.45 ACP vs 9mm: 14 Experts Give Their Answers

9mm Wins: The Round Table Has Spoken! Are you surprised that it ended up being a landslide from those who decided in favor of 9mm? We certainly were. It looks like 9mm has really surpassed .45 ACP as the preferred round – well, at least with our Round Table panelists that is. Not long ago, it was said that 9 mm didn’t have enough penetrating power and the .45 ACP was the way to go. So what happened? The unanimous decision of our panelists prompted us to take a closer look at 9mm and why it is now held in such high regard. Read on to find out more.

John Chapman (Chappy) (Affiliation: LMS Defense / EAG Tactical; Position: Weapons and Tactics Instructor) 9mm or .45 ACP? 9mm. Reason: I prefer the 9mm, because it is plentiful, cheaper to shoot, easier to make rapid follow-up shots with and is lethal enough when the shooter places the rounds in the proper place in the target. Having said that, the .45 ACP is a great round as well, and is slightly superior to the 9 mm when engaging targets inside of vehicles. I use both calibers in my work and training pursuits, depending on the mission.

Chris Cheng (Affiliation: History Channel’s Top Shot Season 4 Champion; Bass Pro Shops and Leupold & Stevens Pro Staffer; Shoot to Win, Author; Position: Top Shots winner; author) 9mm or .45 ACP? 9mm. Reason: 9mm: More affordable.

Chris Costa (Affiliation: Costa Ludus; Position: Founder) 9mm or .45 ACP? 9mm. Reason: Both the 9mm and .45 are great calibers for everyday carry, and both offer very good terminal ballistics for stopping power. When considering everyday carry, round count capacity is very important for several reasons: multiple threats, vehicle windshields and concentrated fire on vehicles or cover in order to achieve penetration of a specific location, and suppress to cover if it’s a viable tactic or option. While I own expensive .45s, 99 percent of the time my typical everyday carry is a Salient Glock in 9mm with a spare magazine. There are no magic bullets, so shot placement and accuracy under speed based on your sight package is paramount to your safety as well as the safety of others around you. Bring enough gun to the fight, but bring one you can handle.

Paul Buffoni (Affiliation: Bravo Company USA, Inc.; former USMC service; Position: Founder and CEO) 9mm or .45 ACP? 9mm. Reason: Additional capacity of 9mm pistols is a great benefit. Current 9 mm ammunition ballistics will do the job, if I do mine.

Dave Emary (Affiliation: Hornady Manufacturing; Position: Senior Scientist) 9mm or .45 ACP? 9mm. Reason: Current 9mm ammunition has more consistent and better barrier penetration than .45 ACP. The .45 ACP is probably a bit better in terms of a larger wound cavity if no barrier is involved. If a barrier is involved, a 9mm +P load is superior. You can carry a lot more 9 mm rounds in the mag, and it is easier to shoot well.

Ken Hackathorn (Affiliation: Alias Training & Security Services; Position: Former U.S. Army Special Forces Small Arms Instructor; Gunsite Instructor (retired); NRA Police Firearms Instructor (ret.); FBI Certified Firearms Instructor (ret.); Certified Deputy Sheriff (ret.)) 9mm or .45? Both. Reason: Imagine you’re in a room with one door, five Jihadists armed with dull knives are going to come through the door one at a time every 60 seconds with the goal of cutting your head off. You have the choice of one of two identical handguns, one in 9x19 mm and the other in .45 ACP. Both have only five rounds of ball ammo. Which one would you pick? I carry a .45 ACP daily, but practice and train with 9x19 mm pistols.

Jordan Hunter (Affiliation: Formerly of Daniel Defense; retired USMC Infantry; Position: Formerly Director of Marketing/Communications, Daniel Defense) 9mm or .45 ACP? 9mm. Reason: In the context of concealed carry for personal protection, my priorities are speed and accuracy, lethality and magazine capacity, so I go with the 9 mm without hesitancy. Speed and accuracy are both related to follow-up shots, which are generally more manageable in 9 mm. Any question of the 9 mm’s lethality, or stopping power, has been put to rest with the relatively recent technological advancements in self-defense 9 mm ammo. Lastly, I can carry more rounds in a compact pistol’s magazine if it’s chambered in 9 mm versus what a compact .45 allows.

Erik Lund (Affiliation: Lund Performance & Consulting; Instructor for Shooting-Performance.com; FNH-USA Pro Shooting Team; Law Enforcement; Position: Owner; Instructor; Professional Shooter) 9mm or .45 ACP? Both. Reason: More so than any other pistol caliber, the 9mm has been the largest benefactor of handgun bullet design and technology and is a proven performer in the real world. Although the recoil and performance of the .45 requires more skill and practice to effectively employ, it does make big bigger holes. And bigger holes bleed faster.

Frank Proctor (Affiliation: Way of the Gun Performance Shooting; Position: Owner & Instructor) 9mm or .45 ACP? 9mm. Reason: All of my pistols are 9 mm. When I consider things like magazine capacity, recoil management, size of the gun, cost of training and the advancements in ammunition technology, it’s an easy choice. I carried a 9 mm pistol in Afghanistan and Iraq because that’s what I was issued as a U.S. Army Special Forces Soldier. I carry one everyday now because it’s what I believe in for the reasons listed above. I carry Hornady 135 grain Critical Duty in mine and have seen it outperform .40 and .45 duty ammo in the FBI protocol.

JJ Racaza (Affiliation: Nevada Arms LLC; Position: Co-Owner & Competition Shooter) 9mm or .45 ACP? 9mm. Reason: 9mm wins my vote on this one. Simple fact that the technology around projectiles has made a smaller caliber even more effective in the real world: better recoil, better penetration and similar stopping power.

Nate Stokes (Affiliation: Unity Tactical Inc.; Position: Co-Owner; Police Officer) 9mm or .45 ACP? 9mm. Reason: I shoot 9 mm because cartridges in gun equal time in fight. High capacity helps me mitigate the in-fight mag change.

Rachel VandeVoort (Affiliation: Kimber Mfg., Inc.; Position: Marketing / Product Manager) 9mm or .45 ACP? 9mm. Reason: 9mm is a bit of a superhero in my book. Thanks largely to advancements in ammunition, it is a caliber that is the epitome of versatility by lending power and ease of handling to most any firearm; characteristics highly valued when bringing new gun owners into the mix or encouraging growth in smaller-caliber shooters. It can be the segue caliber that builds confidence to explore other/new firearm platforms or more powerful calibers not otherwise considered. In my mind those are super powers.

Larry Vickers (Affiliation: Firearms Industry consultant; Position: Shooting instructor & TV show host) 9mm or .45 ACP? 9mm (with an *). Reason: To me this is an easy choice. If you can carry one of the modern 9 mm hollow points, then this caliber is the choice. Well-designed 9mm hollow point ammo has a very good track record in real-world shootings when you establish effective hits on target. If hollow points are not an option, then I would opt for .45 ACP—at that point poking a bigger hole in the bad guy is better than a smaller hole. Like I said, easy choice.

Bill Wilson (Affiliation: Wilson Combat; Position: Founder/President) 9mm or .45 ACP? 9mm. Reason: For most of my shooting career I’ve been a .45 guy, but have recently favored 9mm because of factors such as lower ammunition cost, less recoil, higher ammunition capacity and improved performance of 9 mm ammunition due to advanced propellants and bullets.


9mm Wins: The Round Table Has Spoken!



Last Updated 02/24/2018