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Thread: Doubts about 9mm

  1. #1

    Doubts about 9mm

    Iíve been pouring over this subject for years now (particularly DocGKRís work), but keep coming back to the same conundrum at one point or another. Itís obvious that 9mm has taken the world by storm once more in LE, military, and self-defense use. However, looking back over the past several decades, the pendulum seems to swing back and forth between larger/heavier calibers like the .40, .45, and 10mm (for a brief time), and 9mm. There was a time when 9mm was thought to be king, but then it was determined not to be enough and a larger caliber was needed.

    Whoís to say that there wonít be another tragic event of brave LEOs getting killed while using 9mm pistols that fail to end the threat, and precipitate a move back to larger calibers like .40 and .45 (or some new caliber entirely)? Thatís not to say that I think such a tragedy would actually be the fault of 9mm; more than likely it would be the fault of something else entirely or the inadequacies of service pistol calibers in general. But that wouldnít necessarily stop a large exodus from 9mm to a larger caliber, as has happened before.

    As well, to this day it seems like larger calibers such as .40 are preferred by LE for dispatching injured animals, such as deer. If 9mm is less effective at putting down injured deer, how can it be as effective as the larger calibers to take down a 200+ pound determined human attacker?

    This is coming from someone who has been carrying a 9mm Glock 19 for years and shoots in competition, but every once in a while I have my doubts about 9mm having negligible differences in effectiveness compared to .40 or .45.

    I realize that the 9mm loads of today are scores more effective than 9mm loads of yesteryear, but it seems that only in the past decade has 9mm started to have loads determined to be excellent. Is it really, truly proven to be close enough in incapacitation potential to .40 or .45 to make no difference in regards to ending a posed threat quickly and effectively?

    I donít mean to start a caliber debate or focus on the wrong things, but itís something thatís been gnawing at me for a while. Itís really the main reason I havenít sold off my .45ís. Meanwhile I will continue my 9mm shooting schedule as normal, I will not let this compromise my effectiveness.

    Thanks to all who help a OCD soul.
    Last edited by GlorifiedMailman; 11-18-2019 at 10:58 PM.

  2. #2
    Do what makes you happy. If you want to ignore science and evidence thatís your right. The 1986 Miami shootout you make veiled reference to was not a failure of the 9mm. It was a failure to get long guns into the fight.

  3. #3
    Pizzagun Dilettante Joe in PNG's Avatar
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    People tend to forget that .40 & .45 also have some pretty well documented failures to stop baddies.
    I often bring up the Battle of Barrington during caliber wars, and that somehow, Baby Face Nelson somehow didn't get the memo that "They All Fall To Hardball" .45acp.
    Seems that whole "shot placement trumps caliber" thing just might be important.

    Even full power battle rifle calibers have been known to be less than effective- the military annual are full of men who took multiple hits from 7.92, 6.5, 7.7, and assorted similar calibers, yet were able to do some damage afterwards.
    Last edited by Joe in PNG; 11-18-2019 at 11:06 PM.
    "You win 100% of the fights you avoid. If you're not there when it happens, you don't lose." - William Aprill
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  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by GlorifiedMailman View Post
    As well, to this day it seems like larger calibers such as .40 are preferred by LE for dispatching injured animals, such as deer. If 9mm is less effective at putting down injured deer, how can it be as effective as the larger calibers to take down a 200+ pound determined human attacker?
    I think there's a slight difference between trying to execute an animal with a single bullet versus probably engaging a target multiple times.

    Obviously bullet for bullet, the 9mm will be inferior, physics dictates that. The question is, do the rest of the advantages of 9mm outweigh that small difference in single bullet performance, and is that performance in the "good enough" category? Sure, if I'm running around with a single shot derringer, I'd definitely choose .40 S&W or .45 ACP over 9mm... but I ain't.

  5. #5
    I wouldn't lose sleep over it, all handgun calibers pretty much blow for an immediate death ray round. If dispatching deer is what worries you I have dispatched them with 9,40,10mm,357 mag and I can't say one was all that better than the other at the ranges I was in. A good shot is a good shot.

    Keep in mind that most of those were after a deer took a 308 round and still didn't die.
    Last edited by 10mmfanboy; 11-18-2019 at 11:19 PM.

  6. #6
    Member HopetonBrown's Avatar
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    I wonder if there's a correlation between obsession with caliber debates and proficiency?

    Preferred round, per Bill Wilson in 2015

    BJ Norris 9mm
    Bill Rogers 9mm
    Bill Wilson 9mm
    David Bahde 9mm
    Ernest Langdon 9mm
    Frank Proctor 9mm
    Ken Hackathorn 9mm
    Larry Vickers 9mm
    Mike Seeklander 9mm
    Paul Markel 9mm
    Paul Howe 9mm
    Paul Buffoni 9mm
    Super Dave Harrington 9mm

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by El Cid View Post
    Do what makes you happy. If you want to ignore science and evidence thatís your right. The 1986 Miami shootout you make veiled reference to was not a failure of the 9mm. It was a failure to get long guns into the fight.
    Actually, I would be happier sticking with 9mm. I suppose just once in a while I re-evaluate my positions regarding caliber, platform, technique, etc. and consult with others more knowledgeable than I.

    Thanks for the replies so far, all. I suppose it comes to whether the advantages of 9mm outweigh the advantages of .40 or .45. Considering my primary .45's are Glock 21 Gen 4's, I don't think that it's giving up much in capacity compared to a G19, though there's no contest that I can shoot faster with accuracy with the 9mm. The split times are clear. And obviously, I can practice far more with any given ammo budget with 9mm.

    If there is no noticeable effectiveness difference between 9mm and .45 shot-for-shot, that would make 9mm the obvious choice for all the normal reasons. (Though of course, as was mentioned, .45 will do more damage than 9mm. The question is whether that difference is enough to matter)

  8. #8
    Trivial Matter Expert Sidheshooter's Avatar
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    I believe that the .45 still has adherents in rural and colder climates (eg, Anchorage, or my own regionís Sheriff ónot to be confused with the city PDís current 9mms), but for mainstream LE? Probably settled, until someone invents better tech. JMO.
    "One man's terrorist may be another man's freedom fighter, but one state's totalitarianism is not another state's freedom."
    -Misanthropist

  9. #9
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    There's nothing wrong with .40 and .45, and using it because you like a pistol that shoots one or the other is a valid reason. I don't carry a 1911 because it's a .45, I carry .45 because I think it's the best cartridge for my 1911s even after seriously experimenting with 9mm 1911s multiple times.

    But there's probably not much reason to doubt the effectiveness of quality defensive 9mm ammunition compared to the larger calibers at this point.

  10. #10

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