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A dear friend came to me the other day for advice on his first firearm purchase. After a lively dinner, we determined that he really wanted a semi-automatic centerfire handgun. The night was young. Our local gun shop closed at eight.

Here’s the deal, folks. Thanks to the FBI, there’s a manageable wimp load in every caliber. Thanks to the interwebs, anything is “cheap enough” when bought by the case. I’m more concerned with whether a newbie wants chocolate, vanilla, or strawberry than whether they wind up with an equally high-quality ice cream, fro-yo, or custard. All I wanted to do was show a guy his options before hitting the range, permit in hand.

So there we were, taking an hour to go through the inventory. With a wink and a nod, an older salesman starts feeding me objets d’art as I go over their history, takedown, and mechanism with a growing group of customers. It was a grand old time. Ladies, do I need a life or what?

Now, I kid you not, there’s this guy down the counter dressed like the black-leather Liberace of country music. He’s been inching closer the whole time.

“So, what do you think of the Kimber,” he asks. “Beautiful guns, dependable too. But they’re so expensive to shoot, you know, and .45s only holds seven rounds. I hear the caliber is unreliable. Besides, isn’t the nine a way better stopper?”

“Actually, sir, you can get .45s holding over a dozen rounds.” His pupils dilated like a kid on Christmas as I pointed out the options. “When it comes to ‘stopping power’ nothing is perfect. A 9mm can be a great option but the .45 has an outstanding reputation.”

“Oh yeah!” pitched in a young clerk. “Modern technology has totally changed the nine…hotter charges, better bullets, they work every time. Most people just can’t control anything more than a 9mm. Besides, handguns are ineffective: they only get you to a rifle!”

And on they go, talking about calibers as customers disperse. It was late. I was tired. Just show my friend the Beretta 92 so I can go home.


A few months ago, I stopped by a local big box; let’s call it Gosling Foothill. I was a GLOCK guy feeling guilty about not having an all-metal gun, namely a 1911. It couldn’t hurt to “just look”, right? There’s a bunch of staff with nothing to do, so I ask to see a Para in the case.

“What, you want to see one of those?” asks the young woman behind the counter. “You don’t want one of these jam-o-matics. Besides, no one can really control a .45.”

She hands me the Para.

“Nine is where it’s at. You should get a Walther CCP. It’s the best pistol I’ve ever shot. I’m a shotgun girl, but I figured I should have a centerfire handgun so I got it last Christmas. I’ll never need another! Here, these are really nice.”

She hands me a Kimber. 1911. In .45.

“Yeah, when it comes to defense, you just need to shoot real fast, poke lots-a holes. That’s why you can’t beat the nine: capacity is king! Plus, modern bullets move slower and cause more damage. It’s all about shot placement. That’s why I use a shotgun….”


“You look like a smart guy. 1911s jam, you know, and trust me, you’ll never control a .45 like a 9mm. You have no reason to buy anything other than a 9mm. Don’t be an idiot.”

I ask to see a forty. Just for kicks.

Rolling her eyes, she loses interest and starts chatting with coworkers. In her defense, they didn’t exactly pitch in.

Rem 115gr JHP, Fed 9BPLE, Speer 115gr GD +P+, Fed 12gr HS, Win 147gr JHP

I carry a nine. I drive a Nissan. I eat at Burger King. Life doesn’t get any better than this?

So, your hipster instructor is preaching the gospel of the best-ever-caliber-du jour. The FBI has come to Jesus on the 9mm. The nine is the perfect caliber. For everyone! ASSIMILATE!

Let’s put things in context, kids.

Not that long ago, your instructors carried their dad’s .38s. Then they got tactical and switched to 1911s. Then they got smart with double-stack .40s. Ah, but now they serve you up a big slice of 9mm humble-pie. They’d hate to see you caught up in a fad.

Speaking of fads, there were some fantastic 9mm loads in the 80s. Unfortunately, the FBI didn’t issue them to agents who died in a tragically handled felony stop. The whole mess was a bullet’s fault.

Back in the 90s, the 10mm was serious business. Unfortunately, the FBI had a hard time justifying the large handguns made for it, especially after watering the cartridge down. That was the caliber’s fault.

Through the 2000s, FBI agents have struggled to master the .40 as issued in featherweight plastic pistols designed around the 9mm. How unfortunate. Clearly the caliber’s fault.

But now, the gods have spoken in 2016. The modern 9mm is “good enough” for the FBI. That makes it “best practices” for you and me. Isn’t it funny that the FBI SWAT team has been happily shooting .45 through 1911s the whole time?

I carry a 9mm. My friend is getting a 9mm. Everyone should have several 9mms. But there’s so much more to life than a pile of 9×19.

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  1. The reason I like 9mm is I can cast cheaply for it and it runs in my AR-15 as well. .40/.45 aren’t really animals that are common in the AR platform. Shooting at 22lr price with home cast reloads is fun.

    There are definitely other calibers in life. That’s why I own wheel guns.

    Everyone will have a caliber opinion. Within reason just have something you shoot well. There’s no need to be packing a .44 mag or 10mm as a SD gun unless you want to or are in bear country.

  2. Yeah, I agree. If .357 Sig was cheaper, it’d be more popular with civilians because it has the power and lower recoil. But it’s not cheap and it’s a pain to reload with the bottleneck case.

    9mm is good because 9mm is cheap. If 9mm, .40, .45, .380 were all the same price, I don’t know if the 9mm would be as popular as it is today.

    • Why is it a pain to reload .357 sig just because it is a bottleneck cartridge? I reload for straightwall and bottleneck rounds, so is there anything different you do for a bottleneck pistol cartridge vs a bottleneck rifle one? I have never shot a .357 sig btw

      • If the .357SIG round has high enough pressures (I have NO idea if it does, just postulating) then every time you fire it, the case length will grow ever so slightly, requiring trimming back to spec eventually (or with every reload, similar to YOUR experiences if you’ve been loading “hot” on your bottleneck rifle cases – if you say that doesn’t happen, then you’ve just illustrated that you’re either not well-versed at reloading bottleneck rifle cases, or you’re blowin’ sunshine about doing so, ’cause they all grow, and need trimmed back to spec every so often – noticeably with hot rounds, not quite so bad with spec or below-spec rounds) Therefore (wall’o’text, I know) bottleneck handgun rounds MIGHT be more problematic for the novice reloader to take care of… I’ve been reloading for almost 30 years now, 9mm, .38Spc, .357M, .401Herter’s Magnum, .44Spc, .44M, .45ACP, .223, 5.56, .308, 30-06, 12ga, and some 20ga – the bottleneck rifle cases are not quite a PITA, but I’ve got a decent amount invested in caliber-dedicated equipment to alleviate a LOT of the time involved.

        • The .357 Sig is one of the highest pressure handgun cartridges out there in a semi-auto pistol. SAAMI spec’s the MAP (maximum average pressure) at 40K PSI. The 9mm is 35K PSI, and 9mm +P is 38.5K PSI. The .40 S&W is 35K PSI. In revolver cartridges, the .357 Magnum is 35K PSI, as is the .44 Magnum. The big-bore revolvers (eg, .454 Casull) have much higher pressures, but then they’re built for much heavier revolvers.

          The only pistol (ie, semi-auto) round I know of off the top of my head that is a higher SAAMI spec pressure cartridge is the .45 WinMag, which was used in only (so far as I’m aware) the LAR Grizzly 1911-ish pistol. It was a beast of a pistol, but man could it fling heavy rounds downrange with aplomb.

          Back to the .357 Sig: A bottleneck pistol cartridge is a stupid solution in search of a problem to solve. As you mention, there will be trimming issues and sizing issues. What I’m still unsure of is “how does it headspace?” Does it headspace off the case mouth, as straight-walled cartridges do, or does it headspace off the shoulder, as bottle-necked rifle cartridges do? SAAMI would seem to indicate that they expect headspacing off the case mouth. I’m told (but have not verified) that CIP (the European equivalent of SAAMI) specs a headspace off the shoulder.

          IMO, there’s never been a reason for a bottle-necked pistol case, there’s no upside in price, performance or availability over the .38 Super or 9×23, and you can’t fit as many .357 Sig rounds in a magazine as the .38 Super or 9×23 (or even 9×21).

        • Dyspeptic,

          Insightful comment. I would wager that any of the 9mm “longs” would have been a better engineering solution. 9×21, 9×23, and the little-known .356TSW would have been better, with similar or even equal performance to .357 Sig.

          However, then Sig wouldn’t have been able to slap their name on it, nor compare it to the vaunted .357 Magnum. .357 Sig might be a round designed by the marketing department, rather than engineers.

      • The usual reason cited for claiming that .357sig is difficult to reload is that the bottleneck case requires you to lubricate it before sizing. However, there is an ultra-easy way around that: Size it with a .40S&W die first, which sizes the body, then when you run it through the .357sig die only the neck presents any friction.

        I’m pretty new to reloading but, using that strategy, I have not had any difficulty with .357sig…and loading it myself, it costs the same as 9mm or .40S&W and I’m not at the mercy of trying to find it when nobody has it.

  3. 9mm is hardly the fad caliber of the day, that “special honor” belongs to the tards throwing their paychecks at .300 Blackout

    • If you are running a 10″ suppressed SBR in .300BLK with supersonic loads, especially for hunting pigs, good on you. That’s the niche it’s made for. Otherwise, I’m still scratching my head on that one myself.

      • Tried that route; it looked cool as hell and made for a great hog/whitetail combo. Then I tried a 16″ upper, and the extra barrel to let the pressure drop before the suppressor can do its work was incredible. A side-by-side of the 9-10″ and 16″ barrels with a stubby suppressor was unreal. Sure it makes for an overall longer rifle, but it cuts out significant red tape and $200.

        If I had to off a coyote attacking the chicken coop at night, and didn’t have time to throw on ear pro with the ongoing racket outside, then that setup with 120gr Controlled Chaos is still on the verge of hearing safe. Substitute “coyote” with “horde of hungry marauders after Hildebeast is elected and the world collapses”, and I’ll take a 16″ 300BLK any day.

        • Since you’re talking varmints after your chickens, why go centerfire at all? Here in Montana I’ve been plugging foxes, coons, skunks, and the occasional coyote( who very rarely come in the yard) since 1970. I’ve yet to see one walk away. I have seen a few try to hobble away only to succumb to follow up shots. [shot placement – SHOT PLACEMENT…] My Marlin model 60 has been putting them down(and full size steers at butchering time also) for many decades now with little noise, little blast, and little cleaning or maintenance. And cheaply too.
          What more could a man want? Besides more available ammo and a bunch of centerfires, I mean…

        • JWT: Because 5.56 is loud as snot, even with a can. The muzzle blast, even suppressed, is nothing I want to touch off without ear pro. Super 300BLK loads dissipate quite a bit of pressure in that extra 6-7″ of barrel, so the only noise/blast out the front end is the supersonic crack. Although it’s not my nightstand gun, I wouldn’t hesitate to fire it indoors and fear for the kind of hearing loss that a similar setup in 5.56 is sure to produce.

          The 5.56 upper spends significantly more time mounted when practicing due to the cheaper ammo, but that 300BLK upper is mounted when I store it in the house or garage. It only took a few rds to sight in the red dot, and I don’t plan on endurance testing it just for coyotes or odd critters, so the increased price of ammo for a narrow slice of application is negligible.

        • Kenneth: I can find 22mag at most LGS’s around here, but it’s $.40-45/rd. For that price, a cheap foreign loading of a 45gr vmax is cheaper and easier to find.

          I’m a lifelong fan of 22mag, as one writer described, “a cartridge with power way out of proportion to its size.” But as cheap as MSRs are these days, and as expensive as 22mag ammo is, I find myself shooting 223 a lot more.

      • It’s a light recoiling, < 200 yard, deer hunting legal cartridge that is great for pre-adolescent kids or recoil sensitive people. Easy to adapt from an AR-15 platform. What's so hard about this? If you don't want one, fine. But there's nothing wrong with the versatile 300BLK for those who understand it's many positives. The SBR and/or suppressed are only the most obvious benefits.

        • Sub 200 yards on a white tail, the 556 does the job just fine, requires no modifications, is cheap and plentiful, and is super easy to shoot.
          Again, in the niche of SBR, supersonic, and suppressed, the 300blk is the bees knees. Not SBR? Many rifles and calibers that have been around for a long time are equal or better.
          Suppressed and subsonic, welcome to ballistics equal to the 45acp fired from a government 1911.

        • Quote JWTaylor:

          “Sub 200 yards on a white tail, the 556 does the job just fine, ”

          That choice will get you arrested in many locales – including mine.

          Besides, once you get that big cylinder spinning it doesn’t want to stop.

        • For those of you in a location with caliber restrictions, why would you choose a 300blk for hunting over the 6.5grendel? Just availability?

        • Thinking ahead to when my daughter can hunt in a few years, here are some options, 300 blk, .243/6mm, .44 mag carbine. The buffer tube on my AR would help mitigate recoil, and it would go with a very nice trigger vs. a comparably priced bolt gun. What would you recommend for a small 10-12 year old?

        • Lance F – 300BLK is perfect for your 10 year old. Mine could handle that at that age. If you already have a decent lower, just get the 300BLK upper and you’re good to go. And if you live in a state that restricts deer hunting calibers to LARGER THAN .223 caliber, please ignore the honorable JW Taylor. He means well but he’ll get you a nice fat fine.

        • “For those of you in a location with caliber restrictions, why would you choose a 300blk for hunting over the 6.5grendel? Just availability?”

          If you are going to take on another caliber for your AR, why not just go with 300BLK? Then you don’t need ANOTHER caliber when you want to do subsonic suppressed in the future. There’s that versatility thing again. And if you do your hunting in the North Woods, you probably won’t be doing a lot of 200+ yard deer hunting.

        • I’d recommend a CZ 527 carbine in 7.62×39. Its short, handy, incredible accurate, and has one of the best factory triggers I’ve ever shot. its also priced competitively with most decent ARs. with Hornady 123 grain SSTs that rifle will put 3 rounds in sub 1″ group at 100 yards any day of the week, with cheap steel cased ammo.

    • 300 AAC BLACKOUT is no fad. I run a 10.5″ SBR, Suppressed. But, that’s not the only way to run that round. That said, it is anything but anemic. I can readily hit targets out to 300m. I also have hunting and fun loads that run either 110gr @ 2600fps or 190-240gr @ ~1030fps. It is an enthusiast cartridge that’s extremely versatile. However, you must also be able (and willing) to reload.

      • I don’t think it’s a fad at all, I just rarely see people us it as intended. Suppressed, supersonic, and as an SBR, you’ve got the ballistics almost equal to the 7.62X39 found in an AK47. Subsonic, now you have a pistol caliber carbine, and a mediocre one at that.

        • You keep harping that subsonic, you’re got nothing more than a 1911 in .45 (like thats a bad thing?)… except I don’t know any 1911s in .45 that can fit 2-dozen rounds in a magazine, have a shoulder stock and forearm, and can “convert” to fire a 7.62×39/.30-30 twin with nothing more than a magazine swap.

          For me, its the versatility that wins. Sure, there are individual guns that do each thing the .300 BLK does. But to match ALL the funcitonality of a ,300 BLK I’d need at least 2-3 guns. I like having a handy hunting rifle I can shoot without ear-pro, has a large magazine capacity, AR ergo’s, and can take any game I’ll see in my state at any range I’ll ever realistically get off a shot. The fact that I can also swap mags for expanding subsonic rounds (some of which expand CONSIDERABLY more than a .45 due to projo length), and have it as my bedside gun (essentially making it a suppressed .45 on steroids with better ergos) is a BONUS, not sure why you’re treating that like its a bad thing somehow?

        • Rocket Scientist, I get that. If you could only have one AR, that is, one upper receiver and one lower receiver, all that makes sense. The 300blk in an AR does all of the things you mentioned well enough, it just doesn’t do any of them great. The one thing is does great is fire a round with similar ballistics to the AK47 in a SBR AR format.
          I have ARs in 6 different calibers right now. But none of them are 300blk.
          And also, to be fair, I’ve never caught on to the pistol caliber carbine either.

      • fad
        noun: fad; plural noun: fads
        an intense and widely shared enthusiasm for something, especially one that is short-lived and without basis in the object’s qualities; a craze.

    • I know I’m not qualified to advance a serious opinion of my own on that point, so I’m just going to take the chuckle and agree with you.

  4. I shoot 9mm in 2gun and 3gun because I tend to miss a lot. Sure, the G21 gives me a nice 13 round magazine (and don’t get me wrong, I own one), but I’ll take 17 round factory magazines every day when only hits count or you’re trying to hit those pesky 4″ plates at 20 yards. Add to that the fact that the only advantage of going to a 45 in competition is qualifying for the “heavy” category and that you need a .308 rifle to play that game… Not going to happen.

    If 3gun Nation every pulls their collective heads out of their asses and moves the 7.62×39 and 7.62×35 into the “heavy” category, I’ll switch over to a 45 and a good AK for competition. Until then, I’ll carry and stock what I shoot competitively.

    • Your division should allow mag extensions right? My XDm 5.25 in 9mm has dawson extensions (140mm length) that takes me to 21-22. No sense in giving away an advantage.

      I would like to see them do something to encourage more AK’s for 3gun. I imagine they are fun to watch being run through a 3 gun course of fire. With so many clubs using electronic pads and practiscore for scoring it’s easy to make a subdivision of tac ops for the guys with AK’s (should probably do similar for guys who run pumps in tac ops).

      I’m not sure how they would work out in heavy, not sure if the AK with 7.62×39 is an advantage or disadvantage vs the 308 guns.

      I shoot 9mm for 3 gun because: more capacity, cheaper to reload, and there is a shit ton of brass to be readily picked up, and less recoil. 40S&W doesn’t have it’s own division so it’s a serious handicap, unless the MD sets the steel absurdly heavy.

      I carry a 9mm XDs because more rounds, vs the 45 version.

      If I had to engage a person, and I could guarantee a hit, in terms of terminal performance, I would rather it was something stouter than 9mm, but the realities of capacity, concealment, practice convenience, and the ability to make the hits on target with less practice than is ideal, have me carrying a 9.

      • The way I see it, anything 30 caliber should be “heavy”. After all, you can game a load for .308 to be about the same as a 7.62×39 or 7.62×35. So either of those calibers would be at a disadvantage as they can’t scale up the same way .308 can scale down.

        If you want to play with the 5.56×45 guys, just use 5.45×39.

        As for pistol, I generally run factory division, so no magnified optics for me. I have yet to find the difference between a 17 round magazine and a 21 to have a practical effect. Most of the stages I run wind up with enough targets to require one mag change, but rarely more than two. The extra expense and finickeyness of an extended magazine just doesn’t seem worth it to save one reload I can do in a second or two.

        • FWIW, my extensions are finicky at all.

          I found that it’s not so much that it saves you a reload, but it can often let you choose to reload where you want vs where you have to. Those options can improve the flow through the stage and could save you a standing reload. Just like if the pistol starts hot…load mag, chamber, and then load a fresh mag for that 1 extra. Had places where +/-1 round saved me a reload.

          I concede the ability to game with 308 loads since 3 gun generally has no chono stages like USPSA, and often no official power factor statement.

          I think they need to figure out where the AK fits in 3 gun and see how it works. ONce people start racing with it, is when you see serious development and refinement occur. While on that subject, I’d love to see them fit mag fed shotguns into tac ops with mag cap limits, vs them only living in open. I bet if you limited the Saigas, VEPRs and MKA’s to 10rd mags, they might be on par to the tube fed guns loading dueces and quads.

  5. Just shoot what works for you. I have ‘invested’ in 9mm because it’s relatively cheap to shoot, therefore practicing puts less of a strain on the wallet. As a bonus, it’s so common that if the worst happens, it should be easier to acquire. With modern ammo, the difference between the calibers matters less than shot placement (my personal belief, YMMV!).

    I have settled on Federal HST 124gr for my carry gun (Sig P938). It’s available for about $24-25 for 50 rounds and seems effective from short barrel pistols, at least according to ShootingTheBull410 on YouTube…….

    • “As a bonus, it’s so common that if the worst happens, it should be easier to acquire. ” – Should the worst happen, the easiest handgun round get your hands on will likely be the .45ACP.
      Why? Because with some basic reloading tools, and a little time, you can make mid power .45ACP loads from any rifle cartridge with a .474 diameter. That means your 8mms, 30-06, .308s, 243s, etc, all become .45ACP pistol rounds, if you should need them.
      I’ve made, and shot .45acp rounds from .308s before. Yes, it is time consuming, but absolutely doable.

      • “…Because with some basic reloading tools, and a little time, you can make mid power .45ACP loads from any rifle cartridge with a .474 diameter. That means your 8mms, 30-06, .308s, 243s, etc, all become .45ACP pistol rounds, if you should need them.”

        This clearly needs a TTAG article!

        • It would be a pretty short article. Grab you a .308Win round. Grab you a .45ACP round. Look at the bottoms. See anything similar? Cut that .308 case down to the .45 case length. Well ream (this is the PITA part) the inside of the case to accept the .452 caliber lead boolit you just cast. Prime powder seat and shoot. (lightly crimp)

        • JESUS….for half a second I thought you were talking about .474 BULLET diameter…wondering what we did you piss you off like that…

      • Its all that neck reaming required that makes that such a huge pain in the tuckus… But, if you can’t get ammo any other way, I’ll spend an hour making a single case… but not until its the dead last resort.

    • Brit, I went with the 9mm for the same reasons you state. But the last big ammo drought we had the only centerfire pistol ammo that was easy to find was .40 S&W. 9mm was scarce as hens teeth.

      Even my 9×18 makarov ammo got hard to find.

      • Same thing happened here in VA. Walmart had .40 on the shelves for months while 9mm was nowhere to be found. I was seriously thinking of buying an SR40c during that time because I couldn’t feed my SR9c to practice with.

        I’ve settled on standard pressure 124gr HST as my srs bsns round for carry. If I can’t get done what I need to get done with that round, I probably should have brought a rifle or shotty.

    • ^ Amen! My local Gander Mountain has this guy behind he counter that tries his dead level best to sell everyone a wheelgun, doesn’t matter what the customer asks for. He says semi-autos are unreliable and hard to shoot, wheelguns do everything better. I’m standing there like “bro, she asked to see the Sig P226, she doesn’t want or need you to sell her a j-frame just because you happen to like it”.

      • my response would be if that is true…you won’t mind discounting that automatic…correct? If he says no, you smoked him.

  6. Until you get into .41 Magnum and above, all handgun calibers are “weak”.

    Shoot what you like for whatever reason you like. I like .40 S&W and I shoot it just as fast and accurately as 9mm or .45 ACP. Shooting speed and accuracy are almost entirely a function of technique and training and have almost nothing to do with handgun size, weight, or caliber.

  7. I’ve always liked .45 and 9 and owned numerous guns in both. However, as .45 became more expensive and my typical shooting session is 500 rounds, I’ve gone to .40 instead of .45. With all the cops & the FBI going 9, there’s a lot of cheap .40’s to be had and the ammos a little cheaper than .45. Overall, I’m satisfied.

  8. Wait! What? The FBI moved away from the S&W Model 10?

    Next thing you know, they’ll be using those newfangled walkie-talkie phones!

    The world is going to Hades in a handbasket! /;-)

  9. I carry 9mm because I can shoot it well fast. I shoot well with .45 also, but I cant shoot it as well fast. I figure thats what shot placement is really about.

  10. Every handgun caliber has slight advantages and disadvantages.

    9mm handguns typically provide more rounds than .40 S&W or .45 ACP. And .40 S&W and .45 ACP provide substantially heavier bullets that go straight through windshields without deflecting even when the bullet strikes at oblique angles.

    The odds that a 17 round magazine (9mm) rather than a 15 round magazine (.40 S&W) or 13 round magazine (.45 ACP) will mean the difference between life and death is small, although non-zero. Likewise, the odds that better bullet penetration through intermediate barriers (.40 S&W and .45 ACP) will mean the difference between life and death is small, although non-zero.

    To each his own. I split the difference between 9mm and .45 ACP and went with .40 S&W. I give up two rounds versus 9mm but I get heavier bullets with superior intermediate barrier penetration. Your mileage may vary and more rounds in your magazine may be a priority for you.

    • ‘The odds that a 17 round magazine (9mm) rather than a 15 round magazine (.40 S&W) or 13 round magazine (.45 ACP) will mean the difference between life and death is small, although non-zero.’

      I try not to get too worked up about bad things happening to me that are less likely than getting struck by lightning. I guarantee you that there are more people struck by lightning every year than die because they didn’t have a 16th round in the magazine (and I’d bet it isn’t even close).

      I guess I’m on the penetration side of this one, I carry 158gr, Double Taps in my .357 magnum.

  11. Anything the FBI does usually has me looking in the exact opposite direction. Their 10 MM experiment was a total fiasco.
    There are many who love the 10MM and it makes sense in many applications. As a service sidearm, WTF?

    I had mucho disdain for the 9MM until pretty recently. Premium handgun ammo has made great inroads in reliability and lethality in this chambering.

    For once, the FBI seems to have done something right, in spite of themselves.
    I expect them to wake up and change this new direction at any time now.

    • Much of why it was such a fiasco was that they were trying to engineer a systemic solution to an infrequent problem, ie, the 1986 shootout.

      There aren’t any handguns that will take a person down the way a 12ga with a rifled slug would do, and there won’t be any such handguns or cartridges soon. Everyone keeps thinking that they’re going to forge the Holy Grail of handgun rounds – and other than John Linebaugh, they’re mostly barking up the wrong tree. Linebaugh’s cartridges are clearly not for CCW use – some of his revolvers seem as tho they should have a carriage beneath them to bring them up to the firing line.

      So we keep pissing money down ratholes of one new cartridge after another, because no one seems to want to hear the truth: Sometimes, in gunfights, things just don’t work out the way we’d like. For every macho guy packing some SuperDuper Magnum Force Dirty Harry .700 and having a goblin walk away from four shots, we have Granny Goose using an ancient S&W Model 10 without her glasses on, and dropping the burglar in her front room with one shot of lead round-nose ammo.

      If it were just the private sector chasing their tails on this, I’d say “Live and let live, it’s entertaining and possibly good business for me.” When the government starts these episodes of “the New Magic Caliber Shall Be…” I get really tired and pissed off at watching yet more tax money go down a rathole without any hope of a bottom being found.

      • ‘When the government starts these episodes…’

        Amen, brother. The last thing we need is the gov fighting our caliber wars.

    • The first time I ever fired a 40mm it was out of the Mk19. I had never even seen one before. An E8 asked me if I wanted to shoot it. My response to that question is always yes. After 10 or so rounds landing what I would guess was 61 meters in front of our truck, I learned that the minimum arm distance and safe distance was 60 meters. It was very quiet on our impromptu range after that, and it was quite a while before I saw anyone pick their head up from behind cover.
      I always tell people, for a medic I got to do a lot of non-medicy things, poorly.

      • Yeah, there’s nothing with quite the same authority as a Mk19. Most of the capability of a mortar in a vehicle mountable package.

        • I did a tour with a younger team, and we all stacked on gates and doors and flooded in to secure a building. Later, working with an older team, we would send in a local to tell everyone in that building that if they didn’t come out, we were going to come in and kill everyone.
          Then we’d back up, send some marking rounds at the door with the Mk19, and then lock it in place. Then next rounds would be HE at the door, and we just kept pouring them in. 20 rounds or so later, and true to our word, we’d go in the building. So much easier.

        • An old guy told me (when I was a young guy) “Don’t get into a fight with old men. They’re just not interested, and they’ll kill you just to prevent you from wasting their time.”

          As I’ve gotten older, I now realize the wisdom of what he said.

      • ” An E8 asked me if I wanted to shoot it. My response to that question is always yes.”

        There truly are only two types of people in this world.

        Anyways. I kinda miss usenet of old, that would have made a great .sig file…

  12. That employee at “Gosling Foothill” should be glad she doesn’t work for me.
    I would have shut her up in a hurry.

    Of course, I don’t hang around the gun counter at “Gosling Foothill” unless I’m waiting for my wife to try on a pair of camo pants or something. Whatever they have, I can get from my basement FFL for $100 less, without the condescending lecture.

  13. 9mm for me. Cheapest to shoot, highest capacity, and +p ammunition with nearly as much energy as many available normal pressure .45 and .40 S&W rounds. I’ve standardized on it for my pistols.

  14. Apparently I’m not that smart. I don’t carry a 9mm and a polymer pistol with a bucket of bullets.

    Still packing an Ed Brown Kobra in 45 acp. Only two exceptions is when I do my treadmill with a S&W M&P 340 ( no lock) loaded with 38 special +P. Home carry the 340 with a 1911 always close by.

    The 1911 worked in two world wars. Never doubted my 1911 in Vietnam. And I still hear how unreliable they are. Many Medal of Honor recipients had only their 1911 to save the day.

    Here’s the can of worms. I carry with FMJ. Just not convinced that the 45acp has enough velocity for reliability expansion and penetration. I do use hollow points in other calibers.

    • It does, but you need a HP with a very large opening and thinner side walls. This tends to rebate the nose of the bullet (due to simple geometry) and that’s when the feeding issues start on 1911’s.

      I, personally, never feel under-gunned with 230gr ball rounds in a .45.

    • For those of you that think the 45 ACP FMJ is a fail, what diameter do most 9 millimeter hollow points achieve? Jack has a legitimate concern about penetration. After all, expansion means nothing without penetration.

      • That’s the point….a hollow point isn’t a magic bullet.

        Have you notice the 3x, 4x,5x and the plus size of people? Notice how many thugs are just morbid obese? In cold weather add heavy clothing and a heavy coat. My concern is getting enough penetration in any caliber.

      • 147 grain HST 9mm expands to about .75 of an inch. Because the area of a hole depends of the radius squared, that extra .3 inch radius makes a huge difference in the eventual size.

        • First, thats what it can expand to, not what it expands to every time. It also is not immediately that size upon impact. And at 147grains, with full expansion, it suffers the same penetration problems as Jack was referring to. In the end, it takes the full expansion of a 9mm to equal the total wound channel of the unexpanded .45.

      • 9mm expands to about 0.70 to 0.75″ dia. That’s 1.67 times the diameter of a FMJ .45. Aside from not causing terminal damage, a FMJ .45 will over penetrate and cause issues downstream of the attacker.

  15. I don’t have any “Gosling Foothills” around here. I don’t even have any “Salmon Experts,” if you catch my drift.

    I do have a…. Uh… Cabela’s. Somebody there once told a customer that Tula .223 ammo is corrosive military surplus. I was within earshot but didn’t intervene.

    On the subject of caliber, I like all of them! Because shooting is fun. I recently got to shoot .40 for the first time out of a full-size pistol. Ain’t no thang, plus noise and recoil are why I prefer to shoot handguns anyway.

  16. Are we still seriously having caliber debates? I am an equal opportunity caliber user. I love 45 for the power, I love 9 mm for the price and capacity. I don’t shoot a lot of 40 anymore because I changed from thinking it was a combination of the best parts of 9 and 45 to thinking it was a combination of the worst parts, but if someone wants a 40 I’m not about to stop them. Just don’t worry about what caliber someone is shooting unless they ask for your advice.

  17. Fn .45 …15 +1….not for the weak wristed.
    All you got to do is use it like your life depends on it and hold the damn thing like it’s the weapon it is.
    Everyone likes thier own brand.
    Carry what you like.

  18. There’s something inherently funny about someone weighing in on the Caliber Wars and, at the same time, using the word “fro-yo.” Kind of like seeing a Japanese cowboy, or a ginger kid wearing a daishiki.

    • I like my 9mm’s, but damn, my 1911 is accurate. Still not comfortable with the cocked and locked thing for everyday carry, but I do love me some .45 cal JMB goodness at the range.

  19. Bigger is better, causes bigger holes, recoil sensitive you won,t feel it in a confrontation, hard to practice though!
    any caliber will work depending on where you ventilate them! personnel favorite caliber is .44 special. do I use other weapons? of course different scenarios call for different options! even the 9, however it would be my last choice in a firefight, which doesn’t mean I wouldn’t try to use it if on me, just not first choice

  20. Let’s talk when 45 or 40 is 9.99 a box.
    Bullets only do damage when they hit things, and your average Joe needs some serious practicing to hit things.
    Also, a proper 1911 will run like a greyhound, but Para’s policy of “close our eyes, let the conveyor run, and say we made our QC pass” means they have very few “proper” 1911s.

  21. Yeah I feel you, man. I bought a 9mm because it was cheap, but my next handgun will not be a 9×19 or a plastic piece, methinks (not that I have anything against them). It’ll either be something cool and old, or something heavy in .45. Because I already HAVE A 9mm and there’s lots of reasons to love guns of all calibers. Even single stack 1911s.

  22. I finally bought a 9 mm (5″ ported Performance Center M&P) after years with a 1911. Since the 9 is polymer and the 1911 is steel, overall recoil is about the same. Porting seems to reduce muzzle flip which means I get back on target sooner. The big difference is magazine capacity. Seventeen instead of seven really cuts down on the amount of time I spend reloading in a match.

    A full size steel gun is too big and too heavy for me to belt carry for more than a few minutes. At a minimum, I would need suspenders in addition to the belt and a cover garment. A single stack polymer 9 or .380 is much easier.

    • Porting is a bad idea for carry guns. The upward flash will retard night vision and if you fire close to your body in a CBQ situation, the flame can burn you.

      • The night vision issue is a persistent, inaccurate annoyance that won’t die.

        It won’t kill your night vision. The burns seems like a miniscule, nonviable, irrelevant “buddy told my buddy told my buddy told me” claim, but I have never heard of that one, and therefore never heard of the burn potential. So I’ll leave it alone…

        • I have personally witnessed the much greater muzzle flash associated with a ported 45acp at night. As far as the burns, it makes sense. If the front of the cylinder of a revolver will burn your finger tips (and it will) it makes sense that a ported barrel would do the same if held close to your skin.

      • I find it to be bad for other reasons on top of your reasons:

        – you’re bleeding off pressure, and therefore potential velocity
        – like all comps/brakes, the shooter perceives a louder blast
        – and then it makes for more cleaning of the gun.

      • ‘…if you fire close to your body in a CBQ situation, the flame can burn you.’

        Well then, I guess we can rule out the good old re volver. Might get your thumb too close to the cylinder gap.

  23. We’ve all encountered idiots at the gun store. They’re as common as 9mm ammo.

    I don’t get unhelpful salesmen or people who steer people away from what they come in asking for. Maybe they all start out helpful and then get jaded, or maybe they were just aholes to start.

  24. I like ’em both. Most of the time I carry a 9 but .45 is cool too, and I carry it on occasion as well. Do my best to stay proficient in both of them, although I practice way more with the 9. Heck, I own a .40 as well but it has basically become a safe queen and occasional shooter out at the range. While I’ve pretty much settled on 9 mil for my carry due to capacity and practice affordability, I still will occasionally carry a .45 or .357

  25. I worked the gun counter for two years at the Fort Worth Cabela’s. The BS and ignorance you heard on both sides of the counter was legendary.

    I believe cartridge choice is personal, that 9mm, .40 cal and .45 ACP will get the job done.

  26. The ONLY reason I shoot 9 is cost. Cheaper gun, cheaper ammo and wide availability. If I wanna’ kill I’ll use my 12guage. Or buy a rifle…

  27. Don’t you find that .40 is almost as expensive a s.45?

    Looking at AIM Surplus, the cheapest non-crap 9mm is $9.95/box , while the .40 is $13.95 a box, and the .45 is $14.95/box.

    • $15 is very cheap for a box of 45. Best I have seen recently is $13 for 40 S&W, and it was PPU. You have to list your brands in order to compare prices.

  28. I have owned and carried 9mms for almost a decade now. Does that make me a trend setter?

    My rationale when I first got into shooting was that the more you train with something the better you are with it. 9mm being the cheapest of the adequate pistol calibers, it was kind of a no brainer. Cheaper ammo meant I could shoot more.

  29. 9mm fans are like the vegans of firearms. They cant just shoot 9mm and respect everyone else’s caliber choices. You must convert to the 9mm cult!

    • I shoot 9mm exclusively (I’m a noob and only have the one pistol) and I am a vegan. And I honestly could care less what people shoot or eat. But I get the joke though. I actually chuckled.

      But on the serious side, I have been to every LGS in my area and have never had anything but great and honest customer service. No one batted an eye when I wanted to fondle every pistol just to see what I liked. Guess i got lucky.

      I chose 9mm mainly because I have smallish hands and the double stacks were still quite comfy.

      • Yea. You got lucky. Sorry to say it, but you got real lucky.

        Please pay it forward to other newbie shooters.

      • “And I honestly could care less what people shoot or eat.”

        I don’t understand why you’re concerned with what others shoot or eat. I hope that one day you get to the point where you couldn’t care less what people shoot or eat.

  30. There is nothing wrong with the 10mm FBI light load. It is still more powerful than any other round fired from an automatic.

  31. …. Wow. “No one can really control a .45z” just… Wow. Just what in the hell must these people think about .44 mag or .454? I can shoot a .45 just as comfortably as I can a freakin .22.

  32. When I’m feeling really bored, I actually like going into gun stores like this. I like it even more when I go in there with my wife, who, while she’s quite comfortable and proficient with guns, isn’t a “gun girl.” They’re just tools to her, and leaving a gun laying around the house is about like leaving a cordless drill laying around. “Dammit, get over here and pick up after yourself!”

    When I’m in these sorts of stores, I’ve increasingly adopted an air of bemused and bewildered credulity. My wife will look at me for a few moments when the really deep BS starts getting doled out, and after awhile she’s starting to make comments like “So, are you gonna set the hook, or are you going to let them knit a sweater with all the line they’re playing out?!” and then she’ll become impatient, come up to me and say in an exasperated tone”We have better things to do, Mr. Gunsmith!” and so on.

    I will confess to having listened to pablum like the above for far too long just because the girl peddling it was sporting some adorable sweater puppies. Yes, I’m a pig. Oink, oink.

    At some point, if I hang around long enough, someone comes through who recognizes me and blows it by asking me some technical gun question, and the counter help starts to answer and my acquaintance will say “Please be quiet, I asked the gunsmith, not you.”

    Damn it, my cover is blown, and now the cheap entertainment is over. Sigh.

  33. As much as I love a good caliber war, Elmer Keith put an end to all this nonsense over 80 years ago when he invented the .357 magnum. Use anything less at your own risk.

  34. I’m sick of blowhards in any caliber, not just 9mm. Maybe most of the .45 grognards near you are dying off, but I still hear plenty of the same old “calibers that start with a 4” bullshit.

    I wouldn’t ask the guy behind the gun counter which pistol he thinks I should buy any more than I’d ask the guy at the dealership which car he thinks I should get.

  35. 357 SIG out of a P229 or a P239. There. Caliber wars officially over. Its inexpensive and you can order it bulk from a number of places. $25 for 50 rounds of speer gold dot wouldn’t break anyone’s bank for SD ammo either…

    Use a platform intended for the round, and leave all that nonsense about “kick” and “control” to the trolls. “Why look towards the FBI when the Secret Service chose a round designed to end the situation as ‘FAST AS POSSIBLE'” (emphasis intentional). Thats a quote from my boss who is former SS. The best round to carry is the one you can fire with confidence… not something based on academics and charts. Shot placement matters too, if you’re using a (wimpy) 45… or ……40 ….or 9mm or 380…

    But I’ll stake my life (and that of my family) on 8 rounds of 357 SIG over 8 rounds of 9MM any day of the week.

    • You could get 10 rounds of .38 Super out of a 1911, and the issue was over by 1935.

      Sadly, the .38 Super was over-shadowed by the .357, and Colt decided to headspace the cartridge on the semi-rim instead of the case mouth, which lead to accuracy problems in some guns. In a modern 1911, the .38 Super can be loaded to stupid fast levels of power – right up there with a .357.

      Once again, the brutal truth is that most new cartridges sold since about 1965 to 1970 have re-invented wheels that were already quite round. The .38 Super gives you high magazine capacity, low recoil, fast ballistics, deep penetration, etc, etc. When the .357 Sig came out, I had no idea why anyone needed it with the .38 Super just sitting right there on the shelf.

      • The .355 Sig has a shorter overall cartridge length but a fatter base/neck. This may be a significant issue when designing a handgun where the magazine loads through the grip. It also has a larger case capacity and a higher maximum pressure, making it a bump up from .38 super. The laughable part is where they named it .357 Sig instead of .355 Sig (which is what it is) because they wanted to make believe that it mirrored the ballistics of a .357 magnum. In truth it can’t even quite keep up with the neutered factory loads in 125gr. let alone full pressure (Buffalo Bore, Double Tap, etc.) 180grs. The cartridge is basically a 9mm +p+, which despite it’s improvements over the Super, that pretty much already existed in the Super.

  36. Good golly oh mighty this gets old. In a nutshell, no caliber, no weapon, no holster, no method of carrying is perfect for every person, for every occasion.

    Caliber is a trade off. If a person had Robo Cop aiming, they could almost make do with .22, however, then comes the inevitable inability to penetrate a marginal barrier.
    Practically speaking, there’s little difference with any caliber of reason between .22 and .44 magnum. Every caliber will serve any individual well.

    Of most critical importance is that a person is comfortable with their caliber and weapon of choice, shoots and operates it well and hits their targets. It’s these equations which will mostly dictate survivability and not that a person had 9mm or .357 Sig or a wheel gun. A person highly experienced with a wheel gun in any given caliber is going to have a greater survivability than an amateur with a 9mm semi-auto. I’d put money on hickok45 with a .38 revolver against a couple of armed thugs as opposed to some newbie with a high cap. GLOCK. Yes that’s an extreme example, but the point is valid.

    • I’d put my money on Hickok45 with any firearm in any caliber.

      Retired English teacher… who would have guessed.

      I think I have watched everyone of his videos multiple times.

      • I just wanted to be realistic. I wouldn’t to want to provide him with Freedom Arms .22 miniature revolver against heavily armed thugs, although he’d probably still win. The guy can shoot! Although I don’t know if he could even shoot one of those things with his bear paw hands.
        My point though, caliber and type of weapon (hand gun) is mostly secondary to proper weapon handing and hitting your target. If a person can pull a weapon in a quick reasonable fashion and hit their target, especially under stress or a combat situation , they will probably win and it makes not a damn bit of difference if it’s .38, 9mm, .40, 10mm, .45 or whatever.

  37. Calibers are deeply personal choices…it’s almost like talking about religion or politics. Yeah, I see the 9m fad. But you have to keep an open mind when choosing a caliber.

    I shoot 9×18, because that’s what my CZ-82 eats. And the CZ-82 is the only pistol I’ve found that will let me I can hit the broad side of a barn past 20 yards (definitely a fault with this shooter and not with the other fine handguns available today). So that’s what I shoot in a handgun. My choice in handgun caliber was made by finding a handgun that works for me. Maybe I put the chicken before the egg, but I’m good with the result.

    My point here is that you’re purchasing components for a system: you, the gun, the caliber…all different components in that system. Shooters vary: mindset, training, eyesight, sensitivity to recoil, and the list goes on. IMO, the trick is to use components that bring out the best in your particular system. For me, that’s the CZ-82 shooting 9×18. For someone else, it might be a Glock in .40. I have a friend that can’t hit jack with a 9m Sig, but I’d hate to be his target when he uses his 1911 (in .45, of course). We’re all different and should pick out what works best for each of us. 9m is not the default answer.

    • IMO, You win the interwebz today.

      Your philosophy has been my philosophy in guns for a long time now. A .22LR that someone can shoot reliably and put five grounds into a fist-sized group at 10+ yards in seconds beats a .44 Magnum that they cannot control, and they won’t use for practice because it’s so loud and offensive.

      I tell people who ask for my advice “Let’s find a gun you can hold comfortably. Let’s find a gun that points well for you.” I tell people to not worry about caliber, cartridge or any of those other things until the first two criteria are met – something that “feels” right, something that “points” the way they’d like. The older I get, the more experience I have with people and guns, the more I focus on ergonomics than calibers and whoop-di-do features.

      After fit & point, there’s damn few complaints by new shooters about one round vs. another on any issue other than price – until they start hanging around gun store counters, that is.

    • I am pretty sure (has to be confirmed with more time at the range…) that I am a 1911 kind of guy (in .45 of course), first time with it I shot it better than my striker fired 9mm, quicker and more accurate follow ups, and I just had much more pleasure shooting it.
      My only concern, no it isn’t the mag capacity, it is the field stripping and cleaning of a 1911 in a SHTF scenario and society. Otherwise I would have no problem carrying cocked and locked, grip safety I didn’t even notice it was there when shooting it, thumb safety I like them so I am good with it too.

      • The original 1911 was designed by JMB (queue the Tabernacle Choir) to be detailed stripped with no tools.

        All you need is one round of .45 ACP brass or a loaded cartridge.

        You first pull off the slide, barrel, recoil spring, recoil spring guide, bushing and recoil spring plug.

        You then use the rim of the cartridge case to pull off the grip screws. Here’s the reason why allen-head screws aren’t what I want to see on a proper 1911: As soon as you put allen head screws into the grips, you now need to carry a tool with you to detail strip a 1911.

        Now, you’re going to obtain the one tool you need to disassemble the rest of the gun. Using a twig or pen/pencil tip to depress the firing pin at the rear of the slide, depress the rear end of the firing pin below the bottom of the firing pin retainer plate, allowing you to push off the firing pin retainer plate. As you push the retainer plate to the bottom of the slide, be careful to not allow the firing pin to launch out of the slide. Retain the firing pin in the slide, push the retainer plate off the back of the slide, put the retainer plate aside.

        Remove the firing pin.

        Strip off the spring, put aside the firing pin spring, slide, firing pin retainer plate. Take up the firing pin.

        Using the firing pin as a push punch, push out the main spring housing pin, which is at the bottom rear of the grip.

        Slide the mainspring housing off the rear of the grip, pushing downwards. Put aside.

        Pull the safety off the left side of the 1911. Put aside. Pull off the grip safety and sear spring.

        Now you can use the firing pin to push out the safety and the pins holding the hammer and sear. Poof, the lockwork comes out.

        If you want to remove the magazine catch, you use the one leg of the sear spring that has a tab bent forward at a 90 degree angle to rotate the pin in the magazine catch that looks like a screw, but is not a screw one-quarter turn whilst you’re holding the magazine catch on the left side partways in. When you are able to rotate the pin 1/4 turn CCW, the mag catch should come out the right side of the gun as a unit.

        If you want to remove the extractor, you use the firing pin to push it to the rear of the slide.

        Poof. Your 1911 is now detail-stripped.

  38. My first pistol was a 40S&W Glock 22, it got stolen in a vehicle break in and to soothe my aching heart I bought the 1911 in 45 that I had been wishing I would have bought originally. I then bought a double stack FNX 45 to go along with the 1911 and thought I had found Nirvana. That big pistol soaked up recoil and had 15+1 rds of God’s cartridge onboard, what’s not to like? Then I got my LTC and tried to carry it. I now own a Glock 19, and Im ok with that.

    • What’s your opinion as far as the recoil between the 9mm and .40SW Glocks and also the FN in .45
      I have never shot .40, I have shot various types of nines, and recently a 1911 and G21 in .45ACP, I don’t have any issues whatsoever with the recoil of 45, I actually prefer it over the nines.
      The .40 is said to be sharper, more jumpy than the 9 (with same size pistol), did you notice a big difference woth your glocks in .40 and 9mm?


      • Matt, I’ll answer your question at the bottom.

        I love the 40 (and most calibers through 44) and love GLOCKs. I deeply hate 40 cal GLOCKs however, as needlessly snappy. That said, a very elegant cowgirl from Texas was a shot behind my qualification score at MAG40 with a police trade-in G22. May God have mercy on her romantic interest’s soul.

        If you like Glocks, try the Steyr L40-A1. If you want less rake, try the M&P .40. If you want a 90 degree angle, try an XD. If you have large mitts, Sig 226/229s with a Hogue grip and Wolff extra power recoil spring are one classy, gentle ride.

        Any of the above are extremely manageable in my hands. CorBon’s explosive 135gr JHP is delightful to run, but full-power 165gr loads (Rem GS, Speer GD, etc) meet all standards in the stopping power debate; these have some pop, but are quite manageable in the aforementioned guns.

        To answer your question, I find that the .40 cal GLOCKs combine the worst of snap and push, especially in Full Power (FP) 165grloads.

        In the right guns, FP135s feel like 9mm +p, 180s feel like 185gr 45 loads, and FP165s feel like a hot 185gr .45 +p. RP 165 and 135gr loads help you shoot like that blonde FBI agent on the big screen with her 40mm GLOCK.

      • The 9mm vs 40 (for me at least) is night and day difference. I shoot a LOT of 147gr 9mm which is pretty soft shooting as far as 9mm goes, so if you like 124 NATO rounds or 124+p it may be closer. However, even with the G19 being a smaller gun than my old G22, it really is a noticeable difference in both blast, muzzle flip, and felt recoil. When I still had the 40 I preferred the 180gr stuff, it felt a lot more manageable for target shooting. I did run 165gr gold dots as my SD load, and call me a wimp, but that was just downright unpleasant to shoot. I ran 100rds of that to check realiability and afterwards the web of my hand was red and raw, and my trigger finger was sore, it’s also the only time I ever got slide bight shooting a Glock.

        I have seen the physics and hard data showing demonstrably that 45acp, even out of a heavy 1911, has more recoil than a 40, but I don’t care, to me, i have always felt like my 45s recoiled less than my 40 did. Especially the FNX. The FNX45 was an absolute pussycat to shoot. Felt recoil was like you were shooting the gun with heavy welding gloves on. It’s hard to describe but it was a real head trip, like the laws of physics had been suspended.

        Your mileage may vary, I came back to 9mm out of cost, practicality, and the fact that I have yet to find a 9mm that I cant just pick up an shoot at least reasonably well. There are also a lot more options as far as carrying goes. My G19 disappears on my body, even under a t-shirt. I always had to dress around the 1911 and the FNX and they were both heavy pigs.

  39. These pointless waste of keystrokes write ups from TTAG contributors are becoming more and more frequent and this babbling bull$#it essay rivals some of the idiocy that Dean so often chooses as a topic.

    Poor Matt might be slightly more well versed on the topic of handgun caliber selection than the dude or dudette employed as a $10 an hour small arms expert at Gander Mountain, but not by much.

  40. Until recently I have only been shooting 9mm when it comes to handguns, I tried two pistols chambered in .45acp and I was impressed. One was a 1911 Sig Sauer, I LOVED it, I was fairly accurate ride away, felt like it was made for my hands, smooth trigger, nice sights, nice recoil. Then I shot the Glock 21, I had more trouble, but I have trouble with striker fired guns’ triggers in 9mm as well, the G21 is a much better pistol than I am a shooter. I wasn’t crazy about the ergonomics, I an mot a Glock fan and again it applies with other calibers, very “bulky” feeling imo, but I am trying to like them. I know that I want a .45, I will give another chance to the Glock, possibly try a Springfield XD, FNH? M&P? I will try a Sig Sauer double/single action and will have to make a call. Ultimately I think I want a 1911 and a non 1911.

    • If you ever get back to looking at this, I have an XDm 3.8in (pre-gripzone version) in 45acp. Wonderful gun. Laser accurate. Feels good in the hand and points naturally. Trigger is okay, but striker fire is striker fire. It’ll never be a 1911.

  41. I’ve got no problems with somebody who wants to carry 9mm. No, really. But like this article, it’s the seriously lame excuses that get to me. Ammo is cheap? I can get behind that. it’s a legitimate reason to prefer one caliber over the other. Controllability, on the other hand… Please. Just stop. Right now. Just stop and actually train with that gun. And don’t even get me started on modern bullet technology; the same bullet technology that only benefits 9mm, apparently. I mean, if 9mm is suddenly such an effective man stopper, .45acp must blow bowling ball sized holes in people with its modern bullet technology, amirite?

    I carry a 45. I carry it double stack, recognizing the very real fact that moar is better. The ammunition is indeed more expensive, but seriously… How poor are you? Walmart carries Perfecta brass ammo 50/$16.00. Oh noez? And trust me, the FBI is hardly the holy grail of endorsement that some people seem to think it is.

    You like 9mm. That’s fine. Just stop with weaksauce excuses already.

  42. A successful insurance salesman once told me the key to his success. He said he quit selling as soon as the customer said “Yes”. He also said a lot of sales people don’t stop at the first “Yes” and lose the deal.

    I have only advised a young man (on a college student budget) who was thinking about learning to shoot a handgun, preferably in 40 caliber, that 9mm caliber was cheaper. Especially for learning, He didn’t know that.

  43. Wow! The caliber wars never end, it seems. With all the super knowledgeable commentary on here I feel like an anachronism with my 10 rd. 38Super 1911 stoked with Buffalo Bore loads at 1450fps or my .45 with 185 gr. loads at 1050fps. I guess they don’t work on the super bad guys anymore like they did in the ’30s, ’40s. I’m embarrassed to admit I shoot an M1 Garand for fun (150gr.@ 2800fps.) I’ll sit down and be quiet now.

  44. When I go to a gun counter I usually politely inform them that I already know what I want and I am not asking any other questions than may I hold it. I try to be polite about it but some people think that because they work at a gun store they know everything about guns and their opinions are gospel.

  45. I would have thrown a comment in, at both gun counters, about the .38 Super just to watch what happened.

    Most likely would have been a blank stare or complete dismissal followed by quickly moving on.

    • I had a chance to pick up a Taurus PT-38s in .38 Super for a ridiculously good price.

      I decided against it because of the likely difficulty finding spare parts. Regret. So much regret….

  46. It’s frustrating when retail stores are staffed by people who don’t know jack squat about the products they are selling. They are going to push whatever makes them or their boss the most money, not what is best suited for your needs. Do your research, go to the range and try different guns and seek out real experts.

  47. Thank you so much for the honest testament! I honestly have somewhat of a personal affection for the .40S&W, and it has always served me just fine! I know that the 9mm right now is the great hype, and yes, no real world difference in stopping power than most other effective handgun cartridges. But I’ll say this to all the 9mm bandwagon boys, the last ammo shortage that came around(which we all know will come again, because history repeats itself.) I saw virtually no 9mm availability in my local stores, but .40 and .45 were plentiful. It’s a beautiful thing! I was in a big box store not long ago, we could call it whatever name you want, but I’ll call it Gander Mountain in Terre Haute, IN. I sat quietly, yet hesitantly by, and listened to a “knowledgeable salesman” tell an unknowledgeable, new gun buyer, and I quote, “you would be better off to choose a .38 over a 9mm. Here, look at the difference… the .38 is longer, which means it has more room for powder inside, so it is a hotter, more effective round.” 😮 It was at that point I became sick to my stomach, and pretty well laughed at the lack of training and overly cocky confidence these big box store salesman have.


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