The best handgun ammo choice is always subjective. You may like to feel a certain type of way when shooting, while other people may feel inclined toward a different caliber altogether. There are many viable options when it comes to picking out your ammo.
Each type of caliber (which is a bullet diameter measurement) has its strengths and weaknesses. Let’s help you prepare for your first shooting class (or for self-defense) with the right equipment by exploring the most popular calibers, plus some details to look out for when making a purchase
How to select a handgun caliber
Handgun ammo isn’t all the same. Before making a purchase, you should think about the specifications and caliber of your fire weapon. Here’s what to look for when selecting the best ammo for your needs.
Performance and recoil
Performance and recoil play an essential part in how you choose your Natchez handgun ammo. Bullet weight and velocity have an impact on the energy inflicted on the target. By comparison, a larger or faster bullet leads to more energy than you feel in the recoil.
Heavier handguns usually absorb more felt recoil than lighter firearms. So you feel the recoil more when dealing with a lighter weapon. Heavier and faster bullets may seem the best option, but they can negatively impact your shooting ability and firearm maneuverability. When you feel more recoil, your accuracy drops. As a result, you take longer to get back to your target.
In other words, it doesn’t matter what ballistic performance your bullet is capable of if you can’t hit your target.
Centerfire versus rimfire
Rimfire and centerfire refer to the mechanism that fires the ammunition.
Rimfire ammo uses a primer ignited by a firing pin that crushes the base rim. The case needs to be very thin, leading to low-pressure loads. .22 long rifle is such an example. Rimfire ammo is cheaper to produce, but it’s also less reliable.
Most other calibers for handguns are centerfire. That means their primer is at the center of the case head. Centerfire ammo costs more to produce than rimfire, but it’s more reliable. That’s why it can be an optimal solution for self-defense.
Bullets are available in two varieties: hollow point and full metal jacket.
Hollow point ammo has a hollow tip of the projectile. It expands after contact, and it increases the projectile diameter. Hollow-point ammo is an exceptional choice for self-defense.
Full metal jacket ammo has a soft core encased in harder metal. It’s cheaper, which makes it ideal for target practice and shooting.
The larger the bullet or cartridge size, the fewer rounds you can fit in a magazine. A .45 ACP Glock fits only 13 rounds, whereas a .9 Glock 17 fits 17 rounds.
You should know how many bullets you can fit in your hand weapon because it can take multiple shots to neutralize a target. Consider that you’ll likely miss some shots, especially when under pressure.
How well-versed you are in shooting can play a part in choosing the best ammo for your handheld weapon. A 9mm caliber is the top choice for most people looking for a self-defense option.
Statistically, people perform better when shooting with a 9mm caliber. So it’s worth considering when choosing your ammo. Practice and test how it feels when shooting with different calibers at the range.
Purpose and cost
Consider what you need the ammo for when buying it. Opt for cheaper full metal jacket bullets when you practice and choose the best hollow point ammo when loading your self-defense weapon.
If you’re just shooting at the range as a hobby, a .22 LR can be enough for you because it’s less expensive than other calibers. However, .9mm caliber remains the most popular option for training and self-defense.
The calibers we already mentioned are sufficient for training or self-defense, but what if you’re hiking and want to be safe from wild animals, for example? Or what if you’re out hunting?
Make sure you’re choosing a caliber powerful enough for your needs. In the case of wild animals, a larger caliber would be better. If you can’t shoot the caliber type you need to use for defense against big wild animals, then your only option is to familiarize yourself with it. That means more practice.
Types of handgun cartridges and when to choose them
Let’s see what the most popular handgun calibers are and where you can optimally use them:
- .22 long rifle (LR) – a cheaper caliber mainly used for recreational shooting. You can use it in revolvers, rifles, or pistols. It has little to no recoil, so it’s appropriate for people with no shooting experience.
- .380 ACP (Auto) – housed in a Colt pistol. Some people choose this caliber to conceal small handguns.
- 9mm – the caliber of choice for self-defense. It has a strong performance doubled by limited recoil. It requires some training to master accurately.
- .40 S&W – it’s a top choice for law enforcement.
- .45 ACP – it’s an American classic option, great for suppressed shooting.
- .357 Magnum – it’s more difficult to shoot than previous calibers, especially with small revolvers.
- .44 Magnum – it has high recoil, but it’s a good starting option for defense against big animals.
Other powerful handgun calibers for protection against bears, among others, are .454 Casull, .500 Magnum, and .50 AE.
It’s up to you to choose which handgun caliber is best for your needs. Of course, now that you’re a little more knowledgeable, it’s clear that you can’t go wrong with a .9mm when target shooting or going for self-defense. Of course, you should always test several options before purchasing a caliber or a handgun. You may find a favorite for target practice or self-defense.