.40 vs. .45


March 17, 2009, 12:30 PM
I'm home sick, so I decided it's time to start another caliber war. What are the pros and cons of each? I think the .40 can go through barriers better, and the .45 is bigger. I'd probably be using a sub-compact, so I'm not sure if either would have enough velocity for the hollowpoints to work. If it does, I'm not sure if the .45 or .40 would be better.


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March 17, 2009, 02:28 PM
Howz this for a ref. point

COmparing light weight* to light, medium weight to medium weight
and heavy weight to heavy weight * across the 3 most popular
cartridges available in semi-atuomatics.

Double Tap Ammo offeringss
These are ALL Speer Gold Dot JHP
.45 ACP ----- .40 S&W ------ 9MM LUger +P
185 gr.--------- 155 gr. ------ 115 gr.
__ 1225 FPS --- 1,275 FPS --- 1,450 FPS
___ 616 Ft.lbs --- 560 Ft. lbs--- 511 Ft.lbs
200 gr._______- 165 gr._____ 124 gr.
__ 1125 FPS --- 1,200 FPS --- 1,310 FPS
___ 562 Ft.lbs---- 528 Fl.lbs --- 473 Ft lbs
230 gr.--------- 180 gr. ------ 147 gr.
__ 1,010 FPS -- 1,100 FPS -- 1,135 FPS
___ 521 Ft.lbs -- 484 Ft.lbs --- 421 Ft.lbs

If you calculate the Area of each cartridge's bore
i.e. Caliber and consider the
.451 = 100%
.401 = 78% the surface area of a .45
& .355= 62.8% the surface area of a .45

I have a 1911 5" Bbl. in .45 ACP
& the CZ 75B 4.7" Bbl. in 9mm Parabellum

I don't have a .40 S&W yet, I'd like to
get a S&W 610 for .40 S&W or 10MM Auto
however, I do have a Bar Sto Bbl. in .400 CorBon
and the 155 gr. Gold Dot @ 1400 FPS
or 165 gr. Hornady XTP @ 1350 FPS in stock.

Pick your poison

Randall -

Hungry Seagull
March 17, 2009, 02:38 PM
I feel pretty comfortable with my 230 grains then. Not too hot and not too much wear and tear.

Im amazed at the chart showing some of the really hot fast loads unable to match a slow moving 230 grain 45.

March 17, 2009, 02:46 PM
BlindJustice, wherever you sourced your table from, does it include barrel lengths? I've seen charts like that lots of times before, and .45acp is usually tested out of a 5" barrel, while 9mm and .40 are tested from 4.25 inch or even 4 inch barrels. Kinda skews the results in favor of the .45 ... even .75 inches of additional barrel length makes a huge difference.

An analysis is also incomplete without looking into the effect on each caliber when fired from 'subcompact' platforms, which usually means a 3 inch or shorter barrel. IIRC, the .45 suffers most from the short barrel, especially in standard pressure 230gr.

March 17, 2009, 02:52 PM
more weirdness. delete.:)

March 17, 2009, 02:54 PM
unable to match

Don't mistake ft-lbs. for effectiveness.

Even if they have the same energy, smaller, lighter rounds don't do what bigger ones will -- because the equation changes as soon as the bullet leaves the air and hits the target, and it favors heavy bullets.

Velocity burns off really fast when you hit something with a light object, going fast. Something big and heavy, going slower, tends to keep going. Consider hitting a cantaloupe with a 3/4" dowel, as fast as you can whack it. Then hit it with a baseball bat at a slow leisurely swing speed. Which will be more likely to bust the cantaloupe?

Small-diameter, high-speed rounds can penetrate car doors better, and you can fit smaller rounds in a smaller gun. These things make them useful.

These things don't make them big, and don't make them heavy.

March 17, 2009, 02:58 PM
I only use full-size autos, I prefer to make the ammo perform as intended. But if I did get a smaller-frame auto, I would look at smaller bullets, as they were designed to give similar velocity from shorter barrels.

Nothing I know of beats a 230 gr HST from a full-size frame.

March 17, 2009, 03:00 PM
No, it needs to be a sub compact. This might be the only .40 or .45 I will have for a while.

March 17, 2009, 03:16 PM
1,010 fps Is VERY hot for a 230 grain 45 acp. Factory ammo is more like 850.

DEFENSIVE factory ammo in a 185 grain 45 acp is more like 1,000 and not 1,225.

Factory ammunition for 40S&W lines up with the numbers on the above chart very well. The 45 acp is VERY hot, and very skewed. As far as factory ammo is concerned, 40 S&W is significantly more powerful than either 45 or 9mm.

March 17, 2009, 03:16 PM
Hanafuda, the numbers are from the Double Tap online 'catalogue'
I tried to get the highest nubmers for each example but I will go back
and double check and list the platforms. list barrel length as well.
for each of the values listed. & will when I get time and
re-post it however, I have a Doctor's Appt. this afternooon.
FWIW - DT usually uses Glocks for semi-autos, and I'm pretty
sure that's what they used for each of the cartridges listed.

Armed Bear - FWIW, I just listed the ft lbs. because it was available
I'm not a believer of just kinetic energy i.e. ft. lbs being a good
iindicator of effectiveness. I forget which law of motion is the one that
states the heavier the object the more resistance to slowing down, but you can't beat rules of physics.
Isn't the simple formula for a measure of
momentum = bullet weight X vlocity \
( no squaring of the velocity like KE ? )

IF so, somebody list it and i'll add that to the
chart as well.


March 17, 2009, 03:20 PM
BlindJustice, sorry if I implied that you were a believer in that.:)

I meant to respond to the posts that implied that ft-lbs. = effectiveness, and as mr. trooper shows above, this misconception continues.

March 17, 2009, 03:25 PM
Mr. Trooper,

I choose to carry in .45 ACP the DT 200 gr. - out of my 625 5" Bbl. the
recoil perceived/judged is just a bit more than
a load I have chrono'd 200 gr. SWC @ 1,025 FPS>

As far as the 1225 for DT 185 gr. - CorBon claims
1150 for it's same weight bullets but they only list BBl. Len.
& not a specific platform. Sometime this spring I'll get
out in the country to the friend that has a chrono
and see what I have on hand chronos out of my .45s.

FWIW - the DT 9mmx19 147 gr. @ 1135 fps. is very accurate
& controllable in my CZ 75B.


March 17, 2009, 05:59 PM
Oh im sure its good ammo; i just wanted to point out that these are very hot hand loads, and do not reflect what 99% of shooters use.

I used to hand load 200grain FMJs to just under 800fps out of my Full sized 1911. They cycled reliably, and recoil was lighter than many 9mms. But I was reloading for economy, not power. I was getting over 1,500 rounds out of a single pound of powder. :)

March 18, 2009, 10:51 AM
If I used a .45 ACP, I would probably use 200 or 230 grains. Would those reach the required velocity out of a subcompact?

Also, it would probably be a glock if that matters.

March 18, 2009, 10:56 AM
probably not. As stated, those velocities are likely from a 4.5-5" barrel.

March 18, 2009, 12:34 PM
The Double Tap numbers posted
.45 ACP 1911 5"
.40 S&W Glock 23 4"
9mm Luger Glock 17 4.4"

Here's the SPeer tables data combined in the same way
as my presentation of the Double Tap Ammo.
* More on Bbl. Len. at Bottom

Source -Speer Handgun Ballistics
These are ALL Speer Gold Dot JHP
.45 ACP ----- .40 S&W ------ 9MM Luger
--- 5" ------------ 4" ---------- 4" ---
-- 185 gr.------- 155 gr. ------ 115 gr.
__ 1050 FPS --- 1,200 FPS --- 1,210 FPS
___ 453 Ft.lbs --- 496 Ft. lbs--- 374 Ft.lbs
-- 200 gr.+P____ 165 gr._____ 124 gr. +P
__ 1080 FPS --- 1,150 FPS --- 1,220 FPS
___ 518 Ft.lbs---- 484 Fl.lbs --- 410 Ft lbs
--- 230 gr.------ 180 gr. ------ 147 gr.
__ 890 FPS __ 1,025 FPS --- 985 FPS
___ 404 Ft.lbs -- 420 Ft.lbs --- 317 Ft.lbs

So, SPeer also uses the 5" Bbl. len. - I this isn't to
give the .45 ACP cartridge advantage, but just as DT does
the company presents to information to the largest
percentage of platforms on the market for that cartridge
which is why they're using 4" for .40 S&W and the 9mm Luger

* Some say DT doesn't load their .40 S&W as hot as other
cartridges because the company started off loading
10mm Auto to full power loads. That a company might
do this could be backed up when you look at Cor Bon's
10mm Auto offerings, who some say are watered down
because Peter Pi & the Company wants to promote the
.400 CorBon - draw your own conclusions.

I don't classify, Double Tap, Buffalo Bore, CorBon as
Hand loads.

Anybody hear of the new Buffalo Bore offering in
.45 Auto Rim? 200 gr. SWC @ 1200 FPS talk about HOT!!!

FWIW - I have .45 Auto RIm with new Starline cases and the
Leadhead 200 gr. hardcast cusom load on m y spec. to
1,-25 FPS by Reeds Ammo & Research Oklahoma City OK.
In my 625 5" Bbl. 45 oz empty, it has a bit more recoil than
WWB 230 gr. JHP.

Randall - Doc sez I'm gonna live, woot.

March 18, 2009, 12:51 PM
I found that a 180 grain federal hydra-shock will go about 964 FPS out of a g27, according to a table I found. Is that enough for it to work?
In .357, a Corbon 125 grain JHP will go about 1320 FPS out of a subcompact, is that enough for it to work?
A +pressure 200 grain Corbon JHP will go 930 FPS, will it work at those velocities?
And finally, will a semi-auto lose energy compared to a T/C? If so, those tables aren't valid.

March 18, 2009, 01:09 PM
instead of doing all of this math and numbers tables to figure out whether a specific load will "work" why don't you just go and test some out in some water jugs, wet packs, ballistic geletin, or heck, a side of beef. I'll take the info of how a bullet works with my own eyes over what some guy in a lab coat paid by the bullet company to give favorable results, any day of the week. I've tested my own carry ammo in alot of these testing methods and I've tried from point blank range with the shortest barrel I've got to make sure this sucker will "work" for me in a SD situation.

March 18, 2009, 01:12 PM

both will kill

March 18, 2009, 01:15 PM
I can't shoot them, because I don't own either of them. I was wondering if anyone knew what velocity was needed for certain hollowpoints to work.

March 18, 2009, 01:20 PM
Side of beef?! That's a brilliant idea.
Homeland here had beef ribs on sale for $1.50/lb.

I wonder if my gun range will let me put it on a target hanger.
You may be on to something.

March 18, 2009, 01:20 PM
Ahhhhhh, best caliber is anyway the .357 SIG! :neener:

March 18, 2009, 01:59 PM
.45 is easier to shoot because the recoil is less sharp.

It's easier to have a gun amenable to smaller hands in .40. Double column, double action guns in .45acp tend to be too big for small to average hands. I won't buy a gun that I can't accurately shoot one handed if necessary.

If you can properly control them, either will do.

March 18, 2009, 04:44 PM
FWIW - I did some testing using old magazines - cars & motorcycles
NOT ( gasp ) old Guns & Ammo. I stacked them vertical
with the spine down in a box open ends up, and wrapped the box
with Duct tape so it held together after soaking it completely
and letting it sit overnight. I doeused it again before we went
out to the proverbial 'gravel pit.'

I had a friend bring his 6" Bbl. .357 Mag. and I had
my 625 5" BBl. .45 ACP and a 617 for pllinking
It was a couple of years ago and I've lost the email
I wrote up about the results but as best I recall

.45 ACP
CCI Blazer 200 gr. JHP
Winchester 230 gr. FMJ Yellow box
WInchester 230 gr. JHP Yellow box
Remington 186 gr. JHP
CorBon +P 165 gr. @ 1250 FPS
CorBon +P 185 gr. @ 1150 FPS
& .357 Mag. was some 125 gr. JHP

Shot one of each in spots separated
then we picked up the box, shot a bunch of
pop cans, and water fulled liquid detergent
bottles which had such hard thick plastic they
werten't too spectacular, the bullets just punched
through. Anyway the next day the magazines
had dryed out some so I placed it so the side I had
shot was up, and cut the box away, peeling off one
magazine at a time, retrieving bullets

So the results for each...
.45 ACP
CCI Blazer 200 gr. JHP
penetrated about 9 magazines but not
much deformation of the jHP = cheap target ammo
Winchester 230 gr. FMJ Yellow box
14 magazines, & about the same as the Blazer
= not much more than the bullet dia. 'wound channel' (WC)
WInchester 230 gr. JHP Yellow box
This one ended up the winner 13 magazines, and nice mushroom
with good percentage of weight retention
Remington 186 gr. JHP
About 11 magazines deep but it had mushroomed more
CorBon +P 165 gr. @ 1250 FPS
CorBon +P 185 gr. @ 1150 FPS
Theese two had a big honking start to the WC but the
bullets looked like a mushroomed wiry tangle and less than a
third of weight retention and stopped after 7-8 maggazines.

& .357 Mag. was some 125 gr. JHP I think it was Federal Hi-Shok.
About 12 magazines deep and good expandion
so it was a good basebline to confirm the WIn 230 gr. JHPs

I should try this again because since then I've fgot the 1911,
a CZ 75B in 9mmx19 and a 686 4" and 60 3" in .357 Mag.


March 18, 2009, 05:30 PM
I can't shoot them, because I don't own either of them. I was wondering if anyone knew what velocity was needed for certain hollowpoints to work.

The problem is that different hollowpoints will react differently to barrel lengths, velocities, clothing that the perp was wearing, and distances from the barrel to the target. Take for instance the Hydra shoks; they have a reputation of not expanding due to their propensity to get clogged up. (they aren't the only ones that do this though) The new Hornady Critical defense rounds have flex tips that supposedly address this problem. But the best advice I could give would be to make the small investment of testing out the bullets you're interested in on your particular handgun. If you are fortunate enough to have a common firearm like a 1911 or a Glock you will easily find reports from others who have tested ammo with these guns. There are plenty of websites that are run by independant gun guys who test out the various ammunitions and report their findings, albeit an amatuer finding but an honest one nonetheless. There are several agencies that use particular brands of ammo because they have been thoroughly tested for combat reliability as well. Looking at the stuff they use and investigating that bullet is a great start. Winchester Ranger, Federal HST, both have solid reputations with law enforcement because they WORK. I can vouch for both of those brands because I've tested them at point blank range on various testing materials and they not only expand and keep their weight, but they penetrate beautifully. (12 inches on average from a 3" barrel both bullets being 230 grain)

March 18, 2009, 07:43 PM
Too me, a .45 is more fitted for the house. I would pick the .40 to carry.

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