Why People Argue So Much About 9mm vs 45ACP

By Sam Hooper via TTAG

One of gun folks’ favorite debates is the ever-popular 9mm vs. .45 ACP. The 10mm vs. basically anything else comes close. Then there’s .30-06 vs. those who are wrong. Why, some newbies may wonder, is there such an intense and long-standing argument over the merits of 9mm compared to .45 ACP?

What’s been relatively common knowledge for some time now is that it really doesn’t matter. Today, you can get great ammunition in both calibers. Plenty of fine firearms are available chambered for both.

9mm vs 45 ACP caliber wars

It’s been well established that both are excellent choices for either personal protection and target work. Any ballistic advantage is merely incremental or only matters on paper instead of in real-word results (competitive shooting aside). Given good quality ammo, neither produces a wound much bigger than the other, nor is one more consistently fatal to bad guys.

What’s known about gunfights involving handguns is that shot placement wins them much more than caliber. They’re usually over with in only the space of fewer than 10 rounds, so capacity doesn’t matter all that much either.

The point is that caliber matters a lot less than people like to pretend it does when it comes to handguns. Why then, does so much digital and analog ink get spilled over this ongoing debate? Why do people bicker about it online when they (should) have better things to do?

First, a lot of it is because of things that happened a long time ago. The 9mm round – and some of its close cousins, such as .38 Long Colt – was used by a few militaries and in the civilian realm for a time, but the guns had generally poor results in defensive shootings. The .45 ACP tended to fare a little better.

Why was that? Militaries tend to use hardball. Since expansion doesn’t happen with ball ammo and any wound tends to go through a target, .45 is going to hurt more since it pokes a bigger hole. And since semi-auto pistols mostly ran hardball back in the day, that meant big-bore guns like the 1911 tended to yield better results than 9mm pistols like the Browning Hi Power, Model 39 and Walther P38/P1. Until good hollow points came around, that is.

9mm vs 45 ACP Caliber Wars JHP Hollow Point

Old guys still argue about it because it was true back when they were learning. Young guys argue about it because their dad/uncle/whomever told them when they were a kid. It’s kind of the same reason people learn that being a Dallas Cowboys fan is acceptable. Chalk it up to bad parenting.

Modern hollow point ammunition have put paid to that decades ago. Modern 9mm is reliably effective with a good bullet that’s well-placed and the same applies to .45 ACP.

Then there’s the Tribalist Primate angle. You see, we humans are basically hairless monkeys and we do a lot of silly hairless monkey stuff. We see the other guys and immediately assume They Are Wrong when, in fact, they’re no different from you or I, or at least not in any way that should matter.

Why is that? Basically, people are fundamentally insecure. Someone enjoys something that isn’t what we like and we must somehow prove those other people are wrong, providing the validation we so desperately crave.

The 1911 guys make fun of the GLOCK guys, the GLOCK guys make fun the 1911 guys, the H&K guys act like they’re better than everyone else and the revolver people have bingo at 3:00pm in day room.

So, newbie…now you know one of the terrible truths about the People Of The Gun. Then again, we’re no different from people who are into other stuff. In Australia, the Ford vs Chevy thing literally causes riots. It also won’t be stopping any time soon, so don’t get too worked up about it.

How about you? Does the 9mm vs .45 thing really matter to you? Let us know why you think so.

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