Best Concealed Carry Calibers
The Best Concealed Carry Caliber or Best Caliber for Self-defense is a highly debated topic.If you have been around firearms for any length of time, it is like you have heard people’s opinions on what the best caliber for concealed carry is. When selecting your carry gun, the caliber it is chambered in is certainly a factor to consider. However, is it really the most important factor to consider? We are not saying all calibers are created equal, but we are certainly not saying that there is only one caliber that is supreme above all others. Today, we are excited to talk about the variety of options available, to help you find the best concealed carry caliber for you! Check out what you need to consider before carrying a gun before you pick a self-defense caliber.
Size Matter Does Matter… somewhat…
First and foremost, it is important to establish that all cartridges have the capability to stop a threat, however, many do have distinct benefits and levels of effectiveness over others. In terms of size, we recommend staying within centerfire cartridges. Carrying a .22lr or similar round as a primary defense tool is not ideal but if that is what you can comfortably handle and train with, be our guest. If you cannot get the rounds on target consistently then it does not matter what caliber you are carrying. Putting several rounds of .22lr on target is a lot better than not being able to put any rounds of .45acp on target. Concealed carry calibers range in a variety of sizes, from the old school pocket pistols, from the early 20th Century, at the inception of CCW, to modern enhancements and bullet technology within the 9mm cartridge.
We recommend the minimum size for your concealed carry caliber to be .380 if you can. This round still has reasonable ballistics and is a well-known round for pocket pistols ideal for deep concealment. Currently, we have found 9mm to be the most popular CCW caliber, due to the elastic nature of the cartridge. By this, we simply mean that based on recoil, magazine capacity, and size, you can pretty much find a 9mm pistol that suits your needs perfectly without creating too many hang-ups. However, this might not mean that this round is the best concealed carry caliber for you.
This blog won’t get too into the weeds on ballistics, or the never-ending 9mm vs .40 SW vs .45 ACP debate, but if you are interested in that sort of thing, check out this article from Shooting Illustrated comparing the most popular defensive loads from each concealed carry caliber.
Pocket Calibers: Best Concealed Carry Calibers for Deep Carry
As mentioned above, the .380 Auto is a great round for defensive purposes. Many manufacturers design their handguns to be small enough to be carried in the pocket if needed. Do not carry in this fashion unless utilizing a holster designed for this purpose. This is true for several reasons. First, you should always know the orientation of the firearm. If your carry gun is riding loose in your pocket and you are in need of it, the last thing that needs to happen for you to be grabbing where you thought the grip was, only to find the muzzle. There is a vast array of holsters designed specifically for this type of carry, so be sure and pick one up. Whether you are carrying a snub nose revolver or a single stack automatic pistol, smaller rounds such as .380 Auto and .38 Special are great concealed carry calibers.
Heavy Duty: Best Concealed Carry Calibers for Larger Pistols
Classic calibers such as .40 SW and .45 ACP have had a vast array of success throughout their life. These calibers were initially designed for large framed pistols and became popular because of them. Iconic automatics like the 1911 have created a large following for the .45 as a concealed carry caliber.
With a heavier caliber, also comes more recoil and limited magazine capacity. Even in a full-size pistol, you will have significantly less in your magazine than a 9mm. If we look strictly at bullet “power”, .45acp is the winner for concealed carry/self-defense calibers. The thing is that it is proven in self-defense scenarios, you are likely to miss most of your shots even with proper training. It is just human nature that your adrenaline gets pumping and you are not as accurate with your firearm. It is very important that you can get follow up shots on target quickly in a self-defense situation. If you find these larger calibers to be the best concealed carry caliber for you, always be sure to carry at least one spare magazine. That recommendation holds true for every time you carry, but especially in the case of larger concealed carry caliber pistols, with limited round capacity. To learn more about the importance of carrying more than one magazine while concealed carrying, read this article.
Finding the Best Concealed Carry Caliber for you
The best way to determine what caliber works for you is by trying them for yourself first! There are different size firearms for each caliber. Check out some options for concealed carry guns here. Try out several calibers and several different size firearms to see which ones you can properly handle. As a rule of thumb, smaller framed guns tend to be a little bit “snappier” with their recoil which can sometimes make it more difficult to get follow up shots on target. Remember that shots on target are more useful than ballistic statics…