Is the 32 ACP Enough for Self Defense?


Is the 32 ACP Enough for Self Defense?

To go along with a recent post by John Woods about the 32 ACP and 1903 Colt pistol, here’s Paul Harrell’s take on the diminutive-but-enduring handgun round. As usual, Paul leans towards hands-on demonstration rather than simply relying on statistics.

Is [the 32 ACP] still a viable cartridge? Is it still a gun you should run out and purchase? Is it still something you can use effectively? Well, let’s shoot the 32 ACP alongside some other handguns, and see what we can learn about that.

He begins by comparing three popular pocket-pistol cartridges; 25 ACP, 32 ACP, and 380 ACP.

His next step, oddly enough, is to compare results of 125-grain defense ammo in 38 Special and 357 Mag revolvers.

He also shoots some “meat targets” with Speer Gold Dot ammo, which–spoiler alert–ain’t that impressive in 32 ACP.

The ultimate conclusion is this: If you want a tiny self-defense handgun, the smallest practical round is pretty much 380 ACP, a.k.a. 9mm short. But — “If that’s what you have, go with it… because it’s a whole lot better than nothing.”

The 32 in your pocket really beats the 45 you left at home.


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Editor & Contributing Writer Russ Chastain is a lifelong hunter and shooter who has spent his life learning about hunting, shooting, guns, ammunition, gunsmithing, reloading, and bullet casting. He started toting his own gun in the woods at age nine and he's pursued deer with rifles since 1982, so his hunting knowledge has been growing for more than three and a half decades. His desire and ability to share this knowledge with others has also grown, and Russ has been professionally writing and editing original hunting & shooting content since 1998. Russ Chastain has a passion for sharing accurate, honest, interesting hunting & shooting knowledge and stories with people of all skill levels.

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