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Thread: Under-rated or overlooked rounds for self defense

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    Campaign Veteran Cavalryman's Avatar
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    Under-rated or overlooked rounds for self defense

    We're all familiar with the “usual” rounds for self-defense – 9x19mm, .45 ACP, .40 S&W, etc., but there are some other not-so-usual rounds out there which can be pretty reasonable choices for self-defense. I have listed a few (in no particular order) and I'd be interested in ideas others may have.

    .38 Super – First designed as a “hotter” round for use in the M1911 platform and still mostly found that way. Modern loadings are similar to the 9mm +P and can approach the performance of the .357 magnum in handloads. In standard loadings, recoil is very mild; the hotter loads yield recoil similar to .45 ACP. This cartridge is still very popular in some countries where “military” calibers are not allowed.

    .44 Special – The predecessor of the .44 magnum. Ballistically similar to the .45 ACP but in a revolver. Although not used a lot anymore, there are some good factory self-defense rounds still available. This cartridge is mostly fired from revolvers chambered for .44 magnum but there is at least one compact five-shot handgun specifically for the .44 special cartridge. This would be a good choice for someone who sometimes carries for self-defense and at other times “up-loads” to the magnum cartridge for hunting or bear protection.

    .45 Colt – Also known as “.45 Long Colt” (to differentiate it from the now-defunct .45 Schofield which was a shorter cartridge). This was the most popular cartridge of the Old West, chambered in the famous Colt Peacemaker, among others. Ballistically very similar to the .45 ACP, this cartridge has a well-established capability to put a miscreant down quickly. Due to the recent resurgence of cowboy action shooting, this cartridge can be had in loadings from “fun to shoot” all the way up to “holy cow!” Smith and Wesson sporadically turns out a batch of double-action revolvers chambered in .45 Colt in the 25 and 625 series. There are several good self-defense loads available in this caliber. Very strong revolvers like some of the Ruger single-actions can be loaded with “the big stuff” which equals or exceeds the performance of most .44 magnum cartridges.

    .41 magnum – Originally envisioned as a cartridge for law enforcement, this one never really caught on. Nevertheless in its 210 grain loading, it edges out the .357 magnum for power while remaining more manageable than the .44 magnum. There are also heavier hunting loads available. I consider this a good “all-purpose” round in rural areas where you may encounter either black bears or two-legged predators. Recoil is brisk but manageable by almost anyone with good technique and practice. My S&W Model 57 in .41 magnum is one of my most accurate handguns, so the cartridge is clearly capable of accuracy. Smith and Wesson made the original double-action revolvers and they can still be found but they are usually pricey. Currently, Taurus makes a revolver in this caliber and there may be others.

    9x18mm Makarov – Developed by the Soviets during the Cold War in an effort to produce the most powerful cartridge that could be chambered in a compact direct-blowback action pistol. A little more powerful than the .380 ACP, this is really down at the very low end of what I would consider suitable for self-defense, but it's better than a sharp stick. This cartridge has enjoyed some popularity recently due to the import of military-surplus pistols from the former Soviet Bloc. Makarov pistols from Russia, Bulgaria, and Poland and CZ82 pistols from Czechoslovakia can be had fairly inexpensively. As they were designed as military holster pistols, these are not especially small, but they are ruggedly built.

    .327 Federal Magnum – Unlike the above cartridges, this is a “new kid on the block.” Also unlike the above, I don't have a handgun in this caliber and I haven't even shot it, but based upon my reading, it deserves some consideration. It lies in between the .38 special +P and the .357 magnum in power. Its primary advantage seems to be that it can be chambered in a small-medium revolver providing one more round than the .38 special or .357 magnum. For example, in the Ruger SP101, you can get 5 round capacity in .38/357 or 6 rounds of .327 magnum. The .38 special +P has a good track record as a self-defense round, so getting one more round without sacrificing performance seems like a good idea.

    This might be helpful to someone thinking about getting a handgun for self-defense. These are just some observations intended to stimulate discussion. I don't have any emotional investment in any of this information, so I won't even bother to don my flame-retardant suit.
    Last edited by Cavalryman; 01-01-2011 at 03:05 AM.

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    Here are some overlooked self defense handgun ammo you forgot:
    s&w .500
    s&w .460
    5.56x45 (.223 remmington)
    7.62x39
    7.62x25
    .308 winchester

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    Regular Member simmonsjoe's Avatar
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    Thumbs down

    Quote Originally Posted by kwikrnu View Post
    Here are some overlooked self defense handgun ammo you forgot:
    s&w .500
    s&w .460
    5.56x45 (.223 remmington)
    7.62x39
    7.62x25
    .308 winchester
    all but the Tokarev are not reasonable for a self defense handgun.
    They don't meet many SD requirements:
    1 be operable with one hand
    2 impart all of its energy in its target.
    3 allow draw from concealment and double tap center mass in 1.5sec

    With a good expanding round, the Tokarev would be great for SD. Its only downside is its simply too long for most modern firearms. grip frames have such a long LOP many people cannot get a reasonable grip on it.

    All but those S&W rounds are great carbine rounds. The 500 and 460 are only good for hunting.

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    .45 GAP: I'd love to see an American Tactical Imports FS series with this round, especially it had a 21 round flush fitting
    magazine.

    10MM: see above.

    .22 magnum: Keltec PMR-30 + 30 rounds of JSP=pure destruction.

    REmember: Better platforms contribute to a cartridge's popularity.

    Look at American Tactical Imports FS series, simply amazing.

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    Regular Member Contrarian's Avatar
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    Question alternate cartridges

    [QUOTE=simmonsjoe;1301449]all but the Tokarev are not reasonable for a self defense handgun.
    They don't meet many SD requirements:
    1 be operable with one hand
    2 impart all of its energy in its target.
    3 allow draw from concealment and double tap center mass in 1.5sec

    "Its only downside is its simply too long for most modern firearms. grip frames have such a long LOP many people cannot get a reasonable grip on it."

    Would you say this is true even in the TT33?

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    Regular Member simmonsjoe's Avatar
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    [QUOTE=Contrarian;1301496]
    Quote Originally Posted by simmonsjoe View Post
    all but the Tokarev are not reasonable for a self defense handgun.
    They don't meet many SD requirements:
    1 be operable with one hand
    2 impart all of its energy in its target.
    3 allow draw from concealment and double tap center mass in 1.5sec

    "Its only downside is its simply too long for most modern firearms. grip frames have such a long LOP many people cannot get a reasonable grip on it."

    Would you say this is true even in the TT33?
    TT33 is not a modern firearm. Yes the grip is too deep. It's not unmanageable because it is single stacked.

    I have small hands so I am biased.

    p.s. I would love to see a .355-.40cal necked down to .30-.32... mebby call it a 327APC? I'm sure there are wildcats that do something like that. Any loaders out there got info on something like this?
    Last edited by simmonsjoe; 07-07-2010 at 01:45 AM.

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    Regular Member opusd2's Avatar
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    I'm a firm believer in this one, but if you put a .22LR in the right place, it bounces around and does a good bit of damage as well as delivering the pain and quite a surprise. Plus there is the cost and associated ability to practice with it more.

    But I love my .45s, the LC and ACP. Unfortunately, all the Johnny come Lately's who have purchased the Judge have made it difficult to find 45LC ammo.

    My opinion may not be popular, but it's my opinion. Just like my opinion that I'll take my 30'06 or 308 over my 223 anyday.

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    I have a P226 chambered in .357 SIG and I've found it very accurate and easy to double tap during practice. It's too powerful for my girlfriend to handle, but I've got big hands so it works great for me.

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    32-20

    [QUOTE=simmonsjoe;1301678]
    Quote Originally Posted by Contrarian View Post
    TT33 is not a modern firearm. Yes the grip is too deep. It's not unmanageable because it is single stacked.

    I have small hands so I am biased.

    p.s. I would love to see a .355-.40cal necked down to .30-.32... mebby call it a 327APC? I'm sure there are wildcats that do something like that. Any loaders out there got info on something like this?
    They are still making 32-20 ammo. I have an older revolver that shoots it and it is an easy gun to shoot with good energy to it's target, and very very accurate.

    Doc

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    Regular Member simmonsjoe's Avatar
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    [QUOTE=sohighlyunlikely;1302281]
    Quote Originally Posted by simmonsjoe View Post

    They are still making 32-20 ammo. I have an older revolver that shoots it and it is an easy gun to shoot with good energy to it's target, and very very accurate.

    Doc
    Wow, ever heard of the 327 federal magnum?? Also I was discussing Auto-loading cartridges.

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    9x23 Winchester

    .38 Super is an awesome round, but it has to be loaded properly, and most ammo manufacturers are unwilling to do that anymore for liability reasons. The reason for this is that .38 Super is dimensionally identical to the .38 ACP and can be chambered and fired in a .38 ACP pistol. A fully loaded .38 super produces chamber pressures far in excess of .38 ACP and if fired in a pistol chambered for .38 ACP, could result in serious injury to the shooter. There are still a lot of old .38 ACP pistols floating around out there, so most of the ".38 Super" you see in the gun stores is actually just .38 ACP.

    Anyway, IIRC, one of the reasons for the development of the 9x23 Winchester was to rectify this situation - the idea was to create a round with a similar ballistic profile to the .38 Super, but that wouldn't chamber in the .38 ACP, thus obviating liability.

    With the advent of single-stack rat guns, I'm surprised that 9x23 Winchester hasn't made a big comeback. That would really be the ideal round for such a gun, giving you the same stopping power as .45 ACP or .40 S&W, but with the higher capacity of 9mm Luger. It would also shoot flatter and further than either .45 ACP or .40 S&W.
    Last edited by me812; 07-14-2010 at 04:19 AM.

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    5.7x28mm FN USG 20 round pistol with a mag full of Tridents. Not considered AP,but DAMN!! The pistol with two extra 30 round mags is like CCing an assault rifle.

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    Quote Originally Posted by simmonsjoe View Post
    p.s. I would love to see a .355-.40cal necked down to .30-.32... mebby call it a 327APC? I'm sure there are wildcats that do something like that. Any loaders out there got info on something like this?
    It's called the .32NAA

    http://www.naaminis.com/32naa.html

    To summarize, the load delivers in excess of 1222 f.p.s. velocity to a 60 grain proprietary bullet from Hornady. This generates 199 ft. lbs of energy, specifically from the 2.5" Guardian barrel (1453 f.p.s. & 287 ft. lbs from a 4" test barrel).

    According to industry expert Ed Sanow, the 32NAA:

    *

    Produces more velocity, more energy and more stopping power than any conventional jacketed lead hollow point (JHP) 32 ACP, 380 ACP or 380 ACP (+P) with 15% less recoil (Power Factor) than the (+P),
    *

    Penetrates 8.3" of Gelatin after passing through four (4) layers of denim, expanding to a .55" mushroom with a retained weight of 100%,
    *

    Has a Fuller Index of 62% One-Shot Stops, compared to (for example) the 380 ACP Federal 90gr. Hydra-Shok (53%).
    Last edited by flb_78; 07-13-2010 at 10:58 AM.

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    Regular Member Archangel's Avatar
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    While I understand the premise of this post, and it is indeed interesting, the reason I personally stay away from calibers that are not mainstream is availability of ammo.

    If SHTF and you run low on ammo, how do you resupply?

    I like to stick to whatever is most common. That's why most of my defensive firearms are either 45ACP or 9mm.

    True there is a lot of 40 out there as well. But I figure when S Really HTF it'll be military led or supported and that is what they use.

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    Regular Member me812's Avatar
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    While I understand the premise of this post, and it is indeed interesting, the reason I personally stay away from calibers that are not mainstream is availability of ammo.

    If SHTF and you run low on ammo, how do you resupply?

    I like to stick to whatever is most common. That's why most of my defensive firearms are either 45ACP or 9mm.


    If SHTF, the only thing your handgun will be good for is to fight your way back to your long gun, which you never should have left in the first place.

    I would be concerned about having rifles or shotguns that ate hard-to-find ammo, but not so much a handgun.

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    Quote Originally Posted by me812 View Post
    If SHTF, the only thing your handgun will be good for is to fight your way back to your long gun, which you never should have left in the first place.
    A good reason to a have a handgun chambered in .223/5.56 or 7.62x39.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Archangel View Post
    While I understand the premise of this post, and it is indeed interesting, the reason I personally stay away from calibers that are not mainstream is availability of ammo.

    If SHTF and you run low on ammo, how do you resupply?

    I like to stick to whatever is most common. That's why most of my defensive firearms are either 45ACP or 9mm.

    True there is a lot of 40 out there as well. But I figure when S Really HTF it'll be military led or supported and that is what they use.
    I concur, and the Ranger 9mm luger 147 gr SXT isn't anything to snub your nose at. By the way, get the RA9T, not the RA9B (bonded). I can only assume the "T" stands for "talon," as the round is identical (for all intents and purposes) to the old black talons, save for the black lubalox coating. If anything, it's an improved version. It certainly feeds a lot better than the "B," which has a veritable knife-edge around the hallow point which I find sometimes catches on my feed ramp.
    The First protects the Second, and the Second protects the First. Together, they protect the rest of our Bill of Rights and our United States Constitution, and help We the People protect ourselves in the spirit of our Declaration of Independence.

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    Regular Member simmonsjoe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by flb_78 View Post
    It's called the .32NAA

    http://www.naaminis.com/32naa.html
    That is a .380 cartridge necked down to .32 and has fairly unimpressive performance. Pay attention. I am talking about "magnum" performance.

    The .327 Fed Mag pushes out a 1,400FPS with a 100gr. bullet.

    Keep up with the conversation.
    Last edited by simmonsjoe; 07-14-2010 at 03:23 PM.

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    if there was a revolver the same size and weight as a j frame .38 that chambered 6-7 shots of .327 fed I would buy it in a heartbeat

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    Quote Originally Posted by OCglock1988 View Post
    if there was a revolver the same size and weight as a j frame .38 that chambered 6-7 shots of .327 fed I would buy it in a heartbeat
    How about the Smith and Wesson 632, Ruger Sp101, or Charter Arms Patriot all in .327 all 6 rounds

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    Quote Originally Posted by OCglock1988 View Post
    if there was a revolver the same size and weight as a j frame .38 that chambered 6-7 shots of .327 fed I would buy it in a heartbeat
    How about a 32-20. I would think the ballistics would be very similar.

    http://www.gunlistings.org/view-listing.php?id=25680

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    Quote Originally Posted by simmonsjoe View Post
    That is a .380 cartridge necked down to .32 and has fairly unimpressive performance. Pay attention. I am talking about "magnum" performance.

    The .327 Fed Mag pushes out a 1,400FPS with a 100gr. bullet.

    Keep up with the conversation.
    You never said anything about magnum performance, you merely asked for a cartridge in the .355 range necked down to a .32 caliber bullet in a modern semi auto handgun.

    What would 327APC stand for?

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    Regular Member simmonsjoe's Avatar
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    Really?

    Quote Originally Posted by flb_78 View Post
    You never said anything about magnum performance, you merely asked for a cartridge in the .355 range necked down to a .32 caliber bullet in a modern semi auto handgun.

    What would 327APC stand for?
    figure it out.

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    I occasionally OC my DE .50AE. I think it's an under-rated round! I remember when I went to the PTC class that they recommended that a person carry the largest round they could accurately fire. I'm pretty good with the DE.
    Thanks,

    Tom

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    Quote Originally Posted by simmonsjoe View Post
    figure it out.
    you are definitely not the nicest person on this site....
    Last edited by ItTakesAWolf; 07-21-2010 at 01:33 AM.
    OH NO!!! I cant seem to think of anything "funny" and/or "wise" to put in my forum signature...NOOOOOOOOOO!!!!! lol

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