EDC Best Practices: What Caliber Is Best To Carry?

EDC Best Practices: What Caliber Is Best To Carry?


You carry concealed because you know that in the real world, you’re usually your own first responder.

Your weapon is only as good as the rounds it fires, and this debate is almost as old as guns themselves. What’s the best caliber to carry?

If you ask this question in any firearms forum or community discussion, just be prepared to sit and listen for a while. Usually, someone starts with "45 ACP has the best stopping power," followed by "Yeah, but 9mm lets you carry the most rounds," followed by "Shot placement is what really matters, so I carry a 22."

And then some highly regarded fellow will speak up for 5.7x28, after which everyone in unison will break into the 5.7 copypasta. 

As it turns out, none of the above really matters all that much. At the risk of saying the quiet part out loud…

All handgun calibers are pretty bad at permanently and immediately stopping a threat.

That’s just the simple truth. Handgun rounds don’t transfer that much energy, and they don’t have a great track record of incapacitating either man or beast (magnum rounds notwithstanding). Ask 50 Cent about his experience with handguns

Having a gun is always better than not having one, but it isn’t like the movies where someone flies across the room from a single pistol shot. But anyway, getting out of the realm of opinions and into the ream of science, what can we learn? 

Of the very limited data available regarding calibers and shooting events, 9mm stands out as the cause of the most deaths, whereas 10mm has the highest fatality rate (that is, shootings with a 10mm result in deaths the highest proportion of the time). That said, this data isn't perfect - certainly incomplete and probably inaccurate, as well. 


So, if all pistol calibers are various shades of okay, what conclusion can we draw?

Here's an interesting take from the article above: "Wound location and the number of wounds increase the likelihood of a fatality more so than the caliber."

The science would tell us that the most important factor in effective use of a handgun is that it goes "bang" when you want it to go bang. 

Arrowhead recommends carrying a modern pistol cartridge and using modern ammunition to improve your odds in a life-or-death scenario. Yep, it’s that simple, and that comes down to safety and reliability more than anything. Modern ammo only goes “bang” when you want it to and (almost) always goes "bang" when you ask it to, which are very important considerations in a carry gun.

The most important decision is the decision to carry every day. Arrowhead’s lineup of pants and shorts was designed to help make this possible by ensuring that you can still carry your full EDC safely and comfortably even when you choose to wear athletic clothes.

Explore our “Carrier” Options that can help you carry every day. 

There are secondary considerations when picking which caliber you want to carry.

  1. Ammo Availability - How plentiful is the ammunition? Can you source it reliably?

  2. Ammo Cost - How much does it cost to shoot this ammo? Will you be able to train with it consistently?

  3. Capacity - How many rounds will your gun of choice be able to carry? Some calibers lend themselves to higher capacity more than others (i.e., on average, 9mm handguns hold more rounds than .45 ACP).

As always - stay safe out there. 


Leave a comment

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.