9mm VS 45 ACP – Which Handgun Caliber To Get?

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This guide goes over 9mm VS 45 ACP in the most plain simple manner for people in the market to purchase a handgun.

You will learn about their design philosophy, accuracy, ballistic energy, cost and which caliber handgun to buy.

9mm VS 45 ACP Full Size Handgun Selection Quick Comparison

9mm

Pros

  • Average 15 - 18 rds magazine capacity
  • Lighter overall weight to carry
  • 124 gr and 147 gr technologies are available
  • 115 gr 9mm is much cheaper to shoot

Cons

  • Not much



45 ACP

Pros

  • More stopping power than a 115 gr 9mm
  • Very fun to shoot
  • Knocks down steel popper targets
  •  

Cons

  • Ammo costs more
  • No recent ammo advancement
  • Lower full mag capacity (15 rds is so far the highest)

9mm Luger

Origin - The 9mm Luger also known as the 9x19mm Parabellum. It's one of the most popular handguns cartridges in the world. Georg Luger designed the caliber in 1902 for use in the Luger semi-automatic pistol and now it's widely adopted by militaries, law enforcement agencies, and civilians usage.

Ballistic Performance - The 9mm cartridge offers excellent ballistics with a muzzle velocity of around 1,200 feet per second and a muzzle energy of over 300 foot-pounds. In terms of size and power, the 9mm Luger is often seen as a compromise between larger rounds such as .45 ACP while still providing better penetration than smaller rounds like .22LR. This makes it a very popular choice for handgun self-defense purposes as well as recreational shooting activities.

Bullet Weight - The 115 grain 9mm is the most popular bullet weight for its reliable performance and relatively low per round cost. This makes it an ideal round for personal defense, law enforcement, and high volume recreational target shooting without breaking the bank.

Other popular bullet weight class include 124 gr and 147 gr. These are much more powerful and slow flying bullet than the 115 gr without increasing bullet dimension. This means the user can increase the stopping power of a 9mm without compromising magazine capacity.

Cost - 9mm is the most affordable ($0.25 - $0.27/rd)

fn 509 muzzle flip

Recoil Experience - The amount of recoil you feel from 115 gr vs. 124 gr or 147 gr 9mm ammo will depend mostly on the design of the gun or how much recoil the gun can absorb. 

Some people think that 124 grain rounds have less recoil than 115 grain rounds because the bullet moves more slowly out of the barrel. Other people say that the recoil of a 124 grain 9mm round feels more like a push in a full metal frame gun, but the same bullet feels like a standard 165 gr 40SW in a subcompact pistol. +P 9mm ammo also kicks a lot more.

Unless you’ve shot a lot of rounds, the experience is different for different people.

Most Popular 9mm Handguns

holosun 507k on glock 43 mos

A particular handgun design can be chambered in various calibers. The 9 most popular 9mm handguns now are:

  • Glock 19, 19X
  • CZ 75
  • Sig P365
  • Smith Wesson M&P 
  • Springfield Hellcat
  • Glock 43X
  • Sig P320
  • Walther PDP

45 ACP (Automatic Colt Pistol)

Origin - The .45 ACP (also known as the .45 Automatic Colt Pistol) is one of the most popular handgun calibers in the world, designed by John Moses Browning in 1905. 45 ACP is wthe representation of stopping power whenever people talk about it.

The caliber was originally developed for the US military’s M1911 pistol and has since become a staple ammo choice of law enforcement, defensive shooters, and competitive shooting sports.

Ballistic Performance - The .45 ACP typically features bullets of 230 grains, with a muzzle velocity of around 800-900 feet per second and an effective range of around 50 yards. Due to its heavy bullet weight and low muzzle velocity, it produces excellent stopping power but comes at the cost of comparatively low penetration.

It is also are higher in cost than some other types of ammunition due to its popularity.

Bullet Weight - The .45 ACP is generally produced as 260 gr FMJ round-nose mostly used for practice, target shooting, or competition. The 185 gr jacketed hollow point is mostly used for self-defense. 

Cost - 45 ACP round costs about ($0.48 - $0.52/rd)

Recoil Experience - The .45 ACP provides good stopping power, while it's a "push" recoil sensation overall while shooting a full size polymer pistol like the Glock 21. The recoil sensation is slightly less snappy on a full size full metal frame 1911.

In a subcompact 45 ACP pistol like the Glock 36 with dual recoil spring guide, the recoil sensation is similar to shooting a 147 gr 9mm on a Glock 19.

In comparison, the 147 grain 9mm round produces a much sharper recoil due to its light-weight projectile and higher muzzle velocity of 1,150 feet per second. The +P 9mm variant has even more recoil due to its higher pressure loading resulting in a muzzle velocity of 1,250 feet per second. The sharpness of the recoil increases proportionally with both the weight and velocity of the projectile.

Most Popular 9mm Handguns

fnx 45 tactical trijicon sro

The 7 most popular 45 ACP handguns now are:

  • Most 1911 family pistols
  • HK USP Tactical 45
  • Glock 30S
  • FNX 45 Tactical
  • Glock 21
  • Springfield XDm Elite
  • M&P Shield 45