I wanted to ask Warren a gun question. I have a .38 Lady Smith, a PPK, and another .38 'Police Bulldog' by Charter Arms (I think). I'm not crazy about the PPK because the kick back concentrates the force in a very small area on my hand, so it hurts + the slide is really stiff also.
I want to get another gun, with more fire power. I can handle both of the .38's with no problem at all. I don't want to get something with so much power that it flies out of my hand.
People are frequently confused about the effectiveness of a given handgun caliber, recoil and actual power of a given round. I'll address all three and give some useful advice.
We'll start with actual power.
The power measurement of a bullet is usually given in foot-pounds but can be given in joules and is called "Muzzle Energy".
The ppk shoots either a:
.25 ACP @ (approx) 75 ft-lbs
.32 ACP @ 130 ft-lbs
.380 ACP @ 200 ft-lbs
The .25 and .32 are considered sub-powered and the .380 is considered marginal.
The two .38s (.38 specials) are about 220 ft-lbs
For over 30 years the .38 special with a 158 grain semi-wad-cutter bullet, (was the standard load for police departments across the nation), and had the record for "one shot" take downs. It's a proven round and gun combination and one I'm quite comfortable carrying.
.357 Magnum at about 550 ft-lbs.
This is the next logical step up from the .38 special and the revolver will also chamber .38 special bullets and allow you to practice with much cheaper and less recoil ammo. .357s can be punishing when fired out of a smaller gun the size of a chiefs special. The trick is to practice with the 38 specials and carry the gun with 357s, when ready for business, occasionally firing a chamber full when practicing to know what to expect.
9mm Parabellum/Lugar @ 350 ft-lbs
A lot of people love this gun but I'm no fan. It seems like a reasonable step up from the 38 and its possibly the most popular pistol caliber in the world and there are more handguns offered in this caliber than any other. If you plan on using this gun I would advise you to only carry with hollow point ammunition. The 9 mm is notorious for over penetration. If I have to shoot someone, I want the bullet to stay put and not hit the guy behind. The hollow point ammo, (if its good ammo), expands and dissipates its energy, staying put.
.45 ACP @ 370 ft-lbs
The good old 45. Its what I carry on a daily basis. Its a large slow bullet and a shot to center of body mass will put anyone down. People with small hands usually don't care for this pistol.
.44 special @ 475 ft-lbs
This is a revolver that's perfect for home defense. Less powerful than the .357 but more powerful than the .45 ACP. Its not very common anymore but the people that own them never seem to never get rid of them. Mild recoil and a powerful handgun. Who can argue with that combination!
.44 Magnum @ 1000
Just for comparison. Remember when dirty Harry said, "The most powerful handgun in the world". Well not anymore!
.500 SW @ 2600
That's all for tonight, more tomorrow.