In America today the need for self-defense has never been more important, especially for people who live in large cities or other crowded urban areas. Life-threatening incidents can take place in a heartbeat and house break-ins pose another kind of potentially mortal threat.
Clearly it is important to consider any means of protection – for yourself and for your family members, as well. The primary method of self-protection is now, and has always been, the use of a handgun. While there has been much debate on this issue (some people prefer other means of protection), the handgun generally places at, or near, the top as a desired means of defending oneself against predators or bad guys.
The question for people willing to own and carry a weapon is this: which handgun is the best one for me? There are two schools of thought on this. Many men and other heads of household who are concerned with family security tend to opt for a large-caliber weapon, such as the .45, especially in its semi-automatic manifestation. However, as a handgun enthusiast, I disagree with that assessment (as do a surprisingly large percentage of law enforcement officers) for reasons I’m about to offer.
In fact, I believe, as do many police officers, that the better handgun for protecting yourself and family members is any 9mm weapon … with your personal choice of ammunition (ammo). Now, many gun owners will disagree with my choice because of the perceived “knock down power” of the larger and heavier .45 handgun. They believe that its greater weight and the larger caliber ammo it fires will stop a felon or anyone attacking you immediately.
But, often things are not always as they appear. If you take the time to research this subject, you’ll find that, frequently, people who are shot by a pistol, any caliber, are not always instantly incapacitated. Remarkably, in many cases, they’re able to continue to fight back. There is an old saying about the results of being shot, one with which you may be familiar. It goes something like this …
What does a person do after being shot with a pistol? He continues doing exactly what he was doing before he got shot. In other words, the caliber of the pistol ammo could not stop him, no matter its size.
This reality that pistol fire cannot stop a human target has many police agencies and military units moving away from – or phasing out completely – the use of pistols as defensive weapons, regardless of the caliber. Currently, for example, American MPs are being armed with compact rifles in place of the previously-holstered pistols they once used.
For private individuals, however, ordinary citizens like you and me, pistols can still be an effective weapon for self-protection. You simply need to use the right ammunition. It is, in fact, more important than the caliber of the bullets you choose to fire.
Top-of-the-line ammunition manufacturers like Winchester, Hornady and Speer produce lethal hollow-point bullets for self-defense purposes and for use in 9mm handguns that have truly powerful ballistic capabilities that actually exceed those of the larger .45 bullets. These 9mm hollow-point bullets, in fact, generally have the ability to stop an attacker in his tracks and put him down, eliminating the threat he may have posed just moments earlier.
The knowledge that this capability exists has resulted in its use in more and more law enforcement agencies nationally. However, at this point, these lethal hollow-point 9mm bullets are not being used by military personnel.
The fact that well-made 9mm hollow-point bullets can stop an attacker instantly should have you wondering why you would even consider carrying a larger, heavier .45 caliber pistol, a weapon that is also limiting because its larger caliber means it receives fewer bullets in its chamber than the smaller 9mm and it has to be re-loaded more frequently. That, of course, can be a problem in a time of crisis.
It’s important that you remember the real purpose for carrying a pistol: it is to provide yourself with a concealable, compact firearm that you will be able to use for self-defense (in close quarters) to escape the danger … fight your way to cover … eliminate the deadly risk. If those are the reasons for carrying a handgun, the 9mm provides a superior option to the larger .45.
9mm handguns carry more bullets than the .45 and definitely require fewer magazine changes. For example, many police officers prefer to use Glock pistols. These 9mm weapons come in different sizes, but the standard Glock allows you to load 17 bullets compared to the 12 you can chamber with a standard .45. If you are in a life-threatening situation where continuous firepower can mean the difference between life and death, the additional five bullets eliminates the need for a much-too-early magazine change in a time of real crisis and peril.
There are other Glock weapons, like the “26,” which only enables its owner to chamber 10 rounds, but the advantage this weapon has over a .45 is that it is much more easily concealable. And that is, of course, a huge benefit.
One more thing to ponder is the 1911, the most popular .45 in use today. It’s a powerful handgun, but – and this is a very big but – it requires two magazine changes before one is even required for the person using the Glock 17. Clearly, the ability to sustain firepower in a life or death situation gives you a better chance to survive … and that is one very good reason why 9mm handguns are superior to .45 caliber weapons.
It’s worth stating here that the 1911 is still a very good handgun … that is why it remains popular with Americans concerned with self-defense. The weapon is well-designed, provides accurate firepower and can stop an attacker in his tracks. But, its magazine only holds 7 or 8 rounds; a Glock, which is roughly the same size, perhaps a bit more compact, holds twice as many rounds. That’s an important advantage.
However, if the standard for selecting a self-defense handgun is its “knock down power,” the .45 would probably show up higher on the list of people who choose to carry a weapon because of the larger size and weight of the bullets it fires.
But, if the larger purpose of owning and carrying weapons is “family self-defense,” you need to ask yourself this question: would I prefer that my spouse and teenage children better perform such tasks as accurate shot placement while moving forward, backward or sideways, while under stress, with a larger and heavier .45 or with the lighter and more compact Glock 9mm? The answer, it seems to me, is obvious. Self-defense for family members, especially those who may be somewhat smaller in size or stature, is more easily accomplished with a 9mm handgun.
Of course, it won’t matter what handgun you or family members use if you don’t participate in weapons training and practice … regularly. Statistics bear out a disturbing fact. It is that individual performance suffers significantly in stress-filled combat situations. In fact, the average person will experience a drop-off in his/her ability to function effectively of about 50% when faced with a life-threatening moment. That’s why training and practice with the weapon you own is so critically important. It can help reduce the drop-off in personal ability and, of course, improve your chances of survival.
The importance of shot placement and the caliber of the bullets you use may not be as important as you may currently believe. I recently saw a video that was shot from the cruiser of a state trooper who became engaged in a life-or-death gun battle with a felon. The felon shot the trooper with a lightweight .22 caliber bullet that entered the trooper’s side (away from his protective vest), pierced his aorta and resulted in his death … right at the scene of the gun battle. Was it a lucky shot? Perhaps, but the point is this: it was a well-placed shot and the caliber of the bullet became unimportant. The trooper died from the wound he received … from a very small caliber bullet.
I watched a second video shortly after viewing the one mentioned above. In this video, a domestic dispute turned violent and a female (housewife or girlfriend) was shot point blank in her forehead with a powerful .357 revolver. Did she die instantly from this gunshot wound? The answer is no. In fact, when police arrived at her home, the woman was still conscious and actually sitting on her couch waiting for them. The .357 bullet had glanced off her skull, traveled beneath her skin to the back of her head where it finally came to rest and lodged inside of her neck.
Amazingly, she survived … even though she was shot with a bullet that many believe is powerful enough to kill every time. The point in describing these two videos should be obvious. When it comes to handguns, the caliber of bullet being fired is less important than the accuracy with which they are fired. Strike a vulnerable organ in your human target and stop him – dead!
Cost is still another factor you need to consider when selecting a handgun for self-defense – for yourself and for your loved ones. Your weapon will always be only as good as your ability to use it proficiently. That means you have to engage in periodic live-fire practice and training at your local firing range. And that costs money. Currently, 9mm practice ammunition sells for about $165 per 600 rounds while .45 caliber practice ammunition sells for as much as $290 per 600 rounds. Obviously, that’s a big difference.
The cost for better ammunition, such as the Speer Gold Dot 9mm Hollow-Point is somewhat more expensive. These practice bullets cost about $23 for 20 rounds; a similar upgrade for .45 caliber ammunition will cost you about $28 for 20 rounds.
If cost matters to you, the choice of a handgun becomes even more obvious. It should be a 9mm weapon. And the best of these weapons are, in my opinion, Glocks.
Glocks, of course, have no external safety features or de-cock levers. Their safety features are all internal which has led some to argue that the weapons are unsafe to handle and to use. And yet, countless thousands of police officers all across the country rely on Glocks without concern for any risk that may be associated with their use.
The truth is that firearm safety is now, and always has been, dependent on keeping the trigger area free of any and all obstructions … most importantly, your trigger finger. The weapon won’t discharge if you don’t pull the trigger. It’s as simple as that.
Here’s another benefit. All 9mm Glocks have interchangeable parts, including their magazines. In most cases, the magazine for one model fits perfectly in a second model … and so on. This versatility is unavailable in other handguns, most notably .45 caliber weapons.
Moreover, the .45 is a big weapon, difficult to carry and use for many people. So … why struggle with a weapon that may work against you in a time of great need when you can rely on a weapon that will help you overcome danger when it crosses your path?
It needs to be said, right now, that I am in no way opposed to people owning and using .45 caliber handguns. I like these weapons as much as the next person. But, when it comes to family self-defense, I believe – strongly – that 9mm handguns are the much better option, particularly those from the Glock family of weapons.
You may disagree, but a 9mm Glock in the hands of your spouse or teenage son or daughter when faced with a life-threatening “close quarters” combat situation gives each of them a much better chance to escape and to survive.