Don’t Be A Caliber Shamer

by Trent Marsh

You’ve met them. You might be one of them. The “caliber shamers” are not only unproductive, but they can unknowingly promote dangerous behavior.

Ruark famously said, “use enough gun,” referring to time on safari. Similarly, when it comes to choosing the caliber for a carry firearm, there is a sect of gun culture that casts an awkward glance at anyone who isn’t packing the biggest caliber they can tuck in their waistband, comfortably or otherwise.

Should you ever want to start a war of words at your local range, proclaim to anyone you meet that you find the 9mm to be a perfectly suited personal defense round. If you want to see grown men go into an apoplectic fit, mention the .380. If it is pure anarchy you seek, mention a .22 as a defensive handgun.

Frankly, I’ve never understood it. Another gun owner’s preferred choice of carrying caliber has no effect on me, and it has no effect on what I choose to carry. I equate it to their preferred salad dressing. I might agree with their choice, but should our opinions differ, I’m not forced to start using their particular flavor.

That doesn’t stop the caliber shamer through.

As a grown man, not the least bit slight of build, the 9mm is my caliber of choice. Upon hearing this, I’ve had numerous friends and acquaintances ask why I don’t choose a real gun, or remark that I’m big enough to handle a better round. They’re not wrong. I’ve owned larger calibers, shot larger calibers, and done so proficiently, I might add. So why is the 9mm my choice for concealed carry??

Because the choice of caliber for a defensive handgun is far less important than the decision to carry in the first place.

Criminals prey on the weak and defenseless. It’s about power. Criminals seek to impose their will, with as little investment or sacrifice on their part as possible. This is why the very sight of a gun, any gun, is often enough to end a confrontation — without a shot being fired. Defensive firearms are fired far less often than they are used. The act of introducing the firearm to the criminal calculus is often enough for them to realize they need to find a new target.

I read a lot of news. Defensive firearm ownership news is always of interest. I have yet to see an account of a crime, or attempted crime with anything that resembles the following:

” … upon drawing her handgun, the attacker paused to inspect the firearm. ‘What’s that a .40S&W?’ he asked. ‘I had planned to rape you, and would have gladly taken a few rounds from a .380 in my attempt, but that handgun happens to be large enough to prevent this attack.”

I often ask caliber shamers if they have seen stories like this they can point me to. I have yet to see one.

I’ve often made a habit of interrupting their belittlement of my 9mm to ask if they would be willing to let me put a couple rounds in their thigh. To a man — and the caliber shamers do always seem to be men — they decline my inquiry. Odd considering the 9mm isn’t even a “real gun” to them.

In the end the absolute best handgun caliber you can carry is one that you are comfortable carrying. Can you draw and fire while stressed? Can you fire multiple shots, rapidly and accurately? Is it a gun you can and will practice firing often? If you can answer yes to these questions, whether it is a .44 magnum revolver, or a .22LR derringer, then that is a perfectly adequate defensive firearm for you to carry, every single day.

Trent Marsh is a husband, soon-to-be-father, and lifelong Hoosier. A marketing professional in the shooting sports industry, he also serves as the Gear Editor at and as a freelance writer for titles such as Whitetails Unlimited and Shooting Sports Retailer.