So what is the best pistol caliber? That depends on what you are using it for. Self-defense, hunting or competition shooting. You can use a .22lr for competition but you wouldn’t want to hunt bear with a .22lr. There is no one pistol caliber that is best for all jobs, and some are best used for hunting due to the massive recoil they produce.
Generally the best pistol caliber is the one you shoot the best.
So which is best?
This question is one that causes a lot of arguments among shooters. Many shooters have their own favorite caliber that they will swear is the best. Having owned or shot many calibers and guns chambered for them I personally like the .45 acp, but carry a .380 acp for my concealed carry gun. While the .45 acp is more powerful than the .380 acp or the 9mm it also is heavier and has a much more felt recoil making it harder to control and get back on target for a follow up shot. In a self-defense situation or competition being able to reacquire your target and shoot a follow up shot is important. In competition, it could cause you the match and in a self-defense situation it could cause you your life.
What is the best pistol caliber for competition?
In competition where your score is determined by both your marksmanship and speed the 9mm is probably the best choice of caliber. It is easier to shoot since it has less recoil making follow up shots faster. It also doesn’t beat your arm up as bad as a .45 acp does. Ammo is usually cheaper for a 9mm than a .45 acp and since you will be shooting hundreds of rounds this along with recoil makes the 9mm more attractive than the .45 acp. Most competition shooters use the 9mm and they all can’t be wrong.
What is the best caliber for a revolver?
In a revolver the .357 magnum is probably the best caliber. It is powerful and accurate and since the .357 magnum and .38 special are identical in diameter you can shoot .38 specials in your .357 magnum revolver. It should be noted here that while you can shoot .38 special bullets in a .357 magnum revolver you cannot shoot .357 magnum bullets in a .38 special revolver. The .357 magnum is a more powerful bullet and will almost always result in catastrophic failure causing injury to the shooter and nearby bystanders. NEVER ATTEMPT TO DO THIS!!!
It is shot placement not caliber that counts
Shot placement or marksmanship is more important than caliber, although caliber is important. As, I stated earlier in this post you wouldn’t want to go hunting bear with a .22lr. Having said that I have seen more than one deer killed by a well-placed head shot with a .22lr. So while, caliber is important it is marksmanship that is most important.
In conclusion, it is my opinion that the best pistol caliber is the one that you feel most comfortable shooting and that you can shoot the best. As always shoot safe and have fun.