Cartridge Showdown: 9mm Versus .45 ACP

“Trying to stop a bad guy with a nine mm is like trying to stop a charging buffalo with a twenty-two. Might as well use a fly-swatter”. Such statements were common when I was a kid, and at the time there was some truth to them. Many experienced shooters, veterans, and L.E. officers still preferred the hard-hitting .45 ACP, (Automatic Colt Pistol) to the 9mm with its smaller, lighter and more streamlined projectile. Their opinions were founded on the battlefield and in the streets, and it was hard to argue with them.

“Trying to stop a bad-guy with a 9mm is like trying to stop a charging buffalo with a .22. Might as well use a fly-swatter”. Such statements were common when I was a kid, and at the time there was some truth to them. Many experienced shooters, veterans, and law enforcement officers still preferred the hard-hitting .45 ACP, (Automatic Colt Pistol) to the 9mm with its smaller, lighter and more streamlined projectile.

My first real shooting mentor was an old retired Major who had spent much time training marksmen for the army. He was a veteran of the Korean war, and I still remember his brief account of stopping an enemy soldier that charged him from spitting distance. He used a .45 to do it, and his point was that he disbelieved that a 9mm would have stopped the attacker in time. Back then, he was probably right.

Both .45 ACP and 9mm Luger have rich military histories, having fought wars all over the globe for better than a century.

But do those sentiments still carry water? Let’s take a good look, and I’ll leave that decision up to you.

HISTORY: .45 ACP

The .45 Automatic Colt Pistol cartridge was designed by Jonathon Browning for use in his fledgling semi-auto pistol design. Browning was working toward building a better fighting handgun and given his record as the most influential firearm designer in world history one would have been a fool to doubt his ability to it. For the last couple decades U.S. soldiers had experienced doubtful performance in battle conditions while using smaller cartridges (mostly .38s) in double-action revolvers.

They found that the smaller and lighter cartridges simply weren’t as effective at stopping determined adversaries as the .45 Long Colt had been. In 1904 formal testing was performed, with the result that the army and cavalry decided to implement a minimum caliber of .45 for future military handguns. The .45, of course, refers to the maximum diameter of the pistols bore – meaning the inside diameter is forty-five one-hundredths of an inch. The cartridge can also be termed the 11.43x23mm, designating a nominal projectile diameter of 11.43 millimeters.

In 1906, Colt submitted Browning’s model 1905 pistol to the U.S. Military for testing. Five other makers submitted their own bids, with three being weeded out almost immediately. Another withdrew for unknown reasons, leaving only Savage and Colt in the race. Extensive testing happened in round two during the year 1910, with the Browning-designed Colt experiencing not a single failure, while the Savage had thirty-seven failures in total. Needless to say, the Colt was adopted. A few design modifications were made to suit military purposes, and the legendary 1911 was born.

The two most popular defense handgun cartridges today.

HISTORY: 9MM LUGER

If “Legendary” fits the .45 ACP 1911, then “Popular” is the perfect moniker for the 9mm Luger. Born during the same early years of the 20th century, the 9x19mm Parabellum was designed by Georg Luger for use in his 1898 Luger Pistol. The German military wanted a larger caliber military handgun cartridge so Luger took his current 7.65x21mm Parabellum and removed the bottleneck from the case, leaving a straight-walled 9mm rimless cartridge. SAAMI, by virtue of the cartridge being chambered originally in Lugers’ pistol, designated it the 9mm Luger.

During the first years of the 1900s, Georg Luger presented models to the British Small Arms Committee and the U.S. Army for testing. In 1904 the German Navy adopted the cartridge, and in 1908 the German Army followed suit. A 1910 adjustment to the shape of the bullet made it more streamlined for better feeding. The cartridge acquitted itself suitably during the First World War, with military and police in many countries later adopting it in handgun and machine-gun configurations. Eventually, the 9mm went on to become the most popular pistol caliber among U.S law enforcement agencies.

The author with a big rattlesnake he killed with his 1911 .45 ACP.

A hand full of Texas rattlesnakes and a .45 1911. Both are deadly.

PERFORMANCE

During the early, battle-torn days of both cartridges, the .45 ACP outperformed the 9mm by a significant margin in terms of sheer man-stopping ability. The reason for this was that the standard bullet used in the .45 was a round-nosed 230-grain FMJ (Full Metal Jacket) projectile, while the 9mm featured an FMJ bullet that was much more streamlined and around 100 grains lighter. Neither bullet would expand on impact.

The sleek profile of the 9mm projectile combined with its smaller frontal diameter meant that more often than not a bullet would whisk right through a bad guy, leaving him capable of venting his wrath upon whoever just perforated him. In contrast, the .45 with its greater frontal diameter, blunt-ish round nose, and heavier weight would usually dampen the enthusiasm of an attacker rather effectively. These tendencies became obvious on the battlefield. More than a handful of decades would pass by, with their accumulative stories of people charged up on adrenaline or narcotics soaking up 9mm bullets and keeping coming. But then something changed. Bullets.

The advent of premium, well-engineered expanding bullets put an end to the 9mms era of less than stellar performance.

Ballistics

With the advent of well-designed expanding projectiles, the 9mm became a very viable means of stopping a nasty person bent on doing nasty things to you. Bullets no longer zipped through bad guys; instead, they spent much or all of their energy in their target. Superior firepower in the form of high-capacity weapons gave 9mm chambered pistols a decided edge in prolonged fights, and their mellow attitude while shooting rendered them easier for many folks to shoot accurately and with greater speed.

The .45 ACP didn’t lose any ground with the advent of high-performance projectiles, indeed, if anything it became even more capable of changing bad-guys attitudes. It still hits just as hard, and now the bullets do even more damage. But a .45-chambered pistol simply can’t contain a double hand full of rounds without becoming obese.

FULL-SIZED SELF DEFENSE PISTOLS

To my way of thinking today’s self-defense hand gunner who wants a full-sized pistol has two great options. I personally consider the two best semi-auto battle handguns to be the 1911 style .45 ACP with an 8-round magazine, and the high-capacity polymer-framed 9mms such as Smith & Wesson’s M&P 9, stoked with a 17-round mag.

1911 .45 ACP

Rugged, handsome, historic, and balanced like a fine Toreador, 1911-style handguns usually feature good accuracy, superb handle-ability, a crisp trigger, and a capacity of 8+1. They are usually carried “Cocked and locked,” meaning there is a round chambered and the thumb safety is on. A fine 1911 has more panache than a polymer-framed pistol can ever hope for. For the shooter who can handle recoil and has a taste for class, they are perfect.

POLYMER-FRAMED 9MM

Smith & Wesson’s M&P 9 is lightweight, sturdy, capable, and very good at putting a lot of accurate rounds downrange in a hurry. It’s striker-fired, meaning the trigger can never hope to compete with a fine 1911 trigger. But it’s good enough for accurate shooting. The safety is contained in the trigger, rendering a thumb safety moot. The pistol can safely be carried with 17 in the magazine and one in the chamber. It’s well balanced and deadly. Carry two extra mags on your belt and you have over 50 rounds along – more than enough to change the minds of a whole gang of bad guys.

And the Winner is…

The .45 hits harder. The 9mm has greater firepower and capacity. Both are durable as a deckhand. If going to a classy event I’d carry my 1911. If expecting the need for a lot of ammo to send someplace I’d take the polymer-framed high-capacity pistol. I love them both and use them both. And I would feel confident defending self and family with either.

{ 78 comments… add one }
  • Roger Banks September 22, 2020, 8:28 pm

    One advantage to 9mm ON THE BATTLEFIELD is that when your enemy is only seriously wounded, it takes an average of three of his comrades to remove him, thereby removing three more from the field. Of course, this is more applicable at submachinegun range rather than face-to-face range with pistols. They each have their own plusses and minuses. (Weight, trajectory, cost, etc.) All things considered in civilian life, the FBI shifted from revolvers to the S&W 459 in 9mm, to the .40 S&W, and then back to 9mm with improved ammo.

  • Gary July 8, 2020, 11:31 am

    I own both..I like both. I however love my .45s!! I carry a 9mm in the summer months with my CCL..hard to cover even a 4″ large frame .45 in the summer. But when I can wear a jacket, I switch to a .45 and a shoulder holster. I love that combination. Probably because I have used it for over 40 years now.
    Bottom line if I ever had to shoot a bad guy..I would really prefer to do so with a .45. my faith in that round is unwavering.
    Just carry what ever YOU prefer, don’t worry about what others think. The main thing to do is to CARRY!! Even a .22 short or a .25 ACP is better than a knife when the blood starts to run.

  • Nick M March 25, 2018, 9:46 am

    I carry 15 rounds of .45 Auto with my 1911 at all times.

  • ejharb February 14, 2018, 2:07 am

    The big plus in 9mm is under 20 cent a round practice.in fact as far as price is concerned 22 mag has been priced from my consideration by 9mm.if it wasn’t for reloading I’d not mess with 45acp,that and the large hole in the target. If you chose any one of a number of 9mm jhps and put it where it needs to go you will get home just fine.

  • Frank February 3, 2018, 1:47 am

    Hey Z. If you’re going to call people names at least get your spelling right. Looks like you just learned a new word. lol Now look it up and practice spelling it.

  • macko January 30, 2018, 11:40 pm

    you stilll have twice the weight with 45 acp to pass through your target. 9mm even with the hollow points will not

    • Larry January 31, 2018, 11:41 am

      I think that’s the point. With the more prevalent use of hollow points in modern bullet technology there is less chance of the projectile passing through a bad guy and injuring an innocent bystander, heaven forbid you ever have use deadly force. And giving the lack of high velocity most CCW pistol rounds have, the new hollow point allows you to put more of that important kinetic energy on target.

      And BTW, the old slow moving FMJ 9mm military rounds would pass through someone like a knife in hot butter if it hit soft tissue dumping none of it’s kinetic energy, same as a .45 acp, or even the .45 colt of the day. There are untold number of cases of people shot with full medal jacketed projectiles having it pass through and they didn’t even know they were shot, unless there was a large amount of hemorrhaging or it struck the central nervous system.

      Maybe someone will come up with a conceal carry weapon that will launch a 200 gr. hollow point projectile at over 3000 fps and you’ll have that mythical one shot kill … IF you put it in the vitals!

  • Roger T January 29, 2018, 8:32 pm

    Saw this comment the other day.. a 9mm may expand but a 45 will never shrink!

  • JoshO January 29, 2018, 6:47 pm

    Neither. The all metal, single stack P7 series of pistols by HK is the correct answer. Shot placement and fast f/u is king. An examination of gunfight statistics will reveal to you that 17 rounds is unnecessary.

  • Steve Rankin January 29, 2018, 6:44 pm

    In a perfect world . . . we wouldn’t need to have this discussion because there wouldn’t be a need for self-defense. Obviously, we don’t live in a perfect world.

    Unfortunately, more and more of us live in increasingly less perfect worlds where liberal politics prevail which means that we are facing increasingly challenges to self-defense that have little to do with the bad guy. Useless laws that limit magazine capacity for law-abiding citizens nullify the capacity advantage of the double-stack polymer gun in those jurisdictions.

    The public is so accustomed to watching cop shows where bad guys drop dead faster with a 9mm than they would in real life from a 30-06. As a result, even the ubiquitous double-tap can result in being charged for using excessive force.
    My perspective is that the modern 9mm is potent and effective and may or may not result in stopping the threat with one round. However, the modern 45 ACP is more effective which means that it has a better chance of stopping the threat with one round. While I’m not as quick with a follow-up shot with the 45, I’m just just as fast with the first shot.

    As for the LE agencies switching to 9mm? IMHO, that decision is based mostly on economics and political correctness.
    Not only does 9mm ammo cost significantly less than 45, or even 40 it takes less time to train a new LEO to be proficient with the softer shooting 9mm, especially if the LEO is of small stature. While some, like myself, practice enough to be proficient regardless of the platform or caliber, most don’t. In fact, most LE don’t practice enough to be proficient even with a 9mm.

  • Rick January 29, 2018, 6:24 pm

    Comparing apples to apples in ball ammunition: .45 ball is a far better choice. I don’t care how well bullets are manufactured, 9mm ball is a shitty bad guy stopper. 9mm only becomes effective in hollow point form, period. That’s great for regular civilians if their state allows it, but what about the states that prohibit everyone but law enforcement? And don’t forget our military are only allowed to carry ball ammo while serving overseas. Status of forces agreements with host nations prohibit anything but ball ammo….

  • Ron Stidham January 29, 2018, 5:45 pm

    While this age old argument still continues, I for one think that it is best to shoot what you are comfortable with and can handle the recoil of. I an a 45 1911 man, and have found many self defense round that shoot very well with my particular choice of firearm. Having said that, shoot what you can hit something or some bad guy with. shot placement will do the rest.
    My god rest their souls, where ever they need to be.

  • mark davidson January 29, 2018, 4:59 pm

    anyone thoughts on combining 1911 chambered for 9mm…that would be a min of 10 shots..and the double stack 1911 like para ordanance would have 18 rounds

  • Jeffrey L. Frischkorn January 29, 2018, 2:02 pm

    Personally I don\’t want to be hit by either round. The rest is all semantics.

  • Ladds Banks January 29, 2018, 1:36 pm

    Classic argument…over a century of debate. I believe that I must agree with the school of thought that says “shot placement” is really the best criteria for which calibre you use. Noting that the military, FBI and many LEO’s are standardizing on the 9mm, there must be some validity to it’s effectiveness. Now…a polymer gun with 18-19 round capacity…impressive; but it ain’t a 1911, and if you have ever really worked a 1911, there is no other gun that is acceptable in your hand…one word: trigger. Levered triggers just do not feel right after having experienced the straight line pull of the 1911’s. My solution, a Springfield Armory RO Elite…in 9mm, 7/1, cocked and locked. Sweet handling firearm.

  • DEFENDER88 January 29, 2018, 12:35 pm

    It is settled – 9mm v 45cal.
    2 camps.
    1) 45cal – All you need is one shot.
    Since only One hit, anywhere, will blow an elephant in half and stop every fight instantly.
    For those who are dead center shots(1 shot) under combat conditions.

    2) 9mm – Carries so many rounds you can shoot forever.
    But it will take every one of them to stop even a squirrel.
    For those who cant hit a barn 2ft away.

    Energy ft-lbs – Same arguments as 30.06 vs 5.56.

    • FredinBoise January 29, 2018, 1:13 pm

      It’s my understanding from instructors that the average homeowner response in a shoot-out is three round at less than twenty feet. Given this, the “adnantage” of have 17 rounds available to fire is moot.
      A .45acp with 7 or 8 round magazine is more than enough for a homeowner; especially at intimate distances from an intruder.

      Police are another matter. I am shocked, amazed, and frankly embarrassed for Police when I hear they shot the perpetrator 41 times with 95 rounds expended. This is insane. Obviously not enough range time and inadequate bullets/cartridge.
      In every case it’s 9mm Parabellums being sent downrange in a cloud.
      We all know the 9mm was adopted by the army to make it easier on females.
      The Police deserve better.

      • Z January 29, 2018, 2:39 pm

        The formal process to open combat jobs to women began in January of 2013. The 9mm was adopted by the army in 1985. Check your facts you mysogonist ass hat.

        • Rick January 29, 2018, 6:00 pm

          Hey Z, since you’re calling FredinBoise names, let me hit you with some knowledge. Back in 1985 we had plenty of women filling boots as military police. Personal experience that I witnessed first hand– a significant number had a hard time qualifying with handguns. (They were ok with M-16s) When I came in, we still had the S&W Model 15 Combat Masterpiece. Excellent handgun but really really crappy round and my female counterparts had problems qualifying with the revolver. Same thing happened when we switched to the M-9. I can only imagine how much more difficult it was for them with the 1911. I’m not saying ALL the guys qualified first time, just the women had way more problems to the tune they were separated or placed in a job they didn’t have to wear a sidearm. So maybe YOU should be the one to check “facts” before regurgitating stuff you read on the internet.

        • Stan d. Upnow January 29, 2018, 11:21 pm

          Ah yes, the misused, often misspelled, not understood, and current darling of the deranged, HUTA, Liberal feminists: misogynist.

        • Patrick Whited October 1, 2019, 5:41 pm

          Women were still using the m9s back then too not just combat roles. Check YOUR facts too lib lib

      • Chris Mallory January 29, 2018, 6:30 pm

        The police deserve to be disarmed except for a whistle and a radio. Modern police forces have proven themselves unworthy of the privilege of being armed while on the job. And yes, for a government employee being armed is a privilege. Citizens have rights, not governments.

        • Steve Hirschy February 16, 2018, 10:08 pm

          And some, like you, deserve to be vetted thoroughly before being allowed to post anything for public consumption. Carrying a gun as a cop isn’t a privilege, it’s an unfortunate necessity.

      • Billj357 January 29, 2018, 6:41 pm

        My thoughts, as shooter since ’60s, 2 Decades as LEO and NRA Instructor are – Shot Placement is FAR more important than ‘capacity’. MOST LEOs are NOT ‘trained’ enough, Do NOT ‘practice’ enough and are not ‘tested’ enough. Back ‘in the day’ Schools and Boy Scouts taught Safety and Marksmanship and most any child could outshoot most adults of today. Now, doesn’t happen. Sad. Today’s 9s ammo considered, would be competent for LEOs, .45s better. Vast majority of shooting confrontations end within a few seconds so capacity is largely irrelevant .
        ”You cannot miss fast enough” ….

        • Stan d. Upnow January 29, 2018, 11:33 pm

          So, you might appreciate this story- true, as told to me by an active police officer.
          An armed suspect(if I recall, it was a knife) charged a group of officers, who opened fire with their .357’s(the issue gun back then). Suspect was hit multiple times, but kept coming. Finally, one officer armed with a 12ga. blew his head apart. The autopsy revealed the suspect was loaded on Angel Dust. It also revealed he was “dead” with the first center-chest hit, even though he took multiple lethal hits.
          Shot placement? Well, yeah. That, and a 12ga.

  • DEFENDER January 29, 2018, 12:28 pm

    As a base line for “stopping power” I am going to use “Death Caused”.
    A large study of U.S. shootings showed that there is NO Correlation between Death Caused and Caliber.
    It also showed there WAS a HIGH POSITIVE CORRELATION between Shot PLACEMENT and Death Caused.
    In other words Caliber does not matter.
    Its shot placement that counts.
    Just the data/facts.
    Assuming both Speed and Accuracy are important in a real gun fight:
    Due to the basic physics of recoil control of 45 vs 9 – neither you nor “anyone” can shoot (with accuracy) a
    45 faster than a 9mm. Assumes equal training with both.

    Trained police (in real gun fights) have a hit rate of only 25%.
    Not lethal, just hits anywhere.
    And that is usually with a 40 which is easier to shoot than a 45.
    So lets just take that, not even considering anyone can shoot a 9 faster (with accuracy) than a 45.
    With a 45:
    45cal = 8 x .25 = 2 hits/mag
    With a 9mm:
    9mm = 17 x .25 = 4 hits/mag (my carry gun)

    With re-loads the numbers continue to increase with a 9.
    3mags 45 = 24rds x .25 = 6 hits
    3mags 9mm = 51rds x .25 = 12 hits

    I like the 9mm odds a lot better.
    Not to mention (anyone/everyone)(with equal training) can put 9mm (on target) faster than a 45.
    Especially now days you never know when you might be facing a sick f*ck with a rifle.

    • Stan d. Upnow January 29, 2018, 11:42 pm

      Let’s dig a little deeper, shall we? Someone gets heart-shot with .22lr, another with a .45acp. Both die. But, the time element is the critical factor. While it might take several minutes for the .22lr victim to expire, during which time he may continue to fight, the victim shot with the .45acp is likely to drop on the spot; fight over.
      This is why “statistics” and “studies” often don’t tell the tale, plus they can be configured/manipulated to give desired results. Ask the gun-banners for lessons on that.

    • John January 30, 2018, 12:48 pm

      Bolstering your 9mm argument, an often overlooked possibility is an attack or home invasion by multiple bad actors. The boarding house rule should apply: One serving for everyone, then next serving, in order.

  • Orrin M. Knutson January 29, 2018, 12:19 pm

    Dear Sir,
    Let me respectfully speak from experience as a police firearms instructor of over 40 years (one who has actually been in several real life gunfights, as opposed to virgin, politically correct instructors) and as an investigator and expert witness related to police/security/civilian shootings.

    My original opinions were based on the old military reality; the 9mm works well to “wound” rather than “kill” which tied up eight men from the field to save a wounded soldier. That is why it was ideal for use in SMG’s and war battlefields.

    For Law Enforcement, however, I had always tried to make the .45ACP acceptable, based on many factors. Primary was it’s stopping power and lesser penetration. (I got my way with most SWAT, a few small agencies or other special units.)

    In the late 1970’s when the”hot topic” movement to switch from .38 and .357 wheel guns to high capacity semi-autos bloomed, I agreed. Yet, I vigorously fought against the 9mm, fearing more over penetration and “panic spray and pray” incidents, but obviously I lost the battle once the military switched to the Beretta Model 92. In years to come my fears became reality.

    Police incident shootings jumps from the 1970’s average of 2 1/2 officer round per incident to 8. By the late-90’s it jumped again to 12+ rounds, fired by multiple officers. Civil action lawsuits for wild round injuries and damaged exploded!

    In years to come my investigations of police shootings reflected all the above. The worst example of 9mm failures I personally investigated occurred when an armed subject, standing on his front porch fired on three arriving officers, as they dismounted their vehicles at the curb. Between them, the officers fired 33 rounds of 9mm at distances of only 35-66 feet. The subject was hit 13 times, 3 times in the head. Four months later the subject was standing (fully recovered) in front of a judge. He was convicted of multiple charges and went to prison.

    HOWEVER! During the year to follow the department was successfully sewed on several fronts. First, his wife, inside the home (the original victim of the domestic violence complaint) was hit and children were missed by mere inches, than God! She was awarded $750,000 for a minor flesh wound in her leg. There was over $8,000 9mm damages to the rental home, now worth $179,000 to the landlord. Two vehicles and a house (neighbors behind the subjects home) were hit by over penetration rounds coming out the back of the house; awarded $600,000. The crowning glory came when (from prison) the subject sewed for his “reckless shots injuries.” He WON early parole and $1,180,000 cash!!!

    I gladly confess, the new 9mm expanding ammo does have a somewhat better stop/kill factor, but we are still paying for a shit-load of unintended wounds and damages across the nation. It is as if officers are no longer properly train to place their first rounds wisely. Statistically, over the last couple decades SWAT officers who have a first hit with their .45’s seem to at least stop the threat, while 9mm shooters have to produce multiple body-mass hits to drop dangerous perpetrators, especially when they are hyped up on drugs, etc.

    I’m confident I’m inviting a lot of argument, as it always does when I share my opinion on this subject. That said, I trust the historic reality and still prefer to carry my 1911A-1 .45ACP. In fact, I don’t even own any 9mm’s other than a couple German WW II’s in my collection.

    God Bless and Protect All our Police and Military,
    Orrin M. Knutson
    Peace Officer Retired and Wilderness Survival Author

    • Stan d. Upnow January 29, 2018, 11:52 pm

      Thanks for sharing. Most of what I came away with from your comment is what I’ve already discovered- our dysfunctional & corrupt LEGAL system is simply insane!

    • Aram von Benedikt February 17, 2018, 5:32 pm

      Mr. Knutson,

      Thank you for your comment – I always enjoy hearing from people with real experience, data, and wisdom. Keep it up.

      Aram.

  • lee January 29, 2018, 12:02 pm

    The way I look at it ammo had came a long way in the last 20 years . I feel a 9mm more than enough to stop a man with good ammo. I do love the stopping power of a 45 I have both , everyone knows of 45 had more stopping power . I carry a sig 226 9mm it is what I prefer . I also have a kimber 1911 in 45 shoot it well also both have there pros and cons . It really only matters is which you hit the target best with , of you can’t connect neither are good for anything.

  • Wesley atha January 29, 2018, 11:21 am

    .45acp, 9mm, I love you both. Get a 10mm and be done with it.

    • Dan Martin January 29, 2018, 12:53 pm

      I am almost 70 years old with cancer in 70% of my bones. Because of the medication I have to go through I am much weaker than I used to be. I grew up using the 45, both in revolver and auto, but have had to drop down to the 9mm, because I can’t handle the recoil of the 45’s. By using good high tech ammo I can still do about as good as the old 45’s and handle recoil fairly well. So I feel the 9mm if used properly is an effective round for those can’t handle the recoil of the 45. I also have a matched set of 44mag. single action western style revolvers which I can seldom fire any more. My advice is to use what you are best with, one hit with with a small caliber is better than 10 misses with a hand cannon.

  • Douglas Folsom January 29, 2018, 11:16 am

    It does not matter, 45 or 9×19, just keep pulling the trigger until they stop. If that does not work, do what the bad guys did to Roy Rogers, throw the gun at the bad guy and run like the dickens.

  • jon January 29, 2018, 10:16 am

    “Experts”, even when only regurgitating the boring bromides of the last half century, lose credibility with me when they vomit the phrase “45 long colt”. If your going to discuss these things get the nomenclature correct

  • Infidel1018 January 29, 2018, 10:03 am

    I can’t remember how many articles I have read stating this bullet expands to .45, tha bullet expands to .45, etc. etc. Why not just start with q .45 and any expansion you get is a bonus?

  • Don Tros January 29, 2018, 9:48 am

    I like 22 short and a hand grenade in case that fails!-: Again, the comments are fun!-:)

    • Stan d. Upnow January 30, 2018, 12:35 am

      Need a one-shot stop? Why fool around with a measly .45acp, when you can go with a .69-caliber round ball in a flintlock pistol? That’s a 473gr soft lead ball that will flatten-out and shatter bones to splinters.
      Works great to repel boarding pirates or home invaders.

  • Paul M. January 29, 2018, 9:34 am

    The .45ACP is a stopping round, and if you actually practice with that cartridge the magazine count has no real value. From what I know first hand and through many years of using and carrying the 1911 in the Military and civilian life. In 1968 when I
    enlisted I had fired 1 20 round magazine from a Thomson Sub Machine gun many years before at the FBI range with an instructor helping. to steady the gun as I pulled the trigger ( my father as an attorney had passed all their entrance requirements to become an agent so taking his only child to the Quantico Va. back in the 1950’s was done all the time.) It was loud, heavy and the best time I had that summer. Its was the first firearm I had ever touched, being from NYC where you couldn’t even own a BB gun so you can imagine how it felt firing anything that went bang. I was hooked.for life. So you could say the .45ACP was already ingrained into me. In the Army I was involved in Ordnance from hand guns to being the first person to test out The Vulcan 20mm rotary cannon at Aberdeen Proving Grounds in 1968.

    I was quite surprised when the Military went to 9mm for magazine capacity, it was certainly wasn’t stopping power they were after since they already had the .45ACP working for decades before.

    As mentioned nowadays the choice of ammunition is staggering, so now the 9mm depending on the new ammo and of course
    the skill of the operator it’s now a viable stopping cartridge. So all you people out there using a 9mm handguns I can see why
    it’s a huge seller. I would still keep far away from Glock as they have NO SAFETY!!! A gun without a safety is like a car without brakes. Even my Walther PPK/S which also fires first in DA and then goes into SA, is safer cocked and chambered with a round in the chamber as the DA trigger pull is in excess of 14 pound pull, but it still has a safety decocker. Guns without asafety are dangerous to everybody, don’t fall for the hype.

    If your wife or girl friend wants to go shooting with you and she ( or he ) has never fired a gun before, Please don’t give them a big bore firearm as to many bad things can happen. Once they are used to recoil, etc. They will move up to larger bores all by themselves.

    But for myself, I will always carry a .45ACP of which I own 2, a series 70 Colt Government Model and my carry gun is a
    Kimber .45ACP Pro Carry Crimson Trace 4″. Of course the choice is up to you. Good luck and good shooting.

    • Ron January 29, 2018, 10:55 am

      Ah, if only people had a spare $900 to spend on one gun (and an EDC at that) the Kimber you mentioned would be s fine choice. Most of us, however, need that kind of jack for more pressing expenses, let’s say rent or mortgage. Which is why (thankfully) there are a lot of great guns available for under $500 and even under $300.

      I’ve done the .45ACP vs. 9mm dance too many times to count. Yes, a .45ACP Hydro-Shok has more “stopping power” (a misnomer) than a 9mm Hydro-Shok, but there will be times when 8 or 9 rounds just will not be enough – especially if you think you can hit a moving man under stress as easily as you can a stationary target while relaxed. The current trend in crimes against people and property are instances when there is more than one perp involved. Home break-ins are a typical venue where two to four armed bad guys are found to frequent. These are the times when capacity outweighs pistol caliber for the average gun owner. Now, if you’ve got a shotgun for HD, that capacity advantage exists in each shell which, if it’s a typical 12-gauge “00” buck, contains eight .33 caliber balls. If you’re using the massive “000” buck, then it has six 9mm balls stuffed inside it.

      Personally, I’m not a fan of using a shotgun inside my home for self-defense – especially if I’m faced with a moving target.

      The name of the game is still shot placement and with a good 9mm cartridge mated to a good, hi-cap handgun, a person’s chances of hitting an intended target are greater given the capabilities of placing follow-up shots faster with a lot easier weapon to manage. If a person has mastered the .45ACP, then, by all means, stick with whatever works for you.

      • Billj357 January 29, 2018, 6:44 pm

        You are factually Incorrect regarding the Glock. Wrong.
        AND.
        ‘Safety is Between the Ears’ and Training, and Practice.

  • Leslie B January 29, 2018, 9:27 am

    John Moses Browning. Not Jonathan Browning.

    • Joel T January 30, 2018, 10:04 am

      Yep. His father’s name was Jonathan

  • Retrocon January 29, 2018, 9:22 am

    Seriously, just got through Shot Show, and THIS is being rehashed… again… and again… and again…

  • tyler kent January 29, 2018, 9:19 am

    Apparently the author not aware of the FBI study.

  • Paul January 29, 2018, 8:23 am

    This argument ignores the more important prevailing point; “Where does the round strike the target”? If you shoot him in the rear end, it probably wouldn’t kill him, regardless of the caliper of the round. If you hit him in the head, a .22LR will drop him in his tracks. In other words, there is FAR MORE to this issue than simply which caliper round is more effective. When it comes to personal protection with a handgun, you need to concern yourself with a hell of a lot more variables than simply carry a big bullet.

    • BR549 January 29, 2018, 10:05 am

      I agree. There are too many other issues involved.

      The 45 is heavier and more unwieldy for lighter weight operators. It has more recoil, which would potentially alter the 2nd shot placement within the 21 ft engagement zone, and would be less of a candidate for women or smaller men.

      When it all comes out in the wash, we still have to remember how the NYC police fired at a guy I believe seven times in Times Square and didn’t score once. There was another incident in NY, where over 80 rounds were fired by LE and only one managed to reach the guys leg, as I recall.

      So, people can talk about “practice, practice, practice” all they want, but the reality is that many people are still going to be more like the NYC cops. In the case of the 80+ round exchange, that was in a residential neighborhood. If the bullets weren’t striking the bad guy, how many home owners were going to be replacing windows and vinyl siding? And that’s on the upside.

      I can name three women I know who can’t rack a Ruger 22 pistol; my sister can’t even rack a S&W Bodyguard 380. I mean, for them, perhaps a revolver might be better, but the argument is about 9mm vs 45.

      My two cents.

  • Stephen Joseph Graham January 29, 2018, 8:02 am

    Most of the above (and below)-mentioned criteria are irrelevant. The best choice between 9 mm and 45 caliber is quite simple: ACCURACY and SPEED . Combat accuracy and time from your EDC holster to the high center chest and the critical portions of the central nervous system is all that matters. A good test: timed El Presidente drills at 3 to 5 m while achieving combat accuracy. Whichever round allows the fastest and most repeatable accuracy on the El Presidente drill should be considered the best round for any individual to use. As a physician (25 years in the military), I can tell you that caliber size, unless the bullet impacts VITAL organs (especially the central system) is irrelevant.
    S.Graham, Lt.Col (ter.), MD, OD
    NRA Instructor Basic Pistol, Personal Protection Inside the Home, Personal Protection Outside the Home

    • JohnL January 29, 2018, 8:58 am

      Stop with the science! Thx for ur wisdom.

  • Andrew Offutt January 29, 2018, 7:45 am

    Will Drider is correct in his assertions. And John M. Browning had it right from Day 1. Practice diligently with your 45 acp and you will beat the monster capacity 9’s carried by the bad guys. And you will be much less likely to have your mugshot taken for spraying bullets into good guys.

  • Kenneth Steen January 29, 2018, 7:18 am

    Completely ignores the latest FBI report on various handgun cartridges. BLUF is that you will almost certainly need follow up shots with a handgun cartridge. The 9mm is faster and more accurate on follow ups, plus provides the extra capacity in a slimmer profile. Thus the FBI has returned to the 9mm. Also as stated above, velocity equals additional force. It’s a myth, perpetuated by this article that the .45ACP has any additional stopping power. It’s also a myth that the 1911 is a reliable handgun, unless you want to spend 3x the money on it, to make it so. At the end of the day shot placement is the name of the game. Carry whatever you like, just train, train, train with it. However please STFU about how your .45ACP will make people explode into a cloud of red mist with every shot.

    • JohnL January 29, 2018, 9:05 am

      Very accurate statement. It s all about you and your comfort level and ability to perform. I started as a 1911 guy and now I m a plastic boy. I just found for me 9mm worked better for me.

    • .45 Fan January 29, 2018, 3:30 pm

      This comment perpetuates the myth that all 1911’s are unreliable, and all Glock clones are sewing machines. There are no doubt lemons on both sides. I have had extensive experience with 1911 handguns, and have noticed no more reliability problems than any other type of firearms. Even though I prefer the .45, my wife carries a 9mm. If I had any doubt that the 9mm was a capable cartridge, that would not be the case. Carrying any handgun is a compromise, and I agree that shot placement is key. But for me personally, I would rather well placed .45’s over well placed 9’s. That is my .02 anyway.

  • flyR January 29, 2018, 7:14 am

    It all changes if you live in California where purchase of 10+ round magazines is prohibited and possession legal only because the courts have temporarily blocked the criminalization of the possession of magazines holding more than 10 rounds.

    • MJB January 29, 2018, 9:05 am

      Then pack up and move like thousands of other CA residents have done. CA, the hopeless state.

      • Stan d. Upnow January 30, 2018, 1:35 am

        Peoples Socialist Republic of Cali-fornia is moving rapidly towards regulating private ownership of firearms out of existence.

  • The Mang January 29, 2018, 7:11 am

    I think the author still compares apples to oranges. Let’s simplify: Glock 17 with 17+1 or Glock 21 with 15+1. (Or insert any other manufacturer if you wish.) For me, there’s no comparison- I’m using the .45 every time.

    • Maine January 29, 2018, 8:57 am

      Nailed it!

    • Maine January 29, 2018, 9:04 am

      I’d take a a G31 .357 sig over a 9mm. Look at the charts. A .357sig would give a .45acp a run for its money. Maybe even spank it in some specs. All the while still keeping close to a 9mm projectile and casing.

      Love my G21, G30, G31. As for safety? You only need one safety and that should be on the trigger.

      • Stan d. Upnow January 30, 2018, 1:36 am

        Have you priced .357SIG ammo lately?

    • john January 29, 2018, 10:00 am

      when trying to make a point , it would help if your statement was accurate … a glock 21 has a 13rd magazine , not 15 …
      just saying !

    • Scott January 29, 2018, 1:20 pm

      Misleading comment on the Glock capacity comparison. Glock 21 capacity is 15+1 with a plus 2 floor plate on the magazine. Glock 17 is 19+1 with a plus 2 floor plate on the magazine. Extended floor plates potentially have some drawbacks. CZ P-09 & Springfield Armory XD(M) are 19+1, without any “special floor plate” on the magazine. CZ also has the manual safety that is preferable to some over the modern safeties that have become more commonplace. But those aren’t Glocks so on to other things. The rest of my rant is focused on the article and anyone who liked it. Maybe this particular caliber comparison is never completely objectively written about (are any?). I’m not even a writer and I could have put together a better article when I was a child. Saying that in the early days the 45 ACP significantly outperformed the 9×19 is quite a stretch. Using some data from some of the era, 300 ft lbs compared to 352 ft lbs does not the difference make that is implied. We are discussing pistols after all, the only thing worse than a knife to bring to a gun fight, particularly on a World War One or Two battlefield. Many 9×19 loads are offered now (and carried) and have been for more than 30 years that far exceed the power levels of those used as examples in the authors tripe. True enough, there are also more powerful 45 ACP loads. Just understand the following: The power ceiling for the two cartridges, from about a 4 to 5 inch semi-auto barrel, with currently available components is a bit over 500 ft lbs for the 9×19 and a bit over 600 ft lbs for the 45 ACP and loads offering those power levels are available. They can be spendy, but modern handguns will not break from them (at least not right away) and even folks of smaller stature can use these loads well, with a bit of practice. Momentum, power factor, and Taylor KO, will usually (almost always??) favor the 45 ACP. A bigger diameter bullet has a better chance to nick something vital, and its hole can let out more blood, faster. A smaller diameter bullet may penetrate more, possibly reaching something vital the larger could not. Both can under or over penetrate, with less than desired effects (pistols, remember?, also bullets, and physics, etc.). Handgun and bullet design has advanced to such a degree that feeding, extraction, and bullet expansion concerns are virtually eliminated but at times things can still go wrong (shoot a lot and you’ll see what I mean). The smaller cartridge can offer more capacity in a more compact handgun. Recoil is not just a factor of heavier bullets but in any case more of it has a negative effect on time between shots and regaining a good sight picture. Of ultimate importance are fundamentals, in particular shot timing and bullet placement. Big bore with fewer rounds, small bore with more rounds, neither matters if the shooter can’t hit the target in the right spot at the right time. Anyone who carries (legally) should find a pistol/ammo/holster/etc. that they are comfortable with and can use really really really effectively, and practice with it. A bunch. And often. And carry a back up. Finally, disregard all of this talk about what you will or wont need in a gunfight. No-one “knows” what will happen and when, so predicting anything about your next gunfight is like trying to predict when your next car wreck will be and what all will happen during and after. Trust me, if you are ever in a gunfight, whatever you have with you won’t feel like enough when the bullets start flying. Anyway, the article was not good. It was awful, no offense to the writer but it was just a really bad and terrible write up. Both cartridges have their place and plenty of folks are pushing up daises because of either of them (and all the rest too). And again Mr Mang, your blurb about the Glock magazine capacities was misleading.

  • Gregory Romeu January 29, 2018, 7:06 am

    The Marine Corps was forced to carry 9’s because of the Army contract being awarded. Then after many years of agony, the Marines got their .45’s back. Now they have returned to being the happy, hard-charging killers they have all ways been. Nuff said.

    • Phil January 29, 2018, 10:05 am

      Lol…ignorance is bliss they choose the Glock 19 I think 2 years ago now because of reliability issues of the 1911 and capacity 😉

  • Jay January 29, 2018, 6:54 am

    Ah the ol 9mm/45 debate still going strong! I remember a scientific wound channel study done by the FBI several years ago and the reason they got away from the 40 cal. When Doctors studied actual wound channels made by the 9mm, 40 and 45, they concluded, “with modern ammunition, the difference in actual wounds in human bodies is so slight that we can discern no difference between the wound channels caused by 9mm, .40 S&W, and .45 ACP handguns.” We all have our personnel reasons for one or the other and probably rightfully so. Myself, I follow the mantra. You don’t bring a knife to a gun fight. And Dirty Harry “A mans got to know his limitations” Carry what you can practice with and shoot well! I would prefer to carry my double stack 45 all the time but just isn’t practical or that easy to hide under much of my other wear, so the 9mm goes with me no matter what!

    • JohnL January 29, 2018, 9:08 am

      Yep, yep I like 9mm and I m a plastic boy used to be a 1911 guy. Both are great if I do my part.

  • Ed January 29, 2018, 5:13 am

    I’ve always preferred the 45. I carry a HK usp compact in 45. I carry in first shot double action mode and have found in close quarter drills thumb safety’s take a lot of training to maintain proficiency. As for the 9mm having greater capacity, I see that but under an adrenal dump, this may also lead to extensive shot liability issues. This caliber argument will last forever. The best caliber or pistol is the one you practice with.

    • Jeremy J January 29, 2018, 8:05 am

      Good choice in gun. I also carry a Hk usp 45 compact about 50% of the time and a Glock 30S the other. The glock carries better but the usp 45 compact is a waay better shooter in my opinion. +P’s in the usp platform feel like standard 45acp and standard 45 feels like a hot 9mm. In my Glock 30S you know you got a small gun shooting 45acp, nowhere near as pleasant to shoot.

    • Cyrus January 29, 2018, 8:19 am

      Well said Ed – I carry the same way you do with my HK45ct

  • Michael E. Hensley January 29, 2018, 4:19 am

    Like the sign on the Back Glass of My Tacoma states

    .45 ACP
    Having To Shoot Twice Just Seems Silly

    • Gregory Romeu January 29, 2018, 6:57 am

      And… “The only reason I carry a .45 is because they don’t make a .46!”

  • Russ H January 29, 2018, 4:09 am

    Physics says faster moving mass results in more energy. Get that 230 gr bullet up over 1000 fps… Or reduce the mass and increase the speed. Masafe Ammunition Ballistics sends a 45acp 68 gr bullet out at 2260 fps = 771 ft/lbs energy. Meh, it\’s all apples and apples anymore for the most part.

    • Michael January 29, 2018, 6:48 am

      I was always taught the .45 cal was the only way to go because the 9 mm was too weak because of poor stopping power so I split the deference and bought an XD40.

  • Will Drider January 28, 2018, 11:55 pm

    If it were not for the advent of double stack, enhanced capacity mags in Wonder-Nines: the 9mm would never have gained popularity with LE, Mil or civs in the U.S. But it did and people chased capacity above most everything else. It still was not a great fight stopper but it provided “more opportunities” to make up for poor shot placement or misses if the other party gave you the time.
    People that depend on their firearms will always try and eliminate potential failures and have a backup. They tend to be blind when it comes to the 9mm. Even super magic triple kryptonite projectile can fail to function as advertised. This leaves you with 9mm Ball ammo wound channel (+-). If the same SMTK projectile in 45APC fails, thats like
    Ball ammo too but with a bigger thump, cavity and drain hole. Sure, you could add the dia. of each additional shot you take, but a lot of people die with rounds still in the gun. How about the abused folks in locations with 7-10 round mag capacity or expanding bullet restrictions? How’s that 9mm now? Hypothetically, If we were all limited to two shot Derringers would 9mm be the hot cartridge? Laugh, but what if you can only get off two shots from your super charged Wonder-Nine before the BG shoots you? It’s the same initial risk!
    My primary point is you may be better served if you pick a cartridge and handgun that meets your defensive needs with FMJ ammo, then add your “magic bullets”. You can have icing on your cake.
    Just my opinions. If you like the 9mm, great.

    • Michael Bystrzycki January 29, 2018, 7:40 am

      Your opening comments are incorrect. The 9mm enjoys a rich history in American military & LE;
      case in point is the S&W M39. Development for a .45ACP replacement in 9mm for American troops in Europe in WWII began before war’s end. However, the war ended before a prototype was submitted. In 1946, though, the S&W M39 was born, and used reliably, and in many cases, preferably, over the .45acp by military units such as the Green Berets, and later on, the SEALs. It was also adopted by the Ilinois State Police in 1955 as its issue side arm.
      The S&W M39 mag capacity?
      8 + 1.
      Research its history – it’s informative.
      By the way, my edc is the 39; loaded with Hornady’s Critical Duty 135gr+P ammo.

      • RJB January 29, 2018, 9:54 am

        Quick comment, the CZ 75 is touted as possibly the worlds best COMBAT 9mm ever made and has been around for a very long time. I have several carry pieces in the mix that I carry on any given day, DW CCO 1911 .45, CZ Rami 9mm, Sig P938, Sig P238, all with extra magazines. I think with the Federal LE HST ammo that I use and Precision one for the .380 all of these pistols will do the job one way or the other. IMHO.

    • .45 Fan January 29, 2018, 3:07 pm

      This is a very well reasoned argument, and the reason that I will continue to carry my .45ACP. All else being equal, there is no replacement for displacement.

Leave a Comment

Send this to a friend