Calibers for Beginners: What You Need to Know About .45 ACP

.45 ACP ammunition

In a recent post I detailed some elements of the 9x19mm cartridge and why it’s a good choice for beginners. I received a great deal of positive feedback on this and requests to do the other side of the ‘caliber war.’ So today, it’s  .45 ACP.

I was surprised with the comments in my 9mm post to say the least. It certainly got creative in there and some was cringeworthy. That article wasn’t meant to be a ‘caliber wars’ hit piece. It was meant to show the beginner what 9mm looks like today. When I started this article, I was hit with the realization that I couldn’t honestly come up with many good things about .45 ACP to tell to beginners and I quickly realized why.

The .45 ACP isn’t a beginner’s cartridge in my mind. It is very significant historically and socially today, but it is categorically obsolete and offers some very serious downsides to a beginner that outweigh many of the marginal advantages. The purpose of this article isn’t to disparage the .45 ACP. It is easily one of my favorite pistol cartridges and I enjoy shooting and reloading for it. I shoot a ton of ammo every year as a media professional, and this year alone I have logged over 4,000 rounds of .45 ACP, not to mention the many, many thousands more I have shot over the years in practice and competition.

All my time with the .45 ACP has led me to the conclusion that it isn’t a good cartridge for a beginner or new shooter. The first area we will look at is concealed carry. One of the smallest .45 ACP pistols available is Smith & Wesson’s M&P Shield .45. It is a great pistol and I shoot with one regularly and have used it in ballistic testing. It is a great, thin pistol that is marginally larger than the 9mm version of the same gun and much smaller than a comparable GLOCK 36. I see it as one of the most functional small .45 ACP pistols available today and a great choice for concealed carry for an experienced shooter.

Why experienced? The primary reason I say this is because of two things: low capacity and high perceived recoil compared to other options. The .45 in a gun this small is manageable and accurate, but it is at a serious deficit when compared to modern 9mm offerings like the SIG SAUER P365, a gun that boasts a 10+1 or 12+1 capacity while being significantly smaller and offering less recoil.

Concealed carry with a full-size 1911 is possible and I have done it on and off for a number of years. I think that carrying a full-size .45 with 8+1 loaded when, for less weight, one could have a GLOCK 19 that carries 15+1 rounds is exactly why I can’t get on board with recommending .45 to a newbie. The advantages just aren’t there no matter the size and weight. A .45 will almost always weigh more and carry less, which I can’t in good conscience suggest to a new shooter when more advanced systems exist.

My primary concern with beginners and .45 is that it’s a misleading caliber that is promoted by misleading salesmen and gun writers. The .45 isn’t all that much more powerful than a 9mm, all things considered. The common myth is that it possesses twice the bullet mass, and thus twice the power. Sounds good, right? Well, it’s not that simple.

Getting down to it, a 9mm features a .355” diameter bullet while the .45 is .451.” The standard velocity range of a 9mm is about 1000-1500fps with a muzzle energy of about 300-450 foot-pounds. The .45 is slower with a typical velocity range of 750-1200fps and a muzzle energy ranging from about 300-500 foot-pounds.

Those are general ranges, but they account for all but the most unique outliers available today. The point is, there isn’t much of a difference in terms of foot-pounds and that extra .096” in width the .45 has is hardly a benefit considering that, in most guns, you’re giving up a huge number of on-board rounds — sometimes half as many — as a comparable 9mm. A bigger bullet isn’t better here in my mind. It is, for the beginner, a serious handicap. The fact is you can stay in the game longer with a 9mm.

I know there will be plenty of die-hards who will aggressively defend the .45 here and talk about everything from bullet mass to ‘manly calibers’ and ‘stopping power’, but that’s all just nonsense. For the beginners in the audience, here’s what you need to know about the .45 ACP that’s a positive:

-Large commercial acceptance and plentiful options for ammunition and guns

-Bullets that benefit from modern manufacturing and technology

-Easy to reload…the .45 is a very forgiving cartridge in this category (not that many noobs reload)

And here are the negatives:

-Low capacity in nearly all guns chambered for it

-Stopping power is a myth…you won’t get a guaranteed ‘insta-kill’ with a .45, or any caliber for that matter

-Generally heavy weight and higher recoil than comparable options in other calibers

-Higher ammunition cost

-Marginal performance gains over other calibers, despite heavier bullets

-Longer proficiency curve in training for most shooters

-Suffers from its over-hyped war legacy

That said, there are many fine guns available in .45 ACP today and some new shooters will want to go that way. Among a number of great options, here are a few I would recommend to beginners:

-Smith & Wesson M&P Shield .45. This is a good, reliable pistol and among the smallest and lightest .45’s offered today. The gun is available with night sights, 2.0 grip texturing, and a 6+1 or 7+1 capacity.

-GLOCK 36, 21, and 30: GLOCK makes some of the best pistols on the market in that they’re simple, rugged, and have huge aftermarket support. GLOCK’s pistols really need no introduction here, but the beginner could do well to have one because once you do, you’ll never truly need much else. GLOCK pistols ship with magazines ranging from 6 to 10 rounds.

-SIG SAUER P227: I love the P227. The gun boasts a metal frame and DA/SA trigger. The pistol is very accurate and displays some of the best ergonomics in the industry. Standard capacity is 10+1 rounds.

-The 1911: We all know and love the 1911. Well, most of us do. It’s a classic and is the handgun most people think of when they think of .45 ACP. The 1911 is fairly heavy, usually about 35-45oz, and typically holds 7+1 or 8+1 rounds. There are too many makers to list here. Expect prices from $500-5,000.

So what do you think about the .45 ACP? I think it’s a great cartridge, just not necessarily the best choice for a new shooter or concealed carrier when other, more advanced, higher capacity options are out there. The .45 ACP will always be with us in one form or another, even as smaller, faster calibers steadily outpace it on the national and world stage.

comments

  1. avatar Larry Macneal says:

    I thought the .357 magnum was a “man stopper”. I’ve seen more people starting out with the .45 due to the 1911’s being so popular in the rental cases at most ranges. T

    1. avatar Rick the Bear says:

      Marshall & Sanow’s work showed the 125 grain to be most effective (of the choices available then).

      Still, everyone knows that even a near miss with the .45ACP will take the assailant’s soul. 8>)

      1. avatar Art out West says:

        The .357 mag is a proper manstopping round.

        .45acp makes a lot of sense as a duty/cop gun. Full size M&P, Glock21, XD all have plenty of capacity 13+ rounds. Shield is a good ccw gun

      2. avatar Anymouse says:

        Marshall & Sanow is junk science. They didn’t provide their raw data. Comparisons of results from the 2 books shows some calibers with 100%+ effectiveness (maybe some bullets took out multiple guys). It looks more like they decided the winners and made up numbers to support their assertion. It’s worse than Ayoob praising the 158 gr +P for .38 Special while saying 147 gr in 9mm is worthless when they’re almost identical ballistically. BTW, the Strasburg Goat “experiment” is also complete BS and probably never happened.

        1. avatar JT says:

          You are absolutely right, and saved me from typing it. Junk “science”. A cursory glance at their dataset shows it was junk. But I’m a scientist by training; they are not.

          Excerpting it sold a crapload of gun magazines in the 90s though.

          When comparing FMJ or non-expanding HPs, the .45 is probably somewhat better. Thirty years ago, when essentially NO 9mm HPs would expand– and many .45s would– there was clearly an effectiveness difference. But it is gone today– many (not all) 9mm HPs do expand, and under difficult circumstances. That changed everything– even the FBI is going to 9mm.

    2. avatar Gov. William J Le Petomane says:

      The 9 mm may kill you butt the .45 kills your soul, however the .357 not only kills you and your soul but renders any offspring you’ve left behind sterile.

      1. avatar Bloving says:

        Aaaand…. here comes the troublemaker….
        Fine. 9mm works great for noobs and is a perfectly acceptable defensive load.
        Now to move the goalposts:
        A bear is charging at you – Do you want…
        A 9mm
        A .45
        A .357 magnum
        A .44 magnum
        Or some top-notch running shoes?
        🤠

        1. avatar Zed F Child says:

          Realistically, any of those will and have stopped a bear attack. But personally, i think i’go with the 357 or the 44, unless you offer up a 10 mil, 41 mag, 454 casul.
          Not long ago i read a story about a gal in alaska that found herself in front of a griz. All she had was a standard mk2 ruger in .22lr. She stoodher gtound, and when the bear stood, it opened it maw, and she put 10 rounds into it’s mouth and killed it. Now, i freely admit, she was very lucky, and was able to think clearly. A combanation of those factors allowed her yto go home that day. More often than not, it really does come down to chance and steady nerves. Any tool is good, but the right tool for that job changes with which job and which tool you can operate effectively.
          I carry, 9 para, 40 s&w, and sometimes 45acp. Less often a wheel gun in 38sp or 357, depending. I really never felt “undergunned ” even when i carry a 380 or on occasion a 32acp. But i do have a mk3 stainless with a 4″ standard in the truck under the seat. Why? Because most of the time it will either get me home, or at least to a larger tool. I doubt a 22lr will take any soul larger than a mouses:-)

        2. avatar Toni says:

          Zed F Child. i agree with all you have said here. i am often one of the first to say that yes taking any animal can be done even with a .22. would i say it is advisable….. Hell No! for something like a grizly the smallest i would ideally want is a full house .44 Mag. for our water buff i would rather a freedom arms in .45-70 and i would want that heavy loaded as well. a water buff can be taken with a .22 but there is only 2 spots that you are going to be able to do so and they are both about the size of a 20 cent piece here in australia. it is a matter of the right angle and in the little bit of soft skin right behind the ears. anywhere else and they are just going to think it is a march fly biting them or get really pissed off and charge…. in which case good luck

        3. avatar Gov. William J Le Petomane says:

          ‘A bear is charging at you – Do you want…’

          If that bear is brown and has a hump on it’s shoulder – .375H&H.

          In a pinch though, a .357 with 180-200gr hard casts will penetrate deep enough, just won’t bore as big of a hole as a .44. Given the arms I actually have, hiking in brown bear country I’d probably pack the birdshead Vaquero .44 mag with 300+gr HC and if a long g un was practical it would be the 12ga pump with 3″ slugs.

        4. avatar Matty 9 says:

          The best defense for a bear attack is being with a hated co-worker that is fat and slow😉

        5. avatar Nigel the Expat says:

          Plasma Rifle.

          At least setting it on fire might give it pause before it eats me. 😉

        6. avatar Sid says:

          The perfect handgun for a bear attack is a Beretta (Bobcat) Model 21A in .22LR. It fits easily in your pocket and holds 7 rounds. If you startle a bear, aim directly at the knee cap of your companion. Fire quickly and then run.

          Now, your companion should probably carry something with good penetration. Maybe a 45-70 lever action rifle.

        7. avatar Bob says:

          “The best defense for a bear attack is being with a hated co-worker that is fat and slow😉”

          And a .380 or .22 is enough to slow down your co-worker.

          LOL

        8. avatar tacticaldad says:

          A bear charging me? I pick up the remote and change the channel and go back to cleaning my Ruger 10/22.

        9. avatar Barry Rosenschein says:

          You and a Buddy out in the woods and a bear charges. All you need is a .22. Shoot your friend in the leg and the bear will occupy his time with him while you get away.

        10. avatar jmberg says:

          “A bear is charging at you – Do you want…”

          I want Bear Spray…..Don’t Laugh!

          Check out the number of “Deaths by Bear” after shooting/or shooting at a bear and compare them to the numbers of “Deaths by Bear” after Bear Spray was deployed…Just check it out.

  2. avatar ironicatbest says:

    There are a few magic calibers, the 45 ACP is one of them. The Thompson sub imagine gun was one killing SOB. I’ve tried them all, from .22 – .50 AE, nothing beats a .45. It is A Man Killer

    1. avatar D.B. Cooper says:

      LOL the 1940s wants its post back

      1. avatar jwtaylor says:

        Yeah, but they don’t ask for it in German or Japanese.

        1. avatar New Continental Army says:

          Damn. Case closed.

        2. avatar WhaaaWhaaa!!! says:

          JWT with the burn!

        3. avatar raptor jesus says:

          pwned

        4. avatar TheOtherDavid says:

          Damn that made me snort my Guinness. Well played sir.

        5. avatar Dave Norwood says:

          Fat and slow – works for your bear country hiking companion or your carry weapon.

  3. avatar D Y says:

    Had (and have) three 1911-based pistols to carry, steel, then AL/steel for the other two, 3-4.25″ barrels.

    The .45 in any of those guns has far fewer rounds, is a thicker, longer, taller, and heavier gun than a Glock 19.

    Of course there are non-1911 carry options, and they suffer from the same problem at least when it comes to capacity. Sure, Glock is my go-to example because I own one, but any of the polymer 9MM’s are going to have the same advantages.

    1. avatar Husky says:

      I dont disagree with anything the author says, with one exception;There are a few EXCELLENT hi capicity .45s out there in the polymer, striker fired double stack category. The Springfield Armory XD&newer XDM series gives you 13+1 in .45. Incarried an XD in .45 for a year. It wasn’t great, but I wanted a heavier caliber and less learning curve switching from another SA striker fired platform. I didn’t hate the XD, it was solid, reliable and dependable, but I traded up to a Walther PPQ M2 IN .45, capacity is 12 rounds. The PPQ platform seems to be seriously undermarketed in the US. I LOVE mine and it has the best trigger of any striker fired modern poly pistol I’ve owened or fired, hands down. It isn’t a nail driver, but it is close, damn close. I group under 2″ at 25 yards with good quality JHP and FMJ. It’s affordable at the $6-700 mark and it’s just simply a much more well made and finished pistol then my XD. I LOVE my two 1911s in .45, but I don’t usually carry them, they are mostly range queens!

  4. avatar jwtaylor says:

    I completely agree with the OP that it’s not a beginners caliber.

    I’ve carried a 9mm for a while now, and recently gone back to the .45ACP.
    But why did I switch back? Ft lbs of energy delivered? Stopping Power? 1911? Nope, nope, and nope.
    I switched back because .096″X12″=1.15″
    In words, that means every time a .45ACP round hits the target, and travels for 12″, it cuts just over an inch more of tissue than a 9mm of similar construction. And the more it cuts the more likely it is to hit something important.
    I switched back because I’ve seen a whole lot of people shot and even more game animals. And one thing I’ve learned about pistol rounds, beyond any doubt, is that they are ultimately nothing more than a long range punch press. I can’t depend on “shock”, I can’t depend on “stopping power”. I can only depend on blood loss and CNS incapacitation. That’s what I know works every time.
    In my direct experience, the heavier slug, with the wider meplat, does a better job of that than a smaller slug of similar construction.
    I killed about 50 pigs with a .45ACP round so far this year with a simple .230gr lead SWC bullet. Zero expansion. Just nice big, long hole cut through the flesh and bone, something I can count on every time.

    As far as the obsolescence of the .45ACP, nothing could be farther from the truth. It’s actually regaining popularity with police departments around the country, as well as Special Operations units in the military, specifically when used in SBRs. Departments are ditching their 5.56NATO carbines for .45ACP SBRs.

    1. avatar Seans says:

      Please show me these special operations units using .45 ACP SBRS. There is zero reason for a special operations unit to use a 45ACP rifle.

      1. avatar Dude in Texas says:

        Are you currently or have you ever been in an SF unit? I have. There is a lot of. 45s used but again each firearm is a tool and a mission and position in the team often dictate weapon(s) carried in the field. There are lots of. 45 pistols and supressed sub guns used. Just as there are plenty of other calibers.

        Relax. He’s not wrong. Just go visit the armory or team room if you can get close to an AD SF team.

        1. avatar Seans says:

          I spent most of my career in the SOF community. Please tell me what weapons SOCOM is buying in 45 ACP. For pistols its the MK24 . Sub guns have been going out for a while. MP5SDs are still around, but once 300BLK hits whiteside, they are going to be gone.

          I’ve personnaly witnessed on multiple occasions guys shot and killed by 45ACP, nothing special about it. Dudes took just as many hits to put down as the guys who got shot beside them took of subsonic ball 9mm. Pistol rounds sucks. There is no one in SOCOM running 45 ACP carbines/rifles/SBRs over 5.56.

        2. avatar New Continental Army says:

          Oook… so, how do you see tons of dudes getting shot with .45ACP… if no one in SOF carries a .45ACP???

        3. avatar Dude in Texas says:

          Well me to. The MP5 is a dying breed kinda peaking in the 90’s. I saw more MP7s in Afghanistan that I ever saw MP5s even though there are rooms full of them back in the states for sure. But 45s… the HK UMPs were popping up depending on what you were doing/who you were doing it with. M45s weren’t uncommon if you are around the MARSOC jarheads, though a number of them still ran 9s, and the MK24 you mentioned is a boat anchor… who the F wants to hump that.

          Since they were talking pistol rounds its 9mm vs 45, etc. we can say there are SOCOM units using them. Just like I can say SOCOM is using 9MM. It’s not that .45 is the end all be all, but then again maybe I am a .45 fan and I look for them.

          Would I rather run a 7.62 or 5.56 or 300 blackout and never shoot the .45? yes, maybe, depends. But that’s the long gun. Since its a pistol round discussion, there are still plenty of .45 caliber firing weapons running around SOCOM units (new and old).

        4. I’m also a Marine Corps operator. First rule is to never take a pistol of any caliber into a gunfight. That’s why we’re issued the M4, M203 and machine guns. In 16 years, only had to defend myself one time with the M9. In Mogadishu in 93. My M9 wasn’t loaded with FMJs either. 124gr CorBon +P. We also have access to shotguns which are far superior to any pistol caliber. Stay hard and Semper Fi.

      2. avatar Jim says:

        A suppressed .45ACP carbine would make an EXCELLENT addition to any SpecOps unit for taking out sentries and dogs. MUCH Superior to a suppressed 9MM.

        1. avatar Seans says:

          How is it much superior to a 9mm?

        2. avatar craig klimek says:

          Late 90’s when Army phased out M728 CEV(165mm gun). The TOE STILL had m3 grease gun as issued with tank. EVERYONE wanted to shoot that thing. One guy went all 1930’s style and dumped the magazine. Looked over to CO and said “sorry Sir, my finger slipped.” Everyone including CO laughed. Perfect slow ROF on that thing.

        3. avatar Bill says:

          to Craig on the CEV:
          I was a gunner on a CEV in the 1970’s in Germany. The whole tank shook when I fired that thing. sad to hear that it is gone.
          We had the grease gun on our TOE, but I never saw one – we all wanted to shoot one. We just carried the .45 in a shoulder holster.

          Bill

      3. avatar jwtaylor says:

        I love it when people show their ass.
        Look at my post on the USC to UMP conversion, second pic.
        Don’t bother apologizing.

        1. avatar Mr Wu says:

          Excellent article.

      4. avatar raptor jesus says:

        UMP

    2. avatar tdiinva says:

      You have nailed the lethalty argument. The small difference in diameter translates into a significantly larger would cavity because volume is a cubic function. You often hear EMTs and ER docs say they can’t visually tell the difference between calibers but just because they can see it doesn’t mean the difference doesn’t exist. This seemingly insignificant difference can mean that an active shooter collapses sooner. Even 5 seconds difference can mean 5 lives saved.

      Since we are giving “advice” to new shooters here is mine. Any DGU that involves pulling the trigger is going to be over very fast. Capacity is irrelevant. Your assailant is going to run away, you are going hit him or he is going to hit you. A LEO may get into a prolonged gunfight but you aren’t. The reason to carry a second magazine isn’t because you are going to run out. It is because a faulty magazine is the most likely reason for a semiauto to fail. It is much easier to drop the magazine and reload than proceed to tap, rack and bang. And if your go to carry gun is a tiny mouse gun a 9mm is not more benign than a compact or full sized 45. All things equal 9mm will have more benign recoil only if it is fired from the same class of pistol.

      The only unambiguous net plus for the 9mm is cost.

      1. avatar Hannibal says:

        Since wound cavities close somewhat it’s basically impossible to tell the difference between different wounds except for basics- shotgun, rifle, handgun, raygun, etc until autopsy.

      2. avatar Red says:

        I read a long post by an ER doc who stated that he could tell with 95% certainty if someone had been shot with a .45 or a 9mm. It often made the difference if you could put the patient back together again or not. For example, I remember him saying that the 9mm might chip bone, but the .45 would shatter the bone into a lot of pieces. I am not doing the piece justice, but his ER experience definitely defined the end difference in levels of bodily damage between the two.

        Also, in this article, I think, the be fair, that you not switch to the 1911 when comparing gun capacities. My full-size S&W M&P 45 is standard at 10+1. You can also buy an extended magazine from S&W to increase that to 14+1.

        I actually went the other way. I had my 45 first and only much later bought a Walther Creed 9mm. Having never fired a 9mm, I was surprised that it kicked as much as it did. Granted, it is a shorter barrel. At least to me, not enough difference between the recoil of the two to abandon carrying my M&P often.

        1. avatar RidgeRunner says:

          Same here, I had the .45 Sig years before my first Glock 9 mm. I shoot much better with the Glock, more naturally, more quickly, but I’ll never get rid of the Sig. Needs a trigger job, though, loooooooooooogest trigger pull on Earth. But always goes bang.
          Now that Ruger 10 mm I have my eye own…..

      3. avatar Gov. William J Le Petomane says:

        ‘The small difference in diameter translates into a significantly larger would cavity because volume is a cubic function.’

        Just my observation, first the higher velocity of 9 mm slugs help them to expand at a greater ratio than .45, but given equal expanded diameters and equal energy, the two penetrate to similar depths. But if the ratio of expansion is the same, the .45 usually underpenetrates by quite a bit. Pushing a 7/8″ expanded slug is great if you’ve got enough energy to push it deep enough. Otherwise I’ll take penetration over diameter any day.

        1. avatar tdiinva says:

          Your observation is wrong. The best 9mm expands proportionally the same as the best 45ACP. There is no significant difference in penetration.

    3. avatar Joe says:

      I couldn’t agree with you more, however; inches times inches gives inches squared. Assuming the .096″ you provide is the difference in unexpanded diameter then you need to use .25*pi*(D²-d²) (difference in area) before you multiply it by the wound track resulting in inches cubed (volume). I get a .707 in³ increase in ‘hole size’. While that might sound small it is in fact a 58.3% increase. The slight change in diameter yields significant changes in area (tissue damage). This effect is typically amplified by expanding ammunition (see federal HST). Therefore, .45 rules.

      1. avatar Jim says:

        When I was an LEO, I carried a .45ACP whenever possible…especially after a nasty run-in with a 100+/lb Pit. My Beretta 92 was loaded with Federal 124gr HS non+Ps. It wasn’t pretty.

        Now that I’m in a different career I find myself carrying a variety of 9MMs. Not because I think they have ‘magically’ improved, but due to less time on the range. As such, I shoot a 9MM better. I still love my 1911s, though, now in 9MM instead of .45ACP.

    4. avatar ironicatbest says:

      .45 ACP is magic. . Trash it, bash it…. It’s the best damned hand held man killer ever contrived. It does exatly what it was designed to do……. Led Zeppelin

      1. avatar Thunderkawk says:

        “10mm eats all other semi auto catridges. ” – Fred Zeppelin

      2. avatar raptor jesus says:

        “I eat men” – Freddie Mercury

    5. avatar Scott Boura says:

      Im going to agree. In addition, while this is not necessarily a caliber issue and advantage of a single stack 45 is grip width. Often beginners struggle with the wide grip of a double stack gun. It took me almost 20 years to figure out grip width was the basis of my accuracy problems. The moment I picked up a single stack gun my accuracy improved. I also found the recoil more pleasing . many have described it as a push rather than a snap common with smaller faster calibers. I also agree that anyone who has done any amount of hunting with a handgun has discovered that bigger is better. I dont care what ballistic gelatin appears to demonstrate. Real life shows otherwise. Smaller calibers can penetrate deeper but sacrifice size. Often a 45 caliber slug will penetrate as deep at lower velocity with greater expansion. Also any hunter knows that for unknown reasons bullets can fail to expand. A bullet that starts out bigger to start with even if it fails may be better than a smaller fully expanded slug or at least equal. Ive shot deer with both expanding and hard cast bullets of large handgun caliber. The non expanding cast bullets performed as well if not better the the expanding ones simply due to their large size. Its been said most gunfights are settled in 2-3 shot. Im always amused how many feel 15- 18 rounds is the minimum capacity a self defense weapon should have then claim they are completely comfortable carrying a 5-6 round compact 380 for that same purpose.

    6. avatar DaveDetroit says:

      Excellent comment. Handguns don’t depend on “shock” and temporary wound cavity means nothing in a self defense situation. #1 shot placement. #2 size of hole (only bcz if affects the rate of blood loss).

      The author is correct in that new shooters stand a better chance of ingraining good skills with lighter rounds, which also implies heavier guns. Dry firing can also be a huge help.

    7. avatar ozzallos says:

      A good number of transactions are executed using a suppressed .45acp platform. Damn few of them are on the official procurement list.

    8. avatar Rick Walker says:

      I’ve got a 30sf in 45 .. love it .. I prefer my 226 or ,my 31 in 357 sig . What do I edc shield 9mm hst hp’s 124 gr.

    9. avatar Jim Davis says:

      Thank you JWT for stating it. It cuts bigger holes. I get the 9mm’s advantages. But downplaying that bigger bullets make bigger holes is ignoring their advantages. To each their own, but lets not say that, “it’s as good as this at that,” cause it isn’t. 9 has capacity and low recoil, but bigger bullets make bigger holes.

  5. avatar DrewR says:

    Several years ago on TTAG there was an article about a researcher who study several thousand police and armed citizen DGUs and averaged out the number of hits it took to stop the attacker. Every caliber from 22 to 44 Magnum averaged 2-3 hits to stop, 357 and 44 were closer to 2, 9mm and 40 S&W were closer to 3 and 45 was right in the middle.

    This pretty well demonstrates hat “stopping power” is mostly academic, and shot placement is key. As long as the bullet hits something important caliber is almost irrelevant.

    The places where 45 stands out are in suppressed guns, since the round is already subsonic, and in places where expanding ammunition is not available. The big, slow 45 fmj does a lot more damage in tissue than the small fast 9mm fmj, though not as much as a quality 9mm JHP.

    I agree with the author that 9mm is usually the best starting place for new shooters, not only for its lower recoil, but most importantly for it’s low price per round when training.

    As an aside, rifles of all calibers and shotguns averaged less than 2 shots to stop.

    Carry what you shoot well, and expect to put at least two rounds into your attacker no matter what caliber you carry and you will probably be fine.

    1. avatar tdiinva says:

      I remember the study. The average number of hits for a 45 ACP stop was exactly 2. However, most people use a shoot-shoot-look strategy. Which round stopped the threat — the first? The second? Both?

      The reason that revolvers had lower rounds to stop is most likely their lower rate of fire and capacity. You are more likely to see your assailant stop before the next trigger pull and less likely to fire excess rounds so their will be fewer outlyers to raise the total.

      1. avatar DrewR says:

        Probably true, though you also have to allow for 9mm and 40 trending high because there are far more DGUs with those calibers, due to them being standard issue for police agencies and the most popular for armed citizens. My main point was that there isn’t a substantial advantage one round to another as far as practical application.

        If it came across as me saying 45acp wasn’t more powerful than 9mm, then I apologize, as that is not the case. I merely meant to say that the benefit isn’t enough to offset the increased cost of training, particularly for new shooters.

        Still, in most DGUs the caliber is less important than shot placement, and I stand by my original conclusion – carry what you shoot well and don’t expect anything to be a one shot stopper.

        1. avatar tdiinva says:

          I don’t disagree as far as your average encounter between perp and cop or in a DGU. But when immediate medical help is unavailable or in short supply more people are going to die wit a 45 than a 9 for the same class of wound

    2. avatar neiowa says:

      Shot placement is critical with handgun rounds? ALL handgun rounds. Newsflash. Someone save this information.

      OP needs to retake 1st grade gov;t school math. 115gn (9mm) x 2 = ……………………. 230gm (.45). That IS twice. Way to not start start a caliber feud.

      1. avatar DrewR says:

        I think you misread that, he says the myth is that because it is twice the mass therefore it is twice as powerful, and goes on to explain why it isn’t. He doesn’t say it’s not twice the mass, just that it isn’t twice as powerful.

        In this case a 115 grain 9mm at 1100 fps makes 309 ftlbs and a 230 grain 45 acp at 850 fps only produces 60 more ftlbs.

        1. avatar WadeJ says:

          energy = bullet mass x velocity ^ 2 (squared) so a small change in velocity has a greater impact than a change in bullet mass

  6. avatar Gun Free School Zones are a crime against humanity says:

    What’s really great about the 9mm in comparison to the .45 is ammo cost. I’m willing to bet that most of us are not reloaders. 9mm fmj is just about the cheapest centerfire ammo available. This translates into more shooting, more practice.

    When you take the .45acp out of fairly large, all metal guns it does kick harder. Which requires more practice. Which translates into higher costs. Or you save money by doing less range time.

    My favorite .45 acp handguns are the Glock 21sf and the 1917 S&W. And I’m not a Glock fan. Don’t own one. But if I was to get one it would be the 21sf.

    1. avatar S.Crock says:

      Yes price is a huge benefit of the 9mm! I’m surprised it wasn’t mentioned in the article. A new shooter can afford to get about twice the amount of trigger time with a 9mm as opposed to a .45.

    2. avatar RandallOfLegend says:

      Exactly. 45 ACP is a “Push” out of a full sized 1911. It’s a snap and a whack out of a S&W shield lightweight polymer handgun. IMO 40 S&W and 45 are duty sized calibers. Where 9mm fits better in the ever expanding CCW market.

  7. avatar Pat H says:

    Your absolutely right. A fine cartridge, but not for beginners.

  8. avatar billy-bob says:

    Completely ignores the soul stealing capabilities of the .45.

  9. avatar miforest says:

    with modern ammo like hydra shock and gold saber , the 45 really shines. when expanded , it is yuge.
    I like the 9 and consider it a good carry caliber. in a modern gun , the newer 45 +p are in a league of their own .

    1. avatar Vic Nighthorse says:

      I think the Hydra Shok is at least one iteration of technology behind the state of the art. I was also using Golden Sabers as far back as the mid ’90s I think. I found an old P7 mag I had lost sometime in the late ’90s and it was full of Golden Sabers. HSTs and Ranger Ts outperform both in expansion in gel. Golden Sabers are close though.

      1. avatar Vic Nighthorse says:

        I just looked at my collection of expanded bullets and I am not sure the expanded Gold Sabers have less frontal area than either the Ranger T or HST. They have a smaller max diameter but the other two have pointier petals. Still the bullets have been around quite a while.

    2. avatar S.Crock says:

      I would consider both of those types of ammo out dated and replaced by HST. Except with .38spl. I have not found any round to consistently outperform the 125 grain .38+p golden saber offering out of a 2 inch barrel.

    3. avatar New Continental Army says:

      Also people fail to realize their magic rounds may not expand properly out of their 2-3 inch barrels.

  10. avatar Bob Watson says:

    9mm achieves parity with .45acp because of “-Bullets that benefit from modern manufacturing and technology”. Someday some enterprising ammunition manufacturer will develop and market a round for the .45acp that utilizes this new miracle bullet technology and the .45acp will achieve parity with the .45-70 government.

    1. avatar Vic Nighthorse says:

      Hit for hit the 9mm has not achieved parity with the .45. Other factors being equal the .45 crushes a much larger volume of tissue.

  11. avatar Stephen M says:

    My little sister’s first time out shooting at 18 there was a Walther CCP, S&W’s Shield 9mm, Model 442, and Model 19-4, a Colt 1903, and my Kimber Custom II sitting on the table. She put a magazine/cylinder through everything, then proceeded to shoot (and shoot well) about 300 rounds of .45 ACP.

    She still asks me to buy her a 1911 nine months and one DGU (with the Shield) later. Some people just prefer big guns.

    1. avatar DaveDetroit says:

      Wonderful point! A new shooter should be given the opportunity to find out what works for them rather than being forced into a caliber or style of gun with no experience. Physical makeup and psychological makeup are both factors.

  12. avatar Greg Jones says:

    9mm, double tap, repeat as necessary.
    .45 acp, because shooting twice is just silly.
    Biased humor aside, the best caliber for anyone is the one they can consistently hit the target with.

  13. avatar Richard says:

    True, there are no guaranteed “man stoppers”. I knew a woman hit point blank with as .44 magnum and the bullet sliced the tip of her heart. She not only survived, but recovered quite rapidly (thanks to prompt medical treatment).

    “Recoil” – most shooters, new and old, are bothered more by the noise than by the physical movement of the gun. All those gouges in the ground between the shooting line and the target are caused by the shooter unconsciously pushing the handgun away to get distance from the noise. A super-sonic 9 mm (1125 fps) is more “unpleasant” to shoot than a subsonic, quieter .45 ACP. But, the perception of “recoil” is subjective. I have never had a new shooter with proper hearing protection complain about the recoil of a .45. But, in a real-life gunfight, you likely will not be wearing ear protection. Nor will you hear the noise, or be aware of the physical recoil of the gun; your mind will be pre-occupied with staying alive.

    When I started shooting, the 9 mm was an effective sub gun round. Out of a handgun, it was a toss of the coin, 50/50. Much progress has been made with the cartridge over the years. Today, I would not feel under-gunned with a good 9 mm. The .45 ACP is still my choice.

    1. avatar Musician says:

      I like and agree with what you just wrote. I never give a thought to recoil, but noise is another matter.

  14. avatar GS650G says:

    I have the PPQ in 9mm and .45 ago. I prefer the 9mm because of less recoil. That’s my .02.

    1. avatar Husky says:

      I switch to a PPQ .45, from a Sig Sauer P220 .45, about 6 months ago. I switched initially because I like having 12 + 1 on tap. I stayed with the PPQ BECAUSE IT HAS THE BEST TRIGGER I HAVE EVER ENCOUNTERED IN A POLYMER STRIKER FIRED DOUBLE STACK AUTOMATIC. MY $0.05 WORTH, SORRY FOR SHOUTING I’M USING VOICE TEXT

  15. avatar Jay in Florida says:

    I carried a 45 1911 in one form or another for over 30 years.
    Recently as in the last 6 months Ive bough 3 plastic fantastic 9mm striker fired guns. In a word I hate them, compared to a 1911 with a SA trigger.
    But.
    With on average 4-12 rounds more in the gun and using my same shooting skills. Honed with a single action trigger. I am carrying a 9mm daily for now.
    Ive learned to maybe hate the 9mm a little less. More bullets per gun a bit less weight and I can shoot any gun well with enough practice.
    Saving some money every week too. 9mm vs 45acp costs.
    I still luvs my 45s and always will. I cant say how long before Im back to my 45 full time.
    But Im sure I will be eventually.

  16. avatar Ed Rogers says:

    I don’t have either 9mm or .45acp in my inventory. Good article though.

  17. avatar JohnS says:

    Glock 21 usually ships with 13-round mags. Glock 30 ships with 10-round mags, but I’ve found mine don’t function reliably with 10, so I stop at 9. (I have more than the mags that came with the gun, purchased at different times from different places, and all of mine have that issue.)

    Not the same as 15 or 17 or 19 in a 9mm.

  18. avatar james e michael says:

    I can’t fault the author . Valid points . I been carrying a 1911 frame full size concealed since 1965 . So , for me , it’s fight like you train .

  19. avatar Vic Nighthorse says:

    Josh, your post title sounds like a Huffington Post title. It sounds pompous.

  20. avatar Nanashi says:

    “Expect prices from $500-5,000.”

    You can get a Rock Island for 410 after transfer. A solid, basic, milspec 1911 that, according to Battlefield Vegas, lasts longer than most of the more expensive ones.

  21. avatar Tyler says:

    I’ve shot quite a variety of calibers and guns in my 35 years, and I regularly concealed carry a full size 1911(yes it is quite possible). All in all, I have found that I generally shoot the 45acp better than the 9mm, and I always have. Not that there is anything wrong with 9mm, modern rounds have proven as good or better than 45acp. In fact I keep trying to find the magic gun in 9mm that I shoot better than my 1911, but so far it has avoided me.

    1. avatar Darkstar says:

      Not being a smart ass, but how about one of the 9mm 1911’s. There’s some really good ones out there.

      1. avatar tdiinva says:

        I have a SA Range Officer in 9mm. Great gum for the range but it has a tendency to throw brass in my face.

        1. avatar Shallnot BeInfringed says:

          So, it lives up to it’s name, eh? LOL

          Mine is a .45 Champion… but I’ve never shot it in competition, so I really don’t know.

  22. avatar Christopher Erickson says:

    First firearm was a .45 4″ Colt 1911, my second was a HK P7M8 9mm. Love both calibers just the same. It is more about the platform than caliber that can make a difference. Of course I like both Miracle Whip and mayonnaise…so what do I know?

    1. avatar Sherwood says:

      Best post of the day.

      1. avatar Just Sayin says:

        ^haha
        exactly.

        have ya ever tried 50/50 mayo AND mustard on a ham sandwich?
        *plewww* (mind blown)

        1. avatar Darkstar says:

          Mustard/Mayo is frigging awesome!

        2. avatar Toni says:

          yep love it. i like to make my own mustard though. have not yet tried to make my own mayo

  23. avatar neiowa says:

    I’ve owned a 17rd double stack 9mm since 1984. 9mm is, and always will be, a eurowussie round. .45 is AMERICAN Red, White, and Blue.

    It did take Yankees to finally develop useful projectiles for the 9mm.

  24. avatar Russell Samson says:

    357 Sig. Thank you

    1. avatar Just Sayin says:

      The 357 Sig… When Worlds Collide

  25. avatar Steve Graham says:

    I carry only the 45acp in a 1911 BUT, the author is correct.

  26. avatar New Continental Army says:

    “That article wasn’t meant to be a ‘caliber wars’ hit piece.“

    Proceeds to write a caliber wars hit piece. Then, in an article devoted to .45, proceeds to spend 3/4s of that article yammering about how godlike 9mm is and how “obsolete” .45 is.

    You know what? I’m calling it. 9mm fan bois are now officially the most annoying fan bois, surpassing even the .45 worshippers of the 90s. Next article, “why 9mm is superior to .50 BMG and why NASA should carry it to blow up asteroids”.

    1. avatar Gun Free School Zones are a crime against humanity says:

      Naw, the most annoying fan bois are the Glocksters.

      1. avatar Just Sayin says:

        Nope.
        It”s anybody with a closed mind.

        1. avatar Gun Free School Zones are a crime against humanity says:

          Which brings us back to the Glocksters.

  27. avatar Emerson Cat says:

    I purchased my first handgun last year. A 1911 in 45 acp. I’m a beginner and understand the author has much more experience than myself. There are many issues brought up in articles like this that don’t apply to many people like me. First of all, many of us live in states that limit magazine capacity to ten so being able to have a magazine with 12, 15 or 17 rounds of 9mm just isn’t an option. I have 10 round magazines for my 1911 so I have no disadvantage in capacity. Secondly, many gun owners will never have the option of concealed carry so the larger size of a many guns chambered in .45 is not an issue. My 1911 in .45 gets back on target easier than several of the 9mm’s I have tried. Recoil really not an issue. I’ve fired 9mm’s that were much less comfortable to shoot than my .45.For many of us the only disadvantage is the cost of ammo.

    1. avatar Musician says:

      And cost is not an issue for a lot of people. When I go to the range with 3 different caliber handguns, I shoot more rounds from the .45 ACP than the others. And I bring the same number of rounds for each, it’s just that I shoot better with the 1911 and like I already said, money is not even on my mind. And I am a financially poor person. People indulge the things they like and never blink an eye about it (X-Box 360, Smartphones, Computers, motorcycles, whatever).

      1. avatar Toni says:

        that would be tools and guns for me…. still dont have many guns….. have a few tools. get many of the materials for projects for nothing. about to build a blacksmiths forge and in the next few months should have a good little shed up. that will be for my tools, my reloading bench and a small lathe/milling machine. wood heater for the house made of old truck brake drums….. and will be as good as a bought one if not better.

  28. avatar matthew dosser says:

    STI makes a fantastic .45 with a recoil master.
    It’s double stack and easy to shoot.
    That being said I carry a STI 2011 9mm higher capacity and easier to shoot

  29. avatar ironicatbest says:

    Ho ha, I’m going out n shoot my ,1911 right now, cause all this talk just wants to make me shoot it. Damn I guy shouldn’t like a gun this much, is that weird?

    1. avatar Toni says:

      nope…. i wish i could just go to the range whenever.

  30. avatar Isaac says:

    My advice is simple:
    1. Don’t buy a snowflake gun for your first gun (there are plenty of makers out there who make a great family of guns in many different sizes/colors/calibers/options… I like Glock), just stick to the big basic brands, trust me when you’re parts or holster shopping it helps!
    2. Start with 9mm. Bigger mag capacity, less recoil and frankly the ammunition is usually easiest to find; why wouldn’t you start there?
    3. TRAIN!!!!! (yes practice and classes cost time and money but it’s worth it)
    4. Expand your collection only after you know what in the hell you are actually doing. (Can you do a reload in under 3 seconds? Can you put rounds on a target accurately past 10-15 yards? Can you holster/draw proficiently? If not why do you really think another gun will help you?)

  31. avatar Hannibal says:

    I prefer the recoil impulse of the .45 to many other rounds, including hotter 9mm (‘defensive’) loads. It may be more force, but it feels spread out more.

    The capacity depends what you feel you need. I’m reasonably comfortable carrying a .357 revolver so obviously I’m not too worried about facing down 7 ninjas at once and needing those 16 rounds plus two reloads.

    That said, in some states 10 is all the rounds you can legally have in a firearm (well, 11). In those instances the 9mm loses a LOT of its benefit; there are plenty of concealable guns that hold 10 .45 rounds and shoot well. As for me, if I need to go smaller we start to get into situations where I want something REALLY small, like a .380.

  32. avatar johnny go lightly says:

    No one has mentioned MOMENTUM. 45 230 ball has 25% the mo as 124gr 9mm. More better.

    http://www.handloads.com/calc/quick.asp

  33. avatar Onyx's Valet says:

    I am a pretty small guy at 5’6″ and about 135. When I first started shooting I wanted to try my boss’ 1911 in .45ACP. I expected to be knocked on my ass by the recoil and was amazed at how manageable it was. I loved the single action trigger and the external and grip safety. Needless to say I soon purchased a 1911 of my own. Even with my slight frame I was able to conceal a full sized 1911 in a concealed holster.

    Now years later I am down to one firearm. A Sig Saur 1911 ultracompact still in .45ACP. Small, lightweight I use RA45TP which is a +P to make up for the short barrel. The rounds open to almost a full inch when fired into water bottles. Looks scary to everyone I show it to.

    So even a beginner who is small can handle and conceal a full sized 1911. My Les Baer had over 20,000 rounds through it when it got stolen. Great trigger makes me still love the 1911 – always in .45ACP. In fact I have never even fired a 9mm. Got to try it someday.

  34. avatar Disgruntled Floridian says:

    What’s nice about the 45 ACP is, if your gun is rated for +P ammo, you can use the gun to double up as a conceal carry and woods gun with 45 Super or 45 SMC.

  35. avatar FlamencoD says:

    I choose 9mm because:
    -Price
    -Capacity
    -Easier to shoot accurately

    I admit I do want a 5″ .45 ACP for the woods, carrying 230 gr or higher, FMJFP +p. I just don’t go into the woods that often, so when I do, I usually carry a 9mm 147 gr FMJFP +p.

  36. avatar Bob Shirley says:

    I have both a 1911 and a Glock 21 that are set up for .45 Super, just to compliment my several different 10mm platforms. I think any .45 acp 1911, manufactured anywhere outside the Khyber Pass, since WWII, is up to at least limited use of +P ammunition. That does not mean they are necessarily up to .45 Super, even with the standard modificstions.

  37. avatar Accur81 says:

    My issues with .45 are high weight, high cost, and low capacity. A thousand rounds of 230 grain JHPs weighs a lot more than 1000 rounds of 180 grain or 124 grain JHPs. The 9mm is very efficient by weight and cost, hence why it is such a popular military caliber. Ditto for the 5.56.

    I own a bunch of handgun calibers so I’m nore into logistics than individual calibers.

  38. avatar Dusty says:

    What a hack job. FNX + 45 Super rounds vs any 9MM platform with any loads.

    Sig 22+1 with +P+ 9MM rounds? FNX still has a substantial advantage.

  39. avatar John says:

    I agree completely…the .45 usually isn’t the optimum for beginners. I love the .45 but have probably shot 300,000-500,000 rounds with one. A well made 9mm is definitely good for breaking into shooting. My wife had never touched any firearms until we decided to get into it, I got her a Sccy in the color she liked that came with 2, 10 round magazines. Three days at the range over a couple weeks and she easily qualified for her carry permit.

  40. avatar AZRob says:

    I’m a fan of the .45 acp cartridge.
    I’ve owned several pistols in that caliber.
    I’ll mention one which is often overlooked and gets little fanfare which is puzzling to me.
    The .38 super auto.
    Try one in a 1911.
    It just might be your favorite 1911.
    Some of the better .38 super loads exceed .45 acp performance.
    Corbon’s 125 gr. JHP is advertised at 1,400 fps from a 5 inch barrel.

  41. avatar AZRob says:

    I’m a fan of the .45 acp cartridge.
    I’ve owned several pistols in that caliber.
    I’ll mention one which is often overlooked and gets little fanfare which is puzzling to me.
    The .38 super auto.
    Try one in a 1911.
    It just might be your favorite 1911.
    Some of the better .38 super loads exceed .45 acp performance.

  42. avatar CHRIS says:

    I have for years loved my 1911’s and that is as far as I will go in messing with a .45 ACP… I personally for around 10 years have carried nothing but my Glock 29 10mm… Yes the ammo is a little harder to find and a little more expensive than your more widely used rounds. I have also noticed in the past little bit that it seems that the 10mm is making a comeback… I tell anyone with a .45 ACP fetish that likes to put down the 10mm to just compare the ballistics between the two. The 10mm’s velocity at range matched with its kinetic energy is the best in a semi automatic frame unless you prefer to carry a 10 pound Desert Eagle and the Glock 29 is a relitively compact gun with a 10+1 capacity.. With it also having a dual recoil spring it is remarkably easy to control which you want here much from a 10mm platform… I suggest everyone find somebody who owns a Glock 29 and get a feel of the 10mm in a small package…

  43. avatar Max says:

    .45 acp is inherently subsonic. While that might not be something of interest to true beginners, it is for beginning suppressor owners.

    I save 5 cents a shot with a suppressed .45 as I would with a subsonic 9mm.

  44. avatar Gary says:

    I’ve been reading stuff for over 40 years & all you have to do to start the ball rolling is mention 9mm and 45acp in the same paragraph. I think the 45 is not good for new folks. I have a couple, but simply because of my age and experience. Ammo improvements over the decades ended this argument over a decade ago. It does not matter any more. Like always it’s having the correct projectile and shot placement. Where and only where the 45 is better is with the full metal jacket. Old guys carry 45’s because it’s what we learned on. If I was as concerned as most the fans of the 45 seem to be; it would be a moot point as I’d be carrying a 10mm, hot as I could buy em, with the heaviest bullet I could find. If you hit better with the 9mm then that’s exactly what you should use with the same ammo as police and security forces use.

  45. avatar David Nelson says:

    The 45 also has a report that might stun a new user who’s firing it for self-defense with out ear protection. Not to say this wouldn’t happen with a 9mm or 40 Smith… Personal I carry a 357 revolver… Loud and proud.. I had to pulll it once in a raid rage situation. as I cut off a guy in my blind spot unintentionally… He braked infrount of my truck and blocked me in. He jumped out his car with a large knife in hand. I pulled my 357 took aim and yelled STOP OR I’ll BE FORCED TO DEFEND MYSELF. After one look at my impressive weaponry…. Well I wasn’t forced to defend myself.. I just stood their holding my ground as his tail light’s got smaller and smaller. Thanks Mr Ruger.

  46. avatar Pilgrim_Shadow says:

    Starting a new shooter with any major caliber handgun means you should rethink your roll as firearms instructor.
    You wouldn’t put a noob motorcycle-rider on a Road Glide as a first ride.
    The considerate teacher starts the novice with what will inspire confidence and safe skills.
    Most of us probably started with 22lr – tiny, but also quite lethal, and 25 & 32acp kill a lot of people too.
    As for 45acp being “obsolete”?
    38 S&W or 10mm maybe, and 9mm is senior to 45acp.

  47. avatar MilitantCentrist says:

    Makes a number of sound, objective comparisons with 9mm. Then calls one of the current top three center-fire pistol cartridges “categorically obsolete”.

    ob·so·lete. adjective. 1. no longer produced or used; out of date.

    Fail.

  48. avatar burley says:

    I thought this article would be as informative about the .45ACP as the 9mm one was. I was wrong. It ended up being a list of reasons why you should buy a plastic 9mm. Try and remember that at one time, new shooters had to pick from .38 special or .45ACP.
    Beginners somehow managed, even when they chose the venerable 1911(ironically, largely because of the capacity advantage). Maybe next time focus on the important points about the actual caliber in the title…

  49. avatar TB says:

    I agree with most of what the author states. But the statements everyone these days makes is comparing calibers based solely on who penetrates ballistic gelatin the farthest. Well no kidding a smaller diameter traveling faster will penetrate deeper. That is just basic physics. But what concerns me is these days ammo manufacturers are designing rounds to perform in ballistic gelatin because that’s what everyone talks and writes about. But humans, and animals are not made of gelatin. There is none, muscle, ligaments, tendons, organs and fat. Secondly where people speak of stopping power what you should speak to is energy transfer. It’s more the temporary wound channel or shock send through the body that incapacitates a subject. For example you are sitting in a standard family sedan like a taurus, accord etc. You are stopped and a vehicle is about to hit you head on at 30 mph. I guarantee everyone would choose to be hit by a smart car instead of a Suburban. We all know which one of those is more like to injure or ki you and your family.

    Don’t get me wrong. I live the 9mm. I carry one every day. And the bullet technology has come a long way from the 80’s and early 90’s when it got a bad name for stopping power. That was due mainly to most departments using the 147 grain subsonic because they were worried about over penetration. Those rounds were designed for use in an MP-5 submachine gun not a handgun.
    To be honest I don’t feel a huge difference in recoil between the 2. The 9 has more of a muzzle flip while the 45 has more of push back. I prefer the pushback because it’s easier to keep the gun on target Vs the muzzle flip. The author writes he likes the shield 45. I have both the 9 and 45 shield. Basically find what you like and shoot well and research your ammo choice well. You’ll be fine either way if you hit your target. Both will do the job. Let’s just hope that someday we start testing in a more realistic sure stance than gelatin. Let’s throw some bone, organs etc in there as well to get a more realistic result. Not just from caliber to caliber but which rounds within a caliber are better. Because I’m pretty sure I’ll never be in a life or deaths shootout with a block of gelatin.

    1. avatar johnny go lightly says:

      That is where hunting comes in. I would like more input from pig hunters for instance on bullet and cartridge combo performance.

  50. avatar Glenn S says:

    Please do a review of .357 Sig.

  51. avatar achmed says:

    Excellent article thank you

  52. avatar mcnabb100 says:

    I’m about to buy a glock 21. Not for “stopping power” or anything like that. Mainly because 230grn ball is subsonic and easier to find than subsonic 9mm. Should make an excellent supressor host.

  53. avatar Bill says:

    With all due respect, I think the logic behind your dismissal of the .45 because it isn’t an ideal conceal carry cartridge is flawed. Beginners should not be carrying concealed firearms of any caliber.

  54. avatar Daniel Tracy says:

    The difference between 45 and 9mm is that 45 delivers more of it’s energy into the target, where as the 9mm goes through the target retaining more kinetic energy. That is what stopping power is. It’s not a myth. This is why the 45 is a more devastating round.

  55. avatar updateSC_Joe says:

    My perspective on beginners with .45 handguns changed after my experience with my daughter. When she began shooting I didn’t introduce her to anything larger than a 9 because I was thinking that a frail little girl wouldn’t like the recoil or the additional weight of anything larger. I’m now much wiser (or less stupid)…once she tried shot my 1911, she wouldn’t shoot anything but 45s until I made her start purchasing her own ammo. Now she competitively shoots 9s and I can’t help but think her overall accuracy and control benefitted from her experience with a .45.

  56. avatar Jross says:

    Oof, someone just shot me!

    *phew* good, it was only a .45 acp! So I was only hit with 7 bullets instead of 16, stopping power is a myth anyway, the guy that shot me had to deal with a lot of recoil (serves them right for shooting me!), he had to pay more for those bullets, AND the bullets that went into me didn’t really perform better than say a 9mm! Let’s not get into the fact it took them longer to become proficient with shooting a 45 and how it’s just hyped up because it was used in WW2!

    Looks like I’ll be fine.

  57. avatar little horn says:

    i love it for reloading, as you stated. haven’t actually shot it in years since i sold my 1911 to buy an AR. for some reason, it seems more fun to shoot at the range than a 9mm but thats not the point here.

    anyway, bullets are like shovels. they all have their specific design and intended use. you CAN use a gravel shovel to dig holes but man i wouldn’t want to.

  58. avatar raptor jesus says:

    Power is a stupid argument. Otherwise we should all just carry 10mm.

    Look at the size of the holes it makes.

    Some self defense rounds in .45 ACP expand to 1″

    Your 9mm maximum expansion is 3/4″

    https://www.luckygunner.com/labs/self-defense-ammo-ballistic-tests/#45ACP

  59. avatar Alex says:

    Perhaps not the caliber of choice for a concealed carry beginner (especially with a small gun) but, there are several advantages to 45acp which you leave out. As you correctly state there is not much difference in muzzle energy between the two calibers (though 45 does have a slight advantage) however, the 9mm has a greater chance of overpenetrating whereas the 45 is more likely to dump all of its energy into the target. Also, the 9mm does have more capacity in all platforms as it is a smaller round overall. Hangun calibers do not kill via the force of the projectile. Instead they do so through hitting a critical area and causing bloodloss. Shot placement is everything and with modern hollow points 45 expands to well over a one inch hole in the body offering a greater chance of hitting something critical and causing faster bloodloss. Capacity is important to some but, unless you live in Fallujah your unlikely to need 16 rounds. I for one gravitate to making larger holes over more holes.

  60. avatar cisco kid says:

    The Article was well done article and honestly written.

    Pistolero Magazine in the 1980’s shot barn yard pigs in Mexico to get around U.S. animal cruelty laws and found no difference in killing power between the .357 mag, 38 special, 9×19 and .45 acp. They said the pigs jumped higher and squealed louder when shot with the 9×19 compared to the .45 acp. Pigs were chosen because they are anatomically very close to humans the only difference being that pigs are much better behaved.

    The bullet diameter difference between a .45 and a 9mm is a scant 1/10 of an inch proving how asinine the idea is that 1/10 of an inch would make that much difference in killing power.

    The Philippine war myth was complete bullshit dreamed up by prostitute gun writers trying to sell guns of Colt. Jan Liboural now retired gun writer researched U.S. Military records and found no documentation what-so-ever claiming the .45 acp worked any better than the 38 long Colt or 45 Long Colt as all were complained about by the Military including the 30/40 Kraig. The only weapon that seemed to kill the women that the U.S. Storm troopers raped and tortured was the .12 Ga. shotgun that killed them quicker. This is were the most real life evidence came from about killing power not the mythical Moro Warriors that supposedly turned into zombies by taking drugs or chewing jungle leaves. It was a gun writer bull shit story completely.

    In the book “The Ingles Diamond” there is a passage describing the 1945 U.S. Military test that found the .45 acp was an anemic failure as it failed to even penetrate a military helmet at a scant 35 yards while the 9×19 penetrated the helmet at an astonishing 125 yards and might have been able to do it even further away than that but no one succeeded in hitting the helmet beyond 125 yards. Its astonishing that the U.S. Military did not do this test until 35 years after they adopted this worthless military cartridge.

    Firepower and penetration are paramount in combat and the .45 acp lacks both as compared to the 9×19 .30 Tokarev, and the .30 Mauser cartridges, 9nn Largo and 9mm Styer. All were superior to the worthless .45 acp.

    Its interesting to note only one other Nation (Norway) adopted the .45 acp cartridge while the entire world used mostly the 9×19 and some the .30 Tokarev.

    One of the most famous WWII battles came of all places in China a war almost unknown here in the U.S. Mao Zedong’s army was blocked from crossing a bridge by Chiang Kai-shek’s forces who were well entrenched in machine gun nests sweeping the bridge and the bridge had been blown leaving only some support wires still hanging. Big mistake. Mao’s men with Mauser Broom Handle pistols went hand over hand using the supporting wires and wiped out the machine gun nests with deadly devastating fire from their Mauser Broom Handle pistols that had a velocity of near 1,450 fps which is totally superior in penetration and shock to the anemic .45 acp loping along at a measly 835 fps.

    My own testing for penetration was similar to the U.S. military testing of 1945 only instead of a helmet I used brand new 55 gallon steel drums. The load was a hard cast Lyman 225 grain Bullet loaded up to max velocity of about 825 fps. It only managed to barely penetrate one side of the steel drum while the 9×19 using hard cast Lyman 124 grain bullet actually loaded way down to just barely cycle the slide easily zipped through both sided of the steel drum proving what a worthless piece of shit the .45 acp really is as anyone hiding behind that drum would have been as safe as if he had been inside a German Tiger Tank.

    I have shot large White Tale Deer with the 9×19 and its penetration, especially as the range increased, was totally superior to the .45 acp and I never had a problem with a White Tail not succumbing to a properly placed shot. Wound a deer even with a .12 gauge shot gun and they can run for over a mile. Its no fun trailing a deer that far believe me especially when you get older.

    The 9×19 because of its higher velocity has a much flatter trajectory making hits at longer ranges superior to the looping trajectory of the anemic velocity of the .45 acp.

    Anyone who has ever been in combat knows that the more firepower you have the more likely you are to survive. You do not have to worry about re-loading as much and you can lay down a devastating barrage of fire power when moving to better cover or even any cover. The guy that runs out of ammo is usually the guy laying there dead with an empty gun in his hand, its exactly why the cops ditched their revolvers so fast the guns caught fire being thrown away so the cops could get their hands on high capacity 9mm guns. In Nam one guy got the bright idea the auto shot gun would be the most devastating weapon he could use and for 6 shots it was until he ran out of ammo and was found dead trying to re-load it. The revolver and the .45 acp 1911 pistol had the same problem in WWII as the cops had later in time.

    It was no accident that the most coveted combat pistol by the Axis powers both in Europe and in the Asian conflict by both the Japanese and Chinese was none other than the totally superior FN and Canadian High Power 9×19 pistols. One Japanese Air Force General was actually convinced at the end of WWII to stay on in China and help train the Chinese Air Force after he had consistently said he would not was when they finally made him an offer he could not refuse, they gave him a new Canadian High Power Pistol and he then agreed to stay.

    I personally found out through interviewing WWII Vets that the 1911 was not the loved pistol Gun Writers have tried to claim, just the opposite. The 1911 pistol of WWII had such lousy workmanship and was so inaccurate that many G.I.s who were not accomplished pistol shots anyway did not trust they could hit anything with it even at close range. One G.I. I spoke with said at night on guard duty he preferred the fire power of the M1 Carbine over the inaccuracy and low capacity of the 1911 pistol. Many other G.I.’s I spoke with used the P38 which created a sensation with its double action mechanism and some spoke highly of the Polish Radom as well but the FN High Power was the gun both the Allied and the Germans all wanted in their hands. Its firepower and penetration were very much desired. It was no contest with two magazines which gave them 26 rounds of firepower over the 1911’s only 14 with two magazines and the fact they had to re-load many more times as well.

    It was also known that a good shot could get off at least 2 rounds by the time the fellow using the hard kicking .45 acp got off just one and many G.I.s did not shoot the hard kicking .45 acp as well as they did the more soft recoiling 9×19.

    In conclusion the 9×19 wins hands down, flatter trajectory, higher velocity, lower recoil, higher capacity and firepower, more concealable, more rapid recovery between shots and because of lower recoil the ability to make hits more easily and every bit as deadly.

    1. avatar NCA says:

      Here you are with that fake story again. You’ve changed the yards since you first began posting this drivel as well.

  61. avatar Steven E. Fuchs says:

    One advantage to a standard 45acp round would be it’s subsonic speed when using a suppressor. I personally have loaded 45 acp cartridges using the proper brass all the way up to medium 44 magnum power levels lets see you so that with a 9×19. Case volume is generous for an automatic pistol and allows many different loads. As far as the difference in bore diameters, a larger diameter doesn’t require REQUIRE a bullet to expand for the same size wound channel and can be more barrier blind. However, I do agree that the 45acp is not for the beginner and does have more recoil when using a heavy bullet or a hot load. And that is another point I have never seen 255grain 9×19.

  62. avatar Ryan Pennington says:

    If you want more than 9mm ….. 40 S&W
    Why pay more for 45 acp when .40 is cheaper and is basically the same power and you get a few more rounds.
    I know .40 is getting crapped on lately but it’s what I think is the perfect balance for a handgun caliber.
    A bump in the night at my place is meet with .40 cal 135 grain HP projectiles at about 1350 fps.
    I think that will get the job done without going through the neighbor’s house.

  63. avatar Michael Fallon says:

    You forgot to mention another good concealed carry .45acp. Kahr P45/CW45 and PM45. They say that today’s ammunition is so good, that there is little difference in stopping power between. 9mm/40SW/45acp. That may be true now, but throughout history the .45acp has a well documented history of putting bad guys down for good. The one that stands out to me, is Medal of Honor recipient Sgt Alvin York in WWI, killing seven German soldiers, with his Colt 1911 with one single magazine. The ammo was 230 grain ball. There is nothing wrong with your higher capacity argument, except one thing. Most gunfights according to stats, is three rounds fired, in three seconds. Even doubling that, and you still have ammo left. If you can quickly change magazines in a couple of seconds, or less, your good. Yes, I agree, the 45acp is for more seasoned experienced professionals, as it has more recoil. The 45acp is far from obsolete. Obsolete? Your nuts! Tell that to dozens of Police SWAT units that use .45acp 1911s, or Army Delta Force or Marine Corps Special Forces units. They sure as hell, don’t think the 45acp is obsolete. Get schooled.

    1. avatar raptor jesus says:

      Except all of the aforementioned SWAT, Delta Force and Marine Corp are switching to 9mm . . .

  64. avatar koolaidguzzler says:

    I see there’s still far too many shooters who didn’t get the memo that “stopping power” is myth. It’s a myth. Please stop referring to it as if it’s real.

  65. avatar Mike says:

    There are many units outside the US that have tons of experience, Israeli SF, SAS, SBS. All use 9mm. primarily Hi Powers, Glocks Sigs. Do you hear them wanting a 1911 in 45ACP?
    If you cannot stop your attacker with a Glock 19 then you are in a lot of trouble and a 45ACP would not be any better.
    All pistol rounds Suck.

    9mm is cheaper, I will shoot more. I do like to shoot 10mm, 45ACP and .22lr. But when it comes down to price, concealment, parts availability 9mm Glocks win.

    Best pistol a new gun owner could buy would be a .22, and 4 bricks of ammo.
    I have seen plenty of GSWs from handguns, they all look the same a do the same type of damage.

  66. avatar Dyspeptic Gunsmith says:

    The .45 ACP is a fine “beginner’s cartridge.” It was the first centerfire cartridge I fired as a pre-teen, in WWII-era 1911’s. It has been a fine cartridge for years and years. It is a low pressure cartridge, much lower pressure than the modern handgun cartridges from the 1930’s onwards.

    Concerns about recoil are mostly academic. In a 1911/Government model, the recoil is quite manageable. I’ve taught more than a dozen women how to shoot with a 1911 as their first centerfire pistol, including my wife. She doesn’t like the noise of centerfire pistols, but her first shot was in the X at 50 feet, and she put the next seven rounds into either the 9 or 10 ring. She shoots my 1911’s better than I do.

    Now, here’s a caveat: reloading the .45 ACP isn’t where the .45 ACP is a a beginner’s cartridge. It is possible, depending on which pistol powder you choose, to nearly triple-charge a .45 ACP case, with the sort of disasters you’d expect from such an overload. When you’re reloading these WWI (or before).

    For those who are comparing the ballistics of the .45 ACP to the 9×19 Luger, there have been several developments in this area. If you’re reloading, the .45 ACP +P brass allows you to increase the pressures by 10% or so. The .45 Super brass allows you to jump up the pressures more dramatically, with results when loaded with a 185gr pill that are closing in on the 10mm Auto.

  67. avatar Aaron says:

    lots and lots and lots of beginners started shooting with .45s back in WWII…and afterwards when surplus guns and ammo were relatively cheap.

    But today, a 9 is probably a better beginner choice. During a sale, a new shooter can get a Ruger Security 9 for imcredibly cheap, and 9mm ammo is usually much cheaper than .45 ammo.

    And yet, there very few things more fun than slinging giant .45 caliber “musket balls” downrange from a 1911.

  68. avatar Slovko says:

    I think another significant reason why the .45 remained popular, until recently, was due to the 94 Assault Weapon Ban. In the mid-to-late 90’s, many people, such as myself, were just coming of age to buy their first handguns. At the time, unless you were able to get your hands on a pre-ban mag, automatics were limited to a maximum of 10 rounds. The naturally limited capacity of a .45 seemed far less significant compared to today, when standard capacity for a 9mm is typically between 15 and 20 rounds.

  69. avatar USSR says:

    Hmm. Trying to figure out if the writer is biased or just plain ignorant.

  70. avatar Big Al says:

    Simple truth – there is NO better “beginner” cartridge than the 22LR. NONE!

  71. avatar Chris says:

    Great article but it is definitely misleading as well. The 9mm and the 45 are both viable self defense rounds with the proper bullet and load. You state 9mm as going as high as 1500 fps… That’s a seriously smoking round, either a severly underweight for caliber +p or a +p+ definitely not typical. If you compare apples to apples most 9mm carry 124 grain these days. In a +p format you looking at about 1250 fps and about 435 or so ftlbs of energy. That’s a serious 9mm round… When. Compared to 45 acp +p (apples to apples here) you would typically see a 185 grain and see velocities up to 1300 fps… At 1250 fps you get about 595 ftlbs of energy. That’s like 160 ftlbs of energy more for the +p 45! Add in typical expansion and penetration, the 45 typically expands well as does the 9mm but the 9mm generally penetrates deeper in FBI test through various obstructions then into gel… But in personal defense unless someone is chasing you down in a car all you have to worry about truly is energy and expansion. 45 wins again… Now for a noob shooter 9 mm may be better for capacity and felt recoil no doubt there but seriously unless there are multiple assailants you shouldn’t need more than 1 hitting round for serious deterrence or 2 for incapacitants. Add in 2 more for misses… So in a typical format a 45 would get you two down and one deterred and a 9mm would get you 3 down and 1 either down or deterred. Who doesn’t carry extra mags anyway? In this case 9mm wins due to capacity but for a serious shoot you don’t need that many bullets, plinking is another consideration entirely. Cost wise 45 is about 10-15% more per round than 9mm. So in short 9mm is a great self defense rounds, so is 45acp. You just need to choose a platform and caliber that fits you regardless of experience. Train with it and any ammo will do, hell the 22 has the best ratio of rounds per incapacitants… I choose 45 because it is for me more fun to shoot.

  72. My father was a world war 2 veteran and i go by what he sed, it is nothing better than a 45 acp for self defense, home or carry, what he see in the war and what a 45 acp can do then and today, is no other gun that can do it.
    And i believe my father. He was expert in rifle, pistol, 45 machinegun.

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