The Caliber War (lack thereof) - MP-Pistol Forum

The Caliber War (lack thereof)

This is a discussion on The Caliber War (lack thereof) within the MP Ammunition forums, part of the Smith & Wesson MP Forum category; In recent years, more shooters have gone back to 9mm (in my personal experience)for SD, and everyone tends to agree that 9mm has bridged the ...


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Old November 4th, 2013, 05:15 PM   #1
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The Caliber War (lack thereof)

In recent years, more shooters have gone back to 9mm (in my personal experience)for SD, and everyone tends to agree that 9mm has bridged the gap between 357 Sig, 40S&W, and 45 ACP (10mm is exempt because everyone knows it is the most beastly ). You will notice that I have a "9" in my handle. That is not by mistake. I do enjoy shooting 9mm and depend on it to protect me and mine daily.

That all said, if caliber largely does not matter when fending off two legged predators, why IS caliber SO important when fending off (or hunting) 4 legged animals? Most of the four legged critters out there will, at worst, run away when shot. Though there are plenty that will (or could) turn aggressive once wounded.

One thing I have noticed is that people are very passionate about minimum calibers for hunting. For example, someone says I plan to take a deer with 5.56/223 this year -- you will find many people that come in and say "you can kill a deer with a 22, but I wouldn't recommend it. You should take a [insert cartridge here] at a minimum.

So, why is nine so fine for people, but that rule does not apply to animals. I understand there are different physiological differences between beast and man, but I do not think that is the root cause for this difference in standards.

Educate me
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Old November 4th, 2013, 05:44 PM   #2
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I would say that a lot of it for hunting is people making sure they have a big enough bullet to make a clean and ethical shot on an animal. You don't want to end up only wounding the animal and making it suffer (but that could happen with any caliber).
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Old November 4th, 2013, 06:00 PM   #3
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Guy, that is the most logical reason I can think of.

I guess part of my point is -- Doesn't caliber still matter when facing bad guys? I rely on 9mm due to the affordability (reloads and factory ammo) and my ability to hit multiple shots quickly, but one could still argue by applying hunting standards that 9mm is NOT enough. For instance, some won't shoot a deer with a 223 because they fear they will lose the meat and/or the deer will suffer. Well, what about the fear that the bad guy will not stop when hit with one or two 9mm rounds?

Most firefights (talking civilian here) begin and end before the magazine is ended. Now I still prefer to have 17 in the mag, but if that is the case, would I be better off with 357 sig, 40 S&W, 45 ACP, etc. etc.?

I'm playing a bit of a devil's advocate here, but I wanted to have an intelligent conversation about it rather than the typical internet caliber war.
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Old November 4th, 2013, 07:00 PM   #4
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With hunting one wants to KILL a target, while with self defense one wants to STOP a threat.

Since this is a caliber war, here is my two cents to the OP; 9mm has not bridged anything between the other service calibers, it is the least of all those mentioned if one wanted to spilt hairs.

Last edited by jasonuscg; November 4th, 2013 at 07:02 PM.
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Old November 4th, 2013, 07:25 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jasonuscg View Post
With hunting one wants to KILL a target, while with self defense one wants to STOP a threat.

Since this is a caliber war, here is my two cents to the OP; 9mm has not bridged anything between the other service calibers, it is the least of all those mentioned if one wanted to spilt hairs.
I hear ya, and I agree. However, we must understand that "stopping" a threat and killing them, can at times be the same thing. Also, if we throw out the idea of "killing" the threat and only focus on stopping the threat (since that is the mindset of a lawfully armed citizen or police officer), wouldn't you agree that one may stop sooner or later due to different levels of lethality of cartridges used?

If we assume the worst case scenario (I would imagine that all CNS shots are missed, after all, even a 22 would end the fight with a CNS hit), and I had to rely on enough bleeding to make the bad guy stop due to shock. Would one be better off with a 9mm, 357 sig, 40S&W, or God's bullet - the 45 ACP?

I would agree that if 9mm has improved through bullet and powder technology, then other cartridges have improved also which would minimize the 9mm advances. Then you still have to consider the difference between user accuracy, follow-up shots, capacity, rounds needed, barrier penetration needed, bad guy will to fight, etc.

With all that, I think the answer is: there is still not an answer. Or, better put - the answer is whatever the shooter is most comfortable with. Unfortunately, I was hoping for some caliber closure backed up with new data. The data I was looking for may not be available. The will of the bad guy is hard to plan for, and some of the more recent data I can think of is the 80s Miami FBI shootout and the Philippine - American battles that resulted in the development of the 45 ACP due to the poor results from the 38 LC.
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Old November 4th, 2013, 09:34 PM   #6
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9mm is the smallest/lightest of duty ammo so it relies on speed to reach it's goal, and 357 to an even greater extent. Unfortunately, the lighter the bullet, the more easily it's deflected. Compare that to 45 ACP which depends more heavily on brute force, which also gives the most consistent penetration from most defensive ammo offerings. But our concern is that there may not be enough rounds in a 45 mag for a given encounter, especially compared to the number of rounds in a similarly sized 9mm, to "get the job done".

The 40S&W would more aptly be considered that bridge between velocity dependence and bone crushing force by balancing ~90% of the 45's consistent penetration and 89% of the 9mm's capacity.

Either way, arguing that a duty caliber pistol is the best choice for personal defense, when a long gun (even a .223/5.56) is readily available, is sheer folly.
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Old November 4th, 2013, 10:01 PM   #7
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9mm is the smallest/lightest of duty calibers so it relies more on velocity to reach it's goal, and 357 to an even greater extent. Unfortunately, the lighter the bullet, the more easily it's deflected away from reaching it's intended target. Compare that to 45 ACP which depends more heavily on brute force, which also gives it the most consistent penetration with most defensive ammo offerings. But our concern is that there may not be enough rounds in a 45 mag to "get the job done" in any given encounter, especially compared to the number of rounds in similarly sized 9mm handguns.

The 40S&W would more aptly be considered that bridge between velocity dependence and bone crushing force by balancing ~90% of the 45's consistent penetration and 89% of the 9mm's capacity.

Either way, arguing that a duty caliber pistol is the best choice for personal defense, when a long gun (even a .223/5.56) is readily available, is sheer folly.

9mm fans often use the argument that no one would ever volunteer to be shot with one of their bullets from close range, but if I'm ever in a gunfight I certainly hope my opponent is armed with a 9mm or less, because I'll probably be able to take at least a couple/few more hits before I'm no longer able to defend myself.
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Old November 5th, 2013, 05:57 AM   #8
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In hunting you'll often only get one shot, and your are shooting the animal in the 100-250 yard range.

In defensive shooting, you're shooting the "animal" at 3-15 feet, and you'll likely get multiple trigger presses.

The deer isn't shooting back. It's running away 100% of the time if it survives the first hit. A grizzly or a water buffalo is another story all together...

The 9mm, vs 40, vs 45 debate is multiple holes causes more blood loss, which causes incapacitation. If your adversary bleeds out faster than you do... you win.

I would be happy with any high capacity modern handgun for defense, 9, 40, 357, 45... They'll all work if you get in your hits. And a CNS 9mm hit is just as good as a 45 CNS hit. I carry a 40 because I shoot it in competition, therefore practice ammo compatibility. Also for the ability to switch it to a 9mm should the SHTF and ammo becomes an issue.

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Old November 5th, 2013, 06:50 AM   #9
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Big dangerous game are bigger and tougher than humans and they want to eat you.

Jim

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Old November 5th, 2013, 09:07 AM   #10
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Use and train with whatever you are able to handle the best that can accomplish what is needed.

/Thread End ?
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Old November 6th, 2013, 12:00 PM   #11
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Caliber always mattered. It's just that more and more people want to just pretend otherwise.

There is a huge differece between hunters and majority of the people who carry guns for security: that it is very harder for hunters to deny reality because they actually shoot their intended targets that are alive.

While some claim that killing is more important that stopping for hunting, it is false. Clean quick kill is important in hunting, and that cannot be achieved with "all I need is kill, not an immediate stop" approach. That is especially important for dangerous game. Say something like, "You don't need immediate stop. You just need to kill" to a person who does dangerous game hunting, expect to get stared down like you're nuts.

The reason the politics are different for combat ammo in 9mm~45ACP range compared to hunting ammo is that there are more factors involved. Hunters are less concerened about recoil control. While it is still a factor in hunting, have you ever heard of a black bear hunder practicing putting 6 rounds of 44 magnum in 1~2 seconds drill just for hunting?

One shot effectiveness is important for a hunter, even at the sacrifice of rapid fire capability, because they do not plan to riddle the target with all the ammo they have. They are looking for a one shot clean kill. That is very different from combat against a human being.

9mm became popular because it is easier to control. The control is an important factor. 40S&W or 45ACP in a same size same weight gun is not as easy to control at speed.

However, no matter what 9mm fans would like to believe, 9mm, 40S&W, and 45ACP are not the same. People who claim they're about the same base their opinions on people who did research on gel tests, but human body is not a jello. The larger caliber bullets like 40S&W which is big and fast penetrates barriers better and have less deflection upon impacting bones, etc. Another reason is that while there is a difference between 9mm and 40S&W, etc., the difference is not as distictive between that of 357 Magnum and 44 Magnum.

Last edited by grayblue; November 6th, 2013 at 12:17 PM.
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Old November 7th, 2013, 08:47 AM   #12
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Forgive me if this was mentioned already, I didn't read everyone's responses, but in hunting you-the hunter- are the "Bad Guy", an opportunistic killer, so you are allowed to stack the deck in your favor, i.e. hide, shoot high power rifles and handguns after carefully aiming. Makes me wonder if gang bangers could use a 7mm RemMag, would they?

As far as the caliber debate, I'm seeing people get really wound up about how many shots they can do per second in SD. Really? What if the BG goes down and your El Presidente sends two errant rounds somewhere else, because that is how you trained? Maybe it might be better to shoot, evaluate, shoot again if necessary...just sayin' you can't take a shot back once it is on its way. In that way, IDPA is looking more like IPSC all the time.
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Old November 7th, 2013, 09:48 AM   #13
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In my opinion, in self defense situations, you should train for first shot incapacitation. With the range that these types of encounters occur that is usually what you will get off.

When i was a cop i had a supervisor who could shoot damn good at the range. When he was accosted unexpectedly by a woman with a knife, and was shooting moving backward during a high stress encounter he missed 9 of 9 shots. All were close, but in those types of situations many factors impact your skill and ability. He did have a chance for one clean shot, but chose not to take it and instead tried to use words. Had he shot while stationary and able to use two hands and aim i have no doubt he would have hit her, which is the important fact to remember. Running backward, downhill, high stress, one handed shooting, and all the other factors involved impacted skill as will be the case in most situations.

All that being said, choosing the caliber best suited to yourself and environment are important. In a beach climate where light clothing is the norm a smaller caliber may be sufficient, but in the north where dense clothing is common a heavier caliber or +p ammo may be necessary.

For personal defense though, i would never go below a .40 in power and would prefer a .357sig or .45. Many people use the explanation that many LEO agencies use it so it must be good, but the flaw with that logic is that those are large agencies with close back up. Smaller agencies where other officers may take a while to arrive are more apt to use .40 or .45 because of its effectiveness agains soft targets such as people and aggressive pets.

There is no real or perfect answer and has to be a personal decision. If you can not get comfortable with a caliber other than 9mm then it is better than a sling shot, but if you can increase caliber then i would strongly recommend it.

As for the "gap bridge" argument with +p and +p+ loads equating the power of larger rounds is flawed on several fronts. First, most manufacturers do not recommend the use or continued use of those types of loads since they create higher chamber pressures than they are designed for. With the difference in "kick" between standard loads and +p loads and not training with it you are better to go to a bigger round.

The previous paragraph leads into my next point, if you can handle the recoil from +p 9mm, you can handle the recoil from 185 grain .40 cal loads which leaves about the same felt recoil. I see no benefit in staying smaller and subjecting your firearm to undue stress of increadsed pressure loads.

Lastly, sectional density is just as important as speed and mass. A bigger and slightly slower object will transfer more energy, based on normal laws of physics, than a smaller faster object. This applies even more to personal defense ammunition being hollow point.
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Old November 7th, 2013, 02:05 PM   #14
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Since 2008, the cost of ammunition has doubled, and tripled in some cases, on average.
I can't afford to run .40, or .45acp anymore, because my household income, since 2008 is less than it was in 2007.

The move for many back to 9mm is due to a few different factors, one of which is cost. Gone are the days when we could buy 45acp for $10 a box. Another is the trend in smaller 9mm pistols designed for CCW. Most people want these types of guns, and in 9mm, they are easier to control than .40 S&W. And with today's very good 9mm defensive ammo, like HST, Gold Dot, and Winchester Bonded, the performance gap has very much closed between the service calibers. All the ones I listed are designed to meet FBI standards, regardless of caliber (service calibers only, I'm not talking about pocket calibers).

I've always been a 9mm guy. Having tried the .40S&W in numerous guns, and .45acp as well, I've dumped them both in favor of 9mm.

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Old November 9th, 2013, 05:48 PM   #15
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menace667, lambertsinwekiva, Et al.,
Great points guys - from your support of 9mm, the point that you can't take a shot back, and the reasoning for carrying the baddest caliber you can handle - you all had great points.

I would agree that the gap has been decreased; however, I will always believe that a more powerful (whether that be bullet weight or speed) cartridge is a better man stopper. For example, a 125gr 357 mag is a better man stopper than a 124 gr 9mm primarily due to speed (bullet designs have advanced for both cartridges after all), a 230 gr 45 ACP is a better man stopper than 9mm due to size/weight. This premise is qualified by assuming a CNS shot did not take place since any 9mm in the CNS would stop a threat.

I still feel OK with the 9mm with modern SD ammo, but being a believer in murphy's law, I have adopted a 357 sig as my primary HD pistol. I have a ruger sr1911 that has been accurate and 100% reliable throwing 45 ACP downrange, but I have a little concern about the 7+1 or 8+1 mag capacity. The 357 sig (with proper ammo) will throw a 125 gr modern HP bullet over 1400 fps at the bad guy, penetrate 15 inches, and expand to around .60-.65 inches. That IS 357 mag territory.

Menace667, you stated that, "A bigger and slightly slower object will transfer more energy, based on normal laws of physics, than a smaller faster object. This applies even more to personal defense ammunition being hollow point." That is true, but at SD distances (less than 10 yards) the best 45 ACP round has the same muzzle energy as the best 357 sig round. Based on penetration testing, it would appear that both of these would dump all (or very close to all) of their energy into the bad guy. The difference is that I will have 16 rounds of 357 sig vs 9 rounds of 45 ACP to solve the problem.

This may be simplifying the issue, but I look at it like this: The 357 Mag and the 45 ACP are the two MOST proven fight stoppers in handgun SD history. I can get the benefits of one (357 mag) without the consequence of the other (low round count).
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