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Popular Rounds for Self Defense and The Pros and Cons of Each


The great caliber debate is not a new discussion. If we as gun owners can agree on anything, it might be that any gun loaded with the proper caliber ammunition is infinitely better than having no gun at all in the terribly unfortunate event that you find yourself defending your life. If we are to use last year's FBI return to 9mm as its ammunition of choice for agents in the field, we could pick up the 9mm pistol of our choice and call it a day. However, it's never that simple and just because the FBI has determined that the 9mm round makes sense for them doesn't mean it's best for everyone. In fact, many feel that the 9mm lacks the power to be considered effective for self-defense, but some believe it’s perfect.

Whatever you believe, you might have noticed that people sure seem to have varying opinions on the best rounds for self-defense. It seems that if you ask any two gun owners what is the best caliber for defending yourself in an attack situation, you're likely to get two very different answers.

The reason this is such a hotly debated topic is complicated. For one, there is no "perfect" choice, as the perfect round for self-defense comes down to preference. Some people will value what is referred to as "stopping power", while some will say a high capacity magazine is more important as it provides more chances to hit your target.

So understanding it would be impossible to declare one caliber superior to another, we decided we would create an overview of some of the common rounds for self defense. We are not saying one is better than the other, as this comes down to preference, experience and other factors. Rather, we'd like to take a quick look at common self defense rounds and some basic pros and cons of each.

9mm Ammo

Pros - Most 9mm magazines hold more rounds than some larger caliber pistols, which some believe makes up for the smaller caliber. 9mm pistols usually have less recoil to deal with, meaning many people are able to shoot them more accurately. 9mm rounds of today are a lot better than 9mm ammo even 20 or 30 years ago thanks to advancements in ammo technology. Add to that the fact that 9mm ammo is abundant and priced well compared to other ammo, and you can see why many choose 9mm as their self defense round of choice.

Cons - Smaller caliber lacks "stopping power" according to some. Of course, your mileage may vary, and 9mm ammo is more advanced now than ever before.

Our best selling 9mm

9mm 9x19 Ammo 115gr FMJ CCI Blazer Brass 50 Round Box

10mm Ammo

Pros - Many believe 10mm to be the best self defense round and this round actually replaced the 9mm in the FBI and other law enforcement agencies for some time. The 10mm is a powerful and versatile round, but pistols chambered for 10mm are larger and thus not as easily concealed, nor as easy to shoot. If you can handle 10mm and the recoil that may come along with it, while remaining accurate, then the 10mm is a good round for you. If you're not confident or able to shoot it well, look for something smaller like a 9mm pistol or even a .380 ACP for self-defense.

Cons - Bigger pistols with more recoil can be harder to shoot. 10mm ammo is only advisable if you are experienced shooting this caliber or are willing to put in the time to practice and learn.

Our best selling 10mm: 

10mm Auto Ammo 180gr MC Remington 50 Round Box

.380 ACP

Pros - There are a ton of lightweight pistols on the market chambered for .380, making it a great CCW weapon and an option for self-defense. Also, anyone can shoot a .380 pistol without too much trouble. Another advantage is with the popularity of 380 pistols, ammo manufacturers are making more advances, meaning .380 ammo is better now than it ever has been before and there are more options for consumers.

Cons - .380 is a small round, and many feel that it lacks “stopping power”. Furthermore, there are a lot of 9mm pistols that are slightly larger than a .380 but much more powerful.

Our best selling .380ACP: 

380 ACP 9x17 Ammo 94gr FMJ Wolf WPA Military Classic 50 Round Box

40 S&W

Pros - Manageable recoil and consistent accuracy make the .40 S&W a common choice among law enforcement and the public for self-defense.

Cons - Some may see the 40 S&W as a compromise for those wanting something bigger than a 9mm but not too big.

Our best selling 40 S&W: 

40 S&W Ammo 165gr BJHP Remington Golden Saber 25 Round Box

.45 ACP

Pros – The .45 ACP round offers a great balance of power and control. There are plenty of options for ammo and the prices are affordable.

Cons – Recoil is fair, but may be too much for some shooters to handle. If concealing is a concern, some 45’s have a larger frame size which may not be best for CCW, but still good for self-defense in general.

Our best selling .45 ACP: 

45 ACP Ammo 230gr FMJ Wolf WPA Polyformance 50 Round Box

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