9mm vs .40 S&W vs .45 ACPs are the most obvious choices when looking for handguns. While all three have their pros and cons, this article will surely help you find which one fits you best.
Who knows you might end up getting all?
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Here’s Our Practical Overview of 9mm vs .40 S&W vs .45
For Home Defense
The main reason why we all have guns in the first place is home defense. Many of us rely on a shotgun or an SBR, but most of us would own and keep at least one handgun at home. Countless 9mm vs .40 S&W vs .45 tests showed how each round performs.
From cinderblocks, and makeshift walls, to bricks and concrete, each round delivers varying results. When intruders come with established aggression, we all think of stopping power. But we should also consider ammo capacity and collateral damage.
The hefty .45 punches big holes and pulverizes cinderblocks. It will take down intruders for sure, but do we want all that damage? A fat round also gives us less magazine capacity.
Plus, we all know how cumbersome a double-stack .45 pistol could be in a gunfight. The fast-moving 9mm goes through and through almost anything found at home. 9mm also guarantees more mag capacity. More rounds give you more chances at hitting your target.
The 9mm also gives off the least recoil. You get quicker acquisition at follow-up shots, giving you more edge during a CQB gunfight. We all know the .40 S&W to be good at both follow-up shots and stopping power.
But, depending on whom you ask, the round is inconsistent and gives different results. Most people say that the .40 fires like a 9 and hits like a .45.
So, 9mm vs .40 S&W vs .45 for home defense?
Our practical advice: Get the round that your wife or kids could be comfortable shooting with.
We always tell someone who is about to try out shooting guns to start small. We all know of kids having a good time with the .380 and .22 of their parents. But for the long haul, they’d want a more popular caliber.
We lead them in on the 9mm vs .40 S&W vs .45 discussion. While accuracy remains a contention, let’s consider other crucial factors. The 9mm will not alienate the noob as it recoils less and gives more magazine capacity.
More mag cap means less time reloading and more time shooting. That translates to more fun downrange. The .40 does the same, only harder. This caliber recoils harder, and has lesser ammo capacity.
It could also get erratic and inconsistent in untrained hands. That doesn’t sound like fun at all. As for the .45, just tell the new guy that the boys in the last World War had to learn to fire this caliber in basic training. Tell him that this round won him the freedom he enjoys now, and he won’t bother about the recoil.
9mm vs .40 S&W vs .45 for beginners?
Our practical advice: Start small, and work your way up to get the most fun.
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For Primary / Secondary Weapon
The 9mm vs .40 S&W vs .45 contest also has its deep roots in real-world use. In 2015, the FBI ditched the .40 S&W, the chosen round for their use, and went to 9mm.
They have practical reasons to do so. Most local law enforcement prefers the .40 as their primary carry round. The police rely on its stopping power and reliability during gunfights.
Many still prefer the 9mm for the most magazine capacity and quicker follow-ups. The military employs mostly 9mm and .45 as their secondary carry round.
But with perps getting armed with better firepower, the handgun you’re carrying is your best tool. The key to sending more rounds on target is quick acquisition at follow-up shots.
One critical hit to the chest with a 9mm is still better than a missed .50 BMG shot. If you have more rounds, the better your chances are at taking down your target.
9mm vs .40 S&W vs .45: which should go as your primary or secondary weapon?
Our practical advice: Get the one that gives you better follow-up shots.
9mm vs .40 S&W vs .45: which round should go in my CCW? You’d think that this is easy. The smallest round should be the best choice for concealed carry.
Is it? With concealed carry weapons getting smaller, should the round you carry still matter? Of course, it does. The smaller and lighter the gun, the more recoil you’d have to deal with.
And this is how we factor in the application of your CCW round of choice. If your CCW is your backup, you should use the same round as your primary. Consider using interchangeable magazines as well.
If your CCW is also your main weapon, then choose the round that is most capable for you given your circumstance.
Our practical advice: Say, you live in a place where violent men get as big as bears, get a bear-stopping round.
If the bad guys are like tiny ninjas, then get a fast-moving round that also gets you to shoot follow-ups faster. If they come anywhere in between, get the .40.
And to further bring light to the 9mm vs .40 S&W vs .45 debate, here’s Guns, Gear & On Target Training, LLC’s take on the matter:
The 9mm vs. .40 vs .45 debate is still going on and there are still no clear winners. All three rounds are capable and reliable. Choosing one only boils down to use. Heck, a lot of us own and fire all three.
Which is your favorite round and why? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.
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Editor's Note: This post was originally published on April 19, 2021, and has been updated for quality and relevancy.