Do Ballistics Matter?

September 11, 2018

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In crime shows, much is made of calibers and ballistics. One could argue the relative merits one gun over another and one type of ammunition compared to another. But really ballistics is of little concern when it comes to conceal carry weapons. What really matters is where the shot ends up not what material was actually shot. After all, we’re not talking about marksmen and sharpshooters where the wind, the distance, and what is being shot are often deciding factors.


In the real world, where you aim matters a lot more than what material you’ve loaded into that conceal carry gun.

Those who consider carefully what they load in their conceal carry piece will state that you get what you pay for. Your intended target should be a deciding factor when selecting the right type of ammo for your firearm.

If you are using ammunition for target practice and hope to improve your accuracy, ballistics is not very important. If you are hunting specific game or have a definite target in mind, however, then it’s wise to think about the advantages of various types of ammunition.

When you use frangible ammunition, the bullet disintegrates upon contact. This can really eat up the soft tissue of what you hit. If you are using your conceal carry weapon for home defense, this type of projectile is good because it is unlikely to go through walls and kill innocents. At the same time, it can cause damage to what you are aiming at without fear of ricochet.

Subsonic ammunition provides the shooter with quieter ammo. It is often used in suppressed weapons. If you’re at a shooting range, this type of ammunition eliminates the need for those irritating ear protectors. It also has less recoil so it’s a popular practice ammunition.

Fracturing ammunition breaks into several pieces on impact. It’s a popular ammunition for hunting animals as you’re more likely to bag your prey. This is a favorite  with hunters because it is so efficient.

In life and death situations, the ammunition you choose could determine the outcome.  If the ammunition penetrates your target and stops it, then the ammo is sufficient for your conceal carry weapon.


There will always be stories related by gun owners to illustrate the fact that ammunition performance matters.

What caliber is best? There are those who argue if the caliber is too small—say 9mm—the bullets will just bounce off what you are aiming to stop. On the other hand, if the caliber is too large—like a .45 ACP—I might destroy an entire building!

Another debate rages over having enough power to knock down what I am trying to stop. Do I want to knock him down or do I want to  stop him? Am I intent on incapacitating him? Is my goal penetration? These are serious issues.

Let’s face it! All conceal carry weapons make holes—unless you are shooting blanks. Some holes are bigger than others. How important is the size of the hole for your purposes? Not very. Thus, the type of ammo is a moot point except where safety is concerned.

If you look at caliber scientifically, the difference in energy between a 9 mm and a 45 is not all that significant.

As a concealed carry holder, I personally want only to stop whatever caused me to aim and fire. Caliber isn’t much of an issue.

From exhaustive ballistics studies the bottom line is that there’s not a great deal of difference in performance of various calibers of ammo.