Welcome to “TheGaGG.com Answers…” series. In this series, we present answers to the questions that we are asked from various media sources. Some of these questions may become longer articles that we will provide a more thorough answer to at a later time.
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First, let me say something entirely controversial… stopping power, as most people think of it, is a myth. The measurable ability of one round over another to “anchor” does not exist, nor will it ever. “Anchor” is the technical term for dropping someone dead in their tracks, or even better knocking them back or down.
This is what most people deem to be “stopping power”.
If you are knowledgeable about ballistics, you probably think of stopping power more realistically – the wound channel dynamics, terminal ballistics etc., which can relate to ultimately anchoring something you shoot.
But, note I said “relate” and not translate. In spite of marketing and hype, and having shot a lot of small to large critters (including some 2 legged), I have yet to find any caliber or bullet that “stops” something. Have I had shots that the creature dropped dead in its tracks? Abso-freaking-lutely! But when I did the post-mortem, there was normally a physiological reason for that, not a ballistic one. Such reasons like the bullet severing the spinal cord or the entire chest cavity literally having been blown away – all mostly due to shot placement.
Secondly, I generally agree with most of the comments, but need to add that I have gotten rid of my 9mms. If I am going to carry for defense purposes, I am going to carry the most that I can. In my time in law enforcement, too many times I saw that criminals kept shooting (and killing) with guns bigger than 9mms, whereas law enforcement kept shooting (and not killing) with 9mms. I know ballistics have improved, etc., but I just want the most that I can carry.
Many of you will say, but isn’t “most” a factor, such as the “number of rounds” ? Note: a 9mm can carry twice (or more) the number of rounds that a 45 can. Not at all. The myth of the extended gunfight is one perpetrated by Hollywood. The stats have been consistent that 3 or less rounds are involved in most gun fights.
Now, to 9mm vs. 45… Again, a lot of the comments here are true, but in some ways misleading… Let me provide some deeper details on them.
- A 9mm is easier to handle – yes and no. Yes, the 9mm has a lighter recoil (physics). That said, a 9mm’s recoil has a higher “impulse” – it transfers its recoil faster. The 45 transfers its recoil slower, therefore it is drawn out – this is the difference between a fierce slap (9mm) and a push (45). Personally, I believe once you develop your proper grip and stance and build your skills a little (and can handle the recoil), that the 45 wins due to this push factor.
- 9mm bullets can deliver near equivalent terminal ballistics to a 45 – complete hogwash! Good 9mm bullets typically expand to about .6 inches. and 45 bullets (unexpanded) are .45 inches. This means that (unexpanded) the 45 is only 25% smaller than the expanded 9mm. Most good 45s expand to .8, but let’s assume .75. That means the 45 is 25% larger. So what, right? Well, when you consider the 45 is oftentimes 2x heavier (115 vs 230) or close to it – that is a lot of terminal ballistics difference. Terminal ballistics, wound channel, etc. are complete factors of the size of the “bulldozer” going in, as well as the speed and weight.
- 9mm is the most popular handgun… Yep, completely true, but so is the AK47 (on the rifle side). I do not base my decisions on popularity – I quit doing that in high school. This got me in trouble much too often when I did. Here are reasons why the 9mm is the most popular: a) gun hating countries that would rather have police carry clubs than guns give-in to the 9mm – and there are a lot of gun hating countries; b) it is a NATO caliber/standard; c) post WW2, it was one of the few reliable calibers in a semi-automatic; d) officers/soldiers can carry more rounds at less weight (read the story of the 5.56/223 – another not so great idea); e) it is easier to train on… The list could go on. None of these reasons why it is so popular is because it is so “good”.
Now, let me clarify a few things. Clearly, I am more of a 45 advocate. That said, I would rather someone carry what they can control, manage and shoot well, than to carry something they cannot. For that reason, I believe 9mm pistols are a completely good choice for many shooters. I am not poo poo’ing 9mms. I think they have their place, but I did want to clear up some myths and mis-beliefs.
Hope this helps.
Read these related articles:
The bullets loaded in the 10mm are identical to those loaded in the 40 S&W. The 10mm is a much bigger case and loads a lot hotter (faster) than the 40 S&W.
Do NOT, under any circumstance, try to cross-use these rounds in the other gun!
Interestingly, the 40 S&W came from the 10mm… Law enforcement agencies wanted to move to the 10mm, but they found that it was hard to control and oftentimes “too much”. So, they downloaded the 10mm. This resulted in Smith and Wesson designing the 40 S&W from these downloads.
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