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Old 09-13-2015, 09:40 PM
 
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Is there a significant difference between the 9mm, 40 S&W, and the 45 acp? These are probably the most popular pistol calibres around. I just wonder if there is anything special each one features that make one preferable to the other.

Like I am told 45 has the best stopping power, but the 9mm is the most accurate with I guess 40 S&W being in between. Is there really a noticeable difference in the features of each bullet though?
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Old 09-14-2015, 10:54 AM
 
Location: Chattanooga, TN
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Best stopping power: According to the FBI, all three are the same assuming you are using modern self-defense ammo. The expanded .45ACP makes a slightly bigger hole than the expanded 9mm, but all drive a similar-sized expanded projectile to adequate distances, and tests on gelatin and gunshot victims say you can't tell the difference in the hole. If you are using military (FMJ, "ball") ammo, then go with the .45ACP. The .40S&W has better penetration through obstacles, but a 9mm+P is close.
Best accuracy: All the same at self defense ranges... depends on the shooter and gun more than the caliber. That said, the 9mm kicks the least and that can affect accuracy.
Best capacity: 9mm (smaller cartridge = more shots). To compare exact numbers, it's 9.0mm (.355"), 10.2mm (.40"), and 11.45mm (0.45")
Recoil: 9mm has the lowest recoil
Practice cost: 9mm is cheapest

For me it was an easy decision.
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Old 09-14-2015, 03:57 PM
 
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So FMJ 45 ACP > 40 S&W > 9mm in stopping power then? Is it significant, like is there really a big difference then between them in stopping power alone?

Also does penetration through obstacles has a term for it? I guess that means punching through body armor too then. Is there significant difference between those three in this category?
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Old 09-14-2015, 09:06 PM
 
Location: NJ
18,301 posts, read 13,168,911 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NJ Brazen_3133 View Post
Is there a significant difference between the 9mm, 40 S&W, and the 45 acp? These are probably the most popular pistol calibres around. I just wonder if there is anything special each one features that make one preferable to the other.

Like I am told 45 has the best stopping power, but the 9mm is the most accurate with I guess 40 S&W being in between. Is there really a noticeable difference in the features of each bullet though?
Bullet construction is critical to intended function
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Old 09-15-2015, 08:54 AM
 
Location: Chattanooga, TN
2,890 posts, read 4,285,922 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NJ Brazen_3133 View Post
So FMJ 45 ACP > 40 S&W > 9mm in stopping power then? Is it significant, like is there really a big difference then between them in stopping power alone?

Also does penetration through obstacles has a term for it? I guess that means punching through body armor too then. Is there significant difference between those three in this category?
  • By federal law, no pistol round legally sold to civilians in the USA can penetrate body armor. Military-grade 5.7x28mm ammo can penetrate soft armor, but that's about it for a pistol unless you go to one of those massive so-called "pistols" that shoot rifle ammunition.
  • Using full-metal-jacket (ball) ammo in a civilian self-defense situation is a very bad idea. I only mentioned it because the 9mm's bad "stopping power" reputation comes from the military. They are forced to use non-expanding ammo by various international treaties, so the bullet size is the hole size. A hole from a pointed 9mm bullet is smaller than a hole from an flat-nose 11.45mm bullet, so a FMJ .45ACP has significantly more "stopping power" than a FMJ 9mm NATO.
  • None of the above logic applies to expanding self-defense ammo!!!!!!!!! Practice with cheap FMJ, then spend $30 on 20 good cartridges to keep in your weapon for defense.
  • Barrier penetrations is a two-edged sword. The ability to punch through a wall or car door to hit a bad guy is good; the fact that if you miss the bullet will keep penetrating through walls and car doors to hit innocents is bad. Some here may disagree with me, but very few self-defense shootings require you to shoot through anything to hit a bad guy. And even if it did, shooting at something you can't see is generally a bad idea. Think of only a few sheets of gyp-board separating your bullet from a sleeping kid or neighbor. This is another reason why FMJ ammo is bad for self defense. No expansion = more penetration, which increases the odds that your bullet will keep going and hit something you don't want to hit.
  • For me, the order is 9mm -> .40S&W -> .45 ACP. According to FBI research all three have equal stopping power with modern self-defense bullets. The 9mm can hold more shots in the same size gun with less recoil, therefore it wins in my opinion.
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Old 09-15-2015, 09:59 AM
 
Location: Florida & Cebu, Philippines
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To add to the above post, I always shoot at least 100 rounds of the ammo I am going to carry in my carry firearm, to make sure it is going to work 100% of the time. With most top brand firearms shooting 100 rounds of carry ammo may not be necessary but I would still recommend shooting a couple of magazines before using that ammo to carry. I have had a Kahr jam with 147 grain ammo right in the first magazines worth of hp, even though I had already put 200 rounds of ball through it.

Also, I formerly own a gun and Pawn shop and was always amazed at how many people came in to sell a firearm they carried for self defense and had a magazine full of hollow points that some would not even chamber or jammed as soon as I tried to test fire their gun into my bullet trap. Not all firearms work well with all ammo, especially the smaller ones. Check with the manufacturer what ammo they recommend especially if you have the book that comes with the firearm and also do some online research.
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Old 09-15-2015, 08:36 PM
 
Location: New Mexico
502 posts, read 1,254,392 times
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9mm or 40 might expand. A 45 isn't ever going to shrink!
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Old 09-16-2015, 12:30 AM
 
10,086 posts, read 8,440,839 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jwkilgore View Post
  • By federal law, no pistol round legally sold to civilians in the USA can penetrate body armor. Military-grade 5.7x28mm ammo can penetrate soft armor, but that's about it for a pistol unless you go to one of those massive so-called "pistols" that shoot rifle ammunition.
  • Using full-metal-jacket (ball) ammo in a civilian self-defense situation is a very bad idea. I only mentioned it because the 9mm's bad "stopping power" reputation comes from the military. They are forced to use non-expanding ammo by various international treaties, so the bullet size is the hole size. A hole from a pointed 9mm bullet is smaller than a hole from an flat-nose 11.45mm bullet, so a FMJ .45ACP has significantly more "stopping power" than a FMJ 9mm NATO.
  • None of the above logic applies to expanding self-defense ammo!!!!!!!!! Practice with cheap FMJ, then spend $30 on 20 good cartridges to keep in your weapon for defense.
  • Barrier penetrations is a two-edged sword. The ability to punch through a wall or car door to hit a bad guy is good; the fact that if you miss the bullet will keep penetrating through walls and car doors to hit innocents is bad. Some here may disagree with me, but very few self-defense shootings require you to shoot through anything to hit a bad guy. And even if it did, shooting at something you can't see is generally a bad idea. Think of only a few sheets of gyp-board separating your bullet from a sleeping kid or neighbor. This is another reason why FMJ ammo is bad for self defense. No expansion = more penetration, which increases the odds that your bullet will keep going and hit something you don't want to hit.
  • For me, the order is 9mm -> .40S&W -> .45 ACP. According to FBI research all three have equal stopping power with modern self-defense bullets. The 9mm can hold more shots in the same size gun with less recoil, therefore it wins in my opinion.
So civilians cannot buy FMJ? What kind of rounds do they sell you at the range when you want to shoot?
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Old 09-16-2015, 07:46 AM
 
Location: Chattanooga, TN
2,890 posts, read 4,285,922 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NJ Brazen_3133 View Post
So civilians cannot buy FMJ? What kind of rounds do they sell you at the range when you want to shoot?
How did you get that out of my post? Full Metal Jacket ammo is very common and legal. You can go right now and order a pallet with 100,000 rounds of FMJ (RN = Round Nose = FMJ) ammo shipped to your door. You'd better have access to a forklift.

What is NOT legal is pistol ammo that can penetrate soft body armor. But no current standard FMJ pistol ammo can penetrate soft body armor, or any other type of rated body armor, so that law doesn't apply.

When someone talks about "penetration" with handgun ammo they're talking about how deep the bullets goes into the body, possibly after going entirely through an extended arm or perhaps through multiple layers of winter clothing. Or how many sheetrock walls, car doors, or windshields it can go through. Or whether it can go completely through one person, go through a thin sheetrock wall, then hit an innocent in the next room.
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Old 09-16-2015, 05:14 PM
 
Location: NWA/SWMO
3,105 posts, read 3,182,096 times
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9mm is superior for 99% of users.

Why?

Because with a pistol, it's much more about placement than caliber between those three, and 9mm is the most affordable and thus easiest for most to get in serious trigger time with.
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