October 2014

Which Is Better: 9mm Luger or 45 ACP? Answer: It Depends

We hired John Ervin, president of Brass Fetcher Ballistic Testing, to do head-to-head video examinations of these two favorite self-defense rounds in ballistic gelatin. Which should you carry?

When making the decision to purchase a new handgun, the question of which cartridge it will fire is the first to come up. Readers of Gun Tests are undoubtedly aware of the debate that has raged for a century about which cartridge is better between the 9mm Luger and the 45 ACP. A surface inspection of the question yields some clues such as the tendency of 9mm Luger handguns to hold more ammunition (sometimes double the magazine capacity of a 45 ACP) and 45 ACP handguns to recoil more strongly than the 9mm. The truth is that neither handgun is better in all areas, but I will use some uncommonly seen metrics derived from my slow motion videography to better explain the issue. As a disclaimer, my favorite handgun was a 45 ACP (which I sold, like many people do at one point with their favorite gun), but my carry gun is now a 9mm Luger. I sold the 45 ACP so that I wouldn’t fret every morning over which gun to carry.



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