Benefits To The 9, And Why I Chose It For Self-Defense:

.380 ACP

Caliber wars rage on. Truly, we'll never all agree on what's the best to use. One thing we can all agree on, however, is the simple fact that having a gun in any caliber is better than not having a gun on you at all. As you can likely imagine, I own guns in many different calibers, and yet, I choose to carry those chambered in 9mm to protect my life.
Before we get into the “whys” of 9mm, let's quickly talk about the “why nots.” Or, in other words, why some people don't like it.
First, 9mm, to some, is under-powered. Sure, when compared to the bigger, heavier, and therefore slower .45 ACP, the 9X19 Parabellum doesn't create the same wound channel. In case you weren't sure, the wound channel is the devastating path left behind from the bullet as it passes through flesh.
Second, the nine is much too quick for some. When you take its quickness and add the overall narrow size of the projectile, it can pass through objects like walls, and keep going.
While both of those downsides to the 9mm self-defense cartridge are real, the benefits far outweigh them, at least to me. My goal is not to change your mind on what you carry, but to maybe help you understand why some people trust their lives to an “under-powered” cartridge.

Before we get there, let me state that it is absolutely impossible to generalize all 9mm handguns into any category, and I'm speaking about one of my guns, which is a Springfield XD9, in full-size, 4” barrel form. Some other nine mills will have similar characteristics, and some won't.
I also want to say right now that this is not me de-legitimizing .40 S&W, .45 ACP, .357 Mag, .38 Special, .44 mag, .357 Sig, .380 ACP, or any of the others on the market. They are all great for what they are and were intended to do.
Let's get started …
Listen, I'm broke. I mean, I literally don't have any money for ammunition. So, I have to buy the absolute cheapest ammo I can find to practice with. The fact that I'm broke doesn't stop me from training on a weekly basis, though. After all, my main goal whenever I carry (which is every single day of the week, even now as I type this I have a gun on my hip) is to be able to protect my family from an attacker.
9mm ammo is definitely cheaper than just about anything else out there. So, even if it doesn't have the exact ballistics that its bigger brothers and sisters have, its similar enough to be effective while affordable enough to allow me the opportunity to practice with 100+ shots per week.
This is key, because if you don't practice enough with your concealed carry gun, you're not going to be as effective with it.
Follow up shots:

My full-size handguns chambered in 9mm allow me to get back on target much quicker than even some of the heavier guns in bigger calibers. A lot of the time, a bigger gun helps with recoil management which is why you never really ever see .45 pocket pistols.
The 9s usually have less recoil because it's pushing a smaller projectile through the barrel. In other words, less force is required to get it going. Obviously, quicker follow up shots mean more holes, even thought they're smaller than .45 ACP and .40 S&W.
Not so under-powered, depends on ammo:
While some folks will have you believe that it is under-powered (like I pointed out a few paragraphs ago) I like to tell them that it isn't under-powered, but under-rated.

No, the wound channel is not as big as a .45. But, because I can place more shots on target, faster, those big-enough holes add up to more damage, over all. At least, that's my opinion. Again, opinions are like butt-cheeks. Everyone has them, and they all smell.
Magazine Capacity:
Not all guns chambered in nine come with the ability to hold a lot of rounds. But, a lot of them do. My Springfield is a 16+1 handgun, and even some of the 1911s out on the market in 9 millimeter are 10+1, whereas those in forty-five are seven or eight round magazines.
One of my concealed carry rigs—which is a holster and mag pouches allows me to have a total of four 16 round magazines with a round in the pipe. I'm horrible at math, but I believe that if I multiply some digits and carry the one, that gives me 65 rounds of ammo. That ain't bad!
Trusted by military and police:

The 9mm has been the go-to handgun round for the United States military since they adopted the M9 in the 80s. I know you've likely heard some grumblings about it, but keep in mind that military personnel aren't allowed to use JHP ammo in combat, like the rest of civilized society is. In battle, if ball ammo must be used, the .45 is a better way to go. But, I'm no longer in the military and can carry whatever I want. Unless, of course, New Jersey is my destination.
Also, if it was incapable as a self-defense cartridge, I'm not sure why the FBI would be moving to it, and away from the .40 S&W.
Ammo types:
Finally, there are tons of different kinds of ammo available in 9mm today that are capable of inflicting some serious damage. If you don't have one it's almost a shame. They range from small to big, and everywhere in between. Plus, bullet and powder technology have come a long way to inflict some serious damage on your attacker.
Zombie Lives Matter, Too:

Listen, it doesn't matter if you believe in zombies, little green men, volcanoes, EMPs, or the big one shaking the entire world, 9mm will be readily available in such an event, simply because it's so popular. By the way, whenever I use terminology like that on this website, it's a codename for something else that's far more likely to happen. What? Think about it it a bit. It's not that hard to figure out.
We may not all agree on what's the best to carry. Much in the same way that Marines poke fun at the Chair Force (and they try to poke fun back, though, it never usually works as well for them), .45 ACPers will poke fun at us who are confident enough to carry a smaller cartridge. All that matters at the end of the day is that the Chair Force comes to pick us ground pounders up, and that you and I have each other's backs when the stinky brown stuff comes into contact with the circulating air pusher.
What is your favorite self-defense round? Let us know in the comments below. Then, make sure you sign up for Gun Carrier's FREE Newsletter, so you never miss a shot.

28 Responses to :
Benefits To The 9, And Why I Chose It For Self-Defense:

  1. terry hutchison says:

    i carry the judge with 410 triple ott. gets the job done , and wakes everyone up !!!!!!!

  2. DEFENDER88 says:

    For that day when 2 Terrorists arrive with AR’s, you are going to want all the ammo you can carry. Its 9 for me. Plus I can “almost” afford to shoot 1k rds/month practice with it. AND shot “Placement” is much more important than caliber, hence the practice cost.

    1. James Elsea says:

      DEFENDER88,,, You are 100% correct about shot placement. When the terrorist from the local or state departments show up, go for the face to get to the brain. They may be wearing helmets. 9mm ball rounds may be your best bet. Penetration is the way to go when dealing with the —( you know who I mean) —in my mind. Never forget,,, it’s us law abiding hard working family people against the armed scum bags who wear a badge and uniform and most of them have sold their soul to the establishment for a job and money, even if it’s wrong and they know it. God bless, Jim.

  3. Richard says:

    Also, prefer the Ruger 9mm, with lots of backup of different firearms & caliber.
    Train often, be prepared !

  4. Don in Arkansas says:

    I’m a 9mm guy as well. The cost and effectiveness factors work together to make it the best for me. The best caliber is the one you will practice with and carry every day. My wife carries a 380 but at gunfight distances she is quite effective with it. Caliber is optional, accuracy is not.

  5. 45 man says:

    I have heard it all about how the 9mm can carry more and fire faster. But think about it in the real world when you might only have time to get one round off. Or two attackers one shot each (job done). When I made the decision to carry I had a choice to make. I choose the .45ACP for just those two reasons. Sure it cost a little more to practice but when I practice I make every shot count. I rather spend a little more on ammo than have my wife spend money on my funeral.

  6. Steve says:

    Little cash here also. So it’s 9 mm for defensive carry but 45 acp carbines for home perimeter defense. And why the 45 acp for perimeter defense? Well the longest distance we would shoot is about 200 ft. And 45 acp, 240 grn, fmj with cheap Wolf ammunition for $123 with shipping @ 500 rds is minimal but effective. But first a few hundred rds of Hornady Critical Duty 45 acp +P 220 grn with a velocity of 1,164 fps bringing a bullet expansion of 1″ is a sure stopper! The tested ballistics from a 17.5″ carbine matched shooting out of a 1911, 5″ pistol at 3 yards into ballistic gel with the carbine 17.5″ matching the ballistics out to 75 yards. 225 feet. Would the 9 mm still get it done in carbine? Likely! But unless shooting through vehicles which the 9 mm will do better we will use the 45 as it is better out to 200 yards if need be. The 30-30’s will take a vehicle better anyway.

  7. Jerry says:

    I personally think the best caliber for carry is the one you are comfortable with, true maybe a 45 has alot of power for knockdown it also has alot of recoil to correct for, a 9 holds extra rounds, unless the bad guy is hopped up on pcp receiving one round almost anywhere hurts like hell and maybe don’t kill em but sure as hell makes em think, what you have to remember is you are responsible for the bullet once you pull the trigger, the air marshals use a round that don’t breech the aircraft hull, I feel in a town surroundings perhaps that is a round to look into, I live in a brick house 9mm shouldn’t be able to go thru the brick, I have a 12 gauge for home defense, a 9mm for carry, I use to carry a 22

  8. Steven Gobble says:

    I have 2 9mm ruger’s, 1 for me the other for my wife. She likes the 9 because it has less recoil and yes it is cheaper for the ammo. When I go to the range I will shoot off around 150 to 200 rounds per visit. We both love the 9’s and practice as much as we can. I also have a 380 and still prefer the 9’s.

  9. Steven Parker says:

    I am a .45 person I do not own a .9mm I carry .45ACP or My snakeslayer with one .45 colt and one .410. I also have two 12ga for what ever else.

  10. Tom Burkey says:

    I don’t own a 9mm. I reload and it’s very small to reload. I load .45, .40, .357, .32mag, .38spec. Many rifle cartriges also. I have been thinking about a 9mm with the different ammo available now. I can reload much cheaper than I can buy any 9mm. My wife wants a 9mm but I’m not sure.

  11. Russ says:

    You are correct, the 9mm. is a very good weapon to carry, but they are all good when you need a gun in a hurry, even the lowly .22 can save your life if you use it right, the one thing they do not talk about enough is trying to control your fear when confronting an individual that is about to do you serious harm, that is a very hard thing to over come.

    1. DEFENDER88 says:

      You are pretty much “right on”.
      I have had a few times when I prayed God for just a 22:)
      Also on the physical/kinesthetics(what happens to your body and mental state in a real gun fight).
      That is why I recommend anyone who carries, to check out IDPA(see the web) matches at a club near you.
      You can practice shooting real life shooting scenarios under pressure.

  12. Bruce Kliche says:

    Both my wife and I carry 9’s. After being away from the firearms circuit for about 30 years I came back with the belief that .45 was the best defensive caliber. However, after researching modern 9mm loads I decided that we should both go with 9mm for several reasons:
    –cost: price of 9mm ammo compared to other calibers allows us to practice at the range weekly.
    –stopping power: select modern 9mm ammo has better stopping power than the ammo of yesteryear. We practice with 9mm ball but carry Lawman ammo (Federal 125g HST)
    –recoil/handling: my wife is comfortable with the 9mm and can keep the shots on a silhouette. I can put two shots in center of mass in under 2 seconds.
    –magazine capacity: today it is not hard to EDC, concealed carry, a high-capacity 9mm handgun. I carry 16+1 rounds, she carries 12+1.
    As someone else mentioned–we are both comfortable with our guns and this caliber, so that is the main reason right there!

  13. Aaron Loki Marceaux says:

    .45 all the way the cost is a bit mo re but if your practiced follow up is a nonissue and with the rip ammo it’s case closed on any attacker. Nuff said although I do not hate on the 9mm at all but I was once told not to carry anything that doesn’t start with a 4 🙂

  14. River Rock says:

    I am an average size 68yr old man that has been carrying a Para 14-45 plus one in the pipe, concealed, for years. I practice often and shoot a lot of ammo and reload my own. Except for the self-defense loads which are factory rounds for legal reasons. I can easily place 15 rounds into an 8in circle in less than 2 seconds. If that won’t stop an attacker your 9mm certainly won’t with 20 rounds, unless you are James Bond and can always make head shots. It is all in knowing how to control recoil and in trigger control. I think we all know why the govt.agencies are going back to 9’s. If your wrist and arm is so limp that you have to have a 9mm to hit anything in a rapid fire sequence perhaps you would be better suited with a .22lr.

  15. Michael says:

    I reload, so I look at ballistics closer than some. If the 9mm and .45 are opposite ends of the spectrum, the .40 S & W provides a perfect compromise. A capacity exceeding the .45 and ballistic performance that comes close to the big round. I’ve carried my Glock 23 for over 25 years, and in that time haven’t come across any data that would sway the 9’s edge in performance.

  16. Mikial says:

    I EDC a .45, my wife EDC’s a 9mm. But we both own 9mm and .45 handguns, and we are both equally proficient with both. In our estimation, either will do the job.

  17. DEFENDER88 says:

    FYI, I don’t have Wound Channel data but did see a Statistical study of all shootings in the US in one year.
    It showed that there was “No Mathematical Correlation” between Caliber and death of subject.
    BUT – There “was” a High Positive Correlation between Shot Placement and death of subject.
    In other words – “Stopping the threat” is much more related to Shot Placement than Caliber ie Center Mass Hits.
    I can tell you that Hornaday Critical Defense 9mm HP’s mushroom out to about 0.50in ie 50cal. On my actual tests.
    Also consider that Trained Police, who go thru the Academy and have to at least Qualify yearly, have an avg hit rate of only about 25%. A real gun fight, is “way” different than practice at the range. Its usually really, really quick/fast, and strange things happen to your eyes, hands, body, mind. Its more scary, confusing, chaotic then you even imagine. You have to be operating on auto-pilot based on thousands of rounds of combat practice to expect to prevail or even survive this well.
    And in a real fight, both or all of you are likely to be moving and out of position and a good chance it will be at night.
    You do Carry with Combat Night Sights don’t you.
    To get an idea – Go to the range – put 3 silhoutte threat targets on the backboard at 20ft, 2ft apart, 3 diff heights. Put your gun in your strong hand only, now move quickly, laterally(“down the line”), while shooting with your strong hand only, 2 shots/threat, and see how many hits you can get in an 8in center mass circle. If they are not in the circle count them as a miss. Shoot all 6 shots in less than 6 seconds(and that is slow)(as gun fight speeds go). Now do it Weak hand only.
    For a “real” real life scenario, your 3 threats would all be swinging targets.
    This is why I carry a 9mm with twice the ammo available vs a 45.

    1. David Fiedeldey says:

      Thank you.

      1. DEFENDER88 says:

        Most welcome.
        FYI, so you know my level of experience/expertise.
        I have been shot-at 3/4 times and survived.
        So I got certified as a NRA/State Instructor. And now help teach cops to shoot.
        I also now shoot competition Combat Pistol and 3Gun.
        This is shooting and moving, while moving, moving threats, non-threats(no-shoot hostages), strong hand, weak hand, kneeling, prone, house clearing, use of cover, from inside cars and around cars, you name it – real life combat scenarios. If you want a taste of that check out IDPA on the web, find a club near you.
        I practice shooting about 1,000rds/month – 9mm 🙂
        The “Average” Cop shoots about 200rds/yr -maybe.
        SWAT – “they” shoot a lot more, maybe 2-300rds/mo.

  18. Deputy53 says:

    I spent 8 years in the Navy (69-77.) 30+ years as a street deputy in the deep south. As soon as my department allowed us to carry our own weapon of choice (after it was certified by our armour,) I carried a Detonics 45 ACP, until I retired. I was involved in 3 shootings carrying 9 MM, and one with the 45. None of the 3 with 9 MM went down with one shot. in fact one perp all jacked up on PCP took 5 rounds, (all later determined to be fatal shots,) and continued to fight for almost 90 seconds after being shot. The perp I shot with my 45, took 2 rounds to the chest, and was down in 10 seconds!
    A lot of my co-workers abandoned the 9 MM for 40 & 45 calibers as soon as we could (in 99.) The military is abandoning the 9 MM, for lack of stopping power. I am old school, I shot twice a week, (56 rounds) PPC course, from 77 till I retired in 07. I agree that shot placement beats stopping power-most of the time. But I rarely “missed” the fatal areas when I shot, be it stationary or moving targets.
    I am just giving you a perspective from someone who worked the streets. And I’ll take stopping power over target power every time…when it’s MY life on the line!

  19. madmax99 says:

    Had those FBI agents been using .357 magnum hollow points instead of .38+P, they wouldn’t have had such problems.

    1. Liberty's Advocate says:

      It’s all about balancing speed with accuracy and responsibility for any rounds you turn loose, or those that penetrate an auto body and keep on flying. For sure, the one bad guy who took 12 rounds and kept on fighting likely would have been put down much more quickly by the .357 Mag but at a much greater risk to the public – a whole NEW set of problems. Public risk and accepting personal responsibility for killing innocent bystanders isn’t a consideration for the bad guys.

  20. jerry young says:

    I carry the Springfield XD9 mod2 full size, I choose the 9 over the others because of accuracy, capacity, availability of and choice of ammo types and because of it’s the most common caliber carried by good and bad guys alike that means if you run low on ammo you can get extra from a partner or a dropped bad guy, as far as penetration and wound cavity with modern self defense ammo that expands the 9 creates a big enough hole giving it a great amount of stopping power and over penetration is controlled back the first few rounds up with hard ball or other self defense rounds designed to penetrate more and shoot at longer distance, while I do like the .45 and carried a 1911 throughout my time in the military there are just to many cons compared to the pros of the 9.

  21. Sheldon says:

    While I feel a 1911 in .45 is a great gun, It just makes more sense to carry a 9mm with 16 rounds of hollow point, self-defense ammo at my disposal. Excellent article.

  22. bluesea says:

    You can all laugh at me, but I carry a fs M&P in 22LR. Not just any tho. I guess you could call it the +P of 22LRs. it is 1500fps and 185 fp of pressure. With 14+1 rounds and very little kick, I am happy with it..

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