You may wonder why the debate over 9mm vs. .45 ACP is resurfacing. Wasn’t the debate of which caliber was better for concealed carry settled? Actually, the debate ended up being shelved with the introduction of the .40 S&W in the 1980s. The .40 took the wind out of the sails since it was seen to be a compromise caliberCaliber is the inside diameter of a firearm’s barrel and the outside diameter of its bullet measured in hundredths or thousandths of an inch (ie, .45cal/caliber) or millimeters (ie, 9mm)., giving shooters the best of both worlds: high capacity and stopping power. The .40 became the must-have caliber of the late 80s, 90s and 2000s.
The Rise and Fall of .40 S&W
The .40 S&W initially seemed like the ultimate defensive handgun cartridge, gaining popularity among law enforcement agencies. However, its stopping power fell short of the legendary .45 ACP. A notorious example involved a suspect taking 14 shots of .40 S&W 180-grainGrain is an archaic unit of measurement that is still used when referring to weights of projectiles. For example, 437.5 grains equals 1 ounce. ammo before surrendering. Moreover, the .40’s blast and recoil proved challenging for new shooters, leading some to favor the more manageable 9mm.
Two pivotal events accelerated the .40’s demise – the FBI’s ballistic testing and a Glock deal for law enforcement agencies. The FBI found the stopping effectiveness of 9mm and .40 to be essentially the same, while Glock’s offer allowed agencies to trade in their existing firearms for new 9mm Glocks, influenced by the FBI report and the cost-effective nature of 9mm ammunition.
Back to Basics: 9mm vs. .45
Now, the question surfaces again: 9mm or .45 ACP for self-defense? While the FBI may claim the 9mm is on par with the .40, ballistic tables suggest otherwise. Yet, this doesn’t necessarily mean the 9mm is inferior to the .45 ACP. To understand the dynamics, we must consider tactical utility – encompassing factors like magazine capacity, ease of carry, shootability (recoil and muzzle blast), versatility of design and accuracy.
Tactical Superiority of 9mm
In terms of tactical utility, the 9mm ammo emerges as the winner over the .45 ACP. Despite potential ballistic differences, the 9mm offers superior magazine capacity, ease of carry, shootability and versatility of design. For instance, the S&W M&P 2.0 boasts a magazine capacity of 15 +P, while the SIG M17 holds 17 +1. In contrast, the .45 ACP often maxes out at 8+1 rounds. Furthermore, the 9mm finds a comfortable home in the new generation of micro-compact pistols, providing a tactical advantage in high-threat situations.
The Power vs. Tactical Dilemma
It’s important to acknowledge that the .45 ACP is a formidable pistol caliberCaliber is the inside diameter of a firearm’s barrel and the outside diameter of its bullet measured in hundredths or thousandths of an inch (ie, .45cal/caliber) or millimeters (ie, 9mm)., delivering more recoil, especially with +P ammo. However, its limited magazine capacity and challenges fitting into compact pistols diminish its tactical edge. In contrast, the 9mm sacrifices some raw power but excels tactically, making it an overall better choice for self-defense.
Personal Preferences and Practical Considerations
Despite the 9mm’s tactical superiority, personal preferences and practical considerations play a crucial role in choosing between 9mm vs. .45 ACP. While the .45 ACP may be the preferred choice for more leisurely environments or outdoor activities, a high-capacity 9mm becomes the weapon of choice in high-threat areas. For instance, the SIG P365 or Springfield Hellcat, both micro-compact pistols in 9mm, offer concealed carry enthusiasts a combination of firepower and maneuverability.
In the ongoing 9mm vs. .45 ACP debate, it’s crucial to consider not just raw power but also practical usability. While the .45 ACP packs a punch, the tactical advantages of the 9mm make it a compelling choice for self-defense. The surge in 9mm sales reflects a consensus that the 9mm’s versatility, capacity and ease of use outweigh any potential ballistic discrepancies.
Remember, understanding the proper use of force and choosing a concealed carry gun that aligns with your needs and comfort level is paramount. And when it comes to self-defense shooting, having one in the chamber, regardless of caliber, is a non-negotiable practice. In the end, the 9mm vs. .45 ACP debate continues, but with a shift toward recognizing the tactical prowess of the 9mm for everyday self-defense scenarios.