CCW Weekend: Do You Need Heavier Ammunition For Winter Carry?
By Sam Hoober, Alien Gear Holsters
An old saw for concealed carry is to size up in gun and caliber for the winter. The way most people would work that is carrying a 9mm or .380 pistol most of the year but sizing up to a 10mm or .45 ACP – say a Delta Elite or favorite Commander of Government frame 1911 – once the layers got bulkier, leaves began to fall and many of us resumed the national pastime of yelling at football players as if they could hear us through the television screen.
The reasoning is the belief that a larger round, carrying more energy than a 9mm or .380, is going to be better able to penetrate extra layers of clothing. Thus, sizing up for winter carry is necessary or so the story goes.
Is it, though?
The short answer is probably not, at least not anymore. Modern ammunition is vastly better than it was in past decades and – as a result – many of the former popular wisdom just doesn’t apply anymore.
For instance, lead semi-wadcutters are no longer preferred police ammunition. In their heyday, jacketed hollow points were not very reliable, but LSWCHP rounds were just reliable enough to be counted on. As JHP design advanced (and the clear need for uniformed officers to carry semi-autos emerged) the lead wadcutters and .357 Magnum revolvers of decades past were phased out in lieu of high-capacity semi-autos.
Back when Member’s Only jackets were a thing, it was a valid point. The FBI ammunition tests after the Miami shootout revealed that the 9mm hollow points of the day (such as Hydra Shok) weren’t very good at penetrating gelatin through barriers of thick clothing (or anything else, for that matter) but JHP in .357 Magnum, 10mm and .45 ACP were, or were at least better at it.
However, as many of us are aware, those testing protocols led to manufacturers incorporating them into their product development. Better ammunition has been the result and today’s ammo is far better at penetrating barriers and expanding in tissue.
That’s at least part of the reason why so many law enforcement agencies have begun switching to 9mm. Granted, 9mm is also easier to shoot, and 9mm ammo and pistols tend to be cheaper, especially in this era of plastic-fantastics.
So really, you don’t NEED to go up to a bigger gun or bigger bullet.
But why let that stop you? A lot of people will size up because they get to carry a favorite full-size gun. Variety, as it’s said, is the spice of life.
Sam Hoober is Contributing Editor for AlienGearHolsters.com, a subsidiary of Hayden, ID, based Tedder Industries, where he writes about gun accessories, gun safety, open and concealed carry tips. Click here to visit aliengearholsters.com.