9mm Luger via a LEO's perspective

This is a discussion on 9mm Luger via a LEO's perspective within the Defensive Ammunition & Ballistics forums, part of the Defensive Carry Discussions category; I have no videos, pdf links, official sounding documents, or a doctor on standby to support what I am about to say. I do however, ...

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Thread: 9mm Luger via a LEO's perspective

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    New Member Array CDWolfe's Avatar
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    9mm Luger via a LEO's perspective

    I have no videos, pdf links, official sounding documents, or a doctor on standby to support what I am about to say. I do however, have 8 years as a police officer under my belt with one of the highest crime rated cities in the southern U.S. After 5 years of patrol, for the past 3 years I have been assigned to the crime scene unit (CSI) and have real world experience with seeing people who are DRT (dead right there) from gunshot wounds. I also have to deal with our coroner's office before/during/after autopsies, and I get the task of handling all the evidence from said cases. On to my observations...

    1. I used to be a diehard .45 ACP fanboy until we started training "realistically." We are now required to shoot in various positions, which include 2 handed isosceles stance, 1 hand-strong hand shooting, and 1 hand-weak hand (I am right handed so forced to shoot with left only). We shoot straight on target, from behind cover such as the patrol car's engine block, and from prone behind a curb. Ranges are anywhere from 25 yards out to point blank. I can't hit crap beyond 7 yards with 1 hand-weak hand, shooting a .45 ACP. It feels heavy, wobbly, and awkward. I can get better with practice but why risk my life to this phenomenon.

    2. A .40 S&W has more recoil thus slower, ACCURATE follow-ups than the 9mm or .45 ACP. This is a fact and why I do not like .40 S&W.

    3. In "Top Cop" competitions hosted by my dept., it's ALWAYS the 9mm LEOs that win those things. Better control, faster follow-up shots, more accurate "high stress" bullet placement.

    Having said all this, I recently sold my SF XD 45 and bought a GLOCK 17 Gen4 9mm. I have always used the Speer GD ammo in my .45, so I figured I'd go with some Speer GD 9mm, with the recommended 124g +P stuff. After all, P.D.s such as NY and NJ use them. Then I landed on an article discussing the use of 147g ammo. I had heard of 147g before, but it was several years ago and the data was not that great. Recent testing and bullet design have greatly improved this round to the degree that the following is now "statistically" a common finding:

    1. 124g +P has slightly better expansion.
    2. 147g has slightly better penetration.

    There's even 147g +P out now.

    So what do you want in a 9mm designed for stopping power?

    1. At least 12" of penetration.
    2. Consistent expansion (.60 is nice, .70 is better).
    3. Non-separation of bullet/jacket.
    4. Being accurate whether it is 2 handed or 1 handed shooting...PoA = PoI.

    There is no magic bullet that is the "do all, be all, end all" in a pistol caliber. Weather affects bullet dynamics just as much as the weight of the bullet. 147g SHOULD be more effective in cold weather due to having slightly better penetration (think heavy clothing), but this is not a guarantee. At the same time, against bare skin or in warm months, 124 +P SHOULD be better because of the slightly better expansion. Ultimately you have to be able to hit what you are aiming at, and keep putting rounds on target until the threat is stopped.

    I have seen a man that was hit over 15x by numerous rounds to include .45 ACP, .40 S&W and 9mm, but he would not drop. No one was getting good hits on vitals. Then an old school revolver shooter put one in the heart with a .38 SPL and the guy dropped DRT.

    I have seen .40 S&W over-penetrate through soft flesh and go in one side and out the other.

    I have seen .45 ACP JHP not make it to the heart after traveling through a heavy coat, 3 shirts, and some thermal underwear and the guy ran off and went to the hospital on his own.

    I have seen some cheap 9mm ammo that was a 1 hit stop after Joe-Thug shot John-Thug in the heart...DRT.

    A lot of this is random thoughts and experiences typed out, but I wanted to make a case from real world experiences that it does not matter what you choose to carry, just make sure you can hit what you are aiming at and to keep on shooting until the bad guy is no longer a threat. We do not train to fire 1 shot, look at the target to see if it is a 1 hit stop, and then to react with some more shots. We shoot MULTIPLE times until the threat has been eliminated. The argument for single shot 9mm vs .45 is just stupid.

    In the end what I chose to go with after hours of personal testing was the Federal HST 9mm 124g +P for warm weather and the Federal HST 9mm 147g for cold weather. This decision was reached based on what I could control the BEST in all shooting scenarios, what had great penetration, expansion, and no jacket separation, and what offered PoA = PoI consistency. I am sure the Speer GD is fabulous in 9mm, but my personal research and testing found that the Federal HST was marginally better.

    Take it for what it's worth from a "real world" cop with CSI experience.
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    VIP Member Array multistage's Avatar
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    I always wondered why folks got wrapped around the axle with the "one shot stop" concept. If I ever get in a bind, target will get two rounds, at minimum. Funny how things swing. The much maligned 9mm is making an impressive comeback.

    Many thanks for your post. It further validates a few theories I subscribe to: 9mm is certainly enough, and one round fired certainly isn't.

    Welcome to the forum.

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    Quote Originally Posted by CDWolfe View Post
    I have seen .45 ACP JHP not make it to the heart after traveling through a heavy coat, 3 shirts, and some thermal underwear and the guy ran off and went to the hospital on his own.
    With all due respect, everything you mention I have read in one form or another about every two months on DC. My question to you was why in the was someone wearing all that clothing you mention above in the deep south?
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    Welcome to the forum!
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    I agree, the more shots on target the better (common sense). What the fanboys (of any caliber) always argue is theories of expansion, kinetic energy, velocity, etc. Trust me when I tell you that standing still, shooting at a non-moving paper target is FAR DIFFERENT that shooting defensively while Mr. Bad Guy is popping rounds off that go zinging by your head because he refuses to go back to jail alive. All that theory crap goes right out the window and you're in it to eliminate the threat by any means necessary, so that you go home at the end of the shift.

    But here is some "street theory" for everyone to consider: 3 good, fast hits with 9mm that expands to .70" each (like Speer GD or Federal HST) yields 2.1" of total expansion area. This is SUPERIOR to 2 good, fast hits with .45 ACP that expands to .90" each, which gives you 1.8" of total expansion area.

    By the same token, the only guaranteed single shot stop is if the brain or spinal cord are destroyed. Not even destroying the heart can guarantee an instant stop.

    @C hawk Glock: in the deep South, winters are mild at best. However, we do have days where the temps can dip into the teens. Weather aside, for whatever reason, blacks tend to wear a ton of clothing in the colder months. I am comfortable in short sleeves when it is 32* outside, but some people walk around looking like Eskimos in furry parkas.

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    I started off with .45's (G30, USP, 1911) thinking there isn't anything better. I recently bought my first 9mm (G19) and have been carrying it a lot. I can shoot it more accurately, faster. Not to say I can shoot 9mm more accurately than .45, I shoot them the same as far as accuracy goes during slow fire. But fast fire, 9mm wins, easily. More capacity in a thinner package. More shots on target faster.

    I will say I think all things being equal, a .45 have the advantage over 9mm in "wounding" power, or whatever as well as barriers. But in the real world, the difference will be negligible if not non-existent. With the current bullet technology 9mm is better than ever. I currently carry either a S&W 442, G19 or G30. Have plenty of faith in either caliber, even the .38

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    I appreciate your observations. If you boil it all down, it reinforces the notion that there is no magic bullet, and clinging to one caliber to the exclusion of others won't save your hide.

    We can continue to debate the "optimum" sidearm and caliber, but at the end of the day I doubt we can conclusively state that one caliber or one firearm trumps all others. My hope is that your post serves to keep people's minds open.
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    Quote Originally Posted by CDWolfe View Post
    But here is some "street theory" for everyone to consider: 3 good, fast hits with 9mm that expands to .70" each (like Speer GD or Federal HST) yields 2.1" of total expansion area. This is SUPERIOR to 2 good, fast hits with .45 ACP that expands to .90" each, which gives you 1.8" of total expansion area.
    Whoa, back up the math train. You are simply adding the diameters, which might be a valid comparison if each hit was right next to the other, making a nice perforation pattern. But, the area of those (overall size of holes) still favors the two .45 shots. Remember the the old PI*r^2 thing? Three 9mm at .70 have total area of 1.16 sq/in, while the two .45 at .90 have a total area of 1.27 sq/in.

    That puts us back into the numbers game which really is immaterial. I think a BG bleeding from three holes is better than just two holes. And hey, the 9mm pistol usually lets you put a lot more holes in the guy before needing to reload.

    Sorry, the math teacher in me just couldn't let that go by.
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    Quote Originally Posted by sdprof View Post
    Whoa, back up the math train. You are simply adding the diameters, which might be a valid comparison if each hit was right next to the other, making a nice perforation pattern. But, the area of those (overall size of holes) still favors the two .45 shots. Remember the the old PI*r^2 thing? Three 9mm at .70 have total area of 1.16 sq/in, while the two .45 at .90 have a total area of 1.27 sq/in.

    That puts us back into the numbers game which really is immaterial. I think a BG bleeding from three holes is better than just two holes. And hey, the 9mm pistol usually lets you put a lot more holes in the guy before needing to reload.

    Sorry, the math teacher in me just couldn't let that go by.
    HeHe this response makes me feel better about my post #3 above. These threads always start a ******* match!
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    Quote Originally Posted by C hawk Glock View Post
    With all due respect, everything you mention I have read in one form or another about every two months on DC. My question to you was why in the was someone wearing all that clothing you mention above in the deep south?
    Maybe they knew there was a possibility of getting shot with a .45 in the chest and wanted to take precautions

    To the OP; while the points you mentioned have been tossed around quite a bit on the forums as CHawk mentions, I thought your comments and arguments were well thought out, and explained your reasoning for endorsing the 9mm. I think it's a good round, is it the best out there? Probably not, but it'll get it done in a pinch no doubt.
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    It still all comes down to this:

    Carry the largest caliber that you can shoot quickly yet accurately and can afford to practice a lot with.

    For some guys this will be 9mm, 40sw, 45acp or 10mm.

    I carry 9mm and am fine with that - I shoot it well and am confident with it. But, if I could shoot and control .40sw equally, you bet I'd be carrying a G27 over my G26.
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    I liked your post, good info, even though I do carry a .40. I really liked the "DRT", I'll use that one!
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    I live in Louisiana, it can be sometimes be surprisingly COLD here. I work outside in it and often wear layered clothing.
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    Nice post that sums up the obvious: A good hit with any caliber will stop the fight; a bad hit with any caliber will not. Nice perspective from one who's "been there, done that." The is no magic caliber or bullet.

    DRT . . . I like that.
    Last edited by OldVet; January 16th, 2012 at 03:15 PM.
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