What is the best handgun to survive the Zombie Apocalypse?

Understanding what the best handgun to survive really doesn’t come down to the gun so much as the ammunition.

The critical factor when choosing the right weapon is to look at the ammunition available for it, and what the related Hatcher Value of those rounds are. Gen. Julian Hatcher developed the Hatcher Value scale in the 1930’s to rank handgun ammunition in terms of how well it will perform if the goal is a one shot kill shot.

Rounds I wouldn’t use unless it was all I had:

Round Hatcher Value
.25 Auto jacketed hollow point 50 grain 3.7
.22 Long Rifle jacketed hollow point 40 grain 4.2
.32 Auto jacketed hollow point 71 grain 11.1
.380 Auto jacketed hollow point 95 grain 18.3
.38 Special full metal jacket 158 grain 26.7

Moderate stopping power rounds – you better aim for the neck, mouth, or eye socket, or you might not take down your target:

Round Hatcher Value
9 millimeter full metal jacket 147 grain 32.3
.357 Magnum full metal jacket 158 grain 32.7
.357 SIG full metal jacket 147 grain 36.6

The following are the ideal rounds for one shot kills:

(Note that the 10millimeter and .40 S&W are both on this list – the police and military specifically requested these almost identical rounds to increase stopping power over the 9mm.)

Round Hatcher Value
.357 SIG jacketed hollow point 147 grain 45.2
.357 Magnum lead wad cutter 158 grain 48.5
.45 ACP full metal jacket 230 grain 49.1
10 millimeter full metal jacket 180 grain 50.3
.44 Special full metal jacket 240 grain 51.6
.40 S&W full metal jacket flat nose 180 grain 53.4
.41 Magnum full metal jacket 230 grain 54

General Hatcher’s magic number on the scale was 50.  With a rating of 50 the round will provide one shot stopping power 90% of the time.

So pick your ammunition, and then pick the firearm that best fits your shooting style to go with it.


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