As the title states, it is common for people to try and break even in a caliber or pistol debate by using the common and boring say of "all pistols are under-powered anyways." I rarely let people get away with that claim. I usually have to insert logic and reality into the equation, which often brings people to get upset that they couldn't just parrot a saying and bring the debate to a draw. There are just too many facts out there, and I feel that it is important that people wake up and accept that they need to respect their pistols and take care to get good with it.
Let us first look at the reasons you should take great care to advance your skill with a pistol. If you are a civilian that is carrying a pistol concealed, you are not going to pull out your pistol just so you can fight your way back home to get your rifle and come back to finish the engagement. Or how about if you are a bike cop at a traffic stop? you may not have a better weapon in your immediate reach other than your pistol. Or, how about when your glorious rifle runs out of ammo, malfunctions, or breaks, and all you have left is your puny little pistol? In all these cases, don't you think you might want to make sure that your proficiency should be a priority?
The under-powered argument for pistols is an interesting claim when trying to level out a debate on a closing statement that both people may blindly agree to as a form of an implied unspoken truce. I feel that this is an untrue statement. I came to this conclusion after looking at many different shootings with pistols, and I found that a majority of the failures to cause a fatal wound was due to poor accuracy. If you can't hit what you're supposed to, like the heart, you might not cause a fatal wound that will stop an attacker efficiently.
Now, another thing to talk about is the inherent damage from the extreme hydrastatic shock from a rifle, as compared to a pistol. I would be beyond insane to claim that a rifle does not cause alot of damage on a target. But, I would advise you to keep in mind that there are considerable disadvantages and even failings of some of the more popular calibers out there like the 5.56 NATO/.223 Remington. These types of rifle rounds are very popular and easy to shoot well, though they tend to have issues like deviation, yawing, and pitching.
The general rule of thumb is that as the projectile gets lighter, and the velocity goes up, the projectile is going to become more likely to immediately deviate off course once it hits flesh. This is a terrible thing to have happen when you need to hit the vitals. If you are aiming for the heart and your rifle rounds can't stay on course for the heart, is the rifle really better? For the most part, it is rare to see these types of extreme deviation issues with pistol rounds, unless you start getting into lighter and faster rounds like LeHigh defender ammo.
If we wanted to get into a caliber debate to find out what caliber is going to be the best performer and all, then we need to keep many facts in mind and be very analytical and honest about ammunition capabilities. Many people overplay or underplay the capabilities of certain calibers based on one or two hearsay stories, but this is why detailed analysis of several sources of information is the best recipe for rational discussion.
The popular thing that you may also see in the caliber debate is people erasing certain caliber advantages by denying the likelihood of needing certain capabilities like shooting through walls or glass. All this is evidence of is that someone is compromising in order to justify a caliber shortcoming. There are a number of reasons for this compromise, but I feel that it is a mix of not wanting to lose a debate and also trying to grasp at straws. I personally have seen more reasons to have ammo that is capable of barrier penetration than reasons not to. Think about if you have to shoot through store glass in a mall during an active shooter situation, or having to shoot through a wall or even little pieces of concealment. It has been known to happen a good amount, and I would advise anyone to take this kind of thing into account.
For the most part, I have seen that people are all too happy to accept that pistols are under-powered and fail to train with them to any degree that could advance their skills. I have also noticed that serious pistol training in the tacticool community is neglected. It would seem that the trend these days is shooting an AR15 with a C-clamp grip while wearing multicam and looking pretty. If only serious training in practical and straight forward methods and techniques would be better than dressing up for a show. When bullets start flying, you will find that how you look is not going to matter. It will be your skills, precision, and ability to think on your feet that will help you.
I think I have beat this horse sufficiently to death, but I could surely go on for longer. I will spare you the long and drawn out arguments that I have in favor of training more with a pistol, though. The only thing I will remind you of is the fact that no one thinks of their pistol as a primary weapon until it finally becomes one. No matter what the circumstance is, if you are down to using a pistol, you better be a damn surgeon with that sucker. What are your thoughts?
Do It Rite
Alaska-Based Youtube Vlogger, Retired Marine, gun enthusiast, and passionate firearm and gear evaluator.