Preferred caliber: 9mm or 40 for personal defense?


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Chuck123
March 17, 2006, 09:06 AM
Last year I sold my Glock 26, 9mm because my two adult boys have 40 cal. and I thought it would be nice to have the same cal in the family. Also a couple of years ago I started to reading reviews were the 40 cal is a preferred caliber over the 9mm and a lot of people and police departments are switching over to the 40's.

I now have a Glock 23, 40 cal and like it very much but, sometimes I can't help thinking a glock 9mm would have be OK to carry with the P+ and or P++ shells out now. There is so much mixed information about personal defense ammo. Is the 40 cal. really the way to go over the 9mm if you can only afford one handgun for now?

Chuck

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MikeJ
March 17, 2006, 09:14 AM
IMHO, the 40 has a slight edge on the 9mm. That said, I also believe that if you choose top notch 9mm rounds you are very well served by that caliber. As has been said so many times before, shot placement is really what its all about when you get into the major defensive rounds, 9mm, 40, 45 etc.

shield20
March 17, 2006, 09:41 AM
Yes. .40 starts out bigger, can expand more and so makes bigger holes. Like you said, all those police are transitioning over for a reason.

ravencon
March 17, 2006, 11:13 AM
The 9mm offers more rounds in a more compact pistol and cheaper practice ammo. The 40 cal is probably a somewhat better defensive round.

Owning both would not be a bad thing!

psyopspec
March 17, 2006, 11:44 AM
To me, the difference is negligable. I like 9mm for faster follow-up and the lower cost of ammo, which allows me to practice more. Honestly you're fine with either one.

Pilot
March 17, 2006, 11:57 AM
I prefer 9MM. With modern, +P JHP ammo the ballistics are very similar to .40. The difference in diameter is so small its meaningless.

Top_Notch
March 17, 2006, 12:02 PM
If you're going to go to 40 over 9 because it's bigger why wouldn't you just go 45 then?

hurrakane212
March 17, 2006, 12:17 PM
Shield said...
Yes. .40 starts out bigger, can expand more and so makes bigger holes. Like you said, all those police are transitioning over for a reason.
__________________

uh huh... but is it a GOOD reason? The FBI thought they needed a 10mm because their agents couldn't hit the broad side of a barn from the inside.
.40 is more expensive then both 9mm and .45acp. I shoot .45's but I want to get a 9mm soon because the ammo is so cheap. As far as bang for your buck, I don't think the .40 is superior enough over the 9mm to justify the price increase. Just my opinion though, shoot what you like and hit what you aim at.~Nathan

Marshall
March 17, 2006, 01:03 PM
If you're going to go to 40 over 9 because it's bigger why wouldn't you just go 45 then?

The gun may not be available in 45.

May want a thinner gun.

May want faster ammo

May want a lighter gun

Gun might fit the hand better.

Etc.

Jiml3
March 17, 2006, 01:12 PM
Go with whatever you shoot best!

CAnnoneer
March 17, 2006, 01:30 PM
9mm for me is perfect. The .40 and .45 are significantly more expensive and kick too much for me for a good followup speed. In a gunfight, you would want to place as many shots as possible, as fast as possible, as well as possible. 9mm fills that bill for me.

1911user
March 17, 2006, 01:38 PM
IMO a good 9mm load is good enough for carry and defense shooting. Adding more recoil, muzzle flip, ammo expense, and reduced capacity does not seem like a good trade-off for general use. If you have unique needs that the 40 meets better, then use it and accept the consequences of your choice. Just make sure you can shoot accurately with whatever you choose.

honkeoki
March 17, 2006, 02:02 PM
Every time I go to the range and shoot my 9mm, I start asking the same question. The brass just looks so small next to the .40s and .45s laying on the floor. Then I look at this pic:

http://members.aol.com/_ht_a/docgkr/myhomepage/Handgun_gel_comparison.jpg

... which reminds me that, with QUALITY ammunition and SHOT PLACEMENT, caliber is not really an issue.

I also like the advice "Have no faith in your defensive handgun caliber or load (http://www.hipowersandhandguns.com/Have%20No%20Faith.htm)" -- seems like sound advice to me.

Snake Eyes
March 17, 2006, 02:10 PM
That's funny.....

I look at that picture and see the temporary wound cavity of the .45 that meets or exceeds all others, punctuated by that huge, starred chunk of metal, and I pat my Colt Compact knowingly and go back to being completely comfortable with my good old Fo-Five.

Marshall
March 17, 2006, 02:54 PM
To me, the bottom four look much better than the top two.

isp2605
March 17, 2006, 03:02 PM
Having seen all 4 calibers in real human tissue, I couldn't tell the difference between any of them.

Top_Notch
March 17, 2006, 03:11 PM
The gun may not be available in 45.

May want a thinner gun.

May want faster ammo

May want a lighter gun

Gun might fit the hand better


He mentioned Glock. Same thickness, available in same size, same fit, etc...

Personally, I don't get it. Get the nine or go 45.

harrydog
March 17, 2006, 04:07 PM
I don't get it either. I own both 9mm and .45 and that's it. Sold my .40. I see no reason for it.

Biker
March 17, 2006, 04:17 PM
Bigger bullet equals bigger hole, all things being equal. I own nines, but I carry a.45 or a .40.
Shoot the biggest bullet you can control.
Biker

Marshall
March 17, 2006, 04:25 PM
He mentioned Glock. Same thickness, available in same size, same fit, etc...

Personally, I don't get it. Get the nine or go 45.

The .45 Glock 21 and 30 are thicker than their closest counterparts in .40 and 9mm as well as being heavier. Yea, there's the 36 but no one buys it. :)

happy g
March 17, 2006, 04:35 PM
9mm is a good round. Ammo is cheap and available everywhere. 9mm ammo has developed by leaps and bounds since the "wonder nine " years of the early eighties. If you like a 9 the carry it. Take a look at Ranger 127gr.+p+, Cor-bon Dpx, and Speer GoldDot 124gr. +p. All three are great rounds. If you want a 40 then look at GoldenSaber 165 gr. Another great round. I've gotten rid of my 40 for a 9. I shoot the 9 better. I also love the 45. Both fit me well. NYPD carry a 124+p. Gold Dot, LA uses a 127 +p+. Good enough for me. For what it is worth, I carry a Glock 19 or a Kimber CDP Ultra. I don't feel under gunned with either. But, sometimes it is nice to know that I've got 16 rounds on my hip. The key is a good head on your shoulders and shot placement.

silverlance
March 17, 2006, 05:47 PM
I have a sig p228 w/ 9rds of 9mm federal EFMJ +p.
Advantages of penetration, low recoil, guaranteed expansion.
I'm very accurate with it - much better than I am with any of my other guns, including rifles (then again my only rifle ATM is an sks).

.40 is also very good. recoil isn't so bad. but the current p229 feels to clunky to me, and I don't like it personally although I must say that it is also a very fine gun.

I live in CA, so I am limited to 10 rounds unless I stumble across a 13rnd mag that the ammo fairy tucked away in my house before the ban.

thinking about it, I realize that if I do get another HD hgun, I will most likely pick up a .45acp - and that most likely a 1911 as I am convinced that the 2 series sigs tend to favor the 9mm and .357sig rather than .45 or .40.

my experiences with 1911s have all been very good - full frame guns that absorb a whole lot of recoil.

Desk Jockey
March 17, 2006, 05:57 PM
If you're going to go to 40 over 9 because it's bigger why wouldn't you just go 45 then?

I've been asking myself this question as I'm about to buy something in either 40 or 45. My purchase will have a 3.5 to 4-inch barrel. I'm leaning toward the 40 for the following reasons. Feel free to set me straight if I'm in error.....

1) Short-barrel performance: 45 data is generally with 5-inch barrel, and 40 data with 4-inch barrel. If I get something with a 3.9-inch barrel, I guessing that the 40 performance will be at spec (for given ammo), but that 45 performance will be less than spec. Example: Baby Eagle semi-compact with 3.93-inch barrel in both 40 and 45.

2) Ammo cost: Although both 40 and 45 are more expensive than 9mm, from what I've seen, 40 is less expensive than 45. This is based on a simple shelf price comparison at 4 stores and Cabella's online.

3) I'm pretty sure I had a third reason, but it's escaping me at the moment and I need to run.

Go ahead and convince me that a short-barreled 45 is better than a short-barreled 40. I'm not prejudiced either way yet.

Vex
March 17, 2006, 05:59 PM
I prefer 9MM. With modern, +P JHP ammo the ballistics are very similar to .40. The difference in diameter is so small its meaningless.


The difference between 9mm and .40 is .045". The difference between .40 and .45 is .051". So why is the .45 so much "better" (and i use that term very loosely) than the .40?

With this logic, the difference between 9mm and .32 is only .043". So why don't you use a .32acp?

Check this out: http://www.on-targetrange.com/energy.shtml

Using the built in data from remington, the efficacy from 9mm to .40 is 23. The difference in efficacy from 40 to 45 is 1.

If you're going to go to 40 over 9 because it's bigger why wouldn't you just go 45 then?

Capacity.

sm
March 17, 2006, 06:29 PM
9mm

Sactown
March 17, 2006, 07:49 PM
9mm. For me, that translates into more rounds faster on target and way more practice time due to cost. I'm no ballistics expert, but I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express.

JeepDriver
March 17, 2006, 09:49 PM
I own them all and have read everything I've been able to get my hands on when it comes to stoping power.

After all the reading, I've realized on thing, a pistol ain't a rifle.

Between the 38, 9, 357 Sig, 357 Mag, 40S&W and 45 ACP, they will all do thier part if you do yours. I haven't seen one peice of information that suggest one is much better then the other.

I carry a 9mm. Because I shoot it well, I have alot of trigger time with it and I like having more rounds.

Manedwolf
March 17, 2006, 10:01 PM
I've tried small, light pistols with both 9mm and .40 S&W.

When I have, the increased recoil of the .40 in a featherweight pistol means that the muzzle is further away from where it was aimed after each shot. It has to be put back on target.

And that delay is why I like the 9mm. Lesser recoil means the gun stays where it was initially pointed, and if that happens to be on the BG, that means the followup shots would quickly get to the same place as the first.

Also, Speer has out a Short Barrel 9mm JHP Gold Dot now supposedly optimized for things like Kahrs. I'd not yet tried it, but something about it reaching its muzzle velocity quicker due to powder composition or the like.

(and I'm still trying to find some place that's not out of stock on the Kahr CW-9, that charges the reasonable $370 or so, not attempted gouging)

StrikeEagle
March 18, 2006, 10:17 AM
Every time I go to the range and shoot my 9mm, I start asking the same question. The brass just looks so small next to the .40s and .45s laying on the floor. Then I look at this pic:


The top two, the 9mm cavities look really scrawny to me in comparison. I'm kind of shocked... :eek:

Hagen442
March 18, 2006, 11:29 AM
I own guns in all the above. Our normal Personal Defense in our vehicles and home are as follows:
Under the Bed : 9mm DAK SIG & 12 GA 1100 , Wife's night stand :model 19 S&W .357.
Kitchen: Colt 1911: 45
Bathroom: 9mm :Storm
Hummer: 9 mm XD / Colt 1911 45 / M1 Carbine
Jeep: 45mm XD
Wife's Trk: XD 9mm
Wife's Benz: XD 9mm
Wife's Carry : 38 S&W Airweight
My Carry: 9mm XD or 45 XD or Colt .380

As you can see we have different calibers for different situations, should it arise.

Alan Fud
March 18, 2006, 04:12 PM
To me, the bottom four look much better than the top two.
The top two, the 9mm cavities look really scrawny to me in comparison. That's the way it looks to me as well -- .357SIG, .40S&W and .45ACP appear about the same with the 9mm displacing less.

TOADMAN
March 18, 2006, 05:00 PM
Speer Gold Dot 9mm 124 gr +p short barrel ammo from a Glock 26.

Surefire
March 19, 2006, 12:00 AM
I think the answer is to use what works best for you. Everyone is a little different in recoil tolerance, experience, and preference.


My preference is .45 ACP. I feel all three rounds (9mm, .40, .45) are so close with modern bullets, that I am best off using what I can control the best. I find many of the .40 loads to be way too snappy for my preference, while the .45 ACP is a pleasure to shoot.

I'd trust any of the three rounds if TSHTF, but the .45 ACP would be my first choice, with the second choice being 9mm.

allen268
March 19, 2006, 12:39 AM
If you're going to go to 40 over 9 because it's bigger why wouldn't you just go 45 then?

I would say mag capacity, 12+1 rounds in my semi compact 229, I believe that was part of the reasoning for coming out with .40 in the first place, similar ballistics to the .45 with mag capacity closer to the 9mm.

Srigs
March 19, 2006, 02:03 AM
Why not have both! I do... Best of both worlds. If I believe their might be trouble its 40 all the way!

TCW
March 19, 2006, 04:43 AM
I may be alone on this, but I find the 9mm to have too much muzzle flip. Lighter recoil, yes, but just too flippy for me. It ended up being kind of distracting. I prefered the 'push' of the .40.

I must point out that this was a side-by-side comparison of two CZ-75's that I rented at the range one day.

Currently I have a Sig .40, and thinking about a CZ compact. I'll probably go with the .40 because:

1. Same capacity out here in ********** (10 rds max)
2. Shared ammo with the Sig
3. Flip-factor of the 9mm

YMMV,

TCW

Rob96
March 19, 2006, 05:44 AM
When I look at that picture I don't see much. Too me, gel is a good gauge to see how the bullet will expand, that's it. Having talked to people who have seen action, and to people whose job it is to save the person that was shot, I have no qualms in carrying my 9mm pistols.

armoredman
March 19, 2006, 10:02 AM
9mm. I was a 40 convert for over 13 years, nothing ever lighter. Then I got my first CZ PO1, and began exploring the whole 9mm issue again.
Everything I could find, other than my own ingrained prejudices, said 9mm was similar in terminal effectiveness to any other common self defense caliber. This is of course, keeping in mind that 44 Mag, 50AE, and 500 Mag are not quite common SD calibers!
Then I realized with the super accurate little CZ, I could put those high speed pills right where they need to go, every single time.
No problem. All my SD handguns are 9mm, now.:D

armoredman
March 19, 2006, 10:12 AM
Doubled, oops.

Manedwolf
March 19, 2006, 10:59 AM
As to those ballistics tests, I'd also wonder what brand they were. Whitebox 9mm hollowpoint is an entirely different (and weaker) animal on expansion than something like Federal HST or Gold Dot in the same grain.

Newton
March 19, 2006, 02:32 PM
The real world difference between 9mm +P, .40, and .45 is truly negligible.

9mm is easier to shoot, has a higher capacity, and is cheaper to practice with.

What with all the stories of people being shot 64 times with 9mm and leaving the hospital with nothing more than a bandaid later that same day, I think we sometimes forget just how lethal a COM hit from a 9mm +P JHP so very often is.

Make no mistake, 9mm is a superb load.

Surefire
March 19, 2006, 03:31 PM
I may be alone on this, but I find the 9mm to have too much muzzle flip. Lighter recoil, yes, but just too flippy for me. It ended up being kind of distracting. I prefered the 'push' of the .40.

This is exactly why I chose the .45 ACP over .40 and 9mm....

What .40 loads do you use? I ask because the ones I used felt VERY snappy/muzzle flippy. I'd definitely give the .40 another try if I found loads without a lot of muzzle flip.

Dragoon44
March 19, 2006, 03:38 PM
To many make caliber paramount in theri self defense strategies, caliber ( within reason) falls pretty far down on the list of things that are important if you are planning to survive a lethal encounter. the most important things are 1. situational awareness, know what is going on around you at ALL times. Know where the closet cover is and where the nearest exits are. NEVER BE TAKEN BY SUPRISE. 2. Have a plan, practice developing this trait by playing the "what if" game. if your setting in a restraunt imagine "what if" a gunman came thru the door, how would you respond? 3. being prepared to switch from peaceful citizen to a ruthless oponent in fractions of a second. 4. Choose the handgun that FITS YOU, points well and is reliable. THEN choose the caliber that allows you to place fast repeat shots with the best accuracy UNDER STRESS.

chaim
March 20, 2006, 05:24 AM
All 3 major auto calibers have their advantages (I suppose .357SIG may too, I just don't understand why you'd go with this over a +P or +P+ 9mm- same size and similar velocity).

.40 and 9mm can be put in smaller packages than .45ACP. .40 and 9mm are higher capacity than the .45ACP in similar sized packages. .40 and .45 have a bit more power than 9mm. Because of the higher power and larger size to start with the .40 and .45 allow more flexibility in ammo selection than the 9mm. 9mm has lower recoil, and thus faster follow up shots than .40 and .45. 9mm also has the highest capacity. .45 in short barrels loses its advantage on ammo flexibility as heavier rounds don't expand as well out of shorter barrels.

Right now I'm on a .40 and .45 kick since I like the ammo flexibility. It is nice to be able to buy whatever decent JHPs are on sale without having to stick to a couple brands/loadings (w/ 9mm some are so much better, and others so much worse, that you can't really do that). It is also reassuring to start with the larger bullet. So, I guess I'm moving the opposite direction- away from 9mm towards .45 (I've always been a .45 guy) and .40. Still, I would never feel underarmed with a 9mm (my main revolver round is a 125gr .38+P JHP) and in the smaller autos (like the Kahr PM9 sized autos) it would be preferable.

ravencon
March 20, 2006, 10:39 AM
Some interesting observations in this thread. I'm going to be selling my .40s and will stick with 9mm and .45s in the future.

But, I wouldn't feel too handicapped if I had to limit myself to just one of any of these three calibers.

woodswalker
March 25, 2006, 05:19 PM
One subject to consider is blow-thru. .40 hollowpoints are less likely to punch a hole thru to BG. Most LE's are changing over to eliminate the threat to civilians down range.

Multiple CCW instructors have told me to carry the largest caliber you can. But, for concealed carry one must sacrifice something for hideability. Therefore, my carry pistol is the G23.

You should carry what you are most comfortable and most accurate with.

Mad Magyar
March 25, 2006, 06:04 PM
I understand the dilemma. Initially with my ccw, I started with a large L-frame revolver, .357, but wound up gravitating to my autoloaders. I practice with them equally, and usually wind up with the .40. Don't get me wrong, I find no fault with any caliber larger than a 9mm, but when carrying my .45's; just didn't have the right feel in my circumstances even though they carry a "big punch".
http://i2.tinypic.com/s6nolk.jpg

woodswalker
March 25, 2006, 06:55 PM
Do what you feel is right for you.

Comfort both physical and mental is the key!!

MCgunner
March 25, 2006, 08:23 PM
The best .40 loads push 500 ft lbs, which is quite a bit better than even the +P+ nines. That said, in a small, compact auto, I like the nine. I like the nine anyway. It will do the job just fine. A few foot pounds is no biggy for me once you're over 300 or so, I mean, unless we're talking .500 Linebaugh or .454 Casull or something. But, that's hunting handguns, apples and oranges.

MCgunner
March 25, 2006, 08:32 PM
I own guns in all the above. Our normal Personal Defense in our vehicles and home are as follows:
Under the Bed : 9mm DAK SIG & 12 GA 1100 , Wife's night stand :model 19 S&W .357.
Kitchen: Colt 1911: 45
Bathroom: 9mm :Storm
Hummer: 9 mm XD / Colt 1911 45 / M1 Carbine
Jeep: 45mm XD
Wife's Trk: XD 9mm
Wife's Benz: XD 9mm
Wife's Carry : 38 S&W Airweight
My Carry: 9mm XD or 45 XD or Colt .380

Wow, crooks ain't going to have to look far to strike pay dirt at your house...:D My home has been ripped off twice. All my guns are hidden and locked except for a couple of cheap decoys and my .38 in the bedroom. Crooks ain't THAT dumb, they don't break in when anyone's home.

ugaarguy
March 25, 2006, 09:49 PM
Purely based on velocity, bullet weight, and resultant kinetic energy I like the 40 S&W; higher velocity than a 45 if you need to shoot thru thick clothing, your couch that the BG ducked behind, etc; a heavier but slightly slower bullet than a 9mm to avoid over penetration while still carrying equivalent energy to a comprable 45 ACP load. I think it's the perfect blend of velocity, weight, and initial bullet diameter. It helps that I shoot my 40 cal Glock well.
Outside of what I said above carry what you shoot best; I've been looking at 9mm myself for the savings on practice ammo.

13.45
March 25, 2006, 11:21 PM
this is a very individual and subjective choice. test-fire each model in consideration, and choose the one that feels / works / shoots best for you

Mr.black
March 26, 2006, 03:00 AM
i own a rugger 9mm with 2 15rd clips and it stays in my dresser till i need it or i want to go shoot it and i can't really use it in my room i would not have that much time to get it(room to small)so that is why i have a knife with a 6in blade under my pollow i feel sorry for the person that braeks in to my house. not really

distra
March 26, 2006, 08:45 AM
Which ever one you can shoot the best and feel comfortable with. The BG is not going to look at your pistol and say "I'll take a 9mm, but not a .40 bullet!" and run away. Most don't want to be shot with a .22, but those who don't care will go down just as easy with a 9mm as with a .40. Don't forget it's shot placement that really counts. I personally carry a .45 because I am the most accurate with that caliber, but I don't feel "under gunned" carrying my .40, 9mm, or even my .380. Just my $0.02

stevelyn
March 26, 2006, 12:02 PM
With premium defense ammo being what is today caliber isn't as much of an issue as it once was.
From what I can see from the gelatin blocks, getting shot with any of them is going to f*** up your medical records.

LoadAmmo
March 26, 2006, 02:02 PM
I notice that nobody has discussed vehicle and/or wall penetration.

What round is superior for badguy vehicle window penetration, badguy vehicle door penetration and possible in-doors house wall (sheetrock w/insulation) penetration?

Would 9mm, .40SW or .45 FMJ be superior? Or would they balance out?

Would 9mm, .40SW or .45 HP be superior? Or would they balance out?

That's what I would like to hear discussed.

Vex
March 26, 2006, 04:08 PM
LoadAmmo,

Check this out. http://www.theboxotruth.com/

This guy did some "informal" testing on such materials.

LoadAmmo
March 26, 2006, 05:12 PM
Thanks Vex. :)

ShootingEnthusiatist
March 27, 2006, 03:31 PM
Hey Chuck123! I too had the same dilemna when I recently purchased my first Glock, the 19. I've read a lot about both the 9mm and the .40. The deciding factor for me was the price of ammo. I wanted to be able to drop a box or two of ammo each week at the range so I went with the 9mm. The ammo is more researched and widely available (been around awhile).

From what I understand they share the same frame. The .40 is just supposed to be the perfect in-between weapon (9mm - .45). If you don't mind the increased ammo price then go for it!

BTW - I carry and recommend Corbon JHP 115gr. +P ammo to get the extra 'bang' one looks for in a defensive handgun.

SFvet
March 28, 2006, 01:22 AM
WOW!. The .357 Sig is to the .45 like the .357mag is........ I think the 357 Sig is definatly a round to be reckond with.

StrikeEagle
March 28, 2006, 01:34 AM
I think the 357 Sig is definatly a round to be reckond with.


I look at the round from time to time, but can never get past the high price of ammo. And the .357 Sig isn't very reloader-friendly, either.

Pretty expensive proposition if you intend to do much shooting with it.

StrikeEagle

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