Within the firearms world there is the great caliber debate between everybody. This becomes especially true with instructors and then their students say "well, my instructor said"...
I'm going to try to alleviate some of the myths and then bring it all into reality for your average everyday person who is carrying the firearm just in case. Just in case is what we are all getting our CWPs for. For that instance that we might be violently attacked and we'll have our firearm to defend against that attack.
There are some instructors that will tell you that it must be a 9mm or higher to do any good. They're not taking certain things into consideration though.
In my virtual world I would have everybody carrying full sized .357 sigs with 20 round mags that are laser guided and exploding on impact so that it would only take 1 shot and the threat would be not only ended from attacking you, but ever attacking anybody else as well. But... I have to face reality.
When I'm helping others choose a gun for concealed carry there are a few things to consider. If I have the average person that can carry a mid-sized gun most of the time I start them with a mid-sized 9mm and go from there. However there are things I must ask myself and the person. I'm not going to hand a weak 80 year old woman with arthritis a mid-sized 9mm.
Some things to consider.
Who is using the gun?
Is it an elderly person that has arthritis or is weaker than most?
Typically the older we get the weaker we get and we tend to have more medical problems.
Is it a disabled person?
This person may be weak or crippled which may make it hard to handle the recoil or just using the gun period.
Is it a person who can't handle the recoil of a 9mm or higher in a micro gun?
Maybe you have a person that can handle the mid-sized 9mm but can't handle the smaller 9mm well enough.
There are more and more people of all ages and ranges getting their CWP's. It's not limited to your mid-30's-40's males anymore. You have many women and elderly getting their CWP's and arming themselves against the ever growing evil in the world around us. This changes the way us as instructors teach and handle the average person.
How do they dress the most?
Do they dress in a way that they have to carry a micro gun?
They may wear clothes that limit them to the small guns that they can't handle in a 9mm or better.
Do they wear dresses mostly that limits gun size?
Holsters have come a long way but they still aren't the best when it comes to women and dresses. Women have options with dresses but most limit them on gun size.
Shorts and t-shirt?
With the many different lifestyles of dress there are and these people are getting their CWP's that aren't going to change their dress but will carry something that fits to their dress. We all have a right to defend ourselves with a firearm and we must not limit it to the typical tactical dressed male anymore. We have to step back, adapt, and overcome.
Who all will have access to the gun in an emergency situation?
Are you the only person that's going to have access to the gun for self defense?
Maybe you went out and bought that nice micro 9mm that you can use effectively but your wife and kids can't and it will be accessible to them in certain situations. If the gun is going to be used by others make sure to get one they can use as well. It does no good for you to have a 357 in the house for everybody to use in an emergency if they can't use it effectively.
We have to consider who all will have access in an defensive situation. With more and more home invasions happening we can't think that the one person who uses the gun most will be there at the time someone decides to invade your house. We must keep the others in consideration as well.
How much are they going to actually train?
How much are you really going to train with your concealed carry firearm?
I get a lot of people come through that can pass qualification on paper with the gun they brought and could get to the point they need to be with more training but...
I even have military guys come through that could be great with training but are only OK because they don't train with their handguns.
I have people come in stating they haven't shot their handgun in 10 years. They pass the qualification but from what I'm seeing would be better off with a smaller caliber. For 1 they can handle it better, and 2 they're not going to shoot it for another 10 years.
Another aspect is that punching paper on a stand still range isn't real life training. We have to take all this into consideration before being so closed minded that we stick to 1 caliber, 1 gun, and 1 way of defense.
As much as I like to think that all my students go to the range or dry fire their gun getting hours of practice weekly I know it just doesn't happen. We get so caught up in our daily lives we seldom if ever set time aside for practice. It's bad we don't because it's the one thing that could save our life.
It's easy for me as an instructor to sit back and harp on practice, practice, practice because it's what I do. I get more practice helping people than most will ever get. I can watch people habits and natural reactions and help them adapt and overcome obstacles that they may not see or don't know how to avoid.
Here is a chart that covers a 10 year study of defensive use of handguns.
If you'll look over the chart you'll see that all calibers will do it's job with good shot placement. You'll see the .22 actually beats the larger calibers out in some categories. Why? Well, most of it has to do with how well the person using it can control it and have good shot placement.
There's so much more to choosing a gun for concealed carry we must consider before choosing a gun in any caliber. As an instructor I must step back and realize not everybody can/will train as much or not everybody has the same capabilities. I must understand that many aspects effect handgun size/caliber choice.
If I'm so hardcore towards a 9mm or better and that person just can't handle it, it does them no good. I have to make sure I'm arming them with the best chance I can against an attacker and larger caliber doesn't always cut it.
Stay Safe, Stay Armed