Concealed Carry

Is the High-Capacity 9mm the Right Gun for You?

Young man in blue t-shirt, green ear protection and sunglasses practices shooting a black Beretta 9mm

Is the high-capacity 9mm the way to go? For some it is.

I am aware of trends. I observe many and take notes until trends assert themselves as more than fads. Tradition takes longer to recognize; I am glad that when I run out of things to teach, I am still able to learn. I have noticed a trend among beginning students and hardcore defense shooters. A number have experimented with different handguns, although in the end, chose a high-capacity 9mm pistol as a personal defense sidearm.

Tan box of Winchester ammunition above a black handgun, barrel pointed to the right, on a white-to-gray background
An ergonomically designed pistol and good ammunition will carry the day.

Many experienced handgunners, including myself, did not have much use for the .40 caliber pistols and clung to the 9mm handguns current with police forces when the .40 was introduced. I know of few shooters who seek and choose a .40-caliber handgun on their own time and dime.  If I want a lot of shots, I use a 9mm with the hottest possible loads, and if I want the assailant to go down right now, I use the .45. SIG P 220 and SIG P 226 9mm or Czech CZ 75 9mm to Colt 1911 .45. While there is no changing the laws of physics—the .45 is the bigger bullet with better wound potential—the best 9mm loads have a reasonably good track record.

The reasoning behind the 9mm’s popularity surge is the underlying concern with gang-related crimes, organized groups and take-over robberies. A revolver does not look good. and while the .45 takes ’em down one at a time, sometimes a lot of shots, delivered quickly, sounds good too. Some of the gangs are urban gangs and others are take-over bandits.

And the fear of gangs on the border is especially real. These are trying times. Never in history has any elder or government been so unconcerned with its borders. As long as 4,000 years ago, the Egyptians and other nations patrolled and enforced their borders. They knew what they stood to lose if security lapsed.

As an example, an acquaintance recently called for a recommendation on the best 9mm load. I knew him as a hard-bitten Westerner. Recent gang action around the border had convinced him that he may need more than the eight rounds in his .45. He now uses a Beretta 92 in a shoulder holster, along with two spare magazines on the off side. That is a total of 45 rounds of 9mm.

Paranoid? Hardly.

The Case for the 9mm

Young man in blue t-shirt, green ear protection and sunglasses practices shooting a black Beretta 9mm
Is the 9mm Beretta good enough? This Army Captain may think so.

Another plus for 9mm shooters is that the handgun is proven when they choose a quality model, and there are few handguns more proven than the Beretta 92. The SIG PRO, a popular and affordable high-capacity 9mm pistol, was tested in a program in which the French gendarmes fired some 460,000 rounds before choosing the SIG as their new service pistol.

I also am particularly pleased with the performance of the modern Heckler & Koch P30 pistol. And the Smith and Wesson Military and Police pistol is an increasingly popular handgun. The differences in handling among the better pistols are real to the shooter, although primarily conversational to most. Tactically, all the modern 9mms do the same thing in the hands of a practiced shooter. They have a reserve of ammunition, although the shooter must understand that cadence of fire is set not by how quickly he or she presses the trigger; it is set by how quickly the shooter realigns the sights and controls recoil.

Some pistols have smoother triggers; others have more rapid reset. All are tactical if the shooter is tactically minded. I prefer a pistol with a safety for most uses, although one such as the SIG, with safety features including a long, double-action, first-shot press, is acceptable.

Black HK magazine
This HK magazine holds a good reserve of ammunition.

I recommend always using a holster, but in dire straits you may press a double-action, first-shot handgun into service without a holster; simply carry it in the waistband. You cannot do this with a cocked-and-locked 1911 or a safe-action Glock pistol. When you compare the whole pistol and advantages of the type, there is a lot to be said for the high-capacity 9mm handgun. If you are in a dangerous situation with only the ammunition in the handgun, then a 15-round magazine looks good.

As mentioned, the test programs that back these pistols are verifiable and tremendously influential in swaying my thinking toward them for certain areas of conflict. Currently, I am not split between the CZ 75 B, HK and SIG; I own all three. I also own a Smith and Wesson Military and Police I like very much. The CZ is the largest, the heaviest, the easiest to control and the most proven.

The SIG is user friendly, reasonably priced for the quality and offers a light rail, which my personal M9 Beretta does not.

Black HK pistol, barrel pointed down and to the left with a tan box of Winchester ammo above it on a white-to-gray background
The HK pistol is among the most reliable in the world, and the Winchester 9mm is a proven service loading. You could choose a larger pistol and not be appreciably better armed.

The HK P30 is the newest pistol. The ergonomics are excellent, a great improvement over the USP pistol from the same maker. The P30’s decocker—on the rear of the receiver—has been criticized by some, although the design is tactical. Practically every competing type has been inadvertently depressed when the shooter wanted to fire. The HK is not deployed unless you intend to use it, which means there is no need for a speed decock.

The Beretta features a manual safety. If you are willing to practice with the safety and learn the strong, straight, thumb action needed to address the safety, a manual safety offers important advantages.

During the past six months, I have let interested shooters fire all of those handguns. The military types naturally excelled with the Beretta, while they praised the SIG’s smoothness, and the ergonomics of the HK impressed all who fired it. All three are accurate, with the SIG perhaps outperforming the others in the final determination, albeit only by a small margin.

The Beretta is the heaviest, which is an advantage in off-hand fire and drawback in concealed carry. I am glad to have all three and tend to move toward the HK for concealed carry. I keep my hand in sync with dry fire and practice the basics often with live fire. The Beretta and the SIG have conventional rifling, which means they digest a lot of my lead bullet handloads. I primarily use the Oregon Trail 125-grain RNL bullet. Over enough WW 231 for 1,050 fps, these loads are accurate enough for practice and burn clean.

The HK has polygonal rifling, which means no lead bullets. I use the highly accurate Nosler 115-grain JHP practice loads and admit that the ability to double tap three targets, take cover, double tap them again and retain a good reserve of ammunition is attractive. Since 9mm ammunition is economical and affordable, it invites practice.

While I use handloads primarily for practice, there is plenty of good practice ammunition available. Winchester USA in the white box is just one choice. Often available at the giant retailers, it is reliable ammunition with good service. The initial price and shipping is less with the 9mm than the larger calibers.

Two spent gbullets a .45 and a .9mm on a light gray background
This is the real question: .45 or 9mm?

If you carry the 9mm for personal defense, take the utmost care when you choose personal defense ammunition. The 9mm runs a wide spectrum in penetration, and you need to keep the balance of expansion and penetration. There are only a few loads that maintain this balance, and one is the Winchester PDX line, with proven performance in police service.

  • The Winchester 124-grain JHP +P breaks over 1,200 fps in most 9mm handguns. Accuracy is good, and Winchester quality control is there.
  • The Federal HST is another choice for law enforcement use recently released to the public. That load has plenty of testing and evaluation behind it and performs well in ballistic tests.
  • The Speer Gold Dot is another performer that is controllable, reliable, clean burning and accurate.

The High Cap 9 is easy to fire well with these loads and exhibits the most velocity from a service-length barrel.

Young  man in long sleeved denim shirt with yellow ear protection firing a Glock 19 9mm at a target, with a wooded area behind him
The Glock 19 9mm is an easy pistol to use well.

It is up to you to put the bullet where it does the most good, although those loads maximize the caliber. All is not roses with the high-capacity 9mm. If your hand does not fit the frame well, then you may not be able to control the piece and a slim-line 9 is more attractive.

When all is said and done, there is much to be said for a handgun that is easy to use well with little kick, good accuracy, lots of shots and a high-velocity cartridge. The 9mm is not the sledgehammer like the .45; it is more like a scalpel and will demonstrate good tactical penetration with the right load and a skilled user behind the sights.

Choose a quality handgun and support gear, and the 9mm high-capacity pistol may be the answer for you.

What is your favorite 9mm handgun? Favorite ammo for it? Share in the comments section.

[bob]

The Mission of Cheaper Than Dirt!'s blog, The Shooter's Log, is to provide information—not opinions—to our customers and the shooting community. We want you, our readers, to be able to make informed decisions. The information provided here does not represent the views of Cheaper Than Dirt!

Comments (75)

  1. I have a PT111 G2 which is 12+1 plus I carry a 17-round 24/7 (Gen 1) mag as a spare. The likelihood of running into an active shooter situation, a jihadi attack or a home invasion with 3 or more perps used to be considered rare events.

    Not anymore.

  2. I have to agree! My P-38 is over 50 years old (and so am I) and is as reliable as any of my newer pistols. It is far more accurate than I am at this point. While I usually carry either a S&W 9mm or a 10mm short (that’s .40 to the rest of us) for their magazine capacity, I feel totally confident that if needed the old P-38 warhorse will be there for me.

  3. My favorite 9mm of them all is the 9-38/p-1, I’ve never had a feeding problem or function problem with any I’ve used (including 70 + yr old ones) Yes they are dated but that don’t mean that they are any less reliable. I also like the Ruger p-85/p-89 ect. pistols. Bereta92’s have also done well with me. And I’ve also fired Hi-points and they function fine as well though they are hampered with small mags, also the only gripe w/ the p-38’s.

  4. I also saw that video. All the technical/tactical training in the world and all the firepower in the wold is of no good unless a person has a mindset that allows him/her to act. Unless someone has actually been in combat (or a combat situation for non-military), they have no idea how they will react. As a society we are taught to value human life. Most people, despite being in a life or death situation, will hesitate when given the option to take another/s life, even if justified. And that hesitation can get them killed. Sadly, the bad guys often do not care and will not hesitate. I’m not sure how we can overcome our natural instinct but in some extreme cases, that is exactly what we must be prepared to do.

  5. While I understand the nature and reason for a discussion of this nature, when you consider the number of people who own firearms, the physical differences in the people, the skill set possessed by each of these people, it is apparent that discussions of caliber, number of rounds available etc. can be moot. I think it is also a bit overdone at times with regards to stopping power. I have yet to find someone to volunteer to let me shoot them with a .380 auto and I assume it is because they know that they might not survive. I saw a video of a cop who got killed because he delayed acting and sprayed his bullets all over the place and he had enough firepower to have easily killed the perpetrator. He ultimately lost his life despite being well trained and well armed. I am not a nay Sayer but most of the time you have to make do with what you have and being able to perform the task may be far more important than the size or caliber of weapon you use to defend yourself.

  6. gen 2 glock 19 with NY trigger. winchester ranger 127gr +p+ brings the 9mm up to 357 velocity.keltec sub2000 with 32 rnd mags in my go bag for when you need that extra reach.

  7. I have a CHL and carry a Beretta 92FS and an extra 17 round magazine for a total of 35 rounds. The ammo I use is a 135 grain Hornady Critical Duty. Nasty stuff as I hear it. It will go through cloth, glass, and even light steel and still expand when it hits flesh leaving a substantial exit wound. I practice weekly doing consecutive three round burst.

  8. 9mm Glocks are my favorite(26 for carry-19 for range/classes) My question tho is what is “high capacity” about any of the guns mentioned in the article? All I saw were standard capacity

  9. Believer in put as many in them as it takes, and realist enough to know when to stop.
    AND oh ya, I do not care if it is common or uncommon, single not working alone , a threat is a threat until you make it not so ; Count em after the fact.
    Here is one reason I favor high cap 9m, muzzle flash.
    In a home breakin scenario in dark when you fiire, any damned pistol not muzzled; you will be
    Blinded, a heavy round weapon has horrendpus muzxle nlast and believe it or not you may not ser round hit so you must recover for sevond shot.
    A nine does have a very mush lighter flash although still blinding in total dark but owners of modt semi autos know ehat double tap is and that flash is bright so throew untill you ser no flash on his end.
    Stress , high hold on revolvrrs and some erhonomis of pistols suck means misses are quite common even at 15 feet, Fireing until threat eliminated is easier done with light recoiling 9 mm and most are easy to reload, than any other delf defense pistol round
    A 38 special or 357 out of short barrels is like looking into the sun too long.
    .
    Never take for granted perp is dead or that they are alone, never.
    Live humbly, and respect all life, unless that low life is trying to harm you.
    I cannot agree with drawing down and firing on retreating subject even if stealing my truck

  10. Thank you for your service, sir!

    I carry a Springfield Armory XD-S single stack 9mm 4.0 inch barrel, and I highly recommend it for concealed carry. The XD-S is considerably smaller than the G19, especially in width (0.9 vs. 1.18 in), which is all-important for concealment. I routinely make six inch groups at 25 yds with the XD-S, which is plenty good enough for a carry weapon.

  11. I currently own a Gen 3 Glock 19. But, as a disabled Vietnam Vet who uses a wheelchair I find it difficult to cc this 19. I am very seriously considering a single stack for cc in a crossdraw configuration. I am looking at the Springfield in a 4″ barrel. DO NOT WANT A GLOCK 42.

  12. In Tampa (where my wife and I live) in particular and in Florida generally, the local and state news outlets have been reporting more and more on home-invasions/armed burglaries with more than one suspect either killed/injured by the homeowner or subsequently arrested by the police. Two-and-three man groups are becoming commonplace (could be in response to the possibility of armed resistance); there were three cases over the past year of 5-and-6-man groups hitting the house at the same time, as evidenced by home security video that the news outlets acquired. Areas with higher densities of the elderly are still largely characterized by single-person intrusions (Sun City Center being one of them). There was a two-man team trying to break into my home, about 3 months ago; fortunately, the door was steel-armored with triple locks. The most they could do was to keep trying to the knob and push on the door (the lights were still on inside); I waited with a .38 at the ready but fortunately I didn’t need it, as they gave up. How do I know it was two people? The peephole in the door showed two individuals that I saw–who knows, there may’ve been more….

  13. Do you have documentation on the comment you made regarding criminals working in teams more often at present? Thanks

  14. If this were 60 or 70 years ago, I would’ve said that the 9mm round wasn’t up to self-defense goals; however, changes and improvements in 9mm ammo (Hornady and Nosler come immediately to mind) have since increased the 9mm capability light-years ahead of its humble beginnings. At “combat distances” of 7 to 10 yards, today’s 9mm ammo would most assuredly wreck his day! Additionally, we now live in a world of apartment/condo environments, complete with sheetrock for walls and ceilings. A heavy-duty round has the possibility of damaging more than the criminal in today’s living-arrangements. In these circumstances, one simply can’t be sure of target backgrounds. A hollow-point or frangible round with self-defense loads in 9mm makes a lot of sense when taken in context. And as for “high capacity”, I say: the more, the merrier–today’s home invasion scenarios call for as much ammo as you can cram into a magazine. Don’t forget, criminals are working in teams more often nowadays.

  15. My wife and I both carry S&W M&P 9mm Shields (Me 8 +1 Her 7 +1) in the chamber with 9mm +P Speer Gold Dot Short Barrel 124 gr +P JHP 1,150 fps, 364 ft lbs Part #23611 and two (2) extra magazines (1 magazine I hide in plain site in a Leatherman very inexpensive case). 🙂 Anyway, I literally did hundreds of hours of research and this modern ammunition makes a HUGE difference…HUGE!

    My wife’s Dad was a State Trooper, and we know 2 other Officers. Before we bought we tried all sorts of guns, and the biggest thing I can say is that 9mm Shield shoots like a much bigger or heavier gun. Plus, I personally like the trigger better than the full sized M&P’s and size for carrying, too. I also wanted my wife and I to have the same everything (so the magazines were the same). We never get tired of shooting the Shields…again for us, I really only want to shoot one gun that is the same gun that someday may be called upon to save our family, friends, or others that might be in danger (hopefully never). For me if a person hates to shot their carry gun that cannot help in the heat of any potential moments. Shots on target are crucial IMHO…if something did happen a person really may not have the time to properly lean into a larger caliber gun and have the perfect stance…you must train and train and train some more because I’d much rather hit the target, as it’s the safety of everyone else around, too.

  16. I was only kidding about the stickers. Actually NRA sells a sign that says
    “There is nothing in here worth dying for” and I was going to buy a few but then decided against it for the very reason you mentioned. I didn’t want to advertise I have firearms in the house even though I have most of them in gun safes. Nice to know someone is thinking about the same things.

  17. To reduce going deaf, I keep a ear protector next to my bed next to my gun. I can grab both in movement.

  18. i live in California, so since I am limited to 10 rounds, a 9mm is off the table for me except for one of the sub-compact models as a backup piece…

    1. There are many 9mm pistols available with 10 rd magazines. I can even get a 10 rd mag for my older S&W 469 even though std mag is 12 and I carry a 15 rd as well. I plan to get a 32 rd mag for the range. Question: In California, are you limited to only having 1 magazine? If not, why not just carry 2 or 3 spare 10 rd mags.

  19. I have a HK-4 380 in my nightstand, with 2 extra mags all loaded with Glaser Safety Slugs. A KSR9C with 17+1 And 2 extra hollow point mags in the Dining room on top of the China Hutch, A S/W 1066 10mm Ball, Slid inside my easy chair, And a Winchester M-1 Grand with 5 clips in the Couch/hide abed.

  20. I try to keep my everyday carry firearms simple and I have several scenarios I like to use.
    A Cz P-07 is used as a backup and my Cz P-09 is my main carry. 35 + rounds + 3 extra mags gives me plenty fire power.
    If I want a little heavier fire power, I carry my Glock G22 Gen 4 and Glock 23 Gen 4 for backup
    I have a Walter PPQ-M2 and a FNS-9mm on my night stand next to my bed.
    Just love my 9mm high capacity pistols.

  21. Not sure where you get your statistics from on home intrusions and multiple perpetrators. Sorry I don’t believe that is the norm. Normally when I go to bed at night there is a semi auto pistol on my night stand with two additional mags, my armoir has a 38 S&W loaded with +P and two six round speed loaders, and I have a 20 guage double barrel shotgun loaded with 00 buck and 20 rounds of shotgun shells along with it. I have door stop alarms on both entrance doors and a dog. Now that’s just in the bedroom.
    Elsewhere in the house, every single revolver I have is loaded as well as 10 to 14 rounds in my 9mm Carbine, AR15 and Ak47. So ya think I got enough around to handle two or three invaders. Oh plus the stickers on the windows and doors which says “There is nothing in here worth dying for, think about it before you make a decision to enter uninvited”

    1. I believe you’ve got enough firepower. But I’d question the stickers on the windows. They advertise that you might have guns in the house. This might be an invitation to B&E when you leave home.

  22. I live in Colorado where we have Make my Day laws. A person enters my home uninvited for any reason they get the double ought or worse right off the bat. No talk, no bird shot, no benefit of the doubt, nada. What possible reason would anyone have to break into a house other than robbery or to do someone some harm? A polite knock on the door and allowing me to decide if I want them in my house would save the both of us a could deal of hardship, ya?

  23. The best home-defense weapon I know of: a good 12- or 20-gauge shotgun. Assuming 5 rounds in the tube, you load #1 with nonlethal, #2 & #3 with No #6 birdshot, and Nos #4 & #5 with double-ought. If he departs after the nonlethal, all well and good. If he sticks around after getting blasted by the birdshot, then he’s gotta go down hard, hence the double-ought.

  24. Carrying 2 guns and 40 rounds would wear me out after walking around for an hour. I really like my FNP9 and FNX40 – same great ergonomics, terrific accuracy, rate of controlled fire, under-rail and capacity – but I only carry one at a time along with one spare mag. And even that pushes the limit of conceal-ability. If that doesn’t get me out of trouble, then I went someplace I should have taken my VZ-58 with the stock folded.

  25. I had a Glock 19 for several years then moved up to a Sig P2022 9mm. Out of the box shooting a baseball sized group at 15yds. I have a night light and laser combo sighted in for to front door that drives tacks on the range!
    Wife carries a Ruger LCP 380. Laser incorporated in this great little pocket pistol! She can take out a peach at 15yds repeatedly!
    Bottom line is get what you like, like what you get! Get good then get better, your life may depend on it!

    Next purchase is a tactical rifle multipurpose, hunter and home defense! Sig 716 is looking like the top choice!

  26. Surprised that CorBon DPX didn’t get a mention. Ballistics and expansion far surpass the WWB. Just go to Google and do an image search for it. In a +P loading, this gives a 9mm wound channel on the order of a standard .45.
    So, take a Ruger SR9c, with 18 of these onboard, you have a lot of wallop in a compact package.

  27. I routinely carry a Taurus 92AF .9mm pistol (which incorporates a decocker and rail system). It holds 19 rounds in the magazine for a total of 20 if you carry one in the chamber. With two magazines carrying Hornady critical defense ammunition, I feel secure in the knowledge the weapons system is reliable and the ammunition capable of defeating any threat. Carrying “hot”, with a back-up magazine provides for 40 rounds in all. I also have a Taurus TCP .380 as a back-up, also firing Hornady critical defense ammunition. This magazine carries 6 rounds and a back-up magazine is also carried. With one chambered, and a back-up magazine, that provides for 14 rounds. My wife has a S&W M&P Shield .9mm as a personal defense handgun. It is the most recent handgun purchase and found to be easily concealed and a smooth operator. All three weapons platforms can be carried with ABSOLUTE faith in their capabilities to function as designed, when needed. The .9mm ammunition available on the market today for personal defense is capable of accurate controlled firing used by a person who practices regularly and keeps their handgun maintenance and upkeep as a priority.

  28. I seldom go out of the house without at least two additional magazines so I am carrying between 21 and 37 rounds depending on the firearm I decide to take with me on a given day. I agree that if there are multiple shooters it makes things quite different but thankfully when there has been a problem here it has been one person at a time except of course if you are Cliven Bundy and the feds come after you with over 200 people. Fumny that the government spends 3 million to collect 1 million from one person when they spend 100 billion a year on illegal immigrants with all the freebies? In any event I agree, I would rather go down fighting than simply get shot running away.

  29. I seldom go out of the house without anywhere between 21 and 37 rounds depending on the firearm I am carrying on a given day. Usually one mag in the firearm and two on the hip. Been around guns for over 40 years and thankfully never had a need to actually use one to protect myself, family or others. I do carry precisely because I do not want to be a victim and I seldom go to any public place that I do not lay out a scenario of what I would do under given situations. I always look over the layout of the place and where people congregate and which places are best if I needed to shoot so I don’t hit an innocent bystander. Many decisions to make if you are out in the public. A bit easier if they break into my home as there is just me and my wife and I can always use her as a shield. LOL

  30. Cz75b, Witness9mm , IMI Baby Eagle and the IMI Jericho 941 all share common parts and are cousins of the Czech cz75. That said I carry the Jericho941. It’s compact in size, is scary accurate with its polygonal barrel, and if I want to carry more rounds the mags from my full size Witness 9mm fits/functions without failure. Preferred load Rainier Ballistics 115gr. Plated hollow point pushed to 1120fps w/ Ram Zip powder. After over a 1000 rounds have had no problem with the plated lead bullets, in a polygonal barrel. Hope this helps.

  31. In this day and age, you never know when you will run up against some crazed clown with a full-auto AR or AK or SKS or whatever. When that event happens and it will probably be sooner than later, 7-8 rounds is chump change. Never take a single stack to a gun-fight, just as you would never take a knife to a gun-fight. In Arizona, I assume everyone here carries and probably a good percentage of those have illegal full-autos. Think about it and get rid of the single stack.

  32. I have to agree with Todd. Since those of us in in the land of fruits and nuts are restricted to 10 rounds, I went from my Glock 19, to a Glock 30. Ten rounds of 45 is ample, considering I can take the bullseye out of a 5″ target at 30 feet with 5 shots. I don’t have a problem with muzzle flip or recoil. Even in fast fire mode (all 5 shots in less than 5 sec.), I can still put all 5 in the green area of a silhouette. I recognize that the XD, and the HK are great guns, but dollar for dollar, I find the Glock hard to beat. I’ve put thousands of rounds through mine, and never had a misfire, FTF,FTE, that I can recall. Like a Timex, they just keep on ticking.

  33. I got out of the 9mm business for a while, then realized it was a mistake. I needed something cheaper to shoot and a good trainer gun when someone wants to learn to shoot. After considering the M & P, XDm 3.8 compact (already have the XDm .40 compact), and FNH FNS, I purchased the FNS. 3 17 rd mags, night sights, excellent accuracy, good ergonomics, and just fun to shoot. I am very happy with this firearm. The Fobus paddle holster for the Glock 30 works great with the FNS (thanks for that tip, hickok45).

  34. While the article praises the HK P30, I don’t actually consider this a carry sized firearm. More of a replacement for the USP than a concealed carry weapon, it is a great firearm, although not particularly small. For size it easily equates to a 4″ 1911, although much more ergonomic. If you don’t mind spending the money for HK (it is worth it) go the route I went with the P2000SK. At 10+1 for 9mm, it’s small enough to conceal easily, but large enough that all 3 fingers fit under the trigger guard before running out of room. It is easily controllable even for novice shooters.

  35. Doug, you are quite right about self defense vs a gun battle. BUT.. since large capacity magazines are readily available, I still choose to carry as much ammo as I can. So while you may not need all that ammo, there is always that one in a million chance that you will. While it hasn’t happened here in America, there have been numerous incidents globally where there have been large numbers of shooters involved i.e. the mall in Nairobi (67 killed)or the hotel in India. What can one armed person do in these types of incidents? Probably not much, but I’d rather try than be a sheep being a defenseless sheep. Better to go out with a bank not a whimper.

  36. I often wonder what folks are thinking when they think they need large capacity rounds in firearms they carry for self defense. Seems to me if you need more that 8 to 10 rounds tops it is no longer self defense but rather you are in a full fledged gun battle? I don’t know personally of that many stories where in a self defense situation people got into a gun battle where they exchange a large number of rounds. Seems to me you either hit the person with between 3 and 5 and they go down or they run away or you are already dead.

    1. How many people are you going to need to defend yourself against? If you know, then start picking lotto numbers now!!!

      Between gangs, riots, people on drugs, and other unknown scenarios why not have as many rounds as practical? The recent scene where a family in their SUV being surrounded by a large amount of violent rice rocket motorcyclists with their windows beaten in and the driver pulled from his SUV with his family watching is one scenario that comes to mind.

      The FNX .45 holds 15 in the mag, but it is a heavy beast to carry and harder to conceal. A compact 9mm with 12-13 rounds is a good compromise gun, especially with a mag or two to reload with. I have an older S&W 906 that works in my big hands when a smaller gun is slightly harder to control and a larger gun is harder to carry/conceal.

      Bullet placement trumps bullet size and the 9mm gives you more rounds for more options in my opinion.

    2. Home invasions usually include 2 or 3 intruders, typically armed, and sometimes high on drugs. Stats say in police gunfights way less than half the shots by trained LEOs hit the target, and often it takes several hits to stop one bad guy. Now, in a surprise, high-stress panic situation with 2-3 armed intruders, how many rounds do you think would be prudent?

  37. Minimum caliber for most conceal and carry courses is .380 auto. I have never had anyone volunteer to let me shoot them with that because it couldn’t knock them down or do the job. I always get a kick out of this knock down stuff. Any well placed shot can be a one shot affair even with a 22 which for a time was the choice of the mafia because it made little noise.

  38. As a former LEO and later, owner of a security company, I have carried for years and it has always been a 1911 in 45 ACP. A year ago I added a Diamondback 9MM which is in my right front pocket or in an ankle holster on my left leg, this is in addition to the 1911.. My usual carry gun is a Kimber Ultra Carry with a Crimson Trace grip set on it, however I have started carrying an Armscor 22TCM loaded with 17 rounds of 9MM, it is also a 1911 but has no CTC laser sights on the grip..

  39. BTW-
    The article states that “The CZ is the largest, the heaviest, the easiest to control and the most proven.” and then a couple paragraphs down “The Beretta is the heaviest”. After re-reading it a couple of times, it appears that the Beretta comment may be the heaviest of a sub-group of the pistols mentioned, but it is somewhat confusing.
    Also, no comments on the CZ from the testers or in the recommended ammo comments?

    1. Todd, I noticed the remarks about the weight also, but since I have no desire to ever own a 92 Beretta (not even as a gift) it doesn’t make much difference to me. Size of the gun is important to me, that is why I also have a Diamondback, it is always with me no matter where I go with the exception of the Post Office and Military Base nearby. I also carry a second magazine for both the 1911 and the Diamondback.

  40. I have not seen anything about the CZ-75 or clones in the responses. I bought a Tristar C-100 which is a CZ-75B clone and absolutely love it. I have been a Glock 17 fan for many years, but the SA/DA feature of the CZ-75 clone has me sold. I have put thousands of rounds on paper with great accuracy since I bought the Tristar. I would rather have the lighter trigger pull on the second shot than the extra 2 rounds of the Glock. 15 vs 17. I am more concerned about putting lead on target more often than laying down suppressive fire. My carry configure is one in the pipe. Hammer down. Safety off. I am able to draw and fire in under one second. When someone is trying to do something very bad to me or my family, I have the comfort of knowing they are one second from being stopped.

  41. As some have eluded too, for those of us that live in states with max capacity magazine restrictions the question is not a matter of volume but of stopping power. As a new shooter, I chose the XD40 sc as it maxes out at 10 rounds with the extended mag and 9 in sc configuration. My thought being better to have 10 large than 10 small with room to spare.
    That said, I am not tremendously happy with the muzzle flip of the .40 in the sc size and need to spend more time at the range to really work on control and re-acquisition of my target. So there is the consideration of what the shooter can control and I am considering scaling down to a smaller 9mm with a ten round max mag. Subsequently having one less finger on the grip, which begs the question is that not going to be just as bad in terms of the physics of the muzzle flip???
    Or I move to a state with higher cap magazines and just get the CZ P09 or 30 round extended mag for the glocks…… oh the sacrifices we make for living in Kommifornia.

  42. The .45 ACP has always been my favorite caliber, having saved my rear-end in ‘Nam more than once; but as old age starts knockin’ on the door and the hands and wrists ache with that old familiar pain of arthritis, reality kicks in. Either I give up an interest of which I’ve had lifelong relationship or go smaller. Enter the 9mm–still potent for self-defense in the right configuration and if placed in the right spots will usually stop the bad guy before he does any further damage. Anything smaller is futile–if you shoot someone with a .32 and he finds out about it, he’s gonna be pissed! Add to this the relative availability of 9 mm ammo (at least here in Tampa) and it’s a win-win for me.

  43. While the .45 ACP will always be my favorite (it saved my butt in ‘Nam in 1972!), advincing age and arthritis are leaving me no choice but to go to softer-shooting calibers. The 9mm is the best comprimise for me, as it still retains adequate knockdown power (when properly placed) while saving my aching hands and wrists. Much as I hate to say goodbye to my beloved .45, the 9 will still be able to save this old man’s butt should push come to shove.

  44. The stats and knowledge are recognizable. Considering 30% of shots fired are hits in LEO documentation released, the adrenaline factor, distance and time allotment are all plug and chug factors. I say, to each their own. Beretta PX4 Storm, 17rds, with one in makes 18′ two mags of 17 each, the .45 version has 9&10 round mags. My S&W M and P 40 goes 15 per load with one in, so there is diversity in choice. How much do you carry? One would hate to hump so much weight in back up ammo unless on spec op. Thanks so much for info on choice of hand guns. .357 home security is good for 6, by then there is increase in firepower if you have backups. With the increase in break ins and random violence, it is good to be prepared.

    1. Unless you are using Glasers, I’d hesitate to use a .357 in the home. You can easily penetrate through and shoot the neighbors! Besides, you’d be deaf.

    2. Absolutely agree!! And besides hitting the neighbors, consider kids or other family members who may be in nearby rooms. Excellent point for those who haven’t considered sound blast, recoil, and over penetration.

  45. Good article. There are many excellent pistols available today, and one needs to try them for personal fit, comfort, and competence. In 9mm, I have had Sigs, Rugers, a Kimber, M&Ps, Glocks, Walthers, and H&Ks, and I like most of them but I really like the HKP30. But once I tried the new Walther PPQ M2, I fell in love. I think it’s the best all-around 9mm handgun — for me, at least. If you like the HK P30, you’ll love the Walther PPQ. Best trigger I’ve used, and terrific ergonomics. Check it out.

  46. I own three 9mm pistols. I think the best of the three is the Springfield XD9 subcompact which you can now get 13 rd double stack magazines. For self defense distance it is a reliable accurate firearm. I also own a Kel Tec 9 mm PF9 which is a nice light weight 9mm which shoots well but magazine size is only 7 rd. My latest acquisition was a Hi Point C9 which has 10 rd magazines and can shoot +P rounds unlike the other two. It is the largest of the three 9mm that I own and is accurate at self defense distance. I, also, own a Hi Point 995TS carbine which I really like that is small, light and uses 10 rd mags and shoots +P 9mm pistol rounds which makes it interchangeable with my 9mm pistols. I like the 9mm because there is little recoil yet enough pop to do the job if need be. I am a small individual, 5’3″ and 150 lbs. with small hands so I am not a big fan of the big caliber, large size handguns.. As an aside I do also own a Kahr P40 and a Sig Pro 2340 357Sig and carry these as well at times as they are not heavy and do fit my hands well.

  47. The author dismisses the .40. I find a 12 round .40 SigPro to be a better balance of power and capacity then the 15 round 9mm version. The SP2022 is a large pistol, so one might as well get the higher firepower of the .40.

    1. In concealed category, I must point out that the Glock 26 carries 10 rounds of 9mm, the Glock 27 carries 9 rounds of .40.
      To lose one round in exchange for a more powerful round seems a good deal.

    2. Agreed. I would not forsake a larger caliber for the reasons mentioned in this article. You can carry either more rounds or more mags of 40 cal just as well. I like the idea of more energy on target. But I can also appreciate the concept of shot placement. Both can be attained with either round. Choice?

  48. I recently purchased a Beretta PX4 and am very satisfied with its performance. I am shooting Winchester PDX and Speer Gold Dot and getting great groups at 30 feet. I also own a CX4 carbine that stays in my bedroom and uses same magazine and ammo. The CX4 can hit center mass at 100 yards. Both of these are fine firearms. I am sold on 9mm because of selection of ammo available and reduced recoil that make my shooting quicker and more accurate

  49. It’s interesting the author only makes a casual reference to Glock, the sidearm carried by most LEO’s. And the most common caliber is .40, except many police forces are returning to 9MM because they have a growing percentage of female officers.

    I carry a Glock 17, often with two mags in a mag pouch, totaling 51 rounds of high grain Federal JHP. It’s accurate, simple,affordable and as reliable as the sunrise

  50. I carry a Kimber ultra Raptor with magwell extension & 8 round mag. That’s 8 + 1 ready to go. If needed I have 8 more in the mag carrier that takes only 1or2 seconds to be back in the fight with a total of 17 rounds.
    After 9 rounds of .45, most bad guys are either down or not going to jump up to quick while I change mags. I also carry a 15 + 1 9mm at times & the weight is about the same as the .45. I think both options are good depending on personal preferences.

  51. Lots of people are moving to the 40 cal or 45 for the knock down power. I personally love the 1911, and own a few. However, with the ammo today, the 9mm is my carry gun of choice. It’s smaller, carries a lot of firepower, and, has less recoil. Remember, you are only trying to flee from trouble.

    Even the military has elected to go with more rounds and less knock down.

  52. I think David2014 hit the nail on the head. In sunny, and crazy hot and humid, south Florida, a Beretta 92 is equivalent to carrying a anvil in your waistband. Another thing to consider is body type and body size. I’m a smaller guy, and carrying a non compact conceal carry is out of the question. When you’re 5’9″ and 140, it’s hard to hide a Sig P228, let alone a Sig P220. (I have both)

    I carry the HK P2000SK (10+1) or a Beretta Nano (6+1) depending on the clothing I am wearing. I prefer the HK because of the size and weight as a shooter; I prefer the Nano because of its size and weight as a regular guy. Round for round, I shoot roughly the same groupings with both weapons.

  53. A few SW59 9mm series, two were for family carry and when home Marlin Camp Nines Bull Pups all l with interchangeable 15 round mags, Carbine also has double duty ranch pu rack so have dozen plinker 20 and 35 round mags.
    Tried mags in 59 but what a handfull.
    One can find plenty SW 59 for very little or trades and they are as accurate and reliable as any newer models.
    FINDING MAGS DIFFICULT BUT THERE ARE PLENTY OF OTHER MAGS WORK.
    Never seen but one that needed anything moreb than feed ramps slightly opened for wide tips.

  54. Eons ago, I collected Lugars and Walthers, and my favorite shooter in the group was the P38 9mm. The fit and feel just seemed natural. I was pretty accurate with the first shot, but after that, good accuracy was a problem from fighting the barrel flip of such a lite barrel. I sold off my collection in hard times, ( they proved to be a great investment) down to one lone Browning challenger 22 that I had bought in the service px in ’66.
    When recent political pressure mounted on the gun laws, I opted for a new Beretta M91A, because it is CA legal, and does have a light rail. I like the Sigs, and M&P, but the Beretta felt most like my old P38, but is MUCH more stable to shoot. Besides stability, Perhaps the thing I like best about it is the after market CR grip laser (LG-402M) that takes a lot of the apprehension out of night work. I don’t doubt that becoming too laser dependant has it’s downside, but with aging eyesight, it’s a real comfort in the dark, and the grip mount makes no extra hangups when it slides in and out of it’s shoulder holster. The pressure switch is under the middle finger, just below the trigger guard on the grip so nothing gets in the way, and without close inspection, you wouldn’t notice there was a laser. Especially when I’m uncertain about what secondary issues might be at my 6 or flank, I like that I don’t have to resort to the tunnel vision that is required for sight picture and alignment. I know I have strayed a bit off the subject, but I hope Bob will tackle the use of lasers in personal/ home defense as one of His topics. As a true believer in RESPONSIBLE gun ownership and operation, I’d like to thank Bob for his on target insights about related issues. I get it,…..that it is hard to accurately imagine / forecast how well one will do in a pinch, without training, and especially muscle memory. I remember in bootcamp, we dry fired for a week at the range,… before firing one live round. As a result, a lot who had little or no prior shooting experience, actually did best in qualification. My favorite dry fire drill with my Beretta is to take out all the cars in a Nascar race by the number on tv. ….like shooting pool with 9mm. Another reason I went with 9mm is that when I can’t find any more ammo, I’ll know we are in really deep do-do.

  55. For me ‘Practicality’ is the main issue when it comes to conceal carry or open carry. Is the weapon small & light enough to carry comfortably every day 365 days a year? For most people a full size Beretta 92 doesn’t fit that need…it is way to large & heavy.

    Personally, I carry either a [G]lock 27 or a G23 in .40 cal. Recently, I installed a Lone Wolf 40-9mm conversion barrel in the G27. Although I live in a state where open carry is legal and I normally do open carry, when I go into a business that does not allow open carry… that Glock 27 fits nicely in a Uncle Mike’s #4 pocket holster and rides comfortably in my front jeans pocket. And since the G27 w/ 9mm conversion barrel is slightly heavier than a 9mm G26..it has much less felt recoil and comes back on target quickly. 1″ groups @ 25 feet are common. 10″ rapid fire groups are easy at 50 ft. You certainly won’t find it difficult to hit center mass on a bad guy.

    While I carry the G27 with the 40-9mm conversion barrel and a stock 10 rd 9mm G26 magazine… I also carry a 15 rd G19 magazine as a back-up. In Oklahoma’s 110+ degree summer heat, the last thing people want is the extra weight of a handgun like full size Beretta 92 and the clothing needed to conceal such a weapon. You have to balance your self defense need[s] against practicality. A smaller compact or subcompact for concealment and 1-2 high capacity magazines on the belt / in a purse / or in a pocket as backups will fill a person’s self defense needs in most cases.

    My choice in self defense rounds in both .40 & 9mm was Hornady Critical Duty.. but not +P. Enough Umph! to get good penetration on a initial target… yet not enough to have to worry that a shoulder shot or a shot to the edge of the torso area will result in excessive over penetration and a possible down-range hit on a innocent by-stander. You never plan to miss a shot, but you have to keep that possibility in mind. You own every bullet that leaves the barrel.

  56. No discussion of concealed carry guns would be complete without mentioning the Springfield Armory XD-s 9mm 4″ barrel single stack with 7+1 in the flush mag and 9+1 in the extended mag. This little shooter has great ergonomics, crisp trigger reset, good enough accuracy for competition, eats almost anything reliably including cheap ammo, and has manageable recoil. The 4″ barrel version is my carry weapon, and the 3.3″ barrel my backup. The only issue I have with this pistol is a widely recognized tendency to group left at distance (15+ yards). With adjustment of the sights and trigger pull, this is correctable.

  57. Proficiency in key. If you can’t hit a bull on the backside with a banjo, a short barreled pistol-grip shotgun might be your best appropriate option.

  58. For many years I carried a S&W Model 59 as my duty pistol. Today I carry a variant of that model, the S&W Model 469. It uses all the same magazines as the Model 59 including the 15 and above. I too carry it in a shoulder holster with 1 spare mag under one arm and 2 more on my belt.

  59. I’m relatively new to shooting, but my daily carry piece (when my CCW gets here) is a Ruger SR9c.. I keep going back and forth on whether I want to pick up a couple of more 10 round mags, or 17 round mags. Either way, I love it so far.. Only put around 250 rounds down range though..

  60. I personally like the Taurus PT-92 omm, with a 17 round magazine. Plenty of firepower and very accurate.

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