. It’s an uphill battle.

      • I’ve been in some uncomfortable situations in my 20+ years of adulthood, but i’ve yet to personally draw on anyone, much less fire a weapon in self defense. My carry gun is a last ditch resort to a very unlikely situation.

        If i was a Peace officer, my standard would be very different. Seeing as how i generally avoid stupid P,P,&T, .22 WMR it is for me.

    • I was reading a friend’s textbook for a sheriff’s class and came to a photo from the shoulders up of a dead bad guy. He was peppered with what looked like .22 holes; I counted 42 in “kill” zones – the middle of his face and forehead, neck, and chest. I thought maybe it was a single blast of 4 Buck, but I went on to read that they were all 9 mil fired by deputies who only ceased fire after he went down. They blamed PCP, but simple adrenaline can also promote “superhuman” abilities.

      I carry a 9, but only because I actually take it with me everyday. But never will I assume that it is going to stop an assailant cold.

  14. The struggle is real. M&P9C in 9mm with 13 rounds on tap, or LCR 357 Magnum with 5?

    Guess best option is an ankle holster and carry both.

  15. Its the old shot placement vs caliber argument.

    .22 wmr is the lightest I’d carry. But the reality is the best caliber in a pistol is the one you can put 3 shots on target, under pressure, accurately.

    For me, that’s anything from a .22 to a 9mm.

  16. Statement: “The .40 is obsolete. It is far too snappy for follow-up shots.”
    What I hear: “I probably look like my wrist is about to touch my elbow with every shot I fire off from a 9mm. Also, I like to shoot rapid-fire at cardboard cut-outs five yards away and film myself.”

    • I regularly disprove “too snappy for followup” every 2-4 weeks at the range. G27. 30 yards. Silhouette. Rapid-fire from holster. Not a problem.

  17. I just watched a video today where a cop was shot 6 times with a Glock 21 230gr .45 including once in the face, was able to return fire hit his perp 6-7 times killing him. He himself said if he had a revolver or 1911 or single stack he would’ve been dead. He fired 14 shots out of the 16 in his Glock 22 (full mag +1 in the pipe). I agree, the 5-6 shot revolver or 7-8 shot 1911 are no longer relevant fighting handguns.

    • Lower capacity guns are not recommended for spray and pray actions. If you control your fire and place shots better you shouldn’t need half a box of ammo. Panic and stress can excuse the quick finger actions however limiting the number of rounds expended is best practice.

      If the cop let 14 rounds fly and 7 hit the bad guy where did the rest go? Hopefully not into bystanders.

      • The cop was shot 6 times. He was returning fire on a moving target with one hand. I’d like to see how well you shoot at that point..

      • I remember that case. We can talk about calibers and shot placement, and it’s all important, but luck and murphy decide the day.

        In a different case a female officer (in the days where that was a rarity) was shot in the heart by what was reported to be a .357 while she was being carjacked; she returned fire and killed the bad guy and shot his accomplice before collapsing and somehow being revived. I guess medical attention also decides the day in the long term. Better hope the surgeon that you get wheeled to happens not to be hung over that day.

  18. Bare minimum, ,1995,, fresh out of the pen,Trucking down to the convent store, can’t have gunz cause I’m an outlaw, walked a mile for a pack of Camels. Get made buy a group of bangers, find a piece of steel laying on the hi way,( somebody must a wrecked) sharpen it on the overpass concrete as I walk. Bare minimum, good times

    • Gettigng old years slip by it was 1996 when I was paroled. The One phone call when I got busted was to a trusted friend, not a lawyer,”Stash my gunzs and shit, their going to search the house” it’s good to have real friends. I’ve still got those gunz, but not in my procession… Together we stand, divided we fall, real friends

  19. For mouse guns, no real reason to go below .380, as it’s the same size. 9, 40, 45 (10mm, .357sig, and other exotics) for the full size semi and .357/.38 special for the revolvers.

  20. 1. Repurpose content generated by another site.
    2. Ask one of the basic age-old questions that pedants like to jaw about.
    3. Profit.

  21. He carries a little card that says he won’t answer questions without an attorney? Is he planning to be arrested often?

    • His attorney probably hopes so, and that he’ll use the card to call the number if he doesn’t have his cell phone.

      It’s not a bad idea. I have lost track of the number of times when someone has righteously yelled “I WANT MY LAWYER” and then developed a sudden blank look on their face when I ask for the phone number.

  22. I love my big bores (just bought a Marlin SBL Trapper in 45-70) but it’s the .380 BodyGuard S&W in my pocket every day, loaded with Buffalo Bores. I feel fine.

  23. actually a lead tipped .22LR as if it penetrates the rib cage it does not have enough velocity to get out so ir deflects and get a larger wound channel,

      • Nope, it does happen. I can’t say how often it happens, but in one case an off duty officer got involved with a moron who was throwing crap out of his car window at other vehicles on the freeway. Can’t remember what precipitated the shooting, but all the officer had on him was a High Standard 22 mag derringer and for some reason only had 22LR’s in it. He fired on shot, and the bad guy hit the ground like he was hit with a 44. The autopsy showed the bullet entered the chest and hit a rib, bouncing of other ribs, pierced the heart and ended it the lungs. Now, that one case doesn’t make me want to carry a 22, but they do on occasion quickly put down the recipient.

  24. What do I carry for self-defense?
    I live in New Jersey, so my only two carry options are a cellphone to dial 911, or less than 0.75 oz of pepper spray.
    New Jersey is a state that doesn’t grant CCW permits to civilians, because, as my own lawyer told me, “There is no legal right to self-defense outside the home in New Jersey.”

    Inside the home, you can defend yourself in NJ (assuming you’ve jumped through all the proper hoops and bought all the appropriate permits), but only with FMJ bullets, not hollow-points, because defending yourself with hollow-point bullets inside your own home is a felony (18 months for each hollow-point bullet)!

    Please send condolences.

  25. I carry a .380, 9 mm or .45 ACP. Feel better with my 10 rounds of .45 in my Glock 30S, but can’t conceal that without a winter coat.

    I practice shooting .380’s as rapidly as possible. 3-4 rounds of that in the torso should deter the average mugger, but I would prefer something bigger for multiple attackers.

    I can grab one of my .380’s and put it in a pants pockets, etc no problems.

  26. Statistically speaking, caliber is most often irrelevant:

    We all know by now that there are a number of valid studies that have calculated estimates ranging from 500,000 to 3 million times a year that guns are used to stop crimes and save lives in this country. And we know that we never hear about the vast majority of them because in most cases the guns are not even fired, or to a lessor extent, if the gun is fired nobody is shot or killed, so it is relatively rare for any of these cases to ever make national news, or in many cases not even be reported to the local police.

    Therefore, it seems to be statistically valid to intuit that a lot of potentially bad situations are avoided when the aggressor(s) is/are faced with the fact that their desire to rape / rob / violence, is suddenly and heavily outweighed by the dire consequences of getting seriously shot if they do not stop their aggression forthwith and right away. Seeing a gun, many apparently decide that right about that moment when their intended victim pulls out a gun and looks fully prepared to use it, that this would be a great time to be anywhere else, and quickly.

    So, I could intelligently argue that statistically speaking, in the vast majority of those invisible-to-media 500,000 to 3 million DGU’s a year, it is not so much about the accuracy and power of the defensive caliber used, but rather how big and scary the gun _looks_ for driving off attackers.

    Chew on that one for awhile. 🙂

    This will only seem funny until you realize how politicians like to target the scariest looking guns first and foremost, going after silly cosmetic things like folding stocks or vertical fore grips and whatnot. Appearances – how scary a gun _looks_ – apparently matters quite a bit in countless real life scenarios, as strongly suggested by overall DGU statistics!

    LOOKING fully prepared to deal with violence can be every bit as important that BEING fully prepared, and a scary looking gun most apparently matters quite a bit too. Yes?

    Just food for thought.

  27. I don’t want to be shot by a .22 or anything bigger, heck I don’t want to get shot with a pellet or BB gun either. For myself, I don’t find the concealability of anything smaller than a .380 to be such a huge advantage over the concealability of a .380. So with that being said, I will carry a .380 for self-defense. With modern loads, the .380 performs a lot better nowadays. Right like the 9mm performs a lot better than it did. Most civil uses of guns for self-defense is different than police who are trying to neutralize the threat and then capture the threat. I am just trying to stop the other person long enough for me and my family to get to a safe place. Most stats show that a person that is shot anywhere on the body has a tendency to stop attacking you. Even if it is just a flesh wood to a leg or arm. My Dad who is like me 6’4″ tall was shot with a .22 and told me it hurt like hell and it would definitely make him most likely to stop and flee

    • There are certain pellet guns out there that are not classified as firearms (except in NJ) and are just as capable as your average .22 or, in some cases, .38.

      And a BB, well shit, you’ll shoot your eye out!

  28. Reading all the comments, always thought the best was the one you had with you.

    But I’m stuck on the article statement “The 27 is a Gen4 meaning it isn’t someone’s holdover .40 S&W from long ago.”

    Like somehow having an older .40 pistol vs a newer .40 pistol changes the outcome?

    Now if we are talking the old 9mm ammunition vs the new 9mm ammunition. I’ve always called BS on that. compare apples to apples.

    New 9mm self defense ammo vs New 40 ammo of same. A larger hole with more weight/power behind it is always a larger hole. But there’s a price (not cost), number of rounds, weight of carry, etc.

    But the answer is always the one you have with you

  29. I anticipate disagreement but .25acp is bare minimum to me, but .32acp i would say is the “realistic minimum” if I want to have confidence that it can drop someone.

  30. Wife carries LCP .380 …. I carry LC9. We practice quite a bit. And occasionally with the batteries out of the crimson trace for quick target acquisition. The laser enables both of us to see over the slide and watch the attacker but still see that red death dot on the perp. I carry a .357 mag or .44 in the woods with the dogs because a bear needs more persuasion. My Barretta .40 is fun to shoot but a little to big to hide well IWB. So it rides OWB if I decide to take it for a ride. But the .380 is the absolute minimum I think ….

  31. I’m with “Hannibal” above. I carry a .380 (SA 911) because it is the most powerful round that comes in a small enough platform that I can carry pretty much no matter what I’m wearing, and is still comfortable to shoot and train with. Good shot placement at realistic DGU range should work with a .380 as well as most any other defensive handgun cartridge.

    At home, when I don’t have to worry about concealing anything, I have a .357 revolver (S&W 686, 6″ barrel) at the ready. No reason not to have more power in a context where I can.

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