What caliber firearm should you get? THAT is a great question. There is no real right or wrong answer; but, I'm happy to talk about what the common calibers are and provide as objective of an overview as I possibly can! Common handgun calibers include:
That's a lot of numbers and it probably feels like a whole new language... because it kind of is. The good news? It's not terribly hard to learn. Most generically, the caliber simply indicates the inside diameter of the gun's barrel. There is a whole thing about the internal design of the barrel and measuring points; but, what you need to know for this is that the barrel of the gun is essentially the "tube" through which the bullet passes when fired.
Time to break it down!
A .22 calibur handgun will work just fine in a defensive/personal protection situation. It’s a low caliber firearm and will have little to no recoil when fired. It's not going to create the same level of damage upon penetration, but it will be felt! In Tennessee, most carry permit classes will have .22 semi-automatic handguns available for you to qualify with.
A .38 is easily manageable and will do a good job for personal protection. Very easy to shoot and handle. Not much more to say about that!
Moving up to the 9mm, which is a common choice for solid personal protection performance with impact. You will experience more recoil here; but get out of your head about it - you can totally handle this. 9mm ammo is usually the most affordable and generally easiest to find, particularly during times of shortage. That said, the 2020 ammo shortage is proving to be a challenge for my 9mm friends!
- .380 is what I recently added to my carry lineup. It has a similar kick to the 9mm but is a smaller firearm. Smaller can actually make a handgun a little harder to handle but it is an awesome choice for CONCEALED carry!
-.40 is personally one of my favorites and what I started with in handguns. It’s about as manageable as the 9mm. Has a little more kick than either the 9 or 380; but not as much as the .45. The .40 and the 9 are probably the two most popular/commonly chosen for personal protection. There is some friendly rivalry between the 9mm and .40cal crowds regarding ammo availability and in 2020, the .40cal folks have a slight advantage in both availability and cost.
-.45 is a heavy duty caliber, and honestly, other than being really fun to shoot, is more than most people need for personal protection.
How Do You Choose?
Choosing a handgun is like choosing a sneaker. Try a few models and styles on to see what feels most comfortable in your hand. You can take your time and shoot different types and styles at the range. Or, you can see what feels good in your hand, choose one and just buy it, then make a commitment to being really good with what you chose. I strongly encourage the first method; but go with what suits you.
In ALL cases, you want to know your weapon well. Use it and practice regularly so you’re good to go if you ever need to use it.
It’s ok if buying a gun feels scary- it’s big responsibility and most of you aren’t buying it because you enjoy guns... you’re buying one because you are worried about your safety and the protection of your family.
I previously talked about revolver versus semiautomatic - I do want to add that for personal protection, you will most likely want to go with a semiautomatic simply because you get more rounds. That means if you don’t hit your target, you get more chances before you run out of bullets.
What questions do you have??