One of gun folks’ favorite debates is the ever-popular 9mm vs. .45 ACP. The 10mm vs. basically anything else comes close. Then there’s .30-06 vs. those who are wrong. Why, some newbies may wonder, is there such an intense and long-standing argument over the merits of 9mm compared to .45 ACP?
What’s been relatively common knowledge for some time now is that it’s not really a binary choice. The typical gun owner won’t see much difference in accuracy or performance in any real world application.
Today, you can get great ammunition in both calibers. Plenty of very good firearms that anyone would be proud to own and carry are available chambered for both rounds.
It’s been well established that both are excellent choices for both personal protection and target work. Any ballistic advantage is incremental at best or only matters on paper instead of in real-word results (competitive shooting aside). As for “stopping power,” given good quality ammo, neither produces a wound much bigger than the other, nor is one more consistently fatal to bad guys.
What’s known about gunfights involving handguns is that shot placement wins them much more than caliber will. They’re usually over after expending fewer than 10 rounds, so capacity doesn’t matter all that much either in most cases.
The point here is that caliber matters a lot less than people like to pretend it does when it comes to handguns. Why then, does so much digital and analog ink get spilled over this ongoing debate? Why do people bicker about it online when they (should) have better things to do?
First, a lot of it is because of things that happened a long time ago. The 9mm round – and some of its close cousins, such as .38 Long Colt – was used by a few militaries and in the civilian realm for a time, but the guns had generally poor results in defensive situations. The .45 ACP tended to fare a little better.
Why was that? Militaries tend to use ball ammunition. Since little expansion happens with ball ammo tends to go through a target, .45 is going to hurt more since it pokes a relatively bigger hole. And since semi-auto pistols mostly ran ball back in the day, that meant big-bore guns like the 1911 tended to yield better results than 9mm pistols like the Browning Hi Power, Model 39 and Walther P38/P1.
Until good hollow point defensive ammunition designs came around, that is.
Old guys still argue about it because it was true back when they were learning. Some young guys argue about it because their dad/uncle/whomever told them what was true when they were a kid. It’s kind of the same reason people learn that being a Dallas Cowboys fan is acceptable. Chalk it up to bad parenting.
The reality is, good JHP ammunition has put paid to that decades ago. Modern 9mm is reliably effective with a good hollow point bullet that’s well-placed…and the same applies to .45 ACP.
Never underestimate the tribalist primate angle. Us versus them. We humans are basically hairless monkeys and we still do a lot of silly hairless monkey stuff. We see the other guys and immediately assume they’re wrong when, in fact, they’re no different from you or me, or at least not in any way that really matters.
Why is that? Basically, people are fundamentally insecure. Someone believes or enjoys something that isn’t what we believe or like, so we must somehow prove that those other people are wrong, providing the validation we so desperately crave.
The 1911 guys make fun of the GLOCK guys, the GLOCK guys make fun the 1911 guys, the H&K guys act like they’re better than everyone else and the revolver people have bingo this afternoon at 3:00pm in day room.
So, newbie…now you know one of the unspoken truths about the People Of The Gun. Then again, we’re no different from people who are into all kinds of other stuff. In baseball it is (was) the DH. In Australia, the Ford vs. Chevy thing has been the cause of riots. It also won’t be stopping any time soon, so don’t get too worked up about it.
How about you? Does the 9mm vs .45 ACP thing really matter to you? If it does, let us know why you think so.