What Caliber Handgun For Everyday Carry?

Ken Hackathorn’s Take: Wise Wisdom From The Grandfather Of The Gun Industry
By Ken Hackathorn for M4Carbine.Net

M4Carbine.Net – www.m4carbine.netKen HackathornKen Hackathorn

Strasbourg, OH – – (Ammoland.com) – I am always amazed at how many people I meet who believe that they can solve the problem of self-defense by buying the ideal handgun.

For a majority of the CCW crowd, this is defined as the little .380 that they can easily carry in their pocket.

For others, the choice may be a 1911 custom or Glock 17. Few people really think about the “reality” of what happens in 90% of self-defense scenarios. Shootings and handgun shootings happen at close range … Police, military and the private sector share these facts. Some people will tell you that pistol marksmanship should include 25 and even 50 yard precision skills.

While it’s beautiful and a desirable skill to be able to shoot well at great distances, it really has little to do with reality. People trying to sell you the importance of these things are simply far from the course of needs and wants. The ability to take a headshot from 5 yards in 2.5 seconds is far more critical than the ability to hit a torso from 50 yards in 4.0 seconds.

Let’s be honest about all of the people who carry these little .22, .25, .32 & 380 pocket guns: they’re perfect self-defense weapons as long as you never need them!

Fortunately, most people who carry guns will likely never need them, so a small blaster will work just fine. I understand any gun is better than a sharp stick, but if you ever need to defend yourself or your family, you want a gun that allows you to fire accurately and effectively under stress.

I am often asked about the caliber of choice. When I got into this business in the 1970s, the gun of choice was either a .357 Mag Revolver or .45acp 1911. Typically, the 45 1911 was popular in the gun guys’ holsters, most of whom could shoot much better than the average shooter. Today I find that a high percentage of those who wrap .45 acp handguns feel that the .45 acp cartridge will solve the problem even though they know they can shoot poorly or have poor skills with one Have sidearms, even if they can only reach peripheral hits. Kind of a way of thinking that a 45 hit in the little finger will explode the target’s head.

Guess it doesn’t work that way. You are always better off with a weapon that you can use with skill, the caliber is secondary to the placement of the shot.

I believe a .45 cartridge is about 10% better than a 9X19mm.I believe a .45 cartridge is about 10% better than a 9X19mm.

After all these years I believe that a .45 cartridge is about 10% better than a 9X19mm … ball vs. ball or JHP vs. JHP. Ten percent isn’t a lot unless your life is at stake – then it’s a lot. On the other hand, if you tell me to have to carry a 9X19mm pistol, I won’t have a hissing fit. A nine will work well if you can put the round where it needs to be. It’s not the number of shots fired or the division between shots that counts (whenever I hear about ‘splits’, I hit the delete button on them …… splits don’t mean shit in the real world). While we would all choose a gun that holds more bullets, how often does firing capacity really matter in the real world? If you’re missing a lot, high capacity handguns are a great choice. Remember that shootouts and shootouts in general are won by those who hit their targets with accurate shots.

Like many of the M4Carbine.net fans, I enjoy testing and trying out new handguns and equipment. There are a large number of excellent sidearms on the market for you to choose from. Every year we see more and more entries. The important thing is that you choose one that works for you and that you can use well. For most of us, that means a handgun that you can afford to practice and maintain your skills with. I recommend guns like the Glock 17 and Glock 19 to most, based on what I’ve seen over the past few decades. I have both, but if I could have just one, it would be the G-19. For the money, it’s a slam dunk choice. I love 1911 pistols, wear one every day and have complete confidence in my 1911. I’m constantly being asked to recommend a “good 1911”. I usually reply, “Buy a Wilson Combat”. This usually gets an answer like: Wilson Combat 1911s are really expensive. Yes. If you can’t afford one, maybe you should choose a different gun design. The quality of the 1911 pistol in the mainstream market varies widely.

Wilson Combat Custom Supergrade 1911Wilson Combat Custom Supergrade 1911

I am currently seeing excellent results with Springfield Armory 1911 pistols. The Colt 1911 pistols manufactured today are some of the best 1911 pistols Colt has ever made. Perhaps not to pre-war standards, but compared to the guns from 1980 onwards, the current guns are excellent. I’ve made three different Colts over the past few years and they are great out of the box guns. I’ve been shooting with an H&K VP9 since last summer and consider it to be one of the best 9X19mm pistols on the market. I have a couple of 9X19mm S&W MPs that have been tweaked and work fine.

While a lot of people like to call the Beretta M9 / 92 “MF”, I think they are great pistols that are too big for most CCW purposes, but are extremely reliable and shoot smoothly. I find it very exactly out of the box and ideal for carrying belt holsters. I’m not a big fan of the .40S & W. Wore one as a service weapon, have a few, but the caliber never “rings” with me.

What I can tell you about choosing and recommending sidearms is very simple. Regardless of which weapon you choose, you can use it to practice exercises that reflect the demands of the “real world”. Never accept mediocre skills, get it right, and never leave the field by saying “I suck”.


If you do, you will have already planned the outcome of the fight when that moment comes. And no matter what … ..be aware of your surroundings. Do not be surprised.

-Ken Hackathorn

Check out Ken’s training schedule by clicking here.

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Check out our dedicated article on the best concealed carry handgun you can carry.

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