9mm Versus .45 Caliber: Does Size Really Matter?

Posted: July 5, 2010 in Gun Choice, Uncategorized

The debate between 9mm and .45 has raged for years, and I am not foolish enough to think that I can settle it for everyone, but I would like to weigh in. Some of you may be complaining already ‘Not this again,’ but from the point of view of a former .45acp-only guy, let me tell you where my experiences have led me and why I’ve changed my opinion on the matter completely.

 I carried full size Colt 1911 .45acp pistols exclusively for most of my armed history.  That was the round my Dad said was the best, so that was that for me.  Over the years whenever the 9mm was mentioned as a defensive round, my position was always: “If you have nothing else, a 9mm is better than nothing.  However, 9mm is the weakest round I recommend for self- defense.”  This was based mostly upon what I’d always believed and the stories from GI’s reporting multiple shots needed to bring down an enemy combatant when using the Beretta M9 9mm pistol.  What more do you need?  Actual battlefield reports brought the matter to a close as far as I was concerned.

When Trigger Time with Joe Barrett was born I began working on a list topics of conversation for the show.  I thought the 9mm debate would be a good one.  However, since I knew I would actually be talking on air and not just at my kitchen table, I wanted to do some up to date research to support my .45 acp superiority,  just in case I met with any opposition.  And, I did just that, I researched and right about the time this research was all but complete I enrolled in Handgun 1-5 at Tactical Defense Institute in West Union Ohio.  There I was able to use my 1911 .45’s and Glock .40 cals in actual real-world shooting scenarios to see how they would perform for me when and if I ever needed them.

One thing I learned quickly is that when you are under stress and shooting, you tend to fire more rounds.  In fact, many people forced to defend themselves with a gun empty their first mag in the initial exchange. My 8 round 1911 had me making mag changes nearly 3 times as often as others shooting alongside me.  I didn’t like that at all, so I switched to my .40 caliber glock for the next two days of class.  That took care of the frequent reloading, but I noticed a difficulty in staying on target with rapid follow-up shots.  I found that most .40 cal pistols are just frames for a 9mm with a barrel that allows for the larger round.  So, unlike the heavy 1911, you have less weight to absorb the added recoil you get with a .40 over a 9mm. 

This training taught me that you need to shoot fast and accurate under less than perfect conditions, such as moving, with a flashlight in hand to see, and with people shooting back. They don’t call them “desperate circumstances” for nothing.  A well lit firing range is probably not where you’re really going to need your pistol skills and the training I took foccused on  preparing me for things like moving through my house at night and dealing with armed intruders. My goal during these exercises was to get as many rounds into vital areas as I could.  When you consider that the average gunfight is over in less than 3 seconds, how many ½ seconds can you to lose to re-acquiring your sight picture?  More recoil means more time re-acquiring your sight picture.  Math has never been my strong suit but it didn’t take me long to realize that fast and accurate is easier with less recoil.  So, when I finished Handgun 1-3 and returned a couple of weeks later for Handgun 4 and 5, I brought a 9mm. 

 My eyes were opened.  I found I could fire faster and keep all my rounds in a very confined space much better with the 9mm than I could the .40 or the .45.  No doubt, as far as performance went, the 9mm was the gun for me.  The only problem was that voice in the back of my mind, my voice saying, “But what about the weaker stopping power of the 9mm?” I spent a lot of years listening to that voice and shooting .40 & .45 almost exclusively.  I was a firm believer in the notions that “With a .45 or .40 you only need to hit once,” and “You want to stop an aggressor, not just make him angry.”  Besides, would Harry Callahan’s words “Go ahead, make my day” have had the same impact if he had been holding a 9mm?  If you’re a .45 or .40 cal person you probably have a similar voice that’s been keeping your hands off the 9mm for protection. 

Well, I decided to do a strange thing; I decided to ignore that voice for long enough to listen to the men who actually rely upon their guns to stay alive.  SWAT operatives and Police trainers had actually done a considerable amount of research.  I took advantage of their research based upon hundreds of autopsies attended, hundreds of interviews with persons who’ve actually been involved in shootings, and studies done where various rounds were fired into animals with similar tissue and bone density to humans. It was more than talk, it was real-life experience, I just needed to listen. 

 Then I did my own research and found something amazing: A 127 grain Winchester Ranger +P+ fired into bare ballistic gelatin will impact at 1210 feet per second, penetrate 12-14 inches, and expand to right around .70 inches.  My favorite .45 ammo, Federal Hydra-shocks, will impact the same gelatin at a slower 800 feet per second, penetrate 12-14 inches and expand to right around .70 inches.  Wait a minute, it sounds like these two rounds would pretty much cut the same wound path, right?  This information supported what I’d been told by another group that conducted ammo test of pigs:  You cannot tell a decent 9mm wound path from a decent .45 wound path.

 If the rounds are going to do the same damage, why not use the one that affords me 19 pulls of the trigger without a reload instead of 8?  As it turns out, those battlefield reports from ex-military guys using the 9mm in combat actually tell me more about military pistol training than the power of the 9mm.  The Army does not give the soldier nearly the pistol training that they do the rifle, so the problem is that many of these reported hits are not in vital areas and that is the problem, not the size of the ammunition itself.  On top of that, the standard military 9mm ammo is what you and I use for target practice, NOT self-defense.   That’s right, soldiers are issued standard FMJ hardball; now the clouds are really beginning to part! 

 The fact of the matter is that the 9mm vs .45 debate will rage on because we have science battling tradition, and neither will ever give up.  For me, I concluded that it just comes down to a question of ammunition and shot placement.  If you use the right 9mm ammo, you’ll get as much tissue damage as you would from a similar .45acp.  That means my 9mm, if used correctly, will have the same stopping power as my old .40 cal.  In fact, since I now know that I can shoot faster and more accurately with my 9mm, my stopping power is greater with a 9mm and that is what I really care about.  But, if you are most comfortable and can perform to your satisfaction with a .40 or.45, then use them.  Both are a fine round.  For me, I found that I could do better with a 9mm, have more rounds at hand and expect the same results with well-placed shots, so I made the leap. 

 Maybe it’s just that there is no “better” round in the 9mm vs .45 arenas, and we all just love a good debate.  But, one thing we all know for sure is that if you’re ever in a position to have to defend yourself or others you’re going to have seconds to respond and there will be no time for debate.  So, get the training necessary to allow you to get your rounds, whatever they are, on target fast.  Do that and the caliber of your pistol really won’t matter as much as you think.

  1. Mark Brown says:

    Retired after 40 years. Carried the 9mm and the .40 S&W. All points made are valid and yes, “training” is the key word. Enough training with a .22 would present a formidable force. The recoil IS the problem with most .40’s in a combat situation. My advice to young Officers is practice, practice, practice until you know that you’ve “got it”, with whatever you’re assigned to carry. If the option is yours, I’d recommend the 9mm but again, if you can practice with all three, you’ll know what you feel comfortable with and that goes a long way on the confidence scale and that scale is the one that gives you an edge….Best wishes to the good guys !

    • Ron says:

      Me and my buddy had this discussion about a .22 vs a 9mm. I figures out rather quickly that I could put 10 .22 rounds in the 10 ring at 35 feet faster than I could put 3 rounds in in it with a 9mm. He said no way. I challanged him and actually did all 10 faster than he did 3 in fact as fast as he did 2 cause his third didn’t hit the target at all as he was rushing after hearing that. 22 going off so fast! So in a home defense situation of less than 30a feet. My house is a total of 33 feet long. Where they say a shotgun is your best weapon, i say 10 .22 rounds in the chest quickly will do the job. I also seen similar teat of the 9mm vs. 45 and my carry gun went from a .45 back to my 9mm

  2. Dennis Liufe says:

    what a great info, everyone should read this…

  3. I liked your article, but you should have looked more at the shock value caused to the body by a hit from the two rounds. I think getting hit by a cinder block is more effective then a hit from a golf ball. Your group of military people are right regardless of how they are trained on pistols. It does take less shots from a .45 to stop someone. I always thought people that carried 9’s with high capacity mags were doing so to make up for not being able to hit their target such as people that use .45’s. But, like you said, you need to train, and that it the heart of the matter. Most people are lazy and won’t train as they need to. But, the price of ammo lately doesn’t help either.

    • jmantattoo says:

      Getting hit by a cinder block and getting hit by a golf ball is not a viable comparison because that statement does not take into account velocity at any point. Having someone toss a cinder block at you while having Tiger Woods drill a golf ball at your face makes you look at it a little differently doesnt it?

    • Ron says:

      The 9mm due to higher velocity also hits with MORE force! Weight doesn’t make as much difference as velocity when it comes to energy. Look up mag safe bullets and find that they’re light weight bullets hit with a lot more force cause they travel at higher speeds! I can testify that mag safes in my tests have done significant more damage than the same caliber hollow points! And the targets when hit travels further after impact. That could only mean it was hit with more force. I seen a test on a bullet proof vest. .45 vs .40 and the 45I didn’t even tear the outer skin much less penetrate any kevlar. The 40 put a hole in 3 layers of kevlar. While neither one penetrated totally fact is the 40 did puncture it while the 45 bounced off.

  4. Adam Gould says:

    I like your article I recently traded my 9mm in for a service 40. The question I have is were you using ht +p+ when you did your class how was the recoil of the +p+ compared to the 40 with regular charge?

    • joebarrett says:

      As a rule I do not train with the Ranger 127 grain +P+, just due to availability. However, because I was doing this blog topic, I did shoot 500 of the Ranger +P+ rounds during one of my handgun classes at TDI. I could tell the difference only in the first few minutes of the exercise, because I was “feeling” for a difference. After those few minutes, I completely forgot I was using different ammo. I didn’t notice any issues at all as I proceeded with those rounds in that class. You bring up an EXCELLENT point, however. We need to be using those rounds we’re carrying for self defense, at least SOME of the time we are training. There are those semi-autos that have “issues” with hollowpoints; one needs to know that BEFORE attempting to use them for self defense. I understand this can be expensive, but think of the potential cost if we do not do this? This is one issue I have with “steel shoots.” I’ve spoken to guys who rely on their competition in steel shoots as their “training,” and then learned they use a pistol and ammo for those shoots that they do NOT carry for self defense. HUGE mistake! Thanks for asking this, I believe it is a VERY wothwhile point.

  5. Ian Mercer says:

    Great to see that my initial thoughts on ammo have been verified. When selecting my first firearm I opted for a 9mm Glock 19. My choice was based primarily on concealability, capacity, and being able to afford to practice often. I had read alot of debate about .45 vs 9mm but decided that most attackers aren’t going to know what caliber you are packing unless they are shot and live to tell the tale. Over months of shooting and comparing my 9mm to various .40’s and .45’s I also concluded that while a .45 may be more capable of producing a one-shot-stop, I am far more capable of putting two rounds in the chest and one in the head in 3 seconds with my 9mm (which should be more than plenty).

  6. jakestinson says:

    Great read! I’ve owned rifles and shotguns for quite a while now, I’m looking to purchase my first pistol and was torn. I wanted a 9mm for concealed carry and possibly a .45 for in the home. I think I’m opting for several hidden 9mms in the home along with an easy access short barrel 12 guage with 00 buck shot. 9mm ammo is much cheaper and I can stock up on it much cheaper now for when they decide to take our guns away.

    • Ben Chappell says:

      Sounds like you are the perfect customer for the Beretta Px4 pistol and Cx4 carbine. They come in 9mm. .40 and .45, and all have interchangeable magazines.

    • Steve says:

      I have a 9mm with Hydra Shok ammo and love it! I would take 14 shots with my M9 over 8 shots
      with a 45 that doe’s the SAME damage (12″-14″ deep with a .70″ hole ) any day because, like they said 2 shots in the chest and one in the head, or one shot one kill should do it in the head!

      Gun Control means using both hands!!

      When they come for your GUNS……..
      Give them your Hydra Shok Bullets!!

  7. fred says:

    With proper ammo, the expansion of a .45 will be slightly larger than a 9mm, but that’s assuming both have ideal ammo, and that’s purely gel, because it’s controlled. In bodies it really has more to do with what the round comes in contact with, so it’s really hard to compare the two in any scientific sense. I also think there’s a lot more to the debate. For instance, the momentum and/or kinetic energy can vary greatly dependent on the velocity, and the mass. You also can’t discount extraneous factors to the ability to stop the person in front of you, such as liability for collateral damage, contact negotiations, or standardization (like the military does with NATO over 9mm’s). None of those things have to do with the actual effectiveness for self defense, but are effecting the choice of rounds, as well as what they test to begin with.

    I’m not saying you’re wrong. I would feel safe with either, and I think whatever difference there is, it’s small enough that you can swing it in either favor based on ammo, weapon quality, maintenance , etc.

  8. fred says:

    oh, and I forgot to mention, the ammo thing, I 100% agree with you there. The .45’s just don’t have an answer for that one.

  9. sand says:

    The soldiers who used .45 and swore by it and protested the change to 9mm all mentioned that the value of the .45 1911 was that they could hit the enemy anywhere even in the shoulder or arm and they would go down and not pose a threat. In close quarter combat its better to see the guy drop with the first shot anywhere so you can move on to the next threat rather than focus on hitting one threat in the vitals multiple times. The people who swore by the .45 dealt with multiple assailants who if they had to aim at the vitals of each attacker to drop them would not be alive today. You can have all the training in the world but when 4-5 viet-cong sappers are rushing you in the dark with explosive strapped to their chests you just want to drop them fast, it is not important how many shots you get into their vitals. The vets reported even an arm shot could almost rip the attackers arm off…so sloppy, panicked shooting could still get results.

    • G Hamlin says:

      Everybody has a Champion when it comes to fire arm preference! Mine was a hillbilly from Arkansas, his father was a Marine. I always called him Grizz. He always said to me a 45 acp is a low velocity round that does not go straight through your target. A 45 ACP is the best for HOME defense because if you miss, the probability of killing a neighbor is much lower than a 9mm. The 9mm is very high velocity and the impact of sheet rock or siding on the house will do little to stop its probability of harm. The 45 acp will flatten much easier do to its lower velocity and less likely to harm someone unintentionally! I have read of officers who have been in harms way and swore they hit their target, but were still in danger. When he switched back to his 45 the problem was eliminated. For me the 45 is my home defense weapon, my Carrie would be my high capacity glock 40. I just cannot shoot as well as Grizz. He would never carry any thing but a 45, he only needs on shot.

  10. Jim Morrison says:

    I have been contemplating a 1911 45 cal for my home security. Your article is tilting me toward a 9mm (92FS) Another advantage of the 9 is that the ammo is less so I would practice more. I am nostalgic about the ACP 1911 because I carried one in the service. But I like DA/SA on the 92FS because I think my wife would be served best with the gun kept with one in the chamber and the safety on. So with DA she could just flip the safety off point it in the direction of the subject and pull the trigger.

  11. JD says:

    I like going as simple as possible. If I’m getting a semi-auto, it is a 9mm. If I’m going with a revolver, it is a .357 / .38. Rifles are great in .22 or .556 or .308. Shotguns in 12 or 20 ga – that’s it.

    Sticking with a few basic calibers makes shopping and range time easy. I know people who swear by their 10mm or .41 mag or 10 or 16 gauge shotgun but if I can’t find the ammo at Wally World I just don’t see the point.

    • Kzn says:

      Hey JD, you mean .22 or .223 ( 5.56 * 45 ) or .308 ( 7.62 * ?? ). You got 7.62 * 39 for AK and 7.62 * 51 mm NATO. Or yet, you got 7.62 * 54R, WW II rifle. My opinion, I think 5.56 is enough for rifle to make it more than effective and 9mm for pistol. They both are most common and cheapest combat rounds in the market. If you cannot really afford them, then I guess .22lr is much better than nothing. I suggest you pack a lot of guns if you live in CA with case of 10 round magazine only. a .22lr will work well if you can get a lot of follow up shot, meaning more bullets down the line. Bright side, it’s cheap, $20 for 500+ rounds. Cheers.

  12. Ben Warman says:

    I’m a mechanical engineer and very knowledgeable about physics. 9mm and .45acp rounds vary in their respective groups depending on bullet weight and powder. The energy of the round is going to be a function of its weight multiplied by the square of the velocity, m*v^2. Some 9mm rounds have similar energy ratings to those of .45acp. In this case, both rounds (depending on the design of the bullet, JHP/FMJ) will have very similar ballistics.

    A guy that bench presses 500 lbs, but can barely move his arms is not likely to deliver a punch with nearly as much energy as a guy that can bench press 200 lbs and throw a 100mph fastball. I notice that most 9mm rounds deliver between 300 to 500 ft-lbf while most .45acp rounds deliver between 400 to 600 ft-lbf (depending on the design). This means that while some 9mm rounds perform as well as some .45acp rounds, the .45acp is a statistically more effective round.

    • PB says:

      Those numbers between the rounds is skewed, standard .45APC to a 9mm +P+ round. Apples and Oranges people. Use a standard 9mm and a .45APC and then show me the figures..

      Just sayin

    • mike says:

      I would be very interested to see a 45acp that delivers 600ft-lbs of energy.

    • Kzn says:

      Well, not to have anything against you. I’m a computer engineer, I’m not going to argue about that. But 1 thing I know for sure is that I’m somewhat a nerd, I can’t bench that much nor run more than 5 miles. So here’s the deal, if you can SOM really well with that round, I guess you can sure take a .45 ACP. For me, I can barely stand still and get some bullseye at 20 yards. And if you live in a normal state, not CA, NY, NJ, FL, pack a 17 round mag on PX4 9mm and see how well you can fight against that on SOM.

  13. Starfire says:

    Most important factor in a self defense situation is shot placement. Shot placement is determined mostly by practice. Price of ammo limits practice. Therefore 9mm should (for those of us on a budget) result in best shot placement. But now that I have practiced maybe I should get a 45?

  14. Carman says:

    I love the article makes many good points. The key that can be lost here is that you are using 9mm +P+ in the comparison…..not the 9mm ball ammo most of us shoot at the range. I live in NY so lose the advantage of hi capacity mags….:( BTW own Berreta 92, Glock 19 and 1911 love them all!

  15. RugerToYourDome says:

    Has any body els noticed that when you buy a revolver the hole stopping power issue is no longer a subject? six rounds of 44mag is what i use but thats only due to the fact that i have bigger balls then most people in this form

  16. paul says:

    Great article, I agree for home defense the 9mm is the gun to have. Not that a 45 is not good, but it takes more practice to not react to the recoil.

  17. twr says:

    Somewhere there is a .357 Mag hollow point scratching its head and wondering if you kids will ever learn.

  18. perretholdings says:

    I have been in love with the .45 acp for as long as I’ve been interested in guns 35 years. I have done my time in the service USMC, and have carried concealed for the past 10 years. This is the first time that I have come across an article that has touched upon the same thoughts and “inner voice” that I’ve had. To be honest with you I have always wondered should I carry my .45 or my 9mm and if i carry my 9 will I be losing stopping power? You have answered my questions, concerns and to be quite honest sort of put my ego back in check. I believe that I’m a competant gun owner I believe I know what I need to know but now I know that I don’t know everything. Thanks for the article and thanks for giving me additional knowledge that just my be a life savor to myself and or my loved ones. Ps. I still love my .45 🙂

  19. Tim Pope says:

    All have valid points but consider that you may not always be home to protect the family and it maybe your wife or teenage kids that are reaching for the gun for protection, a caliber that they can manage with multiple rounds in my opinion is the best.

  20. Drew says:

    I would like to make a point on human anatomy. Everyone always talks about head shots or double shots to the chest, but rarely does anyone mention shots to the pelvic region. I am not saying that a bullet to the head or two to the chest don’t do their job, but listen to my point then make your decision. The reason that I say this is because a shot to the pelvic area has a high success of hitting a major artery (leading to very fast bleed out). Also, any type of force to this area would take down the biggest person because everything above your hips is being supported by them (a majority of anyone’s body mass). Another benefit of shooting someone there is the problem of bullets penetrating and coming out the back of the assailant. There is plenty of bone and cartilage to keep the bullet from penetrating all the way through. This is very important in home defense, you won’t always know what is behind a burglar. I personally think that the 9mm has plenty of stopping power using what I suggested here. It is like they say….more fatalities have been reported caused by 22LR than any other caliber. I say the one you are most accurate with wins my vote.

  21. Arnel Pineda Aquino says:

    I have my 45 cal. at the moment I am planning to buy cz spo-1 shadow 9mm. In order to have a variety of ammo’s. But I believed .45 cal have the powerful impact than 9mm. But 1911 is traditionally heavier than 9mm. Therefore, I will use the .45 cal for our home to protect my Family and 9mm for hand carry. At the same for target shooting. It’s more accurate and handy.

  22. Charlie says:

    I’m a retired deputy sheriff with 22 years on patrol/jail duty/civil process, etc. We all carried .38 revolvers in the 70s. Then we had to go to 9 or .45 autos. I had seen a photo of a dead man on a slab with some 30 hits by 9mm before he went down. I got a .45. I am retired and still have a .45 that is too heavy concealled for my bad back so I carry a .38 snubby and leave the .45 at home by the bed. I still prefer a .45 but have to admit a hit with a 9mm is better than 3 misses with a .45…

  23. Kephra Rubin says:

    Loved the article, if it’s good enough for the navy seals, it probably deserves some attention.

    Here’s something I always wondered, if you have a second I’d love to hear your thoughts on this.

    Do you think training lacks more in mechanical usage of the firearm, or in tactical mentality?

    I have a lot of friends in military, police etc but am not myself. I am lucky if I get to shoot a few times a year. However I hear about the training my friends get and it concerns me. I’ll try my best to explain what I mean in terms I understand and hopefully you’ll know what I mean. I’d love to hear your thoughts:

    I went to a friends house who has a pet lizard, I put my face close to the glass to see him and the first thing the lizard did was puff his neck out at me.

    It seems to me that every animal, be it mammal or not does the same thing. They posture FIRST whenever encountering a threat.

    But what happens when you only have a second to react? How much of that time is spent posturing? Does a person try to then combine their posture with their defense?

    When you have 15 rounds, do you think “Let me unload on this dirt bag and show him who’s boss”
    When you have 7 rounds do you think “crap, if I miss I only have six shots left, that’s not nearly enough to unload on this dirt bag and show him who’s boss, I seriously need to hit him center of the sternum”

    Would a 7 shot 9mm produce more one shot stops than a 33 round?

    Does training spend so much time focusing on mechanics that it lets psychology take a back seat? Does letting it take a back seat result in soldiers or officers never learning to deprogram that need to first intimidate?

    Would deprogramming that need result in better threat assessment and engagement?

    What do you think?

    This is a very abstract thought, but I’m curious to see what your take is even if it isn’t something that can be scientifically measured.


  24. Jason says:

    I prefer capacity over caliber. Oh, I can say I got a big gun with big bullets and talk like I’m a bad motherfucker but once I’ve fired all 8 rounds in adrinaline and I’m empty while receiving fire then what?

  25. josh h says:

    Wow im glad i came across this site. Im kinda new to the whole thing. My army buddy told me that a 9mm was definitely weaker than the 40 cal and that i shouldnt get one. But it does make more sense to handle a gun that allows you to get clear shots with recoil you can actually handle.

  26. Jason says:

    It depends what type of ammunition you buy. Obviously a 9mm FMJ isn’t going to be as effective in a defensive situation as a 9mm JHP. I use Hornady Critical Duty 9mm 135 grain +P. These will do a better job at shredding tissue, organs, and creating a big wound cavity.

  27. mrsugs says:

    Buy Hornady Tap 9mm 1350 fps muzzle energy 500…That will get the job done.

  28. elanigirl says:

    I have a sig 226 E2 9mm, fantastic gun. I love it. I just ordered a cc springfield XDs 45. I believe I will love that as well. Can’t wait to shoot it. I see both sides of the the issue. I believe it is up to personal choice.I want something that is going to stop a perp asap. Although I have had some martial arts training. I am not a fool to believe that I can over power a man or at least most men. This was a great article. I hope though that I made the right choice about a cc.

  29. Glen C. says:

    Cost is never an issue when it comes to defense. In a recent shooting of a suspect in a Ford Mustang, the shots fired from .40 and 9mm usually were stuck in the door. All the .45s went through the door and into the cabin.

    I got put down my 92F and got the full size H&K .45

  30. John William says:

    Thanks Ben and newer 45’s carry a lot more then eight!

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  32. Anonymous says:

    When it comes to self defense, its who gets the first hit so you really only get one shot. Of course any caliber would kill with a shot to the head or heart but it doesn’t matter if you’re an expert on weapon ballistics or some average Joe; a larger round with more powder behind it is going to have more stopping power whether it be by a little or a lot. I have never had any trouble with the .45’s recoil and can fire a good pattern with rapid succession. As with magazine size, it doesn’t matter very much in home defense unless you aren’t very accurate. I prefer the .45 but I think it is up to the individual and how they perform with various calibers.

  33. tom denson says:

    In California you can’t attach any more than 10 bullets per handgun. So I went across the state line and bought magazines that hold more ten 10 bullets and wait for this stupid law to change. But stupid people keep murdering innocent people and the gun laws are just going to get stricter while the criminals will laugh because the regular good guy joe who wants to defend himself has a harder time doing it. Long ago wildreness men looked at the .30 caliber rifle and said they’d be “et by bears” if they carried a caliber that small. Well, we all know how the 30.06 was used through two world wars…

  34. snoballs says:

    Few issues to consider:

    Very often hollow points get clogged (by clothing for example.) This makes them into hardball, and hence less effective.

    “Hard” areas of the body (pelvis, arms bones in defensive position, sternum, skull) will resist penetration by light bullets. Even if you don’t hit a vital area that causes a bleed-out (slow process) the PAIN (or structural incapacity) of a shattered bone can cause an attacker to discontinue an attack (fast), even if not fatally wounded.

    I feel this alone is the most significant element of the .45 ACP’s reputation as a “manstopper”.

    Not all .45s carry just 8 rounds. An XD45 carries 13+1, with a grip length less than an inch longer than the Glock 19 (which carries 15+1.) I don’t find the recoil on this particular .45 objectionable at all, being more of a “push” than a “snap” when fired (unlike a .40S&W). The short trigger reset and overall weight favor the Glock for combat, but that is a gun, not caliber, issue.

    I have both of the above mentioned guns, and carry them easily in appendix position. The ammo for .45 is more expensive to buy, but reloads are not much more than 9mm reloads, so practice time doesn’t really break the bank. (Commercial JHP carry rounds are essentially the same price.)

    I think “caliber wars” that ignore physiological effects of pain and structural damage, versus just the size of the hole (or wound tract), overlook an VERY important component of overall effectiveness. (Example .357sig has a reported “lightning bolt” effect on people, just by driving a 9mm bullet at very high velocities and having very high penetration capabilities – this comes at the cost of recoil and muzzle blast.)

    Everything is a compromise, and I alternate between the two rounds depending on where I am going, and what dress it requires. In the end, the gun in your pocket (when you need it) is a much more effective round than the most “awesome flying round of instant death” gun that isn’t carried.

  35. oldbill says:

    I don’t like shooting +P, much less +P+. In a 9mm one is trying to recreate a .357 magnum with a +P+. I’ll admit, I don’t own a 9mm. I have a .380, a 38 special, and a .357, and I have been tooled up for reloading for eighteen years. 38 Special is an excellent caliber for a woman who is not going to spend any more time at the range than a police officer. I have a Glock 36, Berreta PX4 Storm, and a Springfield Armory basic 1911 A (except it is stainless steel), all 45 ACP. I reload and I cast my own bullets. I prefer lead to jacketed bullets, and I prefer solid nose to hollow point. I don’t over charge rounds. In most cases I tend to load on the low side, because, the round is going to be used at 25 yards or less, and it is more important to hit the target than maul the target. .380 will knock a person down, as will a 38 Special. .357 magnum will likely kill two people if they are lined up and you hit the first guy in the chest. I was trained in the Marines to use the Pistol Caliber 45. It will down a person in your house and won’t likely go through three or four walls and kill your neighbor if you miss. If I want more “power” than the 45 ACP, I bring out my S&W 500 Magnum.

  36. Spencer says:

    This is a good read but, Its all about shot placement and training. At first when i practiced with the .45 the recoil was unexpected but as time marched on its like shooting nothing. And as for mag cap if you were open range no cover in a gun battle and you drew first and landed the right shots 8 or 17 doesnt matter at this point and even if you didnt draw first 8 or 17 doesnt matter. Its all in the training =)

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