.45 ACP vs. 9mm: Here Comes Some Hard Data!

.45 ACP vs. 9mm: Here Comes Some Hard Data!

This is a discussion on .45 ACP vs. 9mm: Here Comes Some Hard Data! within the Defensive Ammunition & Ballistics forums, part of the Defensive Carry Discussions category; I know this issue has been discussed a thousand times in a hundred different threads but I hope to provide some hard data to bring ...

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Thread: .45 ACP vs. 9mm: Here Comes Some Hard Data!

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    .45 ACP vs. 9mm: Here Comes Some Hard Data!

    I know this issue has been discussed a thousand times in a hundred different threads but I hope to provide some hard data to bring knowledge to the debate. This is not meant to persuade anyone that one round is superior to the other. Iím cheap and I donít like to waste money. When I make a big purchase like a gun I want to make sure I am making the right choice. That led me to do a lot of this research to answer my own questions. I hope it can help shed some light on the debate and guide you if you are unsure about what caliber of firearm to choose for a defensive carry. I donít expect this to end the 9mm vs. .45 debate Ė in fact if you read this youíll see that both rounds have their pros and cons. I am not a ballistics expert, I am a former intel-analyst and amateur hand-loader with a good grasp of math and Excel;) With that said, enjoy!
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    Reference
    Iíll be using several examples of loads derived from the Lyman Reloading Handbook, 9th edition. All of these loads are within recommended specifications. I have not invented any numbers or created any loads beyond manufacturer recommendations. I understand that not all of these load combinations are available as factory ammo. I use these to prove a point: That common notions about .45 ACP vs. 9mm donít always stand up to scrutiny.
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    Ft.-Lbs. (Bullet Energy)
    A lot of people believe this is the ultimate measure of a firearmís ability to inflict damage upon a target. I tend to agree that this CAN be a good measure, but there is a big component most people leave out of their calculationsÖ Over-penetration. When you calculate ft-lbs for a round this does not consider your target. If I have a round with 300 ft-lbs of energy and I shoot it into a thick steel plate the round will hit the plate, make a very small dimple and stop. In this example all 300 ft-lbs of energy was transferred to the target. If I take that same round and shoot it through a paper target, the round will hit the target and continue with very little change in velocity. The amount of ft-lbs. imparted to the paper target would be miniscule. Now if I increase the size of the round but fire it at a slower velocity, I can have a round with the same amount of energy that will not exit the target. That means if my faster rounds are exiting the target, resulting in wasted energy, a larger slower round can potentially impart more energy into that target.

    Now consider a human body which is made up of a variety of soft tissues and bone, all of which is much softer than a steel plate. If a round exits the body, not all of the energy from that round has been absorbed by that target. That means when we talk about ft-lbs we also have to consider over-penetration. Let me rephrase: Ft-Lbs of force for any given load is completely insignificant unless we know the round will not over--penetrate or we can measure exit velocity. You cannot simply compare ft-lbs. between two rounds and assume one will cause more damage than the other because it has more ft-lbs. In fact smaller, high-velocity rounds that appear to be more powerful are at a greater risk of over-penetration and therefore loss of energy absorbed into the target. I havenít seen any good tests done for this yet, but if someone simply setup a chronograph directly in front and behind a ballistics gel target, you could calculate the amount of ft.-lbs. actually absorbed by the target. But letís look at some examples:

    9mm 125 gr. JHP 1,119 fps (7.8 grains of AA#7)
    348 ft-lbs.

    9mm 90 gr. JHP 1,411 fps (5.2 grains of 231)
    398 ft-lbs.

    Both of these loads are using max load data with propellant that produces the most velocity. It may seem odd that a 125 gr. JHP at maximum produces 50 ft-lbs (13%) less than a 90 gr. This is because firearms can fire a slightly lighter bullet at significantly higher velocities than heavier bullets. Does that mean the 90 grain JHP is a better choice for self-defense? Not by a long shot! Remember over-penetration. Ask yourself what bullet is more likely to over-penetrate a human target, a smaller faster bullet or a slower heavier one? The slower heavier one would most likely penetrate less. Now we could make an argument that the heavier round will generally decelerate slower, so that is a consideration too, but that is beyond the scope of this discussion. If we go down that road things get very complicated very quickly. Letís move on:

    9mm 90 gr. JHP 1,411 fps (5.2 grains of 231)
    398 ft-lbs.

    45 ACP 225 gr. JHP 884 fps (10.3 grains of HS-7)
    390 ft-lbs.


    In this example I have a 90 grain 9mm JHP and a slower, heavier .45 ACP JHP. Both of these rounds have about the same amount of energy. I think we can generally agree that our smaller faster round is more likely to over-penetrate than our larger diameter, slower, .45 ACP round. After all the .45 ACP round is travelling 37% slower than the 9mm and will experience more resistance as it travels through the target because of the larger diameter.

    Letís assume our slower .45 ACP load hits the target and does not exit. That means 100% of the 390 ft-lbs of energy was transferred to the target. Our much faster round over-penetrates, exiting the target at 700 fps. This faster round did not pass all of the energy into the target but we can calculate how much it did. Upon exit the bullet would have had 98 ft-lbs of energy. If we subtract this from our starting energy of 398 ft.-lbs. that means only 300 ft.-lbs. of energy was absorbed by the target. So in this example the larger slower round imparted more energy to the target because it did not over-penetrate. Now this is a hypothetical exit velocity but you can see that over-penetration can possibly result in a round with high energy imparting less energy to the target.

    Letís move on and compare some 45 ACP rounds to 9mm.

    Max Load: 9mm 125 gr. JHP 1,119 fps (7.8 grains of AA#7)
    348 ft-lbs.

    Min Load: 9mm 125 gr. JHP 872 fps (3.1 grains of Clays)
    211 ft-lbs.

    Max Load: 9mm 90 gr. JHP 1,411 fps (5.2 grains of 231)
    398 ft-lbs.

    Min Load: 9mm 90 gr. JHP 835 fps (5.2 grains of AA#5)
    194 ft-lbs.

    Max Load: 45 ACP 225 gr. JHP 884 fps (10.3 grains of HS-7)
    390 ft-lbs.

    Min Load: 45 ACP 225 gr. JHP 548 fps (4.1 grains of Unique)
    150 ft-lbs.

    Max Load: 45 ACP 185 gr. JHP 1,047 fps (8.0 grains of WSF)
    450 ft-lbs.

    Min Load: 45 ACP 185 gr. JHP 599 fps (3.5 grains of HP-38)
    147 ft-lbs.

    Some 9mm proponents will show factory loads where 9mmís have significantly more ft-lbs. of energy than the .45 ACP. As you can see here energy varies SIGNIFICANTLY depending on the load used. .45 ACP rounds CAN produce substantially more energy than the 9mm with the right combination of bullet and powder. But again this is only relevant if the bullet transfers all of the energy into the target. Now one interesting thing you may have noticed is that the .45 ACP can produce more ft-lbs at a lower velocity than the 9mm. This means if a 9mm over-penetrates a given target, the 45 ACP will likely have less penetration and transfer greater energy to the target. Of course it can be more complicated because of bullet weight and size, but that is the general principal. 9mm rounds, on average, are much faster than 45 ACP rounds. A smaller faster round is more likely to over-penetrate a target than a larger diameter, slower one.

    Now I know some of you are thinking ft-lbs still does not translate to damage because of cavitation and wound channel... Cavitation is another subject, but letís look at wound channel and bullet energy. Letís say we have two loads of the same caliber, with the same weight bullet and the same muzzle velocity. So these two rounds will have identical ft.-lbs. One round is a JHP the other a copper round nose (CRN). When fired into a ballistics gel target the JHP will make a much larger wound channel than the CRN and that means more damage, right? Well not exactly, because the CRN will provide a smaller wound channel but it will penetrate much farther, creating a narrower but longer wound channel. If you think about it like this ft-lbs can be a good method of comparing potential damage. Sure it does not take into account all the variables like cavitation, but I would argue it is the closest way we can quantitatively calculate potential damage.

    In reality the amount of damage you can inflict on a human being is more related to shot placement than anything else. A bullet that produces a bigger wound channel and goes farther through a body will be more likely to hit something vital, but no round will guarantee a kill. Ft-lbs. should be used as a rough guide to comparing potential damage, but only if you carefully consider over-penetration!
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    Free Recoil Energy
    The common notion is that .45 ACPs kick (felt recoil) substantially more than 9mms. In reality this is highly dependent on the load you shoot and the weight of your gun.

    For all guns I will be using empty weights: This would be the amount of felt recoil on the last round of a magazine Ė the maximum amount possible. Iíll use the same loads from the previous examples.

    Glock 30 (Sub-Compact .45 ACP, 1.655 lbs. unloaded)

    Max Load: 45 ACP 225 gr. JHP 884 fps (10.3 grains of HS-7)
    11.7 ft-lbs.

    Min Load: 45 ACP 225 gr. JHP 548 fps (4.1 grains of Unique)
    3.9 ft-lbs.

    Max Load: 45 ACP 185 gr. JHP 1,047 fps (8.0 grains of WSF)
    10.3 ft-lbs.

    Min Load: 45 ACP 185 gr. JHP 599 fps (3.5 grains of HP-38)
    3.1 ft-lbs.

    Glock 26 (Sub-Compact 9mm, 1.357 lbs. unloaded)

    Max Load: 9mm 125 gr. JHP 1,119 fps (7.8 grains of AA#7)
    7.3 ft-lbs.

    Min Load: 9mm 125 gr. JHP 872 fps (3.1 grains of Clays)
    3.6 ft-lbs.

    Max Load: 9mm 90 gr. JHP 1,411 fps (5.2 grains of 231)
    5.4 ft-lbs.

    Min Load: 9mm 90 gr. JHP 835 fps (5.2 grains of AA#5)
    2.3 ft-lbs.

    In this first example I compared two very similar firearms with different chamberings. Both were sub-compact Glocks, but youíll notice that the sub-compact 9mm is lighter which actually increases felt recoil. In general .45 ACPís provide more felt recoil, but as you can clearly see, it is possible to develop a heavy defensive round with very little felt recoil for the .45. With the 9mm, depending on load choice, you can have a barely noticeable felt recoil to something very substantial. Donít accept the notion that a .45 ACP has to kick like a mule to shoot a good defensive round. But bear in mind these are handloads and if you donít handload youíll have to base your numbers on whatever factory ammunition is available.

    You may have also noticed that felt recoil isnít proportional to bullet energy. In our bullet energy examples above the 185 grain .45 ACP at 1,047 fps had the most energy at 450 ft.-lbs, but the most felt recoil is produced by the 225 grain JHP fired at 884 fps which results in 11.7 ft.-lbs. of free recoil energy. Just another example that these energy relationships arenít always simple or intuitive.

    In the second example Iíll compare a super-light 9mm to a big heavy 1911 so you can see how much of a difference gun weight can affect felt recoil. Iíll use the exact same loads as above.

    Kimber Custom II (Full-Size 1911 in .45 ACP, 2.375 lbs. unloaded)

    Max Load: 45 ACP 225 gr. JHP 884 fps (10.3 grains of HS-7)
    8.2 ft-lbs.

    Min Load: 45 ACP 225 gr. JHP 548 fps (4.1 grains of Unique)
    2.7 ft-lbs.

    Max Load: 45 ACP 185 gr. JHP 1,047 fps (8.0 grains of WSF)
    7.1 ft-lbs.

    Min Load: 45 ACP 185 gr. JHP 599 fps (3.5 grains of HP-38)
    2.2 ft-lbs.

    Ruger LC9 (Compact 9mm, 1.069 lbs. unloaded)

    Max Load: 9mm 125 gr. JHP 1,119 fps (7.8 grains of AA#7)
    9.2 ft-lbs.

    Min Load: 9mm 125 gr. JHP 872 fps (3.1 grains of Clays)
    4.5 ft-lbs.

    Max Load: 9mm 90 gr. JHP 1,411 fps (5.2 grains of 231)
    6.8 ft-lbs.

    Min Load: 9mm 90 gr. JHP 835 fps (5.2 grains of AA#5)
    2.9 ft-lbs.

    Lighter guns can have significantly higher felt recoil. In this example our 1911 had less recoil firing larger rounds than the small LC9. To wrap this up the things that increase felt recoil are lighter handgun weight, faster muzzle velocity, powder weight, and bullet weight. If you are concerned about recoil I recommend slower rounds and a little larger handgun. Donít limit yourself to one caliber or the other because of recoil which is more a product of the speed of the round and the weight of your gun than what caliber you choose. But on that note I also need to point out that accuracy can be dramatically affected by using the ďwrongĒ round. You may have to opt for a little faster round in order to get consistent grouping from your gun. It all depends on the length of your barrel, the twist rate, the bullet weight and many other variables. This is why handloading can be so attractive because you can experiment with many different loads to find the perfect balance for shooter and firearm.

    Before I move off the topic of recoil some .45 ACP proponents argue that while .45s generally have more recoil it is slower (less snappy) than the 9mm. That makes it more manageable and easier to do follow-up shots with. I donít have any data to support this but I say try them yourself and see. Personally I had no trouble with fast follow-up shots using small frame .45 ACPs, but everyone is different. I canít offer any objective evidence, just my own experience.
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    Case Pressures
    I have seen some 9mm proponents cite high 9mm case pressures as proof that the round is more powerful and more efficient. And I often see SAAMI case pressures quoted in these examples. SAAMI pressures are the MAXIMUM possible case pressures. In reality case pressures vary significantly based on the load used. See below for examples of actual case pressures. Let me clearly state that case pressures have no direct relation to bullet energy, muzzle velocity, or penetration. Case pressures are closely related to case size more than anything else. You can increase the case pressure in any round simply by seating the bullet a hundredth of an inch too far in a case. If a case pressure is too high the case can rupture destroying your gun and causing serious injury to the shooter.

    GENERALLY faster rounds have higher case pressures but also keep in mind that a faster round isnít always the best choice. Also higher case pressures put more wear and tear on a firearm. Now I know modern firearms are manufactured to exacting standards with excellent materials, so this isnít a big issue anymore. But I would bet that if you compared a 9mm and .45 ACP that had been consistently fired after a lifetime of shooting, the 9mm would have looser tolerances and degraded accuracy due to increased wear. Is this really an issue for most shooters? No. Most shooters will never shoot enough to get excessive wear from any high-quality handgun. So this is simply an observation more than a rule. And after that much shooting you should probably buy a new handgun anyway. Really what you need to know about case pressure is that they are no indication of the performance of a round. Just for your education here are some case pressures. You can see how different 9mm and .45 ACP case pressures are and how much case pressures can vary depending on the load you are shooting:

    Max Load: 45 ACP 225 gr. JHP 884 fps (10.3 grains of HS-7)
    17,600 CUP (Copper Units of Pressure)

    Min Load: 45 ACP 225 gr. JHP 548 fps (4.1 grains of Unique)
    6,800 CUP

    Max Load: 45 ACP 185 gr. JHP 1,047 fps (8.0 grains of WSF)
    17,500 CUP

    Min Load: 45 ACP 185 gr. JHP 599 fps (3.5 grains of HP-38)
    7,500 CUP

    Max Load: 9mm 125 gr. JHP 1,119 fps (7.8 grains of AA#7)
    31,600 CUP

    Min Load: 9mm 125 gr. JHP 872 fps (3.1 grains of Clays)
    26,700 CUP

    Max Load: 9mm 90 gr. JHP 1,411 fps (5.2 grains of 231)
    30,400 CUP

    Min Load: 9mm 90 gr. JHP 835 fps (5.2 grains of AA#5)
    16,600 CUP
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    Cavitation
    Cavitation is the cavity caused by a bullet when it enters the body. This is a little different than wound channel which I discuss below. This cavity is created by the force of the bullet causing a cavity much larger than the bullet itself. I wonít discuss this in much depth because I remain skeptical on the real-world results. Generally 9mm rounds produce very limited cavitation compared to .45 ACP, .357 sig, and 10mm which have very similar cavitation. But these tests of cavitation are performed using ballistics gel which is a consistent medium. Compare that to the human body that is made up of soft tissues, fat, muscle, bone and various other structures with different densities and resistances to force. Long story short, I doubt you will see the same cavitation results in a real human body than you get with ballistics gel. While ballistics gel cavitation tests are interesting, Iíd be much more impressed by seeing these results on a human analog like a pig carcass.
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    Wound Channel
    Generally speaking the larger diameter .45 ACP round will cause a bigger wound channel. A bigger wound channel means more damage and a greater chance of hitting something vital. I have seen many youtube penetration tests where 9mm wound channels were larger than .45 ACP, but often times different hollow-points are used and tests are not performed multiple times to ensure good results. With these controls a .45 ACP should consistently produce a larger wound channel than a 9mm.
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    Over-Penetration
    For a self-defense handgun situation virtually everyone agrees that over-penetration should be avoided if possible. The primary reason is the bullet can go through your intended target and strike another target (possibly another person) behind them, even on the other side of a wall. You could be liable for killing an innocent bystander in such a case. Itís not something to take lightly.

    But there is a second reason why over-penetration should be avoided. If we want to maximize injury to the target we do not want over-penetration. First, as I illustrated above, over-penetration results in lost energy. If the bullet exits the target, that is extra energy that could have been used to cause more damage to the target, but instead it is being wasted. Second a bullet remaining inside of a target will continue to cause damage as the victim moves or even breathes. While virtually any gunshot will probably require medical attention, an embedded bullet will certainly require medical intervention. This is important if you shoot a target and they get away. If you missed any vital organs and the bullet exited, your attacker may be able to avoid a trip to the hospital. But a bullet still inside an attackerís body virtually guarantees that attacker will end up in an emergency room where they can be apprehended by police.

    In a civilian self-defense situation, there is no good argument to choose a round that will likely over-penetrate the target. Getting a bullet to stop inside of your target is ideal!
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    What is the goal of a self-defense handgun?
    I think a lot of the caliber argument stems from a misunderstanding of the numbers and propagation of generalizations. In the examples I showed that lighter faster bullets have more potential ft-lbs. of energy, however in reality these bullets are more likely to over-penetrate a human target than their larger and much slower counterparts. For me the goal of a self-defense handgun is to deliver the largest chuck of metal possible into a target, get maximum penetration of the target without the bullet exiting, and be able to deliver successive shots consistently and accurately.

    Hereís my .02: My preference is for a .45 ACP in 225 or 230 grain travelling between 500-700 fps. I donít see the need to fire a bullet at 800+ fps to severely injure the target. At those speeds over-penetration becomes much more likely reducing the damage caused, endangering bystanders, and increasing felt recoil. You can tailor rounds for both the 9mm and .45 ACP to fire large chucks of JHP at slow speeds with very low recoil energy making fast follow-up shots easier.

    Fast rounds are great for shooting through walls, car doors, and other thin materials to injure a person on the other side. This is excellent for combat applications, but in civilian self-defense if somebody jumps behind cover and you shoot them, get yourself a very good lawyer or you could be in prison for the rest of your life. Or if your round goes through your target and happens to strike someone on the other side you are in a whole different mess. If you happen to make it through criminal court unscathed, good luck when that innocent victim brings a civil suit against you for medical bills, pain and suffering and all of the other garnish. Remember that civil courts only require a preponderance of evidence while criminal requires proof beyond reasonable doubt. Thatís why OJ won in criminal court and ended up paying millions in civil court for murdering his wife. Itís a crazy system but you need to consider the what ifs when choosing what you want to shoot.
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    Shot Placement
    Sot placement is the key factor in determining whether a bullet can stop an attacker. With accurate shot placement even a .22lr at close range can stop most people. Following this principal people often choose a caliber and gun they can shoot most accurately. I donít entirely agree with this methodology and hereís why: There are plenty of instances where police officers have been in shootouts, even at very close range, and shot several rounds that missed the target. Police officers go through extensive training, certification and practice sessions. These are not amateur shooters. In fact the are much better shooters than your average defensive carrier. So why do they miss shots at close range?

    In a real life and death situation the experience is nothing like a day at the range. Even those practiced principals can fall apart when the adrenaline starts pumping and your brain is focusing all of its energy to try to decide whether or not to pull the trigger. My point is being able to shoot a gun accurately is a good thing, and if you canít hit a target with a certain gun stay away from it; but I wouldnít base my decision solely on which gun I can shoot more accurately, because in the real-world natural-point of aim is going to guide shot placement, not good sight alignment. That headshot you got at the range, probably isnít going to happen when things go bad. You have to understand that a self-defense situation is nothing like what you have experienced. Even high-stress training scenarios and 100s of hours of practice cannot adequately prepare you for that encounter. I wouldnít bet my life on being able to get a head shot in a dark alley with tunnel vision. Unless you are a special operator who has had plenty of practice taking lives up close and reacting in those types of situations, donít think you are going to be able to shoot with the same skill as you can on the range.
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    Other Notes
    Now my preference is the .45 ACP round because I can fire a bigger round much slower, however there are some other factors to consider that make the 9mm attractive. First is magazine capacity: 9mm handguns have a larger magazine capacity than their similarly sized .45 ACP counterparts. And the capacity difference is usually more than one or two rounds. A G30 (sub-compact Glock in ,45 ACP) can hold 10 rounds with a height of 4.8 inches. A G26 (sub-compact Glock in 9mm) can also hold 10 rounds but is only 4.17 inches tall! Thatís a significant size difference. And if we compare full-size glocks (G17 and G21), the 9mm carries 17 rounds while the .45 ACP manages 13. Both are about the same height.

    So .45 ACP gives you a fewer, larger rounds while 9mm gives you more, smaller, and typically, faster rounds. Because of the smaller size of the 9mm round, handguns with this chambering are available with smaller frames, and comparable models are thinner than their 45 ACP counterparts. Lastly, 9mm ammo is cheaper than .45 ACP. If you have small hands, want high magazine capacity, canít afford to spend much on ammo, or want a smaller or lighter handgun, 9mm might be the better option for you. If you want maximum energy imparted to the target with reduced risk of over-penetration, .45 ACP is the better choice.
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    Conclusion
    Like most things in life this isnít a black and white debate. There are a lot of grey areas and different loads and handguns can produce very different shooter experiences. When choosing a caliber you need to consider what guns are available, what type of rounds you want to shoot, how big are your hands, how much recoil can you manage? These are just a few considerations. Caliber is but one component of the firearm system. You cannot simply look at any given caliber and say it is better than another. There are pros and cons for each depending on the shooter and the desired result.

    I chose .45 ACP because I want a gun with the potential to cause the most damage without over penetrating the target. In todayís litigious society I want a gun with very little risk of collateral damage. Now if I miss the target, thatís another story. I also have big hands, can handle a good bit of recoil and reload my ammo to save money and can build my own ideal load. For me .45 ACP is the logical choice.

    The question that remains in my mind is at what speed and bullet weight do various JHPs start to over-penetrate a human target? Thatís something I canít answer. I have not found any really good tests of this. If you know of one please let me know. The best test would probably involve a human analog like a pig carcass. This would provide more accurate results than a chunk of ballistics gel, but of course shot placement in a body will affect penetration. Ultimately you want a round that gets maximum penetration without exiting the target. To figure that out we need some really good penetration tests.

    If anybody wants any of these equations I used or wants me to run a quick calculation let me know. I have them all programmed into Excel to save time.

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    Power vs. Power (Bonus)
    For a final kind of fun comparison I wanted to see what the muzzle velocity would look like for .45 ACP and 9mm if they were to fire a bullet of the same type and weight. Unfortunately I couldnít find anything that worked but this is what I did find. These are using max load data with powder picked to produce maximum velocity. I tried to pair the 9mm and .45 ACP rounds to achieve similar velocities. Notice how the bullet energy, bullet weight and recoil energy are so different even though these rounds are flying at roughly the same speed.

    9mm OAL 147 gr. 1,061 fps (7.1 grains of AA#7)
    Bullet Energy: 367 ft.-lbs.
    Free Recoil Energy (Glock 26, 1.357 lbs.): 8.4 ft.-lbs.


    45 ACP OAL 200 gr. 1,012 fps (10.6 grains of Blue Dot)
    Bullet Energy: 455 ft.-lbs.
    Free Recoil Energy (Glock 30, 1.655 lbs.): 12.2 ft.-lbs.



    9mm JHP 125 gr. 1,163 fps (7.1+ grains of Blue Dot)
    Bullet Energy: 375 ft.-lbs.
    Free Recoil Energy (Glock 26, 1.357 lbs.): 7.5 ft.-lbs.


    45 ACP JHP 185 gr. 1,047 fps (8.0 grains of WSF)
    Bullet Energy: 450 ft.-lbs.
    Free Recoil Energy (Glock 30, 1.655 lbs.): 10.3 ft.-lbs.



    Low Recoil .45 ACP JHP 185 gr. 960 fps (5.8 grains of HP-38)
    Bullet Energy: 378 ft.-lbs.
    Free Recoil Energy (Glock 30, 1.655 lbs.): 8.0 ft.-lbs.


    I think this sums up all of my points nicely. The .45 ACP can fire heavier rounds at the same velocity as the 9mm. No matter how you look at the data, when you compare similar rounds, the .45 ACP produces more energy than the 9mm. The downside of course is more recoil. But also note in my low recoil round I created a load that has almost the same felt recoil and energy of a 125 grain JHP 9mm, but is a heavier, larger diameter round, travelling at slower speed. That larger, slower round reduces the risk of over-penetration, transferring more energy to the target. Iíll let you be the judge of which round is a better choice for self-defense.

    Now let me put this in perspective. Can either round kill? CertainlyÖ Can either round be a good option for defensive carry.. absolutely! Iím not going to sit here and say that because one round is more efficient it is the ONLY REASONABLE option for a defensive handgun. Thatís a stupid notion and anyone who spouts off nonsense like .40s or 9mm or .380 or 38 special etc. are a worthless round that is unsuitable for defense, is a moron. A .22lr can kill just as well as a .45 ACP. It all depends on where the round hits. I like the .45 ACP more, but I would happily take a 9mm.


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    Member Array Rabbit212's Avatar
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    357 Magnum. Nuff said carry on.

    Seriously that's a lot of work you put into this post, interesting read. But yeah 357 Magnum.
    Those are my principles, and if you don't like them.....well, I have others.

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    I was good until the last sentence. I'd take a 9, and for more than turning a log in the fire, but I wouldn't do it happily. But oh well, it doesn't matter.

    Impressive amount of energy in the write up.......

    Rabbit, I like what you're puttin down too.
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    Distinguished Member Array shadowwalker's Avatar
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    I going to say it again placement that was what and how I was taught so if you are good with a 9mm and have no problems go for it if you are good and handle the 45 guess what use it but where you put that pellet is after all the determining factor. There are a few guns that I do not shoot well but my .357 duty weapon was excellent but again my .45 did no less and I have had many 9mm and I got a long with several but some stunk.

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    VIP Member Array gottabkiddin's Avatar
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    Thanks for the load data... I'm starting to load most all the rounds you have referenced... Good stuff!
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    "He that hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one." Ė Luke 22:36

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    I will repeat myself. An impressive amount of effort went into your post. Thank you. Nothing said about calibers is safe, however, so that is all. I'll keep your load data for reference though. Always good to consider beyond my own box of roll ups.
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    A little to long for my attention span but looks like solid effort at some facts. As for me, I'll let the BG tell me the difference, as I carry both calibers.
    Retired USAF E-8. Lighten up and enjoy life because:
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    VIP Member Array Bad Bob's Avatar
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    You put a lot of effort into that post. I reload but I generally carry factory ammo in my carry guns.

    Have you ever actually seen anyone shot? I have seen people shot, attended the autopsies and seen the pictures. I like big fast bullets designed to expand. The only time energy is wasted is if the shooter cannot handle his end of the deal. The FBI concluded over 20 years ago that over-penetration is really not a huge concern after examining tens of thousands of shootings.

    Bullet construction has as much, if not more to do with performance than energy and momentum does.
    DetChris, molleur, Aceoky and 5 others like this.
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    I did most of these calculations for my own benefit but I thought a little extra effort to post it was worth it if someone got something useful from it.

    Quote Originally Posted by 40Bob View Post
    Have you ever actually seen anyone shot? I have seen people shot, attended the autopsies and seen the pictures. I like big fast bullets designed to expand. The only time energy is wasted is if the shooter cannot handle his end of the deal. The FBI concluded over 20 years ago that over-penetration is really not a huge concern after examining tens of thousands of shootings.

    Bullet construction has as much, if not more to do with performance than energy and momentum does.

    If the bullet exits a target there is energy that is not being transferred to the target. If a bullet transfers all of it's energy to a target it cannot exit because it has no more energy. I'm just focusing on the numbers and physics. Much smarter people than me figured out these equations. I'm just plugging in the numbers. Bullet construction can certainly impact penetration. Different hollow points with the same energy will penetrate different amounts, but shallower ones should generally leave wider wound tracts. Now the matter of penetration is complicated because a lighter faster bullet can decelerate faster than a heavier slower bullet. And a larger diameter bullet will have more resistance as it travels through a target. I won't argue that a fast and light bullet may be able to hit a human target without over-penetrating, but I haven't seen any solid research to compare penetration vs. bullet weight, speed, diameter etc. I prefer a big slow bullet at least until I see some good data showing that a heavy fast bullet won't over-penetrate your average human. I would rather err on the side of caution. But that's just my opinion. I cannot tell you with any accuracy whether a certain bullet will over-penetrate a human target or not.

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    My hurts brain.... Me blood nose leak
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    Quote Originally Posted by 40Bob View Post
    The FBI concluded over 20 years ago that over-penetration is really not a huge concern after examining tens of thousands of shootings.
    I'm far more concerned about a miss than over-penetration.
    FlaRon, Aceoky, Bad Bob and 8 others like this.
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    Can this be discussed without descending into a caliber war? Find out in the next exciting chapter...

    Our new member may not have known that caliber wars are not welcome on Defensive Carry as we've had a beau coups of them in the past. See Forum Rule No. 9 below.

    9. We have learned from bitter experience that discussions of certain subjects (politics, religion, abortion, sexual orientation, etc) often degenerate quickly. For this reason, we DO NOT allow the discussion of these topics. We also discourage "caliber war" threads and strongly encourage you not to post a thread starting one. Regardless of your level of experience, caliber is a personal preference and what is right for you may not be right for others.



    No one will be convinced by any post made by another. I have my own strongly held opinion about these two cartridges in particular and I ain't gonna change it over any forum post ever created.

    If this can be a discussion of the merits of the various loadings discussed in the original post then we'll try it. If even "caliber skirmishes" erupt then it closes.

    Don't even test the picket line.

    To our new member, matt787; Thanks for joining and thanks for the load data! I love perusing load data any time.
    Bad Bob, Cuda66, OD* and 10 others like this.
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    VIP Member Array Brad426's Avatar
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    That was like "Pillars of the Earth" long (twice). Are the caliber wars over? Are there Cliff's Notes?
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    Bryan, I will certainly comply. Truth be told I don't know why I went near it to begin with.

    To the OP, this is tricky terrain and we've been through it to a mind numbing degree. However, you've done an incredible amount of work to get here so let's hope we can stay up and up.
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    Interesting post. Well written, thanks.
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