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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I was told this is a subjective question!

Which is the better choice for Self-defense:

1) .45 ACP
or
2) A 9mm

- Chris
 

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Oh boy...

I know we can count on the members here to be civil in this discussion.

Chris, it really is subjective. Because you are new to handguns I believe an explaination is in order.

First, a .45 is just that, 45/100 of an inch. A 9mm is .355 caliber, or about 36/100 of an inch.

The 9mm is lighter and faster while the .45 is heavier and slower.

There is much ballistic overlap.

The consensus, in general, is this: if you must shoot, shoot fast, and shoot repeatedly. Pick a .38spl on up and the numbers start to blur.

I like my 9mm because it lends itself to fast and accurate shooting in my hands. With more .45 practice I'm sure I could get just as good, but the package I have has seen me through a lot.

Plus, the 9mm does more readily lend itself to concealed carry as smaller and lighter pistols can be had for it than the .45acp. Though this is changing, the .45 pistol package will always weigh a bit more because of the cartridge weight- Unless you want to give up capacity.

That is a personal decision. How many rounds are you comfortable with? coupled with how much recoil can you take and recover to shoot the next shot accurately?

This, plus many other factors, must be weighed. It is not uncommon to go through several pistols in different calibers before finding the one right for you.

Josh <><
 

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Hey Chris,

I'll start by saying, thank goodness were all Gentelmen on this board, because, calibers is such very a touchy subject to some on the other boards.

Which to carry, .45 ACP or 9mm? To me, it would depend on the situation, for example, I think a Pilot or a Federal Air Marshal would be better off with a .45 ACP, because it is a very good soft target round, and if it did blow all the way through the bad guy, or he missed him, it more than likely would not penetrate the air planes body as easy as a 9mm might? However, if you or a Police Officer were shooting at bad guys that had some good cover, I think the 9 is a better hard target round, and I don't think it's too far behind the .45 ACP on soft targets.

FWIW: Look at the Army test where they shot steel helmets with the .45 ACP & 9mm, if I'm correct the .45 ACP only penetrated the helmets out to about 30 yards, but, the 9mm penetrated the helmets at much greater distances. DON'T hold me to these figures, it's been along time since I read the test results.

Just remember Chris, there is NO magic bullet, and there's Pros & Cons to ALL the calibers.

Hope This Helps,
The Sockman
 

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Hello. My opinion is that with its better loads, the .45 ACP will best the better 9mm's assuming both are shot from similar length barrels. By how much is an open question for me as from shootings with which I'm familar, either can leave much to be desired in terms of "stopping" right now.

Probably more important than differences between actual cartridge effectiveness are the user's willingness to actually use deadly force coupled with his ability to place the shots effectively in a short time frame.

Given my loads of choice, I'd still give the .45 the nod, but would not feel either "unarmed" or undergunned with the 9mm. This assumes the use of weapons with which I can get the hits.

Best.
 
G

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Stephen and all,

My first reaction was: "Oh no, here we go again...".

I like your take on the 9 vs .45 issue. Carry what you like. Placement is the key. There are no magic bullets in any caliber...well, maybe a 155mm M198...;-)

Remember the three basics: Pistol must fit the user, be reliable, and be in a suitable defensive caliber. For me that's 9mm or .38 Special as a power floor.

Lot's of good choices in either caliber. If you can only afford one gun buy something smaller that you can have with you regardless of weather or mode of dress.

All the best,

Wes
 

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Hello, Wes. I understand exactly where you're coming from, but don't worry; any discussions on calibers, relative effectiveness, preferences, etc, will be intelligently and courteously discussed.

On other boards I seldom enter into any such discussions as they often times go down hill in a hurry. Here we may just have the chance to share ideas and observations without the all too frequent smart remarks that offer nothing useful
and detract from the topic at hand.

Neither will anyone be "required" to cite their sources. Several of us may very well have first-hand reports from folks who have "been there and done that" more than once, but prefer not to be mentioned by name. If a member here has an opinion or what some call "anecdotal" evidence, they're welcome to present it. This site is not a ballistic research center trying to qualify for any grants or published in any scientific journals. If members have first hand observations to share, they are most welcome as well. What I'm saying is that more can be learned than some might have us believe through these sorts of discussions. At least I believe this to be true. The one thing I know to be true is that no one will talk down to anyone here. At least one site I won't name is so consistently rude that quite a few folks I know will not post there even though they've had to use deadly force to get out of the "dark place" and have viable information to share.

No one has to agree with my thoughts on "stopping power" or the next guy's, but posting here will be without
flaming, name calling, and so forth. I am not really sure how to say this politely so I'll just say it. Folks are more than welcome to post their views and I encourage them to do so. At the same time I will ban anyone on the first "violation" in which their post is a smart ass remark contributing nothing and serving only to try and make another look stupid, dumb, etc.

So far this has been a stellar group of folks and I suspect it will remain so.

I for one am extremely interested in various calibers, loads, their effects on BG's as well as in the hunting fields and suspect that others are, too. The only thing I'm absolutely sure of is that little is certain in the realm of handgun "stopping power."

While I tend toward the 38/9mm and up in caliber potency,
other folks simply may have seen 38, 9mm, .357, etc not perform to expected levels and trust nothing not starting with a "4" in caliber designation. Others will opt for the mid-bores for their reasons. I flat don't trust any caliber that is basically associated with self-protection. I see the 9mm, .357, .45 (insert your choice here) as part of a mix that determines its effectiveness:

1. Is it used in time?
2. Is the bullet (or bullets) placed in a vital area
3. Is the BG immune to what another might not be from drugs, adrenaline, rage, fear, pure determination to get you, etc? In other words, will he go down only if physically incapable of continuing?
4. Will the BG "stop" for psychological reasons when he actually could continue his assault?

There are so many unknowns and factors that we either cannot control or can influence but minimally that perhaps we fixate on that which we can dictate: caliber, load, action, etc.

I feel pretty secure with a .223 with expanding ammunition
and better with a .308 using the same, but seldom have either in my pocket or under my coat. I will have at least a .38 snub and frequently more. A couple of officers under my command were forced to take out a bad guy. He was hit at extremely close range with a 12 gauge that shredded his heart and a full-house .357 through the neck. The latter actually hit nothing of importance!!!! The
felon remarked, "I didn't think you'd shoot me" or something very similar and then sat down, leaned against a wall and died. Somewhere in that time period I quit laying awake wondering about handgun caliber effectiveness and more on being able to hit where I wanted and needed to with the handgun. It is odd and not that common for a human to absorb that level of damage and not instantly collapse but it does happen. If the shotgun blast represents jumping 20 ft high, it really might not be that big of a deal whether 9mm or .45 jump 4 and 5' respectively if 20' is no guarantee!

With the better loads, 9mm can be a capable defensive handgun. With the better defensive loads, .45 ACP can be a capable defensive handgun so long as "capable" is kept in the context of handgun effectiveness. At least that is what I believe.

Neither is likely to be particularly effective if we cannot hit where we need to quickly and possibly repeatedly.

Best.
 
G

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155mm a magic bullet? Huh! That pipsqeek! My battery had 8-inch howitzers. ::) (That's a joke, son)

Look, I'm not a 9mm fan. I've pretty much made that clear. What I also hope that I've made clear is that this is an emotional reaction reinforced by almost losing my best friend when 14 9mm hits SEEMED to fail to work. I say that because all this happened (according to recorded radio transmissions) in 4 seconds. The BG shooting at those three officers would probably have stood there for 4 seconds if he'd been hit with anything short of that 155mm. Still, I have that as emotional baggage that makes the 9mm feel way too small in my hands.

Now, when I teach my classes, I tell the students to choose the largest caliber that they can CONTROL. If that's a 9mm or a 38 Special, fine. Hits are much more important than the size of the projectile. In fact, I had one elderly lady with arthritic hands who had to choose a .22 lr revolver. I've also had tiny little ladies who just loved shooting a 4" Model 29 with full house magnum rounds. I advised them to use 44 specials for their defense loads.

So that is my answer. The best self defense cartridge is the one that YOU shoot the best. You have to get your bullets -- no matter how fat they are -- into places where they can stop your attacker.
 

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Well,I love a 9mm...but anyway. Again,quote"Placement is power"unquote. Be it .22 LR(Yes 22 LR),.32 ACP,.380 ACP, 9x19mm Luger, .38 SPL.,.357 Mag,.40 S&W,10mm Auto,.45 ACP or even .44 Mag. They ain't worth a shoot(pun intended) if you don't hit a vital area. A .22 LR in the eye is worth more than a grazing .44 slug on the arm or leg. Fortunately,this is one of the very few forums that this subject doesn't turn into a big pile of B.S. and I do mean a big pile...been there done that.
 
G

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Stephen and all,

Thanks for your reply, Stephen. I wasn't trying to avoid a session of "intramural" caliber bashing. That is what I tell my students.

Perhaps one of the most gratifying moments in my instructional career was when one of my students broke down at graduation. She hugged me and said; "Thank God, NOW I have an option". The grim look on a few rape victims faces indicated to me a NEVER AGAIN attitude.

Your right, this IS a very touchy subject with some. For those firmly wedded to one caliber does that mean you wouldn't mind being shot with something in another caliber?
Training, confidence, awareness, and mind-set have a lot more to do with walking away than the caliber we are carrying.

Parson's, I retired in '94 from the Marines. Was around long enough to see the old 105mm retired and the new M198 come into the inventory. Of course they retired the 175mm(8") about the same time. Funny, guess what they pulled out of storage for Desert Storm... ::)

Let's see, a close in back up? How about a 105mm and BeeHive.


Wes
 
G

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I'm glad we can have this caliber discussion without dogma. I have my prejudice, and I explained why, so you know to take it as a prejudice. The other posters have been just as good at explaining their rational, and I think this is wonderful.

Wes, I was in the 45th Brigade chasing 8" towed howizters with radios and field wire, till they started getting us ready for Vietnam. We then lost our Garands and got M-16s, lost our towed howitzers and got 8" self-propelled. Then we were told to stand down, and no other National Guard units were ever sent over. My unit did fight in Desert Storm, but by then they were MLRS.
 

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Hello,

Ahhh, let's see, what were we talking about, Oh Yea, .45 ACP or 9mm. Come on guys let's get back on topic.

Thanks Men,
The Sockman
 

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.45 ;)

Jim.

PS; disclaimer (you knew there had to be one right?
) - IF it is shot with equal skill and one does not get really bizzare with his bullet choices - let's just say equivalent designs between the two.

PPS - Like Steve, I would not want to say just how much better.

PPPS - It really is the Weaponcraft not the Weapon!!!!! (spelling corrected!)
 

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During my time in Vietnam as an Intel Courrier I was issued a 1911A1 45 ACP of Ithaca Manufacture as my primary carry. My CO had to qualify me with that weapon and after firing approximately 25 rds at an ammo can at approximately 20 yds. and never hitting it once he qualified me as an expert. Had to have someone to carry that classified information and I was it. :)

Soon after I bought my own personal Browning P-35 High Power 9 MM and found I could actually hit what I was shooting at. Besides the 13 rd, capacity as opposed to 7 in the 45 seemed reassuring. Because of the nature of my job I was allowed to carry both pistols and when I actually needed to hit what I was shooting at I always went for the P-35 first.

Since then I have owned several 45's, 9 mm's, and one 40 S&W and I have always seemed to hit better with the 9 mm's.

Recently I qualified on my job with a Beretta Model 96 Inox 40 S&W with the highest qualification score I have ever achieved, but I sold the Beretta soon after qualifying with it because I had 2 FTF during that qualification.

Went back to my Glock Model 19 or Sig P-225 on my job and have never regretted it in the least. As Mr. Camp said,"This assumes the use of weapons with which I can get the hits." To me getting the hits is far more important than caliber, velocity, or some magic bullet.
 
G

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A breath of fresh air! An intelligent, non emotion driven caliber discussion.
I love the .45. I carried one quite a bit at the insistance of my Uncle Sam and had no problem with it. I have carried one quite a bit since then. After I got involved with IDPA I noticed that I could shoot a lot faster and get better hits with a medium bore gun. With the current state of ammunition science I don't think there is much difference between the different service calibers anymore. Knowing that there are no magic bullets I have gone with the caliber I shoot best and fastest. In autos the 9mm.
 
G

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I never post on caliber discussions since I'm not qualified to "back up" my feelings. But, this is a polite board so:

I think it's common sense that a larger bullet would be better, particulary in a handgun with low velocities. So, all things being equal, 45 is better IMHO. Of course, there might be special "conditions" like penetrating certain materials, that might require a much faster smaller projectile, etc.

But, that means the new 50GI is better yet, and a 60 caliber would be even better. So, it probably boils down to what you can repeatably hit with(recoil considerations), and how much ammo(mag capacity) is really needed.

Being a civilian, I can't say I feel unarmed with a 38 J frame though. :)

And, in autos, I think both the 9mm and 45 could/should fit most needs without looking at other calibers.
 
G

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I was once told that: "All other things remaining equal, fat people will use more soap"

That is a true statement, but it also points out that in life, all other things do not remain equal and in all choices are compromises. The 9mm vs .45 conversation is exactly that.

If all other things (such as recoil, ammunition capacity, size and reliability of the weapon, weight, accuracy, etc) remained equal the .45 would be a much better choice. When you take into account the other factors, sometimes it isn't so clear anymore. You need to balance the evidence for yourself and make a choice. Several of the largest police departments in the country carry 9mm's and still win the vast majority of their fights where good tactics, principals trained, sighted fire, etc are used.

You need to decide on your own and practice, practice practice with whatever you coose to carry.

9mm's are much more sensitive to ammunition that 45's, so if you go that way, be more careful on load selection (this was mentioned above also).

Carry the most powerful gun you are comfortable, and accurate with and that is 100% reliable. I would rather have my old S&W 38 special than a 45 that jammed once in a while.
 
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