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Old March 9, 2012, 01:57 PM   #1
Emuricah513
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.45 or 40? Self Defense

So I've been debating on which caliber is best to use for self defense as my conceal carry. With the .45 I realize I would get more knockdown power which I feel is crucial but usually a .40 will have a higher ammo capacity. I am leaning more towards a .45 because in the event I ever I had to use it (god forbid) I can't imagine I would need a higher capacity magazine. Does anyone have 1st hand experience or heard/read stories? Personal opinions are welcome as well..I can't be the only one who has ever wondered. Also I am looking at either a Glock 21 gen 4 or Glock 23
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Old March 9, 2012, 02:05 PM   #2
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If I were to come shoot you right now in the chest, would you care what caliber it was?

Not trying to be an a-hole, but there must be dozens of threads on caliber debates on this forum, If you use the search function I'm sure you'll find them.

In the short run I can say this. It really doesn't matter. Knock down power is a myth, no bullet knocks down an assailant. Shot placement, and more importantly hitting the target, is key. Modern self defense loads are more than capable of incapacitating an opponent from 9mm to 45ACP. Go with what you personally shoot best.
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Old March 9, 2012, 02:16 PM   #3
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I can't be the only one who has ever wondered...
That's for sure. A lot of research has been done. LE agencies have been generally favoring .40 lately... but LE personnel are more likely to get into situations where hi-cap is a strong factor.

For ordinary civilians in ordinary circumstances I'd say go with your own preference.
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Old March 9, 2012, 02:19 PM   #4
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Also I am looking at either a Glock 21 gen 4 or Glock 23
I suggest trying both out at a rental range first. You may find that you shoot noticeably better with one or the other, which trumps any perceived differences between the calibers.

BTW I was scratching my head at your sig line for several minutes before I finally figured it out.
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Old March 9, 2012, 02:23 PM   #5
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Almost every single authority on this subject swears that what most people think happens and what often really happens in these situations is vastly different, often with their ability to hit a threatining target, one that's not a piece of target paper far less likely. Given that reality and the inability for most to get adequate personal defense training......more rounds are better.
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Old March 9, 2012, 02:25 PM   #6
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Forget both and buy a 9mm, maybe? When it comes to self defense ammo these days, 9mm, .40, and .45 all perform very similarly.
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Old March 9, 2012, 02:45 PM   #7
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I am looking at either a Glock 21 gen 4 or Glock 23
These are both excellent guns, but they are also worlds apart in size. Can you comfortably conceal and /or carry a Glock 21? I can.. but I'm not a very small guy either.

I have owned both. I no longer own the Gen 4 23. I love my Gen4 21, and I am looking to buy a Gen 4 19.

For me, I just don't like the way the .40 shoots out of the Glocks. I love my Gen3 G17 and shoot it very well. I love shooting Glocks in 9mm or 45.. the 40 is just too flippy for me. It's not painful or anything... just... unwieldy, I guess is a good word.

With that said, I still like the 40 round. It shoots quite well out of the M&P - which was designed around the .40 from the beginning. It also shoots quite well out of SIG's.

So my choice would be the G21... but remember that it's a big gun. The G23 is very easy to conceal... but in that size, I'd probably prefer the G19 loaded up with some HSTs
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Old March 9, 2012, 03:07 PM   #8
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I have had the same debate with myself recently. I went with the .40. Most double stack .45s are a little too big in my hand, and I shoot a .40 a little better than the 9mm. That's what worked for me, and I'm happy with my decision.

Knock down power is indeed a myth and today's self defense rounds really do make a world of difference. Go with what you shoot best because at the end of the day what matters most is what you shoot well and how confident you feel in your ability to do so.
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Old March 9, 2012, 03:14 PM   #9
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I like the .40 because for me the difference between it and 9mm in recoil is hardly any. I tend to favor 9 and .40 above .45, at least where a significant capacity difference appears.
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Old March 9, 2012, 03:16 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by Uncle Malice
the 40 is just too flippy for me. It's not painful or anything... just... unwieldy, I guess is a good word.
Same here for me. When i shot the 21 and 22, i felt the 21 was more comfortable to shoot. So i went with the 21. Though i dislike 45 ammo being more expensive I reload so the only thing taken out is time.
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Old March 9, 2012, 03:43 PM   #11
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If I went strictly on the performance and 'power' of a round, my preference would be .40sw, .45acp, 124gr 9mm. But being that the 9mm is a more than capable defensive round, my personal choice of order is 124gr 9mm, .40sw, .45acp.

Work the numbers however you want but basically the .40sw has the most power over 9mm and .45acp. The .45 has more mass and slightly bigger hole but less power from every angle, typically a little more than the 9mm. This is supported by the powder charges that go in them, 9mm & .45 get about the same loads, .40sw gets more. For the most part, more powder = more power.

Now which you shoot better ... well now that's a matter of you and your gun.
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Old March 9, 2012, 03:48 PM   #12
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Why not go with a 9mm? As some other have stated, with moden rounds you're not loosing that much between a .45, .40 or 9mm. With a G19 you would have 15+1 and follow-up shots would be easier, should they be needed. Aside from that, (and I realize .40 is now pretty close in price to 9mm), 9mm is going to be a lot less expensive to practice with than .45 - and more practice is only a good thing.

Note: If I had to pick one or the other (.40 vs .45 for the Glock), I'd go with the .40 G23.
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Old March 9, 2012, 03:53 PM   #13
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Knockdown power is a myth that does not exist. It's been discussed, and proven in many threads here, and on other forums, and totally debunked by Myth Busters if that really means anything.
Look up some ballistic tables. Many 40S&W SD rounds equal, or exceed 45ACP.
Use what you shoot the best, functions the best, and you have the most confidence in.
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Old March 9, 2012, 03:54 PM   #14
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My order of preference is the same as pgdion, and for a similar reason. I value placement more than power (however it is measured). I shoot 9 mm best, then .45, with .40 last, particularly on followup shots. Since no handgun caliber is a reliable one-stop shot, I place a high priority on speed and accuracy of followup shots. My EDC is therefore a 9, and I recognize that I don't handle .40 well enough for it to be a good choice for me. YMMV, of course - lots of folks feel like they shoot the .40 well and carry it every day. Ain't it great that we get a choice?
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Old March 9, 2012, 03:54 PM   #15
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I carry a 6+1-round .45, and have a 13+1-round 9mm in the car.
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Old March 9, 2012, 07:33 PM   #16
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CS's post, firearms, ammunition...

As CS posted here, "knock-down" power does NOT exist!
If you fired a full house .44magnum JHP out of a 6" barrel N frame revolver & a evil bad-guy leaped up & flew through a window(see the opening scene from Another 48Hrs, www.imdb.com as an example) YOU would blow clear across the room too.
As for selecting a defense/carry handgun round, my 1st pick would lean towards the highly rated .357sig. It feeds & cycles great in most pistols, has a high KE level(energy) & moves fast(1200FPS or so).
If you want to choose between a .45acp or a .40S&W caliber, I'd pull for the .45acp.
The big .45 caliber hole has an impressive sight in a critical event & most full size .45acp duty pistols pack 10-16 rounds.
Recoil & marksmanship are factors too but for general armed citizen carry or protection, buy a .45acp.
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Old March 9, 2012, 07:54 PM   #17
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Spend enough time reading Internet Message Boards and you'll realize that the
"correct" answer lies somewhere between a ".22 Magnum Derringer" and a
"10MM w/ 4 spare mags and a BUG on each ankle"

9MM is a good choice since cheaper ammo means more practice.
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Old March 9, 2012, 07:57 PM   #18
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Originally Posted by mrvco View Post
Spend enough time reading Internet Message Boards and you'll realize that the
"correct" answer lies somewhere between a ".22 Magnum Derringer" and a
"10MM w/ 4 spare mags and a BUG on each ankle"

9MM is a good choice since cheaper ammo means more practice.
Lol how true that is.

Truth be told, I'm comfortable with every common service caliber (9, .40, .357 SIG, .45) and intend to own and carry all 4 for defense at various times.
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Old March 9, 2012, 08:02 PM   #19
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Sometimes you have to remind yourself that even the .22 Short was originally a self-defense caliber, and human skin hasn't gotten any thicker in the subsequent 150 years.

Seriously, although I wouldn't really recommend a .22 Short for a defensive load, the truth is that the difference between "no gun" and "any gun at all" is several orders of magnitude greater than the differences between any two particular cartridges.
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Old March 9, 2012, 08:10 PM   #20
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http://neiassociates.org/caliber.htm

The above link may be dated but the scientific principles are still valid IMO. With the Federal JHP ammo for instance, the 'one shot stop rate' (he gets into the definition of that in detail) of a shot to the chest is 96% with .40 and 95% with .45. Ultimately, it comes down to shot placement and the ability to not crap your pants when you get on a 2 way range.
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Old March 9, 2012, 08:17 PM   #21
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They all have a different feeling when you shoot. Try them all and go with what feels best in a platform most comfortable for your needs. That is FAR more important than any caliber debate. With that said, you would be amazed what percentage of handgun owners buy a duty-sized gun, or even a semi-compact, worrying about knockdown power, only to end up getting a .38+P revolver or small single-stack 9mm because they realize a big gun is often a PIA to lug around or dress around.

Actually, many of the most experienced names in the biz carry small guns like this daily.
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Old March 9, 2012, 08:59 PM   #22
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Don't get hung up on knock down power, it simply doesn't exist for a handgun. As far as .40 or .45, either will do the job. I'd suggest Picking the one you are most comfortable with. While I own guns chambered in both, I enjoy shooting, and shoot it better, my .45.
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Old March 9, 2012, 09:11 PM   #23
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Yeah, you really need to do some shooting of different guns/calibers. I just sold all my .40's and ammo last week. Just didn't enjoy shooting it. Decided to focus all my efforts on .45 and 9mm. Just a personal preference - YMMV.
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Old March 9, 2012, 09:48 PM   #24
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Well yall are probably right about the 9mm through .45acp. But ask yourselves this, did the mythbusters shoot a drug induced pig in the shoulder with a 9mm and then with a .45acp? As truth be known, a large amount of intruders are looking for money or things to trade for money for drugs, they may even be on drugs. Shoot them with that .22 short, see how quick they go down. We're not knocking off rabbits here. I know that the drugged up crack head will feel the 9mm but maybe a few hours after he is off his high. The .45acp with blow a fist sized hole in him with a decent hollow point.
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Old March 9, 2012, 10:11 PM   #25
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Originally Posted by 1hogfan83 View Post
Well yall are probably right about the 9mm through .45acp. But ask yourselves this, did the mythbusters shoot a drug induced pig in the shoulder with a 9mm and then with a .45acp? As truth be known, a large amount of intruders are looking for money or things to trade for money for drugs, they may even be on drugs. Shoot them with that .22 short, see how quick they go down. We're not knocking off rabbits here. I know that the drugged up crack head will feel the 9mm but maybe a few hours after he is off his high. The .45acp with blow a fist sized hole in him with a decent hollow point.
A good .45 JHP will expand to about 1". .40 to about .7-.8". 9x19 about .5-.6".

Quarter inch differences between then, half inch between 9 and .45.

A fist is about, what, 3-5" wide?

Sources: tnoutdoors9 on YouTube; ATK ballistics data for Speer Gold Dot
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