In the past, I have discussed the fact that the weapon system is a mere extension of the individual.  I realize that we all understand this principle and its applicability to whatever weapon a person chooses; from the pitch fork to the katana, to the today’s weapon of choice; a firearm.  We should spend a great deal of time considering the firearms available to us and select one that will meet our needs and more importantly our abilities.  I once heard a trainer tell a student: “the best handgun for an encounter is the largest one you have.” I know he meant the largest caliber that would have the greatest impact on the target. However, that simple advice can mislead someone who is not truly familiar with firearms.

After careful consideration of this comment, I thought it would be important for us to revisit what handgun would truly be the best selection for us. I am personally partial to the Glock .45. It fits my hand, shoots extremely well, and has proven reliability for me. This is the best weapon for me, but not necessarily for someone else. The things that make this a good fit for me may make it a poor choice for someone else. When considering the handgun, the perfect weapon for anyone is the largest caliber they can shoot accurately. I would much rather face a person with a .45 who cannot control the weapon than I would a person using a 9mm, who can knock the wings off a fly at 15 yards.

Throughout history it has been proven that it is not the size of the bullet alone that matters, but what the bullet hits. A shooting I frequently refer to is the murder of a state trooper. The trooper shot a very large and heavy set man with his .357 magnum 5 times. All five rounds hit the man in the upper body, but this did not kill or even stop the man. However, this man shot the trooper with a .22 caliber Derringer and killed him. One of the man’s bullets was stopped by the trooper’s vest, but the second bullet went through the trooper’s left arm, entered his body through his armpit, and struck the trooper in the heart. The trooper died on the scene, and the man who shot him survived. Think about it. The trooper died from a single .22 round and yet the man lived after being hit with five .357 magnum bullets. This proves that it is not just the size of the bullet, but what the bullet hits that makes the difference.

Please understand, I agree with the ballistics that show a larger bullet can do more damage, but the results of that damage are still dependent upon what target is struck.  Don’t purchase a handgun based purely on its caliber, nor on someone’s opinion. When you consider purchasing your firearm, rent or borrow handguns of various calibers and makes. Consider how you shoot with each one and select the weapon that best meets your needs and abilities.

I strongly recommend you begin your training with the smaller caliber firearms, so you can self-ingrain the fundamentals of grip, stance, sight alignment, sight picture, trigger control and breathing. Once you have a firm foundation to build from, move up in caliber to the largest caliber you can efficiently and effectively operate. It may take a little longer to discover the handgun that best suits you, but the time investment will be well worth it.