.380 vs 9mm vs .40 vs .45 - Which is best and why?

This is a discussion on .380 vs 9mm vs .40 vs .45 - Which is best and why? within the Concealed Carry Issues & Discussions forums, part of the Defensive Carry Discussions category; As a casual shooter all my adult life and as a more avid student of shooting for the last several years I sometimes see and/or ...

View Poll Results: Which caliber is best for concealed carry?

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  • .380

    19 5.72%
  • 9mm

    161 48.49%
  • .40

    58 17.47%
  • .45

    94 28.31%
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Thread: .380 vs 9mm vs .40 vs .45 - Which is best and why?

  1. #1
    Member Array Boomer928's Avatar
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    .380 vs 9mm vs .40 vs .45 - Which is best and why?

    As a casual shooter all my adult life and as a more avid student of shooting for the last several years I sometimes see and/or hear a preference towards one caliber or another when it comes to handguns and concealed handguns in particular. Sometimes this is a very strong preference to the point of stubbornness.

    This video illustrates it very well with those who prefer the .45 in a way that sometimes defies common sense. Not saying they are wrong; I absolutely like the .45 and currently have two of them. I also have some 9's and Makarov 9's.



    Of course the 9mm folks are just as adamant. :D I can only link to it due to the limit on videos in a given post.

    9mm Guns and the People who Carry Them (Full Video) - YouTube

    And last but not least is the .40 cal. Why are some people so against this round that falls somewhere between the .9mm and .45? In this ballistics table; it looks to be a very good round by the numbers.
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  3. #2
    Ex Member Array DetChris's Avatar
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    Uh oh not another caliber thread. This is going to open the flood gates again.

    The general rule is shoot whatever you can control or can hit most consistently with. Shots that hit are better than those that don't.

    That being said challenge yourself to shoot the biggest baddest caliber you can handle and in a handgun that you can comfortable conceal any day of the week.

    Purely from physics, .380 < 9mm < .40 < .45. If you can pack a .45 everyday and shoot like a pro, you're all set. If all you can handle nothing more than a .380, practice a lot so you get lots of hits.

  4. #3
    Senior Member Array SCXDm9's Avatar
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    9mm is best for making small holes, .380 for slightly bigger holes. .40 for big holes and .45 for the biggest hole.


    Got to disagree with DetChris a little, I shoot at paper 3 or 4 times a month and hope to never shoot a person, so I carry and shoot 9mm. Each trigger pull cost me around .22 cent rather then .46 cents. At 75 to 100 rounds per range trip.... I carry 9mm for the cost and believe it is also a fine self defense round too. The best, matter of opinion but good enough for me.
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    VIP Member Array maxwell97's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DetChris View Post

    Purely from physics, .380 < 9mm < .40 < .45.
    I MIGHT argue that it's .380<9<.45<.40, in terms of physics (muzzle energy) and depending on the weapon. But, really, they're all effective rounds, and all but the .380 VERY effective with the best ammo. I'd vote for 9mm for concealed carry, because I believe it offers the best balance of stopping power, recoil, and capacity in a compact-to-sub-compact handgun.
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    9mm and .380 are the same diameter (.355"), but the caliber you have in hand is the best.
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    Distinguished Member Array Arborigine's Avatar
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    What is the best car for freeway use?
    See what i did there? The best gun for concealing is not necessarily the best gun to shoot an attacker. Your mileage may vary.
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    Member Array Boomer928's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DetChris View Post
    Uh oh not another caliber thread. This is going to open the flood gates again.

    The general rule is shoot whatever you can control or can hit most consistently with. Shots that hit are better than those that don't.

    That being said challenge yourself to shoot the biggest baddest caliber you can handle and in a handgun that you can comfortable conceal any day of the week.

    Purely from physics, .380 < 9mm < .40 < .45. If you can pack a .45 everyday and shoot like a pro, you're all set. If all you can handle nothing more than a .380, practice a lot so you get lots of hits.
    Yes; I'm quite aware of everything you said. I think most people are by the time they get their CCW. I've had mine for around 12 years now.

    We also know it's all about shot placement with handguns. What I don't know is why some folks simply do not like the .40 cal at all. Is it because it has a harsher recoil than a .45? Going by the ballistics table I linked to it seems as though the .40 has more velocity and energy but less weight than the .45. Does that weight difference really make that much difference?

    I don't know that's why I'm asking. I want to be clear on this because my next purchase might depend on getting the most bang for the buck - so to speak. I can handle all the calibers. That isn't an issue for me personally. If bigger and faster is best; why aren't we all packing a Judge or Governor (at least those can handle them) if you see my point?

    Sorry about posting another caliber thread. I did a search but didn't turn up any threads in my search. Maybe I needed to word it differently in my search. On bike and car forums it's the oil threads that keep popping up so I know what you mean.
    The three most important components of stopping power are: bullet placement, bullet placement, bullet placement.
    -Evan Marshall

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    Finally, someone posted a poll like this. :)
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    Somehow I ended up with only Sigs, HKs and S&W J-frames.

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    VIP Member Array glockman10mm's Avatar
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    Bigger is always better, unless you can't shoot it well. Then you settle for the biggest caliber you can shoot well.
    Ignorance is a long way from stupid, but left unchecked, can get there real fast.

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    Member Array MJClark's Avatar
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    Ammo it's self is worthless. It is only when you have a gun to shoot it out of does it become important. The gun that shoots the ammo is a variable, the person shooting the gun is a variable, the weather conditions can be a variable, and the distance and movement of a target is a variable.

    That is a lot of variables. Therefore, my answer is the best caliber is the one that you can most accurately and consistently shoot with your gun of choice, and afford to practice on a regular basis. For me, it is a 9mm.
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    Ten millimeter, yes, definitely.
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    VIP Member Array OutWestSystems's Avatar
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    I always figured the best caliber is the one that is in the firearm that is in my holster at the time I need it.
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    Member Array tele_pathic's Avatar
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    TROLL!!!

    And to be honest, I was hesitant to watch another video by Mr. CN, but in the interest of full-knowledge, I watched the 9mm People video. I couldn't make it past his "9mm=Toyota Corolla" and his "when was the last time a dude got laid talking about the reliability of his Toyota Corolla." Well there you go: 9mm<.45 because the .45 will get you womens. It's not the first time MCN has made that comparison. In his comparison video of Glock vs. S&W M&P, he readily admits that the Glock is more reliable and shoots better but the S&W M&P is "sexier." In fact, the first 3 minutes of that video talks only about looks and sex appeal of the M&P. Ridiculous! If I'm cc'ing right, you should NEVER see my handgun, so "sex appeal" never enters the equation. IMHO, statements like this hurt/undermine his credibility. I can see where some might appreciate his advice, but he's not my cup o' tea, in the same way some people can't stand hickok45, which I totally don't get (I love that "old" dude).

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    VIP Member
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    How's come .45 Colt isn't on the list? You don't like cowboys?
    "Who are the ones that we kept in charge? Killers, thieves, and lawyers"

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    VIP Member Array maxwell97's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Boomer928 View Post
    Going by the ballistics table I linked to it seems as though the .40 has more velocity and energy but less weight than the .45. Does that weight difference really make that much difference?
    I don't know that's why I'm asking. I want to be clear on this because my next purchase might depend on getting the most bang for the buck - so to speak.
    Stopping power is a science with no consensus - frankly there probably isn't a good way to answer. Some people say only penetration matters, some say permanent cavity, some say temporary cavity, some say hydrostatic shock. Some swear by the official FBI report of 1989 (which you should ignore, by the way, because UW Patrick doesn't understand physics), some by one-shot stop percentages, some by muzzle energy.

    Personally, I go by two things - does the round have enough muzzle energy to cause serious injury (necessary to stop a the threat), and will the energy be transferred to the target in a way that causes serious injury. These can be met by all three calibers UNDER CERTAIN CONDITIONS. The reason .45 has such a good history, in my opinion, is because it meets the second criteria under more conditions. Even if it doesn't expand, the width of the bullet will result in a more effective transfer of energy than the smaller calibers, even if less energy is available out of the muzzle.
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