Dirty Harry’s probably to blame. He made hand-cannon calibers wildly popular, shooting one-handed and dropped running targets at fifty yards or better.
If Harry Callahan had been a real law-enforcement officer, though, instead of a movie one, you wonder how often that 44 Magnum might have hung up under his jacket when he tried to draw it, or what he could actually hit with it in a fire fight. Or how long he could have stayed alive, carrying it.
The answer to the question of which is the best caliber for personal defense is always bound to produce an argument. Because of the likes of Dirty Harry, the trend has been to heavier and heavier ones, regardless of a how effectively the average shooter handles them. More and more, though, shooting instructors and self-defense trainers in the real world are recognizing the 9mm as the best choice. Modern bonded, hollow-point ammunition meets the performance standards for personal protection while having lower recoil for better control, permitting higher-capacity loading in pistols, and selling for lower cost than some other options.
Taking those four factors individually–
The performance standard for a defensive bullet is one that meets FBI standards: It must penetrate, through light or heavy clothing, at least 15-inches into 10-percent ballistics-testing gelatin. This is the protocol most law-enforcement agencies follow in choosing duty rounds. Much 9mm ammunition meets this standard, while Winchester® Defender® and Train & Defend® cartridges go further, offering penetration along with excellent expansion and weight retention, guaranteeing dependable reliability. Lower Recoil
First shots count, but so do effective follow up ones. Heavier rounds, such as 40 S&W, 357 Sig, or 45 ACP, may seem to offer greater protection; but the laws of physics mean more recoil for a shooter to control, and recoil has to be overcome to get a pistol back on target quickly for subsequent shots. Making more holes faster is the key to defense; and the 9mm round’s recoil in almost any handgun is tolerable by most shooters.
The shooter who can fire the last round is usually the winner. Nine-millimeter pistols can hold more rounds than pistols in other calibers mentioned above; and with more rounds staged in your gun, you run less risk of emptying it and having to hold your fire while stopping to reload.
Skill at arms comes from practice, practice comes from shooting, and shooting comes from firing as many rounds as you can. The price of 9mm ammunition, particularly Winchester® USA White Box or USA Forged™, should fit any budget and will mean more, affordable rounds to fire.
It’s safe to say that the “bigger is better” theory of defensive handgun rounds has been thoroughly tested, with the result that many are turning back to the reliability and economy of the 9mm as the better choice for their own protection. Someone wanting to be able to defend himself and those he cares about can put his faith in the engineering and performance of the 9mm ammunition that a company like Winchester® is turning out today. Bigger’s fine. But it doesn’t beat better.
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