9mm vs .45

This is a discussion on 9mm vs .45 within the Defensive Ammunition & Ballistics forums, part of the Defensive Carry Discussions category; I just got my first gun(XD9) about 6 months ago after shooting some and getting some guidance from a friend who is a very experienced ...

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Thread: 9mm vs .45

  1. #1
    Member Array shaggykb's Avatar
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    9mm vs .45

    I just got my first gun(XD9) about 6 months ago after shooting some and getting some guidance from a friend who is a very experienced shooter. Now a friend and his wife want to join me in the XD world. It is their first buy as well. They shot the XD .45 and loved it. They have NOT shot the 9mm and now are thinking of not trying it and going straight to the .45. I was trying to convince them to get the 9mm because of cost and less recoil. I'm no expert but, having read a lot and talked to several very experienced shooters, I am convinced the 9mm is the better choice. I am also telling them to at least try the 9mm before making a purchase. They talked to a local gun shop owner who told them the 9mm bullets will go through something or someone and could hit something on the other side of the intended target. They are buying the gun for home protection and plan to carry. My friend, who I mentioned before, told me that with the right bullet, the problem of shooting through something wouldn't be an issue. So, my question is, which is better for carry and home protection, the 9mm or the .45? If anyone can give me some info on the issue I would greatly appreciate it.

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  3. #2
    Member Array Witherspoon's Avatar
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    Your question and the debate over 9 vs. 45 has been ongoing in the handgun world for many, many years with many, many opinions on both sides and both sides declaring that they know the absolute truth. The real truth is "there ain't no absolute truth". May I suggest that you and your friends go to

    http://www.hipowersandhandguns.com/

    and read all of the pertinent FAQ's (and any others of interest). Steve Camp is a retired cop and a great tester, writer and "explainer".

    I agree with you that your friends should at least try the 9MM, but then they should become as informed as possible before making a choice. But my bottom line feeling is that they should buy what they feel comfortable with and what they shoot the best, not what you think is best for you. No offense intended.

    Rounds penetrating people and walls? There are rounds in both 9MM and .45 ACP that will do that and rounds for both that won't, but that is another story all in itself. If you're really concerned about that, buy a short barrelled 12 or 20 ga shotgun and load it with 6 1/2's for home defense. It's much better than a handgun for that purpose, IMO.
    Sic Semper Tyrannis

  4. #3
    1951 - 2011
    Array Stephen A. Camp's Avatar
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    Hello, sir. The "caliber war" between 9mm and .45 ACP has been a long one to be sure and one that will continue I suspect.

    I will offer some observations and my opinion and keep it as "clinical" and unbiased as I can.

    First, it can be shown that the the gunshop owner's statement about the 9mm going through the "target" and then a wall simply is not true unless speaking of FMJ. More than a few 9mm expanding rounds are criticized for not having enough "soft target" penetration. (This was cited as a reason for the Miami Fiasco in which some federal agents were killed after hitting a bad actor with what was described as a "non-survivable" wound, but the expanding bullet stopping just short of the heart after passing through an arm and then entering the chest cavity.)

    In sheet metal, the faster 9mm FMJ often will outpenetrate .45 FMJ, but if either hits the typical home or apartment wall missing studs, pipes, etc, either will penetrate with enough power to cause a dangerous wound.

    If either a 9mm or .45 ACP JHP misses the intended aggressor and then smacks a wall, neither is likely to expand. The JHP "works" by having the pressure inside the hollow cavity so much greater than that outside that it ruptures the jacket which begins folding back allowing expansion. This requires a "wet" medium. If either JHP smacks sheetrock, plywood, etc, the hollow cavity is almost always filled with this "dry" medium and the bullet acts like a FMJ; there may be a bit more deformation (not expansion) than the thicker-jacketed military ball rounds, but they do not expand...at least not in the tests I ran while a tactical officer nor any I've witnessed since.

    It seems that the concerns over which caliber usually boils down to something like, "Does the 9mm have enough power?" or "Which is the best "stopper?" Countless trees have been made into paper on this topic and I doubt that this post will settle the matter.

    I believe that with FMJ, .45 ACP is better than 9mm FMJ, but I do not believe that it is as much better as some. I am personally aware of both doing the trick and both failing miserably.
    I also believe that the best 9mm loads can be superior to some of the .45 loads, but with the best loads in the latter, it is more potent.
    The question is, "What are the best loads?" and there's more than a little controversy and divergent thought on it.

    That the .45 ACP can be more potent than the 9mm doesn't mean that the 9mm is by definition ineffective, at least not in my observation.

    During my years in police service, I had a pretty free hand in what I carried and I carried both the 9mm and the .45 at different times in my career. I never felt undergunned with the 9mm, but preferred a long gun to either when the opportunity presented itself.

    You see, I'm not overly impressed with any commonly-used defense caliber, be it .38 Special, .357 magnum, .40 S&W, 9mm, or .45 ACP.

    Any of these can "stop" a man and any can fail from what I've seen. The combination of a "good" load and more importantly, placement seems to consistently float to the top as a determining factor, assuming that the person will actually shoot in the first place.

    Let's take a look at a couple of loads that usually rate pretty high as capable defense loads for 9mm and .45 ACP: Winchester Ranger JHP.

    These are law enforcement rounds sold only to police via a Winchester company policy. The reason I picked them is because they have passed FBI and other serious researcher's testing and folks on most sides of the "stopping power" issue, speak well of them. I've had very good luck with them in my own informal tests and with animals I've shot with both.


    Here are three expanded 9mm Winchester 127-gr.+P+ rounds. The one on the left was fired into super-saturated newsprint. The one on the right was recovered from water and the one in the middle cleanly killed a deer. Expansion seems very consistent and reliable through repeated tests. The 147-gr. version seems to work just as well in this regard.


    Here are a couple of Winchester 230-gr. expanded Ranger JHP's. They also expand reliably and to a larger diameter than the 9mm.

    The "advantage" that .45 ACP may have over 9mm is diameter; it is simply larger. Thus, if the .356" 9mm doubles in frontal area after expansion, it will still be less than the .452" 45 assuming equal expansion. If either smacks the heart, spine, or brain, it makes no difference the caliber, but if we just get the "solid torso hit" so often described in the literature, but in actuality a lung hit and nothing else, it seems reasonable that the larger caliber might incapacitate faster. How much faster? That I do not know. While neither will leave a permanent wound tract as large as its actual diameter, even a milimeter more would result in more copious letting of blood. I'm not sure anyone can predict by how much because each and every gunshot wound seems to be just a bit different.


    I'm not on either "side" in this issue. I have and use both calibers and respect both, but to me it seems that more important than 9mm vs 45 is the actual willingness to shoot another combined with the ability to place the hits quickly and accurately. I am well satisfied that this is difficult under stress, but still believe that it is necessary if we want to make the bad guy "stop" because he has to rather than
    just wants to.


    It is my belief that one reason we fixate on the "best" caliber or load is because it is one thing that we can actually control...for those who have a choice.

    As you mentioned in your post, ammo cost for the 9mm is less than for the .45 ACP and this is true. For some people, this very well might determine how much they practice and if done correctly, how much their skill level does or does not go up. I had much rather face a poorer shot who is unsure of himself but armed with a .45 than a stone-cold SEAL or SAS-type armed with a 9mm using ball!

    Thus, this long way around the mulberry bush response says that I do believe that in its better loads, the .45 is "superior" to the 9mm. It also says that I doubt the margin is so great as some do. I suggest not having blind faith in either and that the 9mm definitely is a viable defense caliber.


    These are but a few commercially available 9mm loads available and there is an entry from "old technology" to the newest approaches to increasing "stopping power with commensurate costs. Any of these in my 9mm would not leave me worried about "power."

    I was asked the proverbial "Which would you want, a .45 or 9mm pistol, if you had but one round and were locked in a room with a madman with an axe?"

    I answered, "The one I could hit the best with."

    To me, your friends would be wise to shoot the 9mm pistol before making a decision and then if they want the .45, great. At the same time, if someone simply doesn't trust a certain caliber, it is not unimportant that they go with one that they do trust. There's enough
    self-doubt and fear in life-or-death situations without that...just don't trust either too much. Be ready for quick and accurate follow up shots and use cover, concealment, and escape if at all possible.

    Perhaps this diatribe will be of service, but do not be surprised if it is not.

    If I've not already bored you to death, here are some articles that might be of interest to you:

    http://www.hipowersandhandguns.com/9...Protection.htm

    http://www.hipowersandhandguns.com/E...ense%20Gun.htm

    http://www.hipowersandhandguns.com/S...20Capacity.htm

    http://www.hipowersandhandguns.com/H...No%20Faith.htm

    http://www.hipowersandhandguns.com/SpringfieldXD9.htm

    Best.

  5. #4
    Member Array Witherspoon's Avatar
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    See there, like I said .... Steve Camp has good, easy to understand info.
    Sic Semper Tyrannis

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    VIP Member Array SammyIamToday's Avatar
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    Yeah, his website broke me of a lot of the misconceptions I had. In fact, it was one of the reasons I even gave 9mm a chance. Now I only carry it and shoot it all the time.

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    Member Array grnzbra's Avatar
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    Gabe Suarez makes an interresting argument in favor of the 9mm. http://warriortalk.com/showthread.php?t=13115
    There's a reason The Sopranos is set in New Jersey.
    Basic Pistol

  8. #7
    VIP Member Array SammyIamToday's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by grnzbra
    Gabe Suarez makes an interresting argument in favor of the 9mm. http://warriortalk.com/showthread.php?t=13115

    Good read. Don't let Bruce see that thread though. His head will explode.

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    Senior Member Array .45acp's Avatar
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    Just want to say hello Mr. Camp.

    I also belong to your forum and along with this forum I rate them both very highly.

    I'm just a novice but find much good info and valid opinions as well as some stimulating discussions on both boards.
    Guys like Bumper and yourself make learning a simple pleasure along with all the really great members.

  10. #9
    1951 - 2011
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    Hello and thank you very much. I suspect that everyone here is still learning. I know that I am.

    The way I see it is that in a pistol fight, if you can get one or two or five solid hits into a guy and he is still kicking but you can stay away or behind cover, you've won. The trick is in being able to stay away or out of his line of sight which simply may not be possible in all situations.

    "Stopping power" has sometimes been referred to as being able to deck the opponent with a single pistol shot such that he cannot return fire.

    I sort of think this is an unrealistic expectation for most any caliber, but especially pistol rounds. It is also the reason that when a police marksman with a .308 is required to eliminate a hostage-taker who actually does have a firearm pointed at another that the brainstem remains the required target. So far as I know this remains about the only spot that will instantly turn out the lights and not allow the trigger finger of the bad guy to even twitch.

    Best.

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    Member Array shaggykb's Avatar
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    Thanks guys. This has been a great learning experience for a newbie(me). I will definitely let my friends read all of your suggestions. I have to say mr. Camp and Witherspoon gave, to me, the best suggestions(no offense to anyone else) of all by saying that one should shoot what is comfortable to them. Not what anyone else may like. Thank you again to all and I look forward to anymore suggestions anyone has.

  12. #11
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    Once more three hearty cheers for Steve Camp.

    Not much more need be added really (mutters to self - hoping the thread will now enter a cal war truce status!! ).
    Chris - P95
    NRA Certified Instructor & NRA Life Member.

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    is like owning a piano and assuming that you are a musician!."


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    Senior Member Array Joshua M. Smith's Avatar
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    ...And to this board where a matter as inflammable as this can be discussed without someone striking a match.

    My sentiments echo Mr. Camp's, but I do prefer the 9mm. I don't reload as of yet and ammo is cheaper allowing me to shoot 100-200 rounds per week. On live critters all ammo tested has performed well and dropped them. Out of a service sized auto like my Taurus 92, it's extrememly controllable for faster followup -- which is, I believe, to successful defense with a handgun.

    I recommend it over .45acp to a beginner for these reasons if he or she is is set on getting an auto. Otherwise I recommend the .38spl +P.

    Josh <><

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    Good thread, good references. I knew 9mm beat .45s all along.






    Just Kiddin' guys!


    On a more serious note I can give you another reason I prefer 9mm. My shooting hand thumb and wrist is getting sensitive to recoil. I suspect there's some arthritic implications here. A .45 just has too much recoil for my wrist right now. Even 9mm is too much for one-hand shooting.

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    Member Array chiefs-special-guy's Avatar
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    This is all because of the US army service pistol and related issues, right? I am no expert by any means, but the 45 acp and the 9mm are very different rounds with totally different characteristics. Sort of like comparing the 357 mag to the 44 special, right? different philosophies, speed vs. size of bullet. both are real good at what they do. 9 mm is much cheaper, at least where i get ammo.
    BUT NEITHER IS A REAL REVOLVER ROUND, SO WHO CARES???
    (JUst kiddin')
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    Six for sure...Uh, I mean Five. Five for sure..

  16. #15
    VIP Member Array SammyIamToday's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by chiefs-special-guy
    This is all because of the US army service pistol and related issues, right? I am no expert by any means, but the 45 acp and the 9mm are very different rounds with totally different characteristics. Sort of like comparing the 357 mag to the 44 special, right? different philosophies, speed vs. size of bullet. both are real good at what they do. 9 mm is much cheaper, at least where i get ammo.
    BUT NEITHER IS A REAL REVOLVER ROUND, SO WHO CARES???
    (JUst kiddin')
    God Bless
    Didn't they stop making revolvers around like 1747?? You antique collecter you...

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