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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
So is shoot a G19 gen 3 as many of you know for my EDC weapon, and I thought it would be interesting, with all the claims and statements out there about which is better (9mm, 40 S&W, or 45 ACP), to try and analyze it for myself...so I formulated a test, with the help of Tnoutdoors9 (his YouTube work is very informative BTW if you haven't checked it out before).

My goal is to see how different the three calibers are in reality when compared to my 9mm 147 grain HST standard pressure loads I carry for SD, and if i should be worried that I am carrying too small a caliber for SD. I should point out that I am no professional ballistics engineer or anything, I am however concerned that I choose the best round for my self defense, and for that reason have tried to review as many rounds as I can, and for me and my G19, the 147 HST standard pressure round provided the best expansion, and most control for follow up shots (when compared to a +P load) for all the available 9mm rounds out there, so that is the basis from which I am looking at this comparison.

So for fairness I am looking at the heavy for caliber load for each caliber, standard pressure rounds only, as well as the same Manufacturer's bullet so everything is the same other than caliber and weight...the idea being to test the standard pressure round that should have the best penetration for each caliber, rather than water down the 40 or 45 so the bullet weight is closer to the best penetrating round of the 9 mm. Tnoutdoors9 has tested the three rounds I am looking at with the same medium i.e. sim test media calibrated to match ballistic gelatin.

The cartridges are the Federal HST standard pressure rounds, and the results are quite interesting:
1. 9mm 147 Federal HST standard pressure shot from a 4" barrel:
- 1,006 fps average over 5 shots.
- 13.2" of penetration.
- 0.68" of expansion (5/8" diameter).
- 1" x 3.2" stretch cavity (debatable whether the stretch cavity has any real affect on the human body since the human tissue is so elastic).
- 1" diameter wound channel.

[ame]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PNRqrJRq4T0&feature=youtube_gdata_player[/ame]

2. 40 S&W 180 Federal HST standard pressure shot from a 4" barrel:
- 1,003 fps average over 5 shots.
- 13.0" of penetration.
- 0.74" of expansion (6/8" or in other words 3/4" diameter).
- 1"x 5" stretch cavity (debatable whether the stretch cavity has any real affect on the human body since the human tissue is so elastic).
- 1" diameter wound channel.

[ame]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UWy2AB_AQYo&feature=youtube_gdata_player[/ame]

3. 45 ACP 230 Federal HST standard pressure shot from a 5" barrel:
- 891 fps average over 5 shots
- 13.75" of penetration.
- 0.89" of expansion (7/8" diameter).
- 1" x 4" stretch cavity (debatable whether the stretch cavity has any real affect on the human body since the human tissue is so elastic).
- 1" diameter wound channel.

[ame]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iWW2Y-IZpyE&feature=youtube_gdata_player[/ame]


So in reviewing this information it appears to me that the difference in penetration is negligible between the three rounds, wound channel size is the same, stretch cavity varies but from what I have found in my research the stretch cavity has negligible effects due to the elastic nature of the human body, and expansion is a difference of 2/8" over all, or 1/8" from 9mm to 40 S&W, and another 1/8" from the 40 S&W to the 45 ACP...could make a difference if that extra 1/8" ends up reaching an artery that the 9mm doesn't, but in the real world, I am not sure that difference is significant (i.e between the 9 and 40, or between the 40 and 45 there is only a 1/16" difference at either side of the expanded round, and between the 9 and 45 there is only a difference of 1/8" at both sides of the expanded round).

So with these results I have concluded that whether you shoot a 9mm, a 40 S&W, or a 45 ACP, all three calibers are certainly more than capable SD weapons. What really seems to matter is how accurately you can place the round. I have not analyzed the +P versions of these rounds to see if this makes a difference, but as for the standard pressure loads, it seems to ring true IMHO.

Feedback please, and be nice...I realize this is sacred ground for many, but we hear lots of questions about this topic, so a list of comparisons between common loads for each made sense, and I am more than open to factual evidence that might alter the above analysis..I want to ensure I'm carrying the best for my 9mm that I can after all!!!
 

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Awesome review havik, good data lay out. I have always trusted my 9mm and this kind of data just backs up my feelings. Modern ammo is truly good stuff.
 

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This is great information! Appears to backup what I've been reading here, doesn't matter which round you carry they will all do the job. Shot placement is key so better follow up shots and more rounds available seems to be ideal. Doesn't seem like any give an advantage as far as one shot stopping power, but would a slower, heavier round bring more knock down force than a lighter faster round? not sure if I'm asking this question right. All seem to make the same size hole and depth but will one knock you down first?
 

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runman said:
This is great information! Appears to backup what I've been reading here, doesn't matter which round you carry they will all do the job. Shot placement is key so better follow up shots and more rounds available seems to be ideal. Doesn't seem like any give an advantage as far as one shot stopping power, but would a slower, heavier round bring more knock down force than a lighter faster round? not sure if I'm asking this question right. All seem to make the same size hole and depth but will one knock you down first?
If it can knock the bad guy down wouldn't it knock you down? "For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction" Einstein
 

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Sounds like all three loads would work pretty well in the Real World if you do your part and place your shots. I've said for years that any major handgun caliber will be as effective as any other caliber if the shooter places his/her shots properly. Pick the gun you shoot the best, practice until you can hit what you aim at, load up with good quality ammo and stop worrying about weather or not you've got "enough" gun. Awesome review, thanks. ;)
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
runman said:
This is great information! Appears to backup what I've been reading here, doesn't matter which round you carry they will all do the job. Shot placement is key so better follow up shots and more rounds available seems to be ideal. Doesn't seem like any give an advantage as far as one shot stopping power, but would a slower, heavier round bring more knock down force than a lighter faster round? not sure if I'm asking this question right. All seem to make the same size hole and depth but will one knock you down first?
Great question, and as far as I can find from my research there are two sides to this argument:
1. A slower projectile that weighs more carries with it more momentum, and therefore even though it isn't as fast, the extra mass results in dumping more energy into the object. An example of this is being struck by a semi going 20 mph versus a mini cooper at 30 mph. While both will hurt, obviously a semi carries with it more mass, and therefore more momentum...translation more hurt on impact. Also, just like the semi, a heavier bullet will always penetrate further than a lighter one, regardless of speed, due to its momentum (obviously this ignores extreme cases like a 55 grain 223 bullet traveling at over 3,000 fps. This discussion is relating to hand gun loads only, although when considering the 223 discussion, and applying rifle ballistics to rifle ballistics, the same logic carries i.e. a 7 mm magnum 160 grain bullet traveling at 2,900 fps will out penetrate a 204 caliber 32 grain bullet traveling over 4,000 fps because of the momentum of its weight.)

2. Simple energy (i.e. velocity x mass = simple energy) is all that counts, and a lighter weight round can make up for its lack of weight by adding speed. Thus a 9mm at 124+ P running at 1,200 fps would deliver more simple energy than a 147 grain standard pressure 9mm round. For those who subscribe to this argument they argue that speed is king, but obviously the farther the gap in weight gets, the speed can only make up so much ground. For example a 22 LR runs much faster than a 45 ACP, but clearly the energy delivered on target is no comparison, since the difference in weight is so vastly different between the two rounds. Also the problem with simple energy is that when the bullet strikes the target it sheds its velocity quicker, and thereby looses penetration. Hence the reason the 9mm and 40 S&W penetrated less than the 45 ACP in the tests above even though they ran faster than the 45 ACP.

For me I would suppose that the closer you get in weight of bullet then speed defiantly makes all the difference (i.e. a 180 grain+ P 40 S&W running at 1,100 FPS & 484 foot pounds of simple energy versus a standard pressure 230 grain 45 ACP running at 900 FPS and 414 foot pounds of simple energy) the results of momentum begin to be evened out, as speed starts to make up the slight difference in bullet weight. Therefore a heavy 9mm, or a heavy 40 S&W will perform fairly evenly in comparison to a 45 ACP, and for the 40 S&W possibly exceed the 45 ACP in actual momentum.

Just my opinion.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
TNFrank said:
Sounds like all three loads would work pretty well in the Real World if you do your part and place your shots. I've said for years that any major handgun caliber will be as effective as any other caliber if the shooter places his/her shots properly. Pick the gun you shoot the best, practice until you can hit what you aim at, load up with good quality ammo and stop worrying about weather or not you've got "enough" gun. Awesome review, thanks. ;)
Well said TNFRANK, I have heard you and others say that many times...I figured I'd just prove it with facts, and from what I have found I think you have been right all along!!! Good on ya!!!
 

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Nice to see confirmation of what Dr. Roberts has posted.

I still lean towards the .45 because I just don't trust a hollowpoint to expand every time, and after reading this ARTICLE I'll keep my Glock 30, for now. :D
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Blades said:
Nice to see confirmation of what Dr. Roberts has posted.

I still lean towards the .45 because I just don't trust a hollowpoint to expand every time, and after reading this ARTICLE I'll keep my Glock 30, for now. :D
Excellent post...wish I'd seen that before, wouldn't have had to try and create my own simplified version of his very detailed report ;-)
Thanks for the info!!!
 

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Excellent post...wish I'd seen that before, wouldn't have had to try and create my own simplified version of his very detailed report ;-)
Thanks for the info!!!
Independent authentication is a good thing, keep shooting. :D
 

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Great test! I'm a 9mm guy and I always enjoy seeing an honest test that shows that they're not the pansy loads so many make them out to be :)
 

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havik72 said:
Great question, and as far as I can find from my research there are two sides to this argument:
1. A slower projectile that weighs more carries with it more momentum, and therefore even though it isn't as fast, the extra mass results in dumping more energy into the object. An example of this is being struck by a semi going 20 mph versus a mini cooper at 30 mph. While both will hurt, obviously a semi carries with it more mass, and therefore more momentum...translation more hurt on impact. Also, just like the semi, a heavier bullet will always penetrate further than a lighter one, regardless of speed, due to its momentum (obviously this ignores extreme cases like a 55 grain 223 bullet traveling at over 3,000 fps. This discussion is relating to hand gun loads only, although when considering the 223 discussion, and applying rifle ballistics to rifle ballistics, the same logic carries i.e. a 7 mm magnum 160 grain bullet traveling at 2,900 fps will out penetrate a 204 caliber 32 grain bullet traveling over 4,000 fps because of the momentum of its weight.)

2. Simple energy (i.e. velocity x mass = simple energy) is all that counts, and a lighter weight round can make up for its lack of weight by adding speed. Thus a 9mm at 124+ P running at 1,200 fps would deliver more simple energy than a 147 grain standard pressure 9mm round. For those who subscribe to this argument they argue that speed is king, but obviously the farther the gap in weight gets, the speed can only make up so much ground. For example a 22 LR runs much faster than a 45 ACP, but clearly the energy delivered on target is no comparison, since the difference in weight is so vastly different between the two rounds. Also the problem with simple energy is that when the bullet strikes the target it sheds its velocity quicker, and thereby looses penetration. Hence the reason the 9mm and 40 S&W penetrated less than the 45 ACP in the tests above even though they ran faster than the 45 ACP.

For me I would suppose that the closer you get in weight of bullet then speed defiantly makes all the difference (i.e. a 180 grain+ P 40 S&W running at 1,100 FPS & 484 foot pounds of simple energy versus a standard pressure 230 grain 45 ACP running at 900 FPS and 414 foot pounds of simple energy) the results of momentum begin to be evened out, as speed starts to make up the slight difference in bullet weight. Therefore a heavy 9mm, or a heavy 40 S&W will perform fairly evenly in comparison to a 45 ACP, and for the 40 S&W possibly exceed the 45 ACP in actual momentum.

Just my opinion.
Again, great information. There are so many factors that go into these things it is great to see somebody confirming all the things one reads. Appreciate you doing the tests and taking the time to share.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
runman said:
Again, great information. There are so many factors that go into these things it is great to see somebody confirming all the things one reads. Appreciate you doing the tests and taking the time to share.
No problem runnan, glad it helped.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Blades said:
Nice to see confirmation of what Dr. Roberts has posted.

I still lean towards the .45 because I just don't trust a hollowpoint to expand every time, and after reading this ARTICLE I'll keep my Glock 30, for now. :D
P.S. Blades, don't take my 9mm love affair as a sign that a 45ACP doesn't stack up. I am in fact a huge G30 fan as well. I am just comforted that the 9mm is not nearly as weak as it is sometimes portrayed.
 

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P.S. Blades, don't take my 9mm love affair as a sign that a 45ACP doesn't stack up. I am in fact a huge G30 fan as well. I am just comforted that the 9mm is not nearly as weak as it is sometimes portrayed.
:)
No worries, we all know that "pistols suck", we just have to do our best with what we decide to carry. I still would like to slip a Kel-Tec PF9 in my front pocket, it would fit better then my G30sf, and give me a nice "New York" reload if my G30sf is on my hip. :D

[ame]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=42-hok8IjQQ[/ame]
 
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