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A 9mm Takeover?


Is it true the FBI has found a 9mm cartridge that “matches the wound ballistics of the .45”?

There has been a great deal of talk about a “9mm takeover” on the internet/blogosphere and, of course, anything you hear on the internet is correct, right? Like the insurance TV Commercial says…”anything printed on the internet has to be the truth.”

Let’s take first things first…over half of what is printed on the internet is complete and utter bullshit. Most of it is recycled from other sources by people who are not in the know and then embellished to cover “their take” on the circumstance or situation.

Second, many of the people who write a good game on the internet have no real background to make their claims which really hurts those that do talk from knowledge. Suggestion: if an author gives this long biography that says he was deep in the thick of black operations, ninja-hood and “shadow ops” but won’t give his/her name to protect themselves from retaliation, it could be true, but then why would this person be drawing attention to themselves? While I would never say “I trained the Navy SEALS, Delta, Green Berets, Para-rescue Jumpers, Rangers, CIA SAD or GRS”, etc., I have had individuals from these units in my courses and all are true “quiet professionals” who do not feel the need to brag about their exploits…they KNOW they have the goods! Usually these folks stay to themselves, shoot VERY well (maybe not at IPSC Grandmaster level but they don’t have to as it is more about willingness than X ring accuracy), ask smart questions and are open to suggestion…they WANT to learn, not talk. Have you ever been in a class with one of those students that does nothing but talk and try to raise their profile? This person is NOT a quiet professional…he is a “Mommy’s basement commando”…

One of the “trends” crossing the internet is the “re-emergence” of the 9mm in law enforcement circles and any number of ex-spurts are adding their opinion to the fray. Much of this discussion is led by the FBI returning to the 9mm because they struggle with getting recruit agents through the firearms portion of the basic academy. Many laugh at this assertion as it was the FBI in the late 80’s and early 90’s that spearheaded the creation of the .40 via their “10mm lite” cartridge after the “failure” of the 9mm Silvertip in the famed Miami Shootout of 1986. Much was learned from this event and we are still learning, in this case it is that the .40 S & W cartridge can be tough to shoot due to the added slide velocity of the cartridge and the effects this has on the shooter via felt recoil. In the end, if you can’t hit your opponent quickly and repeatedly with a given handgun cartridge all of the on target power is for nothing.

Finding all this talk about an FBI change to be interesting, I contacted a friend that works at the FBI Academy and bought him dinner. We talked for several hours and while he admitted there is some interest in the 9mm there is no whole sale move back to the 9mm… yet! Before this happens, there will probably be a review of handguns as well as if you are going to review the rocket it makes sense to review the launcher as well. This is not to say the Bureau is unhappy with the Glock… they are not! Like many agencies they had some problems with the Glock in .40 caliber, but they are very happy with the trigger and ease of use in training, but to not look at new designs would be remiss, especially those that have reconfigurable grips. I think we can all agree that Glock did not go far enough in the adjustable grip department with their 4th Generation series and I for one really like the Glock, but I must have a substantial grip reduction before I can shoot it to its maximum potential.

Is it true the FBI has found a 9mm cartridge that “matches the wound ballistics of the .45”? My friend told me they are “very encouraged” by the load they are currently testing in 9mm, but all he would tell me is it is a non-traditional bullet weight and configuration traveling at a non-traditional velocity in order to achieve this performance. OK, even I am enough of a “gear queer” (no sexual disrespect meant here!) to wonder what this is all about! I have been a long proponent of the 9mm due to its accuracy and ease of use and I find current generation 9mm ammo to be quite good. Such loads would include:

  • 115 grain Corbon DPX +P
  • 124 grain Speer Gold Dot +P
  • 124 grain Federal HST +P
  • 127 grain Winchester SXT +P+
  • 147 grain Speer Gold Dot
  • 147 grain Federal HST +P

All of these will do the job if the shooter does THEIR job. While at the 2014 SHOT Show I ran into a number of fellow instructors and the subject of the “9mm takeover” came up repeatedly. Ken Hackathorn, Kyle DeFoor, Ed Head, John Benner, Mike Janich, Kyle Lamb, Larry Vickers, Rich Nance, Mike Boyle, Kevin Davis and John Farnum all maintain no concerns with a move back to the 9mm, even though they may personally prefer a different caliber. Why? Because people can hit with it and hitting is what it is all about. Like most of you I will watch the FBI with interest, but don’t expect anything real soon as they do study the hell out of things before they change and maybe this is not a bad thing. Only time will tell…

About the author:
Dave Spaulding is the 2010 Law Officer Trainer of the Year and Law Officer’s Firearms columnist. A 36-year law enforcement and private security veteran, he retired at the rank of lieutenant. He is the founder of Handgun Combatives a training institution that focuses on the combative application of the handgun. He has worked in corrections, communications, patrol, evidence collection, investigations, undercover operations, training and SWAT—and has authored more than 1,000 articles for various firearms and law enforcement periodicals. He is also a graduate of most of the nation’s best known shooting schools. He’s also the author of the best-selling books Defensive Living and Handgun Combatives. Visit his web site at www.handguncombatives.com and like him on Facebook. His DVDs “Handgun Combatives are also available on Paladin Press. His latest DVDS “Situational Combative Pistols” and “Comabitive Pistolcraft Essentials” are available on Panteao Productions.

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