1. This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Learn More.

.40 vs .45 power....

Discussion in 'Handguns: Autoloaders' started by Diggers, Jul 14, 2012.

  1. Diggers

    Diggers Well-Known Member

    So I was reading an article the other day where the writer was talking about the attributes of the .40 (which were all compromises ) To some up what the writer said; it almost loads as many round into a gun as the 9mm and it almost has the power of the .45. OK...

    I've heard this comment about the .40 almost having the power of a .45 many many times everywhere but then I saw something at this web site that showed different. http://www.ballistics101.com/40_caliber_sw.php

    and for the .45 http://www.ballistics101.com/45_acp.php

    From these charts it seems the .40 is at least equal to the .45 for power if not just a hair past, IF all the +P loads are taken out of the running.

    Does this look right?

    I also noticed all of the light weight bullet loads seem to have the most power. That struck me as kind of odd too.
  2. PabloJ

    PabloJ Well-Known Member

    Not even my 10mm with most commonly found defensive loads (which happen to be loaded to .40S&W levels) are equal to the .45ACP unless specialized loads from Cor-Bon, DoubleTap,......which may surpass .45ACP are used. Some on this board think 9x19 with 147gr loads is equal to .45ACP. I think what they may smoke may not be entirely approved by the "letter of the law".
  3. willypete

    willypete Well-Known Member

    Get whichever one makes you feel better. They both do the same job in different ways.

    If you read enough, you'll find that there really isn't that much difference between the terminal effects of the big three auto pistol calibers, and the arguing that goes back and forth is just so much personal romanticization and ignorance.
  4. hardluk1

    hardluk1 member

    Buy the handgun in the caliber you can control best and afford to shoot the most. Just not enought difference between a 9mm 357sig a 40sw and 45acp to matter. Learn to hit center of mass shots and they all work rather well. Don't do that and 6 or 7 ronds of any my still not do the job quick enought to matter to your health.
  5. 56hawk

    56hawk Well-Known Member

    It becomes difficult to compare calibers since different manufactures load to radically different pressure levels. However generally speaking 40 S&W is more powerful than 45 ACP. I only trust Federal Hydra-Shok and HST for self defense ammo so that is what I would compare. Here are the most powerful Hydra-Shoks in the three caiblers:

    9mm 124 grain 345 ft-lbs
    40S&W 155 grain 447 ft-lbs
    45ACP 230 grain 414 ft-lbs

    Of course that is just energy, if you compare ballistic gel and actual shooting statistics they are all very close.
  6. jmr40

    jmr40 Well-Known Member

    Energy numbers are not useless, but are overated if you don't understand how to use them. 100 ft lbs one way or another is not enough difference to matter and is in effect a tie in real world applications. When you get into rifle rounds and start comparing various rounds where you may see 500-600 ft lbs difference then it might matter.

    Penetration and expansion tests give a more accurate picture of what rounds do. If you can poke a 1/2" diameter hole deep enough into a person, or game animal to penetrate both lungs then you have all the performance you need. It doesn't matter if the bullet starts out at .35 caliber and expands to 1/2", or starts out at .45 caliber, or .40 caliber and expands to 1/2", the end result will be the same as long as you get adequate penetration. Up to a point energy numbers do predict the amount of penetration and expansion you will get. That is why I say they are not useless, but there are other factors to consider such as bullet construction which also effects penetration and expansion.

    The 45 guys won't admit this, but when using comparable bullets the 9mm and 45 are a dead tie in performance and always have been. It doesn't matter if you compare FMJ rounds in each or the best JHP loads in each, every test done over the last 100 years has shown virtually no difference. In certain conditions each has a slight advantage over the other, but you never know exactly which conditions you may face when you need to shoot. Some guys sleep better knowing they have a heavier bullet, others sleep better knowing they have more ammo available. As long as you have confidence in your gun then it will perform well for you.

    I don't consider the 40 to be a compromise. It is a VERY slighty better round than either 9mm or 45 based on pure performance. With the best bullets it will out penetrate either and will give as much expansion as a 45. But there is no free lunch. To do this you get more recoil and blast than either 9mm or 45 which has to be factored in.

    I've had several 40's in the past, but sold them after buying a 10mm which is the only semi-auto round that offers any significant improvement over either the 9mm or 45. I have no problem with 40, but just don't need one. I'm perfectly comfortable with either 9mm or 45 with the best loads available in either.
  7. tuj

    tuj Well-Known Member

    No matter what the round, no matter where the placement, your chances of a one-shot stop are very low. Therefore I don't think the stats matter all that much; get the caliber you can place the most shots accurately with.
  8. Sauer Grapes

    Sauer Grapes Well-Known Member

    I like the .40 just because I can make faster follow up shots. I love the 45acp for it's accuracy though.
  9. Plan2Live

    Plan2Live Well-Known Member

    Reminds me of the movie Groundhog day where the same day gets repeated over and over. :banghead:
  10. Okiegunner

    Okiegunner Well-Known Member

    Well...it would seem a head shot with any of the above rounds should be a one shot manstopper.

    Seriously though, I own as many .40s as I do 9mm. I prefer the 9mm due to less recoil, more rounds, and for me, much better shot placement overall.
  11. intercooler

    intercooler member

    Winchester 175gr Silvertip 10mm is commercial. Should smoke a .45!
  12. abq87120

    abq87120 Well-Known Member

    Just practice enough to hit what you are aiming at. No one wants to get shot, not even with a .22. I carry a Glock 23, a .40 S&W. I also shoot drop-in LoneWolf 40-9 conversion and 357 Sig barrels in it. No other mods. Three calibers for about $750 with night sights via GSSF pricing. I carry the stock .40... Just to cut down on the legal hassles in an SD situation.
  13. Ala Tom

    Ala Tom Well-Known Member

    I have two .40's of different sizes. I chose them over .45's because I can easily buy ammo for them that delivers more muzzle energy than most .45 rounds. As an engineer I understand and have applied energy calculations in impact situations. It applies to the destruction effectiveness problem with variable target density, etc. For the most effective round, you want a round that will usually expand somewhat (but not fragment) and will carry as much energy as you can get without exceeding the limits of safety for your gun. That means no +p loads.

    There is considerable variation in the bullet types and energy levels of ammo in all calibers. To talk about "average energy" for a caliber means nothing. If you want to use effective cartridges, you can buy them.

    I have decided to load 180 gr JHP for defense and to shoot 180 gr FMJ FN on the range. That gives me 400 ft-lb of energy at the muzzle which I think is generally sufficient. I know you can get more energy with 155 and 165 gr bullets but I feel more comfortable with 180 gr bullets. I might get a .45 someday for the fun of it but not for additional "power" (what is "power"? It does not apply). What many people call "power" is a momentum calculation. That is not as useful in the target impact situation as energy. You hope to expend as much energy into your target as possible.

    I have considered adding the .357 SIG capability but I am uncomfortable about getting more energy from a smaller 128 gr bullet. I see the .357 SIG as not much better than the .40 and the .45 as generally not as good as the .40, assuming you pick your ammo wisely.
  14. lharrell79

    lharrell79 Active Member

    If you're comparing calibers for self defense against humans, then "power" is completely irrelevant. What's more important is penetration, and expansion of the bullet. All things being equal, the 45 will make a bigger hole. Choose the one that you shoot the best.

    Now, if you're talking about self defense against 4 legged critters, then you might start to worry about energy.
  15. PabloJ

    PabloJ Well-Known Member

    It's rated 1290fps from 5" barrel putting in .41magnum territory. It's meant to stop attacking 6'5"+ 300lb+ corn-fed lugheads.
  16. Rexster

    Rexster Well-Known Member

    The current duty-type controlled-expansion JHP bullets used in both the .40 and .45 ACP will perfom very much the same these days, in regard to penetration, crush cavity, and recovered diameter. I prefer .45 ACP when I have a choice, because it is gentler to my aging, aching, formerly stronger wrist, and the muzzle blast and flash tend to be less distracting. Plus, I prefer single-stack pistols, as my thumbs and fingers are medium-to-short, even if my hands are large. A single-stack .45 is a very nice total package for me. (I am presently mandated to carry a double-column .40 while in uniform.)

    As for any perceived difference is the ability to stop an opponent, I don't worry about that part. My employer mandates .40 for all duty pistols after 1997, though duty pistols current as of 1997 are "grandfathered," and .45 ACP was/is very popular among senior officers. A very large agency, we shoot many bad guys over time. There seems to be no real-world difference between .45 ACP and .40 S&W.
    Last edited: Jul 15, 2012
  17. mljdeckard

    mljdeckard Well-Known Member

    The difference is negligible. First of all, muzzle energy has little to do with effectiveness in handgun rounds. Effectiveness in handgun rounds comes from total cavity trauma inflicted. All premium defensive rounds in all service cartridges will penetrate at least 12" in most human targets in most circumstances. So, the real difference becomes; how much less tissue will a .40 displace than a .45? Probably not much. But for me, a .40 has a bit more snap to the recoil than a .45, and I handle and shoot a 1911 better. That combined with a slight advantage with bullets like a 230 gr HST, and that a 9mm has more capacity, has kind of taken away my reasons to mess with .40s anymore.

    And if we want to be serious about comparison, you should compare to a .45 loaded hotter than regular pressure, 875 fps 230 gr. Just like a .45 GAP isn't a fair comparison to a .45 acp, it should be compared to a +p load.
  18. CDW4ME

    CDW4ME Well-Known Member

    Here is a comparison of power (KE) from a 5 shot average over my chronograph & my pistols; the 45 has a 1/4'' longer barrel.

    Glock 30 Ranger T 230 gr. @ 874 fps / 390# KE
    Glock 27 Ranger T 165 gr. @ 1,116 fps / 456# KE
  19. hentown

    hentown Well-Known Member

    Plenty of .40 and 9mm loads have muzzle energies that surpass the .45ACP, which has a relatively low muzzle energy. What's this touted "power" all about?? I have no use for the .40, but the fact is, lots of .40 loads are more "powerful" than most .45ACP loads.
  20. cocojo

    cocojo Well-Known Member

    The energy between the 9mm, 40 and 45 can overlap each other, they are all about the same energy but energy is not where it's at. Momentum is whats it's all about and the thump factor. Heavier bullets hit with more thump when velocities are about the same. I see energy figures stated above for the 9mm at 345 for 124, yes in standard velocity but 420 with +P. Same with 45 if it's plus P it's going to hit harder just like the 9mm will. Standard velocity of a 45 is 850 with 230 grain and energy is only 360 but it's the thump and momentum that makes it hit harder. So as the weight goes up so does the momentum but in the end it's all about where you hit them and the damage the bullet does and nothing more. These rounds are so close that they all overlap each other so just pick the one you shoot best with and prefer, stay sharp, practice and stop worrying about which is better they all work the same when placed in a vital spot and all fail when they don't.

Share This Page