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9mm vs. .40 Caliber

The FBI's decision to switch back to 9mm pistols and ammo is based on studies of wound ballistics and shooter performance.

January 22, 2016  |  by Sydney Vail, M.D.

This man was shot with .40 S&W rounds to center mass, was not incapacitated at the scene, and survived the shooting. (Photo: Sydney Vail)
This man was shot with .40 S&W rounds to center mass, was not incapacitated at the scene, and survived the shooting. (Photo: Sydney Vail)

At the end of October, the FBI announced that it was planning to swap out the .40 S&W pistols and ammunition now used by its agents and replace them with 9mm pistols and ammo. This was a widely discussed decision, given that the Bureau once partially blamed the performance of 9mm cartridges for the deaths of two agents in the 1986 Miami shootout and subsequently transitioned to 10mm and then to .40 caliber sidearms. This is also a widely followed decision because the FBI's choice of duty pistol and ammo will likely influence many other law enforcement agencies to give the 9mm jacketed hollow-point another look.

In the January 2013 issue of POLICE, I wrote an article titled "Stopping Power: Myths, Legends, and Realities," in which I discussed the wound ballistics performance of various popular pistol calibers as I have observed through my experience as a trauma surgeon and tactical medical specialist. My advice then and now is when it comes to claims about the effectiveness of handgun ammo, don't believe the hype. Instead, look at the hard facts.

And now that the FBI's decision to go back to 9mm pistols has ignited another round of debate about caliber effectiveness, it's time to look at the real-world performance of 9mm and .40 S&W rounds in terms of wound ballistics.

Understanding Stopping Power

One of the least understood concepts in all wound ballistics is stopping power. So before we discuss the 9mm vs. .40 caliber in terms of wound ballistics, let's define the concept of "stopping power."

I believe the definition of stopping power for law enforcement should be a particular ammunition's effectiveness to render a person unable to offer resistance or remain a threat to the officer, an intended victim, or self.

So how does ammunition accomplish this? You have two options. You can use a really large round at very high velocity like the 30mm cannon rounds from an Apache helicopter's M230 Chain Gun, which produces substantial kinetic energy, or you can place your shot where it has the most effect. Obviously, shot placement is the only realistic option for a law enforcement officer.

A handgun bullet shot into the shirtless torso of a person causes a degree of injury due to the body absorbing the bullet's energy and dispersing it in front of and around the path of the bullet. The projectile also tears through the tissue. This means that the kinetic energy of the bullet will create both a permanent cavity and to a much lesser extent a temporary cavity.

But handgun ammunition only has acceptable stopping power if the bullet hits a vital structure that would "stop" the target from continuing the fight.

The Measurements

OK, let's return to our specific discussion of 9mm and .40 S&W ammo and look at some of the basic measurable differences between these two calibers of handgun rounds.

                            9mm                               .40 S&W

Diameter             9.01mm (0.355 inches)  10.2mm (0.4 inches)

Velocity               950-1,400 fps                 900-1,449 fps

Expansion          0.36-0.72 inches             0.4-0.76 inches 

There is no debate that for a handgun round to be as effective at incapacitating as quickly as possible, it has to either hit the brain stem, injure a significant amount of brain tissue, or cause extremely rapid exsanguination (hemorrhage). From a wound ballistics perspective, the diameter of the handgun bullet translates into the permanent cavity, the direct tissue impact or what is actually injured by the projectile as it passes through tissues. If there is a blood vessel that is injured, the larger the hole or injury relates to the volume of blood that is able to leave the vascular system in a period of time as to cause a significant enough loss of blood to make the blood pressure go down to cause the brain not to work as efficiently, then to cause the loss of coordination, which then causes the person to become a reduced threat and eventually lose consciousness...all over time.

In a head shot, the amount of brain tissue disrupted by a bullet produces varying degrees of incapacitation unless the brain stem is hit. So when comparing the 9mm to the .40 S&W, size is not a huge factor. If both expand to the maximum diameter based on bullet design, there is not a large enough difference to account for a larger degree of tissue injury; the difference between non-expanded bullets is small as well.

Penetration in living tissue is a guessing game for both of these rounds. Despite what many shooters believe, measuring penetration in ballistic gel—simulating muscle tissue—yields limited useful information about penetration in the human body, which is made up of more than just muscle.

There are too many variables to accurately predict what the actual depth of penetration will be inside a human body. I have found a wide variety of depths of penetration for both 9mm and .40 caliber rounds when operating or caring for gunshot patients.

More Rounds in the Mag

Our discussion now comes back to shot placement or wounding accuracy and the potential number of bullets required to increase or maximize the odds of injuring the body of a threat in such a way as to render that person incapacitated.

Shooting accuracy is affected by stress, but the effects of stress can be reduced through experience. To quote Bruce Siddle from "Sharpening the Warriors Edge," "stress is a matter of perception and perceptions can be changed through the training process." By training to deal with more stressful situations, and not training until you get it right but training so you don't get it wrong, you have a much better chance of accurate hits under stressful conditions.

In other words, shot placement—which is critical to prevailing in a gunfight—must be maintained under the most stressful of circumstances. Having more rounds in your pistol's magazine increases the potential for accurate shots. Hence the FBI chose to make the change to the 9mm round, which usually offers a higher round count per magazine, faster and more accurate follow-up shots, less perceived recoil, and very similar physical bullet characteristics to the .40 S&W.

From a trauma surgeon's perspective, both the 9mm and the .40 caliber can wound, injure, incapacitate, or kill. However, shot placement is the best predictor of accomplishing the intended goals. I have treated patients with more than 20 "holes" in them that never caused enough tissue damage or bleeding to cause them to die. And I have treated patients with a single "hole" that did die. Remember, the discussion is the ability of a particular ammunition caliber with improved bullet characteristics to stop a threat, not living or dying but simply to temporarily or permanently incapacitate the threat.

The FBI report of an officer-involved shooting on Nov. 29, 2006, from a Pennsylvania police department makes for an interesting read on this topic. The assailant was shot in the chest and abdomen with 180-grain

.40 S&W modern hollow-point ammunition as well as .223 rounds from an M4. On autopsy it was discovered he had been shot 17 times with 11 rounds exiting his body. Despite these many wounds, he struggled with officers attempting to handcuff him before he died.

Limitations of Ballistic Gel

There are people who will read this article who will maintain that the early works of Dr. Martin Fackler were written in stone when in fact he provided a significant amount of quality wound ballistics data but kept an open mind, understanding the limitations of simulants such as ballistic gel. This is best represented in an editorial he wrote about an article published in the Journal of the International Wound Ballistics Association, Winter volume 1991;10-13, by E.J. Wolberg.

The article in question was an autopsy study by a medical examiner on "torso only" shots with a retained bullet, noting that patients were excluded if bone was hit or there was over penetration. This data was compared to gelatin data for the 9mm 147-grain Winchester jacketed hollow-point. Gel demonstrated a 12- to 14-inch depth of penetration, and the autopsy findings (with the bullet only passing through soft tissue) of a 10- to 17-inch penetration. The author's conclusion: "Based on comparison of data from living tissue penetration by the 9mm 147-grain bullet with test shots of the same bullet into gelatin, it is concluded that gelatin can be a useful predictor of this bullet's penetration and expansion characteristics in shots in the human torso."

Dr. Fackler's editorial comment to this statement and study: "What Gene Wolberg has done here is what every clear thinking LE agency should be doing. Skepticism and meaningful comparison are the essence of common sense and all scientific thought….Don't believe that your tissue simulant is a good predictor just because some army lab or the FBI uses it and says so—check it out for yourself."

The obvious flaws in this study related to a gel-to-autopsy comparison was that if a bullet hit bone, it would invalidate the gel comparison; gel is a soft tissue simulant only. Also excluded were the outcomes of all victims; did they live, die immediately, or die later?

So when the FBI decided to change from the .40 to 9mm, it was likely done with significant testing, evaluation, consideration of actual wounds with degrees of injury sustained, degree of training needed to maintain accuracy of shot placement, as well as many other factors not yet available to the public.

Think of yourself under a stressful set of conditions using a weapon platform and ammunition that maximized your skill set and training; limited your recoil and made for faster, more accurate follow-up shots; and gave you higher magazine capacity so that you could minimize the chances of needing to do a physical manipulation to perform a tactical reload in the attempts to stop a threat.

The facts are clear; not every bullet entering a body will stop a threat. Major bleeding takes time, and the time to incapacitation is unpredictable unless the brainstem is hit or the heart is destroyed, and even then the person has 10 to 15 seconds of life left. More injuries to more structures gives an improved potential of incapacitation, and when they are accurate shots, the results are more predicted to have the intended outcome.

Sydney Vail, M.D., FACS, is chief of the division of trauma surgery and surgical critical care and director of the tactical medicine program at the Maricopa Medical Center in Phoenix. He is also medical director of Tactical Trauma Immediate Response (Tac-TIR) Group, Cowtown, Peoria, AZ; director of the SWAT Tactical Medical Program for Arizona DPS; and a senior instructor for the International School of Tactical Medicine.

Comments (210)

Displaying 1 - 210 of 210

Tom Ret @ 1/23/2016 9:52 AM

Those you come on this forum and cry why the cops had to shoot the suspect so many times should be pointed to the incident cited above. This is an example where one or two rounds would not get the job done as this individual was shot 17 times with a 40 cal handgun and an m4 and was still able to struggle before dying.

Adrian Stroud @ 1/23/2016 3:34 PM

I have carried 38, 9mm, 45 and 40 on duty in addition to 12 gauge 00 buck, rifled slug and .223. I found that the 9mm, although easy on recoil in a S&W did not have the damaging effect that the 40 cal had.

Chuck Haggard @ 1/23/2016 3:44 PM

Adrian, respectfully, your analysis is off base. Period.

Richard Olson @ 1/23/2016 4:23 PM

The professional authoritative commentary seems to be underscoring the assertions made here. This is a good read and makes total sense.

Sonny @ 1/23/2016 5:22 PM

I Have shot both and the 9mm is more accurate at shot placement and holds more rounds it's also why the military uses it. I've shot some glocks 40ds and they're nice but I'd rather use a 9mm any day. Over a 40. Try them both side by side and you will see.

Edmond Holmes jr @ 1/23/2016 7:17 PM

I too have shot the .38 and the .40. When i retired i chose the 9mm Glock 19 Gen 4 for my concealed carry. Less recoil from the 9mm gives me better grouping and rounds on target at the range. Don't forget about the marginal shooters departmentally. Just saying.

quistan2 @ 1/23/2016 9:25 PM

The're not talking about a huge factor here. If your firing into "the shirtless moron", .40 S&W vs 9mm is not that big of a difference, but that is not real life. Bring in layered clothing, and, or, cover and, you have a totally different game afoot. I find it somewhat amusing that, while the FBI wants to go back to 9mm, special forces have recently willed .458 socom into existence for the explicit reason that 5.56 was not killing hard enough. While its a legitimate argument to factor in stress, and well placed shots. It is also a fallacy to factor out hard ballistics and cover breaching. If I told you, you were going on a cape buffalo hunt and gave you the choice of a 9mm or a .40 S&W, what would you pick? ....Ill bet if I gave you a 3rd option to pick whatever cal you want, you wouldnt pick .22 lr , even though technically it could bring it down.

S-Cop @ 1/23/2016 9:35 PM

I once read a review of data concerning actual shootings that seemed to suggest that, without differentiating for bullet type or dsign, every major defensive caliber averaged between 2 and 3 rounds for incapacitation. Thus, rounding up to the nearest whole number (I don't know about anyone else, but I can't shoot a partial round), there would seem to be no statistical difference among calibers. And no, no single study or review is exhaustive or all- encompassing, but it does seem to be an interesting nugget to chew on. I yes, I am perfectly comfortable with my Glocks 17, or G26, loaded with 124gr. +P Speer Gold Dots.

ron gardner @ 1/24/2016 5:09 AM

quistan2 Seriously? You're using military combat and big game hunting as "real life" examples to use when selecting caliber? lol

ron gardner @ 1/24/2016 5:29 AM

quistan2 Seriously? You're using military combat and big game hunting as "real life" examples to use when selecting a carry round? Clearly, you are a student of the Make the Biggest Hole School of thought, which was very clearly debunked as a deciding factor in these studies between the 9mm the .40S&W. The difference in hole size between them isn't large enough to ensure that the .40 would be any more incapacitating than the 9mm. The whole point of the findings discussed here is that shot placement is the most important factor, which is better facilitated with the 9mm due to less felt recoil and higher mag capacity. I'd be interested to see how many follow-up shots you could manage on a cape buffalo with your .40S&W, btw. :-)

Hank B @ 1/24/2016 5:55 AM

did you give the Cape Buffalo his Miranda Warning before shooting?
My everyday carry is 9mm (8+1) with an extra mag. God willing I'll never need either.

Roger Dane @ 1/24/2016 6:40 AM

Practice! And more practice... and after some 25 years of .40, I got used to the increased recoil, etc... the article is spot on. What you can 'hit' with, fast and accurately, is what you should use! The difference between 9mm and .40 regarding stopping power is really 'dependent' upon shot placement and, perhaps, number. There is no question that a 9mm has less, in comparable weights, recoil than a .40. Recall the earlier hot arguments around the .38 and .45? Different story there... but I think this is more a moot issue. If you can hit accurately and 'fast' with either, the job should get done! Stay safe.

Robert Rangel @ 1/24/2016 7:09 AM

Read, "The Red Dot Club". Eleven officer involved shootings, all telling their story of their gin battles. One officer was shot through the heart.

Alan @ 1/24/2016 7:27 AM

This Dr Sydney Vale needs to find another job or retire. He did not consider hydrostatic shock. Hydrostatic shock is best described as pain plus internal damage. The high velocity 9 mm round that leaves a clean hole with damage only to the exit wound has little stopping power. The slow moving round of a 45 cal, is a whole lot of damaging pain.

Alan @ 1/24/2016 7:52 AM

This Dr knows nothing about hydrostatic shock. The 45 is far superior to the 9mm and the 40 cal because of real painful take down power. The 45 is far slower and much more heavy for a man size assault. The trouble with a high velocity round like the 9 mm and 40 cal is little internal damage. They are good hole punchers but they cannot knock you off your feet.

Andrew @ 1/24/2016 8:26 AM

Dr. Vail - spot on as always! I always enjoy seeing things you're involved in - articles, videos, conferences. I'm always honored to be able to say that I was part of the EMS system in Roanoke where you used to work as one of our trauma surgeons.

I wish you the best! Stay safe, and thank you for your continued work in helping us in the field!

Glenn @ 1/24/2016 8:51 AM

Alan, i could not agree more, I don't believe the good Doctor considered the idea and facts of Drug effect and adrenaline, both can make a person do well above what they are normally capable of. I had rather have 1-2 rounds of .45 wad cutter or better round than 9, 9mm rounds. he has already stated that he has seen multiple rounds not kill, so I will take my chances with the larger more damaging round, if his results are that accurate then arm all officers with .22 and shoot 20 rounds into the target.

Bob @ 1/24/2016 9:07 AM

Cool! .40 is more available now than 9mm, so looks like .40 will be even more available!

Carmine @ 1/24/2016 9:12 AM

The defensive load my wife and I carry in our 9mm Glocks is the Speer Gold Dot 124gr.+P. I feel with the 9mm in 124gr. bullet weight,it gives you a balance between a lightweight 115gr and in some cases 85,95gr and the heavy 147gr. Light weight 9mm rounds tend to dump all of there energy upon impact with little penetration and heavy 9mm rounds especially in sub sonic tend to not open up and thus over penetrate. The 124gr gives you the best of both worlds.

TomN @ 1/24/2016 9:13 AM

Apples and oranges guys.He was talking about the insignificant differences between 9m and 40 cal. 45s weren't discussed because they're not standard issue anywhere anymore. Besides a 45 only carries 7 rounds instead of 15 for the average 9 m.

BillF @ 1/24/2016 9:37 AM

TomN, my Glock 30sf ccw has a capacity of 10+1 .45 ACP. I sometimes carry my Glock 21 which has a capacity of 13+1.45 ACP. Special Forces personnel carry .45 ACP now, rather than 9mm.

kenT @ 1/24/2016 9:54 AM

I carry a Kel Tec pmr30 .22mag 40 grain 1850fps small entry but tumbles and tears up stuff and under stressful situations, 30 rounds in each mag and I carry 2-4 extra mags all weight total with at least 90 rounds.. 2.5 lbs maybe. And never had any ftf or fte with the armscor rounds or cci.

Dwight @ 1/24/2016 10:21 AM

357 lead hollow points can't beat. I have a 40 with lead hollow points can't beat them

David @ 1/24/2016 10:26 AM

Alan@ - This article wasn't about the 45cal round, or did you stop reading when you saw the 4 in 40cal? I also didn't see anything in the article that recommended either round. His point is clear, there isn't enough difference between the ballistics (including Hydrostatic shock) to make one round a statistically more efficient incapacitator than the other. Bottom line is weather or not you are shooting a 9mm, 45cal or 40cal if you can't hit something vital, you can't stop a threat, no matter how many rounds you put into them. The reasoning is sound, more rounds means a higher probability that you can hit something vital and stop the threat sooner. I carry a 15+1 round 45 (I'm a big guy, have the room). Best of both worlds.

James Towle @ 1/24/2016 10:40 AM

Yes sir I agree the ballistics are close and shot placement is the determining factor...but come on we all know why the FBI went to 9mm....more bullets! You got to HIT'em to kill"em...hard to do with a computer in your hand. That's why they send in the local uniforms first!

MikeAT @ 1/24/2016 10:49 AM

"I Have shot both and the 9mm is more accurate at shot placement and holds more rounds it's also why the military uses it. "

Sonny, you are off on one point. The military uses it because in the mid 1970s NATO and the United States wanted to standardize rounds to make logistics easier. European countries had 9mm pistols, America used the M1911. The US had .223 in the M-16, NATO nations generally had the .762 round. So we compromised, we went to NATO 9mm, they went to US .223. We got the worst of both worlds. :<(

Mike @ 1/24/2016 10:54 AM

Like I always say a hit from a 22 is more deadly then a miss from a 45.

Dave M. @ 1/24/2016 11:25 AM

Tell me if I'm wrong, but the gist of the article is simple.. Learn how to shoot accurately. I've been a firearms instructor for years and I try to instill this to officers. Stress was discussed as a huge obstacle and I agree. This is why we try to introduce as much stress to the training evolutions that is practical. If you can't shoot a piece of paper that isn't shooting back cause of stress induced failure,.. You need lots of training or a different profession.

Mike Butler @ 1/24/2016 12:39 PM

Since when does a 45 have more hydrostatic shock than a 40 or 9mm? Hydrostatic shock is not created by caliber but by speed of the projectile. Last I checked the 45 was the slowest of the bunch. It also has nothing to do with pain "physical" shock. it is the "hydraulic" shock wave that is produced by the projectile it self.

Jon Brooks @ 1/24/2016 1:01 PM

What wasn't discussed in the article is a car or truck being your target. How many times do you hear of officers getting hit by an automobile or someone trying to run them down? What's a better round to penetrate the engine block?
Shooting out a window will not stop the threat because you still have to try and hit the driver.

Tom Ret @ 1/24/2016 1:01 PM

If you have to shoot a suspect multiple times don't be surprised when the gun ignorant public thinks you executed him/her. Ordinary citizens seem to be ok with shooting a suspect with say a shotgun and put 9 or 12 holes in them since it was fired only once but whoa to the officer who empties his 9mm into a suspect because he doesn't go down. I carried a lot of different firearms as others mentioned here but favored the largest that the dept allowed that I could handle and shoot accurately. Even if the stopping power was marginally more, I favored the 45 but then again I always carried a second gun and would take a shotgun or AR if I expected to shoot anyone. You could get into a sustained gun fight where your handgun is the only one available where a high capacity 9mm would be better due to its magazine capacity, however, most often it will be close range with a few shots deciding who walks away. I shot a lot so didn't find the recoil of the 45 limiting.

HRPufnstuf @ 1/24/2016 1:17 PM

I shoot more slowly, because I prefer more power, thus more recoil. It takes practice, and discipline.

My preference is .357 Magnum, but that's not so practical as a duty gun, and marginal as an off duty gun. Therefore, I carry .357 Sig, and you can bet that causes more damage than either 9mm or .40 cal.

Eric @ 1/24/2016 1:20 PM

I understand theoretically. However 9s and 40s will often pass through leaving the threat viable whereas 45s and 44s are going to knock down the threat .." Knockdown Power " leaving you the opportunity to neutralize the threat.

Statebull @ 1/24/2016 1:24 PM

Michigan State Police just went to the Glock 9mm from the Sig 40.

Ron @ 1/24/2016 4:15 PM

Dr. Vail is the best doc I have ever seen. His knowledge and expertise is what saved my wife's life in a tragic motorcycle accident in 2008. I have complete and total confidence in his knowledge and ability. All the best to you Dr. Vail and Cindy says hi. :)

Joe risso @ 1/24/2016 4:54 PM

Stop wasting tax payer money. Keep what you have. The Miami shootout was ill planned. No rifles. Ben lost his glasses and couldn't see. And some had 6 shot pistols.

Simon @ 1/24/2016 5:12 PM

I didn't see weight of projectile mentioned anywhere! Oh well! Good job I just know how to shoot!

Rick @ 1/24/2016 5:21 PM

The greatest problem is not as much caliber but getting shots on target. How many times do we see the news reports of 400 shots fired suspect hit twice. Stress and adrenaline destroy fine motor control and accuracy. As an ER doc and martial artist I have worked with the effects of high level stress degradation of reflexes and motor control

Wayne @ 1/24/2016 6:44 PM

Dont look like center mass to me...looks like pour aiming..if your going for incapasitation and really wanna stop somebody..try between the eyes

Robert @ 1/24/2016 8:49 PM

Those rounds went in at an angle, from right to left. Not a center mass straight on shot. Yes shot placement is very important. Frame of mind of person getting shot. People up on things like pcp and other drugs makes a difference on the ability of a bullet to incapacitate them. Good article.

James @ 1/24/2016 11:31 PM

There are more bullets and bullet selections in 9mm than in .40. There have also been huge in provments in 9mm ballistics also. Don't get me wrong I am not saying the .40 is not as good or there is not alot of bullets for .40 but 147 gr 9mm has more energy than a 230 gr .45. Look it up

Pete Aleman @ 1/24/2016 11:37 PM

In 2000 I was forced to defend myself. A man aimed a gun at me and I shot him 3 times until he lowered his gun. He then raised the gun again and I shot 4 more times until he dropped the gun and fell to the ground. I was carrying a S&W 9mm with Federal Hydra-shock rounds in it, 7 shots is too many to have to shoot to stop someone!
I now carry a S&W .45 with Hydra-shock rounds now. Let's hope I never have to find out if my choice is the correct one, and yes the man died 15 minutes later in route to the hospital. 9mm may eventually kill them but NOT before they have a chance to kill you first.

plato's playdough @ 1/25/2016 12:09 AM

The article appears to be presenting information in such a way as to insinuate a conclusion which is not directly stated.

Consider this: If the individual referred to in the story who was the recipient of .40 and .223 projectiles could still be actively resisting (before he died, prior to the autopsy) why should I consider a .355 (9mm) round?

If one should answer "Because I can get more of them in my magazine," perhaps shot placement - which the author DID specifically state as significant - should go hand-in-hand with the documented effect of "ballistic pressure waves."

If that .355-.357 was a known revolver cartridge which history had proven so effective that LEO of that day did not desire to trade their 6 shooters for the newly introduced 9mm in the 80's (hence the saying "6 for sure, better than 17 maybe") perhaps the cartridge we might prefer would be close to that well known .357 magnum cartridge.

So we would look at the .357 sig, or the 10mm.

Heck, how 'bout that 30mm?

Robert Walker @ 1/25/2016 12:21 AM

..Given that in many officer involved shooting, officers must overcome speed, aggression and surprise to eliminate a threat. Relying on training, confidence in ones ability and weapon are important factors in survival. Shooting thru doors and vehicles are not all that uncommon. Of all the popular calibers and types of ammunition my most preferred round has been the .45 230 grn ball which has given me the best all round performance for any scenerio.

jeremy @ 1/25/2016 1:30 AM

i believe history repeats itself. i believe this article should be titled, "fbi to switch from 9mm to .40 cal due to magazine capacity", thats really the only reason this article exist. they made this decision once and ultimately went to .40. the 9mm has its advantage, capacity, and given its cult following many bullet, load combinations that are very good. i think this will always be a debated topic, until there is a clear winner though, ill carry my .40 thank you!

Dallas @ 1/25/2016 4:01 AM

Easy to switch when you aren't required to actually pay the bill for your decisions. Which politician or FBI official is a stockholder in the upcoming 9mm ammo and production company? If the effects and damage differences are negligible, there is no reason to spend taxpayers money on a frivolous switch.

LT @ 1/25/2016 5:04 AM

This is a bad idea. Should be going up to .45. The .45 ACP was literally designed to stop individuals high on drugs in their tracks in the Philippines. A 9mm tickles a perp on acid.

John Leonard @ 1/25/2016 6:11 AM

As one of the three officers in the referenced November 2009 shooting in the article many factors came into play during the incident. Upon my arrival two officers were wounded and the assailant was behind a vehicle approximately 75 feet away. I initially engaged with the M4 in order to suppress his counter fire. One officer was exposed in the roadway where he was wounded. Following expending my magazine from the M4 I sent the the other wounded officer back to my unit to bring up bandolier with additional ammunition. During a lull in the shooting I crossed an open area moved up to a position underneath a DPW vehicle and began firing reminiscent of the end of the North Hollywood Shootout where SWAT members tried to take out the assailants legs. A weapons malfunction caused me to transition to my Glock 22 at which time the assailant and I entered into a running gun battle down the street before he finally fell to the ground. We secured him even while he continued to fight us.

caleb @ 1/25/2016 6:39 AM

Guess these folks in the comments didnt even read the article

depserv @ 1/25/2016 7:00 AM

All other factors being equal, it stands to reason that the bullet with greater energy and momentum would have greater stopping power over the full range of variables found in shootings. But all other factors are not always equal, as this article points out. So the cardinal rule seems to be to carry the most powerful round you can hit your target with. I can hit just as well with a .40 as I can with a 9 so I carry a .40. If I could hit better with the 9 I'd carry a 9. But to me the difference in recoil isn't a big deal. I think one reason for the FBI's decision to go to the 9 might be that liberalism, America's official state religion, requires that government feed the feminist fantasy, and women, being smaller and weaker, do better with 9mm. If I remember right that was the reason the FBI did not use full power 10mm loads. The military uses 9mm supposedly to be compatible with NATO (among other reasons), but the official state religion might be a factor there too.

Jeff @ 1/25/2016 7:28 AM

I'm just laughing reading this article and most of the comments. This same argument has been going on now for at least the 40 years I've been collecting and shooting firearms. Every month it seems, since the 70's, one or more shooting publications have had as their cover story - something vs. something - it used to be 9mm vs. .45. Let me be clear, I've never fired at another human being. I've never been in a war, never been a LEO, and so far have not had to shoot another person in self-defense. What is so hilarious is most of the people who are the most animated in their opinions have not either. This argument will never end, and no one will ever be right or wrong. If I was in war, or a cop, I would want what I could shoot the best under stress with the highest capacity possible and which I had the most confidence in. Period. There is no single caliber or weapon out there that is the "be all - end all".

Eli @ 1/25/2016 7:50 AM

You're never going to stop the .45 fanboys from touting their round, never mind reading the article and actually learning something. All I'm going to say is that MARSOC after crying for years is about getting a .45 and finally getting a custom made 1911 switched to a glock 17 2 years after getting said .45

Troy @ 1/25/2016 8:47 AM

Well if it is really about performance of a given caliber everyone would be going back to 357 mag.

I do remember the after action for the Miami shoot out and mike platt was hit with a double lung and Aorta shot from a 9 mm very early in that fight. He went on to shoot a lot of FBI agents and kill two of them.

Gun hand @ 1/25/2016 8:54 AM

And the dick comparison continues! Its always a question of who has a bigger dick! Same thing with as 556 or 7.62, and so on. It never ends. In my case I carry the one I can shoot better period! No sense in carrying a 40,44,45 or a cannon. If you cant hit the target with it, its a useless caliber!

Bob @ 1/25/2016 9:08 AM

As a .45 acp "fanboy", i use things like the Cleveland police,for example,shooting at a percieved perp ovef a HUNDRED times using 9mm ammo before killing him. This perp was unarmed. High capacity in the hands of minimally trained police officers just leads to spray and pray shooting. I use a 1911 because i like the way the pistol handles and fits in the hand. And anybody who refutes a 45's ability just because they have Glockitis is just as ignorant as anybody else who takes pundts advice over actual experience or data.

Me @ 1/25/2016 9:49 AM

My wife and I both perfer the .45 acp she has small hands and carries a 1911 we have 22's 380 9 mm 40 cal 45 acp 38 super auto and both perfer the 45 acp due to stopping power her second preferred cal is 9mm due to capacity but she is not as accurate with the 9 mm I have seen ppl shot with 9mm and it take 4-6 to put them down I have seen ppl shot with 40 cal and take 2 ppl shot with 45acp 1 time and be incapacitated either dead on unable to fight so if ur having to use more rounds to stop someone how is it better then giving up 2-3 in a mag if ur going to use 2-3 times as many to stop them 17 rounds of 9mm should stop on average of 4 ppl 16 rounds of 40 cal should stop 8 ppl 13 rounds of 45 acp should stop 13 ppl in my experience

Gunslinger @ 1/25/2016 9:50 AM

All guns should be Glock 19s.

J Campbell @ 1/25/2016 10:35 AM

Also, there isn't any money, in bodies. Look at the money, and how many people it effects, when a criminal is "wounded", versus a body. Not that, that would be cause for just "wounding" someone.

Gov't Steve @ 1/25/2016 10:38 AM

The FBI report specifically pointed out several things.1.) the 40 was a "bridge" round between 9 & 45 .Not as much recoil as the 45 ;better terminal performance than the 9. 2.) Subsequent testing and REAL WORLD evaluations proved that that was a fallacy. 3.) FBI agents (male AND female) spend more time on computers and paperwork than at the range = "weak" shooters ACROSS THE BOARD! It was decided that with all the "givens" it was better to tighten up training with a "manageable recoil" load. Still, lack of "stress training" is a problem and being debated and researched.

Tom Ret @ 1/25/2016 10:59 AM

In the article it states that after extensive study (paraphrasing), the FBI wants to switch back from 40 to 9mm. Then did they not do an extensive study when after the Miami shootout they switched from 9mm to 40? I wonder, which is not discussed as a reason, how much having female FBI agents factored into their decision. Drawing on the Miami experience, the FBI was not prepared to go into a gun fight even though it was 7 or 8 agents to 2 bad guys (Platt and Matix). Revolvers were the prominent handgun used with 38 ammo instead of magnums. Some agents lost their guns when they slid off the seat or under the seat. One agent, after losing his gun in the seat, retrieved his 5 shot snub nose.
Who in their right mind would want to be in a sustained gunfight with determined killers with a 5 shot 38! Yet we look to the FBI for direction.

Ronb39339 @ 1/25/2016 11:02 AM

Some of this argument seems to hint towards being able to put multiple rounds on target with larger calibers. Being able to do so usually means practice. It also involves bullet selection, possibly firearms tuning, and grip/stance. If it's important enough that one may have to risk ones life, training is the essence to success in using a larger caliber weapon. Alternatively, if you don't want to survive, don't practice.

John Smith @ 1/25/2016 11:13 AM

What is not mentioned in any of this. 1 how big was the subject and 2 what was he on. It doesn't sound like a 125 white kid on heroin to me. PS watch old episodes of cops in which the convenience s
tore clerk who was white and a woman was shot 8 times with a 9mm and lived,

Bran O @ 1/25/2016 1:02 PM

What about the 5.7x28mm? High capacity, light recoil, and frangible ammunition that penetrates solid objects but disintegrates in soft targets.

Bran O @ 1/25/2016 1:03 PM

What about the 5.7x28mm? Hi capacity, light recoil, and frangible ammo that penetrates solid objects, but disintegrates in soft targets.

joseph phillips @ 1/25/2016 2:29 PM

.45 because shooting more than once is plain stupid !

Michael Waidelich @ 1/25/2016 3:05 PM

I was a Range Master for a PD for over 15 years and trained well over a thousand police officers with handguns in all calibers. The department averaged 6 Officer involved shootings per year. In my entire career we didn't lose a single gunfight and managed hits in 85% of the shootings with nearly 60% of the shots fired hitting the intended target. I believe that larger calibers and heavier bullets are more effective fight stoppers, but only if you can hit. Bottom line. For individuals with a choice pick the biggest caliber weapon you can hit with effectively. For departments; if you have well trained firearms instructors they can make the officers effective with any of the currently available and popular calibers, 9mm, 40S&W, and .45ACP. Finding the right pistol is probably more important than the choice among these calibers. Some Are harder to shoot than than others. And a few officers will probably have trouble with the larger calibers. Give them a choice.

Morgan Franks @ 1/25/2016 4:11 PM

I thing the 357 sig should be considered. Proof in in the ballistics

BillyVigor @ 1/25/2016 4:58 PM

I second the 357 sig they could just switch the barrels of the guns they have for the people that want less recoil everything else stays the same. If I was in LE I would go for the 5.7x28 myself. The experience I've had with 9mm vs .40 is that the 9mm does well with a longer barrel but the .40 has always had more penetration maybe it was the bullets we were using but with same barrel lengths the 40 trumped the 9 in a big way. 9mm out of a carbine was pretty impressive.

julio morris @ 1/25/2016 6:02 PM

The difference is in the ammo, you can pick up any 40 and get good results but when it comes to 9mm you have to spend more to get the same result that you get out of any 40call bullet. The 9mm only gives you two more rounds in most guns of the same size like the MP or Glock.

Anatoly Moskalenko @ 1/25/2016 6:54 PM

Shot placement, low recoil, swift target re-aquistion, tissue damage (via prominent hydrostatic shock), and standard magazine carrying 20 rounds with an optional 30 round mag, then it sounds like the 5.7x28mm would be the weapon of choice.

Kalroy @ 1/25/2016 7:36 PM

Bella Twin. With a 22 long (not 22lr) proved placement is king when, with a single shot from her 22 (shooting the 22 long) killed a grizzly.

Dieael41 @ 1/25/2016 9:24 PM

The .357 sig should be highly considered. Look at the ballistic tests. Granted these are just tests and nothing compares to real life situations and variables but the test speak volumes. Look at the test where there compare the penetration and trajectory of each calibre before and after impact of a vehicles windshield. .357 sig hands down no comparison. Just my personal opinion and preference

CW @ 1/25/2016 10:10 PM

John Leonard: Thanks for stepping forward. Fact is I wasn't there. Sounds to me like you took a position to protect your brothers and ultimately drove the attacker back. That's a big deal in my book. What caliber to choose will always be a hot topic. I have a few of them and since it isn't my occupation I'm always trying to learn. Way to protect your brothers John!

ED @ 1/25/2016 10:11 PM

I've always had Glock 26 and Gen 26...practice w/practice rds, carry with Hollow Points and am perfectly happy with that set-up because of 1 thing
PRACTICE-----PRACTICE-----PRACTICE......IT'S THE ENTIRE SECRET TO SUCCESS...I hit what I aim at from further out than needed some times, and it falls down or goes ding....Seriously, It's like anything else, be comfortable, practice and be successful...I use 10 + 1, nothing fancy, ammo at a decent price, and PRACTICE 3-4-5 times per wk....and HAVE had to use it unfortunately. Can't say it enough....Practice is the key....My opinion but it works for me.

Drew Harris @ 1/25/2016 11:49 PM

I carry he PX4 storm compact 9mm 15+1 147 gr HP, I'm very happy with it, perfect size for me and plenty of rounds if needed. I pray I never have to use it. I really like the safety mechanism on Beretta, I keep a round chambered and safety off.

Art @ 1/26/2016 12:10 AM

1911 45acp was made for this

Ken Bishop @ 1/26/2016 8:41 AM

the human body can absorb a lot of punishment. People with 80 stab wounds have lived. People shot with .45 have lived. The rounds are sub-sonic. There are many stories plus and minus about the calibers. Use what you feel comfortable with. Just because around is not good for shooting in to a vehicle don't make it bad. How many times have you had to do it in 20 years. If a lot carry a LAW it will stop them most every time. I will go for the extra ammo. The military did it into 1968 they went from 7.62 to 5.56. 20 round mags to 30 round mags. the 9mm has been around a long time. Again it is a personal choice to what you feel safe with. On that note stay safe all. See you at the range.

Jarid Clapp @ 1/26/2016 9:21 AM

I agree with Ken it is personal choice. Each person is different and what they can handle and feel comfortable with is also going to be different. I have seen guys shoot a .44 Magnum one handed accurately. I have seen other people that couldn't control a 9mm with two hands. It's more about shot placement and actually being able to focus when the SHTF. If you are concerned about stopping power then they should have .50 Desert Eagles. If they want more rounds then why not a .22? Find a weapon you are comfortable with and can handle well. You can't go wrong.

Kenk4 @ 1/26/2016 10:49 AM

Alan, I completely agree with your assertion that the 45 will "knock you off your feet". That is as long as we're talking about 458 win mag or better! Pistols are poor performers when compared to rifles.

I've shot several small white tailed deer with both a 45-70 and a 12 ga slug gun. Not once was I ever able to Knock one over. They didn't go very far before they bled out and there wasn't a lot of blood shot meat when compared to faster calibers.

Eric Jason Pena @ 1/27/2016 5:35 AM

Personally I like the little red cups at Starbucks. It's all about round placement and training. There is no magic bullet. We know how effective a 9mm is. Just ask the thousands who have been killed by that little beast. Personally I like my .45. My next go to is a 9mm. Train, train, train, and then some more.

Jim M. @ 1/28/2016 1:06 PM

I think bring up this subject amongst cops and military personnel, will only result in a hundred different opinions. Dr. Vails main point , as I read it is caliber size is meaningless with a handgun. Shot placement and follow up shots, through training, is the key.

Richard Schultz @ 1/28/2016 1:54 PM

As a Range Master/Armorer for my Department for almost 20 years, I agree with Eric. PRACTICE is what makes the real life difference in a shooting. With the FBI Study the main theory is controllability and additional magazine capacity. Controllability is a function of training. The additional 2 to 3 rounds in a magazine is a mute point if you can't hit what you aim at. Another point is that the majority of Agencies weapons training involve shooting 2 to 3 rounds and reholstering or dropping to a hold position. No Agency that I am aware of, trains their personnel to fire an entire magazine at a target then reload and reassess. Unfortunately being involved in two shootings in my 30 year career, the "You do what you train" is Gods Truth. Training is the real key to Officer survivability no matter what caliber you are using.

Frank Black @ 1/29/2016 6:49 AM

Everyone is forgetting the biggest factor, and I'm surprised the trauma surgeon didn't mention it. The round that's the most deadly is the one shot in an area with the poorest EMT's, Paramedics and the lack of Level One trauma centers. There's a reason that Homicide holds a BBQ for EMS in our little town (pop. 460,000) Shootings might be up, but homicides are down.

Leonard Mather @ 1/29/2016 1:34 PM

From the superabundance of responses, my view, as a Forensic Psychologist, is that the weapon being carried is to be chosen by the LEO carrying it (them) whether on the job or after duty hours. The weapon is chosen because it is "close to his heart/reasoning." In my case, I carry a .380 because I expect "close work" and do not anticipate a target to be further away. I am comfortable with .380 for head shots and/or femoral artery zone. The article above was well written, technically correct and will not alter my choice, as I am not a LEO.

Ed Ojeda @ 1/30/2016 1:31 PM

I don't have any scientific data to support my opinion, but I have heard for years that 9mm rounds have been known to glance off car windshields, and my impression from from some accounts I have heard is how the 9mm as well as the .38 caliber are more unpredictable in terms of where they will go upon impacting the human body. I own a .38, a 9mm, and a .45ACP graduating over the years to a larger round in search of a bit more stopping power and to minimize unpredictability even though the trajectory of any round hitting an object or a human body will always have some degree of unpredictability. Probably because of training for so many years, I don't notice too much difference in recoil, with exception of the .45, but it's manageable. But I've come to understand that as the author states, stopping power has more to do with shot placement than with the size of the round (although I wouldn't attach much stopping capacity to a .22).

Ed Ojeda @ 1/30/2016 1:39 PM

Regarding shot placement, I read a good article not long ago that pointed out the difference between target practice in which you are aiming for a bullseye (the 5 ring) and real life situations. That author stated that in real life situations you should be actually aiming for what would be 4-ring on an enemy or about the area a person would place their hand over if they were pledging allegiance because a hit there stands a good chance of striking not only the heart but a lung as well and this will incapacitate and cause the person to bleed out much faster (stopping power), Obviously it's going to be relatively ineffective to hit a person in a fleshy area which doesn't contain any major organs, and I assume a big, heavy person will on average be able to absorb the impact from a round better than average-sized person.

Tom @ 1/30/2016 3:07 PM

I can tell you from experience that any round will change trajectory upon striking a car windshield. I have personally tested this with 9mm, 45, and 5.56. However the change in trajectory is predicable based on the angle of the shot.

I have a 45 for fun. I have multiple 9mm pistols for competition and carry. 9mm is what I trust.

James ONeill @ 1/30/2016 3:33 PM

From a L/E perspective, I have been involved in multiple shooting investigations and involved in two personally. I have personally seen a subject shoot himself in the head with a .45(hardball) and live(though severely handicapped). Have also seen subject hit with high velocity hollow point.22 to heart. Quickly deceased. We(and the bad guys)carry handguns for convenience, not overall effectiveness.
Bullet technology, powder loadings and individual handgun design will all drive the operators effectiveness level. Ultimately training determines much of the end result. Unfortunately, way too many officers do not train enough for the realities of firearms conflict.

MS @ 1/30/2016 3:52 PM

Long live the great caliber debate! It kept me entertained for years when it was just the 9mm vs. .45 then the successful marketing effort of S&W brought the .40 into the mix making it even more lively! Great article Dr. Vail, as always. I appreciate the work you do and the information you have shared with us through the years.
Accuracy first my friends. Though it is a little out of the field of terminal ballistics where the Dr is the master he was right on with his comment about carrying a configuration that you shoot the best and has numerous rounds. I would like to modify that to: Carry the biggest caliber you can shoot the best which provides the largest mag cap! Then decide what you can carry all day everyday because the best gun is the one you have with you when trouble comes knocking. Keep your head on a swivel, the first accurate rounds generally tend to win.

AnthonyC @ 2/2/2016 9:37 AM

For those who live in states that restrict magazine capacity this may be a moot point. If the largest size magazine I can own is a 10-round mag, even for a Glock 17 or S&W M&P9, then why not go for the larger round. Unless you can shoot one substantially better than the bigger bullet has the advantage when capacity is limited. Therefore my nightstand pistol is .40 cal .

Marshall @ 2/18/2016 4:54 PM

Fundamentals, Efficiency, Performance
Spend more time focusing on these three core principles when you train.

Marshall @ 2/18/2016 4:55 PM

Fundamentals, Efficiency, Performance.
Spend more time focusing on these three core principles when you train.

SGT JJ @ 2/26/2016 10:01 AM

After several shootings involving ambushes and vehicles, I decided there was only two rounds to carry, .....357 Mags or .45 cal. A .9mm or .40 have a hard time in penitrating anything other than skin. Why the debate? Let officers carry .45 cal autos and they will be prepared with knock down effectiveness.

Grog18b @ 2/26/2016 12:14 PM

It's not so much about caliber, as it is shot placement. You can kill someone just as fast with a .22 to the brain bucket as you can with a .45 to the brain bucket. Shot placement. Shot placement. Shot Placement.
IMO- The FBI should concentrate more on training accuracy, as opposed to changing weapons yet again...

Dear FBI, there is nothing wrong with your weapons. It is your shooters that need adjustment.

mot @ 2/28/2016 7:03 PM

Actually for all the 45 fans The Navy Seals have decided on clock 19 9mm over the Sigs and 45s

Christopher McMahon @ 2/29/2016 5:27 AM

Sgt JJ, I'm not sure what type of vehicles you shoot at, but at our in service training we easily fire .40 cal and 9mm through car doors we set up at the range. 9mm is faster and easier stay on target under stress. The high caliber dinosaurs for law enforcement are becoming a thing of the past.

Alex C @ 3/13/2016 11:55 PM

@Sgt JJ. I'm only a 22 year old concealed carrier and have a limited amount of experience with handguns, and have never shot anyone, so I'm hoping someone can answer my question. He said that a .45 is one of his only choices. I thought if you want to penetrate something, whether it be car doors, plywood, or some real world barrier, isn't it velocity that makes it penetrate things? Like I get a .45 is a bigger bullet, but an average .45 jhp is still almost subsonic, and by a physics standpoint, wouldn't a .45 acp 180-230 grain jhp going at +/- 1000 fps have a harder time penetrating a barrier than a 9mm or .40 caliber bullet traveling 1200, 1300 fps? It's kinda like how a 2x4 swung at someone would cause blunt force trauma, but how in a hurricane those solid pieces of wood can impale someone due to how much force it's launched at. So isn't a 40 or 9mm going faster than a .45 the better pentrator?

MrStorm @ 3/16/2016 6:33 AM

@Alex C the .45 produces more force and has more mass, it would require more force or resistance to stop a heavier slower bullet than a fast lighter 9mm. Mass is typically better for penetration. Think of it this way if you had two balls rolling at you at the same speed, except one weighed 5lb and the other weighed 100lb which would be easier for you to stop.

Alan R @ 3/16/2016 8:02 AM

Kinetic energy = one half of the mass x the velocity squared. Physics says you are absolutely correct, Alex C.

Greg Barthol @ 3/17/2016 2:23 AM

I am severely disappointed in this article. First the author does not consider the .45 ACP which is used in a large number of departments and CCW permit holders (i do realize that the FBI would not study this since they are not carrying .45's). No mention was made of hydrostatic shock and the damage it does to 'hard' organs such as the blood vessel rich spleen and liver as well as the heart itself. Such 'secondary' damage can, in and of itself, be life ending due to internal blood loss. Bullets with larger diameter and weight are more apt to cause greater hydrostatic shock, thereby placing the 9mm behind both the S&W .40 and the .45 ACP. The next issue I have is that the premise that only brain stem/brain tissue damage and exsanguination are the only trauma that causes a person from violent responses. What about massive nerve damage causing pain, sometimes to the point of 'passing out'. Unconscious shooter is not common. The other factors that could have helped the FBI in its evaluatio

Greg Barthol @ 3/17/2016 2:26 AM

I am severely disappointed in this article. First the author does not consider the .45 ACP which is used in a large number of departments and CCW permit holders (i do realize that the FBI would not study this since they are not carrying .45's). No mention was made of hydrostatic shock and the damage it does to 'hard' organs such as the blood vessel rich spleen and liver as well as the heart itself. Such 'secondary' damage can, in and of itself, be life ending due to internal blood loss. Bullets with larger diameter and weight are more apt to cause greater hydrostatic shock, thereby placing the 9mm behind both the S&W .40 and the .45 ACP. The next issue I have is that the premise that only brain stem/brain tissue damage and exsanguination are the only trauma that causes a person from violent responses. What about massive nerve damage causing pain, sometimes to the point of 'passing out'. Unconscious shooter is not common. The other factors that could have helped the FBI in its evaluatio

Mike D @ 3/17/2016 5:22 AM

Good read and lots of good comments but no mention of cost? C'mon you can't think for one moment cost of bullets wasn't a factor when deciding to move back? I know the cost between 9mm and .40 isn't much but add in volume of ammo used for qualifying, regular use, etc...

David S @ 3/17/2016 10:02 AM

The article focuses too much on the terminal end and not enough on the shooter end. He spoke more of rounds that can't fit in a handgun than the 10mm.
The FBI went to the 10mm because they wanted big and fast. They found out that most men cannot handle a full power 10mm, and it causes nerve damage in those who can handle it after repeated use. That is why they went to the weaker FBI load, and then that load was replicated in the shorter .40.
In the past 30 years advances in bullets and powders have made the 9mm+P and 45+P become very close to the performance of the 40. Also with more women joining forces it has become clear that most women cannot handle a full power 40. That is why they switched.
What was not considered was the small and fast 357 Sig, or the possibility of adopting two cartridges that can be used interchangeably in the same pistol with a barrel and spring change. Those who can shoot well with the Sig could be issued it, others could get the 9.

William Schumacher @ 3/17/2016 10:11 AM

Many years ago before the cop programs became politically correct I was watching a police program. The officer with a 9mm was chasing a suspected felon and chased him into a house and into a bed room just inside the outside door. The felon then pulled a gun while laying in the bed and the officer shot him three times in the chest. I know it was the chest because when they walked the felon out in handcuffs you could see the three bloody holes in his tee shirt. This is when I no longer used the 9mm for anything except target practice.

Bruce Frank @ 3/17/2016 10:26 AM

So little difference between the .40 S&W and the 9mm round wound channel? By the criteria for stopping capacity stated in this article, including the claimed lack of trauma to soft tissue and the need to strike the brain stem for instant incapacitation, AND the reduction of recoil so more "aimed" shots can be fired, then the 22LR definitely should be the cartridge of choice!

When I decided on the Glock 23 in 40 S&W my research found, from police and emergency room statistics, the 40 to have more single shot stops than the 38, 357, or 9mm. But, with new bullet development, it is likely that the 9mm is now as capable as the 40 S&W. But, by the same evolution, the 40 is also better. Another oddity of the change-over is the "necessity" of more rounds in the gun (which sort of debunks the claim that "nobody" needs more than 10 rounds in the mag) when the diminutive Glock 23 comes, where legal, with 13 round mag.

I would argue that a shot to the frontal lobe is also an instant stop!

Thomas CookIII @ 3/17/2016 2:08 PM

A Navy SEAL remarked: "every one of my shots is a kill shot." It is not the bullet caliber or configuration, it is bullet placement. The mafia's favorite round was the .22. I practice head shots routinely; my enemy wears body armor--they are government thugs and murderers like Lon Horiuchi--the child killer at Waco. Front Sight rightly teaches that a round between the mustache and eyebrows shuts down the computer.

Rocky @ 3/18/2016 4:03 PM

The US Military has discovered over the past century that the both the .38 caliber (.36) and 9mm (.36) have trouble in stopping the advance of persons determined to continue the fight, in spite of being mortally wounded. Which is why they switched from the .38 caliber revolver to the .45ACP pistol and are again considering a larger caliber sidearm, to replace it's 9mm pistols.
Given the new integrated military with women now expected to preform tasks previously reserved for or males it's a given that they will take into consideration the female's smaller hands and frames when making their considerations. Were said larger calibers only being considered for men's larger, stronger hands and bodies, you can well imagine that they could very well return to the venerable .45ACP. As many of our SOCOM Operators prefer.
Alas such is not to be primarily due to the stifling effects of Political Correctness on science.
Of course the military is limited to FMJ bullets and modern 9mm JHP expand.

Cameron @ 3/19/2016 8:42 PM

The .45 provides hydostatic shock with a larger bullet, 9mm provides more shots with equal penetration.

The .40 was supposed to give us the best of both worlds, a larger, deep penetrating round that had some of the .45 capability for shock and pain damage. In truth what many shooters thought they ended up with was a round that was more expensive than the 9mm and did the same job with more recoil.

The .40 is the superior round for the pro due to the fact that it can do all what the 9mm can do, has more carrying capacity than the .45 and through body armor or cover it can produce more damage to be felt by the person getting hit with it than the 9mm. It is the difference between being hit by a club (.45 Auto) vs a pick axe (9mm) vs a warhammer (40 cal). The difference is this was specifically designed to cause both hydrolic shock and deep penetrating damage.

JaySocSanDiego @ 3/20/2016 6:03 AM

It's still amazes me the amount of ignorant people supplying and believing incorrect information. The Navy Seals just transitioned this year to the Glock 19 in 9x19mm opting for the increased capacity rounds (they're smaller and better-than-ever engineered bullets) than the .45ACP. Most operators I know prefer to carry more rounds in a lighter weight striker fired platform handgun, than hammer fired DASA pistols that are not only heavier, but have a different trigger pull on the first shot.
Additionally hydrostatic shock does not apply to handgun rounds due to the low velocity, but only to high velocity AND typically larger caliber than standard 5.56 rifle rounds. Given the choice JSOCs prefer 62 grain to 77 grain open tips or soft points.
While the military is conventionally bound to FMJs, it is well known in "The Community" that many SpecOps units use JHPs in their pistols. And if we're reaching for our pistols, the poo has hit the fan.
As far as the Mafia using .22lr? It's the movies one, and two if they do, its because they're using them in the context of a hit, firing them either into the heart of an unsuspecting, unarmed person, but more typically behind the ear into the brain where they bounce around scrambling grey matter into mush. They're not the Mafias choice in a gun battle just like the rest of the carry community.

Josh88 @ 3/20/2016 8:52 PM

The ballistic data does not lie. No doubt the modern JHP round and primers used to day are like comparing the Honda to the Chevy in the Indy 500. There both competitors none of us can deny ballistic science. Shot placement is a Captain Obvious necessity regardless of round type. Ballistic data also overwhelmingly shows the 45 ACP "Drop's" ALOT AFTER 75 Yrd.s 38. SPCL and .357 NO ARGUMENT are the most effective rounds at range and speed and ballistics against car doors,clothes,etc. I own all of the above. Pistols are like for each application and if you dont know how to use your hammer you cant build a bench. Every tradesman will have their preference. Like arguing 36 Double D's Vs. 38 Double D's. Both are great and comfortable...If you know what you are doing....

Jake24 @ 3/30/2016 12:36 PM

OK, the author is writing about the FBI decision to switch from 40 to 9mm. probably why he didn't mention 45, 357 and 10mm that so many commenters have mentioned. LE carry pistols mainly as a defensive weapon. If they KNOW they are going into a gun battle they have a long arm as a primary weapon. Same with the military. The recent adoption officially (an unofficially years before) of spec ops units deciding to carry Glock 19s has as much to do with weight/size as anything. if they are down to their pistol, it really doesn't matter what caliber it is. and in war, a wounded enemy can be about as good as a dead one. someone mentioned the socom .458 -- that and the 300 Blackout are at least as much if not more about being subsonic to use with suppressers than caliber alone. Go on & search "brazil cop" & you can see a 100 videos of actual shootings and see what really happens. Lastly, besides just talking calibers, all of you should be thinking about COVER in ur equation

Robert @ 4/1/2016 9:26 PM

10 X 22mm vs 9 X 19mm. The argument should be, when has the government instilled confidence because of their proven used use of deductive logic? Agents armed with .357magnums in 1986 were found to have .38 specials loaded in their revolvers.
Shall we discuss the superiority of the .32acp over the .380 because I have one extra round available in a Walther PPK?
I trust reason, logic and physics (E = M v^2). I rarely trust what comes from Washington.

tim @ 4/3/2016 8:45 AM

Well, if you live in a state that has a 10 round magazine limit, then the whole capacity advantage of a 9mm goes out the window. The author mentions secondary cavitation but that doesn't happen much until you go supersonic anyway, so you should jump up to a 357Sig shooting 115gr JHPs if you want that, or a 7.62x25 shooting 90grainers from Tokerov with very litle recoil and be done with it. I've chronoed those at 1500fps...less recoil than a 9!

tim @ 4/3/2016 8:56 AM

A friend was dropped from a helicopter with a radio antenna sticking up from his backpack saying "Shoot me first!". He hit the ground and responded to seeing a VC at 50 yards with his 45 ACP and hit him in the elbow, which spun the guy around 3 times and knocked him to the ground. That gave him time to bring his M16 around and finish the job. Not sure a 9 would do that.

tim @ 4/3/2016 8:59 AM

With equal penetration, equal number of rounds (and by the way, these are autos that can be quickly reloaded + some states limit to 10), and equal penetration and placement abilities, I'll take larger holes please. Having said that, you can get a 9 that's much smaller than any 40.

tim @ 4/3/2016 9:09 AM

IMHO, neither the 9 nor the 40 really produce that much recoil. I shoot a small 9 and a bigger 40 about the same. Seems to me the feel of the gun, the sights, and trigger is the most important factors because they're the main things that affect my accuracy. At similar velocities, bigger holes are better in a handgun. But I want to experiment with a .357 sig to see the difference, because then you're getting into some real hydrostatic shock and secondary cavitation. The only supersonic pistols I've shot are magnum revolvers and that's a whole 'nother ball of wax.

Josh @ 4/7/2016 7:39 AM

I know shot placement is key which Is dependent on recoil management, shooters ability, ect. But to think a 45 acp doesn't deliver more force upon impact than say a 9mm is kinda ridiculous. What people think is stopping power = penetration which they are not related at all. And I know all the different loads and cartridge types has made it a even playing field. But if you have two loads that are the same but ones a 9mm and the other 45 the 45 acp will transfer more energy into a target because of the extra mass in the projectile. That doesn't not mean it will penetrate farther. And if you don't believe me ... Stand in the middle of the road and get hit by a smart car that's going 30mph, then get hit by a Mack truck at the same speed and tell me which one hurt more? Lol

JIm @ 4/7/2016 9:06 AM

I believe that you should shoot what you are most comfortable with.
I have guns in 9mm, 45ACP and 10mm. All are loaded with StarFire ammo.
StarFire upon contact with flesh will almost double in size and they retain 99% of its weight. I am accurate will all of them. It boils down to practice, practice and more practice. My go to gun is the 10mm. I can group 16 rounds in about a 3" group. A little less using the 9mm and the 45ACP.

George @ 4/8/2016 10:24 AM

Given the similarities in "stopping power" as identified by the author, it seems advantages to the 9mm include less recoil and more rounds. The rounds argument is sound, but is often only a matter of one or two rounds; and having fired both types of ammunition in a variety of guns, I don't agree the recoil is significantly less. It largely comes down to shooter preference in this debate. But there is one factor I think we're overlooking: the safety of bystanders in a firefight. My understanding is that a 9mm is much more penetrative than a .40 cal round, therefore more likely to go through the target and into someone else, or more likely to pass through multiple walls or other barriers. If that is the case, isn't it worth considering sacrificing one or two rounds for the safety of others, including fellow officers, during a firefight? Especially when it seems officer involved shootings rarely require a reload? I like .45 cal for this reason, but am more aware of reduced capacity.

denny @ 4/8/2016 7:21 PM

ok well get penetration and internal damage. all good what of the asshole with the vest on

michael @ 4/16/2016 11:41 AM

It was interesting to note the article did not consider the kinetic energy that is adsorbed by the body. A light weight 9mm of 124gr at say 1000fps vs a .40 180 gr at 900 fps should have been included..........however, a .45 220gr at 850+ has a higher total kinetic impact than either the other two......larger wound channel and because it does slow down or sometimes not exit the would, all the energy is expended...........45's are easy to control and fire accurately for the multiple hits the article claims is necessary.........especially if the hits are in the belt/waist area......damaging the spine or pelvis.....striking bone in the torso area also causes the kinetic energy to be adsorbed almost completely......using a common example from my day...........which would you rather be hit with...a golf ball or a brick?

Dee @ 4/16/2016 9:57 PM

I have been a U.S. Marine MOS 8541, a reserve sheriff's deputy 3 years and then a police officer for 23 years until an on duty motor unit injury fractured my neck. I then went into medicine working trauma in the busiest level 1 trauma unit in the Central Valley, Ca. I have carried a .45, then a .357, then .45 again, forced to carry a 9mm which I shot well enough to still stand as #1 in the score/time in the county adopted combat shoot. I carried a .40 for a few years before my injury.

Working in trauma, I see similar findings as Dr. Vail, but I think he has a shortcoming in not making a couple of correlations. First, when you are talking about wounds from handguns, very little temporary cavity is created as compared to high velocity rounds. Foot pounds of energy are all important in the handgun round as balanced against the diameter. He does not list any such data, nor does he outline bullet weight which equate to ballistic efficiency to transfer that energy to tissue.

Dee @ 4/16/2016 10:05 PM

So continuing on, there is no magic caliber, but certainly a round which efficiently transfers this energy is better than one which penetrates and carries a portion of the energy potential outside the body. What's more, a larger wound cavity, means there is more forgiveness in shot placement. I am here to tell you that picking the location of the vena cava and placing a shot through it to get the target to bleed out, or getting a round right through the heart on a moving target is not that easy. So efficient rounds creating larger wound cavities are of course better concerning forgiveness on shot placement. The wounds in the picture are obviously not ideal placement to begin with. We can continue tearing this or that down, but the bottom line is that hitting a vital organ on a moving target with a pistol is not the easiest task. Given that most police shootings involve 4-5 rounds shot some 7 feet away, I have yet to see where the 19 round or 16 round capacity is real world need.

Dee @ 4/16/2016 10:18 PM

In trauma, I see a few guys come in with 9mm chest wounds who are talking and even bragging. I see .40 chest wounds which much of the time come in more or less severely impaired. The .45 is not popular so I see far less, but those I see are pretty much incapacitated to the point of loss of consciousness, or in and out to the point they are not lucid. You can use your ballistic gel argument if you like, you can spout about bonded 9mm rounds, pretending that .40 and .45 are not also using this technology, and I will defend your right to the death to do so. But, the proof is in the actual outcomes of shootings. Oh, I must tell you that when I defend to my death your right to speak, I will not be doing it with a 9mm. I shoot well and I have never shot a course twice in any shoot qualification I have ever attended. However, given that I more likely than not only have 4-5 chances to place my shots to stop someone from killing me, I prefer to get every advantage I can take.

TraumaRN @ 4/23/2016 4:17 PM

I also work as an ER/Trauma nurse in a trauma center in a violent California city. I see on average one GSW per shift. Interestingly, I almost always see ball ammo being used (mostly gang related activity) and very rarely see expanding ammunition of any type. I have not, and the Trauma surgeons I work with have correlated (we spend a lot of time talking in CT), noticed a difference in the lethality of various calibers of handgun ammo. Shot placement is the only consistent factor in terms of the difficulty or success of resuscitating the patient and keeping them alive long enough to get them into surgery. In fairness, the victims who were subjected to good shot placement never get onto my trauma bed because they die on the scene. My combat experience as a Hospital Corpsman also seems to support this. I've treated casualties who sustained rifle rounds through the torso who were stabilized with a simple needle decompression. I've seen handgun wounds through the torso where the patient decompensated and crashed in seconds. In my opinion, shot placement is everything. There's no reliable way to place a single round through someone's chest and be certain you hit something vital. Most chest GSWs just need a chest tube and an ICU admission. If you want to be sure you put someone down quickly you need to place MULTIPLE rounds into a vital area in rapid succession. There simply isn't time to evaluate the effectiveness of the rounds you just fired. You get your answer when the threat stops moving forward.

The Army guy @ 5/8/2016 5:16 AM

It all comes down to shot placement, a 22 in the hands of an expert is more effective than a 357 in the hands of an amateur. Just keep practicing and any round will do if you also so well under stress

Robert Claus @ 5/21/2016 7:13 AM

War teaches us what works and what doesn't where people with capital letters behind their names and gelatin blocks cannot (no offense intended to the Author of this piece). The Filipino-American War 1899-1902 was the proving grounds for the .45acp. The Muslim (Moro) Warriors in the Philippines were the equivalent of a zombie on meth. They wrapped themselves with wire and leather to limit bleeding and were drugged out of their minds before attacking. One such warrior was shot 33 times before a .45acp went in one ear and out the other killing him. War is the ulitmate "proving ground" of any weapon. As far as the 9mm goes. It was developed as a sub machinegun round where multiple hits would kill. I'm old enough to remember why the Fed stopped using it. Slightly built women were having their hands fractured from the recoil of the .45. The Fed has suffered from amnesia in the past, just like when they were going to decommission the .50 cal. Then came the Iraq War.

Michael @ 5/22/2016 1:06 AM

If you really want Policemen to stop bad guys as quick as possible, then they should be carrying a 12 gauge shotgun, 18 inch barrel loaded with 00 buckshot. They would have to carry it in their hands or on a strap on the shoulder for quick response. For home defense, the same thing, or even better, a Thompson submachine gun with the .45ACP. Whatever the handgun bullet, you gotta hird them alot and hard. I was a Morgue Orderly in 1969, 20 years old, when they brought in a man who had been shot dead by his wife. The bullet was a .22LR and she only fired once, to the heart from 19 feet away. I will always remember the look of surprise on the dead mans face.

Lawrence craft @ 5/22/2016 5:31 AM

I believe it is shoot placement yes. I also believe in multiply shots no matter 9mm or 40cal. I really believe something is being overlooked from a environment point of view. A 40cal will penatrate a car door where a 9mm round(most of the time) will not. I have seen gelatin mentioned but no bone incorporated into the gel with in my mind is not the same as a human body. I think I'll stick with the 40cal.

JeffD @ 5/22/2016 9:54 AM

I've never seen more misinformed and flat-out ignorant opinions and comments in any forum or comments section anywhere. Shocking really. .45 ACP "knocking people over" and .45 ACP 230gr FMJ as best round for all cases? SMH

Sam @ 5/28/2016 10:03 AM

I feel compelled to join the conversation. I am a retired Army Master Sergeant. When we went from .45 cal to 9mm we were not happy. when you hit an enemy with a 45 cal anywhere on his body, they are going down. With a 9 mm you need to have a very well placed round for them to go down. In an excited, stressed, battle, I would take a .45 Cal every time. Because when you are in battle, you don't always have time to pause, take a breath, hold it and squeeze the trigger.

Capt. Crunch @ 6/3/2016 8:45 AM

Everyone is trying to find a bullet as good as the 45 Cal. Just make it simple use the 45 there is nothing better.

Scott E @ 6/4/2016 6:55 AM

Like most, if not ALL of you commenting I have never shot another human being, so let's start there. I carry .357 SIG and 10mm. Because of this I gather my data from many sources. While this article makes good points so does the science of physics. In specific I'm talking about the, Taylor KO factor (Google this), which takes in the consideration bullet mass and velocity to create the proper amount of kinetic energy and its impact on a target.

Anyone with half of a brain will agree that shot placement is vital. So for the sake of argument let's let shot placement be the constant in this equation. But as I mentioned before who here has been in a highly stressful situation where you have had to use your handgun to defend your life against a bad guy? Who here has had sufficient enough training to be able to concentrate on shot placement in said highly stressful situation? That being said I want the biggest fastest bullet I can shoot! Speed and mass equally energy and that thump!

adman @ 6/4/2016 10:07 PM

I have solved the problem. I went to the range and used a SIG P229 with three different caliber barrels and recoil springs to see what the deciding factors might be in my world. I went from 9mm to 40sw to 357sig and back to 40sw again. What I learned was, I shoot them all equally well because I shoot well in general. This is not earth shattering information. If you practice, you can shoot them all well.

That said, I use the proper caliber for the job at hand. I carry a small 9mm because concealment factors are most important; my house guns are loaded with 40sw, 357 sig and 45acp, depending upon the likelihood of what shot I would have to make from a given location. So yes, I will pick the largest caliber I can rationalize based upon the best-case scenario under the circumstance. In the house, I like 45acp. Otherwise, I like 375sig. It's a personal thing based upon confidence from practice.

Dave S @ 6/5/2016 9:45 PM

I would agree with adman. I've been around guns and shot guns since I was five years old. I've been in some pretty shady deals too. A good solid caliber is always a godsend and bad accuracy is always a deal breaker. That being said, I've shot them all from 22's to 45. I swore against the 40 and hated the 9mm when I was younger, but they each have their place. I have five guns I carry regularly in my old age-a j-frame 38 (the only gun my father ever carried), a Glock 19, an SP-101, an M&P 40, and a Glock 30s. Which one I carry depends on what I'm doing. As you can see, they all vary in firepower, but growing up in the oil field taught me that a woman shooting a 22 in your face is just as deadly as a 12 pound cannon in your gut. Each caliber has it's place. If I were to choose a duty round, I'd go for the 357, 40, or 45. If I'm needing to be discreet, my 38 and 9mm will do everything I need. There simply is no one size fits every scenario.

Aaron @ 6/6/2016 12:20 PM

I've been shooting for years, and served in the Army. I have done a lot of research into pistol calibers, fired many different handguns. I settled on a G19 with 115gr hollowpoints.

Everything I've researched shows that pistol calibers 9mm, .40, and .45 in modern hollowpoints all perform about the same. I shoot 9mm the best, so that is what I carry.

You won't get hydrostatic shock with those calibers, that typically starts to come into effect at 1600 FPS or so.

A lot of misinformation in the comments here.

George @ 6/10/2016 9:04 AM

So shot placement is the most crucial factor in the effectiveness of a handgun round. If the effectiveness of the 9mm and .40cal are comparable, which is what I inferred from this article, why don't we take other factors into consideration, one of which is over-penetration to avoid unwanted casualties. A 9mm round is several hundred fps faster than the .40cal and I presume would be more penetrative of a human target, putting others at risk. Missed shots would also likely be more penetrative of car doors, walls, etc., also likely putting unintended targets at risk.
This issue of velocity and over-penetration leads me to another question: Why have we seemed to have abandoned the .45cal? It would seem that its size would cause greater damage, therefore more bleeding and faster incapacitation of a subject, and its slow speed would further reduce the rounds over-penetration issue. Newer .45 have high capacity mags, too.
Finally, is cost playing a role in the return of the 9mm?

Ken @ 6/19/2016 7:17 PM

I switched from several 9mm when I lived in Texas to .40 when I moved to California. The main reason is that no matter the handgun you can only have a 10 round magazine. The 40 offers plenty of options in that capacity range. The 9mm has so many that have much higher capacity. Having said this, if I could carry a handgun with more than 10 rounds, I'd prefer the 9mm with 15 to 17 rounds.

Greg @ 6/23/2016 11:30 AM

I dont trust the fbi data anymore either. They have become highly politicised since the 90s. Clinton made it so lab techs no longer had to be agents. As for 9 vs 45, my vote is higher mag capacity. I am a citizen, my main objective is to stop the threat while breaking contact.

Mark @ 6/23/2016 8:00 PM

Ill take accuracy any day, 9mm
One shot, one kill

George Henson @ 7/1/2016 4:34 AM

I'm still amazed that folks do not realize that there is not a tremendous difference between 9mm and .40 caliber. (Even after supposedly reading your article) 1000-1400 fps for both. 90-147 grains for 9mm and (approx.) 135-180 grains for .40 caliber.

The science is not that complicated. Shot placement and ammo selection still seem to be the finer points. Extra energy is a good thing (I didn't say only thing) if you can maintain shot placement and repeat until a target is no longer a threat. Some can do it with both 9 and 40 and some can not.

That being said, I prefer 9mm because I can put a round in target and repeat quite easily. I can with 40, but not as easily. Your mileage may vary.

All the other calibers are awesome too...blah, blah, blah.

Mike Humphries @ 7/3/2016 8:46 AM

As a 0331 machine gunner in the Marine Corps with 5 combat tours I will tell you that personally tell you that carry a Glock 22 40. Cal and the only way I will carry a 9mm is with RIP rounds. Period. I have them with my 40. They are awesome rounds and almost any shot is a kill shot. All these keyboard Warriors that talk crap about killing but have never killed let me tell you something I have taken lives and stopping power counts and the military using the M9 Barretta 9mm pistol sucks! I would much rather throw it at the enemy! And kill them with my knife or bare hands than use that piece of shit!

Andrew @ 7/3/2016 11:21 AM

It's funny that these debates still rage. Despite the critics of his methodology, Evan Marshall's analysis has stood the test of time. Facklers', as with the infamous 147 grain 9mm, have not.

Dave @ 7/3/2016 7:41 PM

I have shot 7 people with the M9 Beretta on three tours to Iraq and Afghanistan. Three of those were shorts to the body (all 3-5 shots each), and four were shots to the head (1-2 shots). Guess which ones dropped immediately?

What is the moral of this story? Shot placement, shot placement, shot placement. Period. End of story. Full stop.

Rangers Lead the Way!

Jason @ 7/4/2016 1:34 AM

Those referring to the Moros tribesman might remember that the weapon the Americans were using at the time was a .38 Long Colt revolver, a black powder cartridge that was woefully underpowered even at that stage, in a rather inaccurate weapon. Initially the military responded by wheeling out the 1873 Colt Model P in .45, which was a far better gun. Yes, the .45 ACP is a far better round than that, and still a very good round today, but the best 9mm rounds today carry almost the same kinetic energy (E=(mv^2)/2) as the .45ACP.
One shot incapacitation is rare with a handgun, and most often seen with the .357 magnum. Given the lack of knockdown power most handguns possess, carrying more rounds so you can make more holes is the next best thing. Handguns are short range defensive weapons. If you need more than that, carry a rifle.

GySchmit @ 7/4/2016 6:01 AM

"9mm v .40S&W v. 45ACP? You can't miss fast enough to win in a gun fight!" <Gump Voice On - "And that's all I have to say about that!" Gump Voice Off>

Jim Greathouse @ 7/4/2016 7:49 AM

My department uses a Model 21 SF Glock 45 ACP. Me thinks someone is also working for Baretta.

Bruce Davis @ 7/4/2016 10:30 AM

A lot of the reasons for the FBI go to the 9mm have zero to do with the 9mm mysteriously becoming so more efficient. They have to do more with smaller frame female agents not being able to handle the recoil of the 40 S&W as well as they can the 9mm. Logic says while bullet construction has improved the efficiency of the 9mm the same improvements are just as applicable to other calibers like the 40 S&W and 45ACP. Just ask yourself if you were shooting a charging elephant or rhino would you use the biggest caliber you could handle or settle for a smaller caliber weapon. The principle is the same. The 40 S&W caliber has more surface, more projectile weight and more energy than the 9mm. The opinions of armchair experts who have not actually been involved in or investigated gunfights are pretty much worthless. I have done both. Frankly I prefer the 45ACP, but the 40 S&W is better than the 9mm on its best day since it is bigger, heavier and has more energy. Case closed!

benny wallace @ 7/4/2016 12:47 PM

Back in the days of carry what you want as long as you qualify with it, I carried a S&W Mod 58 41 mag, loaded with 4 210g leads and 2 210g soft points...Never had to shoot anyone, did have the opportunity to test and compare with 38/357/9mm/40 and 45, also the 44. No comp till you got to the 44, and only one officer qualed with it! As i understand it, in the original HP White stopping power charts, the 41 had the best record of any gun. The tests were dumped and a new series devised, the 41 slipped wy down! Bottom line: Shoot, lots, what you carry, place your shots and shoot till the threat is neutralized!

Madness @ 7/5/2016 6:28 AM

For some reason I can't get away from the cost factor here. Being a old contract holder myself it's hard to pass up the cost effectiveness of 9mm vs 40S&W. As far as the frame/girly hand argument, I'm not so sure. They went with the Glock 19. 15+1 & without the grip panels it's a standard size right? They went with Glocks cuz of cost/durability I'm sure. Oh well.

Johan Groenewald @ 7/6/2016 12:37 PM

I was shot 17 times with a 9mm at a distance of about 6m. I killed one of my assailants and wounded the other in the leg to my eternal shame. However what one should also take into account is that I didn't feel all that much until I discovered that my left leg no longer had a working femur. I was carrying a 45 at the time, now I carry 357sig. The change was brought about because the 45 doesn't have enough capacity and 9mm ...... well if you don't feel it then whats the point? Must admit I haven't seen what a 40 does to anything except paper but I think the 357 should do the trick.

Patrick @ 8/27/2016 4:37 PM

First, I am a arm chair combat shooter but do a lot of reading. After living in Alaska for 25yrs, I carried large caliber handguns just about all the time. I loaded it for the "animal" I might run into. If it was grizzly or moose I carried 45colt loaded to magnum(it was large frame Ruger) velocities with a "heavy for caliber" hardcast blunt lead bullet(325gr). The purpose was for the bullet to penetrate bone and muscle to get at the vitals no matter the angle of the shot. I have always like the 357magnum for two legged varmints with 125gr HP. It appears to keep on stopping fights if put in proper place. My favorite carry pistol is a Glock model 33 in 357sig with Cor-bon bullets. It's appears that we want as much tissue damage in about 12-14 inches. That 125gr hollow point going about 1300fps seems to do a good job of that. It does have a little more recoil but with practice can easily be overcome. Most important is practice, practice, and then practice some more.

Derek Harrelson @ 9/1/2016 7:51 AM

My father as my witness, I shot a small 110 lb cow horn with a 124gr+P gold dot from 45 yds. Hit him on the 5th shot when he finally turned broadside. Shot placement was perfect and it looked like someone slammed him to the dirt. I did have to shoot him in the neck to finish him off but I've had to do that after shooting deer with a 270 in the neck because placement was slightly off. We are talking 382 ft-lb for 9mm and 441 ft-lb of energy for 40.. BOTH ARE NOT ADEQUATE FOR STOPPING A PERSON WITH 1 SHOT OUTSIDE OF PERFECT PLACEMENT. If you want the almighty perfect "stopping power" which isn't a real term use a 30-06 or a 7mm on a body and be done. Even then we still aren't sure it will be perfectly effective because in real life bullets malfunction or even deviate off course when they impact medium. The 9mm is perfect for me, and my wife. More chances to get it right or cause mass bleeding because pistol cartridges are underpowered any way you slice it. 9mm, 40 & 45 included

Robert @ 10/6/2016 6:56 PM

"stopping power [is the] effectiveness to render a person unable to offer resistance or remain a threat.... You have two options. You can use a really large round at very high velocity like the 30mm cannon rounds from an Apache helicopter's M230 Chain Gun..."

Oh, yeah. I can tell I'm gonna enjoy reading the rest of this article. This guy has sensibility AND a sense of humour.


P @ 10/15/2016 10:27 AM

Shot placement is everything. If you look at the shot placement in the picture, it sucks. (Not to mention the grouping sucks.) Had those rounds been placed in the proper place obviously he would probably not survived. So 9mm, .40 or .45 it doesn't matter. Put in the time to be proficient enough that in a high stress moments you react and perform to the highest level without thinking. I've found that combat sports help accomplish this. So fight your buddies and shoot competitively.

KaBone @ 10/20/2016 11:52 PM

Power is work over time. Work is energy over time. Energy =1/2 mv2. Seems like the key is muzzle velocity. But then there's the concept of momentum which is just mv. Stopping a moving object is all about stopping the momentum, that's it. A wall does no work, has no energy, but will stop a moving car. The author made his opening statement to fit his argument. Delivering a bullet with more momentum results in more recoil, but isn't that negated by the time it takes the assailant to regain their momentum? Meaning if a guy can run thru a 9mm you are in worse shape than a guy slowed by a .40. And what about mag capacity limits? You have 10+1 bullets; would you rather they be 9mm or .40 (or .357, .38, .45, .50, or 10mm for that matter)?

KaBone @ 10/21/2016 12:12 AM

Correction to previous post. Work is Force across distance. F=ma. a=v/t. The a we're looking at is deceleration from the speed of the bullet to rest within the body which occurs very quickly so a will be large, but it's not a squared term like the muzzle velocity folks like to tout. Energy is conserved. The bullet has high energy, but the conservation principle is preserved in the velocity of blood splattering, the bones breaking, the tissue separating, even the sound on impact. Momentum is also conserved which takes us back to my first post.

Tom @ 11/6/2016 1:02 PM

Total nonsense. Like everything else in the world, the fact that politics and economics rule logic an analysis is not being taken into consideration at all. I have found it fascinating to read endless discussion over the years about the merits between 9mm, 40 45 and 10mm. economics and follow up shot remove the 10mm automatically (unfortunately) The power over shot capacity has been put to rest since modern polymer guns allow you to carry 15 both in 9mm and 45. All bullets of proper configuration cause exactly the same wound type as the other. especially when loaded to the same energy. As long as the bullet performs, and dosent exit the target. the only answer is 45. The only reason it is not being used is because it is almost 50% more expensive, and in this PC world "maybe" women cant handle the recoil. 9mm and 40 are higher pressure cartridges, and 45 is a comparatively lower pressure. A NYC coroner that I knew in the past confirms this. Over70% of the one kill shots were with 45JHP

AJ @ 11/11/2016 10:42 AM

Why hasn't anyone addressed the difference 9mm vs 9mm+p. With my 40 almost any round I am shooting as practice has about the same recoil as my defense round. 40 cal bullets are all "+Ps". With 9mm I cannot afford or want the wear & tear on my handgun to practice with 9mm +P ammo. Practicing with regular 9mm ammo forces me to adjust to surprise recoil difference in defense situation when changing to +P. I am already use to it when practicing with 40 cap ammo. Plus from shear physics, if 9mm +P ammo is stepped up to have the same energy as the 40 cap and thus just as effective, the recoil cannot be that much different. As a regular shooter of bowling pins, I can positively say I get much better results knocking them off the table when I use my 40 cal vs my 9mm. I think I stick with my 40 cal for personal defense.

IraC18 @ 11/13/2016 1:51 PM

All this talk about mags holding 15 rnds. 9mm or 357sig, 10-13 rnds. 40, etc. has anyone even thought of the law after the fact? Please tell me what you think would happen to you if you shot a perp 10-15 times? Right; (overkill) you would go to jail even if it was self defense; let's get real! The other point, say you live in a warm climate & are carrying concealed; try to conceal most of these hi cap pistols most of you are talking about. Do you really think these guns wouldn't print? This is why I carry a Glock 27 w/ 2 mags in Florida, it'll do the job without printing...

Hugh @ 11/14/2016 6:15 PM

Don't put too much stock into what the FBI says with regard to it's reason for changing over to the 9mm. Long before the switch to 9mm, Agents in training that failed to qualify, or were having difficulty qualifying, were given 9mm Glocks. Sometimes after the first week of training. In the mid 2000's firearms training hours were cut back, and training aids were phased out due to budget constraints. Qualification scores declined. Not surprising, their response to this problem was not to evaluate the changes they had made, and examine how they had impacted Agent performance, but rather to change the qualification course. With the same questionable data, and logic that went into the ammo change, the Qualification course was revamped, supposedly to more closely mirror what happens in real shooting, but the end result was an easier course. I see this as the just their latest attempt to cover up decencies in training, not help Law Enforcement. Give me a revamped 40 rd, 15 +1 will do fine.

Justin Murta @ 12/11/2016 10:16 AM

I'm sure there was never any financial reasons for their decisions :) It is ALL performance based.

Tommy @ 12/11/2016 7:17 PM

All I know is that when I asked a good friend who retired at the top of the food chain at the most important agency in my state and a man who taught at their academy for years as to whether I buy a 9 or 40 Shield, he said 40 as quickly as he could. End of discussion. Takes a bit more strength and practice but it is a more powerful round than the 9mm. I consider the 45 ACP a relic.

Tiggis2006 @ 12/19/2016 8:32 PM

Pistol rounds do not have "knock down power"
It is a myth.

A few people here need to learn how energy is generated and measured.
In the end the formula cares nothing for petty jealousy or pride.
Will a heavier bullet hit harder than a light round? Depends on the velocity of both.

If anyone says knockdown power in regards to a pistol cartridge (except for maybe a 500 or the like) they are mistaken.

Chris L. Grome @ 12/23/2016 8:52 AM

Gentlemen, the problem has been already solved. 10mm even on the low end is like 40+p, top-end is greater than .357mag.. If a woman can handle 40cal or 45acp, then they can handle low end 10mm.. Low end 10mm shoots flatter than 9mm, 40sw, 45acp, and hits harder than 45acp. think not check the data.. why do you think Col. Jeff Cooper developed it.. It was to solve this argument once and for all. A 1911 with 8-10 rds of 10mm is plenty to do the job.. It is easier to carry single stack mags also..more of them.. Manufactures can make thinner stryker -fired pistols in 10mm, if they wanted to, even accomodating 10-12rds.. .357 sig cannot keep-up with Low end or mid-range 10mm.. Low-end 10mm doesnt have any more recoil than 40sw or 45acp.. If tactical swat teams and special forces and LEO's are supposed to be experts. then why couldn't they be effective with low-end 10mm, that has no more recoil than a 45acp. I out-shoot LEO's and other so- called experts all the time with my low-end 10mm.

Chris L. Grome @ 12/23/2016 9:26 AM

Oh, I also forgot to mention that back-in the day (old school) if LEO's used .357 mags out of 4'' barrels, and were able to hit their target and produce one-shot stops in a lot of cases, then why would you not be able to handle low-to-mid range 10mm which has less recoil. especially out of 4.5'-5'' semi-auto.. It seems to me either the men back in those days were real men, and their training was very effective.. or the caliber choice and the training to day has been reduced to accomodate weak small men and or small females.. which is a compromise in effectiveness as a whole and futile, thus allowing this damn argument to continue with the so-called experts.. Bottom line alot of this debate is purposely continued by gun manufactures and ammo manufactures, because they can continue to sell multiple calibers/pistols/ammo and make big money, when the real truth is 10mm makes other calibers obsolete/nullifies them. Now they (manufactures) can't sell you multiple pistols and ammo to boot!

Chris L. Grome @ 12/23/2016 9:50 AM

Oh, and don't forget all the accessories too! Don't believe me, go and shoot full-house .357 mag out of 4'' revolver, then shoot low-to-mid range 10mm out of 4''-5'' semi-auto, .357mag has far more recoil, let alone out of a snubby..which alot of people buy... Take a glock 29 for Example: 10mm stryker fired pistol. with a 3.78'' barrel. Has less recoil than the .357mag out of 4''barrel. think-not? Try it.. You will be shocked.. and it holds 10 rds. and the sf version is small enough for with small hands.. there are plenty of videos on you-tube with small-petite women shooting G29 10mm's.. very effectively.. there is no excuse for LEO Depts. choosing sub-par calibers.. what we have going on is nothing more than NWO/Nato 9mm Globalism, period.. Which is better; Female officer having to shoot perp 5-10 times with 9mm. and possibly getting shot, or 10mm 1-2 stopping said threat.. .357mag has a reputation for being very capable, then why not 10mm if it is more effective.Obvious..

Billy Bamn @ 12/26/2016 11:50 PM

I drink Welch's grape juice because it is far better than grape koolade...Then again BOTH will Quincy ones thirst. Bottom line,,any of the rounds/ weapons handled properly will kill an assailant. I Dont shoot to wound. I shoot to kill, you know, so the bad guy does no more harm. Whoever said .45 acp is a relic, I'll compare wound channels of a .45 with ANY sidearm mentioned above. Center Mass strike the bad guy will bleed out quicker with a .45 every time than with any of the women's weapons mentioned above. SAYONARA.

John H @ 12/31/2016 11:29 AM

High end 40 sw is loaded as hot as your low end 10mm that why the made it. It really a 10mm short and it fits in a 9mm size frame. Just saying.

Charlie L @ 12/31/2016 2:42 PM

Alleged studies, shot placement, modern ammo, and other widely quoted code words are a big smelly crock.
Bottom line.....
9mm has less recoil, and is easier to shoot. That's all. The rest is a bunch of bull.
The above article is correct; any caliber is potentially lethal. More people are killed by .22 caliber then any other.
Back to the bottom line. My agency offers your choice of 4 guns for issue: Glock 22 and 23 in .40 caliber; And Glock 17 and 19 in 9mm.
If you can't comfortable ly shoot a .40, then get a 9mm. FBI are agents, smart men and women, many of whom have never handled a gun prior to being hired. A higher percentage of these folks can't comfortably shoot the .40.
FBI soecial agents go with local law enforcement (policeman) or a specialized (better weapons and training) federal agency, when it gets dangerous.
The FBI, rightly so, does not want to imply or admit to any weakness of their agents. So they came up with all the Internet studies nonsense to justify the switch to 9mm in order to accommodate weaker shooters.
My last bottom line on the subject.....
A bigger, faster, heavier bullet (.40) will make a bigger hole and cause more damage than a smaller, slower, lighter bullet (9mm).
Am I saying 9mm is junk? Absolutely not!!! When I can no longer comfortably, accurately, or safely shoot the larger calibers, I will gladly carry 9mm, or even smaller, if necessary.
So go get those shot - up pig carcasses, and let's have a couchon de lait (pig roast), and talk common sense, over some ice cold beer!!!! We can even invite some FBI.
Happy New Years!!!!!!

Jado Steele @ 1/12/2017 10:24 AM

Im late to the discussion, but wanted to throw my 2 cents in...a 9mm is a great choice for most people. Its cheap to shoot, readily available, and has comparable ballistics with a .40sw for most purposes. In my opinion, the .45acp is a wonderful stopping power round, but it isnt practical for most people who arent used to firearms. Another MAJOR consideration is cost and availability of the rounds you want to shoot and train with. In my local stores, it seems like 9 mm is always sold out, and .45 is twice as expensive to shoot. The 40sw seems to always be in stock, costs only about 20-30% more than 9mm (as opposed to 80- 100% more like .45), and many .40 cal like the Glock 22,23,etc, all offer a relatively inexpensive (<$150) coversion to use the cheaper 9mm cartridge to train with. All in all, my vote is for a person to use whichever they are most comfortable with. Thats what it comes down to. If someone is scared of firing the larger calibers, they arent much good either way.

Paul G. @ 1/17/2017 2:31 PM

I carry a block 19 as a conceal carry and it has become an extension of my hand. Can't say enough about what a natural shooter it is.
If I understand you correctly, you are saying that energy transfer and hydrostatic shock are myths. I have been a combat medic a fire based medic and a flight medic for over thirty five years. As you opened you review with the wound capability of a 30mm cannon but than only discussed the physical track of the expanded round, I can't except your findings. There is no doubt that a 45, 10mm or 357 have more stopping effect then a 9 or 40. and this is due to energy transfer not round diameter.

GGard @ 1/21/2017 8:49 AM

The original premise has not been rationally faulted, competence is paramont and competence is directly proportional to amount time spent practicing. And, all things being equal the minor ballistic differences between a 9mm and 40 cal did not alter that conclusion. What is not dispositive is mixing apples and oranges for purpose of carry. A shovel is cheap and moves dirt and steam shovel is expensive, big and heavy and will move a heck a lot more dirt much faster. For a backyard gardener a shovel is best for a contractor building a high rise a steam shovel. Neither can be used effectually by incompetent operators and there are times when each may need to use the other piece of equipment. Government decisions are based upon a whole lot of information but if not number one close to it is budget considerations and that is true for individuals too. If one is buying for LEA the scope of the job is much greater and the equipment use cover a greater range of conditions than than JohnQ CC.

Gill @ 2/9/2017 8:03 AM

I have owned and fired both 9mm and 45 and I was thinking of not only of the recoil but also the noise of the 45 I would think it would cause hearing loss to fire one without hearing protection. And who would being wearing hearing protection while carrying concealed?

Jerry @ 2/11/2017 9:34 AM

When I was young in the late 60's we'd go to an old nearby quarry to shoot. I had a WW2 P-38 9mm and a fellow shooter had a 1911 in .45ACP. We found an empty 5gal roofing tar bucket with a thick coating of tar on the inside. Every time I shot it, the 9mm fmj and HP would penetrate clean thru both sides leaving the bucket unmoved. My friend would shoot the bucket with fmj and HP always knocking it a few feet but the bullet always remained inside the bucket. That started me thinking. Later I fired my browning .22lr Medalist on an old Alpine car door and it passed easily through the skin, a brace, the liner and through the opposite door while a .38 spl "police load" bounced off the door leaving only a dent with almost no damage to the bullet.
This caused me to suspect that my experience and high school science books were at odds with what I read in the gun magazines.

Dave @ 2/12/2017 10:41 AM

It is quite obvious that each and every "shooting" will have a different result no matter what the caliber used may be. Shot placement is THE critical element. Unlike shooting into gel under controlled situations, when fighting for your life, said conditions are worlds apart and the end result is not known until the dust settles. Where a shooter places the shot will be a major deciding factor.

Steve @ 2/12/2017 2:03 PM

FACTS: Cops miss their target 81% of the time; all calibres kill; targets move and shoot back; adrenaline compromises performance; multiple targets require more rounds; practice makes permanent. Choose the largest calibre that you can comfortably handle with the greatest round capacity. Practice, practice, practice... on moving targets. Firepower and accuracy will improve your chances of coming home alive.

JOe De Leon @ 2/18/2017 8:30 PM

The FBI does not say 9X19mm is a better round that the .40"S&W. It just said it's a better choise for them... for the way they do business. And they are right. Most FBI agents are not into batling mecreants. They are lab, acountants and lawyers. Desk people... If they are to go into SHTF situations they go with local street cops and SWAT troopers who are supposed to handle all the heavy lifting. Then they do what they do best, analysing stuff and gringing the case to justice. So really no need to spend the time required to be proficient with a .40" or a .45".
As for the military going with the 9x19mm is just a standirisation issue with NATO. Pistols for the military is a secondary o tertiarry weapon. Only tier 1 in SOCOM uses pistols for real and they have access and use whatever it is they think they need for the job, if only to be deniable.

JOe De Leon @ 2/18/2017 8:37 PM

I for one have been carrying a G23 since 1990 and train regularlly with it to the point where I'm confident in my ability to defend myself and my people with it... So no need to go back to the 9x19mm. It's the best compromise for my way of doing business.

Beats mee @ 2/21/2017 6:16 AM

People think to much. .22's will topple anyone if hit in the torso enough and for many people who rarely shoot, it's a great choice. They can staple a torso in seconds with 10 hp rounds on tap.

9mm, 40, .45, 10mm, .380, .²5 and 380.have them all. Shoot them all. Well. Bottom line, it's not what you shoot but where you shoot it. I don't know of anyone on this forum or any forum that would argue that if facing any of the aforementioned coming at their torso and or head in rapid succession.

The rest is noise to keep oxygen in this industry we love. Double tap above all when you practice and sanow and others can keep their data. Launch strings of two and your chances go up exponentially you will stop what ails you at the moment. If he is really big, empty it quickly, god forbid, repeat if necessary.

The rest is noise.

Joe @ 2/25/2017 7:09 PM

LEO training budgets are to blame for the FBI choosing a 960 fps 310 ft. lb. round that averages .450 dia expansion. Probably due to the fact that most LEO's have a 25% shot placement success percentage in shooting incidents.

If the budget constraints were lifted, perhaps a portion of the estimated FBI 2017 Budget of about $9.50 billion could be spent to provide 500 rounds of duty ammo per month per agent for a greater percentage of hits on target.

Their course is 60 rounds total. The FBI uses their reduced sized QIT target*. Any hit in the bottle outline counts as one point. 48 out of 60 total points are required to pass the course.

From Three Yards (12 rounds fired)
From Five Yards (12 rounds fired)
From Seven Yards (16 rounds fired)
From 15 yards (10 rounds fired)

50 rounds so far, with two misses, you have passed!

From 25 Yards: (10 rounds fired) for any additional assistance in passing.

I imagine that most LEO's don't fire 500 rounds per year in qualifying. I may be wrong

Randy @ 3/28/2017 8:08 PM

As an instructor and retired cop I will say this...the TWO ROUND difference in the capacity of the Glock 22 and 17 IS NOT WORTH giving up a decided advantage in power. The .40 out does the 9mm in EVERY WAY. What is sad is that it is going to take another "Miami Massacre" to prove it.

Scott @ 3/28/2017 8:46 PM

Well, when you look at the comparison of mushroom impact expansion on both rounds, it's safe to say the differences are insignificant. The recoil is really a non significant factor, as well as the magazine capacity. I have a 40 cal that holds 12 & 1, so I lose 3 rounds. Does that make much of a difference when I can conduct a tactical reload and be able to put rounds back down range in under 3 seconds....not really. So the real proof in this study really boils down to "SHOT PLACEMENT." A good shot placement is defined by the speed and accuracy in which you can place accurate thoraxic shots. So, practice your speed and accuracy as well as speeding up your tactical reloads and the size of the calibre doesn't make much of a difference. If you can't stop a threat with 13 rounds, one of two things is happening. 1. You haven't mastered the use of that particular firearm or 2. You shouldn't be carrying a firearm. What will the I.R.S. do with 1 Billion 40 cal rounds if they switch back? LOL

RUSS @ 3/28/2017 9:23 PM

Pretty simple for me, i use a 44mag. You fight how you practice. I go to the range almost every weekend, and have been for years. I dont need 10 shots. For home defense i prefer a vepr 12 semi auto shotgun. I keep it loaded with a 10rnd clip of 3 inch 000 buck shot. End of story.

Eric Equis @ 3/28/2017 9:43 PM

It should be noted that the listed velocities of 1,400 fps (9mm) and 1,449 fps (.40) are for the .357SIG and 10mm respectively.
Drawbacks of these rounds are a reduced capacity (.357SIG to 9mm) and need for larger, reinforced frame (10mm).
Personally, I carry a 9mm with +P or a .357SIG for carry and a 10mm for home/ranch defense. Very familiar with both.

Chris @ 3/29/2017 5:21 AM

All these 'gun experts' in here commenting and no 2 of them can agree on shit. LOL!

Experience is the key. Go with the caliber you're most comfortable and practiced with shooting. Shot placement is everything. Simple.

Ted Roberts @ 3/29/2017 6:04 AM

I am glad to see that Dr. Fackler got credit for his work in this article instead of the internet con artist who normally takes credit for it. That's rare but nice to see for once.

pberthoty @ 3/29/2017 12:17 PM

.45 and stay alive

Mike @ 3/29/2017 7:17 PM

Pa State police carried .45 gap in a glock when this happen, now carry .45 acp in sig. never carried .40

fu man @ 3/30/2017 5:36 AM

hmm, I carry a cz52... 7.62x25. I feel everything depends on what you are use to. a smaller projectile than a 40 but a much higher velocity. this rd will easily go right through level II body armor.

Semper Fi @ 3/30/2017 7:17 AM

None of your discussion takes into effect illegal substances that can stop pain. Thereby allowing a person to function even when mortally wounded. None of your data takes into effect the will of the person to fight.....even though mortally wounded. Facts are that you can extrapolate whatever conclusion you want. The bigger bullet or larger caliber will always cause a larger hole. The bigger bullet striking a bone will always cause more force to knock a subject down then a smaller round. Those are scientific facts that cannot be ignored.

Keoni May @ 3/30/2017 10:13 AM

The law enforcement 9mm, subsonic (147 grain) round, proved to be a bad round to use, on many categories of people. *** The Rapper 50 Cent, was shot by a criminal, about 9 times, and lived. *** There were others, who were shot almost (but not quite) 20 times, by a 9mm, and lived. *** When you use the WW2, 9mm round for a baseline, then remove the powder charge (reducing FPS), and increase the bullet weight (fatter bullet), then now you have an imaginary round, that is supposed to stop people.

Keoni May @ 3/30/2017 10:18 AM

The German 9mm round of WW2, was a more powerful round, than the LEO 9mm (subsonic) 147 grain round of today. *** When you reduce the powder charge and increase the bullet weight, you can't be effective when shooting center of mass. You are forced to shoot the head or hips, or knees, or shoulders, too stop anyone.

Experienced Marine @ 3/30/2017 10:17 PM

Weakest arguments I've seen in an article in a long time. Stick to trying to save lives, not commenting on topics that you don't understand. Pathetic.

barney trouble @ 4/1/2017 2:34 PM

If I shoot you through the heart or aorta with a .22lr, 9mm, .40s&w or .45acp you will die quickly. If I can not hit that special place I must continue until you fall. With adrenaline and possible drug usage- none of these calibers matter. Shot placement is the most important factor. To all of you crying "head shot"- this is a very difficult shot in a stressful situation. Even at very close range, I will go for center mass. This is how I have been trained. I shoot the same way- every time. I aim for the heart. I carry a FNS (compact) 9mm with 124gr federal hydra-shok. I am confident that this round will explode a heart. If I miss left or right- I got your lung and may possibly hit the spinal column. If I fire high- I got your spinal column, subclavian artery and bronchial tubes. If I aim low you will recieve the most painful wound in the upper abdomen. In the center of the abdomen I got your abdominal aorta or vena cava and may still shatter the spine. Aim for the heart!

John Lane @ 4/1/2017 8:02 PM

By the time you have to draw your sidearm stuff is going wrong. I spent a week at Gunsite in Paulden AZ this past summer. One of my classmates was a Arizona Highway Patrol officer. He said he and another officer had to use their duty 9mm's on an armed assailant in a car. His comment was that none of their bullets could touch him when they were taking fire from him through a partially open car window. After that incident he advocates 40 S&W or 357 SIG for a sidearm, and if at all possible have a carbine or rifle handy.

Stephanie @ 4/15/2017 1:20 PM

So,,, real world exercise!
4*4 post top 6 foot of ground 2 feet down from top place a 1 inch tape around post 1 foot lower place another 1 inch tape around post...
The center of mass target area is 3 1/2 feet off the ground..
9m VS 40cal. Pick your weapon shoot between the 1 foot tape until the 4*4 topples .... !
Count rounds needed to topple
And time needed .
95% of those who chose the 9m lost to the 40cal.
The other 5% won by 1 round and no Less then 2 second's
The 45cal lost to the 40cal 45% of the time needing on average 3 less rounds and no less then 10 second's to win!
Just a thought..

Martin @ 4/19/2017 3:00 PM

How could a 9mm +P or +P+ or whatever carry a similar payload at a similar velocity to the .40 S&W without also producing similar recoil? Is there something I'm missing here? I suppose that, as a non-LEO, I don't have to worry about over-penetration as much, but in my experience, consistently superior penetration and expansion is always more desirable when the target is alive.

Exscotticus @ 4/24/2017 8:17 AM

> or you can place your shot where it has the most effect.

If "stopping power" is primarily due to shot placement, then all calibers are open to consideration. You can take a bad guy out with a .22 if you're able to put the bullet where you want. And all the arguments for 9mm (more ammo, less recoil, less muzzle flash, better followup shots, etc.) are even more valid for smaller calibers.

Realistically, most people under stress CAN'T put the bullet where they want, and that's why it's better to give up a bit of energy for more shots. 9mm is a tradeoff, as all calibers are. If you shoot well under stress, go with .40 S&W. Otherwise go with 9mm. If you think you will only get one shot (bear country and you're sleeping in a tent), go with .45 ACP or even .50 cal.

JerryC @ 4/28/2017 8:52 AM

I swear most, if not all of the comments here citing the "considerably greater recoil of the .40 s&w that the shooter must overcome" have NEVER fired a magazine of .40 s&w from a duty pistol. The tales of horrendous, bone cracking recoil certainly scared me away from that caliber! However, when current events pushed the price of an FNS-40 duty pistol down to 349 bucks and another 269 dollars bought me 1,000 rounds of 180 grain s&w .40 FMJ. Well, I thoroughly cleaned the pistol and loaded the three fn magazines and returned to the range. Guess what? I was unable to feel ANY DIFFERENCE IN RECOIL between my new FNS-40 and my Glock 26 with a Glock 19 magazine filled with 115 grain FMJ! Lol what a crock these "nightmare recoil" claims are. At 20-25' pulling the trigger as fast as I could a magazine of each stayed in the 9 ring. I can not shoot a faster, tighter group with the 9mm. Fing someone that will let you try their .40 before you think the round is hard to control. You'll be surprised! I just tried another .40 as well, a Stoeger Cougar, made by a subsidiary of Beretta. What a soft shooting pistol!

corsimCorn√£o @ 5/10/2017 1:49 PM

9 is more than enough with intensive and exhaustive training

Johhnney @ 5/13/2017 11:45 AM

Great article, and a number of great responses from other trained and experienced people!

excelent point from OP- ineffectiveness of ballistics gel as an indicator of performance on a human. It serves as a constant for comparison mathmatically, but we should leave the results of those tests in their proper place- math testing, not terminal performance in operating conditions.

Must agree, round placement is the key factor in handgun defense since handguns do not possess "stopping power". Having taken a few small caliber rounds that were stopped by my jackt, and having been hit with a number of thrown rocks that made helmet and body contact, I'll say that the "stopping power" via total kinetic energy transfer into the human body is far greater in a 1lb rock than in a small caliber bullet.

Punching the liver can result in KO. Stabbing KO. Why do folks shot near the liver not get KO'd from hydroshock? Train for your environment! Great discussion!

Sam @ 5/31/2017 11:18 PM

The 357 Sig is a perfect solution to the whole 9mm vs .40 issue. You get a 9mm, w/The power of a .40 powder charge behind it. Recoil is very manageable, fires on a very flat trajectory (accurate out to 100 yds.), its reputation for one-shot stops has already been documented. The bottle-necked casing eliminates any feeding issues, and it wouldn't even require having to issue different service weapons, and requiring pulling currently-issued service weapons/ magazines out of the field; a simple barrel swap and you're good to go!

DB @ 6/5/2017 9:07 AM

An intruder about 6'2"came in to my house many years ago. I shot him once in the chest with .45 fmj 1911 and was surprised that he was still standing! The bullet went through him. My son luckily was just in another room and heard the commotion, took out his shotgun and blasted on the intruder. He was shot on the right armpit and instantly dropped dead. The two other guys came running out for their lives as if there's no tomorrow! They were later captured hiding in the neighbor's tool shed. I stopped believing in stopping power hype that these manufacturers claim.

Red Barron @ 6/7/2017 9:32 AM

depserv, I think you're right: a significant factor in the FBI's decision has got to be due to how many female officers, clamoring at the chance to strap a piece on their bodies, to prove how tough and "equal" they are. On average (with possibly a few extreme exceptions), female officers are going to hit more targets at the range (satisfying dept. requirements) w/ 9mm than .40 or (especially) .45.
As with most government decisions, it's about satisfying the axiom that all HUMANS are 100% equal, even when it turns out that that's not the case. Unfortunately, they don't find out until they're in the field, away from the controlled environment of the range, and 2 or 3 9mm rounds fail to subdue a large, angry, and violent criminal (often times on drugs).
Oh well, if you work for an organization such as the FBI these days you're most likely not all that bright anyway!

OldGringo @ 6/24/2017 8:47 PM

23 years Army/Air Force. 4 law enforcement agencies, local, military federal and state. In law enforcement carried 38 SW model 36,15, 357 model 19, 45 Colt 1911, 45 Commander, 45 Colt Bobcat, Berretta m9-9mm, and Glock 19. Also an avid hunter harvesting more than 100 deer, antelope, mule deer a couple elk. I have used finishing shots on maybe 25 animals with 22, 38, 380, 9mm, 357, 44 mag and 45 auto. In every case, velocity was the best selection. My 380, 38 special, 9mm and 357 with fast rounds finished the animals quickly. Bigger slow bullets like the 45 acp were slower to kill? Most devastating as a 357 mag with 110 grain bullets. I carry Glock 43 in my small town, a Glock 19 in the big city, and 44 mag and Colt 45 in bear country. I do own 1 40 cal, and believe it is certainly superior to the 9mm. Faster is better on humanoids. Personal favorite is 400 Corbon, 1365 fps 165 gr, 650 ft pounds, like a 10mm.

Shotgunner @ 6/25/2017 11:41 AM

That's why they make chocolate and vanilla

Wade @ 7/1/2017 8:55 AM

Old Gringo has the best comment so far....
As a VN FMF Corpsman, the .45 was THE weapon of choice..... bigger, and ammo availability was excellent..... kinda like the guys choosing the MA Deuce over the M60.....
Do you want to hit it hard and fast ? Or do you want to spend more time and ammo being nice ?
Hitting an advancing enemy in the head with a .50 is like watching a watermelon hitting the concrete from 30 feet....
I got hit with a .762 in a kevlar plate on my shin... only knocked me down..... had the round been a .50 or .57, I'd be medivac'd or dead.

Michael @ 7/2/2017 5:53 PM

Very interesting read. The truth is, with handgun bullets, most of the time the bad guy stops right away simply because he doesn't want to be shot. Bullets fly, assholes pucker. Against a very determined attacker, handguns show they straight up suck in stopping someone. For example, how many of our young men have come home from a war with arms missing, their legs gone, shot with rifle bullets, wounded from IED's, so on and so on only to come home to their loved ones and family. There are no perfect bullets or calibers, if there were, that's what everyone including bad guys would be carrying. The argument of slow/heavy fast/light won't ever be finished. Everyone has their personal beliefs about what's good and what isn't and most of the time there's very few of us that have actually shot someone. We get the idea in our head that the gunrags speak the gospel for this round or that gun and we forget they're being paid lots of money to say those things. And the other thing is we think a certain caliber or gun is going to make a bad guy do what it did in a movie or tv show we saw when In reality it's quite the opposite. This is just my opinion and thoughts as far as calibers go, but if you're carrying a 9mm, 40 cal, 45 ACP, 357 SIG, whatever, God forbid you ever have to use your weapon of choice, but most likely the fight will end as soon as bullets start being expended. No one wants to be shot, not even bad guys unless they're on something then it's another problem altogether and caliber between the most common 3 won't matter. ALL calibers have had failures to stop an attacker, so carry what your most comfortable with and hope you never have to use your EDC.
Stay safe everyone

FrankK @ 7/5/2017 12:26 PM

9mm will work. 40 will work. 45 will work. There are so many variables to bullet effectiveness it is easy to get caught up in anecdotes. That said, I prefer the 40. I can't tell the difference in recoil between a 124+P 9mm and a 180 40 S&W in 20-30 oz. handguns. The 155 and 165gr 40 S&W ARE different and feel more like a 357 magnum so I only shoot 180 gr which to me is similar to a 45 ACP in a 1911. I like the flat meplat of the 40 in FMJ which is a blunt object for the woods. The JHP can expand to .62-.78 inch and still penetrate a full grown man in urban situations. Even though it works, the 9mm bullet does not give me as much confidence (although I carry it in my smaller framed guns). Fact is, bigger bullets make bigger holes. Many shoot the 9mm better and smaller people especially may do better. It is a factor in the FBI's return to 9mm. All things considered, I'd rather face an enemy with the biggest and most bullets I could shoot well.

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