Bullets & Black Belts – The Best Caliber For Self Defense.

Bullets & Black BeltsThe argument for which bullet caliber is best for self defense has been going on for longer than I have been alive. It’s a debate that can bring with it a level of irrational fervor that is seldom matched.

What is the best caliber bullet for self defense?

A little level headed logic, research and application shows a remarkable parallel to self defense training.

Is bigger better?

One main argument surrounding the caliber of guns and self defense is that of stopping power. Our own research of police data shows that the average time to incapacitate an adult male with a single shot by a 9mm bullet was 15 seconds. 15 seconds is an awful lot of time for an attacker to continue their own attack. And as we will explore below, 15 seconds is an average. In reality that statistic can be misleading.

The theory of self-defense is that a bigger bullet has more stopping power and thus can stop an attacker before they can do you harm. The basic principle of force outlined by Isaac Newton over 300 years ago (Force = Mass x Acceleration) is at play no matter what caliber is used. Thus the larger and faster a projectile is the more force can be applied. However, in a practical sense there is a diminishing return.

There are also considerations for ballistic characteristics such as penetration, cavity and fragmentation. It can all turn very academic.

Looking at DOJ/FBI statistics (NCJ-148201) 75% of all crimes involving a firearm involved a pistol of some sort. And looking at homicides, the 3rd most used caliber was the .22 LR – arguably the one of the weakest calibers available. In fact it accounted for about 16% of homicide deaths. While a 9mm or .45 has more stopping power, it would be foolish to consider any caliber as “worthless”.

Keep in mind that a .22 almost killed President Reagan even though the bullet ricocheted before hitting him.

The weapon you have is the most powerful.

When it comes to self defense, the most powerful gun you can have is the one you have on you. I know that sounds a little elementary, but it’s a real factor. You can’t shoot what you don’t have. And a .22 in the hand is better than a 12 gauge shotgun back at home.

While having an ideal weapon may be the best, having anything at all is better than nothing at all. Knowing the limitations of what you have is also very important because it allows you to compensate. For example, 3 shots by a .22 LR bullet delivers about the same energy as a single 9mm. (116ft/lbs x 3 vs. 356ft/lbs).

This brings up another very important factor…

What you hit matters.

Remember the “15 seconds” statistic we talked about? It turns out there is a big difference between being hit in a vital spot like the head, heart or spine vs. a leg or an arm. A leg shot for example might not incapacitate the attacker at all. A lung shot may not always stop someone right away, but left untreated it will kill.

There are plenty of people who would have trouble hitting a target at 15 ft (across the room) with a .40 or .45 caliber handgun. Especially those who don’t practice much. This is why .22 handguns have become best sellers – despite their deficiencies.

If you can’t hit your target, caliber is irrelevant. And caliber isn’t the only factor. Training matters more than anything else.

Stationary target drills can help you get a feel for your weapon, the recoil and safe handling. Some ranges even offer courses for advanced shooters that allow drawing and shooting a holstered weapon.

Even these drills will bearly prepare you for the intense reality of real shooting situation. Every law enforcement and military trainer I’ve talked with has said the same thing – in a real situation you will be half as good as your worst training day.

While military and law enforcement is able to practice more realistic scenarios, civilians typically are not. Studies show that without these stress drills most CCW permit holders are unrealistically confident about their ability to effectively deploy their weapon.

The real goal of self defense.

The most basic goal of self defense is to survive a violent encounter. That starts with a realistic assessment of the real threats you are likely to encounter and weapons available to you – whether a gun or physical self defense training like DSD.

Understand that while there are no guarantees – no matter how strong you think you are – there are realistic steps you can take to significantly reduce your chance of being in a violent attack and increasing the odds of surviving one should it happen.

This starts with simply being aware of your surroundings. Using a little common sense – like locking doors & windows, lighting your exterior and maybe having a dog or alarm system. The basic rule is to stay away from trouble and not be an easy target.

Maybe you have a gun, maybe you don’t. They aren’t for everyone. But what everyone should have is a little basic training in physical self defense. Knowing how to strike an attacker, where to strike an attacker and how to prevent injury to your own vital areas can make a huge difference in the outcome of a violent attack.

One thing I like about self defense training versus or even in addition to CCW, is that you are never without your weapons. The skill and mental conditioning are assets you can take with you no matter where you go!

If you are interested in learning more about how Dynamic Self Defense can help you be safer at home and at work shoot us a message or give us a call.