Texas CHL Caliber Restriction

Via Bob S. I get to meet a couple Cranky Chicks with Guns.

Just so happens they too are in Texas, and in visiting their blog for the first time their current post is regarding Texas CHL and Caliber Restrictions. Sarah asserts:

However, the State of Texas also interferes with CHL holders when it comes time to select a carry gun. You must, to be legal, carry at least a .32 caliber. Yes. Really.

I am not a lawyer and this is certainly the first time I’ve heard anyone consider this notion. But my reading of the Texas CHL laws, specifically GC §411.188 “Handgun Proficiency Requirement”:

An applicant many not be certified unless the applicant demonstrates, at a minimum, the degree of proficiency that is required to effectively operate a handgun of .32 caliber or above.

So as far as I can tell, the .32 caliber minimum only pertains to the qualification portion of the licensing process. I don’t believe it pertains to actual carrying. My guess is this may be done to avoid people qualifying with a little gun then going out and carrying a big gun they can’t handle… some way to “work the system” and thus partake in potentially dangerous activity. That’s just my guess as to the reasoning behind the restriction. But as far as I can tell, you could qualify with a big gun then carry a little gun.

Nevertheless, it’s still a good point being raised. What if all you can handle is a .22 pistol? Maybe age or a medical condition limits your ability. Why should those people be denied?

I’m going to ask a few people about this. I’ll post responses when/if I get them.

Updated: Asked a few knowledgeable people and confirmed that yes, there is nothing pertaining to caliber when it comes to carrying. Yes there’s the .32 minimum for the proficiency requirement of the licensing process, but that’s all.

20 thoughts on “Texas CHL Caliber Restriction

  1. In my opinion, even if you have a limited ability to operate a handgun, a “full size” .32 handgun (meaning a Walther PP or CZ70 or CZ27), is still imminently shootable without virtually any felt recoil. The recoil impulse between .32 and .22 in the same size gun, is going to be a very small difference.

    They actually changed the law, because when I took my class, it was a minimum caliber of 9×19. The reason they changed the class was to allow the ever popular Bersa Thunder guns (often used as CCWs), to work in the class.

    I’ve not met a person yet who couldn’t handle a .32 that could handle a .22 safely.


    • Still, that there’s a legal minimum is the point. Why? I voiced my guess, and your comment actually supports my guess.

      Maybe the person only has a .22… there’s a lot of cost involved in getting a CHL and perhaps they can only afford this. Ammo for a .22 is certainly more plentiful and widespread than .32 ammo. List can go on.

      There’s really 2 points being made: 1. I think Sarah has the wrong read on the caliber minimum (it’s a licensing/qualification issue, not a carry issue), 2. why is there even a floor in the first place?

  2. Hsoi,

    That was my reading of the requirement also. Must qualify with at least .32 but you can carry anything after that.

    My mother in law is in that category. It was rough for her to qualify with a .32 caliber. The main reason is working the slide, her hand strength is compromised to due age and arthritis.

    The other problem with the qualification requirement is that it forces a person to qualify with a semi-auto even if they plan on primarily carrying a revolver.

    • Actually you don’t have to qualify with a semi-auto. The way it works is you can qualify with a semi-auto or a revolver. If you qualify with a semi-auto, you would be allowed to carry a semi-auto OR a revolver. But if you qualify with a revolver, you can only carry a revolver.

      It’s kinda silly…. just because you know how to work a semi-auto doesn’t mean you know how to work a revolver, and vice versa. But that’s how the law is. So if a person is a revolver purist and would never ever touch a semi-auto, go ahead and use a revolver.

    • I’m sorry, what you’re saying doesn’t make sense. How are they forced to qualify with an auto? .38 Special revolver meets the minimum caliber requirement (which I think is goofy but whatev), and in a full frame night stand boss is very shootable by the old or infirm, heck, you can even stroke the hammer for single action trigger pulls. You could even tailor down the ammo- use cowboy action loads, or HCD Lite- specific ly designed for women and elderly.

      • This article and those comments were written back in 2009 — about 8 years ago. Back then, Texas law for CHL qualification was precisely that: if you shot the test with a semi-auto, your license would permit you to carry a semi-auto or a revolver; but if you shot the test with a revolver, your license would only permit you to carry a revolver. The law has since changed.

        So no, you’re not forced to qualify with a semi-auto. You could qualify with a revolver, but then — at least back in 2009 when this article was written — you’d only be able to legally carry a revolver. If you wanted to carry a semi-auto, you HAD to qualify with a semi-auto.

        Now, could someone with abridged strength (old, infirm, etc.) use a revolver? Maybe. It depends upon the person. Many revolvers have long double-action trigger presses, and some people just cannot bridge that reach. Yes one could stroke the hammer for a shorter single-action press, but then they have to do this every time: a far more difficult and involved motor skill. If nothing else, one way to look at it is with a semi-auto you just press the trigger each time; if you stroke the hammer, you’re still having to press the trigger each time but also go through the motion of stroking the hammer — more skills, more work, more to have to make sure to get right in a pressure-filled situation.

        The solution you provide may work for some people, but it won’t work for everyone. People are just built different with different situations. Thankfully tho here in 2017 we’re working to have even more improvements. For example, HB 403 has been introduced to remove the minimum caliber restriction:


  3. To me, it’s like the “series of pipes” comment from a certain senator.

    Politicians really have no clue, regardless of their 2A position.

    In TX, we’re lucky to get a representative who actually casts their own votes most of the time. There’s no way in hell they are going to take the time to read all the bills and become experts in the subject matter.

    So we end up with the .32 minimum.

    (Which doesn’t even accomplish anything because if someone really wanted to game the system it could easily be done. Ported barrels, mousefart reloads, etc. are all allowed. I think even optics are allowed.)

  4. Hi, folks – Sarah from Cranky Chicks with Guns here.

    You’ve brought up some great points about Texas CHL law, and I could be wrong about what I get out of the part that we’re discussing. Believe me, I’ve gotten things wrong before!

    However, the CHL instructor – also a judge, and the one I would see in court if I didn’t follow CHL-related laws – was firmly convinced that the .32-caliber restriction applied to carry as well as qualification.

    If a judge gets this wrong, then the law is unclear at best. Maybe the judge and I are reading more into the law than what’s actually there – but if that’s the case, I would have to say that the law should be clarified to prevent confusion like this.

    And while I’m thinking about this: even if the caliber restriction applies only to qualification, you’re basically telling Texans that we must qualify with a firearm that we are not necessarily going to operate in real life.

    One of my classmates was an elderly gentleman who had to use a walker to get around. That in itself does not make him too frail to use, say, a .38, but what if he’s most comfortable with a .22? If you tell him, “Hey, guess what? You have to use a .32 or above,” he has to go out and find an acceptable firearm just to use for the fifty shots at the qualification range (assuming that he does not already own a firearm that he, you know, has no intention of using at any other time), then attempt to qualify with it.

    If he fails to qualify, why, he doesn’t get to carry ANY handgun – not even one that he’s safely and accurately fired for longer than I’ve been alive.

    • Is it possible the .32 restriction could apply to carry as well? I suppose it is possible, depending how the law gets interpreted. Laws are generally written to restrict, not grant. So in this case the law is restricting, but it’s within a specific section regarding the licensing process so I am led to believe it only applies to licensing. But now you’ve been licensed for X, shouldn’t you only be able to carry X? Sorta like with the revolver vs. semi-auto, but there the law is explicit that if you qualify with a revolver you can only carry a revolver… there’s no such explicitness with regards to caliber.

      Could a judge be wrong? Sure. Probably not intentionally, but they are human. Plus consider why we have an appeals process, because things can go wrong.

      I would agree to say the law is unclear here, but I’m not sure we really need it to be clear… making it clear can sometimes add more problems. That is, we should strive to simplify, not make more complex. I’d argue elimination of the caliber requirement would be the best bet because as we’ve both pointed out, what if all you can use is a .22? Why can you carry a .22 but can’t qualify with it, because if all you can use is a .22 (e.g. medical condition), the .32 requirement effectively prohibits (discriminates?) you from being able to obtain a license. Given the rest of the “shall issue” requirements and general nature of the Texas CHL laws, I just don’t see how this sort of caliber floor and “prejudice” against those that can’t handle a larger caliber really serves a good end.

      So in the end, we’re on the same page. It seems perhaps like something we should contact our state legislators about, probably TSRA too (I’m in process of that).

      BTW, good to “meet” you. Always nice to meet more Texas blogers. 🙂

  5. For clarifications sake, I looked up the relevant sections of the Texas code.

    Texcas GC 411.179 (b) – A category of handguns contains handguns that are not prohibited by law and are of certain actions. The categories of handguns are:
    1) SA: any handguns, whether semi-automatic or not;
    2) NSA: handguns that are not semi-automatic.

    Since, currently the only types of handguns prohibited by state law (Texas penal code chapter 36) are zip type guns*, pen guns*, and fully automatic weapons* (*=legal with appropriate paperwork). And .22 handguns are most assuredly NOT on the list, then yes, you should be just fine carrying your .22.

    Also, the relevant section on handgun qualification: GC 411.188: “An applicant must be able to demonstrate, at a minimum, the degree of proficiency that is required to effectively operate a handgun of .32 caliber or above.”

    That is under the section “Handgun Proficiency Requirement”. Not listed as a minimum caliber of carry.

    I also agree, that being able to demonstrate the standard of proficiency with a .22 caliber handgun should suffice. Once again though, the law was changed to accommodate many of the CCWs that people regularly carry. Some can and do carry calibers of less than .32, but many do not. If it was changed once, it can be changed again, if you are concerned write your congressmen and propose they amend the legislation, so that people who cannot fire a .32 caliber handgun with ease may too be able to take and pass the Texas CHL requirements.


  6. Can’t comment on TX CC, but the Oklahoma Self Defense Act (OK SDA) does not have a minimum caliber for CC. However .45cal is the maximum. So, a concealed Desert Eagle .50 would be illegal in OK. A concealed .22 or even a pellet gun would be legal in OK.


    • I’ve spoken with a few people on this and confirmed there’s no minimum for CARRY in Texas. There is the minimum for the proficiency requirement of licensing, but that’s all.

      Interesting tho that there’s a maximum in OK. How strict is that? For instance, could someone carry a S&W .460 revolver? because while the name is .460 the bullet is actually a .45 (reloading manual is downstairs but I believe that’s the case).

      • Any concealed handgun when carried in a manner authorized by the provisions of the Oklahoma Self-Defense Act, Sections 1 through 26 of this act, when loaded with any ammunition which is either a restricted bullet as defined by Section 1289.19 of Title 21 of the Oklahoma Statutes or is larger than .45 caliber or is otherwise prohibited by law shall be deemed a prohibited weapon for purposes of the Oklahoma Self-Defense Act.

        So, the OK SDA says the ammunition must not be larger than .45 caliber. So, I guess if you load your 20mm derringer with .45 cal bullets you’d be okay.

        (Well, okay from a legal standpoint, but you’ve got some other more serious issues to deal with, cowboy…)

        • To clarify: when they look at “.45 caliber” what are they going to look at? The actual bullet caliber, or the cartridge name? In the .460 S&W the bullet caliber is a .45 caliber bullet, but the cartridge name is .460. That is, there’s the reality of the size of the bullet, and then there’s the marketing of the bullet.

          The law, as it reads, seems to not address that detail. But the feeling I get is it’d be OK to carry this particular revolver because it’s technically not larger than .45 caliber… it’s just a marketing name.

  7. Pingback: Older, weaker, but still wants to shoot « Stuff From Hsoi

  8. My wife has a .25 I have told her all thats going to do is piss someone off if not applied in the kill zone(head shot or center mass w full clip). But Texas law says .32 so she will use my 9mm to take the test. Butt she can clearly carry her .25 after passing the test and paying the extra fee for a lic. in the state.

    • That is correct: the minimum caliber only applies to taking the test. After taking the test, when you actually carry, there is no caliber restriction.

      A .25 isn’t all that much, but it’s sure better than nothing. Another consideration is to shop around. Concealed carry has been a big sales/marketing point for gun makers the past few years and a lot has come around in that area. Kahr makes some good pistols that are small but still powerful enough.

      Another point is to ensure your wife feels comfortable and proficient at taking the CHL test with your 9mm BEFORE she shows up on class day. That she knows how to operate it (load, unload, deal with malfunctions, operate any other dohickies or levers or switches on the gun) and of course can shoot it well and confidently.

  9. Hm, just to be pedantic I may have to dig out a .32semi for the next time I have to requalify. I’ve already done .45ACP and 9mm.

  10. Good clarification. I had previously heard you could not qualify OR carry .22. After hearing that it referred to qualify only, I started doing research. Everything I have seen (for Texas CHL) says the same thing this post is saying. Qualify only.

    • Yup. Caliber restrictions only come into play (in terms of what is in the Texas Legal Code) for the qualification test.

      Whether you should then carry a .22 is the subject of many Internet discussion and flamewars. 🙂

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