The “approved” list of self-defense ammunition (is your ammo on this list?)...

The “approved” list of self-defense ammunition (is your ammo on this list?) pt 3 of 3

by -
105 181704

Nothing will divide gun owners like arguing which gun and/or caliber is best.

I quickly learned that with part one and part two of this series on self-defense ammunition.

To recap:

1.) you want to practice with regular FMJ (full metal jacket) ammo because it’s the cheapest …

2.) you want modern JHP (jacketed hollow point) ammo for self-defense

3.) because of bullet projectile technology improvements since 2007 practically all service caliber handgun projectiles perform the same, so I recommend people use 9mm because it’s cheaper, easy to shoot, and gives your more bullets in the same size handgun.

4.) Due to years of ballistic and real world duty testing, there are now “official” lists of proven ammo readily available online that you should use when selecting your self-defense ammo.

In short, if it’s not on the list below, then don’t trust your life to it.

Why bigger bullets do NOT guarantee “one stop shots”

As you’re about to see, all scientific testing on service caliber duty loads performs very, very similar.

The following gel shots by Doug Carr show that when comparing good self-defense ammo from service caliber handgun loads, there are minimal differences in penetration depth and temporary cavity effects  …

turn on images to see how all bullets perform

Yet, there are still people who want to argue this fact. Even though it is fact, not opinion.

I blame Jeff Cooper, the creator of the “modern technique” of handgun shooting. The shooting world owes a lot to Cooper but a couple of the things he preached just won’t “die”. Namely weaver stance and the .45 being a magical bullet that stops everything.

(We’ll cover weaver stance at some other time that I’m ready to receive fresh hate mail, for now I’ll just say that none of the fastest, most accurate shooters in the world use it these days. That’s a clue.)

Jeff Cooper is credited with quotes such as “any caliber is fine…as long as it starts with a 4 and ends with a 5″ and “the .45 ACP will instantly stop 19 out of 20 attackers

Now, I greatly respect Cooper, but his beliefs on the superiority of .45 ACP are just unfounded in modern times. He died in 2006, and since that time the  improvement in bullet projectiles has made the caliber debate pointless.

Firearms trainer Greg Ellifritz has said, ” No pistol works that well, and there is very little difference in real world “stopping power” between any of the calibers.  Check out my study HERE.   Most handguns stop fewer than 50% of attackers with one shot.  It will generally take 2-3 shots to bring an attacker down.  Expect that.

Why one cop now carries 145 rounds of ammo on the job …

Lastly, I know there are still those of you reading this and about to blow a top because you can’t believe that .45 is somehow not a “man stopper” …

I am about to prove to you scientifically that the 9mm is just as effective as the .45 with today’s modern ammo, but you’ll want to reply with what you know to be true, have seen, or “real world experience” …

Before you do that, you should know about Police Sergeant Timothy Gramin …

Sergeant Gramin used to carry 47 rounds of .45 ammunition while on duty. That was before he got in a gunfight with an attacker who would not go down. The police officer shot the man 14 times with .45-cal. ammunition – six of those hits in supposedly fatal locations.

The final three shots that the police officer fired were into the suspects head — one through each side of his mouth and one through the top of his skull into his brain.

In case you missed that, the officer shot the man 11 times with .45 and then 3 more times in the HEAD before the guy finally stopped fighting. 

And lest you try to convince yourself that the attacker was drugged up, to quote the report, “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.”

The full story can be found here on PoliceOne.com. But the point is that yes, even the .45 caliber will not guarantee you a “one shot stop”.

Oh, and by the way, Sergeant Gramins now carries a 9mm on the job …

… Now unfailingly he goes to work carrying 145 handgun rounds, all 9 mm. These include three extra 17-round magazines for his primary sidearm (currently a Glock 17), plus two 33-round mags tucked in his vest, as well as the backup gun [Glock 26]

If you are still convinced that your .45 is better, then there’s nothing I can say now that will convince you otherwise, so let’s just get to the list (which includes .45 anyways)  …

The Approved List of Self-Defense Ammo …

Whether they credit him or not, the entire shooting world–definitely online–owes a lot of gratitude to one Dr. Gary Roberts (aka DocGKR) from FirearmsTactical.com. He is a subject matter expert (SME) on terminal ballistics and much of the testing of modern ammunition we have online comes from him.

He has an approved list that is posted on online forums and is updated as new loads are tested of the “best list” of approved ammo.

Along with the above picture comparison of all service caliber ballistic testing above, DocGKR also says this …

“As you increase bullet size and mass from 9 mm/357 Sig, to .40 S&W, to .45 ACP, more tissue is crushed, resulting in a larger permanent cavity. In addition, the larger bullets often offer better performance through intermediate barriers. For some, the incremental advantages of the larger calibers are offset by weapon platform characteristics. As is quite obvious from the photo above,NONE of the common service pistol calibers generate temporary cavities of sufficient magnitude to cause significant tissue damage. Anyone interested in this topic should read and periodically re-read, “Handgun Wounding Factors and Effectiveness” by Urey Patrick of the FBI FTU, as this remains the single best discussion of the wound ballistic requirements of handguns used for self-defense — it is available at: http://www.firearmstactical.com/hwfe.htm (link is now dead, it has been re-posted here )”

And gives the following picture to confirm the size difference is truly minimal between mushroomed hollow points:

turn on images to see size difference

The good doctor goes on to say this to introduce the list. (NOTE: You can click the link for any of these ammunition loads to check if they are in stock at LuckyGunner.com!) …

Keeping in mind that handguns generally offer poor incapacitation potential, bullets with effective terminal performance are available in all of the most commonly used duty pistol calibers—pick the one that you shoot most accurately, that is most reliable in the type of pistol you choose, and best suits you likely engagement scenarios.

The following loads all demonstrate outstanding terminal performance and can be considered acceptable for duty/self-defense use:

9 mm:
Barnes XPB 115 gr JHP (copper bullet)
Federal Tactical 124 gr JHP (LE9T1)
Federal HST 124 gr +P JHP (P9HST3)
Remington Golden Saber bonded 124 gr +P JHP (GSB9MMD)
Speer Gold Dot 124 gr +P JHP
Winchester Ranger-T 124 gr +P JHP (RA9124TP)
Winchester 124 gr +P bonded JHP (RA9BA)
Winchester Ranger-T 127 gr +P+ JHP (RA9TA)
Federal Tactical 135 gr +P JHP (LE9T5)
Hornady Critical Duty 135 gr +P PT
Federal HST 147 gr JHP (P9HST2)
Remington Golden Saber 147 gr JHP (GS9MMC)
Speer Gold Dot 147 gr JHP
Winchester Ranger-T 147 gr JHP (RA9T)
Winchester 147 gr bonded JHP (RA9B/Q4364)

.40 S&W:
Barnes XPB 140 & 155 gr JHP (copper bullet)
Speer Gold Dot 155 gr JHP
Federal Tactical 165 gr JHP (LE40T3)
Speer Gold Dot 165 gr JHP
Winchester Ranger-T 165 gr JHP (RA40TA)
Federal HST 180 gr JHP (P40HST1)
Federal Tactical 180 gr JHP (LE40T1)
Remington Golden Saber 180 gr JHP (GS40SWB)
Speer Gold Dot 180 gr JHP
Winchester Ranger-T 180 gr JHP (RA40T)
Winchester 180 gr bonded JHP (RA40B/Q4355/S40SWPDB1)

.45 ACP:
Barnes XPB 185 gr JHP (copper bullet)
Hornady Critical Duty 220 gr +P JHP
Federal HST 230 gr JHP (P45HST2)
Federal HST 230 gr +P JHP (P45HST1)
Federal Tactical 230 gr JHP (LE45T1)
Speer Gold Dot 230 gr JHP
Winchester Ranger-T 230 gr JHP (RA45T)
Winchester Ranger-T 230 gr +P JHP (RA45TP)

Notes:
— Obviously, clone loads using the same bullet at the same velocity work equally well (ie. Black Hills ammo using Gold Dot bullets, Corbon loads using Barnes XPB bullets, etc…)

— Bullet designs like the Silver Tip, Hydra-Shok, and Black Talon were state of the art 15 or 20 years ago. These older bullets tend to plug up and act like FMJ projectiles when shot through heavy clothing; they also often have significant degradation in terminal performance after first passing through intermediate barriers. Modern ammunition which has been designed for robust expansion against clothing and intermediate barriers is significantly superior to the older designs. The bullets in the Federal Classic and Hydrashok line are outperformed by other ATK products such as the Federal Tactical and HST, as well as the Speer Gold Dot; likewise Winchester Ranger Talons are far superior to the old Black Talons or civilian SXT’s.
—————————————-

Basically all the standard service calibers work when using good quality ammunition.

Here are some useful resources:

http://www.winchester.com/Site…-SWFs/law_bullit.swf
http://winchesterle.com/SiteCollecti…20Protocol.pdf

http://le.atk.com/wound_ballistics/l…omparison.aspx
http://le.atk.com/resources/videos.aspx
http://le.atk.com/resources/technical_bulletins.aspx

The keys are:

— Cultivate a warrior mindset
— Invest in competent, thorough initial training and then maintain skills with regular ongoing practice
— Acquire a reliable and durable weapon system
— Purchase a consistent, robust performing duty/self-defense load in sufficient quantities (at least 1000 rounds) then STOP worrying about the nuances of handgun ammunition terminal performance.

What if your ammo is not on this list?

First, don’t panic, because it might not suck …

There are several rounds that are not listed because while they may be good they were not found to be the “best” of the same brand …

For example, Speer Gold Dots. The approved list only has “Speer Gold Dot 124 gr +P JHP” but you will absolutely be fine if you can only acquire the standard loading (not +P) “Speer Gold Dot 124 gr JHP“. The list just lets you know that you should look for the +P version and prefer it over the standard loading of speer gold dots if you can find it.

In fact, I could not find the +P loading at all last time I bought self-defense ammo so I’m carrying standard pressure Speer Gold Dot 124 gr JHP and it’s fine.

I would say that you are “most likely” going to be safe if you carry any defensive JHP round from Speer Gold Dot, Federal Tactical/Bonded or Winchester Ranger T — as they consistently find their way onto the list. The only other caveat is to generally choose the heavier bullets (for example, with 9mm – usually avoid the 115gr and go with 124gr or 147gr, etc)

That said, if you can find the ammo on the list just get one of the ones on the list and then stop worrying about it! 

Save yourself the headache and definitely do NOT not choose one of these rounds because you want to use whatever the newest, latest and greatest “just invented, guaranteed man stopper” bullet just came out.

 

105 COMMENTS

  1. The cavities created by the 9mm JHPs are notably smaller than those from the .357 Sig, .40 Smith, and .45 ACP. The expanded bullet diameters from the 9mm rounds are also smaller. Rounds from .40 and .45 cal have larger entry holes. This from someone who’s currently carrying a Glock 23 with a reliable conversion barrel loaded and recoil spring upgrade with Federal HST 9mm +P 124 grain. I’ve got 15+1 in the gun and a 17 round G17 mag reload.

    I’ll advocate shooting what you shoot best. If that’s 9mm, then great. I sometimes carry 9mm +P, with its wonderful capacity, and don’t feel undergunned. Of course I’ll switch to an AR or 12 gauge if I have the opportunity to do so. It can also be much easier to find .40 cal in an ammo panic or ammo sale. Plus .40 and .45 have more energy and momentum than 9mm. All verifiable facts. Check out hot loads from Buffalo Bore or Underwood if you don’t believe me.

    Really I’d advocate having a collection of firearms in various calibers to suit various purposes.

    • This is an interesting perspective …

      I’m more of the line of thinking that I want to “consolidate” all the calibers I use, and just stockpile those before a panic …

      • That’s not a bad plan unless a panic hits before you have a nice stockpile of ammo. 9mm always vanishes first or possibly immediately after 5.56NATO, .223 and .22LR. In the last panic, all of those basically vanished at the same time. I could always still find .40. .45, 7.62×39, 308, 7.62x54R, and 12 gauge. My 9s got to spend some time in the safe until 9mm started reappearing on the shelves as I wasn’t going to shoot up my supply.

        Caliber consolidation makes sense until that ammo dries up. If your caliber list is 9mm and 5.56NATO, you had better have either a large ammo supply or at least one other pistol and rifle in a different caliber.

    • “…there is no appreciable difference in the effectiveness of the 9 mm and the .45 ACP cartridges.”
      Vincent J. M. Di Maio, GUNSHOT WOUNDS: Practical Aspects of Firearms, Ballistics, and Forensic Techniques SECOND EDITION, Page 150.

      The good doctor has noted this, in very real human bodies, because it’s a fact. The “cavities” made by 9mm or .45acp bullets in humans are so close that one can not tell the difference. Same-same with all of the other service calibers.

      • not true. while i am not an expert and do not claim to be there are differences. everyone says the 9 mm is close to all the rest. well, close only counts in horseshoes… if you want the best choose a 357 mag, it has the best one shot stops of any caliber. while the 380, 9 , 38, and 357 all have almost identical diameters, it is the 357 mag the is the best. why??? well in my humble opinion it has to due with velocity. that is the problem with the 45 and the 380. there is a shock factor and temporary wound cavity. that is why the flying ash tray was the best 45 round. the 185 gr hollow point could be a lot faster.. now the 357 mag was the best even before there were good bullets, why?? well i believe it is because it fragmented also dropping energy on the target quicker as well as destroying tissue. now the 40 almost got up to the 357 but that was in, if i remember correctly the 155 gr load. faster is better. now i noticed there were no +p loads in the 40 mentioned and i have noticed the velocities of a lot of ammo have gone down for some reason. whether cost or liability does not matter, it is not a good trend. perhaps they think no one can handle the +p in the bigger calibers, who knows. while i use to carry a 40 my go to gun at the moment is 357 sig which seems to be loaded down also. not only do you need a good bullet, i believe you need velocity also. that means checking out the velocity of the ammo you are buying. velocity is the reason rifle ammo is better then pistol ammo. even the lowly 22 556 kicks ass on pistol cartridges. the shock of that velocity smacking the whatever is an important factor in my opinion… anything is better then nothing and would prefer a 22 lr to nothing. we all make our choices and try to live with them. i have noticed the HST seems to be devastating round and while i am not sure i believe the velocity is higher in that ammo..

    • I but store ammo for practice = easier to buy for “fun”. For hunting and self defense, I reload which is cheaper than store-bought, but I reload with Semi-jacket hollow-points. The “projectine” of choice is “Black Talons” which is made for 2x expansion and stating intact. They open into a 6-point “star”. ( meat-cutters) The 9mm is easier for lighter recoil, but the .44 is good for leaving a NASTY 1″ path / known to topple a 4″ tree with a single shot.

    • Although modern reliably expanding hollowpoints are crucial, one critical variable missing from this discussion is the concept of kinetic energy. It is not sufficient to ascribe smaller cavities to smaller calibers, although this can be an accurate observation.

      However, handgun caliber bullets of equal energy will produce equal cavities. From real-world samples, the threshold appears to be 400 ft-lb. Thus a 9mm +P+ at 435 ft-lbs compares comparably to the cavities created by .357 Sig, .40 S&W, and .45 ACP rounds that also exceed the 400 ft-lb threshold.

      We can say “x.yz caliber sucks”, but what we should really say is ‘any caliber bullet without sufficient kinetic energy sucks”. That’s why I don’t trust my life with any load below 400 ft-lbs, and carry Underwood or Buffalo Bore 9mm +P+ 147gr HP ammunition.

      • kinetic energy in handgun ammunition is not a reliable wounding mechanism — I should have dispelled that myth in the 3-part article. perhaps in the future.

  2. Yes, all the 9’s are “notably” smaller, but as far as how that plays out in terminal performance it appears it doesn’t make enough of a difference to matter.

    It makes sense when you consider that the difference in size between the .45 and 9mm hollowpoint expansion is 0.12 inches … that’s 3.048 millimeters … and it evidently doesn’t enhance stopping power that much.

    • .380 is not a “service caliber” pistol round …

      That said, there are JHP (jacketed hollow points) in .380 that do meet the 12-18″ penetration standard and they would therefore be effective for self-defense IMO. They’re not ideal but a .380 loaded with these JHP’s is certainly better than your perfect big gun at home (i.e. some gun is better than no gun). They are probably poor at intermediate barriers though.

      Anyways, mostly only the Hornady XTP bullets make the cut, see here for extensive testing:

      http://shootingthebull.net/blog/final-results-of-the-380-acp-ammo-quest/

      • Shooting the Bull has good stuff. He’s got tests of full power 10mm vs. ballistic gel. With over 600 FPE at impact, 10mm JHPs are devastating. The .380, with roughly 150-180 FPE in pocket pistols is not exactly a heavy hitter. I’ll probably buy a .380 anyways just so I can carry two handguns simultaneously.

        • Yup, 380 wouldn’t be my first choice … and really only pocket carry or some other type of “deep concealment” or backup gun role makes it viable … in that case, pay extra attention to the ammo you use in it.

  3. let it be said the improvements are drastic BUT I’l still take a .45 or .40 over that little 9MM any day of the week when it comes to dropping the bad guy. first the cop who put 17 rounds into the subject before he stopped him failed to mention that the GUY was on DRUGS with a high adrenaline rush my Grandmother can keep coming with multiple round in her Angle dust and crack addicts are the hardest to stop 1st they don’t feel anything second they are so hyped upon the drug unless you use a 12 gauge to literally blow their heads off to stop them instantly. and just because it’s cheap and you get more rounds per dollar does not mean it’s better. also when you have clip restriction like New York now has that Is a mute point. Me I have a Judge in the house for self defense with home defense .410 rounds in the cylinder 3 slugs and 12 double sized BB’s no one is getting past the first 3 rounds and if by some chance your still standing after those the last 2 are JHP .45 long colts no one is going to survive that in the head. which by the way break into our home and you will get a double tap in the head no shots to scare you no leg or arm shots straight to the head, if your in my house without my permission I’m willing to paint the walls with your grey matter

    • @ Robert:

      Couple things …

      The article clearly states that no drugs were found in the suspects system: “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.

      And you can carry what you want, but look at the data — the “little” 9mm you are talking about — the difference in size between the .45 and 9mm hollowpoint expansion is 0.12 inches … that’s 3.048 millimeters …

      Between the .40 and the 9mm it’s .06″ … These little millimeter differences simply don’t affect terminal performance as much as you would like to believe. But carry what you want.

      p.s. I will say your point about living in a magazine limited state like NYC is valid. In that case — why not (again, that’s another reason LEO switched to the .40 during the Assault Weapon Ban of the 90’s)

      • I believe the drug he was referring to was Adrenaline. It’s been known to have a tremendous affect on the body. I recall a story where a construction worker was capable of lifting a crashed helicopter high enough to get a passenger out from underneath it.

    • Well stated, the .45 cal has killed more people than any other pistols. I have a 410 at the front door a .38 Rosie by my chair and when I am in the bed room I have a 12 gauge by the bed with my .45 Desert Eagle on my bed stand. I reload my own ammo and I am certain all the ammo I reload will preform as I want them to. The 9mm got a bad reputation because of the shoot out in Florida. Several FBI agents were killed because their 9mm shot through the suspects. YEP if you don’t practice a double tap to the “T” in the front of the head, you run into the guy who is wearing a vest. Two rds to he heart area and two the “T” in the head in 4 sec. or less. Remember a person with a knife can run from 21 feet away to you in about 2 sec. maybe less. Practice, practice, practice, and more practice.

      • Practice!

        It’s worth noting the FBI testing protocols we’re talking about now, that these new bullet projectiles are tested with were developed because of that Miami shootout …

    • Robert, it looks like you need to enroll in a few reading comprehension classes. The article clearly states, “…for no evidence of drugs or alcohol was found in his system.” REPEAT: NO DRUGS OR ALCOHOL.
      Also, the morgue is full of you ‘macho’ fools. I bet you can not keep 3 shots in 10” at 15′ with your “judge”.

    • Ar 15 is primary home defense followed by M1 Garand then 870 with #6 shot. 1911 .45 for carry as I have bunch of HydraShoks through all carry mags. I can’t afford to reinvent the wheel so the federals stay my defense “go to” round.

    • you cant read, can you! report said the guy was NOT on drugs… or alcohol.
      you arm chair quarterbacks are all lame and blind

  4. What about Liberty Ammunition’s Civil Defense round? Saw live demo.
    Ballistic gel test looked good.
    Also- thanks for great articles.

    • It’s new … but from what I’ve seen it didn’t penetrate all that deep and at this time the only “light” 9mm load is that DPX 115gr that has made the cut (besides the bare gel, there are the other barriers in front of the gel that need to be passed, the denim, wallboard, auto glass, etc)

      • Like I’ve said, I’m just more comfortable with my .45’s. I think about 3 years ago, some hikers in Alaska were charged by a brown bear. He fortunately had a full sized 45. He dropped the bear with 8 shots. I have a hard time believing a 9mm would have performed as well.
        I use Federal HST in both my .45’s and 9mm as this is the duty ammo issued by the department I retired from. I’m sure the 9mm would have worked and we had many cases of bad guys shot by both calibers and live to tell about. We had one case of an off duty officer shooting a violent bad guy with a High Standard .22 LR derringer. The bad guy dropped instantly. In this case the little bullet entered his chest and bounced around off of ribs and bones causing massive damage instantly. Ya just never know.

  5. Caleb, this has truly been a fun ‘trip’, and thanks for playing ‘tour guide’.
    {:-)

    So, in light of Sgt. Gramin’s experience, the take-away is that SHOT PLACEMENT (what my Daddy used to call “gun control”) is THE crucial factor.

    In other words, one .22LR or .25 ACP round to the brain stem or upper spinal chord can be a “show stopper” while more than a dozen .45ACP JHP rounds to the extremities could largely be a waste of expensive ammo.

    That’s the end of the argument as far as I can see. (And I definitely need to spend more time training under high-stress conditions to ensure that the adrenaline dump and other factors don’t impact my overall effectiveness)!

    • Hey Ted,

      Yup, shot placement is key … believing that you’re invincible because you carry a 6 round magazine of .45 ACP is NOT a survival plan 🙂

  6. Why does everybody quote computer generated results and ballistic gel tests? Nobody wants to quote the Thompson-LaGarde tests of around 1905. In that test they shot cadavers real flesh and bone, and live animals. I dare you to try to duplicate that test today. This is why I prefer the 45ACP. I have never gotten into a fight with ballistic gel, although I sometimes argue with my computer.

    • Bud I would respectfully suggest that bullet technology has improved since 1905, so as to make those tests obsolete …

      • You selectively (1) ignore the “facts” that you post right here and (2) conveniently leave out about 15 different easily obtainable .45 options with 550 foot pounds, nearly twice the momentum of the best modern 9mm, which expand to 0.78 inches. Lol.

        Physics doesn’t care about 9mm rationalizationists’ feelings.

        You want to have your cake and eat it too. When it suits your predetermined 9mm love goal, you cite “modern” technology. When it suits your 9mm love goal, you cite 80 year old studies that involved ball ammo. Which is it?

        Many .40 and .45 loads have over 520 foot pounds of energy and about 1.8 times the bone defeating momentum of the best 9mm. The ridiculous try-hard +p+ dangerous 9mm garbage doesn’t count.

    • That would be because the Thompson “tests” are a farce, they yielded zero in the way of workable data, and they covered up and ignored that the only one of the bullets tested that killed a cow with one shot was the .30Luger.

      The FBI testing protocol is not just gel testing, these tests have been real world validated by comparison to autopsy results. The FBI test model is the very best and most realistic wound ballistics model ever developed.

      I’ll just leave this quote in closing;
      “…there is no appreciable difference in the effectiveness of the 9 mm and the .45 ACP cartridges.”
      Vincent J. M. Di Maio, GUNSHOT WOUNDS: Practical Aspects of Firearms, Ballistics, and Forensic Techniques SECOND EDITION, Page 150.

    • Yup, and the other problem with ballistic gel, is no bones, so all it shows is the wound channel. When a bullet hits bones, the shocking power is magnified big time.

  7. Wound channel is what matters .Smaller channel slower bleeding time larger channel faster bleeding time.I find hard to beleive that someone hit 3times inthe head with a 45ACP no matter the bullet grain weight still kept coming for more.

    • You may find it hard to believe, but that is exactly what happened. If your belief system is out of touch with reality, then reality is not the problem.

  8. Favorite home defense is a Pc 9 with a 30 rnd mag of +P+ ammo. Carry a Sig with +P ammo polymer tipped hollow points.

  9. Personally, my preferred ammo is the factory loading of the Hornady Critical Defense ammo in .40 Smith. I am a former deputy sheriff and corporal for an Arizona sheriff’s department, and the .40 is just my personal choice, and I feel confident with it. I carry 13 rounds of CD in a Springfield XD40, with two mags of 12 rounds each , if needed, which I doubt. Keep up the good work, but just as with anyone else, your opinions are just that, opinions.

  10. About seventeen years as a LEO Firearms Trainer before I retired and I always found a bullet going a tad bit over 1000 FPS usually had reliable expansion. I Know they have worked on .45 ACP, some .40 and .38 Special loads to insure expansion at less than 1000 FPS but I have to admit my “Old Dog” mentality makes me “iffy” about that. Again, if you hit the guy/gal several times in the torso and he/she keeps on coming, a “Zombie” shot to the head if possible, or knock them down first with shots to the pelvis. If they get up again, you may have just become part of the new “Terminator” movie! Keep it coming, good comments and articles!

  11. A new ammo has made the information in this article obsolete.

    See ShootingTheBull410 “Ammo Quest .380 ACP: Lehigh XP Xtreme Penetrator test in ballistic gel”
    Penetration, 13.5 inches thru denim, Temp wound cavity much larger than best hollow point AT 11 inches.

    Negative. Gross over penetration in higher cal.

    tnoutdoors9
    9mm Lehigh “Xtreme Penetrator” Ammo Review

    Couple of funny comments by presenter.

    “You got to be freeking kidding me”, after it went thru 32 inches if clear ballistics gel, 4 one gal water jugs and kept on going.

    “Hammer of Thor” after pass thru FBI spec denim , 22 inches of regular ballistics gel, one water jug and kept on going.

    There are other videos showing similar results.

    Other negatives.

    It is new ammo with one supplier and is such demand it can be hard to get.

    • He loves that bullet for the 380 doesn’t he?

      interesting design concept to get improved crushing from the bullet without a hollowpoint (which can plug up or fail to expand). Neat concept. But I wouldn’t bet my life on a new product like that …

  12. “…there is no appreciable difference in the effectiveness of the 9 mm and the .45 ACP cartridges.”
    Vincent J. M. Di Maio, GUNSHOT WOUNDS: Practical Aspects of Firearms, Ballistics, and Forensic Techniques SECOND EDITION, Page 150.

    • Thanks for the quote Chuck …

      BTW, is this “the” Chuck Haggard? Of Agile Tactical?

      If so, welcome! And thanks for adding your considerable body of knowledge to the discussion 🙂

    • You selectively (1) ignore the “facts” that you post right here and (2) conveniently leave out about 15 different easily obtainable .45 options with 550 foot pounds, nearly twice the momentum of the best modern 9mm, which expand to 0.78 inches. Lol.

      Physics doesn’t care about 9mm rationalizationists’ feelings.

      You want to have your cake and eat it too. When it suits your predetermined 9mm love goal, you cite “modern” technology. When it suits your 9mm love goal, you cite 80 year old studies that involved ball ammo. Which is it?

      Many .40 and .45 loads have over 520 foot pounds of energy and about 1.8 times the bone defeating momentum of the best 9mm. The ridiculous try-hard +p+ dangerous 9mm garbage doesn’t count.

      That book is obsolete if it didn’t consider 185g +p .45 with 560 foot pounds, which is easy to find now.

      560 way better than 410. And 1.85 times the momentum (matters if hit bone)

  13. Cor-bon Pow-R-Ball, a particular favorite of mine in .45, is noticeably absent! I also use Hornady Critical Defense when the Cor-bon isn’t available – a regular event for some time now. Other than availability, any personal objections to Pow-R-Ball and why? Thanks.

    • Hey Uncle Leo

      If it’s not on the list, then it didn’t do too well in one of the tests.

      The tests measure all around performance of the barrier blind ammo. So that ammo must have failed one or two of the tests … as for me I don’t know enough about those two particular loads to have an opinion.

  14. I carry 9mm, 40, and 45 but I know 45 is still the best. The wound channel may not be significantly different but those bullets tested in bare gelatin did not encounter bone. Military testing during the early part of the century found that at pistol speeds you need a bullet over 200gr to reliably break through bone and not be deflected.

  15. Regardless of caliber, shot placement is the deciding factor in lethality. That being said, medical personnel in hospitals will state that they see more deceased victims from larger calibers with less hits than with smaller calibers. Other than reaching a vital organ, penetration is not a critical factor,either. A bullet that puts all its kinetic energy into a human is decidedly more lethal than one who puts 200 ft-lb somewhere else after exiting a body

  16. I’ll take the advice of cartridge developers like Keith and men who have shot to kill like Col. Cooper. Not so long ago government dweebs shunned the 9mm after it failed to deliver in a famous Florida shootout. I’ve seen the 44 mag put down a wounded bull elk when a 357 couldn’t. This will come full circle again and the “experts” will go back to the big bore. I will concede that new loads have vastly improve the 9mm. At 65, I’ve known too many old vets, especially Marines who said the 45 was a magnificent fight stopper. The most successful gunfighting school in the country, Frontsight, teaches the Weaver stance.

  17. Although they’re not on the “approved” list, I’m quite confident my Remington Golden Sabre, 45ACP, 185gr +P ammo will do the job nicely with well-placed shots!

  18. Caleb, I carry a Ruger, GP 100 with a 4 inch barrel. I alternate my load. My 1st shot is 158 gr .357 “flat nosed” round. My 2nd shot is a Winchester 130 gr, Bonded PDX, 38 Special +P. 3rd round is Hornady Critical Defense, 125 gr, .357, FTX. Whatever I hit, I’m doing some serious damage. When I served (10th SFG), we carried a 9mm Beretta. While it was efficient enough, I’m just at heart and old fashioned person and like my revolvers. Plus, under pressure, I don’t miss. Too each their own, but I love my .357 and the quick load I purchased was worth every cent.

  19. The comment about what to do in the movie theater incident. It’s a piece of cake. I don’t go into any business which is a gun free zone! Since there is no such thing as a gun free zone (as proved in Colorado and many, many others), I simply don’t spend my money in such businesses. I don’t go anywhere where I can’t go armed. I don’t fly any more. If I can’t get there driving, I don’t go. It’s really quite simple.

  20. All that has been said in this article is basically true, but as an article by Mass Ayoub said on the subject, “If there is a shortage of ammo, like the one we just experienced, and you can’t buy premium ammo for your chosen caliber, I’ll take the 45 ACP ball ammo over anything smaller”. The quote might not be exact, but you get the point. I agree with this thinking. In other works, modern ammo is great in anything from 38 special to 45 ACP, but if you can’t get it, just like Cooper didn’t have access to the modern stuff, the big 45 rules. And that my friends is a proven fact of history through about four wars.

  21. I noticed that in .40, Hornady Critical Defense, Critical Duty and for us reloaders, the Hornady XTP bullets were all missing. The Critical Duty round was made with the polymer tip to prevent clogging.

  22. I found the article very interesting. Two excellent Calibers that are usually left out are the .41 Magnum and the 10mm. As you know a hot loaded .45 LC is more powerful than a .44 Magnum. Also the preferred caliber for the Hitman used to be the .22 LR. Saw the video on the where a .22 LR shot from a 1022 went through a solid 1/2″ pine board at 400 yds.

    • I’m all for blatant catiaplism and will be purchasing copius amounts of ammo between now and Sunday. Sorry I can’t redeem your discount offer at CCA, Tam, but my local retailers will be pleased. So when is National Gun Day? Does such a beast exist? If not, I propose that we start one. Given recent electoral results, we might want to hold the event within the next 60 days before our purchasing decision is limited for us. I’m considering a Beretta 94 in 9mm and can’t think of a better time than National Gun Day to lay out the Samolians.

  23. I carry a Gen 3 Glock 17 with 17+1 at 11 o’clock IWB appendix and a 3″ Ruger .357 magnum on my left ankle (yup I’m a lefty) as my BUG. I believe that I’m covered. If not I probably should not have been where I was. My Glock will always be my go to gun though even if I am carrying the much more powerful .357 magnum.

  24. The average gun owner should consider a good .22 that holds many rounds of ammo. The reason for this the average shooter is unable to hit a target 20-25 yards and many closer than that. Most shooters will be shaking and lucky at point blank range. If you have a serious situation you want to throw many rounds at the person even if you dont hit them most times they will depart because they are not aware of what ammo you are using.
    Not many people can handle a large caliber pistol effectively. POINT AND SHOOT DO NOT TRY AND AIM IN A SERIOUS GUN BATTLE.

  25. IMHO, many of you are fools! You write about obsolete tests of archaic ammunition using firearms only found in museums. Or, you claim the benefits of ammunition that was considered a good defensive round 30 or 40 years ago, that you can’t even buy today. (If that’s what you have in your gun, I feel sorry for your loved ones! High-pressure powders, and particularly primers, deteriorate over time. GET FRESH AMMO!) Another I liked was a test using cows. Two questions: When was the last time you were attacked by an armed cow, and what resemblance does a cow’s vital organs have with a human’s? Also, can any of you name a person who was attacked by a block of ballistic gel? The facts of bullet testing is that gel simply provides a repeatable metric. It DOES NOT indicate which bullet is more effective than another, particularly when it comes to the abilities of most quality defensive rounds. There has only been one test in the relevant past to produce quality bullet performance information. I can’t remember the name of the test, but it was performed in the late ’80s in Europe using French Alpine goats, and cited in Handguns for Sport and Defense. What made this the most relevant is that the French Alpine goat’s cardio-pulmonary system is almost identical to ours. Also, each goat was shot by experts who consistently fired into a small circle marked in the same location between ribs on each goat. Any “missed” shots, though extremely rare, were excluded from the results. Performance was recorded by the time until the goat fell to the ground and could not get up. The bullets were placed between all major nerves so the goat felt little or nothing. In fact, some continued eating until they collapsed! Any who were still standing after a certain amount of time were quickly and humanely put down. If this test could be continued using today’s ammunition we would have a truly accurate means of measuring bullet performance. Unfortunately, animal rights groups would NEVER let a similar test be performed. BTW – For those who like the AR in .223, it performed worse than most handguns, as should be expected. The military designed the M16, which became the AR15, to WOUND only. Rationale: One wounded soldier takes at least three soldiers out of the fight, one wounded and two to four to carry him out. As for optimal caliber, there is only one. To loosely quote Massad and others, the best caliber is the one you can fire most comfortably and accurately. (Mas said this to a friend of mine during drinks after a class. Others have published the same.) Finally, I PRAY none of you hot-heads who talks about killing someone, taking head-shots, etc., never kills a person with a firearm! Have you bothered to think about the consequences for even a second? (Answer: Duh, whut?) You just took a HUMAN life, POSSIBLY an INNOCENT one! Regardless, you WILL be arrested, more violently in some areas than others, and charged with murder! If you’re lucky, you won’t be imprisoned. Most of you WILL be taken to jail until the investigation has been completed, which may take several days. What if your “assailant” is found to be a kid without a record carrying the screwdriver he used to open a window, and you empty your gun, 7 to 21 rounds, into his BACK! There’s a CHANCE you won’t be found guilty of murder, but manslaughter is another question. You MIGHT NOT go to prison, but you will be a convicted felon who can NEVER posses a firearm again! Regardless, are you PREPARED to live with the guilt of killing a 16-year old kid who was running away from you for the rest of your life? Are you sure??!! Unless you’ve thought about, determined the appropriate action and how you will LIVE WITH THE CONSEQUENCES for every possible circumstance, then you need to put your guns away until you do! Taking a human life is NOT something to take lightly! Just look at the number of vets who kill themselves after returning from active duty! Lastly, forget about your accuracy at 25 yards. Almost all gunfights involving civilians are within 21 FEET! Be your best at 7 – 10 yards and you’ll be well prepared to defend yourself IF you ever need to. Just remember, the best way to resolve a potential assault is to de-escalate. Guys, chicks DON’T think it’s cool to see their date being hauled away in cuffs after killing someone, REGARDLESS of who’s at fault! A firearm IS ALWAYS your LAST RESORT! Apologize for something you didn’t do. Give a guy a $20. Do your best to walk away. That’s a LOT BETTER THAN TAKING A LIFE, any day!

    • Paul M
      I was looking some things up and clicked on this site and I am glad I did because it is a good site to subscribe too and after reading the post by Paul M I laughed at his comedic gold filled post
      The best part that had me near tears was the “Give a guy $20 and do your best to walk away
      I agree with the deescalating and walking away but I almost split my side at the visual of the assailant grabbing a victim and beating the victim and then this victim yelling “I will give you $20 if you please stop”
      Paul M I didn’t see anyone say they would shoot anyone in the back but yet you jumped all over the subject, does the words “Project Much” come to mind?
      How will someone shoot a person and not go to prison but still be a convicted felon? Self defense claims are looked at as justified or not justified and then classified as murder and then the murder charges are leveled at the shooter and then this person gets their day in court but the shooter is not found guilty of murder; deemed a convicted murderer and felon and then allowed to walk out of the court without going to prison
      Paul M. what state do you live in where a proven self defense case is a felony?
      We have “Castle Doctrine” here in Ohio and even with this great law your case better fall under certain guidelines or it turns into a murder charge and I love our castle doctrine law and hope I never have to use it but if anyone that I don’t know enters my house with a screwdriver then when this intruder sees my 45 or AR15 leveled at them then they need to stop or run out of my house and I will call the sheriff’s office but if they continue forward than I will believe that they aren’t there to commend me on my wife’s garden

  26. How did you find the info on “the list?” Ones I find (like ar15.com) don’t list the Hornady, for instance.

    Where does he keep the most accurate copy?

  27. Reading through the comments above I see several advocating the use of their personal reloads for self defense carry. There have been cases where an attorney, either a criminal prosecutor or a civil attorney representing the family of the bad guy you were forced to shoot, has used the argument that you were loading “whiz-bang anti-aircraft hand loads” because you just wanted to kill, kill, kill!! It is harder for them to make that argument if you are using factory loads and even harder if you are using the same ammo as your local LE officers. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been reloading for over 40 years and my practice and hunting rounds are all assembled by me, but I won’t give the other side any advantage I can avoid. Also, be careful what you post on-line about how you’d go about spraying an attacker on the walls and other such verbiage. If you are involved in a self-defense shooting, the opposing attorneys are going to go over your social media accounts and everything you post on-line looking for anything to use against you.

  28. I have noticed that none of these “9mm is just as good as…” articles ever mention 10mm. I suppose that is because no one is silly enough to claim that 9mm is just as good as 806 ft lbs of energy.

  29. The article argues that the size difference between the expanded rounds is “minimal”, but the difference between 0.62″ and 0.74″ is 19%. All else being equal, assuming expansion = damage = stopping the threat, I’ll take an extra 19% any day.
    So, is expansion mainly desired for additional damage or for limiting the likelihood of the round exiting and posing a threat to someone behind? If stopping is best obtained by hitting CNS, then vital organs, my greatest concern is penetration, which expansion stunts, by definition. In golf, there is a saying that you miss 100% of the shots that don’t reach the cup. If it falls short of the target, aim is immaterial. If your bullet expands and, thus, doesn’t reach the target CNS or organs, it’s a failure.
    All this leads to this question: If the FBI wants 12-18″ and many highly regarded rounds barely make it past 12″, aren’t they expanding too much and risking failure to reach critical points? Are we so concerned with overpenetration that we are failing to fully pierce the bad guy? I’d rather have a round that has a great chance of going all the way to the spine, then just poking holes (70-80% of the time for a pro) and hoping he stops in a while, due to blood loss.
    As I have never heard this point of view, elsewhere, and I’m a rank amateur, I won’t be surprised if I’m wrong. Thank you.

    • Tony it’s my understanding that 12″ being the minimum is a very well thought out requirement. But I get what you’re saying …

      That’s why all the “latest greatest” extreme killer RIP whatever bullets are junk — they explode and never penetrate deep enough.

      As far as the minimal difference in expansion between rounds, it’s just the facts of the matter. The 19% difference you speak of isn’t enough to matter. It’s my understanding trauma surgeons simply cannot tell the difference in gun wounds between 9mm, .40 and .45 in real live human bodies they’re trying to plug up/fix/save.

  30. Hmmm my comment already disappeared or I can’t find it. This is a good site to subscribe to and I will be reading more

  31. I carry either a 9mm Springfield XDs 4″ with an 8 in battery and two 9 round mags as back up, or an XD Mod 2 with a 16 rounder and 2 same as back up. For both, I use the Winchester bonded 147 JHP on the list. Summer is near. The Mod 2, kinda like a Glock 19, doesn’t care what goes in it. A round comes out the front end 100%, any grain, any type. With that gun, the top two rounds are the 147 Winchesters, then I alternate the 105 grain Lehigh extreme expanding rounds. Two hard shocks, then the Quarter size expanders, certified to 12″ The single stack “s” is fussier and I only shoot 147. It goes out the barrel 100%. That’s all you can ask. Reliability. The rest is up to you and your training.

    B2

  32. Am aware of two shootings in which perp took 12 gauge slugs in torso at apartment bedroom distances and kept fighting. Am aware of several fights in which 44 magnum 240 grain jhp ammo did not incapacitate the target after they had received one or more solid torso hits. Am aware of one adult brown bear charge being stopped by hit in brain from 9×19. (His buddy dropped the 12 gauge pump in the river while unslinging it.) Points: 1) the above examples, while true, are statistical aberrations. 2) tho not mentioned above, there are documented cases of elephants being killed with .22 Long Rifle solids between neck vertebrae. Those instances are also statistical aberrations. 3) the new handgun bullets are better than the old ones. 4) use what you’re comfortable with, hopefully the best platform you can afford. 5) practice a lot. 6) if you’re unable to afford practice ammo, at least practice presenting your gun smoothly, and dry fire a lot. 7) what you carry is your business, regardless of what anyone else thinks or says. 8) keep your damn gun clean, including getting the pocket lint out of the spare magazines. 9) stay away from people who cause trouble. 10) drink alcohol sparingly. 11) criminals are “notional” – if they get a notion squirming in their head that they want to hurt someone, they will look for advantage, and they will do it. They mostly hit very fast. They get off on it. 12) buena suerta!

  33. A lot of flawed logic here… the comparison gel test picture only shows one example of each round. In the many calibrated tests that I’ve seen, the penetration depths very much greater than this round to round and even with the ammo listed as approved in this article. Also I’ve seen .45 rounds on this list expand to over 3/4 inch and penetrate over 12 inches in calibrated gel in multiple tests. The 9mm in this list do penetrate equally as well or more but never expand that big.

    Here is the fault in claiming that the difference in modern handgun bullets is negligible:

    It’s a fact that Bigger diameter bullets that penetrate the same distance as a smaller diameter bullet will damage more grams of tissue as explained by McPherson (wound trauma index). When it comes to hand gun bullets people mistakenly compare temporary cavities where only permanent cavities should be considered. When It comes to life or death I’m more likley to use a round that will penetrate adequately while damaging more tissue. Tests have shown modern 380 expanding ammunition damages around 2O grams of tissue where modern .45 caliber expanding ammunition damages around 50 or more grams of tissue. That’s hardly a negligible amount of difference.

    I understand being able to have a higher capacity can make up for the difference by placing a few more rounds if needed BUT for self defense scenarios the average amount of shots fired is only about 2 or less thus making high capacity insignificant in most situations .

    To me a larger round has a better chance and no matter how small that chance increase is, I’m taking it. It’s a fact that a bigger bullet will damages more tissue, no matter how insignificant, a .62 expanded round vs .74 one will damages about 20-30 more grams of tissue,… That is quite different and hardly negligible and worth any additional chance it could accelerate incapacitation.

    • In the real world, the evidence from the past 20 years has proven that all service calibers perform the same (9, .40. and .45)

      • On what do you rely–the past 20 years or “modern” technology? Can’t have it both ways.

        “Modern” .45 can be 570 foot pounds .80 expansion nasty. None of the dinosaur boomer doctors who write those dusty books saw real wounds caused by these new .45 rounds. They looked at old ball ammo stuff.

  34. i shot a 140 lb pound deer behind the left shoulder with 240 grain hollow point 44 mag .it went clean through at 20 yds. the bullet left a 10 inch hole like cut with tin snips and emptying out most of his insides all over the bush behind him .i would not want to meet a man that could even move after that .

  35. Lot of nonsense here, from inexperience most likely. In the real world it’s about having experience in stopping the bad guy, not spouting off some theories about what ammo should be on a list. I’ll just say that I know for sure that the partner of a certain detective who was down, had pumped two rounds of 9mm Corbon into an assailant who kept coming and hit this partner in the groin and leg with his nine. The other detective was forced to take a shot at some forty yards with his 1911 in twilight conditions, managing to hit the moving goblin in the right shoulder. The bad guy spun around and fell to one knee, dropping his pistol, allowing the detective to get off a second lethal round when the bad guy fumbled to pick up his pistol. Having a 230 grain ball round saved the life of the detective down, and likely both detectives. Nether the nine nor forty-five stopped the crook with one shot, but the forty-five had the knockdown power to turn the tide. This is something learned for experience, not some gum bumping whilst making jello. Size matters, and I’m not yet aware of a 230 grain 9mm. I won’t trust my life to anything less. It is possible, perhaps, that Mr. Cooper knew a thing or three from his experiences that you don’t.

  36. User 1488 has made the point a few times, but no reply. There are newer .45’s, like Doubletap 185 BJHP with 616 ft. lbs. That’s _huge_! 9mm is not even close.

    Is this huge difference relevant? I don’t know, how could I… Can someone make the claim that a 9mm +P is just as effective…? My guess is that nobody knows, including ER doctors. It’s not like gangbangers (from which most gunshot wound experience is gathered) are shooting each others with the latest expensive ammo.

    I must say that I was in the 9mm camp until now, when thanks to user 1488 I first heard about those monster .45 rounds. It’s not that 9mm has suddenly become ineffective (!), only that it makes me think again if I should carry my G30SF.

    • Every report I hear from trauma surgeons still says that they cant tell the difference between 9mm and .45 wounds …

  37. From the article: “He died in 2006, and since that time the improvement in bullet projectiles has made the caliber debate pointless.”

    This ‘modern ammo’ drivel again. You do realize most of the ammo on your approved list was well before Cooper’s death and most of it was available in the mid to late 90s?? I agree there is excellent ‘modern’ ammo these days but let’s not overstate things here. That said, my carry load is the 180 grain PDX1

  38. Guys, I’ve been an HST fan for some time. I recently watched a you tube video of some Phillips screwdriver bullet that is a slight revision from the first version. This one us ‘Defender’ loads?
    What’s your opinion of this round (supposed to be a big cavity maker!).
    Thanks!

  39. I don’t want to sound so scientific (because I’m not). Has anyone compared the stable and highly regarded HST round with that new ‘Defender’ round that looks similar to the head of a Phillips screwdriver? The concave curves on it apparently leaves a sizeable wound channel. The video was impressive, yet no matter whether just gel or through a Lincoln car door, then gel, it never leaves the ballistics gel and almost all rounds end at the end of the block without exiting. Any opinions or concerns? It was .45 ACP.
    Thanks!

  40. I don’t believe or agree with the good doctor’s statement that there is not any significant difference as I’ve observed quite the contrary in my own analog testing. I’ve observed a lot of difference between the pistol calibers in my own extensive ballistics testing through several medias including denim/gel as well as pork meat etc. On average the bigger bullets just do more damage and I can clearly see it and it can be measured in my samples. By my observations the top 9mm rounds damage 35-45 grams of tissue where the top performing .45 rounds are in the 45-55 gram range with .40cal falling in between that . Now if all that damage is superficial it’s not as optimal that’s why In FBI simulated tests a minimum of 12″ of penetration In gel is a good standard as it compensates for bone or angle of attack. It’s my conclusion from testing that what it comes down to is that the added round capacity of the smaller cartridges have the potential for a greater cumulative effect but in no way does that mean a single 9mm bullet is equal to or has equal chance to incompasitate as a single .45 caliber bullet. The chances are already diminished with all pistol calibers, so when comparing bullet for bullet any advantage whatsoever should not be ignored. If my life counts on it and I had only 1 bullet left I’d rather have a .45 not because of some gut feeling I have but because I’ve seen the differences of terminal effects in my actual own testing as well as the test by others … Now On the other end of the spectrum, I might have more advantage with a high capacity 17 round 9mm pistol over low capacity 7 round .45acp 1911 because the cumulative effect of the 17 9mm rounds would trump the 7 rounds of .45 in terms of potential damage. It’s truley a numbers game , go with the platform that you believe gives you the best chance.

  41. With all due respect. Ballistic jell is misleading in a big way. It does not account for deflections off of bone and clothing (9mm) It does not account for impact punch etc. Before you dismiss me pay a bit of attention to the military in WWII. The Philippines… US military switches to 9mm for cost savings on ammo etc. What they found was a disaster. Enemies would comming through the brush at them. The 9mm rounds would not penetrate their shields of wood and leather. When it did it would not take the enemy down. The military heavily army lost many people over this and in the end within months the .45 was brought back and the issues disappeared. They forgot this lesson in the 80’s and switched again. Now go to the theaters of war and again 9mm has caused many fatalities. If you want to believe your report go ahead. For me and my family a .45 will be the defensive round. If you want to defend yourself and family with a little 9mm go ahead. The guy after you with that 45 will have a huge advantage regardless of what you said here. 9 mm rarely drops a person without multiple hits where a .45 does that job with 1. Looking at real world shootings proves this beyond a doubt. More rounds in the gun? I know 9mm’s that only take 5-7 (single stack) and I know .45’s that take 17-20. All one needs to do is research your needs and get the weapon you would most likely use depending on your circumstances. My wife shoots a .45 easily so that too is a mo0ot point. Its not the kick its learning how to use the tool you have correctly.

    • Real world shootings — contrary to proving the .45 effectiveness “without a doubt” — prove the exact opposite. It’s no more a “one shot stopper” than 9mm

  42. I am a fan of .45, but some here make it out to be this amazing man stopper, while the 9 mm is this joke that kids play with. Everybody knows that shot placement is paramount, but most people just glance over that.

    Speaking of man stopper calibers and shot placement… this is a true story, related to me by a friend who is a USMC scout sniper TL. They were in Kandahar, Afg., on the lookout for activity. They spotted a legitimate bad guy and got cleared to take the shot. Daytime, good weather, no wind, about 500 meters. The shooter put the first shot, a .308 into the bad guy, perfectly center mass. You would think that the bad guy would be pulverized (or at least the impact area), thrown back, taken apart, bleeding profusely… etc. Nothing like that! The dude remained standing, slowly looked down at his chest, then kept standing.

    The Marines were stunned, not believing what they were seeing. Eventually, the guy dropped to his knees, and then dropped lying down, but he was still clearly moving! Of course he was going to die, but he still survived enough to do something bad, if he just had the opportunity. The Marines eventually put some more into him and that was that. True story.

    When it comes to handguns, I’ll take the caliber that will allow me to put quickly 1-2 hammer pairs center mass and, if needed, one shot in the t-box. On a moving target, not bullseye shooting. And then be ready to engage another target, same ingredients. I just don’t trust handguns to get the job done, so I have to be prepared to rain bullets on the bad guy(s).

    The caliber that allows me to do that is 9 mm. As I said, I love .45, I reload it for fun, but for continuous controlled aggression I’ll take the 9.

    • Absolutely Nick! You can’t trust handguns to get the job done, so you might as well carry a LOT of them little BB’s 🙂

      And that sniper story is cool and I believe it. Heck, even without a heart a human can function for a while — long enough to do damage. Hence the idea of “timers” vs “switches” when it comes to vital areas.

    • After reading about it here, I actually bought this new, improved and real powerful .45 ACP Doubletap 185 BJHP mentioned earlier. I can tell you that, due to its kick, I would need _A LOT_ of practice with that round to be able to shoot it as accurately and quickly as a 9 mm. Even then, I am not sure I could get to the same level. Additionally, it would be a lot more expensive and tiring. It’s simply impractical.

      Now, if I remember correctly, stats say that most gun fights are within 7 yards and end with only a few shots fired. If that’s the case, I could easily handle a .45 today. End of discussion.

      However, call me paranoid, but I want to be prepared for the worst. That would be a gun fight that lasts longer, possibly with multiple bad guys. I’m not worried too much about regular criminals, more about the new type of shootings, carried out by terrorists. Those guys are usually not alone and come prepared for shootouts, and even if they are alone, they will not run away at the first shot like your common thug. Living in a high profile, busy urban area, I have to consider this development.

      Thus, my choice for a 9 mm round that allows me to engage possibly multiple targets, and do it in a sustained, quick, aggressive and accurate manner. if that ever happened, it would be one of the suckyest days of my life, but for me personally the 9 mm is the most practical caliber. It’s a compromise, not ideal, but unfortunately calling for air support won’t fly.

  43. Lots of good info here. I checked every brand listed above in 9mm, 40 S&W and 45 ACP. I checked of most them if they were available in 38-Spl, .380 ACP, 357 Mag and 10mm. They were tested in water and I was looking for expansion and penetration.

    The one ammo brand on this list I would disagree with is the Remington Gold-Sabre. Every time and in every gun the lead and jacket either separated or started to separate. This is the box that is green & gold. Don’t confuse with Remington Ultimate-Defense which is in a green and silver box.

    The other thing I didn’t see mentioned was the performance of the ammo from firearms with short barrels vs firearms with longer barrels. One must take that into consideration because in my test it made a difference.

    As far as caliber, I’ll have to read the story about the police officer who had to put three in the head to stop him. But the first question that comes to mind, in the same scenario, had the officer had a 9mm, would it had come out different? Also, I may have over looked it, but in the ammo test listed above I don’t see the hitting energy listed. FBI test or not, that’s one piece of science that can’t be over looked.

    I don’t think one can go wrong with any of these four but in the end, one has to be able to put the rounds on target in the right spot with sufficient penetration. As far as recoil, IMO the 357 Sig is the peppier of the bunch. The 40 and 45 are pretty close to each other with the 9mm being the tamest.

    I have all calibers tested here except the 357 Sig and feel comfortable with any of them. That said, IMO, the technology in recent years has really helped the 9mm when coupled with the recovery ability and the added ammo capacity.

    Good article, I’ll be reading more of them…

    Thanks,

    • Exactly regarding the officer and the .45 — the point is that ALL pistol calibers are relatively BAD at stopping people — so with modern bullet tech — you might as well pack as many as possible aka pack the 9mm 🙂

  44. I guess I was curious about home defense in the use of shotgun rounds. Also that revolver that uses 45 then what is it 20 gauge? At the end of the day stopping somebody making him unable to continue to fight is the ultimate goal. You’re always here in movies and things to in the chest one of the head? Is that generally speaking affective. The example of the man that was shot so many times and was still alive is such an out rages exception to reality that is I mean there a point to even bringing it up? I have a friend who is an LAPD SWAT member, and he was involved in a shooting where he shot a suspect was coming down the staircase outside of a building in the throat and basically killed him instantly just crumble straight down you know I didn’t fall backwards or forwards and just collapse like it was going through a whole but getting shot in that spot destroyed his carotid artery and is the vein on the other side and his spinal cord and you go disconnected his brainstem. Under pressure and that distance it’s so difficult to hit targets when the adrenaline is pumping and things are moving. People who’ve been in real gun battle know this, percentage of people hit their target is very low, that is the number of hits her shots fired is very low. When the head of the first seal team six program started, he saw his Warriors missing the moving targets with their machine guns so badly he had to devise training and repetition that ended up using more ammunition for the seal team then was used by the entire military (that might be a little bit of a overstatement but it’s either the Navy or the army or something like that, the fact is they used a lot of bullets in their training). The ideal thing of course is to train enough so that you can put a bullet on your target under pressure when the adrenaline is going, but who gets real life practice so that you can prepare for that, not too many people. So since according to your website the caliber of the bullet doesn’t make as much difference as putting a lot of bullets into somebody to slow him down or stop? Is that right? So you either need to be able to shoot a lot of bullets or a big bullet like to hang grenades it blows somebody apart. I think all people think the bigger is better even though it’s not necessarily true. And sports and martial arts of any kind including boxing and wrestling technique and speed usually are able to overcome size. But if a bullet passes through somebody and it didn’t hit a vital part of him that’s not as good as the bullet stopping and staying in the body causing problems for that body .ironically for self-defense the government is limiting honest citizens from having enough bullets in their guns to stop in intruder, therefore it seems to me that shotgun is the best thing for self-defense

Leave a Reply