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Your views on .40 Caliber vs. 9mm as a personal defense round?

Discussion in 'Handguns: Autoloaders' started by Daguerre, Jan 6, 2003.

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  1. Daguerre

    Daguerre Member

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    I know there are die-hard fans of .40 over 9mm and those who far prefer 9mm over .40, and much of that is probably just due to "pride of ownership" and support of one's choice of caliber.

    Taking ownership emotions out of it and aside from differences in round capacity or cost of ammo, is there true, sound reasoning to support the choice of .40 cal over 9mm, or is .40 a weaker choice compared to 9mm, or is it basically a toss up?

    The gun in question is NOT Glock, but rather Browning Hi-Power. Browning rebuilt the HP specifically for .40 cal and also offers the slightly trimmer 9mm version.
     
  2. Marcus

    Marcus Member

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    Personally I like em both. They both have their ups and downs.
    .40 has a little more power and is probably a little less load dependant for good performance. With top loads in each caliber it likely has a small performance edge.
    The 9mm is a little more controlable,generally allows a larger magazine capacity and is usually cheaper to shoot.
    Right now I have several 9mms and no .40s (unless you count it`s Daddy,the 10mm) but I`m sure I`ll own one (or more) again though (I had 2 before).
    As for a HiPower,me,I`d go with the 9mm version just because it`s the traditional caliber. That said I got the chance to try a .40 HiPower at a TFL shoot once and it was a great too. Marcus
     
  3. sm

    sm member

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    I choose a platform that fits me, in a large enough caliber I can consistently acheive good hits-- For CCW. My choices were made before the .40 came to be . Never warmed up to .40, because my preferred platforms not available in it. I do use 45ACP and 9mm tho.
     
  4. Stephen A. Camp

    Stephen A. Camp Moderator In Memoriam

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    Hello. I normally try and stay out of the "stopping power" debates as some get pretty heated up and I'm not sure they change anyone's mind, but will comment on your question as it relates to me personally based on the admittedly statistically limited personal experience with both calibers and the Browning P35 pistol.

    First, I believe that there is much "ballistic overlap" between some of the best 9mm loads and some of the .40 loads.
    However, the fact remains that the forty will throw bigger, wider bullets at speeds similar to 9mm rounds. For example, a nine will toss out at 147 gr bullet at something under a thousand feet per second while a forty will do the same with a 180 gr bullet. A standard pressure 9mm 115 gr Winchester STHP gets around 1200 ft/sec while about the same velocity can be had with a forty caliber Winchester 155 gr STHP. You get the idea. I'd guess that in just pure "power," the forty can edge out the 9mm.

    That is not to say that the nine is anybody's "weak sister" as is sometimes said. With the ammo available today, I think the 9mm rates an adequate "stopper." It has enough if properly placed, but I think that's true with any of the commonly-used defensive rounds, i.e.: they'll all do it if you hit vitals and none have enough if you don't if you're counting on stopping the attacker for physical reasons rather than psychological ones.

    An officer under my command was forced to shoot a guy trying to kill him. The round was a 124 gr 9mm +P+ HydraShok. It was a one-shot stop and the bad guy was dead right there. He dropped instantly from the heart shot.

    Some years later, another officer was hit in the lower torso with a 180 gr .40 JHP and while he was in very, very serious condition and lost a kidney as well, he was told that he might ought to sit down right after the shooting. He was NOT disabled nor in any really apparent discomfort; that did soon change, however.

    Placement is the primary determinant to stopping power. Power is certainly a component of whatever the equation is, but I just don't personally trust any 9mm, .38, .357, .40, or .45 round to do its part if I cannot do mine. Even with really good hits, many do NOT instantly cease whatever they were doing to get shot for in the first place; there is a time lag of several seconds.

    The Browning Hi Power remains my favorite all around pistol after about 30 years use, but the 1911 is soooooooo very close that on one day, it might be my "favorite" and the next day take second place again to the HP. While it could be from extensive use of the 9mm, I just didn't like the way the slightly wider slide and heavier .40 HP felt. Others do. I just went with what I liked best in that pistol and it was the 9x19mm.

    Confidence in one's chosen defensive caliber is important in my view. There's so much we cannot control in a deadly force scenario that much emphasis is put on those things we can like the make/model and caliber of the gun for those having a choice.
    We can also pick the load for the given caliber and as we all know there's much discussion over what constitutes the "best" caliber and load for same. I'd suggest that if you pick something in 9mm,
    .38 Super, .357 SIG, 9x23, .40 or .45ACP in autos, and learn to get hits with your choice at speed, you'll find that you do have "adequate stopping power".........probably! We ask much of our defensive calibers in terms of decking a 200 lb felon when men have been known to take rifle hits w/o "stopping" on occassion.

    I reckon what I'm saying is that if you can get the hits with your forty and feel more confident in it than a 9mm, go for it. If you feel like you hit better with the 9mm and "trust" it to do the job, go for it. Where and what you hit will likely make the difference assuming that the bad guy doesn't "stop" because he wants to, but because he has to.

    Best.
     
    Last edited: Jan 6, 2003
  5. Jeff OTMG

    Jeff OTMG Member

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    I am a fan of both.

    Let us first address this on a caliber only basis. As much as we don't like it, for the time being we are strapped with legislation that prohibit the majority of us from legally owning full capacity magazines or our bank accounts prohibit us from owning very many of the legal versions. In that case, I would usually rather carry a .40 than a 9mm in the same size pistol, since I only get 10 rounds. For me this changes when the pistols shrink. I carry a Glock 27 over the Glock 26, but when it comes to a Kahr I prefer the 9mm. I have a P9 Covert and the MK9, and hope to add a PM9 sometime down the road. The 9mm is much more comfortable for me to shoot out of a smaller pistol.

    I do have both the 9mm and the .40 HP's. I happen to like the .40. The 9mm does seem to balance better in the hand, but the .40 is one of the most comfortable, softest shooting, .40 cal pistol that I have ever shot.
     
  6. iamhistory

    iamhistory Member

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    I LIKE them both........however.......I would DEPEND on the .40 moreso than the 9mm.

    I am a die hard......true blue 1911 nut......and for the past year have owned/shot a .40 Glock 23. I love it and would not get rid of it. It will never replace my .45's though.

    I do not own a 9mm of any type, but I would like to and I have shot my fair share of them. I have contacts with a number of LEO's who were issued the 9mm (and .357) for a number of years and a few years back were issued new .40 Berettas. The general consensus is they prefer the .40 over the 9mm. Usually you get nearly as much "firepower" with an added bonus of more stopping power. I think it is a most favorable compromise. The old 9mm vs. .45 debate has obvious pros and cons..........however, the .40 slips in there as a sort of middle of the road caliber.

    From what I have read, researched, seen with my own eyes......the .40 was developed for just that purpose and it has proven itself. Certainly there will be exceptions to the rule if and no round will perform flawlessly in all situations. For me personally, I try and go with the largest reasonable caliber I can have available and the .40 does that over the 9mm.

    To each, his own. There will no doubt be guys that debate that rationale and do it well. I guess we would only find out if our choice was adequate if we ever really needed to get down and dirty. By that time, you darn well hope you've thought things through wisely and you are confident in a tried/true and tested round.

    Good luck.
     
  7. jame

    jame Member

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    I'm forced to agree with Stephen on this count: Placement is everything. Here is where we part ways, (But a great amount of credence is obviously given to his vast experience and knowledge.) I switched from the .40 to 9mm because I can afford to practice more often. A LOT more often. The Winchester white box 100 count is only $11.00 here in the midwest, and that equates to twice the practice I can budget for the .40. What the hell, if I could shoot 1000 round per week of .22 rimfire, that is what I would carry. Placement is all there is when it comes to handguns.
     
  8. Scott13

    Scott13 Member

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    I personally think that a 9mm can stop someone just as good ,
    as a 40S&W . If the proper ammo , and shot placement is right.
    I read a review a few years back where they did test on goats
    with a 9mm 115 grain corbon , and the goat dropped in just under 7 seconds , which was very good , because goats dont drop as easy as humans , and a human would have been stopped Much faster . From the test a hot 9mm round like Corbon
    was almost equal to a 357 in stopping power . Personally i think the 40 is probably a better stopper from everything i've heard ,
    but a 9mm with +P hollow points have proved just as effective
    from alot of people i've talked to . I think the best thing is to get the gun you are most comfortable with .
     
  9. 10-Ring

    10-Ring Member

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    Sold my last 40 S&W 2 years ago and haven't looked back. I have 45's and 9's now. I really like the 9 mm vs. 40 becauase using good modern defensive ammo, you get very good performance, I shoot the 9 better vs. 40 and my 9's held more than most of the 40's I owned...the only exception being the Para P-16
     
  10. BLiTzNicK

    BLiTzNicK Member

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    All of my defensive handguns are either .38 spl or 9mm with the exception of my P32. I tried the .40 for a while, but didn't really like the recoil, especially since I am used to the 9mm. I am comfortable shooting those calibers, so that's what I use. It has nothing to do with statistics, velocities, or mystical voodoo magic.
     
  11. Marshall

    Marshall Member

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    Dag,

    I just bought a Browning Hi-Power right before Christmas. I have only shot it two different times so far, I love it! I went back and forth on the 9mm vs 40 S&W for a good week. I finally decided, after handling both quite a bit, I wanted both! LOL I bought the 9mm for now, figuring if something happened to where I coudn't buy a BHP in .40 someday, I would at least have the one I really would feel most upset about not owning. A 9mm BHP is just damn near a tradition in my opinion so, I started there. ;)
     
  12. TreeSquid

    TreeSquid Member

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    Holy crap!

    I knew this day would come! An argument about 9mm vs something besides .45ACP! It had to happen sooner or later. Consider me boggled. :D
     
  13. hansolo

    hansolo Member In Memoriam

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    "Fast and light VS. Heavy and Slow"

    I recently found a piece of steel used to make a cardbard-target stand; I set it up at about 20-30 feet and nailed it with my 9mm CZ 75B. The 3"x4" rectangle with approx. 1/16" thick "walls"
    had a hole clean through both sides, with a piece of the Winchester Value Pack bullet stuck in the back. I did this several times and ended up with a test that proves that a well placed shot with even average 9mm ammo is pretty fierce! .....Plus, it's cheap to practice with and second shots are a lot easier than with an un-compensated .40 BTW, my next handgun will be Springfield XD-40!:D
     
  14. New_comer

    New_comer Member

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    The 9mm Parabellum is just fine by me as a defensive cartridge.

    If a 9mm variant, the 38spl, was good enough to be a standard police round of years past, the much hotter 9x19 would definitely be even more potent, especially so with the added advantage of more rounds per mag loading.

    If I were to migrate to a bigger caliber, I'd probably skip the 40S&W and head straight to 45ACP, or maybe to a 10mm platform should one be available hereabouts... ;)
     
  15. Daguerre

    Daguerre Member

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    I too feel that Stephen's comments were right on the money. The differences between top rounds in 9mm and 40 are probably not much. Heck, with very, very good shot placement a .22 will get the job done beautifully.... just that I' d prefer to rely on a little more oommpphhh when possible. ;)

    I bought the Hi-Power in .40 cal and totally love the pistol. I also have every intention to buy a couple more Browning HP's in 9mm as well. The .40 shoots just fine for me... doesn't seem too sharp or at all difficult to control. Heck, I put several hundred rounds of full power .45's through various of my dozen or so 1911's every week, so for me .40 in a Browning Hi-Power was a cupcake. I'm really looking forward to also having a Hi-Power in 9mm as well... I'm sure that will be a fantastic pistol also.

    My only reservation about .40 results from reading a comment made by one very assertive and highly opinionated individual on another forum who stated that .40 is basically a "dangerous" caliber to own and fire. I have learned not to base my decision making on the words of ANY one individual, but his words have caused me to second-guess my selection of forty caliber. Seems to me that there are a great many experts with significant experience who endorse the forty caliber (even if certain gun models, like Glock, may have unusually high incidents of ka-booms with forty). What do you think?
     
  16. Pico

    Pico Member

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    40 vs 9

    I think .40 cal is fine as do all of the law enforcement agencies apparently although I have and use 9 primarily for a range weapon. I chose 9 because the ammo is cheaper, mainly, and it is a good starter caliber.

    Looking at the tables, .40 has a slight ballistic advantage over 9, and it is a great intermediate caliber between 9 and 45. If I was starting out and didn't mind higher priced ammo, I might choose the .40 over the 9 if I needed extra power. My only complaint is it has a lot more snap than the 9 for the extra power.

    In my case, I also think it's better to start with 9 and go to .45 later and that is exactly what I plan to do. Ultimately, my main defense weapon will be a .45 with 230 gr Hydrashocks. I wouldn't feel vulnerable if I had to resort to one of my 9 mils with good JHP, though.

    Pico
     
  17. mr. e

    mr. e Member

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    For me, it boils down to the fact that, based on the recoil, the .40 packs more punch than the 9mm. Since I can shoot the .40 good enough to hit my target at personal defense distances, I'd rather have 10+1 rounds of .40 than 10+1 rounds of 9mm.
     
  18. jc2

    jc2 member

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    There's not enough difference between two to get excited about. Both will do the job, and do it well, if the shooter does his part. Neither will do the job if the shooter doesn't do his. If the .40 S&W is your cup of tea, and you can hit with it, you are just as well off as you would be with 9x19 (unless you really want to consider high capacity magazines and/or cost).
     
  19. wanderinwalker

    wanderinwalker Member

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    I feel that there is much difference. 9mm, .40 S&W, .45 ACP, .38 SPCL, .357 Mag, .44 SPCL. They will all do roughly the same thing, and have been doing it for years. In all honesty, if one or the other was hugely superior, we wouldn't have much to debate about, would we?? ;) (Wish I could remember who said that! My apologies to whoever it was for butchering it so.)

    Now if you want true stopping power, might I recommend a shotgun, of double barreled 12 gauge configuration? :D
     
  20. No4Mk1*

    No4Mk1* Member

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    The ammount of practice I get shooting is limited by money. Therefore I prefer inexpensive calibers. If I had chosen .40 instead of 9mm I would have less shooting experience.
     
  21. pogo2

    pogo2 Member

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    Close call

    Two of my favorite carry guns are a Glock 19 in 9mm and a Glock 23 in .40 S&W. These 2 guns are almost identical in weight, dimensions and feel. I have several holsters that fit either one, and have carried both of them. The G23 has a 13+1 magazine, and the G19 has a 15+1 magazine.

    I have looked at ballistic tables and read a number of articles comparing the 9mm and the .40, and have come to the conclusion that both are quite adequate for defense, but the .40 probably has about 10% more "stopping power" (whatever that means) than the 9mm.

    In shooting the two guns, I can't see much accuracy difference, at least in my hands. So that factor is a push. Regarding ammo cost, the .40 costs me about $8 a box, compared to $6 a box for the 9mm. That doesn't seem to be a big difference, and practice with the G19 is probably directly applicable to skill with a G23 anyway, since the guns are almost identical. So ammo cost and amount of "affordable" practice isn't a factor for me.

    So what I do is carry the G23 about 60% of the time, the G19 about 20% of the time, and non-Glocks the remainder of the time. I tend to view the G19 as a backup to the G23, in case something happened to it. But I sure don't worry too much about being undergunned with a G19.
     
  22. they call me bob

    they call me bob Member

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    ok

    i see everyone saying how if u put a +p hollow point in the 9mm it will be just as good and all that... but there is no comparison in stopping power. 9mm has a .355 diameter bullet and 40 is .400. Also the bullets weigh roughly 40 grains more and the fps is around the same area. everyone i have seen post boasts about the 9mm +p's being just as good as the 40 without +p, but nowadays there is 40 +p's too. the 9mm+p corbon 115 grain is 1350 fps and the 40high velocity 135 grain is 1325. 20 more grains;.045 inch more diameter; same fps. Now on to the ballastic reports from the FBI, these are going to be non+p. 115 grain 9mm gold dot hollow point had a penetration of around 12.5" and had an expansion of around 0.4" with an fps of around 1200fps, now the 165 grain 40 gold dot penetrated around 13" and had an expansion of 0.6" with an fps of 1100. As you can plainly see the 40 cal will have a deeper penetration and a better expansion which in turns kills the person you are shooting faster. I got the tests from:
    9mm:
    http://www.firearmstactical.com/ammo_data/9mm.htm
    40:
    http://www.firearmstactical.com/ammo_data/40s&w.htm
     
  23. IndianaDean

    IndianaDean Member

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    I do not like the .40 at all and will not have one. Mine are either 9mm or .45.
     
  24. Graystar

    Graystar Member

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    I think the history of defense gun use indicates that simply having a gun and shooting back gets the bad guys to turn tail and run the vast majority of the time. With that in mind, I chose my defense round based on two concerns. First, I want to make sure the BG feels a hit. Second, I don't want any bullets leaving the BG's body.

    So I use Federal 9mm expanding point cartridges. I get the capacity of a 9mm, an expanded diameter of nearly 1/2 an inch, and lower penetration.

    It fits the bill for me.
     
  25. Kentak

    Kentak Member

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    Everything else being equal (and that's the key), the numbers give the edge to the .40 as a more effective round. That's *not* to say the 9 isn't effective. I own both 9's and .40's. I can shoot the 9's better than the .40's at the present time, but am working on becoming equally proficient with both. In the meantime, if TSHTF, I would have a better chance of hitting what I'm aiming at with the 9, unless close range would make that moot.

    I feel adequately armed with either one.

    K
     
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