9mm or 40 S&W – That is the Question

The issue of which pistol caliber is best has been the subject of much debate. I am going to explore a couple of common myths regarding pistols and maybe this will help you decide what you think.


Myth #1 – Police carry the best firearms

Whoever thinks this has been reading to many gun magazines and needs to open their eyes. Police Officers carry what their command tells them they can carry. Their command staff is usually swayed in their opinion by the Sales Representatives from the Firearms industry. If you want me to cut to the chase on this argument, it is simply this: The 1911 pistol has been around since John Browning designed it in 1911, yet police were carrying revolvers until the 1980s… Why? The answer is simple, Smith and Wesson firearms had the majority of the law enforcement market.

Whenever there is a high profile shooting where law enforcement fails to sort out the issue with the equipment that they have, they have a tendency to seek the next best thing. Of course, this has a lot to do with the marketing departments. Afterall, they are in business to sell guns, not tell people that need training.

After a shootout in Miami, the FBI concluded that they need something more, so they adopted the 10mm for a short time until they settled on the 40 S&W. The 40 S&W is a high pressure round that is known to be prone to case head separations and other issues; but again, since the FBI picked it, it has gotten very popular with most law enforcement agencies.

Myth #2 – The 9mm is not enough to do the job

From personal experience, I can tell you that the 9mm using a quality Jacketed Hollow Point (JHP) will do the job just fine. I have seen plenty of people killed by 9mm from a pistol, so please don’t try to make the argument that it is not enough to do the job.

Of course, the deadliest round in the United States is the 22 long rifle round, which is much smaller and delivers much less energy.

The most important variable is shot placement. Keep this in mind.

Myth #3 – Ballistic Test in Gelatin help determine which round is best

Unless you think you are going to get in a gunfight with the “Jello-man”, regard results from ballistic gelatin as just that – data on the effect to gelatin.

In the real world, there are many factors that affect what happens to targets when struck by bullets. Articles of clothing, belt buckles, cell phones, windshield, obtuse angles and many other factors go into the equation that determines the performance of the hit.

No Jello Man threatening you? Then again, forget about it.

Myth #4 – People fly back why they are shot

If this is something that factors into your bigger is better line of thinking and that people will be knocked back when they are hit by this round or that round… You are living in a Hollywood special effects biased haze.

In a real world shooting, some of the people involved may not even know they have been hit until after the engagement. Quite frankly, they will be too scared to feel some hits. Aside from the obvious mortal wound, some hits may take up to 10 minutes to be discovered. I am just saying that you should be realistic in your expectations.

Myth #5The opinion of the guy behind the counter at a gun store should matter .

I have seen so many times where someone buys a gun based on the opinion of the guy at the gun store. Just because some guy standing behind the counter has opinion, it does not mean that he is any more qualified than a three year old to give you advice on firearms. When picking a defensive pistol, it is important to find what fits your needs.

Many of the gun store salesmen don’t know more than what they read in some magazine or learned in the military. There are some qualified opinions out there, but it seems so hard to find.

Asking many of these guys for an opinion about defensive pistols is no different than asking a five year old how to drift a corner in a car. They may know all about it, but have Zero experience. I typically put this in much harsher terms, but I’ll save the vulgarity.

Remember that when you seek opinions, you probably want to talk to someone who has a clue about the subject aside from what they have been reading. Gee, real-world experience…. Imagine that!

The Bottomline

What’s my point? It’s very simple. When picking a round for defense, make your selection based on which one you perform with the best. I carried a 9mm overseas and I am very confident in its ability to keep me alive in a confrontation.

Forget all of this Bigger is better, The FBI uses it, blah, blah…. Find out which caliber you perform best with. Keep in mind that reliability and accuracy are much more important than caliber size.

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