New Shooters: Caliber Conversation

What caliber do you recommend to someone who is going to carry but is relatively new to shooting?

  • .22
  • .380
  • 9mm
  • .40
  • Other please share your thoughts below

0 voters

It boils down to the gun/caliber combination they are most comfortable with. If they don’t like/feel confident with their rig, they most likely won’t carry it.
I like to start new shooters out on a .22 semiauto and work them up at their pace to find out what they can comfortably shoot well (combat accuracy at 7 yards).
That’s generally not a one day project. Usually, day one gets them comfortable with the .22 and maybe the 9. I don’t bother with the .380–I haven’t found many I really like, and the ammo used to be more expensive than 9mm. I usually go .22, 9, 40/45.
Although–if they made a carry sized 5.7 x 28, I think it would be a great option for people who are recoil sensitive (new shooters especially). Again, they better be rich to afford the gun/ammo combo!


Everyone can shoot a 9 with good form, no reason to go smaller than that for a carry gun.

Sorry to the 380 people, I think 380 has its place in pocket carry. I don’t think pocket carry is where a newbie should start.


While I am an ardent .357SIG carrier (now that I am retired) and carried a .40 through my career, I think a 9mm is the best start for someone who is going to carry yet is new. Yes, the .22 and .380 are soft to shoot however if someone is looking to protect their life or someone they love, they must utilize a cartridge that will effectively get the job done. Yes, I agree that when properly placed a .22 or .380 could solve the problem but why operate with a should when a new shooter can utilize a 9mm that is roughly the same size, weight and capacity of a .380. My wife is new to shooting and carrying so the first firearm I purchased for her is a Taurus G3C. I feel comfortable enough with the 12 rounds it offers and she is not to put off by the size, weight and recoil impulse of the handgun,


.38 sp

This is the truth right here.

I still love my welther p22 I have very small hands and a little arthritis I have a laser on it. This is perfect for me. I’ve been shooting since I was 10. I also have a Berreta that my late father gifted me, I like it to , i would use that as a primary in my home.

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Respectfully disagree.
I have seen many students who are not able to comfortably shoot a 9 or are unable at the early stage in their shooting to overcome their flinch.
When people say “a .22 isn’t enough, or inadequate” I ask them if they’d be comfortable holding the target over their center mass downrange. The plain truth is that no one wants to get shot.
.38 spc in a snub nosed revolver has done more damage to the novices shooting than any other gun. I highly recommend against it to new shooters. It’s not a beginner’s gun. It’s got the trifecta of recoil, poor sights, and fairly hefty report.

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I understand what your saying.

If we’re talking about someone’s first gun, maybe a 22 is a good idea. If we’re talking about someone first carry gun, I would never recommend anyone carry a 22lr. I know some people do, I don’t. “22 is better than the 45 at home” true, but I think carry guns should be center fire. In my mind, 22lr is more likely for a light primer strike, and if you pull a gun and get a click, you may have just put yourself in more danger than before.

This may be where the G42 and the Shield EZ 380 play a role. Those would be decent carry guns for those people. (I didn’t like that 380 shield, but boy was it a great business move during the rapid increase in gun buying).

Although I see 380 being more reliable than 22lr, the ballistics between 380 and 9mm are substantial. (Though I’ve seen mostly pocket 380 ballistic tests, maybe they’re more effective out of a longer barrel) Though I think 380 would get the job done, I think 9mm is a better rounded option.

Maybe I should have said “most”. The other issue is size. Everyone wants a small carry gun, might be better to get a larger 9 than a small one. This is where it gets harder for woman. Most men could get away with concealing a larger gun, but woman typically dress differently and I could see carrying anything larger than a 365 could be an issue. I still think everyone, other than extreme recoil sensitivity can handle a 9mm from a shield size gun if given time to practice.


You’re 100% right on the unreliability of .22 rimfire compared to centerfire.
And yet we have the historical example of the Mossad.