The two most popular handgun calibers are 45 auto and 9mm. I’ve shot quite a bit of each.
45 caliber bullets are larger than 9mm ammo. The 45 auto shoots a .452 inch diameter bullet weighing 230-grains at about 850 fps, totaling 370 pounds of energy. The 9mm shoots a .355 inch bullet weighing 115-grains and going 1145 fps, totaling 335 pounds of energy. 45 caliber handguns are typically significantly larger than 9mm handguns.
Considering buying a pistol? Want to know the pros and cons of different calibers? You don’t have to make a decision now, but I’ll give you the information.
Is a 45 More Powerful Than a 9mm?
45 Auto is about 15 percent more powerful than 9mm. It’s also a wider bullet so it tends to make wider wound channels in a target. The 45 is known for hitting harder and with more force. In a pistol, it runs from about 350 to 450 foot-pounds of energy. 9mm tends to be between 300-400 foot-pounds of energy.
In this article, 45 refers to the 45 Auto or 45 ACP. They are the same thing. That’s what people usually mean when they say 45. A 45 is definitely more powerful, and a lot of people choose it because of that merit. However, many experts today choose not to carry a 45 for self-defense.
Basically, the downside to having a 45 over a 9mm is the 45 is usually a bit heavier and it doesn’t hold as many bullets. It’s not much heavier honestly. You’d probably not really notice the weight difference even if you were carrying it all day. The bigger factor is ammo capacity. Most 9mm pistols carry 2-4 rounds more than the same gun in 45.
For example, the Glock 17 is a 9mm pistol that holds 17 rounds in the magazine. The Glock 21 is a 45 Auto that holds 13 rounds. Both magazines are just as tall, but the wider 45 caliber cartridge takes up more space and doesn’t fit as many in there as the 9mm. That’s really the only gripe that most people have against the 45.
It may or may not be a deal-breaker for you. Just remember, statistics show virtually no difference in the effectiveness of 9mm and 45 in stopping a violent situation.
45 vs 9mm for Personal Protection
The 9mm and 45 Auto are both good choices for personal protection. The 45 is a little more powerful but the 9mm holds a little more ammo. Both are good defensive calibers. Some people shoot the 9mm more accurately, and the recoil of a 45 can slow down shooting speed a bit, but most people will do well with either choice.
I don’t have much preference one way or the other, really. Both are fine calibers, but there are some differentiating factors we must consider. Mainly cost and recoil. The 45 has more expensive ammo. It’s usually 30 to 40 percent more costly than 9mm ammo. You might need to go with 9mm to stay within your budget.
Also, there’s recoil. The 45 does have more recoil since it’s a more powerful cartridge. It’s not a huge difference, but the difference is there. No, it’s not going to hurt your hands unless you have hand or wrist problems. It will cause you to have to shoot just a bit slower.
The increase in recoil will bring the gun further off target after each shot than a 9mm. That means it takes a little more time to get back on target. Here’s why that’s important.
In a violent situation when someone is forced to defend themselves with a firearm, it often takes multiple shots on target to stop a threat. By stopping a threat, I mean the assailant is on the ground unable to continue posing a viable threat.
According to police statistics, it often takes 4 or more hits to completely stop a threat quickly. the more hits you can make in a short amount of time, the faster a threat will stop. With 9mm, the lesser recoil usually allows you to put more shots on a target in the same amount of time compared to a 45.
You may or may not feel that is an issue for you. Most people can handle and control a 45 quite well with a little practice. It’s not s scatty big cartridge, and the differences in recoil and shooting speed is really a small difference. Your best bet is to borrow or rent both the 9mm and 45 and go try them out for a day.
Is 45 Louder than 9mm?
The 45 Auto is noticeably louder than a 9mm, but both are fairly loud. You will need hearing protection when practicing with either round, even when shooting with a suppressor. WIth basic hearing protection, both are manageable and shouldn’t pose an issue from the noise.
Guns are loud. Pistols are not as bad as most rifles, but are still pretty loud and will quickly lead to hearing damage and loss if you are practicing without hearing protection. Earplugs work great. The foam earplugs are usually than any of the plastic options.
Noise-canceling earmuffs are great too. If you have sensitive ears or are trying to be extra cautious with your hearing, you can wear both earplugs and earmuffs. Just remember to pay attention to your surroundings when wearing hearing protection because you can’t hear what’s going on very well.