A .40 pistol is an excellent choice for self-defense —…

A .40 pistol is an excellent choice for self-defense — but if the kick or the cost of ammo is too high for your liking, consider a caliber conversion as a means of reducing both.

Conventional wisdom holds that if a handgun’s primary purpose is self-defense, “bigger is better”—bigger being .40 or .45 caliber, rather than .38, .380 or 9mm. And while there may be considerable debate as to the superior effectiveness of one caliber compared to another, there’s no question that when you take a box of ammo to the checkout counter, size does matter. With a few exceptions, the expense of ammunition increases with its size.

Availability of ammunition has recently become another concern. With ammo sales increasing almost as fast as certain politicians are burning through money, (which is only slightly slower than a speeding bullet) it’s not always possible to find cartridges of a specific caliber. Being able to fire multiple caliber cartridges from a single gun is especially advantageous when ammunition is in short supply.

Barrel Conversion
The solution to all these annoyances is a gun that can fire lower-cost ammunition during target practice, yet can be loaded with bigger and better cartridges for self-defense solutions. That’s precisely what you get with a conversion barrel, which allows a gun to be quickly and easily converted to shoot bullets of one caliber—even though it was originally designed for another. Since 9mm is the cheapest major caliber ammunition you can buy, that’s the caliber of choice for most pistol conversion barrels. On the other hand, the absolute cheapest ammunition on this or any other planet is .22 LR—a caliber that constitutes another popular conversion.

There’s no question that these conversions reduce ammunition costs, but I had some questions about their ability to perform as reliably as original equipment barrels and slides. That was “BBC”—Before Barrel Conversion. I can’t attest to the performance and quality of all brands of conversion barrels, (nor their performance on guns produced by different manufacturers) but the ones I tested functioned as advertised—or better.

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  • davedirt

    Is there a .22 conversion for a Glock 19 9mm? if so what & where is availabilty?

  • brianinca

    I have a Glock 33 (357 SIG subcompact) with a Glock factory 27 bbl (40 S&W) and a Lone Wolf 9mm conversion barrel. A Glock 26 9mm magazine was required to ensure proper feeding.

    Not only is 9mm dirt cheap again, but it’s a lot easier on the hands to shoot 250 rds of 9mm instead of 250 rds of 357 or 40.

    I like 22LR conversions, I have one for a fulsize 1911. For a carry pistol, I don’t think it’s such a great caliber – learning to run the gun at full recoil is more important.

  • SFC Bing M. Yee

    I have the Glock 29 SF in 10MM for the simple fact you can get a drop in barrel from KKM or somewhere else and shoot .40 SW and .357 Sig…which I think gives you alot of options.

  • What about the 357 SIG conversion for the Glock 22? It may not quite have the advantage over the 9mm in cost per round but I’m sure the conversion, a simple barrel, is not only cheaper but easier to do. Not to mention the fact that during the ammo shortage at least you could still find 357 SIG on the shelves and if you’re reloading there is a wide variety of cheap 9mm bullets you can use.

  • hazey

    G29 10mm frame can fire .40 cal with a .40 cal replacement barrel, and can run a G36 .45 ACP slide up top with G30 high cap mags; 3 versatile calibers on the G29. I’d love to see a follow-up to this article with a reliability test for the G29 conversions mentioned above.