Believe in the 9mm: 5 Reasons You Shouldn’t Overlook It
September 8th, 2019
3 minute read
If you are a new shooter, realize that there are good points to be made on behalf of each caliber. Here are a few reasons you should be giving 9mm its fair shake.
It’s that time again — delving into the world of the “Big 3” calibers (9mm, .40S&W, and .45ACP). If you’ve been a part of firearm discussions across the web, you know the back and forth on this topic can rage on for longer than we might like to admit.
We’ve compared two of these cartridges previously in our 9mm vs. 45 ACP article. We encourage you to check out that article as well. But this time, we look only at the 9mm cartridge and highlight five reasons it is the best choice:
- Increased capacity
One of the best aspects of the 9mm cartridge is its availability. Many manufacturers produce 9mm from range-grade ammo to specialized, self-defense varieties. The large quantities of 9mm ammo also help make it a more budget-friendly option. And not only will you find a sea of 9mm ammo to buy, you’ll also have an ocean of pistol choices.
In fact, Springfield Armory offers more than 20 pistol models in 9mm.
A recent trend in the firearms world is the transition away from the .40 and back to the 9mm. With more people carrying the 9mm, companies will increase production of loads for this caliber to maximize its availability.
Generally speaking, 9mm is easier to handle than other pistol calibers, such as .40S&W or .45ACP. (Again, generally speaking.)
Shooting 147 gr 9mm ammunition from a full-size pistol provides a more-enjoyable shooting experience, especially for new shooters, and, assuming proper technique, allows return of the sights back on target fairly quickly.
Due to the smaller size of the caliber, 9mm pistols are able to fit more rounds per magazine. So whether you’re going for a small, single-stack EMP or a full-size competition pistol, like the XD-M, you’ll be gaining a couple extra rounds per mag.
Both NATO and the U.S. Military use the 9mm round in their sidearms, and the largest police department in America, the New York Police Department, uses 9mm pistols. This aspect alone won’t win over everyone, but it carries weight nonetheless.
The folks over at Lucky Gunner did an excellent test of self-defense pistol ammunition on gelatin blocks, including several varieties of 9mm. While .45ACP and .40S&W had some varieties penetrate significantly further than most of the 9mm, the Magtech 124gr JHP penetrated the block nearly 30 inches.
You also have to consider how the different varieties handle with your chosen pistol. If you pick a load that is too “hot” and can’t shoot it as accurately, you may want to scale back. With some practice and testing of your own, you’ll probably find a 9mm load that strikes the right balance.
Paul Carlson recently explored the idea of ammunition that is too hot when he tested the Black Hills Honey Badger ammo with the Springfield Hellcat.
Velocity is just one part of performance. Another important aspect is the design of the projectile.
Bullet development advanced through the years so that even slow rounds can achieve reliable expansion and optimal penetration depths. Make sure you check out our bullet anatomy article for more design information.
We’ve put forward several good reasons to consider the 9mm as a self-defense cartridge. While some people suggest the .40 is dead, we disagree and think it is still a solid choice.
Likewise, the .45 is always a man-stopping favorite. However, you want to consider specific defensive ammo if you are running a compact 1911 or other pistol to ensure you get optimal expansion and penetration.
With all this said, while people will lobby for their favorite caliber, you can’t go wrong with any of the “Big 3.” Each has pros and cons. Pick the one YOU like the best based on feel, performance, comfort and results.