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Being Wrong is Important… and, admitting it is too! – (Or: Why Rob Pincus prefers the 9mm over the .40 for personal defense)

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As followers of the DRTV Blog for the past few years know, I don’t publish a newsletter very often.  A few times a year, I share an update with our followers and those interested in our programs, but we try not to overrun inboxes with something every week or even every month. I like to think that means that when we do take the time to send one out, many of our 10,000+ subscribers and those who become aware of the posting through various websites actually take the time to read through the whole thing.

Just in case you didn’t know we had a new newsletter out, or if you missed this particular article, I wanted to share it here. While the 9mm vs. 40 debate probably gets too much attention, the underlying theme of this article probably doesn’t get enough. I look forward to comments and feedback!


In my last book, Combat Focus® Shooting: Evolution 2010, I took some space to talk about the importance of Evolving. I think one very important contributor to your ability to evolve is your ability to look backwards and see what you were wrong about… or, at least, being able to recognize the things that you have changed your mind about!


In the section of the book where I talked about how important this process of evolution was, I listed a few things that I had “changed my mind about”. What I did not do was explain specifically which way I felt on the topics today… Honestly, I thought at the time that my current position would be obvious. Many readers have asked my to clarify my position on a couple of the topics. The number one request is to clarify whether I prefer the 9mm or the .40S&W for personal defense. In the mid-90’s I became convinced that the 9mm was an anemic round not well suited to defensive duty. Now, I don’t think you’ll find any articles or even forum posts were I rant about how only a fool would carry it, but I personally considered it a great compromise. Particularly when I moved into a county that required anyone applying for a CCW permit to qualify with either a .38 revolver or a 9mm pistol. At the time considered the 1911 in .45acp a great choice for personal and home defense (another thing that I have notoriously changed my mind about dramatically in the past couple 15 years!) and was very frustrated by this restriction. I begrudgingly bought a Taurus PT series firearm in 9mm, which allowed me to carry “cocked & locked” in the manner I generally trained during those years. Luckily for me, and the other residents of the state of Tennessee, that restriction was lifted not too long afterwards and I was able to carry any firearm I wanted for personal defense. During that time, I had come to decide that the Glock 23 with 13+1 rounds of .40S&W ammunition was about as close to perfect a defensive pistol as someone could want… and I considered its rounds significantly superior to 9mm. This is definitely something that I now look back and I think I was wrong about.

I have heard many an instructor say that they are “always a student” or that they “never stop learning,” but over the past couple of years, I have had the opportunity to ask dozens of professional instructors to identify some specific things that they have changed their minds about. Often, I have been disappointed with the trouble that so many have had with the question. At one point during the taping of our second season, I even considered giving the topic up as a “Question of the Week” on the S.W.A.T. Magazine TV show because it was so difficult getting guests to answer the question directly. Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t think that my peers are being insincere where they claim the badge of “student” or say that they are “open minded,” but I have seen enough stuttering, confused looks and awkward body language to know that this question strikes a nerve. Let me give you an idea of how it often goes:


Me: “What is one specific thing that you have change your mind about since you’ve been instructing?”

Instructor: (after a pause and settling back into their chair a little) “oh, well…we are constantly evolving.”

Me: “Can you think of anything specific?”

Instructor: (often with a look of relief, like they found the exit hatch…) “Well, there’s been a lot of things.”

Me: “Of course, but is there any one thing that you can look back on, which you actually used to teach, that you would now say is ‘wrong’”?”

Instructor: (shifting glance or two, more settling) “I wouldn’t say that anything was “wrong”, but some things are better than others.”

Me: “What are some of the things you’ve actually taught in the past that you now believe are ‘worse’ than other things?”

Instructor: “uh….”

Now, certainly, that isn’t verbatim for any dialogue, nor would it be fair to characterize ANY of the instructors I’ve posed the question to as being evasive. There is a huge difference in someone who is trying to hide the fact that they have been wrong and someone who has simply not thought about it that way and is not used to being asked to articulate it. Especially with a camera in their face or standing in a group of peers at a conference! I have come to realize that the many of these guys, including friends of mine, have trouble articulating the fact that they once taught something that they do not today believe is the best information… or, put more simply, they aren’t used to publicly admitting they were wrong about something specific. It is very easy to admit that you have been wrong in general or that you are open to changing your mind, but there is definitely a stumbling block for many people when we try to get to a detail level.

For me, while it may be frustrating and/or disappointing to find out I was wrong about something, I have learned to balance that negative with what I think is a much more significant positive: Learning Something Better. While this isn’t always the case, at the very least I can celebrate the intellectual experience of knowing that I need to seek out a new answer when a theory or technique has been rendered invalid.  Some instructors have articulated to me that they feel like changing what they teach is somehow a disservice to those whom they have taught before. While I understand that gut reaction, it is at least as much of a disservice, combined with an integrity issue, to not teach your future students things that you believe with conviction are the best options.

I've been slowly but surely converting many of my .40s, including this Glock 22, over to 9mm.


So, why do I think the 9mm is a better choice for personal defense than the .40 S&W?


1. The Myth of the “One Shot Stop”, Part 1: Faster Strings of Fire are Better.


I don’t believe that it is likely to take only one shot to stop your next threat. With this in mind, the “data” that we collect (and sometimes obsess over) about the difference in potential terminal performance from one bullet to the next or the relatively few examples we have of single pistol hit results in human beings suggests to me that we should plan on multiple shot strings of fire. If we are planning on needing more than one shot and we know that we want to stop the bad guy as soon as possible, then it makes sense that we should seek the fastest string of fire possible. Physics dictates that the 9mm is going to be a more manageable round (lower recoil) than the .40 S&W out of any particular firearm. So, no matter how much you train and how much you practice, everyone should be able to shoot a string of Combat Accurate 9mm rounds faster than they can fire a string of .40. Of course, if you consider a 4×8 sheet of plywood your “combat accurate” area, you’re going to have to go to a relatively long string of fire to be able to measure a difference in time, but if you stick with a probable target size (high center chest) at a plausible distance (10-15’), it shouldn’t be hard to see a difference at a reasonable number of rounds (3-6).


2. The Myth of the “One Shot Stop”, Part 2: Higher Capacity is Better.

Again, keep in mind that we are counting on needing more than one round. In any given size package, 9mm firearms hold more rounds than their counterparts chambered in .40 S&W. This gives you a greater potential for defense against one or more targets for the same practical cost in size & weight.

9mm or .40 ?? Bet you can't tell. In a recent test, the PDX1 .40 and 9mm performed almost exactly the same in the gelatin.


3. Negligible Difference in Practical Wounding Potential.

 Pistol bullets really aren’t great stoppers. There is a reason that hospital emergency rooms successfully treat Gun Shot Wound patients on a regular basis. Having talked to many EMTs and trauma doctors, and examined a significant amount of pictures/medical reports, there is a negligible difference between the wounding capacity of the 9mm and the .40 S&W. The idea of “energy transfer” is misplaced in regard to wounding potential because the net amount of energy contained in a pistol bullet is pretty low when we think about really having dramatic effect on a human body (knocking someone down, for example). The damage that is done is created through cutting and crushing. The difference of a few grains of weight, a few feet per second of speed or a millimeter (literally) of diameter are not worth giving up on the faster strings of fire or the higher capacity mentioned above. While the .40 S&W round, especially in heavier versions, has more potential for penetration of intermediate barriers, the data on actual personal defense shooting suggests overwhelmingly that there are not likely to be any hard barriers to be penetrated.  (Law Enforcement Officers face barriers much more often, presenting a stronger argument for the .40 in the role of police duty gun). Tom Givens’ Lessons From the Street DVD is a great example of real world self defense shooting data of the type that should be influencing our choices.

There is also a large body of testing evidence that modern bonded hollow points in 9mm will penetrate an adequate amount of tissue to cause a maximum amount of damage inside a human body. In fact, manufacturers such as Winchester are now designing their defensive rounds to have consistent performance across the most common defensive calibers (9mm, 40, .45, .38). I recently participated in a ballistic gelatin demonstration of that company’s PDX1 line of ammunition and saw for myself that they are achieving this goal.

It is important to note that I am not arguing that a single .40S&W bullet doesn’t hold more potential to stop in any event, rather I believe that the small increase in potential is not worth the absolute known detriments in recoil and capacity. As I discussed in point number one, for all shooters, at some point, there will be a moment when they can fire one more round of 9mm in any given period of time. That extra round’s capacity to wound will far outweigh the miniscule difference in potential for any individual bullets.


4. Lower Cost, High Value Practice

It is significantly less expensive to shoot 9mm in training than it is to shoot .40… that means more reps and more training in general for any given budget. This is the last reason I’m going to offer here, but there is no doubt that it is a factor in favor of choosing the 9mm. This is not an argument for training with loads that aren’t what you actually carry just because of budget (training with a .22lr, for example), it is an argument for training with your actual carry caliber and carry gun as often and as realistically as is practical.


There you have it. Those are the four primary reasons that I now recommend 9mm as the personal defense round of choice, have been converting my own personal .40 S&W firearms over to 9mm and would never purchase a .40 S&W firearm for personal defense if I were starting all over today. I let anyone who asks me about defensive guns or bullets know how I feel today, despite years of recommending the .40 and talking about how it was a great compromise between the 9mm and .45. In the mid-90’s I was wrong about the advantages of that round and I have definitely changed my mind about the inadequacies of the 9mm. Acknowledging that I was wrong in the past, is the only way that I can share what I now believe is the best recommendation I can give.


42 Responses to Being Wrong is Important… and, admitting it is too! – (Or: Why Rob Pincus prefers the 9mm over the .40 for personal defense)

  1. John Wydra

    September 14, 2011 at 7:22 pm

    I found your article to be outstanding. I have wrested with the .45 versus the 9mm. Never considering the 40. my criteria is to fire multiple shots as fast as possible that cover an area no larger than my fist. My feeling was that the amount of tissue disruption on that fist sized area will damage enough tissue as to cause the cessation of hostilities. Admittedly I can control the shots by my criteria equally well with the .45 and the 9mm, but I am most definitely quicker with the 9mm. As a non-proffessional it has caused me to doubt my Cooper mindset. My skills will not compare with yours, but our ideas definitely are similar. I will most likely utilize the 9mm when a handgun is all that is available as a CCW weapon. Thanks for your candor regarding a change of thought. I am sure some will not agree but I won’t be one of them.

  2. j

    September 14, 2011 at 7:23 pm


    I agree with you on the 9mm vs hiher calibers dilema.

    I appreciate the observations you have indicated and agree with your conclusion.

  3. Richard

    September 14, 2011 at 8:41 pm

    So what about 357sig? I can see it being more costly than 40 and having the lower round count. But what about performance? It has on average 10-15% more energy than 40 of the same round.
    Truly 9mm rounds have exponentially increased in performance over the last 10 years.
    But in regards to your article, you make solid fact filled observations that have me thinking which pistol to carry since I have the same gun in 9mm and 40S&W .
    Excellent write up as it gives me the reader food for thought. Thank you.

  4. Rob Pincus

    September 14, 2011 at 8:52 pm

    Hey, Richard, thanks for your thoughts on the article. I would definitely pick the 9 over the .357 Sig. Looking at the 4 points I made in the article:

    Reason #1: Even worse recoil management issues than the .40
    Reason #2 Same Capacity Issue
    Reason #3: Yes, the .357 goes up another notch in potential power from the .40, but I don’t think that mitigates points 1,2 or 4…. especially because the modern 9mm rounds perform very well in tests…
    Reason #4: as you stated, cost is even worse than .40

    Thanks Very Much for Commenting and for the follow up! -Rob

  5. Andy

    September 14, 2011 at 9:30 pm

    While this argument about 9mm or 40s&w has been around for forever. The 9mm definitely has its advantages. Recenlty a friend asked me which cal. he should buy to which i responded what is the gun going to be used for? He responds for target shooting/personal defense at home only no carry. I recommend 9mm because of some of the reasons in this article ammo costs, his wife may shoot, and magazine capacity. Then he asked was about stopping to which i respond 9mm ammo has really gotten good with lots of manufactures producing good personal defense/range ammo. However there is some fallacy in this article. Most civilian engagements with a gun are not at 10 to 15 feet they are closer more personal encounters. You probably won’t even see your sights or be able to count how many rounds you shot. Your going to be jacked up. That’s where your training takes over and good fundmentals come into play. However 12 rounds of 40s&w or 15 rounds of 9mm probably will not matter in the grand scheme of things because norm is 5 to 6 rounds are shot in these type encounters. Personally i prefer a litte more stopping power/barrier pentration and a few more rounds than a 45acp is going to give you. Neither way is wrong. Shooting and training with your firearm is the most important thing you can do. Great article will definitely recommend to friends.

  6. Rob Pincus

    September 14, 2011 at 9:34 pm

    Thanks Very much for your thoughts and feedback, Andy….. I agree with your point about distance. That is specifically the reason I used “plausible” when describing my example as opposed to “probable” (the latter of which I used to describe the high center chest target area).

    I definitely agree with your points about the sights and being “jacked up” as well!


  7. Rob Pincus

    September 14, 2011 at 9:34 pm

    Thanks! -RJP

  8. Rob Pincus

    September 14, 2011 at 9:36 pm

    Thanks for the comments, John!

  9. paramedic70002

    September 14, 2011 at 10:14 pm

    Rob, you were not “wrong.” You were right at the time (9mm), or at worst, you bought into the hyperbole without having independent evidence (40). As you state, bullet technology has changed. It would only be “wrong” to hold onto outdated facts. On the other hand it is responsible to react and conform to change. I still have a fondness for the 45 and don’t feel I am at a loss for carrying a 10+1 45 ACP although there is evidence that the 9mm is marginally superior, mainly due to magazine capacity, and to a lesser extent controllability.

  10. TIM

    September 15, 2011 at 12:57 am

    This article was great.Alot of really good info here.I prefer my glock22 (.40) over a 9 m.m..Off topic but I recently got a old tt33 7.62 x 25 and I love that thing as far as a shooter.Good powerfull round.

  11. Rob Pincus

    September 15, 2011 at 4:55 am

    Thanks for the feedback… I agree that some of it is semantics. As I noted in the first part of the article, I think it is important to be able to look back and say that something I used to believe in is no longer valid, true or right. It reminds me that some of the things I believe in today are also very subject to change when good reason presents itself.

  12. Pingback: SayUncle » Rob Pincus reads the gun blogs

  13. Aglifter

    September 15, 2011 at 9:40 am

    Do you think caliber can really off-set the differences in platform or familiarity?

    I carry 38 Super – mostly as I shoot open in USPSA. In my open gun, I don’t notice much of a difference between a “minor” (about a 9MM equivalent) load, and a “major” load – about a 357 mag equivalent.

    Some of that is, probably, due to the compensator being designed for the major load.

    However, in my carry gun (a 2011, double-stack 1911, in 38 super) I didn’t notice much of a difference in how I shot between the major and minor loads.

    (I know there is a difference between the major and the minor, but I think it might take a pretty advanced shooter to be able to really take advantage of the difference.)

    In a single-stack, I notice a considerable difference between the major and minor loads.

  14. Rob Pincus

    September 15, 2011 at 9:48 am

    Do you think caliber can really off-set the differences in platform or familiarity?

    Not in the extremes, but I think the important point is that you can choose platform AND caliber, neither have to be assumed to be pre-determined.


  15. tt11758

    September 15, 2011 at 12:23 pm

    Paramedic 70002 is absolutely correct. Your position in the 90’s wasn’t wrong, based upon the performance of 9mm ammunition available at that time. Just as you wouldn’t have been wrong believing that Windows 95 was a great operating system during the same time period. At that time, both opinions would have been valid. However, like computer operating systems, ammunition design and development has changed the playing field. And, to your credit, you have been able to adapt to the reality of the situation as it exists today.

    Even if you had been wrong, real men admit when they’re wrong, instead of waiting for their spousal unit to point it out to them. :- )

  16. PMain

    September 15, 2011 at 1:44 pm

    I also wondered about this, decided on the XDm 40. I put a steel guide rod & better springs in & noticed immediately a change in recoil & ability to get back on target. The 4.5″ inch barrel also helps. The 16+1 rounds seems more than enough. But this isn’t an EDC gun, getting a LTC (CCW) where I live can be problematic, so that didn’t factor into my thinking.

    My concerns over the 9mm was that the rounds generally are high velocity & there are reports – possibly FUD – of them moving so fast as to leave the intended target before completely expanding. It seemed like every article I read about someone living through a head shot involved a 9mm, nothing about .40 or greater.

    Admittedly anecdotal, at best, though I have to admit that during the great ammo shortages, my choice allowed me to actually find ammo locally whereas I couldn’t for the 9mm or 45ACP.

    Personally I was taught to carry & shoot whatever best fits you, regardless of the conventional wisdom of the day.

  17. Steve

    September 15, 2011 at 4:12 pm

    If defensive ammunition is purposefully designed to give the same lethal results, it makes sense that it doesn’t matter what you shoot.

    I prefer to shoot 9mm at the range because of the cost and controllability of the round. And with similar terminal ballistics to larger calibers, you’ve made a great argument why it should also be my permanent carry round.

    I’m with you, RP

  18. Patrick

    September 16, 2011 at 10:56 am

    I introduced my wife to shooting after she expressed an interest in it for purely defensive reasons. She took to the 9mm Glock 19 it immediately a few years back. After a one year hiatus for her (we did not want her shooting when pregnant), she got back out last week and immediately started tapping 6″ steel from about 10 yards – making about 75% of her shots. I’d like to credit the teacher…but honestly I think women just are naturally better shooters.

    Anyway…switched to the .40 Glock 23. Same frame, same weight, etc. She started missing about 75% of her shots and had to shoot much slower.

    I was not surprised. I was always really good with a 9 and pretty good with a .45. So I went for the .40 – thinking I would get the best of both. What I found is that I just don’t shoot as well with it. I have started to watch people when they go between the two calibers and usually see some replication of the phenomena.

    I still train with the .40, but our carry guns are 9mm and .380 ACP mouse guns. Stopping power means hitting your target, and much of the discussion regarding the differences between 9 and .40 I think could be extended to cover .380 ACP and 9mm. I acknowledge that there is a big power difference between those two rounds (I can measure that anecdotally with old frying pans in the woods), but frankly I am not sure it matters at 10 foot through a hoodie. A hit will hurt. Two will hurt more. Five…the hurt should have stopped by now.

    Anyway, appreciate the article. I like my .40, but would not carry one for personal defense. If I were a LEO, maybe I would want the barrier performance. But as a guy with a wife and two kids to protect, if I am shooting through barriers I am probably doing it wrong.

  19. roar-k

    September 16, 2011 at 1:21 pm

    After a few events of the past year I have decided to take my personal protection more serious than just the martial arts classes I was taking. I have recently purchased a handgun and am actually taking my Handgun Safety and Permit class tomorrow. During the time I was researching what handgun to buy I didn’t want the .45ACP because I knew I could not have great control and so I was stuck between 9mm and .40S&W. While talking to local “experts” they all told me I if I wouldn’t choose the .45ACP I had better choose the .40S&W or I would have regrets later because you want that “stopping power.” I asked why not have a 9mm that I can control and follow up with plus more capacity and they sort of got the glazed over look in their eyes and the conversation went from that to I don’t know what I am talking about….

    Well to cut the story short I purchased a xd40 subcompact because I was told I needed at least the .40S&W or else. If I would have had someone talk to me and use the points in this article I would have felt better about choosing and more than likely would have chosen the xd9. I am in no ways knocking the xd40 as it feels great in my hands, but so did the xd9.

    Thank you for this article.

  20. Rob Pincus

    September 16, 2011 at 2:00 pm

    Thank you for your comments!

  21. GunBuff

    September 17, 2011 at 10:17 am

    Although a big bore fan from way back, I came to the same conclusion.

    The only thing I would add is “Availability”. During the recent ammo drought, 9mm was the most often available centerfire pistol ammo in any kind of quantity – at least in this neck of the woods.

  22. Shane in Austin

    September 18, 2011 at 11:13 pm

    Is there a more reliable caliber than 9mm in an auto? Certainly not .45. .40 may be close but surely not better.

  23. Mel

    September 21, 2011 at 7:12 am

    Great article! Unfortunately, I just bought a Glock 22 refurb from my local in .40 S&W just because I wanted a .40. Because it was about the only ammo I could find on a regular basis after the elections and I have a gut feeling it may in the future get bad again, so I bought one. I also bought a Glock .357 Sig barrel from Lone Wolf Dist to give me more versitality in case I find .357 Sig and run low on the others. May I ask which conversion barrels Rob are you using to convert your weapons to 9mm? I have been considering buying a Lone Wolf because I have heard good things but have heard there are others that are good. What do you think Rob?

  24. Ben Basham

    September 21, 2011 at 12:54 pm

    I reload and shoot both .45 and 9mm. I found that factory off the shelf target rounds were all over the place when shooting at the outdoor range, 9mm being marginally more accurate. After buying a Dillon press and reloading both calibers I have just as good luck hitting steel 6″ targets with my 3″ Kimber .45 as my Glock 19. I do agree with Rob’s article, but I think that the main ingredient to self defense is to practice often and learn to shoot fast, with whatever caliber you like and can hit the target with.

  25. Randy

    September 21, 2011 at 3:38 pm

    So, you would NEVER purchase a .40 cal for personal defense in the future? Sure you wouldn’t. The entire article is laughable, but that gem takes the cake.

  26. Rob Pincus

    September 21, 2011 at 3:47 pm

    Lots of my students have Lone Wolf Barrels and I’ve never heard a complaint or seen issues. I have a couple of conversion barrels from Brownell’s that have also worked perfectly.

  27. Rob Pincus

    September 21, 2011 at 3:53 pm

    Great Point!

  28. Raylin Givens

    September 21, 2011 at 4:57 pm

    Great article. Now maybe you can take on the old theories about carrying C1. 🙂

  29. Rob Pincus

    September 21, 2011 at 5:13 pm

    Thanks, Raylin!

    There have definitely been a lot of things said about what condition to carry your gun in… I have a feeling that you and I would agree, but tell me exactly what you mean by “the old theories”… I don’t know how OLD you mean! 🙂

  30. Ken W.

    September 21, 2011 at 5:14 pm

    My first pistol was a Sig 228 in 9mm. Over the years I’ve taken my share of ribbing about using a 9mm from my USPSA buddies, but not one of them ever took me up on my sarcastic invitation to stand 15 feet away and let me shoot them with it so they could tell me how much less it hurt than a .40 or .45 (not that I would ever actually do such a thing, but it got my point across).

    One day we all went to small local shoot where Rob Leatham was the guest of honor. He took one look at my Sig (the only production gun at the match) and announced that “This guy should get 20 bonus points for using a ‘real world’ gun.” I noticed there weren’t many comments about shooting 9mm on that day, and more importantly, I haven’t felt the need to give any more sarcastic invitations.

    That 9mm is ready and available should I ever need it. I have little doubt it will do its job if I do mine–and my job is made easier by the four factors you list in this article.

    Thanks for your thoughtful, practical, and cogent analysis.

    PS. In the interest of full disclosure I will acknowledge that I also have and enjoy shooting a .40 S&W.

  31. Rob Pincus

    September 21, 2011 at 5:15 pm

    Sorry you missed the bigger point of the article, Randy… But in regard to me not buying another .40 for self defense, i have no idea why you find that so hard to believe… Or so entertaining??

  32. Raylin Givens

    September 21, 2011 at 7:49 pm

    Rob, as much as anything, I just get tired of hearing people say a gun is as useless as a brick, or that you might as well leave it at home, if you don’t carry C1. I’d gladly take on a bad guy who’s armed with a brick, and me carrying C3.

    I’m not against carrying C1, in fact I carry my Sig P239 and EMP C1. But I carry my Glock G26 C3. Just a personal comfort level.

    Having a martial arts background, like you, I like to think my situational awareness is very good. My opinion is that good SA can often make as much difference as carrying C1 or C3.

  33. JW

    September 22, 2011 at 5:16 pm

    Nice article! I am currently contemplating which caliber to get for my first handgun.

    At first I was sold on getting a 9mm – I figured it’s cheaper to shoot so I would get more practice in and thus have a better ability to put the rounds where they need to go, less recoil aiding in quicker shots, etc… (both for fun and for self defense – home only).

    So I went out and found that the XD was the most comfortable for me and decided on an XD9. I then was talked out of it by friends and the guys at the gun shop – everyone saying that the .40 was superior for defense and not that much more money to shoot…. the guys at the gun place told me that they sell 4 .40 caliber guns for every 1 9mm and that it’s just a better defense gun. So I tried an XD40 and of course I liked it. So I then decided that the XD40 would be right for me.

    The quantity thing doesn’t affect my decision, I am in CA and can only get a 10 round mag either way 🙁

    But now I am really torn – the 9mm ammo (practice stuff) is cheaper by about $3-4 per 50 rounds (which means I would get out and shoot a little more) and I know that a good defense round in a 9mm put in the right spot(s) will stop someone just the same as a good defense round in a .40. Plus, the 9mm might be a little more comfortable for my wife to shoot. I really doubt that if for some reason someone broke into my house and I wasn’t able to stop them with a magazine full of good 9mm, that a .40 would have made a difference.

    Thanks for the write-up and helping me see more light in the 9mm……

  34. d-force

    September 23, 2011 at 1:39 am

    My rule of thumb is 40 in the home and 9 in the pocket As a last resort of course but reality is most likely half awake and in the dark god for bid a miss placed shot in the house I use frangible rounds and I just can’t count on a 9mm not over penetrating with kids sleeping in rooms. I have watched your invaluable test on best defense along with my own test to know how deep that 9 travels vs. a 40. In public I need smaller frame, less recoil and more precision. Speed of follow up and more bullets is a nice bonus too. Good article; you are always thinking about the finner points.

  35. micko77

    September 26, 2011 at 2:17 am

    Well, now what am I gonna do with that Para 15-40 I got such a great deal on? Kidding aside, my next purchase will be a 9mm M&P, probably compact in the hopes that IL finally gets a brain (Hope for Change?) . My epiphany comes not from being an ER nurse for arund 30 years, but from realizing that the 40 just won’t allow me to launch as many golf-ball sized wounds as fast, and that I am NOT going to be picking the 3rd button down on a shirt as a sight picture, I’ll be doing well to get in the upper vitals. “A man’s got to know his limitations”, said Dirty Harry, and reality is creeping in. The two J-frames will still be stocked with Buffalo Bore +P 158’s, though… they’re called belly guns for a reason, and I would expect them to reach the pelvis to do more damage than a 125 gr. bullet.

  36. saf

    September 28, 2011 at 8:45 pm

    after reading a lot of the opions above my feeling is you use what feels to be the best fit for you to get the job done with the amount of capicty needed for your situation. me i prefer the 40 S&W. my wife prefers the 38 special. both loaded with hornaday home defense ammo

  37. JC

    September 30, 2011 at 6:42 pm

    Thanks for a good article & discussion. I carry a 9mm Glock or a CZ and never felt sorry its not .40SW. In a self defense situation its primarily important to shoot and hit…

  38. BCZRX

    October 4, 2011 at 10:25 pm

    Thanks for a very interesting article.

    However, I am curious about if your thoughts would change if you were in a 10+1 only state [like California]?

    I can have a 10 round 9mm, a 10 round .40S&W or a 10 round .45acp.

    I can get back on target fastest with 9mm, followed by .45 followed by .40S&W.

    There is NO round count advantage-it is a level playing field of the same round count. I ‘get’ that back on target is critical, but would the extra power of a .45 round be worth it at the expense of a milisecond of recovery time when compared to a 9mm?

    Or would you still recommend the 9mm in that situation?

    I am not concerned with the issue of .40 instead, as that gives me the worst recovery time [in MY hands: your mileage may vary].

    Just curious.

    Now, if I could get the full-capacity 17 round mags for my Baby Eagle 9mm and I compared that to my .45acp pistols [8-10 rounds each, depending on design], then I know your thoughts indicate the Baby Eagle is the way to go.

    [darn california politicians! if the gun was designed for that size magazine then it should be thought of as ‘standard capacity’, and 10 rounds is ‘reduced capacity’. ‘High Capacity’ is more than the gun was originally designed around! Does a Honda Civic have a high capacity fuel tank just because someone thinks 8 gallons is enough and it was made around a 11.9 gallon tank? sorry, rant over.]

  39. Rob Pincus

    October 5, 2011 at 8:30 am

    My primary reason for recommending 9mm is the recoil management issue, so I would still tend towards that rounds for most people interested in self-defense even in capacity restricted states. In a related way, I still recommend .38spcl for people carrying 5 shot revolvers, not .357 mag.


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  41. Rancho Man

    June 27, 2012 at 5:51 pm

    …Well I would say in a Nut shell…
    …Two in the Head is always better..
    …Than a hold bunch in the air …etc…

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