Gun Reports - Special Reports
9mm Is Overwhelming 'Yes' Choice in GunReports Survey
July 1, 2010
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(GunReports.com) -- A recent tabulation of 529 respondents to a GunReports.com survey question, Is the 9mm suitable for self defense? showed a strong preference for the round. However, almost all respondents added comments to qualify their 'yes' votes, said GRs sales manager Gene Taylor.
We counted 467 'yes' votes for the 9mm and 62 'no' votes for the 9mm, said Taylor. Thats a decisive win for the 9mm, of course, with 88 percent of GunReports.coms users voting for it.
More than 200 voters left comments, and those comments broke down into wide areas of agreement about the effectiveness of the 9mm. However, the bulk of those comments centered on the 9mm being suitable for self defense when the right bullets were used.
Dahlgrenjohn wrote, I would by preference use a .45, but would feel adequately armed with a 9mm with proper defensive ammo.
AlexG wrote, "I have more faith in the reliability of my 9mm than my 45, and I like the 17-shot capacity of the 9mm over the 8 shots of .45."
"Yes, I would use the 9mm for defense. As long as you are not using ball ammo, and well for that matter, it still beats throwing rocks!" wrote Tommy (respondents names have been redacted in most cases to protect their privacy).
No voters largely echoed the sentiments of Richard V: Look at the FBI shootout in Florida years ago. That should give you your answer.
John wrote, I work in public service in a city of 250,00. Most of our PD carry 40 cal or 45. I carry 40 or 45 concealed. My wifes pistol is a 9mm - shes 115 pounds and 5 feet 1 inch tall."
But 'Lar' echoed the dominant theme of 9mm voters: My yes on 9mm is with a caveat. It assumes adequate bullet speed, construction and weight. 115-grain FMJ plinker ammo is not generally adequate for self defense. I would go a 124-147 grain premium bullet. Probably hollow point with a speed of at least 1200 ft/sec. Whether you go with a 9mm or a larger caliber round such as the 40 S&W or a 45 ACP, gun control and shot placement are most important.
"Fear the man who only has one gun and knows how to use it. A 9mm or 45 caliber hole in the heart/lungs or head are probably equally deadly. 9mm is fairly cheap in 115 grain bulk ammo. Good for practice and plinking. 9mm handguns are usually higher in round capacity and good for us with small hands. Most shooters I know, who have a 9mm also have a larger caliber gun as well making the argument somewhat moot.
More GunReports.com user views follow below.
9mm YES VOTERS COMMENTS
Yes, I believe that the 9mm is enough for self-defense. While it would be wrong to think it is the only tool in the bag, it is equally mistaken to remove the "tool" of 9mm's from the "bag" of self-defense all-together. Every item, tool or caliber will have pros and cons, and the 9mm is no exception. But to suggest that it is without any self-defense merit would be grossly incorrect.--ClipInMag
I've always been a .45 ACP 1911 man, until recently. I have purchased a Wilson Combat Sentinel 1911 in 9mm. It has a 3 1/2 inch match barrel with Wilson tritium low profile sights. After firing the compact 9mm for accuracy I was absolutely blown away by the accuracy of the Wilson Combat pistol and from a 3 1/2 inch barrel, it's the most accurate 1911 I've ever shot and very low recoil. I was shooting 124gr FMJ. The target was 20 yards and had a 4-inch bullseye. My first three 8-round magazines were all in the bullseye. I was shooting standing, slow fire. I could not believe my not-so-young eyes. I had ordered three magazines because I intend this to be my new everyday carry pistol, plus it's more convenient to load three magazines at a time. Now I plan to order three more!
My decision to buy a 9mm was based on the reliabilty of the Wilson Combat pistol, but I would not have bought a 9mm Compact 1911 if it was not for the advent of the new advanced ballistics in 9mm ammunition. With the new 9mm factory ammo from Hornady, 9mm 115-gr Critical Defense and 147-gr HP XTP TAP FPD. Also the Winchester Bonded PDX1 124-gr 9mm + P and 147-gr regular 9mm.
With these four choices alone, I feel that I am adequately armed with the best 9mm ammunition that I can buy. Not to mention hollowpoints by Black Hills, Remington and Speer and a few others. After carrying a 1911 45 for many years, I don't hardly feel the 9mm on my hip. Now that I'm retired, I don't have to worry about what attire I'll wear with the compact 1911. I'm sold on Bill Wilson's Compact 9mm 1911, I don't think I can find a better compact 1911 anywhere. I know the controversy of 9mm vs 45 ACP will go on long after I'm gone. All I can tell you is, I sure as hell would not want to be on the receiving end of any of the ammo I mentioned above!--Semper Fidelis, Anthony G.
Speaking of 9s, 99.9% of the people (including me, who owns and shoots several 9s), have never used a 9mm in actual self defense. Therefore, most opinions about the effectiveness of the 9mm are opinions, not science. One may deduce, however, that the longevity of the round suggests that it is effective, albeit not potent, as a 40 caliber, for example. Yes, a well placed .45 or .40 is going to plant more foot pounds of energy than a 9mm load. Frankly, I want to hear what people who have used the 9MM in personal combat have to report.-- Lefty 9
Some want to qualify the 9mm with a load or bullet weight. I'll play that one also: RBCD Performance Plus, Inc. Ammunition, http://www.rbcd.net/. Stand by to be impressed! Its NOT Cheap. Its NOT plinking ammo. However, when you score, the bad guys lose!-- Quikdrawspop
Yes, the 9mm is enough for self defense, but only with the right bullets. No FMJ bullet other than Frangible bullets should be used with the 9mm as a self defense load. --Barry W [Ed. note: Barry also contributed this great advice. 3 Rules of Gunfighting: 1. Bring a gun. Preferably, bring at least two. 2. Anything worth shooting is worth shooting twice. 3. Only Hits Count--You can't miss fast enough to win a gunfight.
Love my XD9. Easy to carry, still a little heavy, but I put over 1000 rounds through it and have full confidence in its reliability and its power. May not stop a drug-crazed elephant, but it will slow it down long enough for me to hall butt. --Dave B
Shot placement over round size. If you don't hit your target, it doesn't matter if you are using a .22 or a 12 ga. If you do hit the target, then a 9mm will do the job. As with any other round, you keep shooting till the threat stops.--JB
I'd run and duck if someone was shooting a pellet pistol at me.--Art&Su
We humans are much more fragile than TV and movies make us out to be. Whether or not the 9mm is a good defensive round will be debated forever! It has been for the last 35 years, since Col. Cooper put it down and claimed the 45 ACP King.. Mind you, I am a 45 ACP fan to boot. But I also love the 9mm since the 70s and my Hi-Power given to me by my father.--John M.
I prefer and carry a Glock 23 but mostly practice with a 9mm of the same make to save on ammo cost. However, I would not feel "inadequate" with the nine and its eighteen round if loaded with a good self-defense round build to penetrate heavy clothing. My 23 is loaded with Hornady Critical Defense loads and so would the nine if I carried it.--Briley
Yes, although I prefer .40 cal., the 9mm is more than sufficient. Accuracy and the ability to recognize how and when to react are more important than cartridge size. --Steve Z
I wouldn't stand in front of it!--Eric K
Unless I have a .45 handy.--Doc
With modern expanding bullets, the 9mm is a fine choice. With ball ammo, I'll pass. Just ask a serviceman who had to shoot someone with 9mm ball. Years ago, my dad was involved with an law enforement officer shooting. 2 officers with shot with 9mm ball ammo & both stayed in the fight. One was shot in the head, the bullet bounced off. The other cop was gut shot. They were able to return fire. I carried a Sig P226 with dept issue Hydroshock ammo & never felt undergunned. I do, however, prefer 40 S&W, 357 Sig & 45 ACP. The only caliber I can think of that I would trust with ball ammo is a 45 ACP.--Jeff
The 9mm round has been around over 100 years. It has been used in every war in those 100 years. There are a lot of dead people because of it. The answer is so obviously, Yes!--Steve C
While .45 cal is certainly the better manstopper, a good +P 9mm round in JHP or FMJE is absolutely sufficient for self defense (provided you are trained and practice enough to respond effectively when it hits the fan). Additionally, if you are likely to encounter multiple attackers, the higher capacity is a huge plus.--Marc The Pig
Yes, it's enough, and it doesn't kick so hard that I'll be able to get off another shot or two. Unlike in Hollywood, the bad guys more often than not need more than one hit before they stop being bad.--Kevin H
Yes, the 9mm is enough for self defense -- I carry my Kahr PM9 with Federal Hi-Shock 115gr JHPs and a spare mag everywhere it is legal to do so.--enbarnes
Yes, the 9mm is enough for self defense. And yes, I'd hedge that with "proper ammunition selection and adequate training" - too often the 9mm caliber choice is made on the basis of "low recoil for new shooters" which means "non-shooters." Don't carry it if you won't practice with it. I have a tiny .380 ACP I infrequently carry (2-3 days a year), but I shoot it at least 4 times a year (100 rds total). My normal carry is a small 357 Sig, you better believe I shoot that a LOT. --brianinca
I can hit all day long, under stress, with my 9mm. Only hits count, so Ill leave the thunder from my .357 in the safe when its time to fight.--JC
Carried a Glock 19 for many years. Loved it. Switched to a Glock 30 in .45 ACP. Now back to the Glock 19. More bullets gives me more options for the same weight.--Joe C
CZ-75, with three 19-round MecGar anti-friction coated magazines loaded up with 19 rounds of 9mm Luger 147grain JHP bonded Winchester PDX1. Hell, yeah!--Cekestner
I think one round--even poorly placed would discourage most anyone. Double tap will cause severe shock and would most surely put someone down. As for the occasional doped-up-gypsy my Taurus can count to 16 quicker than he/she can. There is always the old 12 gauge with rifled slugs---but damned the house cleaning after that!--Dave S
I reload 9mm and use 147 grain HP bullets form Precision Delta. I also load my ammo hot so I get an appreciable power factor. With this load I get great power with the weight and recoil of a 45 ACP. --Neil O
Folks often think only a Sherman tank will provide enough knock-down power, forgetting it is all about hits not impact. I have no concern being armed with a 9mm that fits me well and that I shoot well.--Leverman47
As a Paramedic of nearly 15 years I've been to a few shootings and seen everything from hit with a .22 in the head and FTD (fixin' to die) to a 12 guage to an extremity, survivable. The chest and head shots varied but it seemed that the round needed to hit the brain, a major vessel in the chest or other vital area. The most memorable instant incapacitations were a .357 magnum to the head self inflicted and a 9mm to the center chest. In the case of the 9mm to the chest in was two elderly cousins arguing over a woman. I only know the caliber from hearing LEOs talk about it, in the cases of other shootings I had no idea the caliber the patient had been hit with.--Wayne S
I carry a Kahr P9 as my main carry gun. Some times I even go with a Sterling .22 or .25. All will be efficient if you have good placement shots. In Winter months I carry a Baby Eagle in 40 S & W. --Lord Pervy
For me it's simple: With arthritis in both hands, the 9 mm is the most recoil I can tolerate with the regular practice that I do to make sure I can hit where it counts.--B
My son depended on it in Araq. I depend on it also. A number of self defense loads are available.--Dennis C
I have chronographed over a dozen 124gr factory loads in 9mm. The best is Speer Gold Dot Short barrel hollopoints +p+. They are going between 1150 and 1200 fps. That's pretty close to what the old .38 wadcutters used to get, and as a bonus you get a nice hollowpoint that will expand. Sure it's not a .45, or a .44magnum, but it is good enough to take out just about any attacker you will meet on the street. Being able to hit the target in the center mass is much more important than the size of the bullet. Heavier recoiling bullets make a shooter who is under stress more likely to miss.--Malarkey IV
The .38 Special was the standard police/self defense round for nearly a century, and the 9mm is around 25% more powerful with the same diameter bullet. Why wouldn't it be sufficient?--Walter M
As a retired law enforcement officer I was carrying a .40 for a duty weapon when I retired and I habitually carried a compact .45 a.c.p. for an off-duty weapon. With this history, I may have been prejudiced against the 9mm as a personal protection round. However, when I got a great buy on a used Kahr PM9 that weighed about 1/3 as much as my old favorite .45, I did quite a bit of research on the 9mm caliber. With +P hollowpoint loads the 9mm has a good record as a fight stopper when rounds are placed properly on target. No handgun caliber practical for concealed carry is a fight stopper when rounds are not properly on target. I found that I could quickly and accurately place rounds on target out to 25 yards with the little Kahr. I found that a F.I.S.T. Tuckable holster allows comfortable concealed carry under all reasonable conditions. I own a .40 and I still have my .45 but I have been carrying the 9mm comfortably and confidently, loaded with +P 124 grain hollowpoints, for four years now and dont plan on going back to a heavier caliber. --W.L.K.
The nine will do the job just fine. The only reason for a larger caliber or expanding bullets is to up the odds of hitting something vital like an artery, spine, nerve bundle, heart etc. Shooting someone and watching them immediately fall down is very dramatic and looks good on TV and in the movies but in real life seldom happens. Those of us who hunt know we need non expanding bullets to create two holes to promote the bleeding necessary to bring the critter down. So a nine with ball ammo can put that second hole in the perp which if you miss the ticker or head or spine will cause him to be incapacitated faster than a single hole from a slow moving 45 with hollow points.--KHS
I think the 9mm caliber is marginal at best for self defense. It's the absolute minimum caliber I would carry as a primary self-defense weapon. However, that being said, ANYTHING is better than nothing!--Peace, Dragondog
1. The vast majority of real world situations involving handgun usage occur at close quarters, and sometimes at medium distance. 2. At these close distances the 9mm certainly provides more than mere sufficient stopping power. 3. Do not confuse "stopping" power with "obliterating" power. Sure the .45 is more powerful, but so is the .50 cal. The question here is not which caliber has "better" stopping power but rather does the 9 mm have "sufficient" stopping power. I predict that many readers will confuse these two issues when addressing this question. 4. In addition, the 9mm is a caliber that by it's nature provides room for additional ammunition capacity. Although the vast majority of engagements will occur at close quarters there are times when additional rounds may be needed to force your opponent to keep his head down. Even if he is just across the street and attempting to stick his head from behind a car and fire at you. These suppression rounds can buy time for an escape, for innocents to get out of the way, or for backup to arrive. 5. In the end placement of rounds counts most, and the proper placement of a 9mm round into the right part of the body will certainly be effective, let alone sufficient.--Lt. Willam J.
9mm Parabellum is the perfect self-defense round if properly chosen. The 147 grain hollow point bullet loaded to +P specs is more than sufficient to stop an intruder. If the defender has been trained and practices even on an irregular schedule, will successfully defend himself and his loved ones. My preferred technique to practice is two rounds to the body mass (thorax) and one round to the head. I hope I never have to utilize my training, but one has to be prepared.--Ronald F
I've always been a .45 ACP man, but with the introduction of better 9mm self defense ammo I think a 9 mm pistol or revolver would be adquate for self defense. There will always be pros and cons on this subject, all I know is I sure as heck would not want to be shot with a 9mm no matter what type ammo or when it was made. --sgtyates
The lighter frangible (Magsafe, Glaser) or plus-P (up to 124 grain) are OK, some approach 357 mag energy. 147 grain is too slow/low energy and anything in FMJ is a waste of time. 357 sig is much better, almost all of the bullet weights and velocities are good. Same comments for 40 S&W, 180 grain JHP and any FMJ dont work there either.--Bill Brick
This is a qualified "yes". With FMJ, the answer is no. Over penetration and lack of energy transfer means that unless a critical area (heart, brain, spinal chord, or major artery) is hit, the target will probably remain functional and a threat, so repeated shots may be required. However, using modern self defense loads changes all that, and makes the 9mm a perfectly capable self defense round.--Boogerscat
Much of the bad rep that 9MM has gotten has come from the use by the military of FMJ ammo.. When quality JHP self defense rounds are used the difference between 45, 40 cal and 9MM shrinks. In the vast majority of cases people can control the recoil of a 9MM better than either 45 or 40 caliber. This allows quicker and more accurate multiple shots. Shot placement trumps everything. A 22 short in the brain stem will shut a person down. In any case the only reason we use a pistol is an inability to carry a rifle or a shotgun. Even those will not always put a threat down. In my classes I ask my students if they would want to face a predator (lion, tiger, bear, etc) that is capable of killing them with a 45 or a 40 cal. Most will respond NO.--Jim Berry, JB Training LLC
Gents: Yes, I think the 9mm round is enough for self-defense. As an Army veteran, I generally agree with the old maxim about never using a round that doesn't start with a "4." All things being equal, you can always trust a .40, .44, .45 ACP or .45 Long Colt to get the job done. But, when it comes to self-defense, things are often not equal. If I'm trying to defend myself or my family in my own home, I'm going to either pick up a revolver or semi-automatic chambered in .40 cal. or higher. That's assuming that a 12-gauge pump shotgun isn't handy. But it's when you need to defend yourself while out and about that all things really aren't equal. Given the in's and out's of the concealed carry laws in most states, the onus is really on the gun owner to keep his or her weapon hidden while out in public. That often makes carrying a large frame semi-automatic or revolver impractical, particularly during the summer months. It's those circumstances that make the 9mm ideal for self-defense in a conceal-carry situation. You can argue about the ballistics of the 9mm round all day long, but any round that you can actually carry is better than one you can't carry. Many compact pistols chambered for 9mm are small and light enough to conceal while dressed in anything other than a bathing suit. And the 9mm round is light enough to carry a spare magazine without being weighed down like a pack mule. Finally, if 16 rounds of 9mm aren't sufficient to resolve any self-defense situation, it's doubtful that eight rounds of .40 or .45 would have saved you either.-- Charlie S
With modern ammunition, the 9mm is an adequate tool for personal self defense. All 'fighting' caliber handguns have limitations, the 9mm no more so than any other. It's small allowing higher capacity & smaller frame guns, mild recoil allowing faster follow up shots, tapered case assists in reliable feeding. One shot handgun stops are the stuff of fairy tails - keep shooting until the threat is extinguished. I'd much rather put three or four 9mm rounds into a threat than one .45 --JR
I would not hesitate to carry a 9mm pistol, loaded with a modern hollowpoint round, for self-defense. Note that a standard-pressure 9x19mm round typically generates about 380 foot-pounds at the muzzle, as compared to somewhere in the vicinity of 200 foot-pounds for a standard-pressure .38 Special and somewhere near 250 foot-pounds for a +P .38 Special. While there are some studies suggesting a major enhancement in performance when the 500 foot-pound threshold is crossed, there is also a crossover point where one may not be able to place bullets as well with the greater recoil, particularly if one is not able to fire from a conventional, two-handed, upright position.--Stephen P
Some years ago I had to do a lot of research on both the 9mm and the .45acp as my department was about to switch over to semi-autos from revolvers. There are many factors involved but the over all facts lead to the 9mm being the top round. The surprising fact was I could find as many failures of the .45 acp in stopping aggression as I could for the 9mm. The old adage was the .45 acp would drop anyone hit in their little finger which of course is just not true. We adopted the 9mm and the police 9mm +P+ round and have not had a problem with the firearms or the ammunition. Both have worked excellent.--Lt. B. McAskill, Portsmouth Police, Ret.
Let's face facts folks, we've seen significant improvements in the design, manufacture, ballistic performance and expansion of ammunition over the past 30 years. The rounds that count are the ones that hit the target, so if you can get rounds on target with a 9mm, even the much maligned "ball" round, you stand a much better chance of eliminating the threat than those claiber snob dinosaurs who still preach the luddite mantra of ".45 or nothing"! --Joe Squiz
I am a firm believer in shot placement over caliber size. Additionally, as far as self defense is concerned there is a difference between a rounds ability to stop a threat and a rounds ability to kill. Although the 9mm may not be the best round in kill ratios, I believe it is an adequate self defense round to stop a threat.--Robert J, U.S. Air Force
9mm 'NO' VOTERS COMMENTS
Actually, I'd use a .22, a knife, a stick, a rock or anything else I had handy to defend myself. That being said, I would rather have a .40 or .45 than a 9mm if I had my choice in a self defense situation. There's too much anecdotal evidence that 9mm rounds are just not as effective in stopping an attacker. A .357 magnum round would also be a good choice except for the fact I might end up shooting my next door neighbors.--Rick M
A larger caliber bullet stands a better chance of eliminating the threat with fewer shots on target.--Rocktop378
During the summer Yes however, during the fall, winter and early spring here in states that require heavy winter clothes and/or multiple layers No (hence my answer in the subject line).--Todd D
Unless you shoot 'em in the head box.--Seadog
I've read too many stories about a 9mm not being powerful enough to stop an attacker. Some times they work but more often then not they don't.-- Mark W
Better than nothing, of course, and for most of us better than a knife. But I'd prefer at least a .40 or .45.--Jack
Certainly, its better than nothing. I bought my EMP in .40 S&W, and dont own a single 9mm. When I finally buy a 9mm (hopefully in the near future), it will be to shoot centerfire at less cost than .40s or .45s.--Paul
Actually, a 9mm was my first self defense gun. After becoming acceptably proficient, I tried a 45ACP and liked the bigger holes. I found that the recoil was not offensive and I could control it. I also stepped up to the SA XD and enjoy the larger magazine. It feels good in my hand and does a good job of hitting the target.--AGN
9mm is useless unless you're an expert shot and use +P and a premium hollow point. --Michael
Being fortunate to never have had to use a handgun for self defense, my personal preference is the .45. It may hold less rounds, but big heavy bullets stop big bad guys faster. --Sniff
I prefer calibers that start with .4 for any occasion. That is why the only 9mm I own is next to an identical Llama Omni in .45 cal. --Brian M.
We can intelligently argue all day long about if a 9mm is adequate for self defense. The best gun is the one that you have on you when needed. I lived in Charleston SC for quite sometime, and the normal summer dress of shorts and a tucked in golf shorts just did not permit much more than a .380. I say carry the biggest you can conceal, but make sure you have something!--David H
I would never use a round to defend my family and my life that I would not use deer hunting and I have never had a deer shoot at me ,yet. Anything less than a .357 mag. is just hoping you will survive. I carried a .357 mag. as a service weapon and sometimes I would catch it from other officers because I only had six rounds and they had fourteen. I just replied that since they were taught to double tap and I only needed one solid hit to end the threat I was able to engage up to six targets and they could only engage seven and they would take a lot longer doing it. I carried two speed loaders and could reload in about 1.5 sec., a lot of practice, and still engage a seventh target as fast as they could. Falling plate targets made believers of some of them. LOL One solid hit- bingo- next target while they fired two and three shots sometimes. I did not see their point at all.
Second I could engage a target behind a barricade that they could not, such as a car door. That gives the bad guys a false sense of security as my bullet will exit the car door with as much energy as the baby nine had at the muzzle. I had a much better chance of a disabling hit through auto glass also.
Large capicity mags encourage the spray and pray mode also. Spray a lot of bullets and pray one of them hits the target. The officers can often be more of a threat to the public than the bad guys they are after.--Nimrod666
Even though 9mm is a formidable round, and it most likely would incapacitate a "regular" attacker, it just doesn't have enough ftlb if you need it. By "regular" attacker I mean one that is NOT high on PCP or another drug that will make them a "superman" when fired at. I have read to many reports from officers that recant a situation where more than a whole clip was needed to stop the attacker before getting to the officer.--Jeff C.
Will a 9mm stop a threat? Probably. But it is better to be cautious on the side of excess than the other. If you fire at someone, the intent is to kill because your only firing due to your life being in immediate danger. I feel it's better to stop a threat with the least amount of rounds....less chance of a round getting away from you, and more rounds in your gun in case you need them. Minimally I carry my .40 or .45, but usually I carry my Ruger Super Redhawk Alaskan .454. A 3.5" barrel makes it very comfortable even for an IWB holster. I have been carrying for 20 years, and I can't count how many professionals advise carrying the largest caliber you can. If you have to carry a 9mm, then at least get the best carry ammo you can afford. --J. Cedar
If you can guarantee shot placement right between the eyes every time, sure the 9mm is adequate for self defense, even a .22 is adequate. And to be perfectly honest, it takes a real moron to continue the engagement after having been shot, even once by anything, if youre talking self defense, not combat. But face it, morons are becoming the norm, so if you cant guarantee shot placement, the next most important thing you can do is make as big a hole as possible, dumping as much energy as possible into the target, and that requires something bigger than a 9mm. --Chas.