9mm vs 45 acp

9mm vs 45 ACP: Settling The Long Debate Comparison

Truth be told, the sole reason why the long debate about 9mm vs 45 ACP is still not settled yet is that the winner is based on a shooter’s personal preferences. After all, both the 9mm and 45 ACP have a fair share of advantages and flaws. You can’t just be mad if one shooter doesn’t share the same opinion as you because personal shooting needs is the one that significantly matters in making a choice between the two.

Remarkably, one of the most popular long-debate in the firearms community is the topic of 9mm vs 45 ACP. Most likely, the discussion in comparing the two seems never-ending and heated since you can even see the long argument in popular firearm community forums and threads online. It is easy to see the superiority of 9mm and 45 ACP with everything included in the long and heated debate. Despite every perk the two offers, personal preferences still play a crucial role in determining which handgun is better. 

This guide will help you settle your choice between 9mm and 45 ACP. You can expect an excellent objective look at the 9mm vs 45 ACP debate, comparing everything about them, such as history, ballistics, advantages, disadvantages, and other relevant comparison factors. Let’s get to know more about these two personal defense handgun calibers, starting with the specs. Brace yourself as you can see more information than you imagine. Let’s get started. 

9mm vs 45 ACP: Specs

Take a look at the must-know specifications that 9mm and 45 ACP can offer: 

9mm Specs45 ACP Specs
Case TypeRimless, taperedRimless, straight
Case Length0.754 of an inch0.898 of an inch
Capacity0.3393 of an inch.6811 of an inch
Weight115 to 147 grains165 to 230 grains
Bullet Diameter0.355 of an inch0.452 of an inch
Average Round Velocity1,200 feet per second830 feet per second

Now, let’s dive deeper but go back to the basics with 9mm and 45 ACP. With that said, let’s tackle quick history and introduction with the two. Going back to basics might help you decide what’s great to choose, you never know until you do.

45 acp vs 9mm

Quick Introduction and History of 9mm and 45 ACP

Here’s what to know with the quick introduction and history of 9mm and 45 ACP. Let’s start with 9mm. 


Highly praised for being compact and easy to handle, it is no wonder why 9mm has made a solid reputation and become one of the most popular rounds in the world. Originally designed by Georg Luger, the 9mm cartridge is the result of the early design of 7.65x21mm Parabellum and 7.65x25mm Borchardt. Ever since it was introduced, 9mm has gained a place in the British Small Arms Committee, United States Army, and the German Navy. Some simply tested it until it was fully adopted. 

With how popular the 9mm has become, it gained different names, including 9x19mm Parabellum, 9x19mm NATO, and 9mm Luger. Some opt to simply call it 9mm. Nowadays, 9mm has been one of the best options for self-defense purposes and is generally used by police agencies and civilians. Not only that, but 9mm also currently has popularity being one of the most popular handgun and submachine gun ammunition, thanks to its high availability and low cost. 

Additionally, 9mm is designed as a rimless, tapered cartridge that boasts lightweight and small construction. This enables more bullet capacity. Because of that, 9mm is also highly dependable in stressful situations, as a large number of shots are often missed. Today, it stands strong as the standard cartridge for the NATO forces and comes with high suitability for concealed carry weapons because they are a lot easier to handle. 

45 ACP

The 45 ACP is the result of improved pistol rounds. Basically, it is an innovation and has great overall quality. While the 45 ACP is popular for several good reasons, it is well-known best for having excellent stopping power, accuracy, and reliability. It is continuously praised for its exceptional stopping power, which helped it have a place in the U.S. Army, Navy, and Marine Corps. 

Interestingly, the 45 ACP cartridge has gone through impressive modifications and redesigns, which are meant for further improvement. And this is why many are impressed with the 45 ACP cartridge version we have today. Hence, there is no wonder why it has been ideal for use with a suppressor/silencer or submachine guns, following its popularity in law enforcement, military, and civilian shooting circles.

Certainly, 9mm and 45 ACP share the popularity of being the two of the most popular and in-demand semi-auto handgun calibers worldwide. This is the reason why it is not surprising that they are well-received by die-hard shooters, following more good reasons to back up their good impression to 9mm and 45 ACP. More than that, they also excel as a self-defense round. When they are used to the right placement, they won’t disappoint you in defending your life when that fateful moment arises.

With everything that is said above, it is quite challenging to say if one is really superior to the other. Now that some of the common similarities between 9mm and 45 ACP are already discussed, let’s move on to comparing them. 

9mm vs 45

9mm vs 45 ACP: The Complete Comparison

When it comes to shooting a firearm, it is surely critical to use an ideal cartridge. Also, you must know that your proficiency in carrying and shooting as the shooter is important. Controlling the recoil to get an accurate hit is also another crucial factor. For these reasons, it is hard to deny that choosing the right cartridge is definitely an essential responsibility. 

Let’s have a quick look at the comparison table about 9mm vs 45 ACP. You can get to learn more about them if you explore the information below. So, don’t go elsewhere; just discover the must-know details about the 9mm vs 45 ACP discussed below.

9mm45 ACP
Size and WeightSmaller, lighter, and compactLarger, heavier, and has the ability to hold more gun power
CapacityHas higher more ammo capacity, from 6 to 20 roundsHas less bullet capacity, from 6 to 14 rounds
RecoilLess recoilComparably has more recoil
Penetration and ExpansionHas more penetration but less expansion. Better for outdoor applicationsHas less penetration but more expansion. Better for indoor applications
VelocityHas higher velocityHas lesser velocity due to the larger size
Power/BallisticsOffers higher velocity and more penetrationOffers larger expansion and power
SuppressedHas effective noise reduction but less accuracy advantageTypically create louder noises. The accuracy is not affected by suppressor
Stopping PowerTypically requires more shots to effectively stop a threatHas more knockdown power and usually takes fewer rounds to stop a threat
Cost and AvailabilityTypically more affordableA little more expensive

9mm vs 45 ACP: Size and Weight

There is no doubt that bullet size is a big influential determiner regarding shooting performances. That’s another known fact in the world of firearms. What makes the bullet size more crucial is that it can also give a clear idea about what to expect in muzzle velocity, action on impact, and many other factors. More than that, the size equals the amount of gunpowder in a cartridge, which impacts the shooting results. 

Under the general rule, a larger cartridge means more gunpowder. Having more gunpowder means more power once released from the chamber. That’s why it makes sense why shooters who want bigger shooting impacts choose bigger-sized bullets. Also, bigger and heavier bullets are equipped with more stopping power. And these are great advantages. 

The easy way to determine the size and weight of a cartridge is through a unit called grains. In the above table, the 9mm and 45 ACP are already closely compared. In nature, 9mm is smaller and more compact, resulting in less power and gunpowder. Meanwhile, the 45 ACP is comparably larger, wider, and heavier, having a greater ability to hold more gunpowder while also boasting more stopping power. 

Whether you want a more powerful shooting advantage and stopping power or not, the choice is solely in your hands. What’s important is you reflect on what you need since you already know what 9mm and 45 ACP can offer regarding size and weight that influences shooting strength and stopping power. 

9mm handguns

9mm vs 45 ACP: Magazine Capacity

One of the most popular facts about 9mm vs 45 ACP is that 9mm magazines have a higher capacity compared to their 45 ACP counterparts. It is already discussed in the comparison table above that 9mm allows you to have six to 20 cartridges in the magazine, while 45 ACP can only provide you with only up to 14 rounds.

Nonetheless, this capacity fact doesn’t automatically make the 45 ACP the inferior one since there are gun owners who can work with lower capacity, especially those shooters who have the best shooting skills. That said, this factor is ultimately up to personal preference. 

When it comes to self-defense situations, equipping yourself with a 9mm enables you to be provided with a higher capacity. More capacity means you will stay in a shooting fight longer, with less risk of forcing you to result in a hand-to-hand combat fight. Thanks to higher capacity, 9mm has the distinct advantage for shooters who will always pick more bullets over less.

9mm vs 45 ACP: Recoil

One of the top influential components in getting accurate shots is the ability to control the gun. Definitely, it is a significant factor, especially when shooting consecutively. This is when the conflict starts with larger and heavier bullets since they tend to have more aggressive recoil, which can cause issues with missing targets. More than that, aggressive recoil energy can lead to safety issues, especially when you are unaware. This can discourage you in terms of shooting heavier and larger bullets. 

If the topic of the 9mm vs 45 ACP debate is centered on recoil, 45 ACP will be on the negative side, especially for first-time shooters. Since 45 ACP is relatively larger and heavier, a larger pushback is expected. This means that having more power also comes with more aggressive recoil, which gives a solid reason for some first-time shooters to switch on a less powerful one, which is the 9mm. If you have never handled a handgun before, starting with a 9mm makes a better experience. 

In comparison, a 9mm cartridge has approximately half the felt recoil of the 45 ACP. It fires lighter at a higher velocity, causing only quick and low recoil. Because of that, it is a lot easier to do follow-up shots using 9mm. Plus, getting sights back on target is quicker with a 9mm cartridge. Low and less recoil means advantages regarding the accuracy and shot placement. A must-know about shot placement is that it is a vital key to stopping a threat, which only gives an additional point for 9mm. After all, it can guarantee better shooting fundamentals and follow-up shots. 

As for actual performance, many shooters have discovered that 9mm provides more accurate shooting results while generally causing less recoil. With more gentle shooting advantages, 9mm can let you focus more on shooting fundamentals, including sight alignment, grip, stance, and trigger control. Frankly, you will like shooting better using 9mm since it will not trouble you, especially since 45 ACP requires adjustment with practice to handle it better to ensure the shooting results you actually want to achieve. 

If you have already decided that 45 ACP is a better choice for being more powerful due to its ability to hold more gunpowder, this discussion about recoil surely causes a mess with your decision. Truly, there are a lot of influential factors to contemplate on choosing between 9mm and 45 ACP. Ultimately, your shooting skills can help make a decision here since 9mm is better for first-time shooters, while 45 ACP is a lot more ideal for those with better shooting skills. 

Want to challenge your shooting skills? You can go wrong trying 45 ACP. Nonetheless, no judgment here if you choose to settle with 9mm of how gentle it is for a shooter and let you improve your shooting fundamentals first. 


9mm vs 45 ACP: Penetration and Expansion

With penetration and expansion, the 9mm vs 45 ACP debate becomes more interesting since the two deliver different shooting results. Using 9mm is quite comfortable to use in most applications. But it might be too much to use because of its high penetration. In fact, it can cause expanded damage when used indoors. 

On the other hand, the 45 ACP has less risk when it comes to bullets going through walls. With how it can help with shooting performance, many preferred it better for home defense applications. Based on the comparison table above, 9mm and 45 ACP are exactly the opposite of one another. To be specific, 9mm has more penetration but less expansion, making it better for outdoors applications. Once again, it is exactly the opposite of 45 ACP since it has less penetration but more expansion. Hence, it is for indoor use. 

9mm vs 45 ACP: Velocity and Accuracy

With 9mm vs 45 ACP in terms of velocity and accuracy, many express the difficulty with comparing these two handgun calibers based on these factors. According to the general rule in firearms, the higher velocity, the better the trajectory. A bullet with a higher velocity will most likely go on a straight line farther distances than those bullets with lower velocities. There is no other best choice for long-range shooting purposes other than those with higher velocities. 

Regarding accuracy, 9mm and 45 ACP have a close level of accuracy. There is not much significant difference. What makes them distinctive from one another is their velocity. Since 9mm relatively fires lighter at a higher velocity, there will be fewer bullets dropping over distance—this absolutely makes it a better choice for long-range shots. Truth be told, it is unlikely to be taking shots with 9mm over 25 yards. Nonetheless, the point remains reliable for long-range engagements with greater penetration. 

Conversely, 45 ACP is slower than 9mm and is not the best option for long-range engagements, plus it also cannot deeply penetrate targets. Yet it doesn’t mean that 45 ACP is automatically inferior to 9mm. After all, it shines because of its lower muzzle velocity, which makes it an excellent candidate for suppressed fire. It is preferable for being easier to suppress than a 9mm and has impressive stopping power. The role and performance definitely differ. Hence, this explains the long debate about 45 ACP vs 9mm. But it is actually about personal preferences. 

45 acp handguns

9mm vs 45 ACP: Home Defense and Concealed Carry Applications

Thanks to the advancements in hollow point technology, the gap between 9mm and 45 ACP in terms of stopping power has been closed to an extent. Yet, the penetration factor seems like a determiner of which is the better choice between the two for home defense applications. Since 45 ACP has a relatively lower penetration, making it an ideal option for home defense purposes. Strictly speaking, 45 ACP can adequately penetrate deep enough to cause critical damage to the internal organs of an attacker. 

With the performance of 45 ACP, having a 45 ACP firearm in your bedside gun safe can save you from potential attackers. Interestingly, this fact does not mean to say that 9mm is not suitable for home defense applications. It can still do the job right, helping you defend yourself from a potential attacker, but it might cause possible liability issues. Still, it is not a solid reason to feel insecure using a 9mm for home defense uses. Skills can be improved, which can also contribute to how you can handle a 9mm handgun. 

On the other hand, concealed carry is an entirely different issue regarding 9mm and 45 ACP. The handgun’s weight and width play a significant role in comfort when you conceal carry any firearm. As for this comparison, a 45 ACP handgun comes to be thicker and heavier than its 9mm handgun equivalent. The simple truth is that 9mm handguns will always be easier to carry and conceal as they tend to be lighter, thinner, and carry more ammo. 

Both 9mm and 45 ACP gain plus points at some factors and lose the others again. This explains why many are confused between the two. No wonder there is a long debate about them. Ultimately, this means that they are still not perfectly designed. This is proven since 45 ACP can be good for home defense but not for concealed carry, for which 9mm is the much-preferred option. 

9mm vs 45 ACP: Suppressed

For shooters who like using suppressors, it is must-know information that shooting a suppressed 9mm and 45 ACP is different. Suppressors are ideal components that minimize gunshot sounds. They are especially in demand if other people are present. Now, gaining something means compromising something. There’s a tendency that your shooting accuracy will be affected if you utilize a suppressor. Often, low gunshot sounds always mean limited muzzle velocity. No wonder some shooters prefer wearing ear protection better. 

When using a suppressor for 9mm and 45 ACP, you will likely notice that 9mm can reduce the noise substantially more than 45 ACP. While there is less noise in 9mm, 45 ACP can handle suppressors better since it can retain the best accuracy level needed for shooting. In short, the accuracy remains so as the loud gunshot noise. Basically, the winner in 9mm vs 45 ACP depends on whether you want a reduced gunshot noise or retained accuracy. 

9mm vs 45 ACP: Stopping Power

The 45 ACP has the tendency to create a larger permanent wound channel inside an attacker. With that power, it can cause additional blood hemorrhaging and has a high chance in the probability that an internal organ will be lacerated. It is a relatively bigger, fatter, slower round than 9mm, which causes a larger permanent wound cavity. Yet, still has not the tendency to over-penetrate. 

In a fair statement, the 45 ACP has more stopping power and a knockdown advantage compared to the 9mm. 

9mm vs 45 ACP: Cost and Availability

The long debate about 9mm vs 45 ACP proves that the two are the most popular pistol calibers worldwide. As a matter of fact, every major firearms manufacturer that sells handguns offers at least one semi-auto pistol dedicated to 9mm Luger and 45 ACP. 

Moreover, there seems to be no limit in terms of firearms design, construction material, size, and grip angle for these two. Thanks to this, you have the chance to purchase a handgun that fits your hands perfectly. The availability of the two is really great. 

In terms of price, 9mm handguns are typically on the cheaper side than most 45 ACP handguns. The primary reason for the price gap is that 9mm handguns usually require fewer materials, while 45 ACP handguns demand heavier construction to handle the increased recoil. 

Similar to the availability of handguns, ammunition for both 9mm and 45 ACP is plentiful and effortless to find in the market. In fact, there are a wide array of offerings. Interestingly, the price is also similar to the scenario in 9mm and 45 ACP handguns. The 9mm ammunition typically has half the price of 45 ACP ammunition since it fires a smaller bullet and demands less brass and powder for construction.

Since 9mm ammunition is a lot cheaper, you can obviously fire and practice more with your 9mm with less of a hit to your wallet. A great tip is to buy in bulk so you can save more compared to buying regularly. If you want to improve your shooting skills without costing you arms and legs, 9mm is the practical choice that will save you from cost struggles. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Below is some more relevant information about 9mm vs 45 ACP. If you have questions in your mind or want to clear some things, let’s dive deep into the frequently asked questions: 

What is the primary difference between 45 ACP and 9mm?

While 45 ACP and 9mm share almost the same level of popularity, they have a primary difference. This explains why they have different targets for users. 9mm has a higher velocity than 45 ACP. With 9mm having a smaller size compared to 45 ACP, it boasts deeper bullet penetration. Also, 9mm comes with a higher muzzle velocity and lower weight, meaning that it typically has less vertical drop than a 45 ACP does.

Sometimes, 45 ACP and 9mm are totally opposite to one another, so the long debate about which is better between the two happens because of what they can offer. 

Which is more accurate, 9mm or 45 ACP?

Many shooters have proven that 9mm shoots faster and more accurately. While the wound tracks of 9mm and 45 ACP are almost identical, 9mm comes with a lighter recoil that allows easier follow-up shots with almost the same level of accuracy as the first shot. Due to this performance, 9mm shines with greater accuracy and penetration. 

Does 45 ACP have more recoil than 9mm?

Generally speaking, 45 ACP causes nearly double the amount of recoil that 9mm has. Yet, it doesn’t mean that is always the rule since the size and weight of the gun also matter when it comes to calculating recoil. Hence, it can happen that a 45 ACP has lower recoil than 9mm, like what happens when a 45 ACP launched from a carbine will have less felt recoil compared to a 9mm shot from a subcompact CCW pistol.

Is 45 ACP or 9mm better for self-defense applications?

A 45 ACP effectively lessens the risk of bullets going through walls. This is the very reason why it is a better choice when it comes to home defense applications. On the other side, 9mm may be more comfortable to use, but not indoors since it causes more damage because of its penetration.

Will a 45 ACP stop an attacker?

A 45 ACP is designed not to kill an attacker but just effectively stop him and his tracks. It delivers the necessary impact and damage that can stop an attacker from doing something bad.

How effective is 45 ACP?

The 45 ACP is designed to be an effective combat pistol cartridge. Praised for its accuracy and stopping power, it has a relatively low muzzle blast and flashes with quite manageable recoil. Hence, it can be effective in stopping an attacker. 

How far will a 9mm round travel?

Typically, a 9mm round can travel possibly as far as 2195 meters (1.3 miles) or about 2400 yards. This means that it can be quite effective for long-range engagements. Nonetheless, it is commonly not used for long-range applications, only going about 100 yards.

Can a 9mm penetrate concrete?

If a 9mm ammo round is fired at an undamaged section of cement block from a distance of 7 meters, you can expect that the round will not penetrate the concrete. Depending on the accuracy and skills of the shooter, the round might penetrate the concrete. 

Can a 9mm penetrate a human skull?

The 9mm has exceptional penetration, which can penetrate a skull at long ranges. Thanks to its impressive hollow point, it can effectively penetrate a skull, a hard object that will not expand it.

Where to buy 9mm and 45 ACP ammo?

For convenience and other discount perks, it is always great to buy from online stores. While it is good, there are some risks in buying online, as there are many suspicious sites. With this, you want to ensure that you won’t experience bad things when buying from online. That’s why it is always better to check out trustworthy sites, including Cabela’s, Brownells, and Palmetto State Armory

Final Thoughts 

Truth be told, the sole reason why the long debate about 9mm vs 45 ACP is still not settled yet is that the winner is based on a shooter’s personal preferences. After all, both the 9mm and 45 ACP have a fair share of advantages and flaws. You can’t just be mad if one shooter doesn’t share the same opinion as you because personal shooting needs is the one that significantly matters in making a choice between the two. 

If you are still a little confused about which one to pick, let’s have a short recap on the most selling points of each. For 9mm, it is great for being easy to handle with less recoil. It is also lighter and faster, with a great penetration advantage. Because of that, 9mm is an excellent choice for beginners who want to have low-cost shooting practice. 

If 9mm is manageable for beginners, 45 ACP makes an excellent choice for home defense applications because of its slow and shallow penetration that can save you from further responsibility in fighting an attacker. Also, it is more powerful compared to 9mm but is better off to more skilled shooters as it may be challenging to handle for beginners. 

Despite the selling points, you must still go for the most comfortable option to shoot that will give the purpose of having a handgun in the first place. Above all, suitability to your needs and preferences is what matters most. Needless to say, you will never go wrong choosing the two as they are popular for good reasons. 

Survival Gear Shack offers more helpful guides like this and more reviews about shooting, hunting, survival, outdoors, and more. Explore our site if you want to discover more. 

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