There are a variety of handguns in different caliber and specifications are available in the market. The competition shooter and marksmen prefer barrel rifling and length of a twist whereas new buyers worry very little about these specific details. However, it is important that one must know his / her weapon, ammunition caliber, and size of bullets that gun uses. To familiarize these details for your and the safety of your loved ones, we have put together most common calibers, their pros, and cons and a few popular handguns that use them.

.22 LR

The .22 Long Rifle caliber is the most common, smallest, cheap, and easily available round in the market. If you’re using it with the right brand of ammunition, it’s an incredibly accurate little round. It’s a great round to learn to shoot with, as this round is without the recoil and noise of larger caliber rounds. The most popular handguns for the .22 LR are Walther P22, Browning Buck Mark, and Ruger LCR-22. Due to its small size, you can carry a large number of bullets with you. It works wonderfully as a hunting round, it works well against varmints. The only con for this round is low weight, they don’t do the same kind of pierce as large rounds. Therefore, you might have to put more shots on target in a self-defense situation. However, it can be an effective tool for personal protection because of less recoil and easy control.


.38 Special and .357 Magnum are incredibly popular bullets that are used for revolvers. It is an iconic caliber for police revolvers and a good and powerful round for personal defense. With the same diameter as its .38 Special counterpart, the .357 Magnum round packs more gunpowder into a longer round, giving it much more stopping power and recoil. You can use the .357 magnum cartridges instead of .38. Additionally, the .357 and .38 can be used interchangeably on any .357 revolver; however, .357 round cannot be used for .38 handgun. All the best parts of the .38 and the .357 rounds are echoed in their revolvers; they’re easy to manage, easy to use, versatile enough to both hunt and target-shoot, and common enough that you’ll always be able to find a few boxes of each. Whether you’re buying a snub-nosed revolver for personal protection or a full-size for hunting and target practice, the .357 and .38 Special rounds would definitely be your choice.


.380 ACP

.380 ACP is slightly less common than other rounds, however, it’s better than many. It’s a light round with good stopping power and very little recoil. It’s a shorter 9mm cartridge fit in slim single-stack magazines. As the round and its handgun are relatively lighter than many other handguns, therefore, it’s a favorite in concealed-carry handguns and backup pieces. Due to less recoil than larger calibers, these are very easy to control and hit on target. It’s considered relatively less powerful than other handgun calibers. However, due to less recoil, you won’t have any trouble putting rounds on target in high-pressure self-defense situations. Additionally, you can always opt for hollow-point rounds to bump up your stopping power and ensure that there’s no over-penetration. The Best .380 handgun is Walther PPK.


9mm is the choice of professionals. It’s used by police, military, and target shooters and they’ll recommend using a 9mm handgun. The Glock 17 is the best 9mm handgun. 9mm round is easily the most common handgun round you can find for personal defense and target shooting. It’s available in handguns of all sizes, as well as submachine guns and carbines. 9mm is the standard NATO handgun round, 9mm rounds are available at pretty much every sporting goods store and every military surplus store in the country, often from multiple manufacturers and in multiple variations. In addition, all the major handgun brands in NATO countries (and even a few former Eastern Bloc nations) all produce a handful of great 9mm handguns, so finding quality isn’t nearly as difficult. With just the right balance of affordability and power, the 9mm makes for an incredibly reliable personal defense tool.

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.45 ACP

DThe .45 ACP is an American round design by John Browning for Colt M1911. Due to this heavy round’s stopping power, it has been commonly used in the military. .45 ACP is easily the hardest-hitting caliber for a semiautomatic pistol on the market, beating out everything except it’s oversized. Even regular .45 ACP rounds are sufficient for self-defense, and also make a suitable caliber for a hunting sidearm. Owing to the increased power of the round, there is high recoil and therefore it’s difficult to control. The .45 ACP handguns are also not used as concealed carry guns. It’s common, it’s powerful, and it’s represented in some of the best handguns on the American market.

Ammo Variations

There are different variations on ammunition, each designed to fill a different role than their standard FMJ (Full Metal Jacket) rounds. You can use these special ammo types in their respective handguns to give you an edge in self-defense or target shooting.

Jacketed Hollow Points (JHP)

JHP rounds are bullets in the middle, with a wide opening. Unlike standard ammunition that goes straight through the target, when it reaches a surface, the hollow point on JHP rounds actually extends outwards, slowing down the bullet and doing further damage. Not only do bullets like this give smaller calibers the stopping power of larger ones, but they significantly reduce the risk of bullets going straight through targets and hitting anything behind them by expanding within the target.

Overpressure Rounds (+P)

Overpressure rounds are just normal FMJ rounds with more gunpowder than the typical loadout, giving the projectile a much faster muzzle speed and, thus, a better knockdown. As such, these bullets are much harder on the inner parts of your gun, and the extra gunpowder makes overpressure rounds dangerous and cheap. Sparingly use these balls, and buy them from a reputable supplier.

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Match Grade Ammo

Although “Match Grade” is not like previous types of ammo a single standard, ammunition that is called match grade is generally milled precisely to be exceptionally accurate and reliable. If you are using this ammunition with a custom handgun or not, you can expect more consistent accuracy with bullets of match quality, particularly at longer ranges. Match quality ammunition, however, is typically more costly so prepare accordingly.

Frangible Ammo

A load designed to be secure, frangible ammunition replaces the solid bullet inside your weapon with highly compressed copper powder, which effectively breaks down on impact. That kind of design prevents ricochets, especially while preparing to shoot close-quarters at steel targets. Therefore, these bullets have slightly less lead in them, which is good for indoor ranges (which have to filter out less lead dust) and outdoor ranges (where the lead will spill into the environment).