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4 Best Concealed Carry Calibers For Self Defense

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This debate has been ongoing since the dawn of time. “What is the best self defense caliber?”

I could go on about velocity, kinetic energy transfer, grain weight... The list goes on and on. Let's just go over some basic points.

There's no doubt that a bullet of any size/caliber has a lethal capacity. That has been proven time and time again. But, when it come to self defense, what we are looking for is the proper balance of knock down/ stopping power and ability to accurately place follow up shots. What this ultimately comes down to is personal preference and skill level.

Based off of my own experience, I can tell you which calibers I prefer and why. Let's start.

Best Self Defense Handgun Calibers:


Most “experts” consider this to be at the bottom for caliber choice. It has the same very similar 9mm projectile but less powder. I personally would not use this in my primary sidearm. But, I would definitely run it in a back up gun. The way I look at it... If it is so effective, then it would be used more in police/ military service pistols. But, I would take it over a 22.


This is my personal favorite best self defense caliber. 9mm has multiple benefits to be had. It has less recoil than the larger rounds, allowing for faster and more accurate follow up shots. Being a smaller round yields a higher magazine capacity. Also, 9mm just so happens to be the least expensive to shoot compared to 380acp, 40s&w, and 45acp. To top it all off, 9mm has been trusted by the military since the 1980's.


This round is not very high on my list of preferred calibers. I have owned and shot multiple pistols chambered .40s&w. The recoil is what gets me the most. It's generally snappy and harder to manage than its other competitors. However, if you have the time and money to properly train with .40s&w, it does have ample stopping power and will do the job just fine.


My second favorite pistol caliber for self defense. This round has plenty stopping power and used to be the preferred caliber for the US Military when it came to sidearms. Though it's a larger round, the recoil is still fairly manageable. Since it is a slower moving round, the recoil is almost like a “thud” instead of a “snap”. However, I would only recommend this round out of a heavier pistol. Anyone who has shot a 1911 can testify to this.

I'm not a professional shooter or instructor, but I have had a lot of trigger time with a wide selection of pistols in many different calibers. Ultimately the best caliber for concealed carry is... Whatever you can shoot confidently and accurately. You can carry a .50AE for all I care. But, if you are not confident in your abilities to engage and stop a threat with your pistol... Then it doesn't matter what caliber you carry. Especially if you can't hit the intended target.

Until next time, stay safe and keep your head on a swivel.

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