Small Caliber Handguns for Self Defense


IMHO, caliber discussions for pistols are just a pissing match and a discussion of who’s d1ck is bigger. I really want my wife to carry, and she shoots a 9mm pretty well. If we get to the point where she decides to carry, and she finds herself most comfortable, accurate, and safe with a .22 LR or .380 ACP handgun, I will support her 100%. There is no reason to discourage that. I would never say you can only carry a subcompact in at least a .40 S&W even though you can’t hit the broad side of a barn with it, because that’s a real caliber. Caliber will never, and can never, beat shot placement, accurate follow-up shots, and how comfortable you feel operating and carrying that firearm.


Master Class
Founding Member
I've always defended small caliber handgun cartridges for self-defense. I think that the .45 Auto is perfectly suitable small caliber self-defense cartridge until the .46 Auto is introduced.

That's my story and I'm sticking to it ;-)
Speaking as someone who carries a small caliber pistol often...I think that if you do carry one, you have to be very, very cognizant of it’s drawbacks—it being unforgiving when it comes to shot placement being the the biggest.

With a larger caliber, less than perfect placement can be overcome with bullet performance...drilling a half inch or larger hole, assuming some expansion, has a tendency of getting people to stop whatever it was that got them shot in the first place.

A less than quarter inch...you need to hit something that doesn’t give them a choice to stop.

So if you’re going to carry a minor caliber—practice often. Realize your target is going to be the high thoracic triangle (picture a triangle that runs from nipple to nipple and up to the Adam’s apple), not the typical COM. And practice some more.


Founding Member
A shot to the CPU will neutralize the treat no matter how big the hole is.

Not with my CPU........

adam sr

Founding Member
I agree that a small caliber is better than nothing. Its all about shot placement. Some people can shot better that way but they better be on target. A hit with a small caliber is better than a miss with a big one. But if they are going to practice with a smaller caliber they should at least try to practice a little with a little bit bigger caliber, Say 22lr to a 380 or 380 to a 9mm.