Tuesday, January 19, 2016

FBI, 9mm and The Caliber Debate

I’ve been asked many times why I like 9mm ammunition over .40 or .45 or really any other caliber of handgun. I usually am very cautious about my answer. I would rather someone do their own research and maybe some trial and error before they decide on a caliber. It really is something I feel is personal. Perhaps a .45 has too much bulk or too much kick that it would be worth to a petite woman. But then again, maybe the same woman could learn to manage the recoil and find a way to conceal a .45. Who’s to say? But I can tell you the reason I like 9mm.
Years ago I wanted a .45. It was really the first handgun I ever go real familiar with, other than a .22 as a kid. I was in the military at a time when you could qualify on a M1911 .45, a S&W Model 15, M15 .38 special revolver, and the Sig Sauer P228, M11, 9mm. I had the opportunity to qualify in all 3 weapons. I thought that a .45 was the way to go! There are many who would agree with me. When I started to carry a gun I thought concealability was the only issue. I was actually carrying illegally, something I strongly advise against. It was a time where carrying a gun was not thought very important by the average civilian. The first gun I carried was a .25 caliber auto, 5 round. It was great to conceal but as I got familiar with the caliber, I realized it did not do what I wanted it to do. As soon as my state offered a concealed carry license I was on board. Anyway, I played around with many different size guns until I decided on the 9mm. It’s only been a few years (late 1980’s for locked-breech autoloaders) since the sub-compact gun has been around. But small, concealable hand guns have been around since the late 1700’s.
In the mid-1980’s the FBI dropped the 9mm cartridge because of an infamous gun battle in Miami-Dade Florida that left several FBI agents dead. The FBI was leaning toward the 10mm and eventually the newer S&W .40 caliber cartridge. They had their reasons at the time but are now going back to the 9mm. The ballistics nowadays between the 9mm and the .40 cal are very close. This is the reason I’ve carried 9mm for years. I like the ballistics, even when the cartridge wasn’t what it is today. I liked the capacity difference, and I liked the weight difference between 9mm and the higher calibers. This has been the 9mm camp claim for years but I actually tested it. My own tests convinced me in 1990 that 9mm was what I needed. I like the difference between the calibers recoil management too. I still do.
These are my reasons:

The 9mm has a softer recoil (remember the pistols are the same size, same barrel length etc.). This leads to shooters getting back onto target faster to deliver more bullets to the bad guys.

The 9mm is a smaller round, which means that the magazine will hold at least a few more cartridges per magazine. This leads to the good guys being able to lob more rounds down range in between magazine changes.
The difference in weight per 100 rounds is:
9mm – 100 rounds 2.63 lbs
.40 – 100 rounds 3.56 lbs
This is a difference of 1 pound per 100 rounds. For me that is significant.
The difference in price is also significant. Add to that 9mm being more common, at least for now, and more available because it is more common gives the 9mm a plus over the .40.

My vote would always be 9mm. I wouldn’t go out and sell my .40’s if I had them, but for those considering a first time carry weapon, consider the above reasons. Don’t just take my word, or even the FBI’s, go out and research. Borrow good guns and shoot quality ammunition and then make your choice.

I think it’s interesting that the military, the FBI, and many other agencies, still use the 9mm.

Semper Paratus
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