Can I Defend Myself With A Small Caliber Handgun

small caliber handgun
S&W Bodyguard .380

The Small Caliber Handgun

This discussion happens several times during the year it’s almost summer and here we go again. The age-old question always comes out when it’s warm and we want to wear fewer clothes. Can I defend myself with a small caliber handgun? Namely, everybody wants to carry that little.380 ACP (Automatic Colt Pistol) that they can hide easily in their pocket or IWB (inside the waistband). Well here are some facts to consider.

Can you put shots on target with your small-caliber handgun?

So what we are talking about here is can you in a timed session put meaningful shots on target. Some say 3 rounds 3 seconds at 3 yards from the carry position in a circle that’s no more than 6 inches. Can you do that? If you can you have a good chance of surviving a deadly force encounter. If you can’t you better get to the range and do some practice so you can. I have more drills and skill tests for anyone wishing to get them from me for practice.

Remember to follow the rules of the range you will be practicing at. Some ranges do not allow drawing from the holster. Some ranges allow it but only drawing from a strong side belt holster, not from a purse or a pocket. Can you shoot from a retention position? This can be a very dangerous thing to practice without being taught by a professional the right way to do it. My last article about Draw From The Holster talked about the low number of instructors who are certified to teach these methods so be careful how you proceed. Any Instructor that does not have PPOTH (Personal Protection Outside The Home) Certification is not certified to teach any draw from the holster concepts.

Small-Caliber Handguns Can be Difficult To Hit The Target?

Part of being able to hit the target is grip. Can you get a proper grip on this small-caliber handgun? The grip is the first step in a proper draw from the holster routine. Many people have hands that don’t fit the small caliber handgun. If you can’t get a full grip on the gun (fingers hanging off the bottom) or little finger curled under the magazine, it’s going to be hard for you to control those shots and to shoot the handgun safely. I see men whose hand covers the entire gun. One remedy is to get a magazine extension. This allows more fingers to get a grip on the mouse gun.

Sights Can Be Hard To See

Sights on the small-caliber handgun are usually nonexistent. there are a couple of problems with this. First is sight radius. sight radius, when referring to iron sights, is the distance between the rear sight and the front sight. The longer the sight radius is, the more accurate the shooter is able to be as the front sight post will appear to be smaller, covering less of the target. Just the opposite exists with small-caliber handguns. A lot of these guns have sights that cannot be changed. Sometimes you can paint the front sight with a bright color to solve some of these problems. Finger Nail Polish does a good job in either bright red or orange color.

Proper holsters are a must when dealing with these guns. Remember a good holster retains the small caliber handgun so it can not fall out when turned upside down. It retains its open position for safe re-holster, and it covers the trigger guard completely. Kydex holsters tend to be the best choice, but don’t work well in your pocket.

Caliber Size The Old Argument

Caliber size and cost of ammunition come into play with the small-caliber handgun. It’s true that the .380 ACP (Automatic Colt Pistol) has come a long way ballistically speaking. The velocities are getting better and the gel tests are sometimes impressive, but here is what I think. Ammunition for the .380 ACP handgun is about 50 percent more expensive than 9mm Luger. That means that those who watch their pennies won’t shoot often enough to be proficient.

You have to shoot these small-caliber handguns frequently to get good with them. The other thing I look at is that technically speaking a .380 is a short 9mm. I don’t know about you but I need a full power caliber that will get the job done. In my opinion, the .380 ACP is not that round. That being said if I was going to carry this gun I would look at tests with self-protection JHP(Jacketed Hollow Point) ammunition for that gun.

Check The Tests On Ammunition

I would carry the ammunition that performed the best out of that gun. (Ballistics By The Inch) or some other source. Remember to always fire your concealed carry ammo in your small-caliber handgun to make sure it does not malfunction. Some of these handguns are what we call in the industry ammo specific. What that means is some guns don’t operate reliably with certain types of ammo. You have to test your gun to make sure it is reliable. For me, that means shooting an entire box of concealed carry ammo without any malfunctions. Again Speer Gold Dot, Federal Hydra Shok, Federal HST, and Hornady are all reliable makers of this type of ammo.

FBI Has Information on Shootings

Here’s what we’re talking about. The FBI says most self-defense encounters happen within 3 yards are over in 3 seconds with less than 3 rounds being fired (about the distance of an automobile). Can you grip your small-caliber handgun, draw from your carry position, line up your sights, and put 3 shots on target in 3 seconds or less. If you can great have a great summer. If you can’t you have some work to do. And by the way, you also have to be able to shoot that small-caliber handgun at some distance cause 10% of the time you could need those skills. The other thing you might want to consider is to get acquainted with shooting in and around vehicles. Here is an excellent inexpensive vehicle tactics online training course that I highly recommend. The other area of concern is situational awareness and understanding of transitional spaces.

Many people survive close encounters because they knew something was about to happen. I can help with many of these training issues. You have to be proficient with your concealed carry handgun no matter what you choose, both for your own safety and the safety of others. Have a safe and fun summer.

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