Downrange: July 2010

Is the 9mm enough?


My colleagues over at passed along some interesting results on a survey they’re running on that website.

Content Wizard Scott Freigh asked the 100K users of the site, “Is the 9mm Sufficient for Self-Defense?” And the GunReports

Todd Woodard


users have resoundingly said Yes! But!

“It looks like the responses are running 9:1 or higher for the 9mm as a suitable, if not preferred, handgun defense round,” said Freigh.

Frankly, that’s a little surprising to me, since the mail I’ve gotten over the years suggests Gun Tests’ readers’ first choices of handgun rounds seem to be 40s or 45s—something with a ‘4’ in the name.

Freigh added, “However, many commenters are hedging their answers by saying, ‘with the right load and bullet.’”

I’ve been fascinated by the comments, which suggest a previous bias for the 45 ACP may have leaked away while I wasn’t looking. To wit:

  • A respondent named M_E said: According to my FBI Special Agent neighbor, there isn’t a coroner out there who can tell you if someone was shot with a 9mm, 40 S&W, 357, or 45 ACP! With the latest ammunition available, there is no difference.

  • And this from Kenneth J: It isn’t necessarily the caliber, but the shooter that counts. The 9mm is certainly adequate in skilled hands, although I personally prefer the 45.

  • Cava3r4 wrote: Shoot what you shoot well. Beware of the man with only one gun!

  • FrontierFrank opined: As I stated in the survey, I believe with the proper choice of ammo that the 9mm is sufficient for self-defense. I purchased the smallest and lightest 9mm available, the Kel-Tec PF-9.

  • Karen H chimed in with, “A 9mm is sufficient. As is a 380, a 45, 40, 357, whatever your preference. What is important is your safe and accurate handling of your firearm. I am a nurse, and the last time I checked, a GSW to the heart or in between the eyes and we’re NOT bringing you back.”

  • But there were some dissenters: Michael W wrote, “I say no! I would rather use my 45, and for my wife a 38 Special with a good hollow point. [As far as the] 380 ACP, are ya kidding? Friends don’t let friends buy a 380.

Want to participate? Open your browser to and find the story entitled, “Hundreds Weigh in on Survey Question: Is the 9mm Sufficient for Self-Defense?” Voters click a link in the story to send an email with either “Yes, the 9mm is enough for self defense,” or “No, I wouldn’t use the 9mm for self defense” in the subject line. Voters are entered to win a $225 Insight Technology X2L Subcompact Laser/Light MTV-100-A1. Voting closes June 21, 2010.

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