The A's, B's and C's of Handgun Calibers
It has been proposed that if “A is equal to B, and B is equal to C, then C must be equal to A”
It has also been learned that the handgun is not the best tool for self-defense. A rifle or shotgun are much more effective; hence, we have soldiers issued rifles and only officers and/or specialized troops are issued handguns.
The Sherriff was asked by a woman, “Sherriff, why are you wearing your pistol to this council meeting? Are you expecting trouble?
The Sherriff responded, “No Ma’am, I am not expecting trouble. If I were, I would have brought my rifle.”
I have also heard it stated, “I carry a handgun, so I can fight my way back to my rifle.”
The reality of life dictates that in most self-defense situations the handgun and not the rifle or shotgun will be the tool used in 90% of self-defense scenarios. This is because most folks are unable to carry a long gun while performing their daily duties and the handgun is so portable.
History has also repeatedly proven the relative ineffectiveness of small diameter/light recoiling handgun calibers. A caliber is referenced by the number of thousandths of an inch the bore or projectile (bullet) is in diameter (i.e. “50 caliber” is .50 inches). Generally speaking, the larger the projectile, the heavier the projectile and the greater the “punch” delivered by the bullet.
The United States became involved with the Moro Insurrection beginning in 1899. We had just adopted the 38 caliber New Army Long Colt cartage and Smith and Wesson revolver as issued equipment. It was soon discovered that the new cartridge, even after delivering multiple hits, was unable to stop the determined and narcotic filled Moro warriors. They continued to kill US soldiers with short swords and spears even after being struck repeatedly in the torso. This was when a desperate plea went out to the United States Ordinance Department to reissue the venerable 45 Long Colt to provide that needed one-shot-stop. The 45 ACP (Automatic Colt Pistol) cartridge and Browning’s Model 1911 pistol were direct results of this hard-won knowledge.
Back to my original statement regarding A’s, B’s and C’s.
Current talk about calibers and platforms has come full circle and once again we see numerous articles circulating in the firearm’s press that with new projectile developments, the 9mm Luger cartridge is the ballistic equivalent to the 45ACP. We also see articles in those same publications stating that the newest 380ACP (9mm Kurz or Short) ammunition is ballistically equivalent to the 9mm Luger.
Using logical extrapolation based on the expressed equation above, we could then logically assume the 9mm Short is the ballistic equivalent of the 45 ACP!
Two things that immediately come to mind:
1. If the newest generation of ammunition is all that good and/or improved, one can only imagine the improved performance of the 45 ACP using these technologies.
2. It would seem to me highly irresponsible to preach this specious theory of equivalence to the beginning shooter interested in self-defense. Imagine the disappointment of our Nimrod, attempting to repel the attack of a large bad guy only to find he has merely aggravated his attacker!
It would seem that in firearms, just like politics and journalism, every generation forgets the lessons learned from the previous generation and then makes the same mistakes as their grandparents.
Communism does not work.
Small caliber/light recoiling handgun calibers are unreliable man-stoppers.