Handgun Caliber – Complete Guide

If you’re a pristine handgunner or if you’re a prepared veteran, it’s great to make a stride back and check out specific information on the cartridges we shoot, especially about the Handgun Caliber. 

Perhaps you are considering growing our firearm assortment.  You may not be sure about the direction.  Or possibly  you are only inquisitive regarding where the .380 ACP came from.  Of course, you may be a reloader and keep thinking about whether that new type you have as the main priority is not difficult to reload. A cartridge examination guide is the right place to begin.   

One thing is sure – people who fire handguns have never had it so great as far as the assortment of cartridges out there. Regardless of whether you are a tracker who leans towards rimmed cartridges in either a solitary or a double-action activity gun or a shooter who utilizes a self-loader for different purposes, there is no less than one cartridge specifically built for you.  

In this article, we provide you with an extensive guide on handgun calibers. It includes the types and how they work, as well as suggestions for which one may be better suited for you.  

Through this article, we intend to give you a detailed report to understand Caliber, so you can settle on the best choice for yourself while buying a weapon for yourself. The requirement for caliber contrasts relies upon the firearms utilization, whether law authorization, hidden convey, individual safeguard, or more. The key is to check out your requirements and coordinate with them with a decision in our guide. 

So let us help you explore the most popular pistol calibers and choose what’s best suited for you: 


Caliber is utilized to depict the size of a rifle or handgun bore and the size of cartridges intended for various bores. 

If you want to explore more about handgun cartridges, you need to understand what a caliber is. To make it simple for you, we have explained everything about it below.

What is Caliber? 

According to the Cambridge Dictionary, “caliber” is either “the quality of someone or something, especially someone’s ability,” or “the width of the inside of a pipe, especially of the long cylinder-shaped part of a gun, or the width of a bullet.” 

Caliber is the size of the shot. It tends to be estimated in millimeters as 7.62x39mm would be 7.62 millimeters across (breadth) and 39 millimeters tall (length). Bullets are likewise estimated as inches to be like a 5.56x45mm likewise known as a .223 because it is .223 inches wide.  

In inches, Caliber, as a norm of measure, is offered in tenths of an inch. However, for specialized purposes, thousandths of an inch are additionally given. 

As far as it is concerned, the word Caliber per gun is a name not simply an estimation of a projectile or a bores dimension but a way of recognizing a cartridge’s characteristic qualities that make it extraordinary.  

How a specific caliber performs after the shooter pulls the trigger of a weapon must include factors such as how quick a bullet ventures, what sort of direction it has, what sort of wound holes it’s ready to make after affecting tissue, and so forth.. 

  •     Bullet Weight 

What was the weight of the last projectile you shot?  

If you’re like most shooters, you might have no clue. Without doubt, you know the type of gun; you might even know the overall distance and speed. Yet, that might be all.  

What’s more, that is OK. 

Most firearm proprietors don’t need to be specialists in shot weight. Finding out about weight, concerning what it means for speed, exactness, and terminal ballistics will make you a more knowledgeable and sure shooter. This will then build your delight in shooting sports and permit you to choose better ammo for your particular requirements. 

Let us start with a clarification of the essential unit of estimation for bullet weight: grains. 

You will frequently see bullets recorded with the grain size before the shot sort. For instance, 9mm rounds might be recorded as 115 gr FMJ. It lets us know that the cartridge is stacked with full metal jacket bullets that weigh 115 grains.  

As you study ammo more deeply, you will see that cartridges have a wide scope of shot sizes. 

Bullet size inside a given cartridge can change. However, there is an overall scope of size for every ammo cartridge. For instance, AR-15 ammo has a standard size of 55 grains, yet you can buy ammunition for your .223 rifle with shots going from under 40 to more than 70 grain. In like manner, 9mm Luger cartridges have bullets from 60 to 160 grains. 

Bullet weight affects how it performs. It will affect how the gun forces, and it will affect the general direction of the shot. At last, it will affect terminal ballistics, changing how the bullet performs once it strikes an objective.  

When pondering shot weight, it’s essential to contemplate how you will utilize the cartridge. If you are just plinking, that is, casually shooting more modest cartridges at a short to medium distance, weight isn’t a worry for you. For most plinkers, you’ll need to buy the ammo that best accommodates your financial plan.  

In case you are going for the greatest precision, nonetheless, the projectile weight matters. However, it’s not as straightforward as saying heavier or lighter bullets may be better.


Bullet velocity is the speed of the shot as it leaves the muzzle. It is measured in little arms by the utilization of a chronograph. While lasers might be utilized, the most well-known sort utilizes an overhead light source, either counterfeit or regular (daylight.) You have two light, delicate sensors set a deliberate distance separated. 

At the point when the bullet disregards the principal sensor, it begins a clock. When it ignores the second sensor, it stops the clock. The outcome is the speed of the shot. On ordnance pieces, they utilize a Muzzle Velocity Radar (MVR).


Muzzle energy is the deliberate energy in translational kinetic energy (Et) conferred to a shot or bullet at it. Muzzle energy is similar to kinetic energy (Ek), draw back energy, down range energy, or effect energy. 

The differences between these five energies are the area of the body moving: your withdrawing gun aft, a shot simply leaving the muzzle, a shot dropping down range, or affecting an objective and kinetic energy being all the abovementioned. Muzzle energy is mentioned by the Joule (J) or Foot-pound force(ft-lbf). 

What to Consider When Choosing a Handgun Caliber 

Before getting into each handgun caliber, let us first understand a few things that need to be considered to make your decision-making a little easier:  

Rimfire vs Centerfire 

Currently, there are two sorts of ammo that you’ll go over: centerfire and rimfire. Centerfire ammo is most regularly utilized in rifles, handguns, and shotguns. The preliminary in this kind of ammunition is situated in the focal point of the casing base. It is typically ideal since it makes a greater blast, making it more straightforward to shoot bigger measured shots from the casing with a higher reliability.  

With rimfire ammo, the preliminary is situated in the rim of the shell casing. Certain individuals favor this kind of ammunition as it doesn’t have a similar degree of force as the centerfire assortment. For the people who tend to wince in expectation, this can be a superior other option.  

Without much of a stretch, you can differentiate between centerfire and rimfire by checking out the lower part of the casing. Centerfire will have a little circle in the center, showing the area of the preliminary. (Hence the name.) Conversely, rimfire ammunition won’t have this circle.  

Both centerfire and rimfire ammo arrive in a wide scope of types intended for use with different sorts of firearms.

Performance and Recoil 

Bullet weight (estimated in grains (gr)) and shot speed (estimated in feet each second (fps)) have a major impact on the energy incurred for your objective. However, bigger as well as quicker bullets make more energy you feel as far as recoil. It is particularly evident in lighter handguns, as heavier handguns absorb more felt recoil.  

In principle, a caliber with a heavy and exceptionally quick bullet sounds ideal, yet as a general rule, it can affect your capacity to deal with shooting it. More prominently felt recoil can prompt terrible precision. 

It can be safely sid that the ballistic presentation of a given type doesn’t matter if you cannot hit your objective with it.

Ballistic Performance 

The ideal way of looking at the exhibition of various calibers and various ammunition loads inside a similar type for self-preservation is ballistic gel tests. The ballistic gel is utilized as a substitution for living tissue as a state-sanctioned testing strategy. 

In ballistic gel tests, the FBI suggests bullet infiltration in the scope of 12-18 inches and its not set in stone “The absolute most significant component in successfully injuring a human target.” Under 12 inches risks shots missing the mark regarding crucial organs, while more than 18 creeps of infiltration will probably go through your target with the  hazard of hitting honest observers. 

There are two essential sorts of shots, full metal Jacket and Hollow point bullets.  

Full Metal Jacket (FMJ) bullets have a delicate center completely encased in harder metal. 

As the name recommends, empty point (HP, JHP, and so forth) bullets are empty at the tip of the shot. This extension expands the distance across the shot as it goes through your objective, incurring harm over a more prominent region.  

Hollow point bullets are recommended for self-protection, though less expensive FMJ ammo can be utilized for sport shooting and practice.  

Alongside infiltration, extended width is one of the most significant factors in deciding the halting force of a given shot.  

Ammo retailer Lucky Gunner has done broad ballistic gel testing dependent on the FBI testing strategy. The best performing 9mm burdens accomplish an extended width of 0.69-0.74, though the best .40 S&W loads grow to 0.7-0.82. The extended measurement of the best .45 ACP burdens can reach as incredible as 1.0. However, this is a greater amount of an exception than what’s ordinary.

Your Shooting Ability 

As mentioned above, the FBI has viewed that most of their review members preferred 9mm over bigger calibers. With current hollow points decreasing the hole in terms of infiltration and bullet distance (once extended), many people presumably select 9mm for self-preservation.  

So, if you’re ready to keep up with speed and accuracy with .40 S&W or .45 ACP, it’s worth thinking about these for self-protection. Perceive how bigger Caliber feel while rehearsing at the reach and even think about testing your time/split occasions

Magazine Capacity 

revolverBigger shots and cartridges, unfortunately, mean fewer adjusts can fit incomparably measured magazines. For instance, the 9mm Glock 17 has a magazine limit of 17 rounds, while the practically identical .45 ACP Glock 21 holds only 13 rounds.  

Keep in mind, it is conceivable and could make a difference in the effort required to kill an attacker. There’s a decent possibility you’ll miss a few shots in a high-pressure circumstance.  

The distinctions in magazine capacity can be much more significant when contrasting minimized and subcompact guns.


Larger caliber ammunition is, for the most part, more costly than more modest type ammunition, so you need to weigh this factor. 

On the off chance that you pick a bigger type, for example, .357 Magnum or .45 ACP, ensure that you can find ammunition that is adequately modest to permit you to rehearse routinely. 

We would only suggest settling on the best empty point ammunition for self-preservation. However, one will generally purchase the least expensive metal-cased FMJ for training. The difference between 9mm and less known calibers can still be huge when purchasing the most modest accessible practice ammunition. You don’t need the cost of ammunition to prevent you from preparing.


Despite what anybody tells you, there is no magic number, no unique caliber that can stop a determined attacker from attacking.  

Find a gun that meets you and your requirements, regardless of whether for disguised convey or home protection. Later you can get it in the biggest Caliber, which you can comfortably shoot. 

Don’t stress over ammo limit; all things considered, practice and focus on shooting precise shots. 

Ensuring a caliber is adequately appropriate for your requirements means you need to consider different factors.  If you’re not prepared to shoot a large caliber that you need to use for  safeguard, your main choice is to become more familiar with firing that handgun. 

Handgun Caliber Guide


The .22 LR handgun types are rimfire cartridges normally utilized in action rifles. Nonetheless, a few shooters utilize the .22 LR in revolvers and guns. The rounds are genuinely minute, so these aren’t an optimal choice for home or personal security,  however they are ideal for a lot of target practice at the reach. It is important to make sure to pack your weapon and calibers in a legitimate firearm range sack when making a trip to and from the reach.  

.22 LR adjusts are truly simple and reasonable, which is why many people like .22LR handguns for range firing. Many individuals choose to use them as hidden carry weapons, yet they are not as great for this reason as a .380 ACP would be. 

.22 Long Rifle Stats: 

  •     Typical Velocity Range: 1080-1280 fps
  •     Typical Energy Range: 104-146 ft.lb
  •     Common Bullet Weights: 36 grain, 40 grain
  •     Bulk FMJ Ammo Price: $0.04-$0.07 per round

.380 ACP 

The .380 ACP is one of the smallest bullet sizes, with .335 inch shots that weigh somewhere in the range of 90 to 100 grains and travel at 1,000 feet each second. The .380 ACP shot is immaterial, so these are frequently utilized in more modest, hidden carry firearms. 

At one time, the .380 was considered a genuinely powerful cartridge. It supplanted the .32 Auto overall and today is the chief pocket gun caliber. Current self-protection loadings turn the .380 into a suitable self-preservation round. A few specialists say its halting power is equivalent to a 158-grain .38 Special lead round-nose cartridge. It isn’t generally so deadly as a 9mm, yet people carry it as their main disguised weapon with current ammunition.  

It fits in a pocket, rushes to bring right into it, and strikes a greater blow than a .22 or .32. That is the reason its popularity has been decreasing for quite some time. 

.380 ACP Stats: 

  •     Typical Velocity Range: 945-1150 fps
  •     Typical Energy Range: 185-203 ft.lb
  •     Common Bullet Weights: 90 grain, 95 grain
  •     Bulk Brass Cased FMJ Ammo Price: $0.24-$0.40 per round
  •     Max Bullet Expansion: 0.63″ (in Lucky Gunner Tests)


The 9mm gun caliber is perhaps the most famous and commonly used handgun caliber on the globe. 9mm shots include measurements of .355 inches tipping the scales at somewhere in the range of 115 to 130 grains. When released, a 9mm Luger makes a trip at roughly 1,100 to 1,200 feet each second.  

9mm rounds fire quickly and are fundamentally bigger than a portion of the other gun bullet sizes, making them ideal for taking shots at the reach and self-protection.  

You can buy a scope of weapons to use on the 9mm handgun type graph, including small concealed carry and bigger guns. One more noticeable benefit with 9mm rounds is that they are decently priced while giving the shooter a gentle recoil. 

9mm Stats: 

  •     Typical Velocity Range: 950-1200 fps
  •     Typical Energy Range: 295-384 ft.lb
  •     Common Bullet Weights: 115 grain, 124 grain. 135 grain, 147 grain
  •     Bulk Brass Cased FMJ Ammo Price: $0.17-$0.25 per round
  •     Max Bullet Expansion: 0.74″ (in Lucky Gunner Tests)

.40 S&W 

The .40 S&W has considered its prime to be one of the more famous pistol bullet measures. However, it is still a dependable round for handguns. The shots sport widths estimating .4 inches and make an appearance around 135 to 165 grains, shooting at roughly 1,100 feet each second.  

The .40 S&W has a thin difference in the 9mm, because the last option furnishes very much like streamlined execution, however, with a lighter and a smaller edge. Even then the .40 S&W is a great pick for personal and home safety or even broad reach practice. 

Mass and speed are the elements that decide a bullet’s kinetic energy. With .40 S&W loads having a lot quicker speed than .45 ACP and a bullet mass heavier than 9mm, .40 S&W can now and again create the most kinetic energy in all. It can likewise reach .45 ACP as far as recoil energy, particularly because .40 S&W loaded guns will generally be lighter than those loaded in .45 ACP.  

However, the recoil difference between .40 S&W and 9mm is certainly recognizable; the vast majority shouldn’t experience an excessive amount of difficulty settling in shooting the bigger Caliber. The genuine question is whether you can proceed shooting it when time and reliability are variable. 

.40 S&W Stats: 

  •     Typical Velocity Range: 900-1200 fps
  •     Typical Energy Range: 358-496 ft.lb
  •     Common Bullet Weights: 155 grain, 165 grain. 180 grain
  •     Bulk Brass Cased FMJ Ammo Price: $0.24-$0.32 per round
  •     Max Bullet Expansion: 0.82″ (in Lucky Gunner Tests)

.45 ACP 

Exceptionally close to the 10mm, the .45 ACP has a width of .451 inches and tips the scales at around 165 to 185 grains. The .45 ACP voyages are slightly slower than the 10mm, at 1,050 every second, depending on the round you pick.  

The .45 ACP bullets fire rapidly and are heavy, making them a strong pick for hunting, personal, and home safety. Since the .45 ACP cartridge is so huge, these handguns are not ideal for concealed carrying. You can shoot the .45 ACP at the reach for target practice. The ammunition isn’t quite as reasonable as many other mentioned guns, so cartridge size for plinking could pile up your expenses rapidly. 

.45 ACP Stats: 

  •     Typical Velocity Range: 830-1015 fps
  •     Typical Energy Range: 333-423 ft.lb
  •     Common Bullet Weights: 185 grain, 230 grain
  •     Bulk Brass Cased FMJ Ammo Price: $0.28-$0.34 per round
  •     Max Bullet Expansion: 1.00″ (in Lucky Gunner Tests)


The 10mm is the biggest of the calibers on our rundown and is probably the biggest cartridge available, period. The shots normally measure .40 crawls in the distance across and make a trip at 1,200 to 1,300 feet each second.  

The 10mm shots bridle a huge load of energy since they move at such an amazing pace. 10mm are a phenomenal pick for hunting enthusiasts since they keep up with their energy in any event when traveling extremely long distances. The cartridges get the job done to catch a deer, depending upon how precise and prepared your shot is. The 10mm type likewise sports a level direction with nice recoil.

.38 Special 

The .38 special gun caliber measures .357 inches, and element weights go from 125 to 150 grains. The bullets are recognizably heavier and greater than 9mms. The .38, to some degree, has a slow fire season of 950 feet each second. However, they don’t fire so rapidly.  

All things considered, if it boiled down to the .380 ACP and .38 Special, the latter has upgraded execution. You could use the .38 Special for range practice, self-protection, and home defense without issue. It is likewise a famous cartridge for concealed carrying. 

.38 Special Stats: 

  •     Typical Velocity Range: 760-950 fps
  •     Typical Energy Range: 333-423 ft.lb
  •     Common Bullet Weights: 110 grain, 125 grain, 130 grain, 158 grain
  •     Bulk Brass Cased FMJ Ammo Price: $0.27-$0.38 per round
  •     Max Bullet Expansion: 0.73″ (in Lucky Gunner Tests)

.357 Magnum 

The .357 Magnum is a strong contender for home defense, with .357-inch bullets including 125 or 158 grains. The rounds travel at insane quick paces of 1,200 to 1,400 feet each second, with unforgiving halting power for the target.  

The guns aren’t especially enormous, so certain individuals pick to use them for covered carrying purposes.  

.357 Magnum Stats: 

  •     Typical Velocity Range: 1200-1500 fps
  •     Typical Energy Range: 505-759 ft.lb
  •     Common Bullet Weights: 125 grain, 158 grain
  •     Bulk Brass Cased FMJ Ammo Price: $0.35-$0.64 per round
  •     Max Bullet Expansion: 0.75″ (in Lucky Gunner Tests)

Even Bigger Calibers 

For protection against bears or simply endeavoring to look cool at the reach, there are handgun calibers significantly more impressive than .44 Magnum.  

.454 Casull, .50 AE, and .500 Magnum are the choices if you disdain your hands and wallet. .500 Magnum can pack above and beyond 2,000 ft.lb of muzzle energy. 


There are several handgun calibers accessible out there. If you’re hoping to buy a handgun in the Caliber you’re keen on, go to the range and lease the weapon, put it through a lot of hardship, check whether you like how it handles.  

Additionally, get your work done on the types of ballistic execution, launching stage, and ammunition accessibility. Possibly while doing some examination, you’ll find other handgun types more appropriate for your requirements – who knows?

Be notified about new posts

Sign up with your email for our newsletter and be notified when we publish new blog posts. Don’t miss valuable advices.

We will be happy to hear your thoughts

Leave a reply

Enable registration in settings - general