The debate over which is better; the 9mm or the 45ACP is like debating which is better; McDonalds vs Burger King or Pizza Hut vs Dominoes.  There are advantages to each when it comes to a life and death defensive scenario and in the long run only you can decide which is best for you.  Neither round can guarantee a one shot stop scenario or effect how you will react under that type of stress; but the following are some considerations when it comes to caliber.

  1. The 45ACP is a larger round and will produce a larger wound; and more tissue damage than a 9mm at the same distances.
  2. The 45ACP has better penetrating capabilities than the 9mm.
  3. The 9mm handgun magazine will hold more rounds than a similar sized 45 magazine.
  4. 9mm pistols are generally easier to conceal than 45’s.
  5. Recoil is less with a 9mm round than with a 45.
  6. The 9mm is the most widely used of all pistol rounds.

All things considered; both rounds work well for defensive handgun scenarios and it all comes down to personal preference.  Go with the 45ACP if you prefer more stopping power with smaller magazine capacity or go with the 9mm if you prefer slightly less stopping power with a larger magazine capacity.

As examples; My 45 caliber handguns full size generally will hold 10+1 rounds.  My 9mm handguns full size generally hold 17+1 rounds.  My compact size 9mm handguns for concealed carry generally hold 12+1 rounds.


  1. torvalamnell says:

    When I was deciding on my carry firearm, I spent a lot of time debating with myself whether or not I wanted a .45 or a 9mm. I can see the merit in both calibers. Of course, being a man, that ego voice kicked in and was ushering me towards a .45 because “it is a man’s caliber”. In the end, I went with a 9mm for many reasons. My top few reasons are as follows.

    1. Cheaper Ammo – I could practice more. This was important for me because although I like to get practice in, I also just really enjoy shooting. Cheaper ammo means I can shoot more often.

    2. Most Popular Round – In the event of SHTF, I feel like it would be easier to come across spare 9mm rounds than .45 ACP. This is just conjecture and if you are planning on including firearms in your preps for a SHTF scenario, you should include ammo. Having a firearm and thinking you can just hit the nearest store or military base to get ammo is naive, at best. That being said, if I was reduced to scrounging, I just felt more comfortable looking for 9mm ammo.

    3. Ammo Commonality – This was really the nail in the coffin for me. My wife has an interest in firearms, shooting and even a desire to CCW eventually. Of all of the pistol that she has shot, the 9mm was the one that she enjoyed the most. Since I knew we were get her a 9mm to carry, I figured ammo commonality would be a good thing.

    Of course, one day, I will own a .45 as well. There are many more firearms for me to purchase and perhaps I may even swap out my carry firearm for a time(unlikely).

    I thought you made some excellent points.

    • rmactsc says:

      Your points are excellent as well. Often it comes down to circumstances; what’s more convenient to carry based on where you are going, clothing selection, etc.

  2. theinnerhaven says:

    Very good points. I vasillated on this through the years. Ultimatley i setteled on the 9mm. What tipped me came down to speed vs. accuracy. To keep my accuraccy acceptable with a 45 I had to sacrafice speed. The faster i fire with a 45 the greater my accuracy suffers. With the 9mm i can release combat effective shots faster than with a 45 with a very high level of accuracy. Personally i think this is the difference between life and death in a true defensive situation. However, i know many shooters that are just as fast as well as accurate with a 45 as i am with a 9mm. It comes down to practice and training. End of day I totally agree that both rounds are effective and it is a perosnal taste.

    • rmactsc says:

      I tend to go back and forth. There are times I will only carry a Smith & Wesson M&P 45 then there are times I’ll switch up and go with the Smith & Wesson M&P 9.

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