Two Letters Re: Comparing the Big Three Battle Rifle Chamberings in the United States

[Regarding the tangent on pistol ammo that got started with the battle rifle cartridge discussion,].I just thought I’d point out for your readers that while it is indeed important to select a common caliber (for rifle or handgun) and one that fits your role/terrain/group, if weaponry isn’t your forte, don’t get paralyzed with “I have to pick the best caliber or I’m unprepared.” I know people who “think it to death” and never purchase anything because that “perfect” caliber isn’t in stock or they can’t make up their mind. Remember that it’s the user that makes the difference. You can be far more effective with a .22LR you’re trained and practiced with it than some couch commando who owns the ‘baddest’ assault/battle rifle but has not trained at all. One of the advertisers here, Front Sight, has a saying, “Any gun will do, if you will do!” That is very true!

And just because I can’t resist the allure of the caliber debate that’s going on, please note that while I acknowledge there are differences between calibers (both among handguns and rifles) in terms of effectiveness, velocities, penetration, and such… just maybe there is a reason that the 9mm Luger versus 45 ACP debate has lasted nearly a century! Could it be that there is no clear winner? From Corbon’s web site (a manufacturer with the tightest quality controls out there):

9mm Parabellum (Luger) +P, 115 grain, 1,350fps = 466 ft/lbs of energy
45 ACP +P, 230 grain, 950fps = 461 ft/lbs of energy

Both are +P, both are common grain weights for defensive loads and they are made by the same manufacturer. From that perspective the 9mm is slightly more powerful than the 45 ACP! I only say this to show that pure statistical numbers don’t matter as much as some of us (me included at times) would like to think. Shot placement and mindset win fights, not online statistics. Train until you can’t get it wrong! – PPPP


Mr. Rawles,
I am confused as to why there is an argument over relative energy at 50 yards. Having taught hundreds of courses and thousands of people how to shoot a pistol, at this point in my life I can say that unless you run across a very competent person – far better than the average police officer or weekend warrior – they are going to be lucky to hit a target at half that range.

Let me give you an example. The local PD where I am a reserve has their annual shooting qualification course set up so that the vast majority of shots are under seven yards. The longest shot is at 15 yards.

Each year I see officer after officer miss the man sized target, three shots out of three, at the 15 yard line. Only a few officers who also are on SWAT and some of us middle aged reserve guys actually hit at 15 yards.

So the argument over energy at 50 yards is absolutely a non-starter in my book unless and until we are talking about sub-machineguns which most of us don’t own. And then the energy figures would be for 10 inch barrels and not 5 inch pistol-length barrels.

You can argue until you are blue in the face over 9mm vs. .45 ACP and neither side will give an inch. Ditto .223 vs. 7.62×39 or .308. Let’s just say that all of them have their place. Personally, I carry a 9mm on a daily basis only because its light enough to wear comfortably. When I am expecting trouble its either .40 when I am on duty or .45 when I am off duty. And a .223 or 7.62×39 in the car where I can get to it …

Overseas I carry 9 mm and 7.62×39 simply because not being associated with a U.S. military unit, it is what I can get a re-supply of in short order.

Final analysis its not the tool, it’s the person. Or, if you look at [Massad] Ayoob’s priorities, gear is at the bottom of his list. – Hugh D.