Every once in a while, I’ll run into someone who talks about the devastating power of the .45 ACP handgun they carry, or how the .40 S&W cartridge is the perfect blend of performance and capacity.
Look, I have nothing against the .45: I own one, love it, shoot it all the time and really, the only reason why I don’t carry it around with me is because it is specifically built as a competition 1911 and I really don’t want to defend my decision to carry a “gamer gun” in court if I need to defend my life.
Back on topic.
Richard Mann is a recognized expert on ammunition performance: He has a background in military and law enforcement and has hunted dangerous game all over the planet. With that background, you would think that he would extol the virtues of the .45ACP or the .44 Magnum or something with a lot of “knockdown power.”
So, which personal-defense cartridge is best? When it comes to terminal performance, there’s less than a dose of cough syrup difference between the 9 mm, the .40 S&W and the .45 ACP. If we only consider the size of the hole, the best defensive-handgun cartridge is probably best described as the one that fits the defensive handgun you can afford, shoot well and carry most frequently. They all make holes that are nearly the same size.
Richard compares 9mm, .40 S&W and .45ACP in his tests, and finds out that despite our bloviating about speed and bullet weight and “stopping power,” there really isn’t all that much difference between a “wimpy” 9mm and the “mighty” .45ACP. What’s also interesting is that if you plug in the numbers for some of the better .380 ACP defensive rounds into his formula, you get pretty good results, too.
Maybe .380 ACP isn’t really a “mouse gun” caliber after all…
So what matters the most in a defensive pistol caliber? Where you put those bullets into your target and how quickly you can put them there. Anything else is just splitting hairs and trying to find a mechanical solution to a lack of training problem.