Ammunition

If You Have Not Yet, You Should Be Switching to the 9mm

SIG Sauer P226 Scorpion right side desert tan

No, this is not a 9mm versus .45 ACP debate. The 9mm has already won; perhaps you are the last to know it, though. It’s not much of a secret that I prefer the 9mm for most applications. That being said, the last four handguns I purchased were three .40 S&Ws and a .45 ACP. Preferring a particular caliber is different from advocating for only one caliber. For instance, I have two Glock 22s and a Glock 23. All three are .40 S&Ws. However, I also have 9mm and .357 SIG barrels and magazines for each Glock. For training, I normally run the 9mms — less recoil, cheaper ammo, higher capacity.

9mm 1911 Barrel

For training, the 9mm makes sense. The lower recoil and faster follow-up shots are undeniable benefits. I’m sure there will be plenty who boast how well they have tamed the additional recoil of larger-caliber handguns; Mazel Tov! The flaw in your argument is this: Regardless of how well you handle the .45 ACP or 10mm (insert chest thumping here), you’ll still control the 9mm better. Still not convinced? Read on.

Even as I write this, I can hear the screams and denials from a sect of readers. Fair enough. I know some of you are itching to bang away on the keyboard with your arguments about the FBI’s one-shot-kill statistics. Again, fair enough. However, the FBI’s statistics are based on one hit, not one shot fired. However, the bigger the pea, the harder the hit nonetheless and I’ll concede that point.

However, the whole “Larger Calibers Are More Deadly” debate begs certain questions, such as why did the FBI go back to the 9mm if the 10mm was so much better? Why have the Navy SEALs used the SIG P226 in 9mm as their primary sidearm for decades? Surely they could handle a larger caliber, and at last check, they were in the business of killing bad guys. Why are more and more police departments either using or going back to the 9mm? I’ll tell you why: It works! It works a whole lot better than advocates of larger calibers will ever admit.

The Case

The 9mm has been much maligned in the past with claims that its incapacitating force was inadequate or unreliable. Much of this data (or fish tales) was either based on old bullet designs and propellants or poor shot placement. Modern bullet designs and propellant combinations — especially those tailored for pocket pistols or backup guns (BUGs) — have placed the 9mm at the top of the heap for the following reasons.

SIG P938 angled
The SIG Sauer P938 SAS—natural stainless steel slide, matte black hard-coat anodized frame and custom Goncalo wood grips

Shootability

Time and again, it has been proven that will you shoot the 9mm at least as accurately—and more likely better—than larger calibers such as the .40 S&W, .357 SIG, or .45 ACP. This is true regardless of the distance and more so when follow-up shots are required. With any caliber (the .50 BMG is an exception, but the person who could fire it from a handgun would have fists akin to Thor’s hammer, so you’d be dead anyway), but with any normal handgun caliber, shot placement is the key factor that determines lethality, not caliber. Properly placed, the 9mm has more than enough stopping power and penetration to compete against larger calibers.

Pistol Selection

The 9mm is the king of handgun cartridges. As a result, manufacturers have more models with a variety of safety features to fit your particular need, style, hand size, etc. More selection means more opportunity to find the handgun that fits your physique and needs rather than trying to modify your shooting style or adapting to controls that don’t fit your hand. The more comfortable you are with the gun and the more natural the fit and feel, the more likely you are to shoot with better accuracy. Again, shot placement—better shot placement is more deadly.

Investment

All mechanical parts wear, but larger calibers cause more stress and wear parts faster. With the 9mm, you can expect a service life reaching up to 100,000 rounds on some models. While few of us will ever shoot that many rounds from a single pistol, it’s certainly a check in the plus column for the 9mm over larger calibers. Of course, models designed for the .40 S&W or .45 ACP may use heavier springs and feature a more robust wall thickness in an attempt to counter the heavier forces, but the result is much the same. Plus, you then get into a weight issue.

Capacity

Continually, I read comments about capacity — no one wants less. Pocket pistols are very popular right now. Everyone wants a smaller platform, but the first thing they do is buy an extended magazine or mag extender. The smaller cartridge size of the 9mm simply offers the extra capacity shooters already demand.

Two silver and copper cartridges on gray planks
The ammunition shows cartridge integrity with good-quality, nickel-plated cases and a modern, bonded-core bullet.

Ammunition Selection

More guns to choose from also mean more ammo choices. From concealed carry to law enforcement, there are far too many ammo selections to list here. Have a need for speed? Try a 115-grain +P. If you are a fan of increased kinetic energy at the expense of a few feet per second, the 147-grain offerings are for you.

Reliability

Pistols chambered for 9mm have an outstanding record of reliability. While the 1911 is a favorite among many, it can get finicky about certain types of ammunition such as hollowpoints. There are plenty of workarounds and improved designs, but at the end of the day, all you are doing is matching what the 9mm already offers.

Money

Money is always an issue. When you are buying self-defense ammunition, money shouldn’t matter. Buy the best you can. That’s not to say the most expensive is best, but don’t skimp and get something you feel is less than worthy of your life or the life of your loved ones.

Practice is another argument altogether. When it comes to bulk ammo, you can’t get it cheaper than 9mm without dropping to .22LR. More ammo means more shooting and better preparedness when it really counts.

I know there are still naysayers out there, and I get it. There are times, as reasoned as my argument is, when I still feel I need for a little more kick. There is no real empirical evidence to base this feeling on, but I feel it. For instance, if I had a pistol within easy reach in my truck and was worried about a carjacker at pointblank range, a Taurus Judge with .410 shells would be a top choice.

Taurus Judge with black grip and silver frame on a white background, barrel pointed to the left.
Loaded with .45 Long Colt, a .410 shotshell or Winchester’s PDX1 Defender makes the Judge a formidable survival gun.

However, if I wanted to take carry said truck gun when going into a store or was worried about the comfort and feel of the revolver versus the semiauto I would normally carry, perhaps I would choose a Glock 23. If I were feeling particularly testosterone filled and ornery, I would set it up with the .357 SIG barrel. However, when headed to the range for my weekly practice, I would still reconfigure it for the 9mm for the vast majority of practice and then finish with a magazine of the .357 SIG. If, that is.

Are you a fan of the 9mm? Make your best argument for another caliber in the comment section.

[dave]

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 (206)

  1. First and foremost you must be proficient in the firearm of choice. Proficient enough to hit stationary and moving targets while under duress.

    Police have a accuracy rate of less than 27% at 7 yards and it drops to less than 11% at distance greater than 15 yards.

    Once you are proficient you will disable the threat at any distance. You must also be proficient at de-escalation. If the situations deteriorate to the point you must move from verbal commander to deadly force at least your can hit the target.

  2. Dave,

    This may have already been addressed and I did not read all 202 comments thus far. If so, forgive me.
    I carry either a 10mm or a .45 ACP and do not own a 9mm. My reason stems from an actual experience with the 9mm a few years back. My dog, a 75 pound (about) German Shepard was hit by a car. He was in a very bad way with intestines sqyeezed out his annus. We live in the country and the nearest vet is about 30 miles away. Trying to move the dog out of the road elicitied all kinds of whining and piteious moaning. The dog was dying and suffering. My wife directed me to stop his suffering. At the time, I had a 9mm in a 1911 configuration. I was shooting 115 gr FMJ from a reputable factory ammo maker, relatively new ammo.
    I put the pistol muzzle near the cleft in the dog’s skull on the back of his head. I pulled the trigger with the muzzle less than 2 inches away from the dog’s head, thinking that destroy the brain or sever the spinal column and would immediately end the suffering. Instead the dog pulled his head around and whined even louder. It took 5 shots, point blank range in the head, in the end directly into the brain to kill that dog. I sold the 9mm after that and have not owned another one since. If it would not kill my suffering, already dying dog from point blank range, I am not willing to bet my life on it in a defensive situation.
    For me, personal experience trumps all the data, studies and reports on this or that. I wanted the dog to die quickly and end his suffering, not prolong it while I kept hitting him in the head. I was always his favorite in the family and I have nightmares still of thinking about that dog and how he must have felt just before his death.
    I know that SEALS use the 9mm and probably have far more experience than I do. I have never shot any person, but I have shot a large number of deer, a few elk, a couple moose and several bears. I never went after any game animal with a cartridge that did not generate more than 1,500 ft pounds of energy at the muzzle. I wish I had used a 30-30 or larger on the dog.
    I do not know of any state where it is legal to shoot a deer with a 9mm, but I know of several states where it is legal to shoot a deer with the 10mm. Again, I have not done that but I have to assume that decisions on legal hunting cartridges are based, to some degree, on their ability to kill. Deer may be far harder to kill than people for all I know.
    SEALS can shoot far more accurately than I can in a combat situation, I assume, since I have never fired a gun in combat. I may be perfectly fine and the best shot in my family and friends on paper at the range but do not believe I can deliver the same precise accuracy in a combat situation like a SEAL could,
    I believe that a SEAL with a 9mm is trained to a level where he can hit precisely what he is aiming at, without fail, even under stress. I have some doubt that I can duplicate that level of achievement when in a self defense situation. Therefore, I want a pistol cartridge (because a rifle or shotgun is too big and cumbersome to carry in a belt holster) with enough energy to at least take the fight out of my opponent even if the hit is not precisely delivered to the exact best spot.
    Also, i think that relying on the idea that the 9mm has so little recoil that it will allow you to get back on target more quickly for a follow up shot is a weak reed to lean on when you life is on the line. In a stressful situation, with things happening fast, what guarantee is there that I will get more than one shot before sent to meet my maker. I just pray for time to make at least one shot and want that to be the best that I can hope for.
    I practice with what I carry and do not intend to practice with a :”lesser caliber” because the ammo is cheaper or the felt recoil is less. I carry a 10mm most of the time because .44 mag is too loud and too big and .454 Casul hurts my hand and wrist too much.
    It the 9mm had the history of the .45 ACP as being effective in combat and police shootings, I might think differently. But, it doesn’t. Its reported history is spotty at best and it also has a history of being adopted and rejected by various agencies.
    Instead of a big pellet or high energy round, people rely on “magic bullets” to make up for what I preceive to be a lack or energy delivered on the target. To me, that is like believing statements politicians make when running for office. Maybe some day a politician will tell the truth. Maybe a 9mm will stop an assailant. Same thing to me.

  3. Nothing to do with this article. Golf Clap… My guns are my tools and I am handy with tools. The more practice and training i have with a tool the better I am at using it, 25 years of active duty service all through the gulf. and I got really good at using the tools I was given, and there is always the right tool for the job, and the right skilled mechanic using it. Just know your tools, practice using them ,always get training and recertified for your skill with them tools, and use them as often as possible to get that reflex muscle memory. and finally stay safe, vigilant and trust no one.
    God Bless
    Successfully providing the enemy the opportunity to die for their country.
    Or just wait and be a victim. Meh Not this Crazy one……
    Sincerely
    Wild Bill®

  4. Regardless of the caliber that police carry, they shoot at least 3 rounds (or more) when they have to remove a threat by shooting someone, they don’t stop at three but its the starting point until they see the threat go down..

    Cops shoot a lot of rounds in range practice and qualifying but do to being scared and or adrenaline they even shoot all over the place and sometimes only about half their shots find its mark.

    Less recoil of a small to medium caliber can only help you (not hurt you) in being more accurate even when the adrenaline is flowing in copious amounts.

  5. Anyone that advocates training with rounds which have lesser recoil is probably not qualified to write an article of this nature. Maybe CTD can find someone with some real world experience to put on staff. Train with what you carry. That includes both the firearm and ammunition. The difference between training, and playing, is significant.

    1. For years, the U.S. Army trained with look-a-like weapons chambered in .22 as opposed to standard military rounds, 30-06 and 7.62 NATO. I joined the U.S. Army just as this training was being phased out. Not because good marksmanship wasn’t being taught, it was, but because of the difference in recoil of the rounds. Young soldiers were going from .22 to 7.62 NATO and the recoil was giving them a flinch. However, according to your reasoning, the U.S. Army wasn’t qualified to write training manuals, as they did, about the suitability of training with ‘sub-calibers’, as opposed to larger calibers. And yes, finances play some part of their decision, but a very small part.

  6. OMG what is wrong with you people. An alarm or a dog are warning systems to tell you someone is trying to break in your house. You shouldn’t need your alarm on if your up. Hopefully you will notice someone trying to pry your window open or kick down your door. If you don’t notice that someone is trying to break in your house and you have a dog. The dog should hear it and start barking to warn you. Again these are warning systems. Do I need to explain what a warning system is. If someone is targeting you to rob you while your home. Then you have something they really want. If you have something they really want you have a bigger problem. If they know what you have it is someone close to you doing it or setting it up. If someone is targeting you to harm you. When you go to work or out to the show or shopping things you do in your everyday life. That makes you easy to get to. If someone is targeting you. Targeting you means they picked you. For some reason they picked you. Who knows what the reason is. You could be the local drug dealer who keeps tens of thousands of dollars on hand. You could be the person there spouse is cheating with. The list could go on. Most murders happen in poor neighborhoods. We have serial killers, rapists, arsonists and terrorist in this world. That’s part of life and it will never change. Just like the police have there own set of rules so does the mob and the cartel. If you play in that world then you know what can happen to you and your family. I don’t care how much training you do or how great you maybe with a gun. If somebody wants to get you they can. It’s as simple as ringing your doorbell. When you answer the door it’s over. You can’t answer your door locked and loaded and pointing your gun at everyone who rings your doorbell. If you do you will go to jail. Why do you think rich people buy big houses with big fences all around them with the top of the line security systems with cameras. Then to top it off they hire security guards and bodyguards. And I’ll even bet they have a panic room. And with all that if someone is targeting you they will find away. People have broken into celebrities homes people have jumped the White House fence. I think one person even made it into the White House. There’s a Huge difference between someone who wants to rob something and someone who is targeting something. I hope I don’t have to explain the difference. A gun is just a tool. Having a gun is no guarantee that you will not get harmed or robbed. And if you think your safe because you have a gun then your thinking is flawed.

    1. @Sal:

      You can always answer your door with a loaded and cocked gun, but it doesn’t have to be displayed, and OF COURSE you can’t point it.

      There was a case in Phoenix a few years ago where a man went to the side of his house and 2 unarmed teenage boys were in his trailer, and he pointed a gun at them, and he went to jail.

      I will hold back and let others comment on your other thoughts.

    2. If you are so against guns why are you even on here and commenting on this site? You did get the fact right that a gun is “just a tool” (kudos) to screw in a screw, I could use my drill, a screwdriver or my Leatherman, all are “tools” and will do what is needed but obviously some are better then others to complete the task at hand.

    3. Wow. Sal, that is one long comment, but, what’s your point ? Dog, alarms are both positive security measures. There are no guarantees at all in life. BUT, a handgun or shotgun are one line of defense against lowlife dirtbags, who would do you or your loved ones harm. Perhaps your thinking is flawed.

    4. Jesus Christ. This is a caliber Difference discussion. Not who carries a gun or dnt. You jumped in the wrong conversation. And by the way. It’s my house. If I want to answer the door with a gun cocked and loaded. That’s my business. Not the law.

    5. And whose to say that someone wouldn’t kill my dog before they broke in anyway. If they are scoping me or my belongings out in the first place. They would already know that I had a dog or an alarm. Your not making great sense here

  7. Talk about beating dead horses! Just get the pistol and cartridge that best suits you. I love my 1917 S&W .45acp but my Star BM 9mm is a lot more comfortable to carry,and is reliable and accurate. Read the Gun Digest Book of the 9mm (1995?) for more on the Star. Yes, I know they don’t make them anymore They don’t make Parkards anymore, either.

    P.S. the 10mm is essentially a >38-40 WCF with better bullets.

  8. I read these firearm blog, amazed, shocked, and yes, appalled, at the rancor in some of the comments and replies. The article was a about 9 MM and it’s stopping power, relative to larger calibers, at least in part.
    People seem to have gone off on a tangent, debating the merits of this handgun as opposed to that handgun, irrespective of caliber.
    “I own more guns than you!” To paraphrase, Col. Jeff Cooper, USMC deceased;’ ‘Owning a gun doesn’t make you knowledgeable about guns, than owning a guitar makes you a musician.” “My father can beat up your father!” Sounding like a bunch of grade school kids, doesn’t do much for your credibility. “I was a SEAL, or I know a SEAL, or cop or what ever.” BIG DAMNED DEAL!!! Please a little courtesy and decorum. Stay on topic and if you must go off on a tangent, please let it pertain to the basic subject matter of the article and not degrade into name calling, insults, and sticking your tongue out at each other, (figuratively, of course.) This forum is not a grade school playground.

  9. Me and my wife both carry hers is a glock 26 which she handles well and is very accurate mine is a glock 27 which I like as well
    We go every week to the range and have gone for accuracy classes and nite classes as well
    We have 1 glock 19 which is our favorite and shoot all the time but for concealed carry in Florida is too big
    It’s up to the person to choose their caliber and how they carry it
    Lessons are the best if you shoot straight does not matter what caliber you choose to use its what you feel comfortable with

  10. Okay guys. Enough with the arguing over caliber. Shot placement is and always will be the first and foremost point of stopping any threat to one’s safety. Anything else is moot. End of story. Caliber matters not.

    1. I would agree with the caveat that you also need a reliable minimum penetration from your caliber of choice. Anything weaker than .380 Auto or .38 Special from a handgun is unlikely to reliably meet that minimum, and even those calibers may be a stretch.

      9mm Luger meets the minimum comfortably.

  11. My brothers and sisters, you all make good points. For the life of me, I haven’t the slightest ideal, the purpose of this article in the first place. Just remember a few things; Accuracy, if you can put two high in the chest and one in the head, doesn’t matter if its a 9, 40, 45 etc.. There is no such thing as (knock down) power, just a made up term. The only way to drop someone, is a shot to the head or central nervous system…… There is no such thing as to many rounds, anything under 12 + 1 and your pushing it. Always carry a least two extra mags. As for bullets, penetration comes first, expansion, second. In my opinion only, the fully copper bullet, loaded by a buffalo, is one of the best. We all come in different shapes and sizes, choose a caliber and model you can shoot accurately and easily manipulate the controls, mag release, safety, grip etc. Night sights are a must. I you’ve never shot at night, try it WITHOUT night sights and see who that works for you. Practice, Practice, Practice preferable with someone, they came watch your technique, see where you may need improvement. A pistol is a secondary weapon, consider a rifle or shotgun for the home.

  12. I can’t believe everyone is debating on what size bullet is better to kill someone. Most of you use self defense as a reason for what size of gun you carry. The best form of self defense is to not put yourself in a position to have to defend yourself. A gun is not the only thing you can use for self defense. What you choose to carry is and always should be personal preference.

    1. @Sal:

      I can’t believe that you can’t believe it.

      The size of the bullet matters because sometimes the criminals keep coming and keep shooting if they are not put down after the first hit.

      Regarding your “put yourself in a position” comment, sometimes the criminal comes at us, and uses a surprise attack to gain advantage……home invasions, car jackings……Hello?

    2. Where do you live? In the world of top news stories. You sound just like a politician who uses one or two things to try to make a point.

      I’ll use what you said sometimes criminals use surprise attacks. Ain’t all attacks surprise attacks. How many criminals call you text you or tell you what there going to do. Not to many. But I’m sure there is a few. A home invasion can be prevented with a dog or alarm system. That’s where the don’t put yourself in that position comes from. Carjackings. How about paying attention to what’s going on around you at a stoplight. Don’t fall for the bump and grab. After all your in a 3,000 pound weapon. And if a carjacker or anyone else wanted to kill you and they surprised you. What’s the point in saying anything you would be dead.

    3. @ Sal: I believe your line of thinking has a lot of logical flaws. If a “bad guy” wants to get you, he’ll put you “in that situation” whether you want to or not. That’s the way violent crime works. A ferocious dog and a good alarm are only part of the equation. Bad guy shoots dog dead, and can you activate the alarm from where you are in the house or do you leave it on all the time? Alarm goes off. Signal goes to alarm company the majority of the time, but expensive services can be had that go to the police. Either way, bad guy has a minimum of 5 minutes, probably more, to do what ever he came to do. If it’s to harm you or your family for whatever reason, well the cops will be there in time to take the murder report. If he’s there to rob you, well he probably knows your house and a good idea where to go, or he’ll simply make you tell him. If you have a wife or family member, he won’t harm you first, he’ll seriously injure or kill your family member right in front of you, when you don’t immediately tell him what he wants to know. Best chances of survival in home invasions or violent crimes, is to have a loaded gun in a strategic place, or a couple of guns placed well. The other fact is you need basic defensive, tactical skills training. This will teach you how to respond and using a gun skillfully is the other part of the equation. Escaping is your best and first go to, but the majority of the time, you won’t get that chance. Now it’s on you to properly defend you and your family. Will you know without a doubt how to do this? It won’t be with a dog and some alarm.

    4. The things you’re concerned about and the “surprise attack”, are best handled by having the right training, regularly. Research online for a known, reliable training center and you’ll probably find one close enough to you. I’m lucky and live almost right next to Gunsite Academy in AZ. They’re the foremost training center in the U.S. They have ex-military and special forces that can teach you the proper responses to any situation you can think of. They train everyday folks up to actual trained security teams that respond worldwide. People fly-in just to get this training. Courses start at about $1,100 to ??? Not saying you need to go there, but how you respond to a particular situation will dictate the outcome. It’s training, not the gun, well 9MM & up. Good Luck!

    5. @Derek:

      Thanks for telling me about Gunsite. As an Arizonian, that would be a great weekend trip, EXCEPT FOR THE PRICE.

      However, I did research and found that a Senior Rangemaster at Gunsite comes down to Phoenix and teaches a Combat Handgun I and II class, at only $249 for 16 hours per class, at a local indoor range. I want to do that.

    6. Good deal! I’m glad it made sense to you. Yes, Gunsite is cost prohibitive for sure! A while back they made it known Tom Selleck flies his plane in to his private ranch, right here in Paulden, where Gunsite is located and takes regular training there. I think they were milking it for some free press, lol. I understand it’s popular with some celebrities, crap they can afford it. Anyway, the training you’ll get will give you a new level of confidence and the surprise attacks, won’t be such a surprise. A word of warning, these classes can be addictive and fun! Glad to know your a fellow citizen of the Arizona Republic and that I mentioned Gunsite. I figured it would be a 1 in 100 shot that I was making sense to you and even more so that you live in AZ.

    7. @Derek:

      1 in 100 huh?….LOL!

      Yes I’m really glad you came along and I discovered this class. I have to realize that no matter how much I mentally rehearse things, or practice in the desert (doing stances that aren’t allowed at the shooting range), there are many tactical things I don’t know. So I have to invest in these classes if I really want to be the best I can be with handguns. Then I’ll move on to the CARBINE CLASSES!!

      I will save this link and keep you posted.

    8. @ ss1, well heck, I didn’t know anything about you and if you’d be open to what I was saying. And the chances you being familiar with Gunsite and living in AZ, just seemed like a long shot, lol! GL with training!

    9. No, we’re debating which caliber is better for efficiently stopping an imminent threat so that we (and/or those close to us) are not killed or made to suffer great bodily harm. Until stun rays of the sort seen in science fiction are a reality, the best tool for that purpose will remain a firearm.

      Avoiding the fight is always best, but unfortunately that is not always an option despite our best efforts. Violent crime can and does happen in the nice parts of town and other places where we ought to feel safe, and pretending it can’t happen to you because you don’t take risks will leave you unaware and unprepared if it ever does.

    10. @Sal:

      Obviously you do not like guns. Why are you here? How did you find this article?

      You are talking to someone who loves guns and gets chills when I touch my Desert Eagle 🙂 All the things you write are nonsensical to me. And your dog and carjacker comments are hilarious 🙂

    11. I probably own more guns then you do. I just know what they can do. Once you pull the trigger on a gun you can’t take back that bullet. To be so care free and willing to kill someone is why the government wants to take that right away from us. You love guns You get chills when you touch your gun. That statement alone you should loose your right to ever have or own a gun. Owning a gun is nothing to take lightly. and I can only hope your joking when you say you get chills when you hold yours. If your not. Then hopefully they monitor this site.

    12. There are people who “get chills” over other possessions (such as cars). That doesn’t prove intent to be reckless or make them unfit to own them.

    13. @Sal:

      You started by saying “I can’t believe everyone is debating on what size bullet is better to kill someone”.

      Now you own more guns than I do.

      You are a real piece of work Sal. Men here are having fun arguing on gun technology, and you’re playing Mr. Mom trying to scold us for wanting more stopping power, and trying to tell us we don’t need to carry them in the places we DO need to carry them and have them available.

      I don’t know what is going on over there with you, but I’m going to guess that all your many guns are locked away in a gun safe, and you will NOT have one available if and when you need it. Oh, but wait! You will never need to open your gun safe because your dog will bite the intruders and your alarm will go off. And maybe you can take your dog in the car too. Everything will work as planned over there in Utopiaville where you live, and you can relax and read your Bernie Sanders auto-biography.

    14. That’s a much better statement. You have me tongue tied. Yes I do have a gun safe because it’s the responsible thing to do. I did have a dog but not anymore. And no I haven’t voted for a democratic president sense I started voting. And I never said where and when anyone should carry. My point was as some other people said size doesn’t matter if you shoot someone in the right spot. Some people have been shot multiple times and lived and some people got shot just once and died. One shooting in Chicago a man got shot in the leg and died. The bullet hit his artery and he bled out before help could get to him. There’s been people who got shot and ran then dropped dead. In Illinois you have to do anything and everything you can to take yourself out of harm before you can use deadly force.

    15. @Sal:

      I live in Phoenix and we can carry in our pocket, holster, and car. I have been pulled over for speeding before and as long as I disclosed I had loaded weapons next to me, everything was cool. Sometimes they unloaded my guns.

      My point is that we can embrace our gun hobby much more in Arizona, and we can think about and prepare for more scenarios because of our gun rights.

      But the moment we take it too far, then we get arrested. In one of our big malls a man witnessed a husband/wife running from Sears after security guards tried to stop them from shoplifting. They were unarmed. Yet the citizen whipped out his 10mm and started firing at them and putting holes in cars in the parking lot. He got arrested. Duh!

      Regarding your stories of different wounds and different outcomes, yes I’ve read everyone’s stories on this forum. They’re all over the road map. My feeling is as part of my gun hobby, I just prefer the bigger calibers, as long as they’re still manageable. It’s kinda like loving cars and wanting a Charger instead of an Eclipse.

      And since you admitted that you have a gun safe, I will admit that I don’t get chills when I touch my Desert Eagle (LOL), but it definitely is my favorite gun, and I really like to have it on my hip at the gun range or doing anything outdoors away from the city. The holster sold by the manufacturer on their website really fits like a glove. I can even sit in my SUV with it.

    16. @Secundius:

      The revolver actually looks pretty cool. I wonder if anyone here has ever owned or shot one of those?

      Dark Angel already mentioned the .600 Nitro Express below. But today was the first day I used Google Images to look at the Russian revolver and the very large cartridge.

    17. @Sal, dude you’re one twisted up guy. On the one hand has a safe full of guns, on the other wouldn’t use them to save your life. In my last comment to you, it was meant to help and give you more perspective of the real world. But you’re not living in reality. What makes you dangerous is the fact that you sound like you have no idea what guns are really for and that they’re a tool. I live in AZ too. We take our guns very seriously and I carry mine everyday in public. I’m trained and know how and when to use it. It sounds like you’re the type of guy that “knows it all.” You don’t need training. This is what makes you dangerous. You’re not trained and so you really don’t know exactly how you’ll react when faced with a violent attack. That also makes you dangerous, to yourself and to your family. Just telling it how it is from experience, not conjecture or speculation.

  13. OK, try this once more. Tried to correct a BIG ‘my-bad’ on some info a while ago. Tried to post and got kicked off the blog site by a technical error. I passed along info about a ‘BIG” pistol being made in Australia. It was Austria (always get those two confused, don’t know why), not Australia. The revolver in question is not in .50 BMG, S&W make those. This is made by Pfeifer Arms in Austria and is chambered in .600 Nitro Express, for those of you who like to be hurt when firing a weapon. It goes for a meager $17,316 for those with deep pockets and a need to own possibly the largest revolver in the world. Again, sorry, seriously. My Bad.

    1. @Dark Angel:

      Don’t worry about these 2 massive cannons. Aren’t you the guy who posted “10mm, OUCH!”.

      In my mind, the 3 best large caliber guns to own are 50AE, 44 magnum, and 10mm. I own them all, including compact and full size 10mm’s.

      But I do agree with the guy who said if they make an appropriate (well made) semi-auto in 454 Casull, that would be excellent.

    2. First of all, would never own or fire the .50 BMG in anything but an M2, or a rifle designed for it, or the .600 Nitro Express in anything but a Holland & Holland Double Express Rifle. Have shot a .47-70 Gov. in a revolver and while the recoil is impressive and gets your attention, it is more of a hard push than a hard ‘snap’ like a 10 MM. Too, the revolver alone weighs almost 7 pounds and that absorbs a great deal of the recoil. The pistols chambered for the 10 MM were (are) a pound and a-half, at most. Recoil was a sharp, hard snap backwards and down that recoiled against the wrist and palm of the hand causing the recoil to be absorbed by the wrist and causing pain in both, not so the .45-70. It’s straight backwards push lets the whole arm absorb the recoil. SO! Big difference in felt recoil.

    3. @Dark Angel:

      Thanks for replying and explaining more.

      The only thing I’ll agree with on 10mm is when I shot Buffalo Bore out of my Glock 29 (the small one), it wasn’t a pleasant feeling. But still, I carry that thing in a holster in my house with Underwood ammo always in my magazines. Underwood is not kind on my hand either, but what I’ve noticed is that things like adrenaline and being pumped up (like gung ho to shoot) negate all of that stuff. Plus it’s still easy to control with that strong ammo.

      The only pistol I’ve ever owned where I said this feeling on my hand is unacceptable was when I made the mistake of buying the LIGHTWEIGHT (aluminum I think) model of the Taurus Judge. It was no fun shooting the 45 colt ammo with that gun, and I sold it quickly thereafter.

      I have never shot a 45-70 in either a pistol or a rifle, but I have held those large rounds in my hand before.

    4. The reason the .40 exists, is because of the 10 MM. It’s just a downgraded 10, making it more pleasant to shoot, or at least not as painful as the 10.
      Anytime, you combine a lightweight pistol with a large round, you are just asking for trouble. I have never understood people want lightweight. It is the recoil absorbing weight of a firearm that makes it comfortable to shoot.
      Since you have never fired a 45-70, you really should. It will for sure, make you take notice of it.

    5. @Dark Angel:

      The bottom line is you’re talking to a HUGE 10MM FAN for the past 11 years since I bought my G29. Then I bought a Gen4 G20 in 2014.

      I know all about the .40, yet I don’t want to know about it after studying the ballistics. I respect the 10MM caliber and think it’s the BEST ALL AROUND handgun cartridge ever invented.

      Yesterday when I talked about the Buffalo Bore and the G29, I was just trying to agree with you on something. But still, when I use Buffalo Bore in my 7.5″ Ruger Super Redhawk 44 magnum, it also has some hand shock.

      Yet as I said yesterday, when you are passionate about a gun and a caliber, like I am with my 10mm’s and my Desert Eagle 50AE and my Ruger 44 magnum, then I get pumped up and gung ho about shooting them, and any sensations to my hand just fly out the window.

      But I’m also very analytical and pragmatic. If I ever think any gun is not practical for anything, I sell it, like the “ultra-lite aluminum alloy” Taurus Judge that I owned.

  14. Any handgun cartridge for self defense is a compromise. You just have to decide what you can and can’t deal with.

  15. I despise this caliber debate BS. I also equally despise the “I wish somebody would make a new round that filled a gap between two existing almost indistinguishable rounds” BS. If the gun/round you are using isn’t doing the job, it’s probably because you can’t shoot. I know of a guy who started shooting at coyotes with .223 and eventually went to .45/70 because he said the smaller calibers weren’t enough. Guess what, .45/70 wasnt enough either because he couldn’t shoot and refused to believe his marksmanship was the problem. The author is absolutely right, shot placement and marksmanship is far more important than caliber selection. Please make your own decisions and stop worrying so much about what everybody else does and being “right.”

  16. I completely agree with this article. I am a Certified NRA Handgun Expert and have done my research with various handgun and rifle calibers. The advances in the 9mm Ammo technology has put it at the head of line based on performance, cost, and stopping power. I believe one of the best handguns for self defense and small enough for CCW for a reasonable price is the “Taurus 809 C” 9mm. If you look around and you can find one on sale for around $299, but they normally run around $459. I have put a lot of rounds down range with the “809 C” and it’s accurate, well built and just one solid handgun overall. Hope this help’s anyone looking to move into the CCW 9mm area 🙂

    Here is the detailed information on the “Taurus 809 C”:
    The Taurus PT809 Compact is a good choice for concealed carry. The lightweight semi auto is easy to shoot and has been found to be reliable and accurate. The Taurus PT809 Compact offers shooters a real shooter at a very reasonable price point, making this ideal for all skill levels and budgets. Taurus has come a long way over the years to establish a good reputation for their quality and service. Pick up a Taurus PT809 Compact today and enjoy!

    Specifications and Features:
    Taurus PT809 Compact 1-809041C
    9mm Luger
    3.5″ Barrel also comes in the 4.2″ Barrel
    17 Rounds
    Black Polymer Frame
    Blued Finish
    Double Action/Single Action Trigger
    Fixed Sights
    6.7″ Overall Length
    24.7 oz
    Strike Two Capability
    Picatinny Rail

  17. I find it interesting that an “Archer” writes an article claiming 9mm supremacy! I can’t help but wonder how many times the author has been on the scene of a shooting to see first hand the difference a larger caliber makes in “Real Life”! I have carried a multitude of firearms every day of my 36 years of service to my community and country. I have seen (and experienced a couple) hundreds of gunshot wounds. Most 9mm ammo I simply would not carry when my life depended upon it. Most .45acp rounds are effective. So the ammo argument does not hold water so to speak. If you had to get shot in the thigh, would you rather the round be a 9mm or .45? EVERYONE would choose the 9mm ‘Because’ it does much less damage!

    1. Mark,
      Yes, I was an archer for many years. An archer with a couple of safes full of firearms that regularly saw daylight. An archer who competed in Steel Challenge matches, IDPA and others. Prior to that, I served in the military including tours in Desert Shield and Desert Storm, a member of the security force, Military Police for a stint and a guard for nuclear weapons. Afterward, I received a degree in Administration of Justice and attended the Sheriff academy, so I am POST certified and dabbled in private security as well as an accredited PD.

      I have been a professional writer/editor since the late 1990s which included working on several archery and firearm related magazines and books. I frequently collaborate with tactical medics on articles, books, and training and was a lead writer for the Fraternal Order of Police Journal for a number of years—and the list goes on. On scene? No, not that much, but certainly as much as I care to remember. Discussions, articles, photos, and videos of those shot with a multitude of different calibers, different areas of the body etc. with the tactical medics and emergency room doctors who were on the scene or did treat the wounds—yes, I have more than my share.

      Even your own words state, “Most 9mm ammo I simply would not carry…” so it looks as if you agree, at least in part, that the 9mm is worthy of being carried and you are merely quibbling over ammo selection and my penchant for letting the air out of critters with a bow and arrow.

      Thanks for reading and giving your opinion whether you agree or disagree; it is the healthiest form of debate and food for thought for all who benefit by the discussion. The decision to carry and the choice of what gun/caliber to carry is a very personal decision that should be carefully considered by each individual as to their needs, preference, and ability—we certainly agree on this point as a minimum.

      But yes, I love a stick and a string too…
      ~Dave Dolbee

  18. By all of the author’s arguments except cost, the .22 WMR would be a better choice. I’ve seen class IIA armor penetrated by this round (from a long enough barrel, or at contact distance), recoil is nil, and a PMR-30, as long as it’s been thoroughly broken in and tested with the ammo to be used, has a thirty round capacity. I doubt anyone is going to sell their .45 for a .22 based on that. 9mm makes sense for the Seals and any other special operations groups, simply because it will do the job and being able to acquire ammunition from the enemy when conventional means of resupply are not feasible is a big plus. I would not feel underarmed with a 9mm, though I do prefer revolvers in larger calibers. I find myself wondering why we’re still stuck on this early 20th century tech, though, bullet design improvements aside. I would like to see some .243, .25, .264, and .270 rounds for handguns ala the .357 SIG. A 90 to 110 grain pill moving out at better than 1300 FPS in a 9mm size platform would be nothing to sneeze at.

    1. Thanks for the tip. Another issue not discussed in the article is people with recoil/hand strength issues, which is a problem for one of my family members. I’m not sure she can rack the slide on a full size auto, but the TCM would certainly take care of recoil issues without sacrificing terminal performance. I’ve met people who can’t handle the recoil from even the 9mm, and it doesn’t seem like much of a solution to suggest that these people must make do with less effective cartridges.

  19. I agree with many aspects of the article and own just about every caliber known to man. However, I carry an XDs .45. I shoot just as well with it as I do with any other caliber…other than my .22 target pistol (I can put bullets in the same hole).

    A good .45 round can expand to 1-1.5″. That’s a big hole and equals the most blood loss. Bleeding out is the key, unless you disrupt the central nervous system (brain/spinal cord). You may not always get a chance for multiple shots. Many, if not most of the time, one shot is fired and the bigger…the better. I could write pages and pages on the research I’ve done, but you can all make your own judgment.

    Bottom line, .45 makes a bigger hole, but it really is too much recoil for some. Go with what you shoot best. Shoot a friends gun, or rent them at a range to find out. A .22 you can drive tacks with, is infinitely better than a cannon you can’t hit anything with.

    1. what kind of .45 cal ammo do you shoot that expands to 1 inch. I’d like to get some.

    2. Looking at “FBI protocol” JHP ammunition, expansion for 45 ACP seems to be up to about 0.7 inches (with less expansion through certain barriers). So yes, please tell us what specific ammunition is giving you one inch or more of expansion after penetration.

  20. My EDC is a 9mm, but I’m seriously considering switching to .45. Not for the reasons most people cite though…

    First, I actually prefer the recoil of the .45. I really don’t like the snappiness of the 9mm. The .45 definitely makes a bigger bang, but the recoil itself is more of shove than a snap, for lack of better words to describe it.

    Second, I’m moving to an NFA state from a non-NFA state. I can shoot .45 suppressed with any standard pressure round and be hearing safe. With 9mm I’d have to buy subsonic (like the Hush line), which isn’t cheap.

  21. I’m continually baffled by the inability of ammo manufacturers to upgrade the .45, both ACP and LC.
    Why, with all the fine weapons available, are we still using cowboy loads in our .45’s with a muzzle velocity of appx. 900fps?
    I’ve reloaded both calibers, and it looks to me like they could both be sizzling along at over 1,000fps with no prob.

    1. The 45 ACP cartridge is simply too established and popular for a new look-alike cartridge to supplant it, even if the ballistics are better on paper. Glock tried to do this with the 45 GAP, but unlike the 357 SIG it gained almost no traction.

      Even the 357 SIG is largely an also-ran, despite its ballistic performance and the ability to be used in most 40 S&W pistols with just a barrel change.

    1. I can’t speak to the FBI agents ability to hit at 7 yards, but my little 3″ is a dandy home protector.
      I am not military or LEO, just a gun nut who tries out new loads and weapons at the range, usually at bad bread distance.
      I don’t want to explain to the grand jury in Texas why I shot a guy at 30 ft.
      At 5 feet, things are a little different.

    2. I agree with you but the FBI trains to shoot at 7 yards and beyond, and a lot of them were’t very good with those great little model 13s.

  22. With the advent of modern ammo, 9MM is much more effective than it used to be. It, however still can’t hold a candle to 40 and 45 caliber for hard hitting knockdown/stopping power. Police departments are military are using 9MM because more people can handle the recoil and qualify, plus it’s a universally available caliber and cheap and easy to get.

    1. I highly doubt that the Navy SEALS have trouble “qualifying” with larger calibers. Even most special forces units that can have any handgun and caliber they want prefer the Glock 17. The Navy SEALS switched recently from a 9mm SIG P226 MK25 to the Glock 19 in 9mm…maybe it’s due to budget cuts and the military can afford new handguns but not the ammo for a more expensive caliber.

    2. @ KEITH

      I was referring to the rank and file members of the services, not the elite groups. I don’t agree with your glock 17 statement. A great number of special forces units are packing 45ACp (quite a few in various 1911 configurations).

  23. Please allow me to thrust my oar in here to observe that in the spate of recent LEO shootings, it seems that an incredible number of 9MM rounds are required to even slow down an aggressor.
    The age old argument about mag capacity versus caliber continues, but for my home protection, I’m depending on my Public Defender with a fruit salad of man-stopping .410 loads, topped off with a final .45 Long Colt.

    1. Are you looking at number of shots fired, or number of hits?

      The former is what usually gets reported (since it’s always the higher number), and really isn’t useful for debating terminal ballistics.

  24. a 22lr will kill just as effectively as the .50cal .

    i’m still waiting on the jello ballistic results posted on youtube .

    all weapons can kill .

    1. @ gkg

      That just isn’t true. 22lr requires a much more precise hit than larger calibers and doesn’t have near the stopping power.
      People kill….weapons are just one of the tools they use.

  25. Sadly, I’m neither a Glock or 9mm fan. I own seveeal 9s but, I grew up in the .45ACP era. and still is my favorite defense round,

  26. Not going to argue about most of his reasoning but I’ll take a 45 anytime/anyplace. However, the part of Dave’s story about police switching back to 9mm from all else because it’s now better has been often repeated but is not true. After 39 yrs & 4 departments in 3 states as an officer & firearms instructor, I’ve carried .38, .357, 9mm, .40 & .45. I’ve worked with officers carrying .41 & .44 too. PDs are going back to 9mm for liability reasons. It see to be men & women becoming officers were more …”aggressive”…in their outlook & demeanor. They ended up being more interested in physical skills, one being firearms. So they enjoyed shooting which made them better. Over the last 15 yrs, it has changed. New hires were more interested in social worker type activities & therefore completely disinterested in firearms. As a result, they frequently could not shoot a qualifying score to carry a gun. So then, you had officers sitting in a station because they have an empty holster. Since it’s near impossible to fire a minority, & most of the empty holsters are women, then nobody got fired for failing to qualify. So departments lowered the standards back to 9mm because it is, infact, easier to shoot & qualify with, i.e., liability. So, you can make people feel good & tell them “that’s ok to shoot 9mm because it’s now equal to .40/.45”. But in my experience, 9mm is for officers who don’t like guns & .40/.45 are for the “gunny” officers.

    1. It’s the FBI going back to 9mm. They’re generally not involved in social work and have plenty of desk jobs for agents who can’t shoot straight.

      But hey – why worry about facts when you can just stereotype, right?

  27. When looking a ballistics of pistol cartridges they generally are about the same. Yes 10mm is more powerful than .40 and so on, but they are close enough to be irrelevant. My philosophy echos that of the author that 9mm does the job well plus its cheaper, smaller, and is readily available. I love shooting .45s i wouldnt mind carrying one but my go to gun is a Springfield xd subcompact with 13 rounds +1 capacity. That is what works for me, you choose what works for you. As long as we are all shooting, being safe, and keeping our rights intact thats what matters.

  28. Your point about capacity goes out the window, for any but the smallest pistols, in states like New York and California with magazine capacity limits.

    1. Not if you’re comparing pistols that are single-stack, subcompact, or both. Such pistols are very popular for civilian carry due to ease of concealment.

  29. I’ve owned and shot 45 ACP for the last 45+ years and still enjoy that caliber quite a bit. I also have started shooting 9MM for the past 4 or 5 years and I really get a kick out of that caliber too. The 9MM is quite a bit cheaper to shoot too. I don’t think the 9MM will ever replace the 45ACP but rather will be a good companion caliber. I use the 45ACP for home defense and the 9MM for carry (it’s easier to conceal), or occasionally a 40Cal. I don’t know if others do the same as I do or if I’m the weird one, but that’s just the way I do it.

  30. A bullet is a bullet . Size doesn’t matter because the only thing that matters is training. The better your prepared mentally and physically the better chance of surviving. Pick something your comfortable with and train train train . The same people that argue that caliber matters will also say shot placement is key . Cut out the BS if it works for every time it’ll work when you need it.

  31. The article was over for me when I saw “Modern bullet designs and propellant combinations … have placed the 9mm at the top of the heap for the following reasons”

    Yup, and the bullet and powder manufacturers have completely neglected to do anything with any other caliber. ONLY the 9mm has had advances, ALL others have been totally neglected and are only as good as they were 100 years ago..All HAIL the 9mm !

  32. I have heard the US military switched from the 9 to the 45 in the late 19th or early 20th centuries because the 9 did not have satisfactory take down power.
    I have also been told they went back to the 9mm from the 45 a few years ago because there were more women coming into the military and they had trouble handling the 45 as compared to the 9.
    Is anyone familiar with those two contentions? Is there any truth to them?

    1. I believe story about the switch to .45 is true and dates back to our early involvement in the Philippines where the .38 special (then in use) wasn’t stopping native warriors from hacking our guys to pieces. The story I heard about going back to the 9mm had to do with being consistent with our NATO allies. 9mm is the most common ammunition available worldwide and supplying our troops was a concern. Personally, I think the switch was a horrible decision.

    2. Steve,
      I’m familiar with that .45 history as relates to the Philippine insurrection, and the testing that was done with sides of beef.
      It’s just possible that the US rebelled against the metric system in our weaponry as well as our national measurement system.
      The change-over to mesh with NATO force ammo might have been a PC move, instead of trying to get the whole world to go with the .45.

    3. The 1911 in 45 ACP replaced .38-caliber revolvers. Poor performance against Islamist extremists in the Philippines was one of the factors driving the switch to a larger caliber.

      (Yes, jihadis were a problem back in the 19th century. Some things just don’t seem to change.)

      The Beretta 92 in 9mm Luger replaced the 1911 back in the 1980s. The primary driver was a desire to standardize on the same pistol caliber our NATO allies were using, while getting a modern high-capacity design in the process.

      The Moduler Handgun System (MHS) for which the US military is currently soliciting bids will replace the Beretta 92. This has the requirement for adjustable grips sizes to better accommodate women and the portion of men with smaller hands.

      Hopefully that clears the history up for you.

      Something that gets forgotten (or willfully ignored) by the advocates of the .45 is that due to the Hague Convention our military uses FMJ (or “hardball”) ammunition rather than the hollow point ammunition available to LEOs and most civilians. For faster calibers in particular (like the 9mm), the difference in terminal ballistics between FMJ and hollow-point ammunition is substantial.

    4. Cliff, The US military was not carrying the 9mm in the late 18th or early 19th centuries. It was invented in 1902 or so. What did happen was that during the Moro Rebellion (1899-1913) the US Army was carrying a revolver chambered in .38 Colt (a much weaker round than the .38 Special) and they found it was pretty worthless in combat. They dug out all of the old Colt .45s they had in storage and issued them as a stop gap. But they wanted a modern pistol which led to the creation of the 1911 pistol in .45 ACP. In the mid 80’s the military switched from the .45 to the 9mm. It wasn’t because of women in the military though. The old .45’s were beat up and they needed new pistols and there was the thought that ammo compatibility with our NATO partners, who all carried 9mm, was a good idea.

  33. I would prefer my 22 over the 9 in a fight,…..I could guarantee a hit at 50Ft if needed every time…every time vs the 9mm… trained with it a few times and much more effective. My cus was a navy seal in the 1980’s and carried a ruger ss bull barrel (long silencer barrel) when he was in (carried it on his leg). I love my G2 over the my SW. More accurate and just handles better, plus 1/2 price and over 1000 rounds of various ammo and never an issue. But I love the 9mm over all larger cal. Just prefer 22. Can hit you moving at 50ft. Was trained in marines with a lot of weapons……and besides my M16A2 (loved the fixed stock)……the 22 was my favorite Good article and thanks for your comments…..as there are many here

    1. Well put and I agree…. a.22LR will do the job if you hit what , and maybe more importantly WHERE you are shooting at. Gun Control is the ‘phrase’ of the election cycle and it should really mean Hitting what and WHERE you are aiming at!!

  34. The reason government agencies use the 9mm is not it’s combat effectiveness, but COST effectiveness. 9mm ammunition is cheaper and the agent / officer / military member can carry more of the lighter rounds.
    As for the Seals, better training results in better shot placement. Lighter gear such as a 9mm lessens the overall weight load with the minimum capability to do the job (along with the more ammo argument).
    I carry a 9mm XDM for daily conceal. For duty I carry a .45 Ruger, or a .357 Ruger GP100. I concede that follow up shots are slightly quicker with the 9mm, with the caveat that they would be quicker still with a .380 or smaller caliber, but I am not dropping below 9mm.
    All of my firearms have proven reliable in any caliber, with the exception of a Lorcin .380 I had many years ago.
    9mm Ammo is cheap and easy to obtain. Range practice is less expensive than higher calibers. That being said, I still prefer the stopping power of the .45 or .357 if ever I am forced to defend myself or others, and I do spend range time practicing with them.
    I also practice with the wife’s .380 semiauto and .357 Ruger LCR. The LCR gets .38 for her practice and we both run a cylinder or two of .357 through it to finish up. Follow up shots are difficult at best with the LCR. She has no difficulty with her .45, my .45, or my 9mm with follow up.
    The firearm, and the shooter, have more to do with shot placement and follow up than the caliber of the weapon does, to the extent the shooter is not using a caliber above the ability to handle it. I am not afraid to admit that a .44 Magnum is a little beyond my skills and strength to use effectively in an emergency situation.
    Some .45s originally issued to the military are still functioning after over 100 years. let’s see if any 9mms are still going after a century. enough said about reliability on larger calibers right there.

  35. All of the arguments 9mm versus larger calibers have merits. However, unless I missed it in this discussion, one argument that cannot be refuted is one that goes beyond the immediate question of which is better in a fight. The simple fact is that 9mm is a NATO established round. There is more 9mm produced, stockpiled, available today and for the future than any other handgun round. If you want a defensive weapon that will have ammunition available for it no matter the crisis, 9mm is the preferred choice! 9mm is the preferred handgun round of most preppers for that reason!

    1. I wasn’t aware there was data indicating the 9mm is the preferred handgun round for most preppers. I’d be interested both in seeing what other information it provides and how they arrived at their conclusions. Can you provide us a source for that statement?

      I do agree with you on the ammo availability point, although there are a lot of .45 ACP shooters out there and a lot of ammo available for it. All the serious preppers I know don’t limit themselves to one specific caliber for the simple reason that if that caliber becomes unavailable, they still have other options.

  36. I myself can put just as many rounds on target in the same amount of time from my glock 29 chambered in .40 magnum, i.e. 10mm as I can with a glock 26 in 9mm. And the 10mm has the kinetic energy of 2 9mm rounds. Also hot 10mm rounds dump all energy in target because they massively expand. Take a look at TNoutdoors9 channel on YouTube where he tested underwood ammo 180 grain gold dot. He states in his testing to date he hadnt seen any other round deliver such a devastating wound channel, and he is comparing that with 357 mag, 357 sig, .45acp. It’s all about practice and training.

  37. In the 1980s the entire Department of Defense converted to a Beretta 9x19mm pistol and that was suppose to be the end of discussion on handguns in the military. Many special united such as Marine Recon or Army Delta Force kept right on using the 45. The Army has announced that it plans to buy 60,000 new 45 caliber semi-auto pistols for its front line troops. Most likely it will be a more modern handgun than the venerable old Colt 1911 but whatever is chosen it will be a 45 caliber round coming out the business end of barrel. Aim high, shoot big-bore.

  38. I have no real beef with the 9mm cartridge, with one caveat. Bullet construction is an important factor. If one chooses to walk among his/her enemies with the 9mm, a rapidly expanding jacketed hollowpoint would be a wise choice.

    As a former active duty Marine, I must point out one flaw in the author’s reasoning as concerns military applications. The continued use of the 9mm by the Navy SEALs notwithstanding, the Marine Corps is returning to the 1911 in .45ACP. The reason for this is simple. We were limited to a full metal jacket projectile, and the .45ACP shines in this matchup when so handicapped.

    As others will I’m sure agree, if an individual is more comfortable with the 9mm, then that’s the course they should take. I would carry one if it was all that was available to me and not feel underarmed, but given a choice I’d be more comfortable with a .45ACP. After all, I trusted a government model 1911 with my very life and it never let me down.

  39. My experience with the 9mm against living targets is that it has an infuriating tendency to zip right through the center mass of a target and do little in the way of collateral tissue trauma. This issue applies to both ball and HP ammo. On paper the 9mm seems like a fantastic cartridge but if that’s the case then why have so many manufacturers kept developing new bullets to circumvent this issue? Yes, penetration is excellent, the 9mm can even effectively defeat light body armor with non-ap ammunition under the correct circumstances. But unless your using frangible or semi-frangible ammunition, it consistently fails to dump enough terminal energy into a target to be effective.

    IMO, the 10mm Auto is the most capable out of all of the intermediate pistol calibers, if you’re able to shoot it. And that’s the big stumbling block that has lead to this article. The 9mm is compatible with most anyone and the belief that quantity has it’s own quality is definitely a factor in buying pistols chambered in 9mm. I myself own several 9mm pistols for reasons ranging from magazine capacity, conceal-ability, and frame sizes that are more accommodating to a small woman that maybe weighs 120 lbs soaking wet.

    Every cartridge has its pros and cons so its up to the shooter to select both a pistol and a chambering that will suit them and their needs. It’s best not to let articles like this sway one’s purchasing decisions too much, but no matter what you choose to go with, be certain that it is something you find comfortable shooting. A gun used comfortably and confidently will contributes immensely to how effective it will be for its given task.

    1. “My experience with the 9mm against living targets is that it has an infuriating tendency to zip right through the center mass of a target and do little in the way of collateral tissue trauma.”

      Well, I’ve seen devastating hollow point expansion on a rabbit hit from a 9mm, so who is right?

    2. A 5 to 6 pound rabbit is a little different from a 180 pound person, even a 20 pound domestic one.

    3. Exactly! That’s my point. If a hollow point 9mm can expand in a rabbit, then it would expand in a person. Hollow points don’t “zip right through” unless they fail to expand.

    4. @ Makial.

      Apparently, you’ve NEVER SEEN a Flemish Giant Rabbit before. Twenty-Kilo IN Weight is NOT Uncommon in THAT Particular Rabbit Breed…

  40. Good article. Here is an idea pick a pistol and a caliber you like then do the following:
    1. Practice
    2. Practice
    3. Practice
    And forget the caliber war pick the one YOU feel comfortable with and IGNORE the arm chair critics, I know caliber guys, etc. and PRACTICE . You will be fine.

  41. You wrote; “Have a need for speed? Try a 115-grain +P. If you are a fan of increased kinetic energy at the expense of a few feet per second, the 147-grain offerings are for you.”

    Kinetic energy (KE) is calculated using the equation KE – ½ (mass X velocity Squared) . Picking a couple of 9mm rounds and speeds i went to http://www.ballistics101.com/9mm.php and used the data for Fiochi ammunition. FMJ round was available in 115 gr and 147 gr. 115 gr shows muzzle velocity of 1260 ft/sec. Using KE equation above, the KE would be calculated at 1/2(115 X 1260 X 1260) =91,287,000 units. For 147 gr at 1000 ft/sec, KE calculates to 73,500,000 units. (Units don’t really matter.) Thus, heavier bullets tend to have less KE. E.g. Fiocchi .45 ACP 230 gr FMJ at 860 ft/sec have 85,054,000 units of KE. Less than a 115 gr 9mm. Do the math if you like. And that’s why we might choose to shoot heavier bullets to make power factor and allow for a more rapid follow up shot in competition.

    1. The slower heavier rounds (high momentum) will break bone more effectively and efficiently than lighter faster rounds (low momentum) of similar kinetic energy.

    2. @ Eic.

      Try a .960 Roland (9x23mmR/Parabellum) +P “Wildcat”, 115-grain @ 1,600ft/sec with a Bore Pressure of 38,500psi. Can be used in a Glock, but ONLY after a Barrel Replacement (Standard Glock Barrels are Thin Walled Construction)…

  42. The article is at odds with my experience. If you like the 9mm round, then by all means use it. But, please consider the following:

    1) The U.S. military did not move from the .45acp to 9mm because of superior performance. First, the 1911A1 had maintenance demands due to the toggle-style barrel lockup. Second, the U.S. decided to change the standard round of most of our NATO allies. Please note that the role of small arms in the military does not emphasize one-shot stopping power.

    2) In a previous post, the poster emphasized a more “scientific” approach, specifically kinetic energy. That approach is flawed. The real way to predict effectiveness is by how the kinetic energy is delivered to a target. Suppose you have identical kinetic energy for a given 9mm round and a given .45acp round. The .45acp will be a more effective stopper. Why? The .45acp will yield a larger wound channel and deliver higher hydrostatic shock. Adding to velocity in a 9mm round is more likely to cause over-penetration. Yes, of course, the expansion characteristics of the bullet is a major factor, but sidesteps the main thesis of the “faster is better” argument.

    3) The 9mm is easier to get off an accurate second choice. I don’t think so. There aren’t many competitive action shooters using 9mm. The .45acp is king.

    4) The premise of the article is kind of irrelevant. The ability to get off an accurate second shot has more to do with ergonomics, the sights and the practical experience of the shooter. Also, the environment alone can be a major factor. What about muzzle flash and muzzle blast. The “hot rod” defensive 9mm rounds can have more of both compared a .45acp. Temporary blindness does not lend itself to accurate follow-up shots.

    5) As far as felt recoil is concerned, it is usually peak pressure and not bullet weight that is the determining factor. Of course, the weight of a slide can contribute significantly, if you are comparing the two calibers in, say, a Glock, you will certainly feel the difference between a “slow push”, compared to a “sharp snap”. A 9mm has NO advantage over a larger caliber. And, barrel erosion is greater with the high pressure rounds.

    So, by now you probably think I am touting the superiority of the .45acp. I am not. My opinion is that many different calibers will work effectively, if your gun is comfortable to shoot, easy to manipulate, and ammunition is carefully selected. And I haven’t even mentioned practice. I have shot competitively, but, using my 1911A1 race gun, I wouldn’t be able to keep up with Miculek and his revolver. Frankly, I can’t think of a case where the cartridge should be the deciding factor for the average shooter.

    1. @Osito

      Excellent and well reasoned comment. Scientific, rational and no rancor. Very refreshing.

  43. Why do so many people equate .45 ACP with the low capacity 1911s. C’mon guys, welcome to the 21st Century. Modern, and I do mean “modern” .45 ACP handguns use double stack mags and carry a lot more than 8 rounds.

    My two favorite handguns of all the ones we own (and we own a few) are my Glock 21 and my Jericho 941 in 9mm. Both are accurate and reliable, although the Glock never fails and the Jericho is actually more accurate. As in the Glock never fails . . ever, and the Jericho will consistently put rounds pretty much through the same hole every time.

    But that’s a function of the gun not the caliber.

    Everyone should shoot the gun and round they do best with. If the .45 has too much recoil for you to accurately place follow-up shots, then by all means carry the nine. It’s a great caliber and I enjoy mine a lot.

  44. I believe the 9mm is a great choice for a defensive handgun but ……I will never believe its equal to the larger calibers .
    I carry a Glock 30S with 11 rounds loaded , and sometime with a 13 rd backup mag , plenty IMO .
    I don’t believe the 9mm is equal . For example , a 9mm Federal 124 Gr HST vs the .45 Federal 230 HST ? — 9mm more effective? –I don’t buy it .
    The 9MM works, is effective , with good ammunition , a great round, probably best for some shooters , and is cheaper , recoils less , but to compare with a equal .45 round ? I don’t buy it .

  45. IMHO if you are a well trained shooter and not thrown of your game by stress it really matters very little what caliber you use since you will most likely hit what you aim at. For the rest of us I believe it is 50/50. A poorly placed .45 cannot be expected to stop an adversary but physics dictates that the physical effect will be superior to a 9 mm hence the thought that thumping something with a large caliber is better. I can see the point but for those of us that aren’t combat veterans, highly trained and lacking in serious stress response training the higher capacity of 9 mm makes it the best choice. Before someone says it I know that all things being equal big holes leak more that small holes but in the same vein two 9 mm are usually more effective than one .45.

  46. Great article! I agree, but you forgot to point out that 9mm is practically the only usable self-defense round readily available in sub and supersonic factory loads.
    I also agree on the point that if I’m looking to intimidate or blow an aggregious hole in an attacker, I’ll grab my DE50. But on a daily carry basis, I look to my trusty Beretta 92FS. IMO there’s never been a better all-around handgun caliber than the 9mm, and never a safer, or better gun to send them downrange than the Beretta. (Let the arguing begin from the Glock Flock)

  47. First of all the Military does NOT, I MEAN, NOT PURCHASE FIRE ARMS BASED ON WHAT IS BEST FOR COMBAT! It is based on POLITICS!!!!
    You MUST be a LIBERAL!!!
    All Calibers are good. They were designed for a certain purpose!
    The 9mm is not better than the 45acp for combat and I am not going to waste my time trying to explain it. Read up on Fire Arm History.
    Furthermore, with MODERN TECHNOLOGY WE HAVE 45ACP PISTOLS WITH LARGE CAPACITIES. LOOK AT FNH. THERE IS ALSO THE TURKISH MILITARY PISTOL THAT IS 45apc IN HIGH CAPACITY!
    YOU ARGUEMENTS ARE FLAWED!!! ALL THE NEW TECHNOLGY USED IN THE 9mm IS USE IN ALL THE OTHER CALIBERS!!
    ENOUGH SAID!!!

  48. Why did the FBI leave the 10mm? Agents with small hands, or more perceived recoil than most agents could control?
    Why P226? Could it be suppressor ready and with proven sub-sonic 9mm?

  49. David,
    “No, the first rule of a gunfight is have a gun. Everything else is secondary.”

    The rest of the rule is:
    “Preferably bring at least two guns. Bring all of your friends who have guns.
    Followed by:
    2.Bring four times the ammunition you think you could ever need.
    3. Anything worth shooting is worth shooting twice. Ammunition is cheap – life is expensive.
    4. If you’re going to shoot, shoot – don’t talk.
    5. Only hits count. The only thing worse than a miss is a slow miss.
    6. If your shooting stance is good, you’re probably not moving fast enough or using cover correctly.
    7. Move away from your attacker and go to cover. Distance is your friend.
    8. A handgun is a tool you can use to fight your way to a rifle or shotgun. Don’t carry any handgun whose caliber doesn’t begin with a .4.
    9. In ten years nobody will remember the details of caliber, stance or tactics. They will only remember who lived.
    10. If you’re not shooting, you should be communicating, reloading and running.
    11. Someday someone may kill you with your own gun, but they should have to beat you to death with it because it is empty.
    12. Always cheat, always win. The only unfair fight is the one you lose.
    13. Have a plan. Have a back-up plan because the first one won’t work. “No battle plan ever survives 10 seconds past first contact with an enemy.”
    14. Flank your adversary when possible. Protect yours and look behind you.
    15. Use cover and concealment as much as possible but remember, drywall stops nothing but your pulse when bullets pass through.
    16. Don’t drop your guard. It’s not over until it’s over. Reload now. “Wolves travel in packs.”
    17. Watch their hands. Hands kill, but facial expressions don’t.
    18. Decide now to always be aggressive enough, quickly enough.
    19. Be polite, be professional. “In God we trust but everyone else keep your hands where I can see them.”
    20. Personal security is dependent upon a lifelong commitment to avoidance, deterrence, and de-escalation. But have a plan to kill everyone you meet, if necessary.
    21. Use a gun that works every time. “All skill is in vain when an angel blows the powder from the flintlock of your musket.”
    22. Justified or not, you will feel sad about killing another human being. It is better to be sad than to be room temperature.
    23. Afterwards say, “He said he was going to kill me. I believed him and he tried. I’m sorry, officer, but I’m very upset now. I can’t say anything more. Please speak to my attorney.”
    24. “Speed is fine, but accuracy is final.”—Wyatt Earp
    25. Good accuracy in a combat pistol doesn’t necessarily mean all shots must be in one hole, just that the pistol can consistently hit the target to the owner’s satisfaction. I can almost guarantee that no bad guy shot three times or more in the chest ever looked down and said, “A four inch group? That’s not an accurate gun.”
    26. In a stressful situation like a gunfight, gross motor skills take over from fine motor skills. Guns that are simple to operate and that fit the hand properly, don’t endanger their owners by distracting them from the task at hand: winning a gunfight.
    27. The two most important things for a defensive handgun are a good trigger, and sights that you can actually see. Reliability is paramount, followed by visible sights and a smooth trigger; a grip that improves recoil control and presentation of the piece to the target; durability and concealability. What else could anyone possible need in a fighting handgun?
    28. “The most dangerous guy is the next one.”—Jeff Hall, Ret. Alaska State Trooper Sniper
    29. “Continue shooting until your sight picture is degraded by a lack of target.”– Evan Marshal, retired Detroit Police Department cop
    30. High capacity is not an acceptable substitute for good marksmanship.
    31. Never trust your life to a firearm or ammo that you haven’t tested.—CFN
    32. If you find yourself in a fair fight you didn’t plan it well.
    33. “The main difficulty is to fire accurately when your first impulse is to bring everything you have to bear immediately.” ~Benjamin Netanyahu

    Hooah!

    1. Keep in mind that comments about specific firearms and ammunition will inevitably reflect the technology of the times. A good example is this paraphrase of Jeff Cooper.

      “Don’t carry any handgun whose caliber doesn’t begin with a 4”

      Jeff Cooper’s experience was with FMJ ammunition and not modern hollow points. The difference in terminal ballistics for 9mm Luger (among other calibers) is substantial.

  50. Several writers say clearly what can be hailed as the quintessential truth: SHOT PLACEMENT is the most important part of defense with a gun!

    Not many ‘regular’ citizens will react ice cold when surprised by an assailant who’s threatening them with a knife or a gun, and the chances of getting the concealed gut out quickly and placing a deadly, or at least debilitating shot, is, in my humble opinion, rather slim.

    I have not seen or been at a public shooting range that allows or promotes self defense training as it should be done = Grabbing your concealed gun and shoot – without aiming – at a moving target. Standing there and aiming for 2 minutes at a static paper target just won’t do the trick. Therefore, the day at the shooting range is fun, but pretty useless for self defense training.

  51. Well…ain’t that funny! 9mm being the caliber of choice. Personally, I have always found that I’d rather have more 9mm bullets in my gun than about half of that in a larger caliber, such as cal. 45.

    The second thought is, that if I hit an attacker at the right place with a 9mm hollow point, it’s as efficient as with a .45. However, if his friends should show up to revenge him, I still have 15 rounds to defend myself, vs. maybe 7 or 8 in caliber 45.

    By the way, a miss with a 50 cal. round is just as useless as a miss with a ca. 22 LR.

  52. The .960 Rowland (9x23mmR) can be chambered in the 9x19mmR/Parabellum and in Glocks (but ONLY after Barrel Conversions). A “Wildcat” +P round @ 38,500psi, 115-grain Bullet @ 1,550ft/sec. with 4.25-inch Barrel and 1,600ft/sec. with 6.0-inch Barrel. Also comes in 124-grain and 147-grain Sizes…

  53. A handgun must penetrate. The 147 gr 9mm will, but a 180 gr .40 will even further.
    Bullet placement is the gold standard only if there is sufficient penetration.
    I like 40 cal 180 gr FMJ for feeding reliability and penetration.

  54. If the 9mm is so wonderful, why are the Marines and some other spec-op units going to the Colt CCBP 45. The answer is simple. Regardless of your experience and expertise with the 9mm, it does not, I repeat does not have what it takes to be a first shot/knock down shot in combat situations. Further more, if you come up against a drug dazed junky or dealer with a 9mm the odds are you are only gonna make them mad. There is absolutely no way you can convince me the 9mm is America’s gun, nor will you convince my brothers in arms. Sorry but you are way off base, way off!

    1. You’re half-right – the answer is simple, but it’s not what you think.

      The military can’t use hollow points due to the Hague Convention, and when comparing strictly FMJ ammunition the 45 ACP wins.

      Civilians and LEO are not so restricted (places like NJ excepted). When comparing modern hollow point ammunition (as the FBI did), the difference in so-called “stopping power” is largely academic. At that point and the higher capacity and lighter recoil of the 9mm tip the scales in its favor.

    2. This is exactly what people like to ignore. The 9mm is more than capable but the military is restricted to fmj rounds. They also don’t have to worry about high capacity mags because for them the gun will truly be a secondary arm, 99% will have a rifle with them and the pistol will only be used to allow the soldier to reload their primary weapon system. If the military was allowed to use HP ammo in all their side arms you could bet your a** they’d be sticking to 9mm. The FBI and Police are the best groups to look at in terms of comparing pistol calibers among all types of modern ammo, and their choice to move to 9mm says it all (FBI decided as a whole, police have been steadily moving that way).

  55. In my mind it also comes down to being able to stay accurate if you lose the use of your dominate hand, (I, like most people am Right Handed) and if I was hit in that arm or hand the question next is can I stay in the fight shooting with my left hand and be accurate enough to put down the attacker.

    I’ve seen many people at ranges only shoot two handed and with their dominant hand on the trigger, they never practice single handed shooting or off hand shooting.

    Most people probably could not be accurate shooting non dominant and single handed using a large caliber like 45 or 454, etc. but most anyone should be able to be fairly accurate with a 9MM and practice off hand shooting at the range.

  56. This article is getting everyone all riled up and confused.

    I own pistols in the 3 best calibers. 50AE, 44 Magnum, 10mm.

    I seriously hope that America keeps loving the 9mm. I’m happy that hardly anyone is carrying The Big Boys like I am.

    I just had to post this up before I go weight lifting and shooting, because some of the replies that are coming into my inbox from this article are lame.

    1. @Mikial:

      Thanks much. And BTW, I know you really like your 45 ACP, and I just want to say that it’s so much more formidable (in my opinion) than the 9mm. Plus there are so many great guns available in 45 ACP.

  57. Once we were out on a mountain hike and a black bear charge us my friend shot it with his 9MM 9 times and the bear kept on coming hi shot it once with my 45ACP and took him down.

    1. I once saw a big coyote get shot 3 times with a .223, but the final kill shot was with a .38.

      That doesn’t mean the .38 is better at killing coyotes than a .223. If your story was true the bear may have dropped with another 9mm round as well. Sorry but it sounds like standard hogwash. There are far too many former NavySeal/MarineSniper/SWAT/LEO/attackedbydinosaur stories around here to be believable.

    2. @George Hadaway:

      If that’s a totally true story about the bear, then it closes the case on this 9mm glorification and false worship article.

    3. Killed the bear with a 45 acp…. after it had taken nine 9 mm hits. Sooo what is your point?

    4. One time a Chicago PD officer emptied his 45 ACP pistol into a suspect and he didn’t stop. Took a 12-gauge to the head finally bring him down.

      By your logic that must mean the 45 ACP is terrible, too.

      Or perhaps you could realize that data isn’t the plural of anecdote, and that the FBI’s conclusion that “handgun stopping power” is essentially a myth is accurate.

  58. This debate is ridiculous. To all you 9mm fans, come back and boasts when you’ve won a world war. I will always carry a .45. Another point about the navy seals using 9mm is a mute point. The seals would prefer .45 I know from experience. The reason 9mm is used is because you can carry more rounds and suppressive fire is essential in combat. The 9mm is a poor substitute for a true man stopper. However there will always be those naysayers on the 9mm side so I go to the old saying shoot what your good with. Shot placement is what counts. Especially if your shooting a 9mm.

    1. We won WW2 while using Jeeps as well. Would you rather travel through a war zone in a Jeep or a Humvee?

  59. Regardless of the caliber shot placement is the thing that counts, I policed for 50 years. I started wit a .38 Special. My agency went to a 9mm S&W, then a .40 S&W then went to Glock 22 Gen 4. Now we are going back to another Glock 8mm. Can anyone imagine the cost to change weapons and calibers in a large agency. That being said what will it be in 5 years. Whatever the FBI chooses. The truth is in the article, you can reacquire the target faster for follow up shots. Also in law enforcement we have smaller people who just can’t handle the recoil of larger weapons and have trouble with disassembly. This is true even with the 9mm. If some one would invent a 9mm revolver with a high capacity cylinder it would eliminate most of our problems and we could train on marksmanship because we know it is the hits that count.

    1. “…. it is the hits that count….” The point, as drummed into every Marine in boot camp.

      However, as noted in the article, not just hits, but shot placement is key! Example being, the Boston whack continuing the fight, running around with eight (8) .40 caliber rounds in him, provided by the police – only dying after his brother ran him over with a car!!

      Too many ‘variables,’ mechanical and human, to suggest one ‘caliber’ of handgun better than another, in some life and death struggle to incapacitate the human body. My (hated phrase) bottom line reads, there is a reason NOBODY hunts cape buffalo with a .22 – IMMINENT DEATH!

      The human game animal is much (sometimes) more cunning and, perhaps, less difficult to kill, but can absorb enormous punishment before packing it in (see Boston). Most human ‘predators’ will rarely approach you head on, seeking to surprise you from the side or behind, many have experienced being shot and are not interested in repeating that, and will DEFINITELY shoot you to prevent it.

      My best recommendation being, if you care enough about your life and that of those you love to ‘consider’ going armed, PRACTICE with what you carry, not a BB gun, .22 – unless that is ALL you can handle, or some pip squeak target stuff that leads you to being ‘over confident’ in getting “follow-up shots” quickly on target! EVERYTHING will change under stress, with an ‘adequate,’ +P offering, from your ability at the range!

      A Marine, Master Gunny, was asked what he considered the hardest thing to do in readying young Marines for combat. He said it was conveying to them the “surprise” they would experience seeing some enemy they had just shot ‘with their rifle’ not only keep coming but shooting back!

      I ‘regularly’ practice, with my carry load, to insure I retain the ability to put two rounds on target (inside 8″s @ 22 ft.) in <1.5 seconds from concealment. Why is that important? Anyone, of average physicality, can be on you from a distance of 21 feet in about 1.5 seconds! That Brown whack, most people don't understand, started his "Bull Rush" from about 35 ft., from the officer, and was stopped, barely short, by a last shot to the head. That was a 'head on' assault; REMEMBER, cowardly assailants are NOT interested in you having time to react….

      A long dissertation; however, handgun caliber discussions are ONLY interesting, not effective in STOPPING any threat – staying alive, until help arrives, is your responsibility, PREPARE and act accordingly.

    2. Tom…you bring up a point I’ve wondered about for some time now. WHY, hasn’t someone developed a 9mm revolver? A 9mm with a 7 or 8 round cylinder would have the capacity of many autos, the increased dependability of a wheel gun, and without the complexity and additional labor of cleaning and maintenance of an auto. It seems like a no-brainer, and yet nothing. What am I missing?

    3. I want one – but it’s over $1,000 of course! Anyone now how they kick, compared to .45 revolver? A 7 shot 9mm revolver sounds sweet…

    4. How have you wondered about this point for some time but never searched for it? Many of the random questions asked on this board could be answered by a simple google search. I searched “9mm revolver” and got literally around 3,270,000 results. Included in those results are the the compact 5 shot Ruger LCR and the really neat 8 shot Smith and Wesson 929 Jerry Miculek Edition.

      The lesson is you will be shocked at how many of your questions will be answered if you do some of your own basic research instead of wondering for years and asking random strangers on the internet. Happy shooting.

    5. German Arms Manufacturer, Korth-Waffen (Arms) make a 6-shot 9×19 Parabellum Revolver with a 2.0-inch barrel. Called the “Sky Marshal” for about $950.00 USD.

    6. Len Schattler, several someones have brought out 9 mm revolver. About half use 1/2 moon clips for loading, the others use RAPC; rimmed automatic pistol cartridges,in other words, a rimmed 9 mm. May be wrong, but I believe there are even some 7 shots out there. There are other high-cap revolvers available in .38 Special & .357 Mag.. Taurus made one 8 shot, S&W (?) in 7 shot. Want a truly High-cap revolver, got deep pockets, buy a LeMatt reproduction. Get a cartridge conversion done on it. 9 shots.

  60. Wish someone would make a reliable .454 Casull in a semi automatic pistol then the above arguments would be void. Speed meets weight and after field dressing and butchering a deer hit by this round I can say the stopping power is greater than anything else I’ve killed deer with

    1. “….the above arguments would be void….”

      Sorry, more “relevant!” BIG caliber pistols have been attempted. As you note, BIG, fast, calibers are excellent and preferred for “hunting game.” A major point being made on using something like the 50 AE, 454 Casull, 460 Ruger, etc., is that you may as well, possibly preferably, be using a rifle!

      The Desert Eagle auto pistol was made in 440 Corbon, more powerful than the 50 AE & the equal or better of the 454 Casull. This thing weighs in @ three (3) pounds – whip that outta your pants in a hurry! One shot, one kill, possibly, if you can set it off, without shooting yourself in the foot, and hit the bad guy + two or three others down range. These things are efficient at one thing only, game bigger than deer, NOT a defensive arm for home or personal defense carry!

      http://www.militaryfactory.com/smallarms/detail.asp?smallarms_id=27

    2. David, why stop at .454 ? Someone, can’t remember who, has once more brought out a revolver in 45-70 Government. BIG gun, BIG stopping power. In Australia, I think, man developed a revolver that fire the .50 Browning Machine Gun round. Seriously, I’m not putting you down for wanting a massive round in a handgun. I’m a “More Power” kind of person. If I had the money, I would be all over the .50 BMG, but at $15,000, I have better uses for that money.

  61. I own every caliber listed above and have tossed my allegiance around between them all, numerous times. I lot of research, testing, shooting, competition and training has brought me full circle on a lot of antiquated thinking. OK, I’ll just come out and say it; I have no hint of doubt that this article is dead on the money.

    1. They switched because they are light weight and those guys have to lug a lot of stuff around already. A pistol is something rarely used by a seal except for in the movies. What is a good choice for a seal who also carry’s around an M4 as his primary weapon may not be the best choice for John Q Public where the pistol is his primary weapon. You must understand the reason for the change, not just cite the change its self. Make good choices my friend.

  62. You made the point that the Navy Seals carry a SIG 226. They don’t carry that exclusively, they have many other weapons before they get to their weapon of last resort. Further while I can’;t speak for now because I am old, when I was in the Marines any weapon we carried had to use European military compatible ammunition, and surprisingly the Europeans don’t have a .45. In fact the Europeans are carrying a 9 mm round that would remind someone of the size and effectiveness of the .38 long colt which was getting Marines killed in the Philippines during the Spanish-American war. See http://www.americanrifleman.org/articles/2012/12/27/guns-of-the-banana-wars-part-one/

    Now considering the criteria, must shoot European rounds and must be reliable, the P226 is a good choice for the Seals based upon the criteria imposed upon them.. Being an owner of both .45 Glocks and 9 mm Glocks and Rugers I will tell you that the 9 mm rounds we sell here in the US are a product of actual shooting development and that our rounds are much more effective than those of the Europeans. I would also tell you that a modern 9 mm round made by just about any American manufacturer is about 20% more powerful than it’s 1980’s 9 mm counterpart. But the same real world experience that improved the 9 mm has also improved the .45. The .45 (and now the new 10 mm) generate much more power (kinetic energy) than the 9 mm, approaching the power of weaker rifle cartridges (i.e. .22 LR)..The first rule of a gun fight is to bring a sufficiently powerful gun, and the newer 10 mm and .45 ammo puts them closer in terms of kinetic energy to a rifle than any 9 mm. Given a choice I am taking a rifle to a gunfight, and the entire US military including the Seals, does the same.

  63. I say shoot whatever caliber you want, but shoot it and train with it often. Don’t let anyone make you use a caliber simply because of what they believe is better… ALL modern day calibers are capable of doing the job in a self defense scenario. That said, be sure to pick right type when carrying for self-defense or using for home defense. Own it, shoot it, train with it… stay safe, and God bless.

  64. Good article Dave. I agree with all you wrote and I’m a 9mm fan also. Now, I have 357s, 1911, 38s, 380s, 22s, numerous 9s and even a 40 to boot (put a 9 conversion in it after I got over the curiosity). Have traded and sold more than I own.

    Had the pleasure to shoot other calibers including the 44 mag too.

    But in the end I’ll take the 9mm for all the reasons you wrote and a few more. You know, you are always going to have the “bigger is better” crowd and you’ll never convince them.

    Best and thanks again.

  65. FBI switched to 9mm because of the large influx of female agents were limp wristing the 40 and having problems with misfeeds. It really all boils down to knowing your system. The vast majority of comp shooters I know have scores of 1911 and only shoot 40 and 9 when they have to. Every caliber from 380 to 45 have their perks and drawbacks in self defense scenarios. The whole 9mm vs 45 debate is just to generate web traffic.

    1. Have you asked them if they shoot 1911s because they’re 45 ACP specifically, or because the design permits a crisp trigger that is lighter than most other designs and can easily be tuned to their specifications?

    2. You do know that a bunch of those 1911s your competition shooting buddies own are probably 9mm and 38 super, right?

  66. I have shot most current hand calibers and I currently am a RSO in a gun range. The 9mm,I think is a great training tool other than the 22LR for beginners in the shooting arena. I have heard many stories of how the 9mm wasn’t strong enough to take someone down and that it took a larger caliber to do the job. As well as, a story of an Indian girl too a grizzly bear down with a 22LR rifle. Stories will always be out there. With that, when u talk Government entertises most of the time what the government uses isn’t the best, it was who won the contract and met the minimum requirements with the lowest budget cost. That goes for the FBI, Seals, Marines, etc, etc….. Due to the financial crisis this country is facing on a daily basis I can see all those agencies going to just functional calibers for the cost factor mainly and trying to make the world believe that the 9mm is the magical caliber to have. Also, after having over 30 yrs shooting and instructing people, I know that Americans (average) want everything easy and are somewhat lazy. They don’t want to actually spend the time to practice and learn how to shoot the higher calibers proficiently so using a 9mm will solve that problem most of the time. So in short, if I had to go back into the Marines or I was on a SWAT squad, I would want a 45 ACP or 40 S&W on my hip before i would take a 9mm. I have aways said “You have to learn how to shoot before you say you can shoot”!!!

  67. I’m not sure why this argument never gets old for anyone. Choosing the right caliber is very personal. The caliber you should be using is the largest one you are most accurate and comfortable with for your typical situation (hip, ankle, car, under the bed, whatever). Period. The only real variable is money. And if you can’t afford the largest caliber you are most comfortable using, then you shouldn’t use it because you’ll never be able to practice enough to be proficient with it.

    This really shouldn’t be that complicated of a topic.

  68. just got back from the range with my new Sig P226 40 S&W. Other guns I own are 9mm Beretta 92, Jericho and G19. Really not seeing how anyone that trained on the Sig in 40 S&W would feel that a 9 is going to be more effective. To me the Sig in 40SW felt easier to shoot than the G19.. I’m really thinking the change was more political. Politicians in Georgia must have more juice than the ones from New Hampshire. To be fair I chose the SIG in 40SW over the 9mm because the gun was a few hundred cheaper than the same model in 9mm. After shooting it all I can say is if you’re not hitting the target with this I doubt you’ll be hitting the target with a 9mm.
    The article brought up some points that had me wondering how much research the author had done. The reason the Military is using 9mm is because it’s NATO approved, one of the things about NATO approved ammo is it isn’t as lethal as what most of us would use for home defense.
    Plenty of agencies aren’t running to 9mm, Secret Service, Texas Rangers, various State Police Departments. Seems like the agencies that did follow the FBI’s lead and switch to 9mm are the same ones that are hampered by political correctness.

    1. “Politicians in Georgia must have more juice than the ones from New Hampshire”

      Have you seen the FBI’s bid solicitation for new 9mm pistols to replace their .40 S&W Glocks? It pretty much screams “we want the SIG P320”.

  69. Gee, where do I start? I could suggest a good sporting goods store where one could buy a good slingshot, but that would not be appreciated by many. The 9mm is basically a .38 and there was a very good reason that the US Army chose the .45s to stop the drugged Moros in the Philippines. But the best analogy is one that I used away back when the state of Ct gave up their .357s for 9mm Berettas because of their higher capacity. There was the story of how two convcts escaped from the Somers-Osborne maximum security prison with outside help. Two state cops were able to pin them in place, but couldn’t put the, away because the escapees had AK-47s. A supernumerary came along and dispatched both with his .357. Another story was about a perp high on drugs in Bridgeport, Ct that took 32 9mm rounds to put him down, but only after he killed 4 of the officers shooting at him. I once asked an Enfield, Ct cop why he had traded in his S & W .357 for a Glock 9mm when he could put 4 out of five rounds in the black with the .357. His answer: “because the Glock held 17 rounds instead of 6”. Kind of dumb, don’t you think? As to the money to buy ammo, I guess that you have never heard of reloading. Maybe you ought to buy the 9mm if you cannot hit what you are shooting at anyways, since the magazine holds so many rounds…by the same thinking, why don’t you carry a 30 round .22. After all, the .22 has killed more people than the 9mm. I’ll stick to my heavy for caliber slow bullets in my .45 1911, thank you very much. p.s. my gun of choice is the RIA 1911A2 because I like the feel, not because it holds 16 rounds with one in the tube. Now if RIA would put a rail on it…

    1. Jim,

      I’ve been rethinking many things since I saw the Hornady advertising brochure for their products. The ballistics tests in gelatin look like a good argument for 9mm. using their Critical Defense and Critical Duty ammo with FTX bullets or someone else’s ammo with the FTX bullets. I’m not a ballistics expert at all, but from practical experience, I know that 147gr. FMJ 7.62 x 51mm from an M60 puts diminutive, yet highly motivated, yellow people down permanently. I’m sure the surviving Moro’s descendants will also testify to the efficacy of 230gr. ball ammo from a 1911 .45.

      My bedside weapon is an S&W Model 66 and I got my wife a Model 19 and have them loaded with .38Spl. 158gr. hollow point +P. (It’s a small house.)

      http://www.hornadyle.com/assets/site/files/Hornady-LE-Military-
      Application-Guide.pdf

      The ballistics info may be just a tad overly optimistic as one of their test weapons was a Springfield EMP w/3″ barrel and I haven’t been able to find one…

    2. So many problems with your line of argument, but I’ll tackle the largest one first.

      Pretty much any handgun-caliber round (including .22 LR) has documented cases of both “one-shot stops” and “failure to stop after emptying the gun”. Because of this, you’re going to keep shooting until the threat stops – not stop after one shot to see if it was enough. Faster and more accurate followup shots is one of the main reasons that the FBI is moving back to 9mm Luger.

      As for your prison escapee story, there’s nothing about having an AK-47 that will reduce the penetration of incoming rounds – so clearly some crucial details are missing. What sort of ammunition where the officers using (9mm FMJ performs substantially worse than modern hollow points)? Did the man with the .357 have a better angle or more time to shoot than the officers because the escapees were focused on the officers and not him? Did the escapees have low-grade body armor, and where were they shot with the .357?

      As for your favored .45 ACP, Chicago PD has at least one incident where an officer emptied their .45 into the attacker’s chest but failed to stop them. It took a 12-gauge to the head to finally bring the attacker down. Handgun-caliber rounds just don’t have the energy of a rifle or shotgun round, which is why the difference between 9mm, .40, and .45 when using modern hollow point ammunition just isn’t that significant in practice.

    3. You .45 story reminds of a tale I got from a Wyoming State Police Trooper, when many Depts. carried .41 mag. This trooper pulled the perp. over, the perp. came out with a machete and came at the Trooper. Repeated calls to stop went unanswered. The Trooper started firing at about 25 ft., center mass. 6 shots later, the perp. is still on his feet, & moving forward but has dropped the machete. According to the Trooper, he could see through the perps. chest, nothing but daylight. Later it is found out that the perp. was high on PCP. Dead and didn’t even know it. The perp. did drop dead, just as he got his hands on the Trooper. I told the Trooper that at that point, I would have thrown the pistol at the perp. and ran. His reply was that he thought about it ,but the perp. had to be stopped. As an aside, the Trooper was reloading for 6 more shots, if it would have done any good. Don’t think a 12 gauge would have stopped him at that point, unless it was used to cut his legs out from under him.

    4. If only RIA didn’t use that fugly full length rail on their 1911’s… I have handled PARA’s double stack found them to be a good fit compared to polymer double stack 45’s and 14 plus 1 capacity too, number one on the wish list, though probably won’t be the first item to come off the wish list.

  70. First, the FBI abandoned the 10 mm because it’s a bitch to shoot. I have shot ‘full house’ 44 mags with less felt recoil and a lot less pain and I am not in the least recoil sensitive. 44 mag, 50 AE, not a problem, 10 mm, OUCH! Still, the 9 mm is reliable, has the knock-down power. I have used the 9 & the .45 in self defense and in SHTF situations. It comes down to caliber preference, at least for me. Guess I’m just like Tim Allen’s alter ego, “MORE POWER!!”, when it comes to defensive weapons.

  71. Apparently everybody is too busy to read my request. All talk is about pistols, not revolvers! HELP !

    1. I did reply to you Bob. You stated that .38+p was too expensive. Regular .38 revolvers are going to be the cheapest commonly available self defense guns. Maybe fire up the old search engine and take a look at what guns are out there.

    2. Cheaper Than Dirt’s inventory changes constantly, especially when you are looking for price point items that sell out fast. Currently, our least expensive .38 Special model is about $250. However, if you keep checking, I am sure we will have have something $20 to $50 cheaper in the next week or two. The key is to keep searching and find the deal as soon as it pops. ~Dave Dolbee

  72. 10mm!

    a 22 might be able to kill a bad guy. bad guys are pussies. i carry 10mm pistol in grizzly country in Wyoming and Montana during elk hunting season, and when carrying a bow. The 10mm kicks, but it also has a good chance of stopping a grizz.

    If you are just plinking, 9mm is fine! i am sure its shootable, and cheap, and easy.

    but make sure your caliber matches your bad guy

  73. I get so sick of seeing sites that try to compare what and how civilian gun owners ,to what the Government agencies buy and use.
    The purchase they make are political and on the tax payers dime. They buy today and junk it tomorrow. Last year or so the government destroyed a enormous supply of 9mm ammo. Give me a break about what they do or have.

  74. Good article and you get points for the Yiddish in the second paragraph, but you went on to hit one of my pet peeves two paragraphs later:
    “However, the whole ‘Larger Calibers Are More Deadly’ debate begs certain questions…”
    It doesn’t beg any questions, it may raise or prompt questions though. Begging the question is a form of circular reasoning rather than inviting or soliciting questions.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Begging_the_question

    Yeah, I know, as June Cassagrande says, “Grammar Snobs Are Great Big Meanies”, but I maintain that all words have exact meanings and I’m sure you’d agree particularly when it comes to firearms, e.g., calling a magazine a clip, calling an AR15 an “assault rifle”, a twenty round rifle magazine,”high capacity”, etc.

    I just read a paper by Hornady on the ballistic properties of their Critical Defense and Critical Duty ammo and FTX bullets which pretty much convinced me that one can do about as much damage with the right 9mm. round as with a .45ACP and even give the average miscreant a pretty bad day with a .380.
    http://www.hornadyle.com/assets/site/files/Hornady-LE-Military-Application-Guide.pdf

  75. I am a recent convert to the 10mm, brought into the fold by my son, who is 52 now. He is a fan of the kinetic energy idea, as is PeteDub and has tried to thoroughly research the matter. The problem seems to be that there is nothing definitive that is authoritative. In other words, no final answer.
    So, we went to someone with practical experience. We have a mutual acquaintance that is an Alaskan State Trooper. He has had practical experience on a broad variety of situations — ranging from irate, drunken/dopped up humans, injured moose, black bear and even a couple of brown bear. He has carried several different calibers of pistols and is senior enough that he can pretty much choose what he wishes to carry. He often is on one man patrols over vast distances with no practical hope of assistance in the event of an emergency. The only handgun that has not let him down is a Glock 20 in 10mm. While not perfect, it has not failed him to date and since he, too, is getting long in the tooth, his days of danger are lessening.
    I, personally, am not a fan of the Glock mechanism and think it is too easy, when excited, to have an accident but the Glocks are undeniably otherwise great guns.
    His conclusion is that the 10mm with a heavy, hard cast lead load is his best bet. He seems to think that the penetration is above average and that the blunt bullet creates a bubble ahead of it in the wound channel that causes great tissue shock. Works for him. I guess it might work for me.
    My favorite pistol at the moment is an EAA Witness Compact, 10 rounds of hot 10mm. It has a manual safety, can be carried “cocked and locked” like my 1911’s, is physically no larger than my .45 ACP Commander length and is about the same weight.
    I was leery at first that the recoil might be such that I could not handle it, or would flinch. After all, the FBI couldn’t and had to give up on it and some gun writers agree. But, history tells me that the FBI is not the man it was in the 1930’s.
    However, having shot the Witness Compact now close to 1,000 rounds, I do not find the recoil to be noticeably worse than my favorite scandium framed .45 ACP.
    Perhaps I am unusual, but do not really think so. People make such a big deal of recoil and I will be the first to state I do not shoot the .44 Mag, or the .454 Casull for fun. I am also not overly fond of the .338 Win Mag or the 375 H & H, either.
    But, up through the 10mm, I do not find the recoil to be all that bad. I suspect most any one of average hand strength can shoot the 10mm without any problem, other than of their own imagining.
    I suspect a great deal of the “recoil problem” is perception and what people think that they should think — therefore they do not ever approach the problem with an open mind. I have discovered long ago that if I thought I couldn’t do something that I almost certainly could not. Further, if someone tells me something is going to hurt or to be too much for me to handle, I assume it might be and either do not try, or do not give it a fair trial. But, if my puny 167 pound son can shoot the 10mm easily, accurately and without a problem, I though I should be able to do so, too. I found I could. After all, I could not let my puny kid out do me.
    I also found that my off the shelf EAA Witness Compact is every bit as accurate as my beloved .45 1911’s. Further, I have 10 rounds of hot 10mm in the magazine and two 14 round magazines in my back pocket. However, the trigger on the 10mm will never match my beloved .45’s.
    I do not expect to ever encounter a mad 1,200 pound Brown Bear intent on doing me harm — at 74 years old, in Oregon. But, it is possible I will encounter a meth enraged guy intent on doing me great bodily harm. In that case, I want all the edge I can have.
    Maybe a 9mm with lots of ammo would do that job just fine. However, what if I only have time for one shot before he is on me? I have more confidence in the 10mm thank you very much, especially if I only have a chance at one shot. That is my decision and I am satisfied with it. What you do is up to you.
    But, do not believe that the recoil on the 10mm is so punishing you cannot handle it unless you tested it yourself. I had to and discovered that this 74 year old senior citizen could handle it just fine. I am no strong man, just average.

  76. Richard D’Auria,

    I never said that the 380 ACP and smaller calibers have the same kinetic energy, or even near the kinetic energy, over 9mm.

    One of the key arguments of my response, was pertaining to shot placement: if you shoot someone in the lungs with a 380 ACP, or 25 ACP, it will still cause major damage, not as much as a 9mm, but it will still inflict damage.

    One of the other key arguments of my comment, and other comments I’ve made on this forum in other articles, is it as my grandfather used to say “One does with what one has, if one hasn’t, one can’t.”

    The message is clear: you do with what you have in your hand, and if that is a 380 ACP, 25 ACP, 32 ACP, 22 LR, or a crowbar from Sears and Roebuck, you lay to and hope for the best.

    I’m not discounting your evidence: I’m simply stating but individual situations may preclude law abiding carrier from having a 9mm in his or her hand.

    You may not have considered this, but there are literally millions of men and women who can’t handle the recoil of a 9mm, much less 45 ACP, 40 S&W, or a 10mm.

    These are the real world conditions and considerations of folks who don’t meet the general mold, the so many gun writers, Leos, and healthy people ” just don’t get.”

    Should a 9 mm work for you, or a 10mm, or 45 ACP, or 105mm recoilless, good for you, more power to you!

    Some of us find ourselves considerably more limited in many respects, but if you don’t mind, we’ll do whatever we can to stay above ground, if that’s okay with you.

  77. B.S.!

    I am personally aware of a specification and purchase description for the USMC’s M45 CQBP, a highly customized variant of the prolific M1911A!. I have also noticed a number of news releases of rather large government contracts for this pistol over the past several years, and as late as last year, to the likes of Colt, Kimber, S&W, and others.

    If all the agencies you mention have gone with the 9mm, why then do they continue with large purchases of the M45? Could it be the 9mm isn’t getting the job done?

    1. Are the agencies ordering the pistol using modern hollow points or FMJ ammunition?

      Also, keep in mind that many specialized units (like FBI’s HRT) are using 1911-style pistols not because they’re 45ACP specifically but because they’re $2,000+ models hand-tuned in the manufacturer’s custom shop.

    2. And you know this how? I call BS on your comment. Government agencies, especially federal gov agencies have to justify and account for every last penny they spend. Do not confuse your own opinion with fact. Rio Benson makes an excellent comment.

  78. Check the kinetic energy and penetration rates of 22LR, 25 ACP, 32 ACP, and 380 Auto. You’ll find them sorely lacking in power, that’s why no US Law Enforcement Agency or Military Branch utilize them.

    Of course, any bullet can be deadly however, 9MM is far superior in combat than the ammunition you cite. I shot an armed robber with a back-up 25 ACP under the jaw, the bullet stopped in the roof of his mouth. I hit him again in the upper jaw bone the bullet broke his jaw but bounced off the jaw bone onto the tarmac. I shot him 3 times in the chest under the armpit as he was trying to shoot at me, resulting in a maximum penetration of one inch. Had I had a 9MM as back-up the man would not have survived or run a block and a half before collapsing from loss of blood, my first shot having pierced the artery in his neck. Police Officers driving by saved his butt by rushing him to the hospital.

  79. I chose to go with 9mm about 5 yrs. ago. I agree with just about everything you said, except when you were talking about using .40 cal or .357 sig. but training with 9mm because it’s cheaper. If you’re gonna carry these guns with the 9mm barrel that’s fine, but if you’re gonna carry the .40 cal or .357 sig, or whatever, you gotta train with it. A mag at the end don’t cut it, for me anyway.

  80. I have a Sig 226 and it is as accurate as the day is long at all distances. The 15-round clip is a plus. If it is carried, it is 15+1. That should be enough to stop a would be bad guy.

    I also, at times, carry a .45 auto or the Taurus Judge. I have also been known, depending on the situation, to pack a Bond Arms Snakeslayer 4.

  81. The article was very interesting, as usually is the case when this gentleman writes.

    However, he has made several glaring contradictions:

    1. He accurately states that shot placement is key, thus, the 9 millimeter is superior choice, because it has less recoil then larger calibers, which would provide the shooter with greater accuracy. However, using proper shot placement as the key motivating factor, within his argument of lower recoil, also means that a 22 long rifle, 25 ACP, 32 ACP, and 380 auto are all just as efficacious as the 9 millimeter.

    2. Further, his argument that the nearly exponential increase in bullet technology and design, also works for calibers smaller the 9 millimeter; ie, 22LR, 25 ACP, 32 ACP, and 380 Auto.

    3. He takes the time to stress that the vast array of different gun models works to the benefit of each individual shooter, when it comes to the 9 millimeter, but does not take the time to apply that to other calibers both smaller than the 9mm, and larger than the 9mm.

    The article is indeed very informative, however, I believe he lets his personally subjective preferences get in the way of objective realities.

    It does not matter to me what caliber, or which side arm a fellow concealed carrier, or open carrier, chooses to carry. My main concern, is that they be comfortable with the weapon they’re carrying, and that it meets their individual needs.

    This is fine I am stressed the issue before, and now the people who are either physically or financially not able, to meet the very high bar with so many gun writers place on those of us in the real world: non LEOS and non professional shooters.

    A 22LR is just as effective as a 9mm with proper shot placement; so is a 25 ACP, 32 ACP, and a 380 auto: this is not my argument alone, Mr Dolbee is making that very same argument himself, he just doesn’t seem to be aware that he is making it.

    1. I have a buddy who was a career Navy SEAL. I was talking about calibers to him one day when he pointed out that he was not willing to stand still while someone pointed a .22 at him… ~Dave Dolbee

    2. P.S. “I have a Buddy” …. The 4 words that’s proceed every line of BS that’s ever been uttered….

    3. With respect sir, we all have buddies, but would you be willing to bet your bank account he doesn’t since he served in the navy? Chances are you would lose that bet. “Buddy” lol, also if you read his bio above… The man is more likely to have more “buddies than you can shake a stick at. Considering his military and professional as well as life experience, he most likely has an inkling knowledge concerning these things. From my own perspective I prefer the 9 over larger calibers for the very reasons he stated and the 22 is lethally accurate at range another preference of mine, as rifles go I prefer .308 for these three caliber if you were to gather statistics and popularity are the top dogs imho for self defense cqb demands imho a 12 gauge I’ve had numerous conversations with my brother and other veterans that confirm my position on these opinions. Truth be known when TSHTF these particular caliber will be moe prevalent and ammo will be more readily available. And respectfully I did not mean any offense with the buddy thing it was only a tease to get you to realize you never know just who another person knows, and it’s not worth risking a loss or a life on.

    4. Bailey, your points might be worth stating if it were not for the second-most important aspect in defensive handgun caliber selection…penetration. The .22, .25ACP, and .32ACP simply DO NOT have reliable penetration capability to compete with ANY larger caliber. The 9mm does meet penetration requirements, and even exceeds some of the larger calibers. You doubt that? Check out just about any Armored/Ballistic Vest selection guide. You will see that a hit from the “high velocity” 9mm requires a higher armor rating than a hit from the “high velocity” .40. No wonder the FBI, military, and many PD’s are utilizing the 9mm with proper bullet application.

  82. There is an old saying, the weaker the argument, the stronger are the words. This article may be approaching…….
    I am from the old scholl where bigger usually does better. But I have developed a dilemma. I am getting old and am now having difficulty jacking the slides on my Kahe, S7W 1911PD or my military surplus 1911.
    So I am looking for a revolver that will work for me, and I have yet to find anything suitable. .45ACPs and 9mm both require special clips to work in a revolver. I have a Taurus Judge but no way to carry concealed! Charter Arms and even Smith used to make .327 revolvers but try to find one that is not more expensive that trying to buy a Dead Sea Scroll !
    Yeah, folks say go to a .38Spl P+, but those that say that are not paying the bill! What else is out there ?????

    1. Any decent .38 Special revolver is just fine for self defense. Go down to your local gun shop and look at a few.

    2. There are a few 9mm revolvers. Also, the moon clips used for shooting 9mm from a standard .38, or better .357, are pretty cool. They make reloading a lot faster. Faster even than speed loaders. They keep the spent casings all together also. You do have to have the cylinder machined to accept the clips though. I have a S&W .357 that I had machined and the clips work pretty neat.

    3. Hey Old Dude…. Ever heard of a .44 S&W?. More powerful than a 45acp &
      any 38 ever made. Revolvers a’plenty. Easy to reload, tons of bullet choices. Ammo cost is on par with .357 or .38+p. I thought Us Old Dudes were supposed to be smarter than everyone else?

  83. “The 9mm has already won; perhaps you are the last to know it, though. . . . . I have two Glock 22s and a Glock 23. All three are .40 S&Ws. However, I also have 9mm and .357 SIG barrels and magazines for each Glock.”

    Dave, I am dismayed by your approach. I initially approached this article in a sincere and serious manner, looking forward to some intelligent discussion. Sadly, what I found instead was a snarky and adolescent snottiness that is completely unbecoming for someone trying to pass themselves off as a serious gun writer.

    And no, neither my wife nor I are .45 fanatics. I like my Glock 21 and Jericho 941 in 9mm equally and my wife loves both her Beretta 92 and her 1911 Government model. But you seem to be on a binge to create as much hate and discontent as possible. Is it PMS maybe . . or menopause?

    1. Perhaps you should wipe off your glasses and read it again my friend. I clearly state at the beginning that I am a 9mm fan. In plenty of other articles, I have stated that I have carried a SIG P228 since the mid ’90s. I am also a gun writer and not so single minded as to believe that there is only one caliber or one gun. I have several 9MMs, but I have other calibers as well. There are times I am testing a new holster or ammunition, times I am planning on attending a local shoot that requires something more, or less, than a 9mm. I also need to have a honest opinion based on experience. Thus, there are periods where I carry something other than my preference after a suitable period of dryfire practice — usually about 10 to 15 minutes a day for three to four weeks.

      For those who like choices, the .40 S&W is a great choice because you may have the option to switch to a .357 SIG for more power or to get a thick barreled 9mm to lessen the recoil. Other are preppers who are concerned with having to one day scrounge for ammunition and want to choices from a single platform.

      Hate and discontent? Check your sights; you are pretty far from the mark. The topic often causes a lot of debate. Those who know me, understand I give an opinion — my opinion — but I am very open minded and understand there is not one solution that will suit all shooter’s needs, wants, or personalities. At times, not even my own… ~Dave Dolbee

    2. It was your snarky wording that i took exception to, not your outlook. Very unprofessional.

    3. Mik, did I read the same article you did??? I don’t see any “snarky” commentary. In fact, I see lots of “YOMV” (your opinion may vary) type of comments. It is nearly impossible to write an article on caliber choice without having to state what you like, and why.

      Maybe you are being just a wee bit testy?

  84. I believe 10mm is the best all around handgun cartridge, going back many years. My Glock 20 and 29 models are both easy to shoot and easy to keep on target. The FMJ ammo is easy to afford for practice, and I carry with the finest and most powerful JHP ammo, which is not a continuous purchasing loop. The 15 round mags are very convenient.

    If the law enforcement agencies want to settle with 9mm, that’s their problem. I’m just wondering how many bad guys have hurt an officer after being wounded by a 9mm?

  85. Yes sir, Dave. My CCW is a Glock 32. I will agree that it has more recoil. I will also agree that the 9 mm has alot of different offerings for round selections. Also, as you very well should know is that those same offerings in 9 mm bullet selections( not cartridges ) are also available for hand loads for the .357 sig. My take on the 9 mm for the FBI folk is that female agents have trouble with not only the recoil, but the wider width of the pistols chambered for the Glock 40, 45 and 357 Sig. Heck, why not just let them shoot .22 Cal semi-auto. I am sure they have less recoil and would be more quick in follow up shots??. The 9 mm cartridge of today does rival the .357sig ( almost ) in both velocity and energy. I will still keep the only pistol that I have used, practiced with and qualified for my carry permit. As you know, the .357 Sig cartridge is based on a 40 Cal casing, using a 9 mm bullet. Just a “hot” version of the 9! So, the argument that the 9mm has “won” the battle is open to just being ones opinion. You should what works for you, and I will do the same. Thanks for all your great articles.

  86. Dave,

    Your message is correct, and needs to be said often.

    While I love my Glock 23 and the 1911 in which I qualified as expert before many commentators here were probably even born, my 9mm Glock 19 (and especially my Glock 23 with a 9mm conversion barrel) makes more sense for self-defense for a very specific scientific reason.

    To understand this it is important to understand why “the bigger the pea . . .” simply is not correct as a matter of simple physics.

    The key to the ballistic effectiveness of a round is not size, it is the amount of energy delivered to the target, more specifically the 1/2 MV^2 Kinetic Energy.

    Note Velocity squared compared to Mass not being squared. If you double the Mass of a projectile, all else remaining equal, you double the kinetic energy. But if you double the Velocity of a projectile, all else being equal, you increase the kinetic energy by a factor of 4.

    So, with the identical case and the identical powder charge, you will deliver more kinetic energy with a lighter projectile than a heavier projectile. While the lighter projectile will not necessarily penetrate any deeper, and probably less deep because Mass does matter for penetration depth, the lighter projectile will definitely deliver more kinetic energy to the target — again, with the identical case and powder charge.

    So, back to my Glock 23 with 9mm conversion barrel. That configuration being more “stout” in the chamber area due to the slightly larger external dimensions of the .40 S&W barrel, I feel very comfortable shooting the modern P++ 9mm rounds. These modern P++ 9mm rounds deliver more KE to the target, than the .40 S&W and even the venerable .45 ACP standard SAAMI-pressure rounds.

    So, with that P++ 9mm configuration from my Glock 23 (or 19 but I choose not to push the pressure in that platform), I literally have more firepower than a standard .40 S&W or .45 ACP, with all of the advantages of the 9mm — particularly the follow-up shots that are crucial in self-defense.

    The ~510 ft-lbf KE of the P++ 9mm rounds will not quite reach the 600 ft-lbf KE range of good.357 Sigs, which is the KE range that has been scientifically shown to reliably incapacitate a CNS without a direct hit.

    So, for pure firepower with a single shot, I would always choose the Glock 32 barrel and mags for my Glock 23, and the fastest .357 Sig round I can find, over the 9mm conversion barrel and Glock 19 mags.

    But, for self defense, I’d much rather have the ability to put more P++ 9mm rounds with 510 ft-lbf KE on target in the same time it takes to put fewer .357 Sig rounds with 600 ft-lbf on the same target.

    Unless a round reaches or beats the 600 ft-lbf range of the .357 Mag .357 Sig and 10mm, pretty much anything less powerful is in about the same range of effectiveness, because at that point you are relying on something other than the round’s Kinetic Energy to end an attack.

    If you are going to “compromise on power” — as you always are unless you are using a .357 Mag, .357 Sig, 10mm or higher — you might as well get something positive out of that compromise, which you do with the 9mm but not the larger but less effective rounds like .40 S&W and .45 ACP.

  87. I have fired so many different handguns in my life I can’t count that high…just kidding, yes I can count higher than 100. I am also a Certified NRA Handgun Expert…that being said, of all the different handguns for home self defense and at a reasonable price, I believe the Walther PPX 9mm is the best bet, it very accurate out to 100 feet or more, recoil is great and holds a 16 round Magazine.

    Action: Semi-Automatic • Finish: Black • Barrel Length: 4″ • Sights: 3-Dot • Magazine(s): 2-16rd • Grips: Black Polymer • Weight: 1.7 lbs. • Overall Length: 7.3″ • MSRP: $449 on sale for $299.89

    This is a great deal on a Solid Handgun as a Walther.

  88. The 9mm is just one of several calibers I carry based on several factors; weather conditions or seasonal weather determining my clothing (and that of potential bad guys), my destination, or mode of transportation. All of my defensive ammo is Hornady Critical Defense. The exception being my bedside firearm during cold weather months. It is a S & W Governor loaded with Winchester 000 Buck that has better penetration at 1300 fps. Six properly placed center-mass shots puts three .35 caliber balls in the chests of up to six would be bad guys. If needed, a reload is a full moon clip of Critical Defense .45ACP should anyone still be moving. I don’t have a large house, so a 12 GA shotgun would be too unwieldy. The Governor fits my home defense shotgun niche nicely.

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