Question of the Day: Is 9mm the One Caliber to Rule Them All?

Dan Wesson’s making his/its first 9mm 1911-style gun. It’s lighter, holds more bullets and still threads a needle (probably). Wilson Combat makes nines. Clearly, the .380 mania is over; compact nines like Ruger’s LC9 and Kimber’s Solo are the stow-‘n-‘go gun of the mo. It seems that the 9mm round has captured the mainstream market but good, with new models, low ammo prices, excellent hollow-points and, thus, more-than-merely adequate stopping power. As the Beatles intoned, number nine, number nine. Is there anything that can usurp the round’s predominance? Are you a nine guy? If so why? If not, why not?

comments

  1. avatar Ben Eli says:

    Robert, are you in Pittsburgh right now?

  2. avatar Robert Farago says:

    Nope. Stuck in Baltimore. Ping guntruth@me.com

  3. avatar miforest says:

    I am a nine guy. If you look at the cost, performance, and size of the guns that shoot it, It has a lot going for it.

  4. avatar Ryan Finn says:

    I didn’t use to be. I thought the only acceptable calibers started with a 4. But between ammo prices and that Gen4 Glock 19, I’m a convert.

    1. avatar TTACer says:

      Out of a long enough barrel it is pushing .357 energy levels. I am a fan.

  5. avatar Buuurr says:

    Imma 9mm for now until my wife feels comfortable with it. Then I am a .40, not because it is any different then the 9mm in my thinking accept in that I just like the way the .40 feels.

  6. avatar JOE MATAFOME says:

    I’ve owned a couple of 9’s and traded them both in for 45’s. I tried them out because the bullets were much cheaper than the 45’s and 50’s, but I never liked them. I’d rather pay more and stick with my 45’s and 50’s since their a lot more fun.

  7. avatar Rich Keagy says:

    The 9mm is no better now than 100 years ago. It takes too many to incapacitate / kill a bad guy.
    It’s .45 ACP for me and .38 Super for my wife.

    1. avatar Fred Honary says:

      Hello? There is a world of difference between 9mm today, and even 15 years ago, let alone 100.

      1. avatar Jeff says:

        Bingo – 9mm +P JHPs will outperform many types of 45s.

  8. avatar Foghorn says:

    For competitions, I use 9mm. Lower recoil and higher capacity magazines make for faster shooting.

    For everyday carry, my stainless steel 1911A1 in .45ACP won out only because I’m more accurate with it (the barrel, unlike the p226, isn’t completely shot out yet). But once I get a new barrel for the p226 I may have to reassess.

  9. avatar RonH says:

    I don’t carry 9mm. My carry is .40S&W. It’s a great compromise between 9mm and .45: Acceptable energy and capacity. Specifically I CC a Glock 23 in a Crossbreed SuperTuck. Even during summer months it’s concealable in a pair of shorts with an untucked shirt. Basically, I got the biggest thing I could reliably conceal.

    The gun in the video is a non-starter for me. The 1911 9mm shown here holds 9 rounds and doesn’t look smaller than my Glock 23, but that’s a difficult thing to judge. My G23 holds 13 rounds of a higher caliber. That’s 40-44% more ammo available (depending on whether you +1 or not) with each round having better stopping power.

    1. avatar Rich Keagy says:

      I agree; 9mm in 1911 isn’t good. But in Super .38, it has history (1929).
      I have a Kimber in .38 super. It shoots the same 9mm bullet, but with more powder behind it.
      The charts say its muzzle energy is 400+. That’s in the .45 ACP neighborhood.

  10. avatar Bill Johnson says:

    My nine is a Beretta FS. No problems with that.

    My LCP is 10 oz. The LC9 is 17. nuff said.

  11. avatar Tam 212 says:

    Cheaper to shoot, easier recoil to manage, higher capacity. Hard to argue with that.

    That said, if I were restricted to a single stack gun for whatever reason, I may consider a different caliber.

    Personally, I’m not into the “stopping power” this caliber is better than that caliber thing. Shoot until the threat ceases with CoM hits.

    Bottom line for me is to select a gun and caliber I can train with as much as possible to get those CoM hits when SHTF.

    1. avatar Tim says:

      +1

      Frankly, 9+1 for a 9mm or 8+1 for my Kimber 1911 Commander-size in .45, I don’t think the extra one bullet means enough to sacrifice the heavier bullet.

      I realize it may be cheaper to shoot and lighter to carry – but you can find cheap ammo in bulk and the few ounces difference in weight don’t mean much to me. The actual size and thickness are about the same from what I can tell.

  12. avatar Jay W. says:

    I’m a nine guy! Everything in life is a compromise and the 9 mm is the best overall compromise in handgun ammunition.

    1. avatar Jeff says:

      The only caveat I would add to that is that where you’re in states that cap magazine capacity to 10 rounds, it’s a BIG mistake to run 380 or 9mm in most instances. Truth be told in that case, I’d be going with a 7 round 357 revolver.

  13. avatar NxSW says:

    I’ve spent a lot of time over the last year researching the ballistic performance of modern 9mm JHP loads, and there is no doubt in my mind that it is a viable modern round for self-defense. An interesting source for results from tests in ballistic gel is ATK’s wound ballistics workshops: http://le.atk.com/general/irl/woundballistics.aspx. I’m not trying to say that they are the be-all end-all of anything, but there are enough test cases that have been produced in a fairly controlled setting that it gives me a warm fuzzy about the results. What you want to look at are the tabulated results at the end of each report, which show penetration depth for each particular round in the various tests, along with expansion data. Does .45 ACP generally have deeper penetration and more expansion? Absolutely. But, does 9mm generally pass the FBI mark of 12″ penetration, and do it with admirable expansion? Yes indeed.

    One thing that surprised me from these tests was that .40 S&W had a lot more trouble meeting the FBI requirement than the other two… Surprising to me, and it has made me reconsider whether the “golden mean” between two options is always the way to go. As it stands right now, I’m happy carrying 9mm and probably wouldn’t switch to .45 ACP unless I really had an itch to switch from my SA XD9 to a 1911-style weapon.

  14. avatar Eric S says:

    9mm is fine for me. If there were magazine restrictions where I lived (there aren’t now and I intend to keep it that way) I’d probably take the more potent rounds of a .45ACP. As of now I occasionally carry a 2.25″ 357mag.

  15. avatar Ralph says:

    The nine is fine. So’s the .40, which is my personal choice. So’s the .45. JOE’s .500s will stop an elephant. Truth be told, a .38Spl will do a good job (but not on elephants), especially loaded with the Hornady Critical Defense round or something similar. These “caliber wars” are just kinda silly. Shoot what you like, like what you shoot, hit the freakin’ target and you’re good to go.

  16. avatar Gunner442 says:

    9mm has made vast improvements in capability. The military is handicapped by the Geneva Convention which mandates “Ball” ammunition…9mm worked for the SAS ( Hi-Powers and MP-5’s…Princess Gate anyone?) not a bad endorsement…I own a .45’s, .40’s, an 9’s. I like the universal availibility of 9, lower cost, easier recoil( as I get older).

  17. avatar Ike says:

    Dan Wesson has made 9mm models for several years, including the 5″ Pointman 9.

    1. avatar Sean says:

      Just what I was coming in to say. I had a Pointman 9 for about 2 months. Had to sell when I got laid off to make my car payment, and rent.

  18. I bought my first pistol, a Glock 19, the day I turned 21. Since then I have added countless guns, but not another 9mm.
    It may not make a lot of sense to some people, but to me felt recoil between a 380 and a 45 has more to do with the gun. My LCP bites my trigger finger a bit, but my 1911s are smooth as butter.
    The 9mm has always had a weird rotational recoil to me. I shoot faster and more accurate with 40 and 45. With that said, I pull a 180 and admit the LCP is still the easiest to conceal in most situations so it is closest to me. Throw a LCP in you pocket, then remove and reattempt with a LC9. The difference is quite noticeable in both feel and print.

  19. My first couple of carry guns were nines, but when I read a news story about a woman who shot a would-be carjacker twice in the chest with a nine and he was recovering in the hospital I fairly soon switched to .45. Now, due to back problems I am carrying FN’s FiveseveN.

  20. avatar CUJO THE DOG OF WAR says:

    It’s the type of bullet and the load. I only use 9mm +P+ JHP or 9mm Magsafe. My truck carries a Beretta 90-TWO and, well, 6 spare mags loaded with +P+, I usually carry a .357 Smith and a Glock 27 .40 on me. Sometimes my Bond arms .44 in a driver’s holster rounds me out for a long trip. Then again, I always have 2 fighting folders and a utility folder on me…

    1. avatar CUJO THE DOG OF WAR says:

      Did I mention the Ithaca 12 ga. pistol grip pump shotgun I keep in the back of the truck (with 00 buck)?

      1. avatar miforest says:

        you got enemies?

        1. avatar CUJO THE DOG OF WAR says:

          LOL! Ex-wives, they formed a club. I call them the Bitches of Beastwick. Seriously, I worked in 2 prisons and 2 jails. I have one or two enemies!

  21. avatar Leo Atrox says:

    As with any caliber, compromises must be made. I am a 9mm guy. I’m also a .45 guy, and a 10mm guy. I’m a .22LR guy, a 5.56mm guy, a .308 guy, etc. … There is no perfect round that ensures 100% reliability of function and knockdown power, and an unlimited supply of affordable ammunition in an inexpendable magazine fired out of a compact but nail-driving-accurate pistol. It doesn’t exist.

    As far as comprimises go, the 9mm is a pretty good one. The high-velocity cartridge can–depending on the bullet used–be used to transfer either a high transmission of energy to soft materials, or high penetration of dense material, or anywhere in between. It is a relatively small cartridge allowing it to be fitted into double-stack magazines that fit into a stock that would be comfortable for most hands. Pistol options range from minature subcompacts to full-sized “tactical” firearms; and it lends itself fairly well to carbines as well.

    No, 9mm doesn’t have the diameter–and, thus, the capability of larger bullet masses–of some of its big brothers, nor does it shoot quite as gently in lightweight handguns as its little brothers. It’s pretty well in between. And that’s what a good compromise is, right? Something right in between. That doesn’t fit any role perfectly, but is able to fit each one all the same.

    1. avatar ExurbanKevin says:

      +1.

      9mm ain’t the über-caliber, but for day-in, day-out carry, it’ll do the job.

      Another item in favour of 9mm is the size and reliability of the pistols that use it. A small, compact lightweight 9mm like a Glock 26 or XD subcompact is going to pack 10+ rounds in a package that will be much more reliable than an equivalently-priced & sized 1911. I like the 1911, but let’s face it, the Officer-sized 1911 isn’t exactly the most reliable gun out there. For everyday carry, it’s hard to beat the combination of size, accuracy and firepower of a compact nine.

  22. avatar Rich Keagy says:

    Nidal Hasan likes 9mm. He has four of them in his chest. He’s alive and talking.

  23. avatar Sean says:

    I’ve trained on .40 for so many years, it’s what I shoot most accurately.

    Given a choice, I would go back in time and have simply trained on the 9mm (I have 9mm handguns, I just shoot .40 better- G19/G23). With enough penetration, I think the round is more than acceptable with quality hollowpoints like HST, Ranger Talon, Gold Dot. Between 9, .40, & 357sig/auto I believe .357 to be most effective, .40 a compromise of everything, and the 9 to be the best bang for the buck (while still maintaining an acceptable level of effectiveness).

    My favorite caliber would be 10mm by far, but it’s pretty pricey for factory ammo compared to 9mm/.40.

    In compact sized guns, I really feel that .357sig/auto is the most efficient platform. Many, many people disagree (too much penetration/just a fast 9mm/etc.), but it’s a personal opinion. Again, it’s pretty pricey.

    For the majority of people, I believe the lower price of 9mm allows for more practice allowing for more hits on target with better shot placement which is worth more than the slight advantage of a larger heavier .40 or .45.

    I have no problem with .45, I just don’t particularly enjoy shooting the round out of anything but a 1911.

    I like .38s of all kinds, especially out of mid-large sized revolvers. I’m most accurate (within my own limited abilities) shooting mild .38s out of revolvers, and then .40 out of a compact or full-sized Glock.

    I used to believe that handguns were severely underpowered (they are), and that it just made sense to carry something that recoiled a bit more, but did more damage.

    Now I just view handguns as tools to make holes in people that are unlawfully assaulting loved ones. Deep and wide wound channels are what really matter. What matters most is shot placement, where the round goes, and the internal organs it perforates.

    1. avatar CUJO THE DOG OF WAR says:

      I agree with you dead on, Sean, with the 9mm Ranger and Gold Dot JHP”S. My only thing is that I opt for those exact same rounds in the +P+ mode. In fact, I have a stash of 500 rounds each for both rounds. I know-accelerated wear. Thing is, I don’t use it exclusively and if I wear a weapon out-I will buy a new one. I’m really hyped to have mags loaded with it for my Beretta Storm carbine…and my Glock 26, BTA 90-TWO,H&K VP70Z and Taurus 905.

  24. avatar Frank Clarke says:

    I’d like to know exactly what kind of 9mm the negative reviews refer to. I shoot nothing but 147gr JHP. Yes, it’s slow. I can sometimes watch the pill go downrange, but 147gr delivers the biggest bang for the buck. I reason as follows (feel free to correct any errors; it will only make me better):

    The energy you can impart to a bullet is defined by the gunpowder in the brass.
    Lighter pills accelerate faster, reach a higher muzzle velocity, and spend less time in the barrel.
    If the pill exits the barrel before all the powder is burned, that unburned powder is waste.
    Therefore, a heavier pill is more likely to get the maximum energy of the gunpowder.

    At the point of impact, a lighter pill will be traveling very fast and may pass completely through the target exiting out the back.
    Any energy still remaining in the pill at that point is waste.
    A heavier slug will impact at a slower speed, and is more likely to embed within the target, dumping ALL of its energy (which may have been higher than the faster slug).

    That’s the effect I want on my target: every last erg and joule from my gunpowder delivered.

    I believe heavier slugs (within limits) will always function better than lighter ones. If you’re shooting 115gr you have to expect your target to be less affected than otherwise with 147gr.

  25. avatar Dogman says:

    I own more nines than any other caliber…’cept maybe .38 Special–I’d have to count them up to be sure. Every time I get the urge to buy a new gun, it’s a tug-of-war between a 9mm and a .45 ACP. Given the cost of ammo, current ammo quality, magazine capacity, recoil and speed of follow-up shots and available features of the guns involved, the 9mm almost always wins the contest. I have nothing against the .40, 10mm or .357 SIG but these are all new kids to the game (compared to the 100+ year history of the 9mm and .45) and basically they don’t really offer enough extra to make me consider giving them a try.

  26. avatar Rich says:

    I our small city a month ago a cop stopped a man riding a bike with no lights at 2:30am. The man had a colt detective special and fired all 6, 38 sps at the cop. The cop returned 12 shots from his Glock 22, 40 Cal. He hit the perp twice in the arm wounding him. The cop died within minutes from the 38sp. He had on bullet resistent vest. The perp hit the cop 5 of the six shots. Not only is caliber important there is also shot placement among many other varibles.

  27. avatar Rick P says:

    Not me. The 9mm is fun to play with and to use in competition due to its low cost and recoil but when it comes down to go-time, it’s the .45 ACP. There are advantages for some in using the 9mm if they can’t handle the different recoil of the .45 or feel the need for more rounds.

    I always enjoy the comments by the faithful regarding how the 9mm’s performance has vastly improved. All the while they seem to chose to ignore the fact that the .45 has improved during this time as well.

  28. avatar Buuurr says:

    “I always enjoy the comments by the faithful regarding how the 9 mm’s performance has vastly improved. All the while they seem to chose to ignore the fact that the .45 has improved during this time as well.”

    I don’t know about all that. I just read your comment and thus far I have been listening to others opinions about the .45. I looked up some ballistics tests fired from the same 4.5″ gun using the same brand and the same JHP rounds from 9 mm, .40 and up to the .45. The wound tests in both the 9 mm and the .40 were identical. The 9 mm and the .40 were close with the 9 mm actually out doing the .40. When the +p was added to the 9 mm on this particular brand it seemed to make the round ‘less’ effective (though some would argue that a hole coming out is better then none, so they would see the +p as the better round).

    The 9 mm and the .40 had a .56-.57 diameter on average with the initial shock being fairly big and then slowly decreasing as the round passed through the gel.

    The .45 had a relatively small shock with a quickly decreasing wound path through the gel. It was .79 on the diameter (if my memory serves) which is clearly better then .56-57 and usually has an exit path.

    Now depending on who you talk to the .45 is the way to go because it is more powerful, packs a big punch. But if you ask me I would go with the 9 mm or the .40 (I choose the 9 mm because it has better wound paths and has less recoil and more rounds to fire in a pinch). My reasoning is that if the initial shock is bigger that is going to make taking your BG down much easier. I would rather the average all the way through and slower decreasing wound channel over the more pinpoint, piercing, pass through that the .45 has. My reason being is that no matter the round they all go in 14”. Now if they are all going in 14” I want the one that goes in like a twisting fondue fork versus the one that goes in like a piercing needle. My reasoning being that I have more wound channel surface area with the 9 mm which ups my chance to hit vitals.

    Others say that the exit is crucial to more bleeding, I disagree. For me it is the complete dissipation of the rounds energy in the target that counts. One is going to drop dead of a clot in a matter of seconds to the heart or brain. One can take minutes to bleed out.

    These are just my thoughts and opinions on what I have read and how I feel. I love the .40 but have opted for the 9 mm for my wife as the recoil is easier for her. In learning the stats on the 9 mm versus the .40 I have learned that the difference is negligible accept for less shots per with the .40 and more recoil. For me that means the 9 mm allows me to stay on target and fire just as effective rounds in quicker succession and for a longer time.

    The FBI states that your shots have to be in quick succession to drop a target quickly. I think (from what I have seen at the range; this does not include everyone) that most people cannot with a .45 keep a target acquired while shooting rapidly for a long duration. I do however believe that those same people can shoot a 9 mm all day and keep the target acquired for a longer period of time (especially since there are more rounds per mag in a 9 mm).

    Just my thoughts from what I have read and seen.

  29. avatar FN 5.7 says:

    I have to say the best caliber is 5.7x28mm. I own an FN 57, and also fn57sale.com, the best gun hands down

  30. I have to say the best caliber is 5.7x28mm. I own an FN 57, and also fn57sale.com, the best gun hands down. We also have alot of 9mm on our other website florida gun classifieds

  31. avatar Just Guns says:

    we are about to launch the nations largest firearm network were you can find more 9mm then you know what to do with!

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