DoubleActionCHL Texas LTC Classes

Texas CHL (Concealed Handgun License) has been renamed to Texas LTC (License to Carry)

Choosing a Caliber

[CHL Pistol] [Auto vs Revolver] [Chassis Size] [Caliber Size] [Action Type] [Pistol Brands] [Choosing Ammo]

Ammo has advanced greatly, a good quality ammo can make the choose easier

Calibers Lined Up Next to Each Other

Which is Best?

These are only size examples, not loaded with  personal protection bullets. As shown, .22 Long Rifle, .22 Magnum, .380, .38, .357, 9mm, .40 S&W, .45 ACP.  Go to your local range and see if you can rent different ones, or find an instructor in your local area, that will allow you to shoot the different size calibers.

Here are the recommended CHL pistol calibers

9mm is the best blend of capacity and stopping power

The recommended CHL pistol calibers are (listed in our recommended order):

  • 9mm (Semi-Automatic)
  • .45 ACP (Semi-Automatic)
  • .40 S&W (Semi-Automatic)
  • .38 Special or .357 Magnum (Revolver only)
  • .380 (Semi-Automatic)

Here is why we think the 9mm is best LTC (CHL) carry

We are not talking about home protection, competition etc, only CHL (CCW) carry

Why we think that 9mm is best for LTC (CHL) carry:

  • With appropriate ammo, they have substantial stopping power
    • More effective stopping power in various situations compared to smaller calibers
  • Easier to handle recoil compared to similar size frame in larger calibers
  • With practice one can land more well placed shots compared to larger calibers
  • Round count is greater in the same size frame or chassis as compared to other calibers
  • When teamed with a striker fire semi-automatic, very reliable firearm with few moving parts, but proven dependability
    • Less to have to think about or worry with in time of high stress
  • Ammo cost if relatively cheaper than the larger and many of the smaller calibers

9mm Semi-Automatic

9mm Caliber

The benefits of the 9mm semi-automatic caliber are:

  • Smaller concealable chassis, and easier to shoot than the larger calibers
  • More rounds fit in the magazine
  • Personal protection rounds pack the needed punch for stopping power
  • Ammo cost is usually cheaper than the other calibers

Items to consider about the 9mm semi-automatic caliber are:

  • Not as much kinetic energy as the .45 ACP or .40 S&W, which mean less stopping power

.45 ACP Semi-Automatic

45 Caliber

The semi-automatic .45 ACP is a great caliber and that is why the military and many professional shooters carry 1911 style handguns.
However, it is a much bigger bullet than all of the other recommended calibers.  Because of this, it is more difficult to shoot when in smaller concealable chassis, and you can’t carry as many rounds in the magazine.

The benefits of the .45 ACP semi-automatic caliber are:

  • Larger bullet with more kinetic energy, equals more stopping power
  • Slower bullet, some feel easier to shoot when in a normal or compact chassis

Items to consider about the .45 ACP semi-automatic caliber are:

  • Less ammo capacity
  • Difficult to shoot in smaller/lighter CHL Concealment Carry pistol chassis

.40 S&W Semi-Automatic

40 Caliber

Many competition shooters choose the .40 S&W as there preferred caliber for competition shooting, but remember we are talking concealment carry.
The .40 S&W is the “best of both worlds” between 9 mm and .45 ACP. Smaller bullet with more speed, which equals more kinetic energy than the 9 mm. Since it is smaller than the .45 ACP, than you can carry more bullets in a magazine then the .45 ACP, but not as many as the 9 mm.

The benefits of the .40 S&W semi-automatic caliber are:
•Magazine holds more rounds than the .45 ACP since the bullet is smaller
•The .40 S&W is faster (hotter) rounds, large bullet, which means great stopping power than the other recommended calibers, except for the .45 ACP

Items to consider about the .40 S&W semi-automatic caliber are:
•Smaller than the .45 ACP, but still larger than the 9mm. Still less rounds per magazine than the 9mm
•Very “Hot” round, and can be difficult to control for the novice shooter

.38 Special or .357 Magnum Revolver

38 special & 357 Calibers

The .38 Special or .357 Magnum caliber are two different rounds, but they both calibers fit in the same revolver chassis, or at least .38 Special fits in a .357 Magnum Revolver chassis, but not vice-versa.

Our recommendation is to use .38 Special personal protection rounds in a .357 Magnum Revolver, but be careful with the small “feather weight” (alloy chassis)  concealment revolvers. The powerful personal protection rounds can be difficult and uncomfortable to shoot. Surprising enough these are usually the first pistol that women are sold by many gun shops. This probably38 Special Size vs 357 Magnum isn’t the best choice for your first CHL Concealment Pistol, since they are difficult and uncomfortable to practice with. A regular weight revolver chassis or a single stack 9 mm semi-automatic make a better choice.

The benefits of the .38 Special or .357 Magnum revolver caliber are:

  • Personal Protection ammo can have great stopping power
  • Revolvers are typically easy to operate compared to semi-auto, but with less ammo capacity

Items to consider about the .38 Special or .357 Magnum revolver caliber are:

  • .357 Magnum can be difficult to handle in a smaller chassis
  • Beware of the “feather weight”  chassis, they can be uncomfortable to shoot
  • Low ammo capacity

.380 Semi-Automatic

380 Caliber

Can be an extremely compact or small frame making it extremely easy to conceal:

The .380 semi-automatic doesn't  a lot of stopping power. The only reason why it is on the recommended CHL Concealment pistol is due to the fact that it can fit in a extremely compact chassis. This makes it extremely concealable, making a great secondary or backup weapon.

Items to consider about the .380 semi-automatic caliber are:

  • Not as much stopping power as the other recommended calibers
  • Many new single stack 9mm are very similair is size and have more stopping power

.357 Sig Semi-Automatic

Since I know that many people will bring up the .357 Sig as a recommended CHL Carry Pistol caliber. While there are many fans as this caliber, this isn't one that we recommend.

Here is why:

What about the .22 Magnum?

22 Caliber Long & Magnum

My students often ask me about using a .22 Magnum caliber for self defense.

As with all of the most common self defense calibers, technology advancements have improved the effectiveness over the last decade. Since the objective is to “stop the threat,” can the .22 magnum caliber accomplish this?


The three ways the threat is stop when someone draws a pistol in self defense are:

  • Fear, the attacker decides to stop the attack because of fear of being shot, or fear of being shot again
  • Pain, the attacker stops the attack based on the pain that they have been caused
  • Lastly, the attacker is incapacitated and not able to continue their attack

While the .22 magnum can accomplish the above; it does have limitations. A larger caliber is recommended. However, the .22 magnum is an easier round to handle the recoil, so many can benefit by starting with it, and then working their way up to larger ones.

In other words, if this is a BUG (Backup Gun), a starting point, or the only thing that you can afford or carry, then it is better than not having a pistol with you to help defend yourself and your family!