'So, Smarty Pants What Gun Should I Get?'
I receive many
emails asking, in essence, what the "best" self-defense
caliber might be. (Those emails, in fact, have served as the motivation
behind this series.) The correspondents are probably expecting sage
advice, the wisdom of years, a sort of Ballistic Oracle. What they
get is a non-commital "it depends!"
If you take
nothing else from this series, take this: there is no such thing
as "best" there is only "suitability for purpose."
Why is that?
As we learned in the first parts, there is a pretty large envelope
– caliber, weight, and velocity of performance criteria that have
shown themselves to work well. Thus, any cartridge you select within
that envelope is likely to do the job, as long as you do yours.
most important part: that the gun in question enables you to do
your job. It is the first place you should start. You need to be
honest with yourself, accurately assess what you can and cannot
handle. Remember that a self-defense scenario often will call for
multiple, rapid, precisely-placed shots. Can you do that with the
guns that you're considering? Really? Be honest with
I see many
people who are talked into a gun that is touted as a "better
stopper", but who are unable to handle it to the standards
given above. Most of this is technique, and technique can be learned,
but everyone has some upper limit. Remember: only accurate hits
count, and you should strive to maximize your hit potential. As
we've explored, power is irrelevant if it doesn't get to something
passed that hurdle, the choices almost make themselves. In any given
cartridge, if you pick a hollowpoint load in the middle of the caliber's
normal weight range, you'll generally have most of what you need.
There are exceptions, of course: at the lowest ends of the energy
spectrum (say, standard .38 Specials) penetration becomes an issue,
so you should tend to the heavier rounds. At the other end (the
heavy magnums), the more powerful loads often need lighter bullets
to limit penetration and enhance expansion.
else, stay away from the lightest and heaviest bullets, pick a decent
hollowpoint, and you'll most likely be just fine.
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© 2011 GrantCunningham.com