9mm vs 40 S&W vs 45 ACP

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Doc Dan
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9mm vs 40 S&W vs 45 ACP

Postby Doc Dan » Mon Apr 08, 2019 12:07 am

I have a lot of practical experience with these calibers, but have never had to shoot anyone. As my knowledge base grew, I finally settled on the 9mm as the best all around defense cartridge against two legged vermin.

I used to be a "45" only kind of a guy. That is what my father carried in the military, and then as a civilian, and it is what I carried in the military and as a civilian. It is a good cartridge. However, the ammo is heavy and bulky and with modern ammunition it does not perform statistically better than the better quality 9mm loads (sorry to upset anyone). I knew some folks years ago that were involved in fighting in the Philippines. They started me thinking differently as their knowledge was hard won. They had 45ACP and 9mm handguns available, but overwhelmingly preferred the 9mm. It was easy to shoot well, and penetrated better.

Now, I have shot a few critters with handguns ranging from 22 LR to 44 magnum, such as deer, dogs, coyotes, and other animals large and small. Apart from the extremes of 22 and 44, the standard handgun defense cartridges seem to perform a lot alike. The only time I have fired a shot in defense of my life (aside from snakes) was using a .380 ACP to stop a pack of large dogs intent on mauling me to death. It did the job just fine.

I have to admit that I have seen some men who sheer size gave me pause. However, I know that people have killed even large black bears with a 9mm in defense of their lives, so I see no reason why a few well placed shots would not do the trick, if needed.

Is there anyone else, here, that has actually used a 9mm, 40 SW, or 45 ACP, etc. to shoot deer, dogs, or other animals that would care to chime in?
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Re: 9mm vs 40 S&W vs 45 ACP

Postby Bloke » Mon Apr 08, 2019 2:33 am

Doc Dan wrote:
Mon Apr 08, 2019 12:07 am
I have a lot of practical experience with these calibers
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Re: 9mm vs 40 S&W vs 45 ACP

Postby The Deacon » Mon Apr 08, 2019 5:20 am

Some years back I put down a deer that had been hit by a car and badly injured in front of my house with a .45 ACP, but that was done with a single shot to the back of the head at point-blank range. Am sure all those calibers are capable of taking deer size game with proper shot placement. Heck, knew an old guy who poached deer for food with a .22 LR. Still, I would never consider any of those three for a backup gun while hunting much less as my primary.
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Re: 9mm vs 40 S&W vs 45 ACP

Postby wrdwrght » Mon Apr 08, 2019 7:14 am

If you can’t otherwise stop a threat (killing not being the point of self-defense), each of these calibers has been shown STATISTICALLY to do the job, BUT ONLY with well-placed shots.

If the threat is wearing body-armor or is high on meth, things are more complicated, if less likely.

Carried 45 (in ‘Nam with intended effect), have carried 40, now carry 9, when I carry. More shots at hand. Cheaper fun at the range.

I don’t hunt. But I’ll take my Glock 20 on our Southwest roadtrip this Fall in case larger critters threaten.
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Re: 9mm vs 40 S&W vs 45 ACP

Postby bearfacedkiller » Mon Apr 08, 2019 7:22 am

Single stack 9mms are just so easy to carry. The ammo is super cheap too.

That said, I am a .38/.357 kind of guy. :)
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Re: 9mm vs 40 S&W vs 45 ACP

Postby awa54 » Mon Apr 08, 2019 9:10 am

There was research done in the middle of last century in Europe that suggested .380 was the optimal cartridge for police use, because it gave up most of its kinetic energy in a human target, giving more chance of knock-down and less chance of overpenetration without as much lethality. I think that was with fmj ammo, not modern SD hollowpoint or sintered, etc. ...not to mention there wasn't easily worn body armor or PCP/meth on the streets back then and that the study was assuming a LEO (presumably with back-up on call) was doing the shooting and would have the resources to control the perp after they were shot.
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Re: 9mm vs 40 S&W vs 45 ACP

Postby MichaelScott » Mon Apr 08, 2019 10:10 am

In the 1960s the Navy’s preferred handgun was the 1911.45. I carried one for a number of years. I’ve also carried 22s and up to 41 magnum‘s. But the last 10 years or so I have relied on either the 9 mm or the 380 ACP.

Sufficient power, lighter, easier to get repeat shots on target and it’s not going through something and into your neighbors house. As I recall just a few years back the FBI after extensive research switched from the 40 to the 9 mm.

Fortunately, I have never had the occasion to shoot someone. So, I can’t comment on that but reading about shootings it appears that the variables are too great to actually prefer one caliber over another.
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Re: 9mm vs 40 S&W vs 45 ACP

Postby murphjd25 » Mon Apr 08, 2019 10:37 am

I’ve never had to dispatch an animal with said calibers, and don’t plan on hunting any animals with said calibers, but in a life and death situation you make do with what your carrying at the time, be it a bad person or a bear. With that said, their is absolutely nothing wrong with today’s 9mm ammo, it is very capable of doing everything a .40 or .45 round can do. It just comes down to personal preference I believe. I’m a .40 S&W guy all day everyday. Little more punch then a 9mm and way more carriable day in and day out then say a full-size 1911.
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Re: 9mm vs 40 S&W vs 45 ACP

Postby Evil D » Mon Apr 08, 2019 11:31 am

The gun you carry is always more effective than the gun you won't carry, so if a guy isn't going to carry a 1911 loaded down with .45 because of weight and comfort than whatever he will routinely carry is better than nothing. Everything I own and carry is 9mm now. Another reason for this is because there are other people in the house that carry and shoot, and I want them to be able to effectively handle whatever gun is available if the need arises. I also like having a common ammo type.
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Re: 9mm vs 40 S&W vs 45 ACP

Postby The Deacon » Mon Apr 08, 2019 12:01 pm

Evil D wrote:
Mon Apr 08, 2019 11:31 am
The gun you carry is always more effective than the gun you won't carry, so if a guy isn't going to carry a 1911 loaded down with .45 because of weight and comfort than whatever he will routinely carry is better than nothing. Everything I own and carry is 9mm now. Another reason for this is because there are other people in the house that carry and shoot, and I want them to be able to effectively handle whatever gun is available if the need arises. I also like having a common ammo type.

Very true, David.

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On a more serious note, I'm convinced that human beings are much easier to kill than other mammals of roughly the same size. I've had a 180 lb. deer run several hundred yards before collapsing after a 150 grain bullet went through it's heart and both lungs. Don't even think someone high on PCP could do that.
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Re: 9mm vs 40 S&W vs 45 ACP

Postby bearfacedkiller » Mon Apr 08, 2019 12:12 pm

I bought an LCP and carry it in my front pocket. I am so spoiled by it's ease of carry that I cannot imagine carrying anything else regardless of it's ability.
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Re: 9mm vs 40 S&W vs 45 ACP

Postby Evil D » Mon Apr 08, 2019 1:25 pm

The Deacon wrote:
Mon Apr 08, 2019 12:01 pm



On a more serious note, I'm convinced that human beings are much easier to kill than other mammals of roughly the same size. I've had a 180 lb. deer run several hundred yards before collapsing after a 150 grain bullet went through it's heart and both lungs. Don't even think someone high on PCP could do that.

Man life is a lot more fragile than some gun guys like to believe. Although it is definitely wise to plan for that PCP raging 300lb maniac with body armor, the reality is that a lot of people die everyday from very "casual" gun shot wounds that were not put there by some high speed low drag operator who double tapped center mass.
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Re: 9mm vs 40 S&W vs 45 ACP

Postby demoncase » Mon Apr 08, 2019 1:58 pm

Personally- all and any round made for a semi-auto pistol has had a number of compromises made that (to me) make it less than desirable for hunting flexibility- I want something bottle-necked firing a high sectional density bullet on a flat trajectory from a nice long barrel.....Something which has a much wider envelope of safe terminal effect.

I've always marvelled at the US 'revolver hunting' trend- with those long-barrelled .357s, .44s and the like- They do look like fun but weigh as much as a reasonably handy carbine.

Here in the UK there's a minimum muzzle energy and projectile size required for deer hunting- the 'ground floor' round allowed is .243 Win- Below that it's considered unlikely to deliver a clean humane kill.
I have heard of one hunter now in his 70s who took his first stag with .22LR (well before this law was enacted)- a single shot to the head from 40 paces (so the story went).
We've all heard plenty of horror stories of the imported-now-endemic Sika Deer 'shrugging off' .270Win and having to be tracked through undergrowth- and I've seen it too. Blessed things seem to have an up-armoured rib-cage.

When you start doing a bit of reading (or have a few bad experiences) there's no literal 'golden bullet' to terminal effect....Especially for animals that tend to be both more heavily built than humans and less prone to 'taking a hint' (Eg You wouldn't even need to have a gun for me to comply- a simply 'please' generally works fine) ;)
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Re: 9mm vs 40 S&W vs 45 ACP

Postby Evil D » Mon Apr 08, 2019 2:09 pm

demoncase wrote:
Mon Apr 08, 2019 1:58 pm

I've always marvelled at the US 'revolver hunting' trend- with those long-barrelled .357s, .44s and the like- They do look like fun but weigh as much as a reasonably handy carbine.

We don't need no stinking long guns :cool:

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Re: 9mm vs 40 S&W vs 45 ACP

Postby MichaelScott » Mon Apr 08, 2019 2:16 pm

Hunting is a whole different thing. The calibers we are discussing apply mainly to self defense handguns, whether for law enforcement or civilians. I was one moderator on a large handgun forum, then I ran a self defense carry website for a few years. This provided another perspective on this carrying handguns for self defense. People who do not live in the USA really have no idea what or why these discussions happen. Many of you have no recourse to self defense other than years of martial arts training, surrendering to assailants or fleeing. That is not the case here in America.

I think most real world analyses of shootings, especially involving criminals and civilians show that as soon as one opens fire the criminals scramble to get away. (Most = nearly all).

I think having a firearm when you really need it is the best answer. Many times the bad guys don’t get hit, they just soil their undies trying to get away.
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Re: 9mm vs 40 S&W vs 45 ACP

Postby demoncase » Mon Apr 08, 2019 2:19 pm

Evil D wrote:
Mon Apr 08, 2019 2:09 pm
demoncase wrote:
Mon Apr 08, 2019 1:58 pm

I've always marvelled at the US 'revolver hunting' trend- with those long-barrelled .357s, .44s and the like- They do look like fun but weigh as much as a reasonably handy carbine.

We don't need no stinking long guns :cool:

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Perfect for indoor shooting ranges or casual plinking at cans in the backyard ;)
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Re: 9mm vs 40 S&W vs 45 ACP

Postby tvenuto » Mon Apr 08, 2019 4:53 pm

Evil D wrote:
Mon Apr 08, 2019 11:31 am
The gun you carry is always more effective than the gun you won't carry, so if a guy isn't going to carry a 1911 loaded down with .45 because of weight and comfort than whatever he will routinely carry is better than nothing. Everything I own and carry is 9mm now. Another reason for this is because there are other people in the house that carry and shoot, and I want them to be able to effectively handle whatever gun is available if the need arises. I also like having a common ammo type.
This this this. I enjoy shooting 9mm and 45. If I had a CCW I'd carry 9mm, but unfortunately I live in a we-pretend-to-issue-but-actually-we-don't-issue state.

I watch a lot of true crime shows and you'd probably be shocked how many murders are carried out with a 22. 22 will kill you every day of the week. As D implies it's not about caliber, It's all about shot placement, and having it with you when it counts.
Last edited by tvenuto on Tue Apr 09, 2019 9:59 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: 9mm vs 40 S&W vs 45 ACP

Postby Crux » Mon Apr 08, 2019 5:22 pm

demoncase wrote:
Mon Apr 08, 2019 2:19 pm
Evil D wrote:
Mon Apr 08, 2019 2:09 pm
demoncase wrote:
Mon Apr 08, 2019 1:58 pm

I've always marvelled at the US 'revolver hunting' trend- with those long-barrelled .357s, .44s and the like- They do look like fun but weigh as much as a reasonably handy carbine.

We don't need no stinking long guns :cool:
Perfect for indoor shooting ranges or casual plinking at cans in the backyard ;)
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Re: 9mm vs 40 S&W vs 45 ACP

Postby OldHoosier62 » Mon Apr 08, 2019 8:25 pm

My current carry/hunting handguns are several 1911's in 22LR, 22TCM, 38 Super, 9mm Largo, 45acp, 9x23 Winchester, 10MM... and various revolvers (both SA and DA) in 22lr 357 magnum, 44 Special, 44 Magnum and 45acp .... None with over a 5.5in. barrel....I don't like the whole "hand cannon" shtick. I own others but these are the primary use guns.

The above firearms have dispatched all manner of vermin, small and medium size game and one rather testy black bear. And many head of livestock for both consumption and due to illness...and orneryness in a couple of cases.

As was said above... Shot placement is king and everything else is secondary.

My personal favorites are my Para Ordnance P-16 in 10mm (using real 10mm loads, not the watered down factory stuff on the shelves today) and my Ruger Super Blackhawk w/4 5/8in barrel in 44 magnum. I have not found anything on 2 or 4 legs that either could not deal with adequately.

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Re: 9mm vs 40 S&W vs 45 ACP

Postby Crux » Mon Apr 08, 2019 9:28 pm

I prefer the 9mm to any other handgun caliber out of the 11 different calibers I own because of several reasons, but specifically in respect to the .45 acp. Longer range, more accurate, more carry rounds, smaller lighter handgun, less cost and most importantly relatively similar takedown results in the realistic actual shoot range of 15'-20', despite the .45 acp causing considerably more damage.
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