Should You Have Only One Caliber?


By P. Henry

The great thing about hindsight is all the wisdom it produces. How many of you have ever wished you could go back in time to a point in your life with all of the knowledge you have now? A lot of us would like to do High School or College over with the brains of our more mature selves. This could be because you know so much more about what kinds of trouble that would be fun to get into, but most likely it is to make better decisions than you did in the past. For me at least, I have said the same thing on occasion about how my life would be so much different knowing then what I know now. However I know with absolute certainty that my life wouldn’t be the same as it is now. I might not have made the decisions that connected the dots that made it possible to meet my wife. My children may have never been born, or I could have died at some earlier point in my life by getting into that trouble I spoke of and then everything would have been worse, not better. Morbid, right?

Well, let’s use the old gift of hindsight for a specific question that is common to preppers and found on many prepper blogs like the Prepper Journal. Instead of asking for a total life do over, I wanted to give my perspective on the subject of which weapons to buy. Specifically, this is about whether or not you should standardize on a caliber or you should acquire as many different calibers as you can. If I had to use what I know now and asked myself the question back then of should you have only one caliber, what would I tell myself?

This question is similar to one I have been meaning to write about for some time on the Prepper Journal, but I had someone ask me specifically so I decided that now was the best time. A reader, Jason asked the following:

I have one question and that I have discussed with a few friends and it is in a SHTF situation would you rather have multiple weapons with the same ammo type or different ammo types. For example would you rather have a 9mm .45 and a .380 or just three 9mils. I think it would be easier to stock pile just one type of ammo but possibly easier to scavenge and search for multiple types. Just looking for your opinion and thanks for all the info.  – Jason

What are the benefits of standardizing weapon calibers?

This is a great question that has been debated all over the place. Now, I am not going to deal with specifically what I think the single best pistol caliber is, but I do have some thoughts on making purchases that could be the most effective in a SHTF event. Let’s take Jason’s hypothetical scenario here and that is a SHTF type of world. If you knew that was coming and could make all your purchases now what would you purchase and why? For me, this question is pretty easy to comment on and I will go on to explain why I have done the exact opposite of what I recommend now.Gun-and-Bullets-478x308-300x194

Assuming you have already done your research on answering the question of what is the best handgun for self defense. If I was planning on purchasing the firearms I needed for a SHTF world and money was no major concern, I would standardize on one single caliber and actually one single make/model of firearm. Why is that? The first reason is precisely what Jason describes above. If you only have to purchase one type of ammo, your life just got a lot simpler. Let’s say you choose 9mm as your caliber of choice for whatever reason and you have 4 people in your immediate family or survival group who are going to be capable of defending your home/retreat/apartment or neighborhood. It only makes sense that you would all have the same ammunition in your weapons. I would take that a step further and say that ideally, you would all have the same model handgun as well. I am not advocating any particular model or manufacturer, but let’s say you all have Glock 19’s. You would have the advantage of having the same ammo and the same magazines. Buying ammunition in bulk is so much more cost effective and ammo isn’t cheap. Neither are Glock magazines, but you do have an advantage in that if you are shooting your Glock 19 and run out of ammo, your buddy can throw you one of their magazines from their Glock and it will just work. Now, in the same caliber, Glock magazines (and I assume there are other manufacturers too) will work with the same caliber handguns. That Glock 19 magazine will work in any Glock chambered in 9mm, so that means your magazines will also work with a Glock 17,26 or 34. This is something important to think about. (Update: You can’t use the 19 in the 17 because the magazine for the 19 is shorter. You can use the 17 in the 19 though…Thanks to Kris for that catch.) bphome-new-186x300

It is the same with rifle platforms. If you could only have one rifle caliber, what would it be? I prefer the AR15 but I know there are a ton of people who recommend the AK. Either is perfectly fine in my opinion but if you are looking at equipping a larger force, it is much better if you are all using the same rounds in your weapon and your magazines all work with each other’s weapons.

What are the benefits of having multiple calibers?

The flip side of this coin usually goes something like this. What if I can’t find any ammo in my chosen caliber, or I run out of one caliber? It would make sense to diversify, right? I don’t necessarily think this is important enough to hang a strategy on, but there are always special cases. For instance, what if your chosen pistol caliber was one that wasn’t as common as say 9mm or .45 or .40? What about .357? I know there are always going to be people to debate the merits of one pistol caliber over another and that isn’t what this post is about. I think we can make the case though that it is wiser to standardize on one of the top 3 handgun calibers that are sold today. For defensive rounds you are looking at the same three I mentioned above. 9mm, .40 and .45 so I recommend you choose one of those and if your plan is to purchase multiple firearms for a group to use for the scenario of the SHTF, select a manufacturer you trust and stock up on ammo.

Is this what I did? No and I will tell you why which hopefully doesn’t negate everything I said above. When I started purchasing firearms, I had no thought in my mind of doomsday. I had never heard the terms TEOTWAWKI or SHTF; I just wanted a pistol for self-defense. The first pistol I purchased was a Glock 17 and I made this purchase on a couple of factors that didn’t take any of the perspective (hindsight) above into consideration. The first was price. I purchased a factory remanufactured Glock because it saved me some money. I think my Glock 17 was about $290 when I purchased it, maybe $300 – wish I could still get a Glock for that price.

It wasn’t until many years later that I purchased another handgun and it wasn’t a Glock and it wasn’t even a 9mm. It was a Beretta chambered in .40. Why did I buy this gun? Because I loved it! It felt so good in my hand and it was beautiful. Was I thinking about how my family would be able to interchange magazines? Was I thinking about purchasing a whole new stock of ammo? Nope, I wanted that firearm because I wanted it. The next weapon was a .380 and that was simply for concealed carry but again, I wasn’t taking the factors above into consideration exactly. I was certainly by this time thinking of protecting my family, but the .380 was always and only going to be a concealed weapon. I don’t even stock more than a couple of boxes of ammo for that because if we really do go through SHTF, I won’t be rocking that little .380 I can promise you that.

I have since sold the Beretta and purchased another Glock chambered in .40 as well as acquired a .45 along the way as a gift. I have not followed my own advice through the years, but I didn’t have the benefit of hindsight. I do have three weapons though in the most common calibers mentioned above. Those same calibers are the first to sell out, but they are also the first to be restocked. You do have a pretty high probability of running into someone who uses the same caliber as one of those too so it isn’t a total wash.

I imagine that most if not all of you who purchased firearms in the past made similar decisions due to money constraints or other factors that the average person deals with just like me. I do know that going forward, any purchase will be the same manufacturer (I just like Glock) and the same caliber. It will be the same with rifles too and there is a beautiful AR that I have my eyes on.

Hope that was helpful to someone and keep those questions/comments coming.



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