Firearms Training trumps equipment

April 2nd, 2007  

Dr. Piazza,

I’m getting ready to buy my first handgun.  I read all sorts of things about which caliber is the best for this reason or that reason.  I know that a hit with a .22 is better than a miss with a cluster bomb but I need some help.

Why do you carry a .40?  Can you give me some resources to help in my decision?  I’ve narrowed it down to a .40 or a .45.  I know the bad guy won’t be impressed that he was shot with a mack-daddy best on the market hollow-point but what really matters in caliber selection? Should I go with a lightweight but higher fps .45 as size sometimes matters, or go with a medium weight .40 to try to be fast like a 9mm with the punch of a .45?  I’m looking at Springfield XDs if you were wondering.

I know I opened up a huge can of worms and wouldn’t dare blame any unhappiness on a selection based on your opinion, but it would be nice to know why you carry what you carry to protect yourself.

Thanks for your time,


Dear Nolan,

I am assuming from your question that the primary purpose of the caliber you select is self protection.

The first choice that must be made it the type of gun to carry. If you select a 1911 the caliber you should choose is .45ACP no question about it.  The .45ACP has stood the test of time.

If you choose a Glock, as I did, and do not have large hands then the .40 caliber is the correct choice.  I would carry a Glock in .45 but the size of the Glock 45 is too large for me to carry and shoot as comfortably as the .40 caliber Glock.  The .40 caliber has a good track record of one shot stops on the street. Shot placement is really the most crucial aspect of using a handgun for self defense so I feel fine with the Glock in .40 caliber.

I would stay away from the 9mm unless small size for concealment is the ultimate need and realize that the 9mm is distant third choice.

The smaller the caliber, the faster and more accurate YOU must be to use the weapon and the more likely a cranio-ocular cavity shot is needed to stop the fight.

The XD is a fine weapon and is available in 40 and .45.

Hope this helps.

Above all, remember that training always trumps equipment.

Ignatius Piazza

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Ignatius Piazza
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