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Size Doesn’t Matter: Using 9mm for Personal Defense

by James Tarr   |  October 23rd, 2012 148

9mm_gelatinI remember the first bullets I’d ever seen pulled out of a human body, back in 1990. They were 147-grain 9mm Federal Hydra-Shoks, and of the seven rounds the deputy put into the gunman with his SIG P226, only one of them actually expanded the way it was supposed to. This was because that bullet was just not traveling fast enough to expand reliably; the balance of cavity wall thickness/velocity/bullet weight was off. The first generation Winchester Silvertip JHP design was infamous for not expanding properly, if at all.

Last month, I was at a new product seminar where I attended a ballistic demonstration of new handgun ammunition.  Counting in my head, I realized that it was the seventh such demonstration—bullets fired into ballistic gelatin under controlled conditions and/or performing the FBI protocol tests—I’d attended in the previous 15 months. The companies demonstrating ammo ran the gamut—Winchester, Hornady, Barnes, Black Hills and Federal/CCI/Speer. And I realized, I was bored.

Why? Because without exception, all the ammo I saw tested performed exactly as advertised and expected.

I am not insinuating the tests were rigged, oh no—exactly the opposite. Modern ammunition manufacturing and design has advanced so much that bullet makers are now able to virtually guarantee their hollow points will expand as advertised. Now, while admittedly ballistic gelatin isn’t human flesh, it is a tissue simulator, and bullet results in gel tests can be compared to other results. My point is that technology everywhere—even in bullet design—has improved so much that one of the main arguments for large-caliber handguns (“Even if it doesn’t expand, it started out so big it doesn’t matter.”) has pretty much been eliminated.

With that in mind, I recently sent out an email to my circle of friends, acquaintances, and coworkers, asking what their preferred handgun ammunition was for their carry guns—caliber/brand/bullet weight. For those who couldn’t/didn’t carry, what ammo did they have in the pistol in their bedside table?  Many of the respondents were fellow gun writers, and to be honest, we can get whatever we want because we do so much gun and ammo testing. Considering many of the people I emailed were also combat vets or current or former SWAT cops, I knew they’d make educated choices. My suspicion was that, among this very gun-educated and experienced crowd, I’d find a lot of people now carrying 9mms, something almost unheard of 20 years ago.

I was even more right than I thought I’d be.

The great majority of my group went with the 9mm for their carry or bedside table guns. The rest had both a 9mm as well as a larger caliber gun (.40 or .45) and switched between them. Well, I had one holdout. Guns & Ammo’s Patrick Sweeney chose the .45 ACP, but as to his choice of ammo? “Whatever modern JHP full-weight ammo I have on hand.”

Considering the disgust many “serious pistoleros” felt about the 9mm just a few decades ago, this is a huge shift.

What ammo got the nod?

Hornady’s new 135-grain +P 9mm Critical Duty ammo was the most popular. Shotgun News’ Dave Fortier chose it, as did Dave Bahde, a writer for Harris Publications and former SWAT cop. Jason Teague, who is a SWAT cop by day and gun writer by night, carries it on and off duty.

One of the ballistic tests I witnessed was the 135 +P Critical Duty ammo, and I think it has become popular among those in the know because not only does it expand, it has enough weight to it that it penetrates barriers without too much problem. The inability to reliably penetrate auto glass and sheet metal is why many police departments have moved away from light and ultra-fast 115-grain +P and +P +9mm loads.

The second most popular load in my informal survey was the Winchester Ranger 127-grain +P +9mm loading—actually what I carry every day in my Glock 34. The only thing I don’t like about it is Winchester won’t sell it commercially, only to the law enforcement market, due to the +P+ pressure rating. It has the right combination of bullet weight and velocity for me (1288 FPS out of my long-barreled Glock 34). In 9mm, generally mid-weight bullets (about 124 grains) offer the best balance of sectional density and velocity, which results in both penetration and expansion.

After those top two, I found people were using/carrying a little bit of everything in their 9mms—115-grain Hornady FTX, 124-grain Federal HST (the next-generation Hydra-Shok) and Federal 124-grain +P EFMJ, which is a LE-only load with an expanding full-meal-jacket profile.

For the larger calibers, .40 S&W 180-grain Hornady TAP and 165-grain Federal Guard Dog were noted, as was the Federal .45 200-grain +P EFMJ.

Why choose a 9mm over something larger?  Several simple reasons.

Guns hold more 9mms than they do larger calibers, and the 9mm recoils less than either the .40 or .45. So the guns hold more ammo and recoil less; if modern ammo makes it perform just as well as the larger calibers, why not carry a 9mm?

Yes, I know Elmer Keith was right when he wrote, “Big bullets let in a lot of air and let out a lot of blood.” While bullet technology hasn’t increased at the same pace as, say, cell phone technology, the bullets of today are far different from those of 20 years ago. Bore size no longer equals performance.

  • Rob Oakes

    I carry Sig Sauer P220 with Winchester Rangers SXT 230 Grain. As you know they are the up graded Black Talons. They feed great and haven't let me down yet on anything from a rabbit to a black bear and any human in between

  • Bill Heiker

    I carry the Winchester PDX. That model of ammo is readily available and was selected by the FBI as their "official" ammo.

  • Big Sid

    I carry a Glock 32 in .357sig. Yes it does have a fair amount of recoil, but it is a very accurate, powerful round, good evough for many state police to carry, as my state does. I use Winchester Ranger LE 125gn "T" series, which I believe is the ol Black Talon style, just without the black oxide coating on the bullet itself. I have never had a failure to feed with this round, or any round in my glock. The only thing I changed on the gun, was swap the orginal guide rod, and recoil spring, for a wolf black stainless rod, and 20lb spring. I had Town Police Supply, install Trij Night Sites, when I purchased it. I carry my piece in either a Mitch Rosen Clipper, the best Clip IWB I have ever used, or in colder weather a Mitch Rosen, 5JR President express holster.

  • LungShot

    I carry a Walther PPQ loaded with 9mm +P 135g Hornady Critical Duty ammo. This ammo is excellent and the Walther is so awesome I have made it my carry/target shooting/plinking/steel shooting/primary home defense gun. The Walther is as close to perfect as a gun can possibly be, did I mention the PPQ is accurate and ultra reliable?

    Back to the ammo. Shot placement trumps everything. The Hornady ammo works well and from what I have seen on YouTube, the critical duty 9mm ammo is excellent.

  • Jonny

    Well, thanks for sharing guys… no one cares what you carry though.

    • Shadow Warrior

      Funny! My thought exactly

  • Snakedriver

    However – everything being equal – a .45 is going to be better.

  • Leo Foss

    I carry a Glock 27 with FMJ flat points 155 grains CCI bullets under the ridiculous law here in Argentina were the hollow points are forbbiden for defense use , so , I try to follow Elmer keith … about the bigger hole…

    • Jeffrey Tealfishie

      If you were in England the more redicoulus law would outlaw the 27; be thankful you got it.

      • Donna Bowdler

        if you live in england every gun is banned apart from air guns and pistols but with the right tuning like my .177 air pistol you can get 435fps – which is illegal or my .22 air rifle which is 21ftlbs — if you got a 9 milli or whatever then you’re a criminal – end of.– if you are really lucky and i mean really lucky then you might get a permit for 22LR but don’t count on it cos they are as rare as rocking horse.

        shocking laws that went unchallenged even though the constitution makes them legal – the laws required a referendum to see if the people wanted to keep them but they got changed behind closed doors by yet another traitor to England

  • Kevin

    I carry a Glock 19 customized by David Bowie of Bowie Tactical. It is loaded with 16 rounds Winchester 124 gn +P T Series. It is a street proven round.Just look at the last two years of Police involved shootings by the DC Meetoploitain Police Dept. Need I say anymore ?

  • Dennis Freeouf

    Have 2 inch SW model 63 & an 870 Remington sportsman with a 28 inch barrel with a full length extender tube. It is also chambered for 3 inch shells. Other than those any S&W in 38/357 and/or Glock (except 26) or Kahr in 9mm. Whoops! Used to like 1911s but have come to the conclusion that since a handgun is a reactive defensive tool a safety might get you killed unless you shoot them exclusively. Whoops. Almost forgot the Ruger ranch rifle in 223 with the 4x scope. The S&W 63 is included because I have heard that they are hard to come by as is the case with the sportsman. Do you have production figures on the 63.

  • Ross Walters

    My Kel Tec P32 will take the fight out of most bad guys assuming they stick around long enough to eat a couple rounds. So light and tiny with 7 + 1 capacity and can be carried anywhere unnoticed.

    Bear in mind .22 and .25 calibers are responsible (historically) for most gun deaths and today's .32 rounds are plenty more potent than either of those two rounds.

    The Kel Tec P32 doesn't weigh you down like a boat anchor nor feel like you are walking around with a brick in your pocket. Mild recoil and surprisingly accurate. $250 or less at most LGS. No I don't own stock.

    Miguel Cabrera doesn't carry a tree stump up to bat yet hits pretty well using a sleek Louisville Slugger.

  • Ron Lane

    How many (1) shot kills has a 9mm racked up???????
    As Cooper said, give me anything as long as it starts with a (4).

    • Jeremy

      Sorry, but I'm shooting till I'm out of ammo or their not moving.

  • ToryII

    Handgun rounds are famous for NOT being fatal (67%). And 9mm is for pistols. I don't carry because cops have made it illegal in Illinois. My giant P95 doesn't indicate it will use +P. I would carry a Ruger LCR .357mag. To hell with everyone's opinions on a specific round.

    • Jeffrey Tealfishie

      The demon-rat lawmakers have made carry illegal in the wretched state of ILL not the cops.

  • Joe

    Your analysis is very trite…You should not be making such a big claim about the 9mm with such a short study…New shooters may actually believe you and draw the wrong conclusion about self protection choices…I know you guys have to create copy – but this streatches it too far – I expect better from G&A.

    The 45 cal has stood the test of time for over 100 years, and the reason why special ops, the mariens, and may cops are going back to it…It is very shootable with some practice and provides the best trade-off in stopability/controlability of any round…Perhaps a petite women may have difficulty with the recoil. But most others with a little effort can shoot it well…As far as rounds – 8 is enough – you will only have to hit bad guy once. If you miss with 8 unlikely you will hit with 14…You can run a 10 round mag in the 1911 also…More than enough for any personal defense situation…Sure, going into a real-life military war a bigger mag might be good – and many manufacturers have 12, 14 round 45 cal pistols.

    • DWP

      Joe, you are wrong. The reason spec ops and Marines are moving towards a .45 is exactly because of what this article says. Military is not permitted to ever use expanding bullets – FMJ only – because the Geneva convention does not permit expanding rounds. Thus, in the military, the reason they need .45 is because the big hole is still needed. Now for the rest of us, who can carry modern defensive ammunition that does expand – a 9mm expanding bullet will be the same size and create the same wound as a .45 without the weight, recoil, and flash, and we can carry double the number of rounds.

      • kevin

        I totally agree with your comment.

      • Joe

        DWP, Your certainly intitled to "an" opinion – but without some hard data that is all it is.

        See my second response to James below (it is in 3 parts – the board SW made me do it that way)…You will learn alot about self bias – which I think you may have, and drawing conclusions from hard date – which is much more scientifically viable – vs antidodal evidence (which is really all James presented).
        -Hope this helps,

        • bigest bamboo

          "antidodal" Someone needs a dictionary — badly.

          • Taprackbang

            If you're going to suggest that someone utilize a dictionary, you should make sure that you aren't making grammatical errors yourself. It's "bad" not "badly". Saying "Someone needs a dictionary — badly" implies that the mechanism that allows him to "need" is broken. "Badly" is an adverb, use it properly next time.

          • kman732

            Badly is correct here. Needs badly. Need is still the word modified by bad, so badly is correct.

      • Wolvie


        You make a very good argument…but you made a common mistake.

        The use of non-expanding ammunition in the military is as a result of the Hague Convention and Accords. Not from the Geneva Convention.

        • ScrotoThunder

          The military sniper 308 bullet is hollow point.

          • Wolvie

            The military, "sniper" .308 is technically an Open Tip Match bullet…NOT an expanding hollow point. It's referred to as 168-gr OTM.

            As such, it has the same characteristics as other "ball" ammo ( be it FMJ or lead) in that it is not designed to expand upon impact to the target. Therefore, it is eligible for use by the military.

            As a side note…the OTM bullet has an opening only to change the balance of the round and set the weight without changing the profile.

      • Ryan

        It is the Hague, not the Geneva conventions.

      • Shadow Warrior

        Only certain Marine units are getting the .45 ACP, the line and support units will continue with the M92 at this juncture.

      • MARC


    • James Tarr

      Joe–while I won't argue that the .45 works darn well, the fact of the matter is there is no longer a huge difference between 9mm, .40, and .45 due to advances in bullet design. Bullet placement trumps all. Also, the fact of the matter is that many departments who switched to the .40 a decade or two ago are switching back to the 9mm because it is easier to shoot, doesn't tear apart guns, and performs just as well on the street.

      As for thinking you only have to hit a bad guy once with a .45…..the fact of the matter is you can name any caliber out there under .50 BMG and I can show you an example of someone soaking up hit after hit with it and still fighting. Massad Ayoob likes to quote one example of a bar fight where one guy took 5 or 6 .44 Magnums to the chest and was so impressed with its stopping power he beat the gunman to death with his pool cue before walking outside and dying on the curb. I'm personal friends with someone who was hit 3 times with an AK and didn't notice for a while because he was too busy shooting back.

      • Scotty

        Words to the wise, to be sure.

      • Joe

        James, You make some real good points… And I appologies if I came off "harsh" – I posted before coeffee out here on east cost ;-)…The issue I have with conlusions like this are two: 1)They are antidodal – which implies: OK it is "a" date pont – but far from conclusive; 2) Folks opinions (I am sure mine also ;-)) are very biased to their favorate gun, pistol, amo…I noticed this alot on almost any "gun" type fourm. Guess we gun lovers are a dedicated crowd…So I don't feel we should draw conclusions from this kind of data.

        Let's be honest – outside cops and militay types that are mandate to use 9mm, most folks that pick 9mm are driven by the lower recoil, eaiser to shoot, possible a lighter smaller gun, and the precieved safty of more rounds….Given they picked it, naturally they will hold the belief to "comfort" themselves that it is the best choice – i.e., equivelent to the bigger rounds….

        Seems the sw for this board is making me post in two parts – continued next page hard feild proof about blessings of the 45 acp :-).

        • Shadow Warrior

          I shoot my 1911s much better than any 9mm except my 1911 style EMP chambered in 9mm. Ergonomics is half the battle won.

      • Joe

        James, Continued from previous post (2 of 3)…

        And your data is bullets in gelletan and a circle of friends who (already) mostly carry 9mm..Hummm, may there be a bias here? -Not conviencing.

        Sometimes common sense is best applied to situations like this…A standard 1911 can take an 8 round mag or 10 round mag…You can swap in a new mag very quickly with practice…Other 45 autos can take 12 rounds, even 15 rounds…So mag round count is a secondary issue…
        Continued on next post…

      • Joe

        James, Continued from above (3 of 3):
        In real-life for the average smo putting wholes through paper on the weekend – what do you want in a self defense gun? You want to be able to stop the bad guy in close quarters – less than 30' (don't fire over 30' the DA will lock you up) with 1 shot…There is no better round for this then the 45 auto, here is hard data: In the book "1911 Pistol" on page 64 – they quote a study from Law enforcment agancies around the world. The 45 HydraShok round stoped the bad-guy with ONE-SHOT 94% of the time. This was derived from ACTUAL shootings in the field (not gelatin, watermelons, or opinions)…That is what you call stopping power. If you are willing to put in some range time you can't beat it…(BTW the .357 was in the same ball park)….9mm might be a necessity for small frame folks, or folks who don't want to practice too much….But for me, I'll take the 45.

        Thanks for the discuss – it is all good :-).

        • John

          30'? Got any case law to back that up.

      • Joe

        James an Company…Here is some foodfor thought:

        Remember this guy on an LA freeway with a cell phone few months ago – no gun – speeding – calling 911 with threats.

        LA Cops shot almost 100 rounds at him (you read that right)…He was hit 10 times or so (I think)…Putting aside LA Cops marksmenship skills and the fact that a police dog could have brought this sorry nut down without killing him…I would be curous to know what is standard issue duty @ LA-PD – bet you a cup of coffe it is 9mm, probably Glock..If so, dosn't say much about the 9 given it took 10 hits to drop this guy.


        • Mike

          See Borders/Mettinger incident. Six in the torso, two in the ankle, one in the thigh and one in the brain which finally killed the aggressor. .45 ACP 230 grain Gold Dots. Google for document. There is no magic bullet or magic caliber.

          • Joe

            That is a very intersting data point – any pistol user needs to consider…

            But, and here is where most folks fall off bandwagon:…You have to go with the probablilities…As I posted earlier 45 acp international field study: "In the book "1911 Pistol" on page 64 – they quote a study from Law enforcment agancies around the world. The 45 HydraShok round stoped the bad-guy with ONE-SHOT 94% of the time….Those are dam good odds!

            In any statustical/probabalistic real-life phenomina, there are always "tail-events"..This name is derived from the gausian probability distribution curve…The very low probability events (for example needing 6 45 acps) look like "tails" to the larger area of likelier probabilities…(Just like wearing seatbelts for example – you may die in a crash either way – but better off going with probabilities and wear one).

            Go with the probabilities – .45 acp- Hydrashok = 94% chance of 1shot stopper…There is no equivelent study in 9mm that can challange that….Most of the other arguments here are interesting, fun, but not statistically powerful.

      • J Sbano

        James that is nonsense! If the advancements in tech improved the performance of the 9mm to make it more comparable to the 45acp, doesn't that same tech apply to the improvement of the 45acp? You act like the 45acp has never been improved and the 9mm has caught up to it! "If" you can shoot a 45 and control it, it by all means a better threat stopper. If someone can't control a 45, then by all means, stick with a smaller caliber. But don't give us that nonsense that 45 round is not better if it can be delivered properly!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Mike

      9mm is a few years older than .45 ACP and with far more militaries using 9mm rather than .45 I'd say the former stood the test of time even better than the latter.

      • Joe

        That is funny Mike…The reason why the 45 ACP was developed was because in the philopeans war way back in early 20the centry – the US Military was complaining about the lack of a man-stopper firearm (the enamy at the time had some hyped-up native worrier that couldn't be stopped with the standard US firearm)..Out of that, the 1911 Colt firing the 45 acp was born…Put the two bullets side by side and just using comon sence – all things eqaul – which round would you rather hit the bad guy with?

        You 9mm guys are a hoot! :-).

        • Mike

          That's funny Joe, because all things are not equal. You .45 fanboys have a standard-repertoire of non-arguments you always parrot every single time. No, the .38 Long Colt that was found lacking in the Philippine insurrection is not comparable to 9×19 mm. No, the Moros didn't all get one-shot knocked down with the reintroduction of .45 Colt revolvers. No, the Thompson LaGarde tests were not conclusive in any way. No, .45 ACP did not prove to be more effective in the world wars or any other war (quite the contrary actually, see chapter 2, pages 139-140 of document ADA291697). No, neither I or anyone else could tell the different when shot by either in the same spot. No, "common sense" (gut feeling actually) is not sufficient to understand terminal ballistics.

          • Joe

            OK Mike, Tell me why the LA Police (see my post from last week) shot 100 rounds at the guy with the cell-phone – so much for 9mm buying you more accuracy cause of less recoil…And why it took ~10 rounds to take him down?…Look, I certainly will conceed a 9mm can kill just as fast as any round – I have no issue with 9mm or anything a person wants to shoot…My issue was with this article making such a grand conclusion when most data and 100+ years of actual field experiense points to better man-stoppers…Nothing against James – but the artical read more like a professional copywriters promotion for 9mm rather than an onbjective reseachy article.

          • Joe

            I see after 16 weeks you decided to respond in a vulgar manner – which shows what a nucklehead you are and what a meaningless life you lead…Channel your madness to a noble cause – you will feel better about yourself…It is very typical, when a person can not discuss something based on facts or evidence that they resort to such behavior. Thanks for pointing out what a creep you are for everyone on the Handguns message board!

        • Bigest Bamboo

          "philopeans " Yeah, those female tubes are tough!

          • OK-with-9

            Hey Bigest, you're just scratching the surface with Joe's IQ issues. Here are a few others:
            -streatches it too far
            -favorate gun
            -eaiser to shoot
            -precieved safty
            -hard feild proof
            -not conviencing
            etc.; I finally got bored tracking them. Bottom line; the dude's a moron & 9 mm is fine if you hit the vitals. End of story.

          • PDW


          • Peaceable

            Gentlemen, and I assume that you are, please stick to the subject which is gun selection, not proper English, spelling, typing prowess, perhaps dyslexia or calling people names which I class as childish. I went through your list and found that I could understand each word in the list. I doubt that Joe is a moron, but just stating his opinion, which I believe is the purpose of this discussion. I am, however, convenienced (pardon me – convinced) that you are two arrogant and snobbish people who lacks manners of any kind. The considerate person would overlook superficial errors and read and comment on the gist of another persons comments without personal attacks. In short, your post would have been complete with, "A 9 mm is fine if you hit the vitals. End of story." Now, grow up! End of story.

          • Peaceable

            I read my previous post and noted that there was an error due to poor proof reading on my part. In the sentence: "I am, however, convenienced (pardon me – convinced) that you are two arrogant and snobbish people who lacks manners of any kind.", I had originally been writing it to 'Ok-with-9' (one person) then noted the post by 'Bigest Bamboo' and after struggling to decipher 'Bigest' (did he mean Biggest?, Digest?) reworded the post to include BB, thus making the word 'lacks' wrong. To save you the trouble of correcting me, I decided to point it out before the nitpicking began. If you find any more grammatical, typing or other insignificant and unimportint errors, please place them where the sun don't (doesn't) shine. Respectfully, Peaceable.

            Read more:

          • Joe

            You should enter a spelling contest – your very talented! – LOL!

          • beavis

            I think it is about time I step in here and settle this little squabble about .45, 9mm's and other nonsense. I carry not one one but two 50 cal. Desert Eagles. . . and I can shoot them from either hand. By the way, I don't mean shooting them one in the left and one in the right; I mean I can shoot both them in one hand, left or right. That's because I never know which hand my main "attitude adjuster", an RPG, might be in. Your guns go "boom"? My enemies go "BOOM"! HAH! RPG's rule! Now that you are all totally in awe about my manhood and general preparedness, I'll enlighten you some more. There is the bit about how much ammo capacity you need. Six rounds; 10 rounds; 30 rounds; a 100 rounds!? You're all wrong! You don't know know what a high capacity magazine is! I only use drums with my guns. No, not the drum magazines like from a Thompson machine gun; I mean a 55 gallon drum full of ammo that I wheel with me everwhere. THAT is capacity! THAT will get things done!

            Now, I will admit that there are trade-offs. Adapting a 55 gallon drum to act as a magazine to the Desert Eagles wasn't the prettiest bit of gunsmithing you will ever have laid eyes upon. There were some "styling" compromises and some realibilty challenges. In the future, I'll redo it, hopefully with something better than off brand duct tape and popsicle sticks functioning as stressed members as moving it around with me thoughout the day tends to, shall we say, "test the integrity of the overall structure". I know what you are thinking, though, and "yes". . . a 55 gallon drum magazine is that awsome so who cares if a few parts fall of throughout the day.

            Next week I'll tell you about my truck. Hint: its so big that it can't clear the garage door opening to take it out on the road. Yes, I am that cool.

  • Lefty

    I carry my S&W 610 10mm revolver. I have 6 rounds, and don't need more. I shot pretty much anywhere is going to leave a BIG hole!

  • Patriot-Research

    My CCW and great low cost 9mm handgun that is light and packs a pounch is the Kel-Tec P11. Weights only 14 ounces and can hold 11 9mm rounds. I load mine with the Hornady +P Zombie rounds. Rounds expands greats, and have a lot of stopping power. Almost no difference than the Hornady Critual Defense rounds.

  • King Gun Alot

    What I find is that more people chose the 9 over other cals. because of cost. It all about the money not the hole.

    • @skydver

      that depends on the value of your life or a loved ones life……personally I will spend more to ensure that I stop assailant quickly and a big hole does it better……..250 grain JHP .45 Colt it only takes one !

  • Navin Johnson

    I hadn't owned a handgun in about 15 years until a few months ago. I started out thinking I needed a 40 or 45 but ended up buying a Beretta 92FS. Here's my logic, as Mr. Tarr pointed out, modern expanding bullets negate much of the advantage the bigger bores had, and I would also add the extra zip from +P loads helps. IMHO, shot placement is everything. Not only does a 9mm recoil less and hold more rounds, but the practice ammo cost almost half as much as 45. Marksmanship requires practice and that can dwarf the cost of the weapon. After 1000 rounds I'm hitting ammo boxes at 25 yards with regularity. I'm not sure I'd be that proficient that quickly with the 40 or 45, but I know for certain I'd be out another $200. No regrets so far (or malfunctions for that matter).

    BTW I picked Speer Gold Dot 124 gr +P as my primary defense load. But if I'm looking for a one shot stop I'll be using 41 pellet #4 Buck.

  • Jeepers Creepers

    Good comments by all. One thing not stated is the shorter the barrel the less FPS the firearm will have. I just picked up a sig p290. I figure with Buffalo bore 115 grain plus P-plus loads my fps will be 1,140 with the tested on the box barrel length 1,400 FPS. I wanted a heavy short barreled firearm for very hot loads to be equal in stopping power to 4.5 inch standard FPS handguns. Thank you again for the article.

  • JMB

    Like the P90 my Baby Eagle is not suppose to shoot +P. But I bet it will screw up my gun if it had a steady diet. With that said I will put Critical Defense +Ps and just use it on bad guys. I use 124s at the range. Also have the LCR 357 with Critical Duty, that's my carry the BDE weighs too much.

  • Starky

    A few years back a study was done involving shootings. The information used was gathered from investigations done by Law Enforcement. The end result was the caliber which performed the best was .357 magnum 158 grain. The bullet weight plus velocity created the greatest tissue damage creating the greatest shock. The 45 acp also was very good. The bullet weight plus it's large frontal area provides for the bullet to expend it's enegry very quickly. But both points are mute if shot placement is poor.

  • Bill Heiker

    This thread is enjoyable to read. There is nothing like caliber to get people excited. You see it over and over on the web. Since there is no definate answer, the argument can go on forever!!!

  • Will

    Good discussion.
    The discussion on caliber centers around intent of the bullet and the associated factors with using that caliber.
    If the sole intent is to stop the bad guy 9mm is there. If the intent is the same as driving a big block vs a small block, then that is simply a personal testosterone decision.

  • Joe

    Conclusion Part 1 of 2:
    Wow, Thanks for all the views folks!…Free country everyone should shoot what they want…And everyone has a reason to do so…I picked 45 cal casue that is what I shot in the Navy so many years ago…

    3 Conclusions I can draw from all the posts here:
    1) All humans have self-induced biases (ok, maybee not the budist monks)…Gun owners rank high as being biased to the gun/load they run with…I think that showed heavily here and just about anywhere on the web when this topic comes up again and again.
    2) Given #1, it is hard to make an unbiased conclusion from the HandGun articile under discussion…1/2 the data is based on opinions of cops and budies – most running 9mm…(the one 45 cal buddy – still loves that) – See the trend/bias here? – So half the data presented is basically worthless statistically…. The other bucket of data presented in this article was visualizing bullets in gelleten…Better than opinins – yes…But rather than makeing a bold conclusion – it would have been better to say – "warrents further study"….Continued..

    • Joe

      Conclusion Part 2 of 2:
      Continued from above..
      3) You folks challanged my beliefs of the 45 as a top notch man-stopper…But I was able to compare the study I sited several times above to the various other views on 9mm…I can say from a statistical field study (see reference above) from feild shootings by police, etc, concluded that 94% of the time, the 45cal federal hydrashok stopped the bad guy with ONE shot…That is powerful, staistical, proven…There is no comparitive results for 9mm (maybee some day)…Comes down to this, there are no guarentees (see my post on "tail-events" above), but if you want a statistical edge – go with the probabiities – 94% 1-shot stopper 45acp-haydrashok (357nmagnum was right up there also).

  • Bigest Bamboo

    Jeeze! Nobody has said the most obvious: you shoot what you shoot best. At 68 years old and recoil impaired, I've switched to a Kel- Tec PMR 30. I can put all 30 .22WMR rounds into a swinging target @ 25 feet in 3 seconds. Can't rapid shoot anything over 9mm decently, any more and rapid controlled fire is what self defense is all about.

    • Not as fast as you!

      Normal shooters have split times (time between shots) around .20 to .25 seconds. That would be 6 or 7.5 seconds respectively for 30 rounds.Competitive shooters get down into the .15 range (and sometimes less) which brings that down to 4.5. To fire 30 rounds in 3 seconds you would have to have split times of .10 or 10 rounds per second. 10 rounds per second multiplied by 60 seconds equals 600 rounds per minute. The Thompson M1A1 “Tommy Gun” had a cyclic rate of 600rpm. That is incredibly fast for a 68 year old “recoil impared” individual!

  • Norther_Son

    Ok knowledgeable gun types, my Wal-Mart carries two kinds of 9mm JHP rounds. A Winchester 147 gr in a white box labeled “personal defense” and a Remington 124 gr load in a green box. I know all about the premium brands mentioned but what about these lower cost options?

    Before you flame me- I have 9mm pistols and a Marlin Camp 9 and I need to know about this ammo, not ammo that starts with .4 or “10” as cool as that would be. Thanks.

  • Str8shooter

    The FBI Hostage Recovery Team switched to .45s for their carry pistol. Does anyone know why they picked the .45? Also, I assume all calibers enjoy the tech improvements, wouldn't an expanding .45 still make a larger hole(wound channel) than any expanding smaller round? There is also the over-penetration potential of higher velocity rounds in tight/crowded scenarios vs. the low velocity .45. That being said, sometimes a little extra penetration power is a good thing. I still believe; First, shoot what your good/comfortable with, and likely to not leave home without. 2nd, become an accurate shooter and practice often, as fine motor skill severely diminishes under duress and muscle memory can't hurt. Be intimately familiar with whatever weapon you choose. I'd rather have any gun than no gun, and don't want to be shot with any caliber. The case mentioned above about the cops firing 100 rnds and only connecting 10 times, no caliber would help if you miss 90% of your shots. Practice…practice, oh! And practice. Then hope you don't turn into concrete from fear should an actual self-defense situation occur. By the way, for the bedside, I'll take a pump shotgun, though I also have my sidearm under the pillow, should the thug already be on me when I wake. Stay armed folks…

    • Mike Four

      Teams typically use .45 because they are a Team. Very common with SWAT, HRT, Seals, other special units. When you are in a team environment, capacity isn’t really an issue. If I’m with 4 to 12 other guys, I’m ok with an 8 plus one capacity. When I’m alone on the street, I’d like more than 8 plus one. Also keep in mind that the sidearms for the above mentioned types of units are secondary weapons.

  • Jon

    No offense guys, but why is it that everyone needs the most powerful bullet to defend themselfs? I would think the most important thing, is if you shoot somebody in a public scene you want that bullet to stay inside the person you're shooting at, otherwise what is going to happen is lawsuits, as the bullet goes through that person and into somebody else. You don't get the protection the cops do if some innocent bystander is shot.
    People seem to think with bullets flying at you, you're going to be like somebody in the movie and just let them bounce off you! I think even at this point a 380 with hollow point is going to keep someone at bay. That's why I choose a good bullet, but one that is hollowpoint that will keep inside the person you shoot.
    I have seen a number of tests on YouTube and at 380 does almost as much damage and penetration is a 9mm. I don't know why people need a 45 – so you can blow off somebody's arm?

    • Str8shooter

      Hello Jon, I think the most important thing is surviving an attack. The old saying, "I'd rather be tried by 12 than carried by six", says much. Granted, not injuring an innocent bystander is also of great importance. Some calibers are more likely to over-penetrate than others, though it probably has as much to do with bullet design and type, as caliber. The right(appropriate) ammo is very important. The mission of any caliber is not to remove limbs or other body parts. The mission is to stop the threat, as quickly as possible. "Blowing an arm off", may not stop a determined attacker, unless that arm held the threat. The objective of defensive ammo is to incapacitate, as quickly as possible, in order to reduce the likelihood that the attacker will have the ability to return fire or continue their attack. There have been many documented cases of an attacker continuing after taking multiple rounds, even though the hits may eventually be fatal to the attacker. Frame of mind, drug use, and other factors can, at least temporarily, allow an attacker to continue their attack after taking rounds. Short of hitting the central nervous system(brain, spinal cord, etc.), the idea is to cause an immediate loss of blood pressure to promote unconsciousness. Some believe larger calibers are more likely to do this quicker, however, shot placement is the most significant factor to stopping an attack. So whatever caliber you choose, being able to shoot it accurately is still more important. Whatever you will be willing to carry at all times is also important. Like someone said, "a 380 with you when you need it, is a better weapon than two .45s at home in the safe". I am a smaller fellow, carrying a full-size .45 is not comfortable for me(or easy to conceal). If that is all I had, there are times I would leave it at home. As it is, my primary carry weapon is within reach 24/7/365(unless going somewhere it is unlawful to be armed). Regarding the .45, it has a 100+ year track record of effectively and quickly stopping all sorts of threats, that is why some choose it. Other calibers also have good track records. Removing limbs is probably less likely to persuade someone to carry a particular caliber, than it's proven ability to stop a threat. Shots to all parts of a human(legs, butt and arms included) can prove fatal/incapacitating, but how quickly it happens, is paramount to surviving an attack. It's not about power, it's about effectiveness.

    • @skydver

      "I have seen a number of tests on YouTube and at 380 does almost as much damage and penetration is a 9mm. I don't know why people need a 45 – so you can blow off somebody's arm? "

      I do not know why you would want to aim at the arm. Its too small of a target. I think all cwp classes teach to aim center mass (at least the ARMY did). The reason I personally carry a 45 is that 380 is not going to stop some junkie hopped up on some bad drug. even a 45 might not stop him if he's high enough but I stand a better chance of living with 6 rounds of 250 gr 45 colt than 12-15 rounds 90-115 gr 380. Yes I do carry an LCP 380 when I can't carry a 45 snubbie but only because a pocket pistol is better than no pistol…….JUST MY OPINION

    • T.J.

      I am not understanding the difference between a cop defending his life and shooting a round through suspect into a civilian, and a non L.E. doing the same. I did not know L.E. were protected to a greater extent when lawfully defending their own life or the life of others. What is the law providing this protection you speak of?

      I completely agree with taking bullet penetration into consideration when choosing your self defense round, good point.

    • Allen Eltor

      Because Jon people attacking others have that natural disposition to do the absolute most for themselves as a way of life: and not in a calculated way Jon but instinctual. So you find guys, wearing heavy, heavy clothes: you find guys, working out and actually at gyms, or with other people, until they can take solid blows from physical attacks and shrug them off.

      When many people who are innocent civilians come across one of these assholes, it's usually firing time when that citizen can see from the way things are shaking out, that criminal has bad, bad, intentions: and it's likely necessary in that bad person's mind to make things turn out alright for him/her: not the defending citizen.

      So say the guy's got a kitchen knife. I pop him with a 9, and his heavy Carhartt jacket zipper nearly stops the round. He leaps out of the way hurting like heck like I hit him in the chest with the butt of a pool cue but he's desperate so he grabs a coffee cup from the counter and throws it. It breaks on the wall and now I've got a sliver of cup in my eye, and he's also in that time i took typing it, thrown one of my barstools at me down the hall. That hits my hand. He's high and furious and isn't really thinking about Socratic method and throws ANOTHER bar stool, which knocks the shit out my forehead and I drop the weapon.

      It's a parking lot. It's 29 degrees outside and homie the mugger has a heavy dutyeather jacket on and has a half a brick he picked up from the flower bed outside the Wal Mart and he's beating the living shit out of some old man who argued with him. Every time he strikes down he takes a year or two off that old man's life. It's gotta be stopped, and in one pop, because he's got three friends with him and they're not scared of shit. Including your 9.

      Thing is, that bigger round, that harder hitting round, is a more impressive shit kicker. If you miss with the 9 and hit that coffee cup the guy threw, it'll break and some stuff will skitter around on the counter top. If you send a bullet down there that weighs twice as much and has the frontal cross section to stop inside things it hits, it'll throw half a loaf of bread in the air along with that cup and whatever else it hits. Even misses are more formidable.

      Further bro there's the fact that you and I, of average size and bone density, are the kind who'd prolly give a chest full of .380 hollow point a little political weight: the people have spoken, maybe we need to go back to committee and get another bill drafted.

      But when a guy is a natural heavyweight, his ribs are twice as thick as yours. You might not even HURT him if that bullet hits a leather jacket first. It might literally seem to him like just what it was: about half what it took to impress him.

      So while I totally agree that when things are decent then nearly any round's enough – when things aren't, such as when an asshole puts on a baseball catcher's chest piece and does a home invasion in the dead of night – it's really nice to know, that no matter what happens, whatever you splatter with a lead pellet down there near his end of reality, it's gonna be very, VERY impressive to him.
      And his friend who has a gun of his own.

      There's also the element that – what if the guy's got a gun or knife and he's just determined to go on a spree? And he decides to walk down on you and pop you at risk of his own life? What if – like SO MANY TIMES in MODERN DOCUMENTED HISTORY: you POP him but he can STILL DO EVIL for enough seconds to stab you? Once. In the brachial artery. And you bleed out like a fool while on the phone with 911?
      When you're dealing with an evil entity which adapts and innovates, you need to stop him. As close to instantly as possible.

      If he gets away he could run break in someone's house, just a few doors down: wounded. And kill the little old lady there trying to hide.

      It really helps you feel like you're doing the right thing when you know that whatever happens, even if he's 6' 4" and 275 of slightly fat but still hardened construction worker and ex military guy – and high – and well dressed for conflict: you can punch that ticket with something that will have his UNDIVIDED attention as he watches this world from the floor, unable to shoot, stab, slash, bash.

      Jus' sayin homie.

  • Mark

    It's really funny to watch some of you make passion filled arguments, and still expect to be taken seriously when you can't handle basic spelling. Slow down, calm down, and for the love of god stop making your elementary school teachers cry with this horrible spelling.

  • Jon

    The whole comment about blowing off an arm was just about how bloodthirsty people seem on this board. I would also recommend instead of just carrying a firearm you carry some Mace, you may find that's all you need to take care of somebody.

    • T.J.

      Why not just carry a rape whistle and pray someone comes to help.

      • Negative Nancy

        My rape whistle is in .40 S&W.

    • religious id1ocy

      Mace really doesn’t work that well.

  • Str8shooter

    Hello Jon, I take my duty to self-defense seriously and as a great responsibility to me and others(as I assume you do). Though mace/chemicals have their place, my concerns are not for the attacker. My concerns are for me and other potential victims. If you were in the theater in Colo., would you believe mace to be an adequate extra, or would you prefer extra rounds? I am permitted by my state to use lethal force against anyone who illegally puts me/others at risk of grave bodily injury or death. Should I find myself in a situation, where I believe I or others are at risk of grave bodily injury or death, I want the best chance of survival. Mace would be a good extra to have, however, between my firearm, extra mag, Buck 112, keys, wallet, etc., I just don't have room. If I had the room, I'd take a 2nd extra mag. I do recommend chemical deterrents for a female friend of mine who has no firearms experience, nor the willingness to gain it or a permit to carry. Unfortunately, chemical deterrents, depending on the quality of manufacturer, can over time, lose pressure without the carrier's knowledge. There is also concern for blow back or self-contamination in small or confined areas. Jon, I assume you carry your firearm and mace. Presented with the threat of grave bodily injury or death, which one will you use first? I'm betting and hoping for your benefit, that you would grab your pistol first. Physical limitations leave me without the ability to defend myself physically or to be able to run away. As a result, I cannot risk a sustained encounter… I believe my firearm provides me the best chance at ending the encounter quickly and decisively. I have not been reading this site long, so I cannot speak to the "bloodthirsty" people you are referring to. I am not a bloodthirsty individual, I want everyone to, "just get along", with one another. But more than that, I am survival-thirsty. And by the way, If an attacker is persuaded to halt their attack with a dose of mace, they would probably halt their attack after you present your firearm as well. In many cases, just presenting a firearm has served to deescalate the situation without the need to fire the weapon. There have been cases where a LEO's mace or taser did little to stop the threat. Giving the attacker more time to inflict injury, is not on my list of defensive priorities. Still, if you feel more secure with mace as an addition to your firearm, more power to you. I do understand where you are coming from. I don't think any reasonable person would enjoy taking the life of, or critically injuring someone, even if justified. So if a threat can be stopped without death or critical injury to the threat, you spare yourself the feelings(and potential liability) that can go along with maiming or taking a life.

  • Denny R

    I personally don't like the 9 mm caliber as this represent in my mind a very evil man of the name of Adolf Hitler. That said the best way to down someone with the first few shots is with "Head shots". No brain left = no fighting on the part of the aggressor. I am not interested in biased opinions about calibers without any hard data, opinions are just that. Like "Str8shooter" I want to live and especially my loved ones to go on. My opinion is that whatever the caliber, if it cannot inflict massive wounds to at least make the aggressor to stop and think, then that caliber does me no good. I have respect for human life and to be sure would hate to have to take someone else' life. However if you are attacking innocent people (ie: my family) their is only one choice which is to stop you. If it can be done without killing you, that's good, however considering the news we see everyday or read about (cold hard facts btw) it is not very encouraging. Especially in a state like NY in which I reside where criminals have more rights then I do. I have heard of many cases that criminals in the process of committing a crime broke a leg and sued the person that they were trying to attack, burglarize, etc… My best opinion is if you cannot down the attacker with a few(probably 3 or 4) in vital organ like the brain or heart, the caliber you hold dear will not help you. Proficiency is the key to hit the target in time of emergency, caliber size is the second factor, .25 cal will not inflict enough damage to stop the threat, you will need at least a .38 cal to do that, however if you cannot hit the attacker in the vital organs with any caliber( with practice) then use a use a shotgun.

  • Greg

    No replacement for displacement. Bullet weight also means something. Lots look for one shot stops. I do not feel that is a very realistic goal. We shoot til the threat stops. Not a double tap or two to the chest and one to the head. A whitetail deer can take a 30-06 round through the heart and both lungs and live up to about thirty seconds and run about 100 yards. A 30-06 can put out almost 3000 pounds of energy in a 165 grain bullet. Regardless of your caliber, how many pounds of energy does your handgun throw out even at the muzzle? Unless bone is taken out a bad guy may have up to thirty seconds as well. Remember the 21 foot rule. Covering 21 feet in an average of 1.5 seconds. To take out a solid bone in a shot you need some energy. Probably more than the smallest of calibers can put out. With a 21 foot fight…maybe getting a shot or two off(if your paying attention with a gun in your hand) will look like 30 seconds of life to deal with minus the 1.5 – 2 seconds . This will leave you 28 seconds to ponder if you should have carried something else or something larger?

  • Jon

    When I communicate to you it is in reference to your survival. First remember that every threat doesn't need bullets. If somebody is yelling at you but it is unarmed or looks like there coming toward you, mace will do as a start. If someone pulls a gun I'm not going to face him with mace. My main point is is the ramifications of shooting somebody is going to be Judged on why you used lethal force, you better have a good answer!
    I hear so many morons at work tell me that if they need food they will just go out with their guns and take it, When they could've prepared having a six-month supply and not having to shoot anybody, except in self defense.
    P.S. use mace guns, not 6 dollar cans.

    • Str8shooter

      Hello Jon, I hear you. Using a firearm in self-defense will most certainly change a person's life. I personally look forward to never having done it. I know the type you speak of. The girl I mentioned in my previous post is an example. When we were discussing her options on acquiring her permit, she said, "Finally, I will be able to breakup the illegal dog fights going on in my area"(she is a total animal advocate). I immediately told her that she would likely be arrested/charged if she did. That having a carry permit gave her zero additional authority, while giving her a whole boat-load of very serious responsibility as well as liability. It was at that point that I told her she should not ever get a permit or carry a gun as long as she maintained that attitude/belief. I agree, surviving a gun-fight is only the beginning. The criminal and civil liabilities can put even a well funded individual in the poor house, even if they are lucky enough to maintain their freedom. Not to mention the unpredictable psychological effects. I did look into the Kimber Pepperblasters, as a possible solution for her. They seem to have employed some desirable features. People often mistake what carrying a firearm means to them and others. Here's hoping none of us are ever put in a situation where we are forced to find out the hard way. By the way, I have always tried to be "situationally aware", I think that is as important as being armed. For me, carrying has not decreased that. Nor has it made me feel powerful. I think many make the mistake of thinking the gun is a magic shield. Have a good day.

      • religious id1ocy

        A girl cannot legally own a handgun. You have to be at least 18 and in many states you have to be 21.

  • Alex

    Ohh the never ending argument about on best performing ammo. You know, the best one would be the one you have on hand by the time you need it, and that's it. Always Cary and do it responsible.

  • Rick

    Has anyone considered that while nine mil bullets have improved…… have the .45 cal bullets. just as the .45 cal fmj makes a larger hole than the 9 mil fmj, the .45 cal JHP from the same manufacturer will make a bigger hole than the 9mm jhp; if it doesn't then something is wrong! Cross sectional area, bullet design, velocity, and bullet placement all work together to be an effective stopper. I also look at it this way………in a rreal- life situation, we all hope that we will be able to shoot well, but the truth is……..who knows? I like the .45 JHP, so if I am able to get just one good hit, I'd like for it to have as much effect as possible. There are so many factors involved, that it's really hard to predict with any degree of accuracy

  • Will Carry

    I carry the Glock 19 and I feel comfortable and secure with it. I use Winchester 127gr +P ammo.

  • Fat Billy

    I have been a large bullet, large hole kind of guy for years. In the past few years the "new" ammo has helped the smaller calibers in stopping ability. My "car" gun is a 44 spl revolver. The new ammo takes the big hole to a new level. My 9mm is now loaded with new wound channel (Hornady Critical Duty) ammo. The 9mm is easier to shoot and keep on target. I keep in mind that a hit with a 9mm is better than a miss with a 45. The new 12 guage slug performance is unbelievable at longer range. An effective firearm is the one your are comfortable with and enable you to hit the intruder. New types of ammo can make the most effective addition to your favorite weapon. New ammo is cheaper than a new gun. Later,

  • Mike

    I subscribe to the larger bullet theory. I carry a converted Glock 21. I use an upper made by Guncrafter Industries, chambered for the .50 GI. I have installed a Sprinco recoil management system consisting of a dual captured spring, along with a 19 pound recoil spring. I handload their CNC made 230gr. all copper HP bullet to about 1150 fps. I have included a youtube video link to give some idea of this cartridge's power. My load is about 120 fps faster that the load in the video.

    • Glenn Eric Johnson

      you have a 19 pound trigger pull?

      • cvbnm

        No stupid, a 19lb RECOIL spring. Geez…

  • Ian

    A 9mm is approximately .62" in diameter after expansion. A .45 is approximately .74" after expansion. So assuming that both bullets expanded ot their full potential, there is only one major reason that a poorly placed shot from a .45 would outperform the 9mm, and that is if the shot missed its target (a major blood vessel) by twelve hundredths of an inch (.12").

    9mm, .40, and .45 are only capable of wounding via the primary wound channel (bullet path). These rounds lack the velocity and energy necessary to cause cavitation damage that is commonly found in rifle wounds. Essentially, any of these pistol calibers must directly strike a cardiovascular structure to achieve the desired effect (loss of consciousness or "total deadness" -Haha!). With all this being said, all of these calibers do their job poorly when being compared to rifles or shotguns.

    • scott will

      yes agree.that is why I carry glock 30s with hp 230 grn

    • harshcritic1966

      While hangun rounds don’t usually do much in the way of cavitation damage, to say they can’t cause any isn’t true. Why do you think the 125 grain .357 full house load has a 98% stopping power figure? If it were just expansion, or diameter, or bullet weight, then any number of 9mm loads in 124 grain would have similar stopping power, yet they don’t. To get similar cavitation damage in a 9mm the best bet would probably be something like the underwood 115 grain +P+ load, which spits out of my SIG P226 at 1450 FPS, just as fast as the famous .357 load. Though the bullet is lighter, and does not pack the total energy of the .357 load, it’s easy to imagine that stopping power would be better than any heavy / slower 9mm load. To this day the +P+ 115 grain loads still top the chart in 9mm, and that is because even though cavitation damage may be minimal compared to a rifle, there is still some of it at the higher velocities. It’s the only possible explanation for the consistently superior performance of bullets that weigh less and penetrate less, but hit at a higher velocity and fragment to a degree, as the 115 grain +P+ loads do, especially the hotter ones.

      • actor44

        My un-scientific tests with Glaser Safety Slugs in the mid 1980s using a soaked Atlanta phone book made a bigger mess in 380acp than 45 cal.

    • Pranqster

      your premise is false, the heavier bullets will not deflect the same way lighter bullets do, the same way heavier bullets buck the wind when lighter rounds get pushed by the wind. The 9mm round will track around organs more often than heavier bullets.

  • Ian

    Any shot that misses a major cardiovascular structure will fail to achieve its intended goal in a timely manner, which is hypotension (low blood pressure, in this case due to blood loss). Shooters want bad guys dead fast, and the only way to do that is through loss of blood (unless the brain stem is hit).

    If all of these pistol calibers perform similarly (not the same, but similar), then high capacity and low recoil weapons offer a substantial benefit to the shooter. The 9mm clearly wins in both of these departments.

    Put succinctly, the ability to put sustained, controlled fire on target is what gets the job done. Period.

    • harshcritic1966

      Very very few people who take a center-mass hit will continue to fight on. Getting anywhere near the heart will shock them enough to stop them most of the time, though of course some nutjobs have to be hit directly in the heart or brain, especially when high on psychoactive drugs.

    • Pranqster

      Really, how about a shot to the central nervous system? A shot to the brain is decidedly faster than loss of consciousness from hypovolemia

  • Ian

    Without a doubt, both the .45 and .40 are balistically superior rounds to the 9mm. This is due to size of wound channel created, the increased chance to hit a blood vessel, and more energy being put on target. While all of these things make the .45 and .40 balistically superior to the 9mm, they are only marginally so. The 9mm's ability to place more rounds where they need to hit faster, superceedes the .45 and .40's meager ballistic advantages. Even an experienced marksman may have a perfectly placed shot redirected by bone or other tissue, leaving the target still standing, so the ability to repeat that shot quickly as necessary is facilitiated by higher capacity and reduced recoil.
    The same job can certainly be accomplished when using the .40 or .45, but the task will be easier when recoil is reduced and more chances are available to make a vital hit.
    ***Shot placement is EVERYTHING!***
    The end!

    • Sapient1

      Hi Ian

      Re: ***Shot placement is EVERYTHING!***

      If you will, for the sake of discussion, allow me to play devil’s advocate
      here….if shot placement is everything just WHERE are those shots to be placed and secondly, what makes you think you can deliver such placement under real life shootout conditions?

      I ask this because in actual gun fights even very trained people are lucky to hit anything at all from very close distances…we have learned a lot watching dash cams. Actual shot placement seems to be the very last thing someone is able to do…just saying.

      So, if you were going to be lucky to hit someone 1x somewhere in the trunk as your best accomplishment in that situation, would you want that hit to be a 9mm, .40,or .45?

      How about leg or arm?

      Just asking.

      God bless
      Stay safe.

  • soldtonorm

    There is something to be said for the cost per round in the decision. With .45 and some .40 costing double the 9mm, more practice will make the shooter place each round better without thinking of the mechanics of shooting. He can practice cheap and carry knock down rounds.

  • selah

    ..and I said unto the myriads pronounced dead by 9MM shootings…raise up and live, the round used on you was inadequeate…

  • Happy 9mm

    The .45 handgun was used by the military in response to WW1 and the trench warfare that was common then. The .45 has enough power to knock down / spin around an attacking soldier with a rifle and bayonet running towards you. Today, I would say it is too big, too heavy and not reliable enough for most.

    • Robert Johnston

      Actually, the U.S. Army went to a .45 handgun after the Phillipine Insurrection in the late 1890's. The Army found that their issue .38 Colt revolvers were worthless in stopping a charging Moro tribesman, so the Single Action Army ("Peacemaker") in .45 Long Colt was re-issued, and an edict from Army Ordinance decreed that all future Army-issue handguns were to be of .45 caliber.

      The Colt 1911 came about when the Army (and later, the rest of the U.S. Armed Services) decided to follow the trend in Europe and switch over to semi-automatics as issue handguns. There were not enough 1911s and 1911A1s to go around in WWI, so both Colt and Smith & Wesson produced revolvers chambered for the .45 ACP cartridge, and these were taken into military service.

      And the rest is history!

      • John Serrano

        Actually, the 1911A1 came out in 1924, and the revolvers referenced above that were chambered for the .45 ACP were collectively known as the M1917.

      • bob

        And the .45 LC revolvers weren’t especially effective at stopping them either, the 1897 Shotgun using buckshot was the best fight stopper by all accounts..

    • Andrew Loras

      This knock down spin around power argument is ridiculous…pistol rounds aren’t going to knock someone down via the power of the round itself. If that were the case then the shooter would be on the ground as well…you know Newton’s 3rd Law and all

      • Glenn Eric Johnson

        there is no such things as “laws of physics” all he did was discover it

  • Ulithi

    Until someone creates a pocketable 12 gauge shotgun, this endless argument will continue. Carry the biggest you can shoot well (unless you want to carry based on weight). That second decision might prove your undoing however; smaller means less than bigger. All things being equal the larger the hole the bigger the bullet. Bigger bullets in the same place as smaller ones do more damage. If that last statement was illogical then we would hunt water buffalo with a .177 airgun.

  • Tino

    shooting is fun. 9mm is cheap. If i am in a gunfight its my training that is going to save my life. Just give me a damn gun with bullets in it and step aside!

  • beavis

    Ulithi said:

    "Bigger bullets in the same place as smaller ones do more damage. If that last statement was illogical then we would hunt water buffalo with a .177 airgun."

    I'll have you know that I've hunted a few water buffalo with my .177 airgun, but, in all honesty, I usually had to punch them a couple of times to finish them off.

  • Robert

    My 3 inch 44 629 with Remington 180s. Recoil is not bad and it will set the 7 yard combat paper target on fire. Of course at 5' 11 and 225 lbs the only recoil prob I got is with 9mm, not enough buck for the bang.

  • Don

    Where would a .380 compared with the 9mm?

    • MontanansDontPlay

      The .380acp is a 9mm luger short. In the 1980’s into the 1990’s there were some very cheap, in more ways than one, pistols floating around in the poorer sections of LA favored by the crack cocaine dealers/addicts. Many of these users are now dead or did time in prison. Today’s models have evolved into somewhat more respectable status.

      • ArmedAmerican

        I think I bought one of those…..Jennings .380…..$79 new.
        Worst piece of junk I ever owned. Stove piped every other shot.
        Horrible, horrible gun.

  • Andrew

    Home defense is a 12 GA shotgun, I'll take the 10mm auto in handguns. I judge my self-defense round effectiveness based on how much money, man power and detergent it takes to clean up the wall after the fact.

  • wnyguy

    I have a 40 cal Beretta 92FS b/c I like it's feel in my hands and it seems more accurate than the Glock I used to have (the sights seem better). But only few of the people here even mention 40 cal. I use it for home self defense and I practice regularly in a home drill to bring thegun to bear (from the gun case). 20 seconds is the normal time. But I do not know what the best ammo is. I have hollow point vipers loaded but I think they may be illegal in NY. Any other ideas about ammo for 40 cal ?

  • Glenn

    Bigger is better this is how you should choose a self defence caliber gun. 1. Reliability to function in your gun all the time. 2.Choose the largest caliber that will fully penetrate target that you can accurately shoot, some larger calibers will lead to a larger frame pistol so you need to consider that if you are going to carry concealed . I believe this to be the best information out there and I think its from 1987. For the record I conceal carry a full size 1911 45acp

  • Pete

    Missing from the comments I've read is the reality that military and police are more limited than the rest of us are in their ammo choices. A .45 is the best military FMJ round because it makes the biggest hole. But a heavy round in 9MM with good expansion will work just fine.

  • @Shadowbat

    The best round is the biggest one you can shoot accurately.

    • ArmedAmerican


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    They are already 100% diverse.
    People are only telling white children in white countries that they need diversity.
    White countries will be 100% diverse when there are no white people left.
    Diversity is a code-word for the genocide of white people.
    Every white country on earth is supposed to become multicultural and multiracial.
    Every white country is expected to end its own race and end its own culture. No one asks that of ANY non-white country.
    Anti-racist is a code word for anti-White
    Join the fight whitegenocideprojectdotcom

  • Scarecrow

    Wonder if all the people saying the 9mm isn’t enough would be singing the same song if they got hit by one. At the end of the day, I don’t think the bad guy is going to care what it is he got hit by.


    i carry .50 barret all the time. nuff said

  • Crazy Man

    i carry a .22 bersa and a kabar like knife, sharp as a razor. would you dare to mess with me, you’d gain some 10 holes and more stabs. at home, i have a SxS 12ga plus a 15+1 .380.

  • LMT556


  • MrApple

    Why choose the 9mm?
    9mm= larger magazine capacity, lower recoil, quicker follow up shots, tons of ammo choices, tons of firearm choices, and the Glock 19 and S&W Shield

  • syzito

    After all the debate on which is the best caliber, the one fact remains after all these years,the best handgun round for one shot stops,if that is possible,is still the old standard according to the FBI shooting data base….the 357 mag. A revolver chambered in 357 is still number one against human targets bend on killing you.

    • Aaron

      I’d rather have a Glock with 3x the ammo and a faster reload. The stopping power statistics are outdated and don’t take into account the vast improvements in ammo we see today.

  • scott will

    glock 19

  • scott will

    1911 platform for battle.glock 2 for home.

  • pissed of conservative

    i love my glock 17 9mm i don’t feel under gunned with any modern 9mm hollow you get twice the capacity of a 1911.. but my favorite handgun is my gemini customs smith 686 plus 4 inch barrel..ported trigger job carry 2 speed loaders have 21 rds leaving home..she is a beauty..check out gemini customs MARK IS ONE HELL OF A PISTOL SMITH..

  • gwanmasta

    I’ve seen 9mm be redirected by the crown of a plastic 2 liter bottle. And at that point I can say I’ve seen enough. Never seen a .45 bounce off plastic. And the 13 rounds of it in my glock 21 is more than enough to get the job done. And btw, the marines just switched back to a colt 1911 .45. Practice with your gun, and you shouldn’t need to rapid fire a bunch of poorly aimed shots at your assailant. Capacity is no excuse for poor training and aim

    • Person with sense

      9mm bouncing off 2 liter? Whatever. I’ve seen .45 rounds bounce off empty milk jugs. It’s true because I said so. LOL!

  • Erik Asher

    For over 20 years I was a staunch .45acp advocate. I have now come to the understanding that with all of the more effective bullet designs in 9mm. The most important factor is shot placement. I have switched to a Sig P320 in 9mm since it is half the cost to train with and I can put the bullets where they need to go anyway, so why not be able to put 17 in a mag instead of 8-14.

    • Sapient1

      Hi Erik

      Re: “The most important factor is shot placement.”

      If you will, for the sake of discussion, allow me to play devil’s advocate here….if shot placement is the most important factor, just WHERE are those shots to be placed and secondly, what makes you think you can deliver such placement under real life shootout conditions?

      I ask this because in actual gun fights even very trained people are lucky to hit anything at all from very close distances…we have learned a lot watching dash cams.

      So, if you were going to be lucky to hit someone 1x somewhere in the trunk as your best accomplishment in that situation, would you want that hit to be a 9mm, .40,or .45?

      How about leg or arm?

      Just asking.

      God bless
      Stay safe.

  • rjthebassman

    A .45 only has a marginal amount more energy than a 9mm and with some ammunition of the same line and company it has an equivalent amount of energy. (Ie hornaday A-max) What a 9mm lacks in that little extra weight and girth, it makes up for in being inexpensive, readily available, higher ammo capacity, and higher velocity and velocity is a much higher multipler than weight is when it comerjs to raw foot lbs of energy. Rifle ammunition works largely in part due to its high velocity. A modern .308 isn’t much heavier when compared to a 9mm. Maybe double the weight. But its triple the speed leading to more energy and more hydrostatic shock. That’s why a well placed .308 with it’s compared low weight to an arrow will drop a deer ten times deader where it stands because although the arrow weighs so much more its going less than a tenth of the speed.

  • peanut

    With so much body armour being worn today the more rounds you put down the better the chance of a bullet entering the brain…then arguments about calibre go out of the window… I am waiting for the 35 shot .25…..

  • ArmedAmerican

    .22 kills. 38 kills better. 357 magnum even better.
    If a 22 caliber can make it thru the tough ass hide of a boar racoon and kill it…and Ive taken many of them over the years…then a damned 9mm is hardly anything to snub for putting down a bad guy trying to harm your family.

    These ridiculous arguments that a 9mm is basically a toy round is so damned laughable that Id like to laugh in the persons face up close and personal some times when I hear this crap.

    Ok….if I shoot an attacker with a 30.06 with exploding ammo its going to do a hell of a lot more damage than my wimpy little 9mm. Thats a given. Idiotic, but just a matter of fact.
    That in NO way diminishes the reality that a 9mm is very capable of stopping a bad guy and its preposterous to say otherwise.

    The 9mm has a fantastic balance of effectiveness, low recoil and mag capacity. Yes there are hand cannons out there that will cut a violent felon in half…but I dont trust myself to get back on target quickly enough not to mention the shell shock of firing one inside without hearing protection should the need arise.

    I’ll keep my Beretta 92FS knowing that cops and military have trusted it for many years now to do the job.

    • Sapient1

      Hi ArmedAmerican

      Re: “I’ll keep my Beretta 92FS knowing that cops and military have trusted it for many years now to do the job.”

      FWIW: the military is seeking a new weapon and from what I have read, they seem to be leaning back to the .45 as their cartridge of choice. Go figure.

      Let me toss this out to you…and analogy one writer presented:

      Suppose you were in a room and outside that room were 6 crazed terrorists with rusty knives who were going to enter the room 1 minute apart for the purpose of inflicting savage death upon you.

      You have your choice of 3 identical handguns, each with 6 rounds. One has the best 9 mm ammo you can find, and the others the best .40 and .45 ammo you can find. You have spent time practicing with them all.

      Which do you choose to defend yourself in this situation..apples to apples? Why?

      Oddly, the writer did not answer that question…but left it to the reader. I suspect the answer might be different for different people. Each would be comfortable with something different in that situation…but they should recognize the situation and find something they ARE comfortable with to deal with it..

      How about you? Which would you choose.

      God bless
      Stay safe

  • scott

    Mhere is a little real world experience to add to this debate over the 9mms effectiveness.on more than one occasion I have with one shot from my edc glock 19 been able to stop pissed off ready to charge hogs here in texas.but I also carry underwood +p+124 gr with what looks like an well placed shot.dead right there.hmmmm.yes I normally use a 44mag but I had to use what I had and it did fine.tell me there is a methhead that is tougher or harder to stop than a 200+lb.pissed off wild hog.its all about cool heads and shot placement.

  • crok

    i love the .40 and 45 rounds, simply because they keep the calibre bedate going round and round in circles. These projectiles cause wider marketing forces and keep the cost of my 9mm ammo lower, so i say let the debate continue; this gives me more “bang for my buck”…
    People need to feel noticed and will always find things to argue over like which worthless politician to elect or which baseball team is better. Simple people like to argue and they will tend to collect in groups of like minded people who make them feel comfortable and secure; after all baseball remains the national sport simply because no one no one has organised a national vote to replace baseball with basketball or football. People are social animals and those people who love glocks probably do not have a lot of revolver fans in their circle of fans.
    Regardless of any of this; the only sport more boring than baseball is croket (however you spell it) where the big wooden hammer taps balls through metal arches…
    So i say let the debate rage on so i can buy more 9mm…
    oh and one other thing; best auto? Sig Sauer p239, 9mm. (Unless your so dysfunctional you cannot end a gunfight with 7 rounds of course)…

  • larry

    Wow! after reading this, It would encourage me to get the best defensive ammo money can buy. However, reality kicks in and I think about work and all those people that get shot (innocent bystanders and the likes) arriving at the ER. Usually, the folks that get shot by a 22LR are the one’s who live to see another day in a wheelchair. I can count the times (4) that the victims of a 380 and greater caliber that have lived. Usually the Gangstas that come in are shot with a ball round bullet, most of them die. You don’t need a +p+++, just a well place shot on the torso with any 380/9mm round.

  • Donna Bowdler

    I’m English :)

    I know really bad where guns are concerned for the law abiding people anyways :( I worked in South Africa a few years back and my open carry – i never felt the need to conceal it – was a Sig P228 using parabellums cos that was what i was given for it.

    carrying as opposed to being exposed – my thoughts cos i can’t carry in the uk –
    (1) it’s a deterant
    (2) the only people that are going to try anything are prolly high as a kite
    (3) everyone feels safe around it — this one sounds nuts but i could see people physically relax when they were within range – it was like oh it doesn’t matter cos nothing is gunna happen and if it does then you’ll sort it.

    it’s like this when i’m at home and i’ve got my .177AP in a thigh holster – would it ever get used – i’d say no or rather only if it needed to be but people are relaxed around it like they dont fear it and then if something does happen then they know that there’s someone there that can “do something”

    don’t know if you guys feel the same

    how many of you have actually drawn your gun anger ?

  • aegontargaryen

    i carried a m1911a1 until i noticed that my neighborhood at night had roving gangs of kids in groups of 10 or more ,more often than not brawlin with other groups! and i had only 8 rds before i need to reload while being stabbed or hit by a baseball bats and pipes, so i switched my everyday carry to a sig p226 9mm, that way i can have enough ammo for one whole group if they tried anything.

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