More on self-defense ammo & why the FBI is switching back to 9mm (Part 2 of 3)

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In part one of this article, I made the point that you can practice with most any FMJ (full metal jacket) ammo at the range, but you should take advantage of modern JHP (Jacketed Hollow Point) technology when it comes to the ammo you use for self defense.

This would be the ammo that you put in your gun for every day, concealed carry.

And due to today’s technology — in fact the great advancements in bullet design since even the 1990’s — today’s JHP bullets all pretty much perform the same, regardless of handgun caliber.

Thefore, if they all stop a threat equally as well, then one should choose 9mm because of higher capacity, lower cost, easier shootability and possibly more gun durability.

I then received a lot of comments from people still not convinced about the superiority (or at least equivelancy) of the 9mm to the .45 for self-defense, such as this:

” … But when you see so many folks walk into the ER with multiple hits from a 9mm, and as the ER guys say, they get carried in when hit by a single 45 cal …”

And this one …

” … if one does not hit center mass or the T, it stands to reason that a larger round with more mass can at least “delay” a perp for shot follow-up, especially a perp drugged-up; hence, the reasoning for the .45 development for the Moros insurrection in the PI back in the early 1900’s”

And this …

“If I remember correctly the .45 round was invented for the U.S. Army. To take down the drugged up Morro tribe fighters .If that round was good , then, it’s good enough for me NOW!!!”

While these statements are passionate, I believe they’re unfounded …

In short, bullet technology has finally advanced to the point where choosing a round other than 9mm because of worries about stopping power are no longer valid.

Further, there are many other benefits to shooting the 9mm instead that I covered in my last article. But I’m not the only one who believes these things …

In fact, in 2014, the FBI revealed they were switching BACK to 9mm after practically leading the entire law-enforcement world to 40 S&W (after the Miami shootout in 1986 that led to them practically inventing modern ammunition testing because they were looking for a “better” caliber).

Below is the FBI’s carefully crafted letter, sent to other agencies, explaining their move back to 9mm …

FBI 9MM Justification

FBI Training Division: FBI Academy, Quantico, VA

Executive Summary of Justification for Law Enforcement Partners

*** Caliber debates have existed in law enforcement for decades

*** Most of what is “common knowledge” with ammunition and its effects on the human target are rooted in myth and folklore

*** Projectiles are what ultimately wound our adversaries and the projectile needs to be the basis for the discussion on what “caliber” is best

*** In all the major law enforcement calibers there exist projectiles which have a high likelihood of failing LEO’s in a shooting incident and there are projectiles which have a high ting incident likelihood of succeeding for LEOs in a shooting incident

*** Handgun stopping power is simply a myth

*** The single most important factor in effectively wounding a human target is to have penetration to a scientifically valid depth (FBI uses 12” – 18”)

*** LEOs miss between 70 – 80 percent of the shots fired during a shooting incident

*** Contemporary projectiles (since 2007) have dramatically increased the terminal effectiveness of many premium line law enforcement projectiles (emphasis on the 9mm Luger offerings)

*** 9mm Luger now offers select projectiles which are, under identical testing conditions, I outperforming most of the premium line .40 S&W and .45 Auto projectiles tested by the FBI

*** 9mm Luger offers higher magazine capacities, less recoil, lower cost (both in ammunition and wear on the weapons) and higher functional reliability rates (in FBI weapons)

*** The majority of FBI shooters are both FASTER in shot strings fired and more ACCURATE with shooting a 9mm Luger vs shooting a .40 S&W (similar sized weapons)

*** There is little to no noticeable difference in the wound tracks between premium line law Auto enforcement projectiles from 9mm Luger through the .45 Auto

*** Given contemporary bullet construction, LEO’s can field (with proper bullet selection) 9mm Lugers with all of the terminal performance potential of any other law enforcement pistol caliber with none of the disadvantages present with the “larger” calibers

Justification for Law Enforcement Partners

Rarely in law enforcement does a topic stir a more passionate debate than the choice of handgun caliber made by a law enforcement organization. Many voice their opinions by repeating the old adage “bigger is better” while others have “heard of this one time” where a smaller caliber failed and a larger caliber “would have performed much better.” Some even subscribe to the belief that a caliber exists which will provide a “one shot stop.” It has been stated, “Decisions on ammunition selection are particularly difficult because many of the pertinent issues related to handguns and ammunition are firmly rooted in myth and folklore.” This still holds as true today as it did when originally stated 20 years ago.

Caliber, when considered alone, brings about a unique set of factors to consider such as magazine capacity for a given weapon size, ammunition availability, felt recoil, weight and cost. What is rarely discussed, but most relevant to the caliber debate is what projectile is being considered for use and its terminal performance potential.

One should never debate on a gun make or caliber alone. The projectile is what wounds and ultimately this is where the debate/discussion should focus. In each of the three most common law enforcement handgun calibers (9mm Luger, .40 Smith & Wesson and .45 AUTO) there are projectiles which have a high likelihood of failing law enforcement officers and in each of these three calibers there are projectiles which have a high likelihood of succeeding for law enforcement officers during a shooting incident. The choice of a service projectile must undergo intense scrutiny and scientific evaluation in order to select the best available option.

Understanding Handgun Caliber Terminal Ballistic Realities

Many so called “studies” have been performed and many analyses of statistical data have been undertaken regarding this issue. Studies simply involving shooting deaths are irrelevant since the goal of law enforcement is to stop a threat during a deadly force encounter as quickly as possible. Whether or not death occurs is of no consequence as long as the threat of death or serious injury to law enforcement personnel and innocent third parties is eliminated.

The concept of immediate incapacitation is the only goal of any law enforcement shooting and is the underlying rationale for decisions regarding weapons, ammunition, calibers and training.1

Studies of “stopping power” are irrelevant because no one has ever been able to define how much power, force, or kinetic energy, in and of itself, is required to effectively stop a violent and determined adversary quickly, and even the largest of handgun calibers are not capable of delivering such force.Handgun stopping power is simply a myth. Studies of so?called “one shot stops” being used as a tool to define the effectiveness of one handgun cartridge, as opposed to another, are irrelevant due to the inability to account for psychological influences and due to the lack of reporting specific shot placement.

In short, extensive studies have been done over the years to “prove” a certain cartridge is better than another by using grossly flawed methodology and or bias as a precursor to manipulating statistics. In order to have a meaningful understanding of handgun terminal ballistics, one must only deal with facts that are not in dispute within the medical community, i.e. medical realities, and those which are also generally accepted within law enforcement, i.e. tactical realities.

Medical Realities

Shots to the Central Nervous System (CNS) at the level of the cervical spine (neck) or above, are the only means to reliably cause immediate incapacitation. In this case, any of the calibers commonly used in law enforcement, regardless of expansion, would suffice for obvious reasons. Other than shots to the CNS, the most reliable means for affecting rapid incapacitation is by placing shots to large vital organs thus causing rapid blood loss. Simply stated, shot placement is the most critical component to achieving either method of incapacitation.

Wounding factors between rifle and handgun projectiles differ greatly due to the dramatic differences in velocity, which will be discussed in more detail herein. The wounding factors, in order of importance, are as follows:

A. Penetration:

A projectile must penetrate deeply enough into the body to reach the large vital organs, namely heart, lungs, aorta, vena cava and to a lesser extent liver and spleen, in order to cause rapid blood loss. It has long been established by expert medical professionals, experienced in evaluating gunshot wounds, that this equates to a range of penetration of 12?18 inches, depending on the size of the individual and the angle of the bullet path (e.g., through arm, shoulder, etc.). With modern properly designed, expanding handgun bullets, this objective is realized, albeit more consistently with some law enforcement projectiles than others. 1 Handgun Wounding Factors and Effectiveness: Firearms Training Unit, Ballistic Research Facility, 1989.

B. Permanent Cavity:

The extent to which a projectile expands determines the diameter of the permanent cavity which, simply put, is that tissue which is in direct contact with the projectile and is therefore destroyed. Coupled with the distance of the path of the projectile (penetration), the total permanent cavity is realized. Due to the elastic nature of most human tissue and the low velocity of handgun projectiles relative to rifle projectiles, it has long been established by medical professionals, experienced in evaluating gunshot wounds, that the damage along a wound path visible at autopsy or during surgery cannot be distinguished between the common handgun calibers used in law enforcement. That is to say an operating room surgeon or Medical Examiner cannot distinguish the difference between wounds caused by .35 to .45 caliber projectiles.

C. Temporary Cavity:

The temporary cavity is caused by tissue being stretched away from the permanent cavity. If the temporary cavity is produced rapidly enough in elastic tissues, the tensile strength of the tissue can be exceeded resulting in tearing of the tissue. This effect is seen with very high velocity projectiles such as in rifle calibers, but is not seen with handgun calibers. For the temporary cavity of most handgun projectiles to have an effect on wounding, the velocity of the projectile needs to exceed roughly 2,000 fps. At the lower velocities of handgun rounds, the temporary cavity is not produced with sufficient velocity to have any wounding effect; therefore any difference in temporary cavity noted between handgun calibers is irrelevant. “In order to cause significant injuries to a structure, a pistol bullet must strike that structure directly.”2 2 DiMaio, V.J.M.: Gunshot Wounds, Elsevier Science Publishing Company, New York, NY, 1987, page 42.

D. Fragmentation:

Fragmentation can be defined as “projectile pieces or secondary fragments of bone which are impelled outward from the permanent cavity and may sever muscle tissues, blood vessels, etc., apart from the permanent cavity”3. Fragmentation does not reliably occur in soft tissue handgun wounds due to the low velocities of handgun bullets. When fragmentation does occur, fragments are usually found within one centimeter (.39”) of the permanent cavity.4 Due to the fact that most modern premium law enforcement ammunition now commonly uses bonded projectiles (copper jacket bonded to lead core), the likelihood of fragmentation is very low. For these reasons, wounding effects secondary to any handgun caliber bullet fragmentation are considered inconsequential. 3Fackler, M.L., Malinowski, J.A.: “The Wound Profile: A Visual Method for Quantifying Gunshot Wound Components”, Journal of Trauma 25: 522?529, 1958. 4 Handgun Wounding Factors and Effectiveness: Firearms Training Unit, Ballistic Research Facility, 1989.

Psychology

Any discussion of stopping armed adversaries with a handgun has to include the psychological state of the adversary. Psychological factors are probably the most important relative to achieving rapid incapacitation from a gunshot wound to the torso.5 First and foremost, the psychological effects of being shot can never be counted on to stop an individual from continuing conscious voluntary action. Those who do stop commonly do so because they decide to, not because they haveto.

The effects of pain are often delayed due to survival patterns secondary to “fight or flight” reactions within the body, drug/alcohol influences and in the case of extreme anger or aggression, pain can simply be ignored. Those subjects who decide to stop immediately after being shot in the torso do so commonly because they know they have been shot and are afraid of injury or death, regardless of caliber, velocity, or bullet design. It should also be noted that psychological factors can be a leading cause of incapacitation failures and as such, proper shot placement, adequate penetration, and multiple shots on target cannot be over emphasized. 5 Ibid.

Tactical Realities

Shot placement is paramount and law enforcement officers on average strike an adversary with only 20 – 30 percent of the shots fired during a shooting incident. Given the reality that shot placement is paramount (and difficult to achieve given the myriad of variables present in a deadly force encounter) in obtaining effective incapacitation, the caliber used must maximize the likelihood of hitting vital organs. Typical law enforcement shootings result in only one or two solid torso hits on the adversary. This requires that any projectile which strikes the torso has as high a probability as possible of penetrating deeply enough to disrupt a vital organ.

The Ballistic Research Facility has conducted a test which compares similar sized Glock pistols in both .40 S&W and 9mm calibers, to determine if more accurate and faster hits are achievable with one versus the other. To date, the majority of the study participants have shot more quickly and more accurately with 9mm caliber Glock pistols. The 9mm provides struggling shooters the best chance of success while improving the speed and accuracy of the most skilled shooters.

Conclusion

While some law enforcement agencies have transitioned to larger calibers from the 9mm Luger in recent years, they do so at the expense of reduced magazine capacity, more felt recoil, and given adequate projectile selection, no discernible increase in terminal performance.

Other law enforcement organizations seem to be making the move back to 9mm Luger taking advantage of the new technologies which are being applied to 9mm Luger projectiles. These organizations are providing their armed personnel the best chance of surviving a deadly force encounter since they can expect faster and more accurate shot strings, higher magazine capacities (similar sized weapons) and all of the terminal performance which can be expected from any law enforcement caliber projectile.

Given the above realities and the fact that numerous ammunition manufacturers now make 9mm Luger service ammunition with outstanding premium line law enforcement projectiles, the move to 9mm Luger can now be viewed as a decided advantage for our armed law enforcement personnel. 

So should you switch to 9mm too?

I’m convinced as I’ve ever been, I admit it’s nice to see the FBI thinks the same way, and I think the benefits of 9mm being cheaper alone — which means you should be able to buy more of it to practice with — are enough to switch to 9mm.

If you still want to stick with your .40 or .45 then I guess you can, but you’ll have to admit that there’s no real reason other than “I like it” that you’re staying with a larger caliber.

In the 21st century, according to the FBI, there are 9mm projectiles that are outperforming most of the premium .40 S&W and .45 Auto projectiles …

In short, as the FBI sums it up by saying “Given contemporary bullet construction, LEO’s can field (with proper bullet selection) 9mm Lugers with all of the terminal performance potential of any other law enforcement pistol caliber with none of the disadvantages present with the “larger” calibers

So what ammunition should you use?

Where is the approved list of self-defense ammo that I’ve been promising you?

Again, we are out of time …

After all the comments from the previous article, I figured we needed to spend a lot more time on why there are no benefits to the larger calibers …

And when I found the FBI’s justification letter, I realized that I could share it with you and it would tell the story much better than I could.

So this series has grown to 3 parts and I’ll share the “approved” list of self-defense ammo with you in my next article, don’t miss it!

 

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Previous articleThe CRITICAL difference between self-defense & practice ammo (Part 1 of 2)
Next articleThe “approved” list of self-defense ammunition (is your ammo on this list?) pt 3 of 3
Caleb
Caleb Lee is the #1 best-selling author of "Concealed Carry 101" and founder of PreparedGunOwners.com. He is a civilian (no law enforcement or military experience) who shares information about self-defense and becoming more self-reliant. He's a 1st degree black belt in Taekwondo, NRA Certified Basic Pistol & Personal Protection Inside The Home Instructor, Concealed Carry Academy Instructor certified & also a graduate of the Rangermaster firearms instructor course. He's also the author of numerous online courses including the UndergroundAssaultRifle.com course.

47 COMMENTS

  1. First and formost, the study mentions “struggling shooters”. I have to agree. 9mm is definitely easier to handle and ‘double tap’ for inexperienced shooters. I hate to admit there are such on probably most if not all police departments. However, more experienced shooters can easily shoot the 45 as well as the 9mm. I can hold tighter groups, double tapping, then I can 9mm. However, at the distance most shootings occur (less then 21 feet) the more accurate 45 vs. 9mm shouldn’t come into play, So, for inexperienced shooters, I wholeheartedly agree. However, I no longer trust the FBI. They have become a political arm of the white house. They now say what the white house tells them to say. It’s a crying shame I say this about another law enforcement agency, but I guess lately politics are part of law enforcement. In the 31 years I was in law enforcement, I rarely saw it in the rank and file. I’ll keep my 45 thanks. When the time comes I no longer shoot it well, I go back to my Sig 226. I hope that time never comes.

    • Hey Marty,

      Thanks for the comments — I trust any FedGov agent just as far as I can throw them … or even less.

      But, as I’ll share some more ballistic testing later, their ballistic testing is top notch. Now that ballistic gelatin is more readily available you’ll see many independent civilians back up all their results as well.
      That’s not even mentioning Doctor Gary Roberts (DocGKR) and International Wound Ballistics Association (IWBA) and their extensive testing … who I will introduce in part 3 and rely on heavily.

      • Just watched the FBI cordon off the area in Garland, TX after the shooting. Gone are the lean, mean sharp dressed G men. The new breed is slovenly, overweight and could pass for Michael Moore imitations. They are now on par with the EPA and Dept. of Education, along with their statistics.

      • first i will apologize for my english it was my worst subject, but that does not mean my points are not valid…

        great article and all i have to say is it depends on who you are. there are a lot of almost or just about the same in the article. the 357 mag was king of the one shot stops for a long time. being old i have not seen the new figures. here is just my opinion. most of the ammo companies have dropped the velocity of all the rounds from what i have seen. even the 357 mag. i believe that is very important for one shot stops. velocity. now the 357 mag 125 gr. also fragmented and i also believe that also helped in stopping power. bonded bullets stopped a lot of that fragmenting. now before better bullets the light bullet, i think 40 sw 155 gr loaded up to close to it’s max velocity came in very close to the 357 mag. i think it was like 94% to 97%. so that is what i take from the article is the difference is small. let me say i do not have any real world experience and hope to never have.

        the new bullets open up and slice through whatever with those rotating blades off the bullet. making bigger holes and making it more effective. close is not the same. while i have a 9mm to practice with that is essentially the same as the 40 i used to carry making practice cheaper and not changing the type of gun used to carry. i switched to the 357 sig in the same frame to carry now. if the bullets open as they are suppose to we all have to agree that the 45 will make the biggest hole and that is why the flying ash tray was so popular. the 40 will be next and then the 9 in final diameter or the hole it makes.

        the reason rifles are so much better is velocity and it is the same with bullets. like i said earlier they seem to load down the velocity of the bullets all of them now a days. there are a few that load up a bit but not many. if i remember correctly force is mass times velocity squared so velocity plays a big factor. why are they loading down? i think it is control-ability. it could also be cost savings and other factors such as liability. this is a disservice to those that can handle the recoil. i believe they are switching back to 9’s because the terminal performance is close but not the same. making it a better caliber for as you stated most. it is cheaper but when have you known a government to worry about cost? that is for the pee ons to worry about they have to pay for everything.

        when we look at one shot stops the more popular calibers receive more data and the statistics are more better because of it. so those calibers used less might not show the same accuracy in statistics as those that are more popular. now here is the kicker. they are close, now if i were gambling i would want the biggest chance of winning possible. or if my odds of winning were 85% and i could increase that to say 90% i would surly take it. to me that also includes self defense which we are gambling our lives with. of course it is more then that and if we cannot handle the round we are shooting we should go to one we can handle.

        as was stated most can handle the 9 better, most. so some can handle the 40 just as well as those that handle the nine, and maybe even better. they are working on averages and i am an individual. everyone has to decide for themselves what is best and what they can handle. they are ordering for everyone and put some of the people at a slight disadvantage because of it. as i said mostly i practice with the nine.

        when the adrenaline is flowing i do not think that i will feel the difference with the nine or the 40 they feel close to me already. i have switched to the 357 sig just because of the velocity and i do not think the kick is much different with it and maybe even less then with the heavier bullet in the 40. i know no one will finish this argument and it is just my 2 cents worth out of a million dollars.

        STILL THANKS FOR THE ARTICLE!! everyone needs to think about what they are doing before the fact not afterwards. keep up the good work and there is certainly room for different opinions, i guess even mine which is not worth much. sometimes close is only good in horseshoes and my life even if it is only a couple of percentage points is worth every penny.

    • ATTENTION ALL YOU FOLKS LIVING IN BEAR COUNTRY!!! YOU NO LONGER NEED TO CARRY THOSE BIG BORE HANDGUNS FOR PROTECTION AGAINST THOSE NASTY GRIZZLY BEARS!! According to the FBI any 9mm hand gun with the right ammo will bring down those nasty old bears just as good as those 45 and 357 and 500 Smith and Wesson handguns! RIGHT!!

      • @ Day: … umm no.

        But 9mm, .40, and .45 (even .357 SIG) aka all service caliber pistols … all perform about the same, and the additional benefits of 9mm make it the smart choice for many.

  2. I call BEE ESS !
    The instant studies do not address the effects of frontal shock delivered by a flat nosed projectile like a Wadcutter. Ask any Old School Philly cop why they loaded up their revolvers with Wadcutters when out and around in Hellholes like Germantown or North Philly.
    Also, pertinent to the specific issue at hand; I don’t care how crazy or drugged up an attacking adversary is…
    THEY ALL FALL TO THE modified BALL.
    ONE .45ACP ( or .357MAG or SIG for that matter ) with an appropriate bullet ( HP/FRAG/DUM_DUM/SHOK )
    placed HIGH CENTER MASS, as well as the certain effect Cervical or Fatal Tee hit…
    will TOTALLY ruin an adversary’s day.
    Again, if 100+ years ago the FMJ 230 grain would terminally drop a hopped up Moro ( that tribe STILL a wacky problem TODAY ), that cartridge TODAY with a much more destructive projectile is good enough for me.
    The Double and Triple Tap Drills with 9mm exist because they have to.
    Thank you for your consideration.
    If you’re lucky, there will not be a Live Action Quiz.

    • @AHR: Again, you can believe what you want but all the empirical and real world evidence collected over the last 100 years proves you wrong.

      I know this is hard for .45 lovers to understand but as the FBI report states, “Handgun Stopping Power Is a Myth”. And even with the .45 that you and others believe is so powerful 1.) the scientific data and 2.) actual experience proves otherwise.

      The FBI report covers the scientific data so as an example of real world data, here is a Police Officer who shot a suspect SEVENTEEN (17) times with a .45 and the suspect did not “terminally drop” from just “ONE” shot. It took the final 3 shots to the HEAD of the assailant before he stopped fighting. What’s more: the suspect was NOT on drugs. He was just determined. “Remarkably, the gunman was still showing vital signs when EMS arrived. Sheer determination, it seemed, kept him going, for no evidence of drugs or alcohol was found in his system.”
      Source: Click here for the full story

      You are wrong. Handgun stopping power is a myth. I recommend 9mm for all the reasons stated in my 2 articles before. And if you choose to carry .45 because you LIKE it then that’s fine. But don’t pretend that the .45 has some mythical power to “one shot stop” anyone. It doesn’t.

      • Ok to make some light on some of these comments.
        First to take a life is not glorious also it isn’t something to take lightly! I have had to pull that trigger several times. & I really do not care how the FBI puts it’s study. For these reasons one if you play through your mind mock situations of all ways that could happen on any number of call’s you will have better self control in the situation if it should ever come to pass! Which will increase your ability to perform under stress & remember to control yourself do not freak out! Because if you do you have already lost you will have only a 10% to 20% chance of survival of a shooting. Now the calmer you train yourself to be the higher of chance to live threw it. (But I have had this training more advanced then most will ever get due to the intense training in the military) so I do understand that is something you have to teach yourself on your time because no matter how much training you get in law enforcement you can not rely on it all the way because it just teaches you basics not what you will need when that time comes. Now as in for caliber of a bullet it will matter to a point. Have you ever tried shooting the steel plates with the hinge better known as popcorn targets it takes 2 rounds of 9mm if not more to knock them down compared to using a .40 or .45. Now the ammo will play a role as well & for knock down with one round it can be done as long as you are a dead shot just under the chin center of the throat to sever the spinal cord to the head but that is not going to happen for 99% of law enforcement because that is not part of the training. But to put it straight yes 9mm is the easiest to shoot & can get the job done if had to. But all of us as law enforcement know that a .22 is one of the deadliest rounds but not something to use as duty weapon so I will have to say allot falls to placement of each round and the know how to do it. & just how much is your life worth to you. Because I have personally seen how a 9mm impact’t the body as well as a .40 & .45 so it’s each to thier own in what you put as a value on your life as well as what is more comfortable to shoot for you. Because if your not comfortable with what you are shooting you will shoot poorly anyway. Because all rounds are deadly regardless.

          • Great points ? That guy (vet) is a total blowhard ! Just like you ! His sencless rambling and lack of punctuation shows he’s no military man or anyone with common sense ! He’s just agreeing with you and the fbi…
            45% of FBI agents are women, who in my opinion should be shooting 9mm ! Because the wimps of our public protection services are not trained nor do they even care about what they carry. To most of them it is just another item they strap on their belt next to their badge and cuffs.
            How in the hell are YOU gonna tell me caliber doesn’t matter ????? I’ve been shot twice so I have personal experiences with what you are trying to convey…
            Lemme geuss, you’re about to do a 9mm project to make some money. Or youre just dumb…..I own 40sw rounds that put out over 600 ft lbs of energy!!! I have 357sig rounds packing up to 750 ft lbs of energy!!! And 357 magnum at over 800 ft lbs !!! There is no 9 mm round in any Galaxy even close to the lowest 40 cal. In terms of ENERGY !!! And let me tell you from REAL experience. The transfer of energy IS THE MOST EFFECTIVE WAY TO drop an assailant !
            I’ve been hit by both 9mm and 40cal….the 9mm hit my right leg behind the knee, ricochet off the bone and exited one half inch below the entry hole….I was also hit by 40cal. In the same firefight. The 40cal hit my femur completely shattering the bone into hundreds of pieces . Many surgeries, halos and rehab followed this wound and the inability to walk the same was all a result of the LARGER MORE POWERFUL ROUND!!!! I wish I had ONLY BEEN HIT BY 9mm!!!!!

          • Not sure what is up with the hate train against 40 right now but hey I am enjoying buying up all the cheap 40 ammo. Based on the argument here the best pistol round would be the 5.7×28 (not the 9mm) since its moving at rifle speeds and falls into that theory and possible hydrostatic shock not to mention capacity among other things. Many so called “experts” proclaim the 40 is a Betweener (between 9mm and 45acp) round with no valid purpose. Thats funny because a maxed out 40 will shoot flatter and with more ft lbs than any of the top performing 45 ammo. And it also holds its own in the subsonic department with 180-200gr offerings which makes way more sense than trying to suppress a 147gr 9mm. All you have going for you at 1050 fps is weight and bc. So to me its not really in between anything but more of a performer. In reality the 40 shares a lot of similarities with the 300 Aac as far as utility goes. In terms of available ammo selection the local stockpiles will more than likely have supersonic and subsonic ammo for offer. While 9mm was designed to be supersonic and that is primarily the ammo most will find. Similarly the 45 will generally run at subsonic velocities unless you happen upon some specialty ammo at which point why not use a 40. Granted energy isnt everything. Problem is many of the mainstream manufacturers dont even maximize the potential of the 40. They water it down to 9mm levels, a 40 should not be at the 300 ft lbs range or the 400 for that matter from the muzzle, that is 9mm and 5.7×28 energy levels! Granted ive seen 9mm reach mid level 40 (500 Ft lBS) energy levels. It is available from boutique manufactures at +p+ and recommended for sub guns. Guess what, if you run 9mm ammo thats close to 40 energy levels you will have increased recoil and wear on your firearms. Not sure where the consensus came from that decided 9mm, 40, and 45 differences are negligible. 12- 18in of penetration isnt everything either. And the FBI shouldn’t disregard lessons learned in the miami shootout. The fact is the FBI are not testing the most premiums of ammo because I guarantee underwood is not one of the ammos they tested. Which is one of the few manufacturers that loads a 40 to where its supposed to be. A 40 should not be performing similar to 9mm levels. The trend is to overpressure 9 and under pressure 40. Which completely undermines the whole point and in those circumstances yes go with the 9mm. When the 40 is being maximized there is a difference of 300 ft lbs of energy thats being chalked up as essentially useless in comparison to the 9mm. To put that in perspective there is about 200 ft lbs of energy between the average 40 ammo and 10mm. I’m sure there would be a lot of B.S calls if one was to claim the differences between the 40 and 10mm are negligible.

        • Your .22 comment was dead on! I have seen a .22 short, go through a door. 2 sides of 1/16? luan mahogany panels, continue on, to go thru a sheet-rock wall. I don’t know if it penetrated the block behind the wall, BUT— I guarantee that even t a .22 short, is something you don’t want to be shot with!

  3. Perhaps if they took time to actually train their agents who carry weapons to learn to shoot the miss rate would drop. If you miss between 10

    • @James: yeah, but then again I’ve never been in the high adrenaline life or death gun fight. Take your best day at the range and cut your performance in half. That’s probably how accurate you will be. But yes, train more (and it’s not just the FBI, police regularly MISS 80% of their shots — which is why the stupid anti-gunner argument that only police should have guns because they are “so well trained” is stupid).

  4. It’s nice that me and my partner, FICA , can have the FBI afford to run all these tests,
    but one of my instructors years ago said.. “But, can you really trust the advice of
    anyone that has never responded to a 911 call..?”.

  5. If you shoot a person in the pelvic area I guarantee you the will stop advancing; especially with a double tap. Then just walk up and cuff em.

    • @Roast_Pork: yes, there are very few people who are interested in continuing a fight after getting shot in the man parts lol

    • if I’m going to, shoot someone in my house your going out in a body bag plain and simple I’m not getting sued later for pain and suffering. I use the Judge In my home for SD and two rounds in the head will put down anyone on anything. hard to still be alive with the back of your head blown out, I’m, more than willing to paint over the mess, it is loaded with the Self Defense 3 slug rounds and at 15 to 25 feet no one on anything can stand up to that

  6. Caleb; I thank God have never had to shoot anyone. I used to hunt and had many experiences shooting deer. From what the experts, whoever they are, say deer are the closest in size and vitality to humans. Well I’ve seen them fall after being hit by 3 double O shotgun pellets. I also had a friend shoot one from his tree stand which was 15 feet up, with his 62 caliber smooth bore. The 60 caliber pure lead ball entered the top of the chest, and exited the bottom of the chest. We found no blood and had to make ever expanding circles to find the deer. It traveled at least 100 yards before expiring. I relate these incident to show that no one can predict the outcome of a shooting. Sometimes they drop at the first shot, and sometimes you will have to beat them with the empty gun to put them down. By the way I have over 50 years experience hunting, and I know I haven’t seen it all. As I emailed to you before about how to clear a jam. Use a revolver they don’t jam, and you can load them with hard cast lead alloy bullets with wide flat noses that will out penetrate any jacketed bullet. If you learn to hit what you are shooting at you don’t need 17 round magazines, in the event you do need that much firepower, better get an AR or AK.

    • @ Bud: Great point from hunting I totally agree. Can’t ever count on a “one stop shot”. Great point from hunting!

  7. Carry what you own. Most of us cannot buy an infinite number of guns, just to have one. Me, I have a 40, and since I am left handed (many, if not most non Glocks, are difficult and slow to get into action for a lefty. My other carry gun is a 2in. 38 SP. Worst if all are 1911s. Try one from the holster in either condition one or two,

  8. The F.B.I. is allways going to use some kind of study to explain things, It’s got to be the whitehouse behind this as it would create another temporary ammo shortage of 9mm because if all the other law enforcement agentcies switch to 9mm and order up billions of rounds of it there will not be enough for the civilian market.
    I for one feel it should be up to the individual as to what caliber they chose to use based on what they feel confident and comfortable with, not what some study put out by the F.B.I. contains. As for me I’ll stick to my pistols in 40s&w or 45ACP for protection.

    • Like I said, if you choose 40 or 45 — and realize the only reason is because of personal preference — that’s great. Just the facts are modern bullet technology makes the 9mm just as potent and it’s also a great choice

  9. The 9mm is an excellent choice, as is the .40, and .45 ACP. However, the .40 Smith and .45 ACP are simply capable of producing more energy and momentum than the 9mm, 9mm+P, and 9mm +P+. If one were to compare excellent loads such as the Federal HST 9mm +P 124 grain JHP vs. the Federal HST .40 Smith 180 grain JHP, the performance is indeed similar. The 9mm load is rated at just under 400 FPE and the .40 is just over.

    However, if one were to compare the Underwood 135 grain bonded JHP .40 Smith vs. a 124 or 147 grain 9mm +P+ load, the .40 simply produces more energy and momentum. The .40 is capable of producing in excess of 600 FPE from a 4″ barrel. The 9mm +P+ cannot.

    The .40 and .45 also produce larger entrance wounds than the 9mm, and produce more momentum. If each round achieves 150% expansion, the .45 will have the largest diameter.

    For the most part, the 9mm is a great round. However, there are things that the .40 and .45 can do that the 9mm cannot, such as launching 200 grain JHPs (DoubleTap makes a sweet heavy .40 load), or knocking down metallic silhouettes.

    With that being said, I do carry 124 grain Federal HST +P 9mm as a defensive load. I also carry 180 grain .40 HST and Winchester Ranger 180 grain. And .45 ACP +P in various loads. The .357 Sig is a hot round, but I don’t have much experience with it. Some really like the .380, but I feel that it is underpowered.

    Carry what works for you.

    • @Accur81: thanks for the details! I like your last sentence “Carry what works for you.” That’s kind of my whole point — 9mm meets all the requirements that .40 and .45 do (namely, 12-18″ of penetration with similar wound channels) — so why not 9mm? If you REALLY love those other calibers go for it!

      • Plus Glocks and M&P’s have available Lone Wolf, Stormlake, and Bar Sto conversion barrels. A barrel upgrade, recoil spring upgrade, and mag swap essentially turned my Glock 23 into a Glock 19. The G23 can also fire the .357 Sig with just a barrel swap.
        Further, it’s a lot easier to find .40 Smith JHPs when we hit “ammo panics” due to school shootings and gun-banning politicians trying to vilify legitimate gun owners.

  10. I’m a gunsmith, a CCW holder, and a hardcore 2nd Amendment supporter. I carry one of three weapons every day. A Taurus PT140 in .40 S&W, a Taurus .357 mag polymer snubby, or, most often, a compact 1911 in .45acp. my own tests, on ballistic gelatin, goat corpses, and various barricades, lead me to disagree totally with your assertion. While it is true that 9mm rounds are improved, and do have better terminal ballistics than they used to, there is no substitute for size. I carry a .45 because they don’t make a .46. (LOL)
    I own several 1911 pistols, in several calibers. Including 9mm. There is, for me, no discernible difference in recoil- NONE of my 1911s have a difficult recoil. My 10 year old daughter can shoot them all just fine. So recoil isn’t problem. Single stack .45 fits her hand better than any of my double stack 9mms. And for ME, a ParaOrdnance P14-45 double stack .45 1911 fits my hand as well as the single stack. So size really doesn’t matter. Accuracy at distance is about the same from similar platforms between the 9mm, the .40, and the .45.
    Soo, all things being equal, I much refer my tried and true .45acp 1911, single or doublestack, to any other carry gun. And the Officer’s ACP (or equivalent clone from RIA, Kimber, or Springfield or the Para or STI double stack compacts) make excellent CCW weapons. I can see only one reason to own a 9mm. Battlefield availability of ammunition. Since I do not plan on being in any battlefields, I’ll stick with the 1911.
    All this being said, the .22lr on your hip is superior to the .45 in the drawer. Own the weapon you WILL carry, EVERY TIME YOU LEAVE THE HOUSE, and practice with it as often as possible, and you’ll be better off than owning the best available that stays in the safe.

    • @ Neale: Great post. Now, if your own ballistic gelatin tests tell you different — or make you feel safer with the .45 then good for you. But there is a VAST body of ballistic tests and knowledge showing most all service caliber pistol rounds perform about the same (i.e. close enough not to be the deciding factor in choosing a .45 over 9mm)

      And your other points about why you like the 1911 style guns are all valid (fit, ergonomics, recoil, size, etc) — but with the breakthroughs in modern bullet technology I in no way feel underpowered with a 9mm with proper JHP ammo.

      And I practice a lot, but I still love the idea of having 15+1 in a carry gun — more bullets is more opportunities. That’s a big reason why I switched from my Sig P225 that I love to the Glock 19 Gen 4. With JUST the Glock 19 I have 16 rounds of opportunity which is equal to the p225 plus a reload magazine. Now with the Glock 19 and a (Glock 17) reload — my normal EDC — I have 33 rounds of opportunity that’s easily concealable 🙂

  11. 30 years as an LEO, some 15+ as a Firearms And Use Of Force Instructor for the Federal Government. I had a chance to see the ORIGINAL taped after action report on the 1986 FBI shootout completed by Florida/Miami Law Enforcement in 1987, as well as talked to an old FBI Agent about the situation/Tactical Mistakes. So, when ever the FBI makes a black and white statement like Handgun Stopping Power is a Myth, I have a tendency to cringe. Is a .45 an end all caliber? No. But to say ALL handgun stopping ability is a myth is an extreme comment. And yes, I have read Fackler (SP?) et all and everything else I can get my hands on. Recently in Guns List or Shotgun News, I can’t find the issue, I read another attempt at codifying “stopping power” by shooting large animals close to but not hitting the central nervous system. There is some argument that higher velocity expanding ammunition may set up enough temporary movement of tissue as well as effect
    neural transmitters which could cause your ability to function if hit. Some people who have been shot said they felt a shock like getting punched, others have said their felt a hot poker type pain. Some felt nothing until they saw the blood. High velocity .357 rounds THAT EXPAND OR TUMBLE seem to have a decent record. But is everything perfect? No. THAT is why I wish there was a complete study of all current modern handgun rounds in use to get a better handle at what works. Yes, I like a Nine, as I can hit with it , especially using a MP-5. Speer Gold Dot +P is my favorite after I saw a test where a shot into a block of ballistic gelatin actually caused the front of the block to “jump up”. move back a few millimeters when hit. Of course, IT IS all about Hit Placement and Adequate Expansion followed by penetration. As they found out in the Shanghai Police, a very high velocity 7.63 round hitting bone was devastating.
    Give me an MP-5 with a barrel longer than a pistol and I am in Hog Heaven with any Nine round. But a Glock Nine is just Fine. Though a 10mm seems to work well on Hogs, which are just as tough as we are.
    Keep posting. It gives us all a chance to mull over things. Two to the Chest, One to the Head. or a couple Pelvic Shots. That’s how I Fly.

    • Thanks for the comments Mark. The point I think with the “Handgun stopping power is a myth” is that the endless caliber debates about which handgun caliber (typically starts with a “4” …) will cause a “one shot stop” are a myth. You obviously have some good experience and handgun rounds out of a “sub gun” are a whole nother story …

  12. Sounds like to me this is being drivin by the small amount of police shootings that have been publicized in the news. They just want to wound instead of kill, to take the heat off of the police or FBI. This is just another example of knocking under to the LIBERALS. This attitude will result in the death of the arresting officer!

    • Negative. This is driven by real world data and ballistic wounding info. NOTHING in here talks about “wounding”. It’s all about stopping the threat hence this bullet point:

      “Contemporary projectiles (since 2007) have dramatically increased the terminal effectiveness of many premium line law enforcement projectiles (emphasis on the 9mm Luger offerings)”

      Terminal effectiveness = stopping the threat = killing if need be.

  13. Gee Whiz!! Why don’t we just all shoot 22 Cal hollow points!! Caliber doesn’t matter anymore!! Give me a break……………………

  14. I once saw a real effective demonstration of different caliber rounds. A square 5 gallon tin can full of water was set on top of a concrete block. First, a 38 caliber round was fired at the can. Went right through. The second was shot with a 45 cal. The can exploded. The third was hit with a 454 cal handgun round. Not only did the can explode, the concrete block under the can shattered. I think that was a great show of the ”shock wave” effect of higher caliber weapons. A 38 being close to a 9mm, passed through, whereas, the 45 blew up the can. I think for now, I will stick with the 45 cal.

    • Water is a “worst case” scenario for testing a bullet …

      You might be able to get “ok” results testing “expansion” but it’s very very hard to test penetration with water.

      There’s a reason the FBI, the international wound ballistics association, and everyone who tests bullet projectiles for terminal effectiveness tests with Gelatin. And not just any gelatin, it has to be properly calibrated or else even that testing is not accurate.

  15. Ballistic gel is great for conversation. It does offer sound information. BUT flesh and bone are better. And shooting hogs of a similar size to humans seem to indicate that caliber size does make a difference. Of course that was before the 2007 date you mention. BUT, from shooting those hogs and from shooting deer of about human size, I have to say that caliber does matter. By the way, from what I hear (from a person who was there), the very best performing of ALL those different rounds that were tested, that the .45 caliber using Barnes solids in +P+ ammo won hands down. They created a better wound channel, better penetration and better barrier defeating characteristics. So there really is a difference. I will to need test them on a 200+ pound body some time to believe before I practice with them, but I will load a mag or two with them. Can’t afford too many of them:-) Great article by the way, and when I have faced real people with bad intentions I have been very comfortable with a Glock 17 and 18 rounds of 9 MM’s under my hand.

  16. This diatribe and its logic completely ignores the laws of physics — and the experience of military and civilian law enforcement. Sounds almost as if it was written by one of obama’s lackeys rather than by anyone with any experience in law enforcement.

    Just within the last week:

    (1) military MPs killed a Muslim sapper that had been hit a total of 27 times, including 6 head shots, with both 5.56 mm rifle and 9 mm handgun (M9) rounds, to include 14 center-of-mass hits. The fatal shots were fired at point-blank range by a 7.62 mm automatic rifle and .50 caliber automatic weapon.

    (2) a policeman was killed after hitting a robber a total of 17 times of the 19 fired, including 2 rounds hitting the perpetrator’s head. His service pistol was a Beretta 9 mm. The robber fired a single .40 S&W round hitting the officer’s left under-arm, penetrating both lungs and heart.

    (3) At a local hospital, an individual was treated after being hit 3 times by 9mm Lugar parabellum ammunition. His wounds were stitched, and the individual was sent home.

    The arguments used in this series of articles both ignore police and military records of shooting incidents, and are cyclic in nature.

  17. Brother, I hate to burst your bubble, but you are the one who is wrong. Your story about the cop who shot that perp 17 times with 45- he now carries 9mm. If you couldn’t stop him with .45, what makes you think a smaller bullet will do the job? Based on what? Funny how you included this story, but left out the story some years ago when Illinois State Police got into a shootout with a BG and shot him 33 times with 9mm and still kept going. It took two slugs out of a shotgun to finally stop him. Just because the FBI unilaterally declares 9mm the ultimate round does not make it so. They have gone from .38 to 9mm, then to 10mm (which their agents couldn’t handle), and .45, then to .40, and now back to 9mm. All at wasted taxpayer expense. How’s about you go interview the FBI agents involved in the Miami shootout and ask them how much they like 9mm? I assure you there have been more documented cases of failure to stop with 9mm than with .45. The only thing you can judge stopping power by is actual shootings, not shooting Jello in a controlled environment. BTW, if we are going to use Jello results, Federal HST .45 230 gr. JHP (my carry load) in bare gelatin will expand to a little over an inch in diameter. Show me a 9mm round that will do that…….. Funny that in the bowling pin and metallic silhouette competitions that primarily .45 is used. Why? The little German round just don’t pack the gear. Thanks chief, but I’ll stick with my tried and true 1911 (with 105 years of well documented history of stopping power with ball ammo and weapon reliability). Also, if 9mm is so great, why did the FBI HRT guys switch from the tricked out Novak Browning High Power to the Springfield Armory 1911 Bureau Model? Seems a little contradictory. Would you rather be shot with a .22LR or a .50 BMG? Tell me size doesn’t matter……….All this just to be trendy………..

    • Uhm, the whole point about the then-current 9mm loads the agents were carrying, was that the 115gr load simply didn’t have enough penetration. One of the bad guys was hit with that round, early on in the fight, and continued on with the fight until two agents were killed. His autopsy revealed that it WAS a fatal wounded he would have soon been dead… but the lack of penetration would have made that a later, rather than sooner scenario.

      Simply put, and one of the points this series of articles is making, is that the available 9mm loads in 1986 are nothing like the ones today.

  18. I use the 9mm Federal 147 HST JHP off the list but it was offered in +p so that is my top three rounds, the Lehigh Maximum Expansion (quarter size boat propeller…not good for bad guy) alternates thereafter with my remaining Winchester 147 PDX bonded (listed) until they are shot out. The Federal is half the cost of the PDX. You make the call… I also carry Buffalo Bore 147 +P hardcast outdoorsman in my third mag should I need to change mags and shoot through serious cover. Damn this warrior mentality…I know the world I live in isn’t what I grew up in. I can empty an XD 16+ 1 in 5 seconds and be inside the numbers at 15 yards…Then I take down my target and look at the 1/2″ holes in the steel angle iron holder overhead…and realize that those people too, may be out there. Crap! They tell you in your CC shoot that this not a marksmanship test (spread it around). Shouldn’t it be? In Illinois, you can fully miss the PAINT on a B-27 9 times of 30 (Nevermind “the numbers”, and most often at 10 yards), and pass. I worry enough about being shot by a cop (as the GOOD GUY), and then remember, THOSE people may be carrying too. Enter circular firing squad…Amen for JHP. At least we have a chance. Scary! Every gun OWNER I ever encountered is a safety paragon of virtue. The renters NEED help. Off my Soap Box now. This was a great series and I have shared it with many. Thanks!

  19. Not sure what is up with the hate train against 40 right now but hey I am enjoying buying up all the cheap 40 ammo. Based on the argument here the best pistol round would be the 5.7×28 (not the 9mm) since its moving at rifle speeds and falls into that theory and possible hydrostatic shock not to mention capacity among other things. Many so called “experts” proclaim the 40 is a Betweener (between 9mm and 45acp) round with no valid purpose. Thats funny because a maxed out 40 will shoot flatter and with more ft lbs than any of the top performing 45 ammo. And it also holds its own in the subsonic department with 180-200gr offerings which makes way more sense than trying to suppress a 147gr 9mm. All you have going for you at 1050 fps is weight and bc. So to me its not really in between anything but more of a performer. In reality the 40 shares a lot of similarities with the 300 Aac as far as utility goes. In terms of available ammo selection the local stockpiles will more than likely have supersonic and subsonic ammo for offer. While 9mm was designed to be supersonic and that is primarily the ammo most will find. Similarly the 45 will generally run at subsonic velocities unless you happen upon some specialty ammo at which point why not use a 40. Granted energy isnt everything. Problem is many of the mainstream manufacturers dont even maximize the potential of the 40. They water it down to 9mm levels, a 40 should not be at the 300 ft lbs range or the 400 for that matter from the muzzle, that is 9mm and 5.7×28 energy levels! Granted ive seen 9mm reach mid level 40 (500 Ft lBS) energy levels. It is available from boutique manufactures at +p+ and recommended for sub guns. Guess what, if you run 9mm ammo thats close to 40 energy levels you will have increased recoil and wear on your firearms. Not sure where the consensus came from that decided 9mm, 40, and 45 differences are negligible. 12- 18in of penetration isnt everything either. And the FBI shouldn’t disregard lessons learned in the miami shootout. The fact is the FBI are not testing the most premiums of ammo because I guarantee underwood is not one of the ammos they tested. Which is one of the few manufacturers that loads a 40 to where its supposed to be. A 40 should not be performing similar to 9mm levels. The trend is to overpressure 9 and under pressure 40. Which completely undermines the whole point and in those circumstances yes go with the 9mm. When the 40 is being maximized there is a difference of 300 ft lbs of energy thats being chalked up as essentially useless in comparison to the 9mm. To put that in perspective there is about 200 ft lbs of energy between the average 40 ammo and 10mm. I’m sure there would be a lot of B.S calls if one was to claim the differences between the 40 and 10mm are negligible.

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