What Pistol Caliber Is Most Accurate?

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If you’re considering purchasing a firearm, it’s normal to want to look into your options. Gun owners typically start by understanding what pistol caliber is most accurate and then try to determine what gun will best suit their needs.

I’ve detailed the most accurate caliber pistols for you below.

What Pistol Caliber Is Most Accurate?

9mm and .38 Special are considered the most accurate calibers for pistols. These generate little muzzle blast and recoil, making them easy to handle. What’s more, these caliber pistols remain effective for personal defense since they boast great knock-down pressure and high velocity.


It’s important to note that there are several other accurate calibers for you to choose from. Factory loads have much higher quality now than they were before. At the regular 82-feet range, you don’t have to worry much about accuracy.

Any caliber gun will serve you well. But if you are looking for the best long-range performer, 9mm and .38 special caliber are your best bets.

Other Comparable Pistol Calibers

Three aspects determine the accuracy of a gun:

  • the length and size of the barrel
  • the caliber
  • the shooter’s skills

Some weapons boast great accuracy and have high recoil, while others are more manageable for the average Joe.

In simpler words, the more experienced shooter will always be more accurate. But there are some calibers that tend to rate high accuracy-wise:

.22 Caliber

.22 caliber weapons tend to be inexpensive and have low recoil, making them the right weapons for someone who’s never worked with firearms before.

These weapons have acceptable accuracy but are not exceptional.

9mm Luger Parabellum

9mm weapons are all-time favorites since they are exceptionally accurate and don’t have much recoil. Firing multiple shots is easy with the low recovery time.

Hand holding a pistol

.40 Caliber S&W

This caliber boasts high knock-down power and velocity and was initially developed for law enforcement use, and contrary to popular belief this caliber doesn’t wear out faster than others. Its parent cartridge, the 10mm, was adapted into the .40 caliber to be used in medium-frame semi-automatic pistols.

.45 ACP

If you’re looking for a caliber with high stopping power and accuracy, .45 ACP is the right choice. It was developed for wartime use and is the preferred caliber for home defense.

.357 Magnum

These were inspired by the .38 Special and have heavy recoil. However, the .357 Magnum is very accurate and has massive knock-down power. For this reason, it’s considered one of the most versatile cartridges available and is used for everything from hunting to target shooting and self-defense.

.44 Magnum

It is a large-bore cartridge originally designed for revolvers. The .44 Magnum boasts a high velocity, making it the perfect caliber for short-range hunting. High power also brings heavy recoil and a muzzle flash that causes even some seasoned gun owners to flinch.


Whether you’re hunting for a deer or carrying it for professional use, no matter what application you’re looking for an accurate pistol for, narrowing down your options will leave you with the 9mm and the .38 Special. While these are the best of the best, if you can handle heavy recoil, there are other options for you to pick from.

James Forrester is a lifelong gun and firearms owner, and an even bigger advocate for gun safety. He created KeepGunsSafe.com with the purpose of sharing helpful tips and educating others on how to keep guns and weapons safe and secure.