Shields up, flame suit on. *grin*
Better a .25 on target (up the nose) than a .45 to the toe.
Personal experience- had a HUA ND that sent a 9mm +p Triton 115 grn into my groin, and down/through/out the back of my leg. Scary, shaming, awful.
Didn't realize the bullet had gone through my body- I felt the muzzle blast on my little dangly guy parts, and thought I shot one of them. Took my shorts off, laid down, elevated the offside leg to keep blood pressure up, grabbed the dog's towel, applied pressure, tried to keep girlfriend calm. Went into shock.
I wasn't angry, drugged, etc. But I was able to focus and take appropriate action. For most little twerp criminals, the sight of the gun itself will cause them to quit.
Still, if you think any handgun round will have .95% chance of stopping a determined attack by a nutcase/pcp head without hitting the CNS, I think you're mistaken.
Bigger is better, faster is better- sure. However, I never even knew I had two hole in my body until I got to the hospital- All I noticed was a) a much deeper realization of just how stupid it was possible for a human to act, and b) just how far it was possible for your equipment to retract into your body through fear and shock.
It's not the gun, it's the gunman.
I've carried a .45 all my adult life and can attest to its stopping power. In Vietnam, one round to the body cavity was sudden death, even a round in any of the limbs was a death sentence unless there was prompt medical attention to halt the blood flow and parts loss.
That was with GI ball ammo. I've used +P hollow points on 200-250 lb. wild hogs and they are a tougher breed than old Charlie as I have had to use a second shot on occasion.
Remember, sportsfans, it ain't nothing like the flicks! You don't call "Cut!" and re-shoot if you miss.
So, unless your are dead solid perfect on each and every shot even when coming out of a sound sleep or drunk, anything less than a .40 is foolhardy. A .45 anywhere in the body cavity will put just about any critter down-- Or atleast make 'em stop to recline and think while you get off that second tap to the headbone.
When I came back to the world, I slept with my cocked 'n loaded .45 under my pillow and my K-Bar under my right foot. I have mellowed with the passing ages, the K-Bar is now on the end table.
That's my "toe" story and I'm sticking to it.
The most revealing thing about post-event analysis in shootings is this: the additude of the the combatants makes almost more difference than the ordinance they bring to the fight.
I am a fair shot (Master grade) and do well on the range and in FATS training. However, I do not know how well I will react in a real life shooting situation, not having been in one (and hoping never to be in one). I do know that my reaction will count more than the gun I happen to have in my hand at the time. If I react with cool deliberation, I will be able to place aimed fire on target. If I go into "chicken without head" mode, I am dead meat cooling on the ground.
As far as weapon choice goes: No smaller than 38/9 mm and no larger than 45 cal. (.44 mag is out, not because of recoil, because of muzzel flash).
Next, nothing with a safety, fine motor control goes with high stress. If I can't draw and pull a trigger without flicking off some safety I don't want it. Training be d$#&**, if it doesn't have one I don't have to train around it. That kicks out 1911 pattern .45 cal weapons (sorry, I love'em but I would not carry one for self-defense) but there remains a whole passel of very nice revolvers and auto pistols which are available in that caliber range. Autos are nice for reloading in a speedy manner, revolvers are cool for six fast relible shots.
Revolver: 6" SS.357 mag Ruger Secuirity Six with adjustable mainspring, bobbed hammer and custom rounded butt. Great to carry and lethal to 100 yards (and yes, I can hit at that distance). Auto Pistol: Beretta 92G. Double action auto pistol with a decocker and no safety. An auto pistol with four controls; trigger, mag release, slide release and decock lever. All you do is draw and shoot.
For what its worth, IMHO.