Why a 40 S&W and Why a Beretta


I decided it was time to purchase a carry type weapon of some sort and started doing some research. Trying to put aside my own personal thoughts on what I should carry and consider all my options was a little tricky.

I am just old enough to remember when the 357 Magnum was "The Weapon of Choice" and have always considered them to be a viable option. Still do for that matter but there are so many options that I thought I should keep an open mind.

Being a ballistic nut only compounded the problem. Because I actually look at the numbers and do my best to understand them, I found myself digging through reloading manuals, ballistic tables and reading performance reviews on "defense rounds" and "defense weapons."

Thank God for freedom of speech. There is so much information available and so many opinions that it really and truly is grand. You can pick a caliber and find a million different arguments for and against it. The same holds true on specific guns. All you have to do is look around and find all the pro's and con's that your brain can absorb.

Somewhere along the way, I started narrowing down my criteria. I wanted something with plenty of fire power yet concealable if I wanted it to be. Yes, you can hide a 12 gauge in your pant leg so "concealable" is a relative term.

I had to be realistic though. In the summer, I wear shorts and a T-shirt. That isn't likely to change. I don't want some big'ol 1911 style poking out of my armpit or waistband.

One article I read put it pretty simple and it said something like "for the first 6 rounds, give me a revolver". I like that but it has holes in it. What if I need 7 shots? And, does that really mean for the first 6 rounds an auto is not as reliable?

Granted, I know very little about auto's but I had a hard time believing I could not get 6 reliable shots from an auto.

Sparing you pages of what if's, I decided that a thinner, lighter, auto would better suit me and my requirements. Being a Rugerholic, I looked there first.

The new P345 had my attention and I really figured I would end up there but in a last ditch effort to cover all my bases, I pulled out the ballistic charts and took in the big picture. Literally, I got out some chalk and went to the chalkboard in my gun shop and drew a big spread sheet.

Then I opened up a ballistic chart in a Winchester Ammunition Guide and set to scribbling.

It was a real eye opener. My goal was to take a generic ammo, one that I might find on the shelf at a gas station in boondocks, and make that my base line.

I started by writing down the left side, the calibers that I considered "viable" options.
Then, with 3 columns across, I put in the headings for Bullet Weight, Muzzle Velocity and Muzzle Energy.

This muzzle velocity and muzzle energy was a tough one for me. I am a rifle guy and seldom care what a bullet does for the first 100 yards but this is different. They say the average self defense shot is taken at 21 feet. Most "muzzle velocities" are taken 8 to 15 feet from the muzzle.

OK, so at "muzzle", velocity doesn't mean much. Trajectory doesn't mean squat, all this is hard to get a handle on. Throw out everything that is important about a fine rifle caliber.

The bottom line is energy. So, I took the highest muzzle energy per caliber with no regard for bullet weight or velocity.

Caliber Bullet
25 ACP
45 815 66
32 S&W (only because
I had one in the display case)
85 680 90
22 LR CCI Stinger 32 1250 103
32 ACP 60 970 125
380 85 1000 189
38 158 890 278
9 MM 115 1225 383
357 125 1450 583
40 S&W 155 1205 500
41 175 1250 607
44 Mag 240 1180 741
45 ACP 185 1000 411
45 Colt 225 920 423

Now before you start screaming that I left out this or that caliber, I will say that I chose to stick with what appear to be the more "popular" calibers. "Popular" of course depends on your circle of friends and geographic position. So I consider these the most popular in my circle of friends and my geographic position.

Yes, there is a story behind why the 22 LR Stinger is included. As I stood there looking at my handy work on the chalkboard, I remembered a conversation that me and my brother had with a gun dealer back in the early 80's. Our Dad, God rest his soul, was having to spend a good deal of time on the road and expressed interest in obtaining a suitable handgun. With Dad, that was usually as far as it went, "an interest". We were considering buying him one as a gift.

Anyway, long story short, we told the dealer that it would need to be simple to operate and something that he might enjoy plinking with. The dealer said, and I quote, "buy him a Ruger Mark II, fill it with CCI Stingers and he'll be good to go".

We always thought this had merit but Dad's road traveling days came to a screeching halt with a job transfer, which was a blessing all the way around. So we put off buying him the handgun and now that opportunity is gone. Sometimes hindsight sucks !

Back at my chalkboard, just for grins, I put in the ballistics on the CCI Stinger. Who doesn't love plinking with a 22? Plinking is known to produce familiarity and accuracy. A couple of well placed Stingers might easily make up for 3 or 4 misplaced 45's. I briefly considered a compact 22 auto but wanted more punch and feel confident that in time, I can learn to shoot a larger auto with some degree of accuracy.

So, there's the chart.

My criteria of feeling more comfortable with more than 6 shots, eliminated the 38, 357, 41, 44 and 45 colt.. Lack of substantial energy eliminated everything above the 9mm.

So, coincidentally, 9mm, 40 S&W and 45 ACP all seemed to be available in just about every auto. I personally chose to eliminate the 9mm if for no other reason than I had heard several years back that law enforcement officers were moving away from the 9 because it wasn't stopping people adequately. Honestly, I have no clue as to the validity of this rumor but remembered it none the less. Stopping people was definitely something that I wanted my new carry to do, without a doubt.

I don't even know how I got on the Beretta kick but next thing I know, I am reading everything I can on the Beretta 9000S. Of course I found a few gripes but I found a lot more people happy with them. The next trip to my supplier, I took a look at the 9000S and the Ruger P345.

The Beretta won for 2 reasons:

I thought back to when I was a kid and played baseball with the neighborhood kids. You only had a few bats available but there was always one bat that when you picked it up, you really felt you could knock the ball out of the park. It just felt right.


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Last Modified: Sunday, May 24, 2009 11:20 PM