.40, .45 or 9mm in a 3" 1911

.40, .45 or 9mm in a 3" 1911

This is a discussion on .40, .45 or 9mm in a 3" 1911 within the Defensive Carry Guns forums, part of the Defensive Carry Discussions category; Here is my issue... I carry a 1911 in .40 and since it's been up at the 'smith and since I've started my job at ...

View Poll Results: Which caliber?

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  • Go with the 9mm

    37 21.76%
  • Upgrade to .45

    95 55.88%
  • Stick with the .40

    38 22.35%
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Thread: .40, .45 or 9mm in a 3" 1911

  1. #1
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    .40, .45 or 9mm in a 3" 1911

    Here is my issue...

    I carry a 1911 in .40 and since it's been up at the 'smith and since I've started my job at the shop I have had the opportunity to shoot everything from Sigs to Glocks to Desert Eagles to Springfields to HKs, you name it.

    I've even tried carrying a different number of guns and different lengths and I learned a couple of crucial things.

    1. I still love the 1911 for a carry piece. These other platforms are great and I have no problem with them but I still love my 1911 and I think I'll always carry one.

    2. I need to stick to a 3" bbl for concealability and comfort. While comfort is not so paramount, concealability is, and anything over a 3" gets too big and I can't draw it that quickly.

    So, to keep up on my practice with a 3" 1911 I rented a Colt Defender in .45. I was dead on with it (until it started punching me in the face with the brass) and I thought the recoil was not bad at all.

    I'm very used to the recoil in my .40 and don't have a problem with it but it's been awhile since I've fired it so I can't really tell which I liked better though I'm told that the recoil is probably more snappy in the .40 because of the velocity.

    I have not, as of yet, been able to shoot a 9mm in a 3" 1911 but I'm counting down the days until my shop gets EMPs in so that I can try them out (my manger swears he'll have one for me to shoot this Friday). I know the recoil in the 9mm is going to be the least of all three.

    So, finally, to my problem... Shot Recovery.

    While recoil does not bother me and never has, I believe I have found that I recover the target faster when the recoil is even the slightest bit more manageable (not necessarily "weaker" but more manageable).

    To be honest with you I don't want to go to 9mm. I know it's a good round and I can certainly stop whatever I need to with it but I'd prefer .40 or above for the sheer stopping power and big holes, but if someone puts out a solid argument for the 9mm and I find that my shot recovery is far superior when I shoot it, well, I'll go with the 9mm.

    I'm trying to find a happy medium between recoil, weight, concealability, shot recovery and how fast I can put three rounds COM.

    Would the 9mm be best though I'm reluctant to sacrifice the caliber knowing I may be able to recover my target faster? Should I go for .45 as it has the lower velocity assuming that I may not have to shoot multiple times with the stopping power of the .45? Should I stick with my .40 and my comfort with it and know that I'm in a happy compromise between the two rounds and stick with the snappy recoil?

    P.S. PLEASE, DO NOT make this is a .45 vs 9mm thread. I have read them all. I'm talking about shot recovery opinions and which would be more manageable or if there would even be a real difference, not a war between the rounds.
    Last edited by limatunes; May 9th, 2007 at 09:46 AM.

  2. #2
    VIP Member Array OPFOR's Avatar
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    OK, here are a few idead that came to mind... Also, I have read some reviews of the EMP that say that, if you are going to use a 9mm for CCW, this might be the perfect size/design to use it in... Sounded about right to me.

    You get 10 rounds in that EMP, a 25% increase over the Ultra Carry in .45 (I don’t know how many your carries in .40)

    The 9mm is cheaper, equaling more training ammo for the same amount of money. Or, shoot the same amount as you do now, and save up the extra for training courses…training trumps caliber every time.

    Follow up shots. You’ve already covered this. In a small, short barreled, light pistol like the UC or EMP, the time difference may be significant – you’ll know more after firing them side by side.

    You’re already way ahead of the game, Lima, with your experience, opportunity to try different weapons, and open minded approach to selecting your tools. You really can’t go wrong with any of these calibers, as long as you’re using quality ammo, so I just encourage you to continue exploring the pros and cons of each. At the end of the day, you’ll be carrying a decent round in a proven platform, and with your established dedication to learning and training, you’ll be fine. Good luck, and have fun testing!

    P.S. Let us know your thoughts on the EMP - I'm looking at them very hard for a secondary/spare pistol to get me more acquainted with the 1911 platform... Thanks!
    Last edited by OPFOR; May 9th, 2007 at 10:07 AM.
    A man fires a rifle for many years, and he goes to war. And afterward he turns the rifle in at the armory, and he believes he's finished with the rifle. But no matter what else he might do with his hands - love a woman, build a house, change his son's diaper - his hands remember the rifle.

  3. #3
    VIP Member Array Blackeagle's Avatar
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    It sounds like recovery time is your biggest issue, so I'd say wait until the EMP is in and your .40 is back from the smith and test fire all three guns side by side. Maybe even use a shot timer to see what your splits are like with the different weapons. You work at a gun range, after all, take advantage of it and do some tests!

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  5. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Blackeagle View Post
    It sounds like recovery time is your biggest issue, so I'd say wait until the EMP is in and your .40 is back from the smith and test fire all three guns side by side. Maybe even use a shot timer to see what your splits are like with the different weapons. You work at a gun range, after all, take advantage of it and do some tests!
    This is exactly what I plan on doing, once I can get all three in the same location. If there was another 3" 1911 in .40 and 9mm I'd do it tonight but it's finding the 3" 1911 in .40 that gets difficult. Mine is the only one in the area I've ever seen.

    I'll shoot the EMP and the Defender side by side and see what I think but I'll have to wait for the .40.. still.

  6. #5
    VIP Member Array pogo2's Avatar
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    I like the .45 in 3 inch 1911

    I have a Colt Defender in .45, and have not really shot a 1911 in 9mm or .40. But I have a number of 9mm and .40 guns in non-1911 platforms.

    I like the .45 in a 3 inch barrel, and don't find the shot recovery time to be a problem. I am a large man, lift weights, and have shot for many years, however.

    I think the first shot is the most important shot in a defensive situation. The first shot, if well placed, may end the confrontation and make subsequent shots unnecessary. So why not make the first shot a big one, a .45? Fast follow up shots are less important to me than making sure each shot is well placed, even if I have to slow down a bit to ensure that.

  7. #6
    VIP Member Array eagle5's Avatar
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    I have yet to shoot a 3" 1911 in 9mm. I have a Para Slim Hawg that I like a lot, but that is in .45. I'd really like to shoot the EMP, as well as Para's LDA Carry 9.

  8. #7
    OD* is offline
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    For me, recovery time is quicker shooting the .45, recoil impulse is snappier (scientific terminology ) in the 9mm & .40. YMMV though.
    "The pistol, learn it well, carry it always ..." ~ Jeff Cooper

    "Terrorists: They hated you yesterday, they hate you today, and they will hate you tomorrow.
    End the cycle of hatred, don’t give them a tomorrow."

  9. #8
    Member Array Flippinstk's Avatar
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    I have both a 45 & a 40. I cc my 45 and have the 40 as a home/range gun. Also whenever me and DaWifey go on a trip, the 40 becomes the truck gun so both myself and her do not have to dis-arm. Both have their virtues a very capable carry gun but I do like the comfort knowing that the 45 has that bit of EXTRA! My wife has the benefit of carrying 2 guns in one, a Rossi 2" 357 that she can pound away at the range with 38's and load up 6 357's for cc. Its great that you are shooting many different guns and you will love the EMP. My cc in the SA Micro Compact..... basically the EMP in a 45 and I absolutely love it. Recoverability from recoil is very manageable and the 9mm version should even be better. I hope this helps.
    Alex G.
    S&W M&P .45
    Virginia Beach, Va.
    Senior Chief Petty Officer, RETIRED, USN
    Certified NRA Pistol Instructor
    NRA Range Officer

  10. #9
    Member Array Ping Ping's Avatar
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    I agree with you


    You answered most of your issues and I must say, your reasoning is solid and well thought out. In your initial post, I sensed youre leaning towards going .45 and I couldnt agree more... and yes, for all the reasons you listed. I'll take the bigger hole everytime.
    Since you work in a shop and are afflicted by the 1911 bug too, I dont have to tell you how particular the 3" guns are. As you shrink JMB's little miracle, you also shrink the margin for error. You go from replacing recoil springs about every 2krds, to about 5-800rds. Every tolerance becomes crucial.

    I agree with you, and my friend OD*, that for me, the snappier recoil of the .40 has a more deleterious effect on my follow-ups, than the .45.

    I have shot both the Slim Hawg and the EMP. They both impressed me about the same. That is, they were similarly accurate with similar recoil. The trigger on the Para was better, but that's hit or miss. The thing I really do not like about the EMP, is that they are nearly impossible to find holsters for at this point. The friend whose I shot is up in arms over this and cant even find a form for the gun to send to a holster maker. It's a real problem. Secondly, as a citizen, I have no need for a light rail on my gun. I dont clear buildings and I dont do room sweeps. I defend myself and my home. As such, my weak hand makes a fine flashlight mount.

    If I could give any real advice, I'd suggest you look at an officer size and stick with your gut instinct on the .45acp. Not knowing you, or your build, I can't say whether, or not .6" would be a deal-killer for you, but it's worth a look. My current favorite is the Les Baer Stinger. They are extraodinarily accurate and flawlessly reliable. Yes, they are a lot more cake than the others mentioned, but what price confidence? One click lower on the cost continuum, is the Kimber Ultra CDP II. Nice gun.

    Interestingly, I've been going through a similar selection process with a female friend. Thankfully, there was no caliber connundrum, as she is completely sold on the .45acp. She has always wanted a micro, but after shooting and test-carrying several, just recently decided on a 4" Kimber. She not only wanted a CCW, but also something that she could enjoy shooting several thousands of rds through. Even I dont care for running more than 50rds at a go through a micro, regardless of caliber, and I shoot around 1.5 cases of .45 a month.

    Best of luck with your selection. You're definitely on the right track and tremendously knowledgable about your needs and options. Kudos!
    "Happiness, is a warm gun" -St. John of Liverpool

    Proud to be an infidel.

  11. #10
    New Member Array MrAudio's Avatar
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    I have a Kimber Aegis in 9mm. I absolutely love it. I hear Springfield is making one comparable. Good luck

  12. #11
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    You make a good argument and I thank you. The examples you give are the exact same things that have even made me start to look at the 9mm to begin with. I will certainly take your thoughts into consideration as I line them up and try them all out.

    Ping Ping,
    Thank you very much for the thoughtful and well structured post. You gave me a lot of think about and consider in my decision making paradigm.


  13. #12
    VIP Member Array obxned's Avatar
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    I could live with the .40, but am more comfortable with the .45.
    "If we loose Freedom here, there's no place to escape to. This is the Last Place on Earth!" Ronald Reagan

  14. #13
    Senior Member Array purple88yj's Avatar
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    The pressure curve in the .40 is greater than it is in both the .45 and the 9mm, therefore the recoil on the .40 will be greater. Since you are already familiar with that impluse, I would stay with that, unless you want to change, then go for the .45.

    That would be the way I would go, simply because I am not a fan of the 9mm. I know the 9mm has been used for a hundred years, but I just like big holes. The 9mm to me is just scary fast and light. I would rather big, heavy and slower.
    "A simple way to take measure of a country is to look at how many want in ... And how many want out." British Prime Minister Tony Blair

  15. #14
    Senior Member Array kylebce's Avatar
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    I have an EMP and love it. Like you, I shoot alot of .40 and .45 also and they all have their place.

    The EMP Feels great, shoots great, and carries great. Given the choice on caliber alone- bigger is better. I love .45. But I opted for the EMP for the exact reason- recovery and follow up shots. I consider myself a good shooter, but that second bullet of a double tap is just all over the place.

    With Corbon DPX or 124gr Speer Gold dot- I do not feel under gunned.
    G-23, 27, 35 (all .40)
    G-29 10mm
    H&K 45c
    Les Baer Thunder Ranch 5"

  16. #15
    VIP Member Array Redneck Repairs's Avatar
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    Lima I voted " upgrade " tho IMHO it isnt an " Upgrade " . I am somewhat a Luddite and feel the 1911 platform is for " full sized rounds " such as the .45acp or 10mm . If you want to go 9 or .40 there are many lighter and more compact designs out there to fit the round(s) . Dont get me wrong , i love the 1911 , but i wouldnt want a " maw duce " .50 cal browning chambered to .308 or .22 either . If your going to pay the weight and size penalty of a full size gun ( grip depth ect.. ) then by all means carry a full sized round in it . The wife carrys an original detonics compact in .45 and loves it heck i love it too , but i love her enough its hers lol .
    Make sure you get full value out of today , Do something worthwhile, because what you do today will cost you one day off the rest of your life .
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