There are a lot of differing opinions about what caliber ammunition is best for self-defense ammunition; .380 vs 9mm vs .40 S&W vs .45 ACP vs .357 Magnum vs .44 Magnum, etc. My personal choice when I became interested in carrying full time was the 9mm. The reasons being that most law enforcement agencies were using it. If it worked for them, it should work for me too. And if I had to use my gun, the courts couldn’t find fault with my choice of ammo.
Hollow Point vs Solid Projectile
Hollow point ammo is designed to crush as it enters an object, therefore not going all the way through. This is why police use it, to prevent innocent bystanders from getting hit with a bullet that goes all the way through a bad guy.
There have been municipal jurisdictions that have banned the use of hollow points, and they all went back to them. Solid projectile ammo has the tendency to go through whatever soft target it hits. A lot of bystanders have been hurt or killed because of this.
The FBI has made several reports about the different calibers and types of ammo. They are considered the last word on best practices of law enforcement and self-defense firearms and ammunition. The last report, from May of 2014, said the 9mm was the optimal caliber for many reasons.
The stopping power is virtually the same as .45 ACP and .40 S&W. They are also lighter to carry, less expensive and more readily available. Handgun stopping power is more in the accuracy of the shooter than it is the bullet. The report says, “There is little to no noticeable difference in the wound tracks between premium line law Auto enforcement projectiles from 9mm Luger through the .45 Auto.”
Military/Law Enforcement Use
At one point just before the FBI Study, the US Military were considering replacing the old Beretta M9 9mm pistols, and some local police agencies were thinking about going to a heavier round. They ultimately decided to stick with what was working. The study also has been a deciding factor in the use of ammo for civilian self-defense use.
Considering that stopping power mainly applies to hits in the central nervous system (in the head, spine or neck), 9mm Luger has the same ballistic action and penetrating force as larger caliber rounds but is easier to control and leads to more accurate shots. Only about 30% of the shots by law enforcers actually hit the target.
“The Ballistic Research Facility has conducted a test which compares similar sized Glock pistols in both .40 S&W and 9mm calibers, to determine if more accurate and faster hits are achievable with one versus the other,” the FBI says. The majority of shooters have been quicker and more accurate with 9mm caliber Glock pistols. The 9mm provides lesser accomplished shooters the best chance of success while improving the speed and accuracy of the most skilled.
Some law enforcement agencies have made the move to larger calibers from the 9mm Luger in recent years. However, they have done so with reduced magazine capacity, more felt recoil and, given adequate projectile selection, no noticeable change in terminal performance. Along with the fact that numerous ammunition manufacturers now make 9mm Luger ammunition with outstanding premium law enforcement projectiles, the move to 9mm Luger can now be considered a definite advantage for law enforcement personnel and responsibly armed private citizens.
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