The Firing Line Forums

Go Back   The Firing Line Forums > Hogan's Alley > Handguns: General Handgun Forum

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Old January 31, 2013, 09:04 AM   #1
Ale GOlem
Join Date: September 14, 2011
Location: Port Henry NY
Posts: 78
9mm vs. .45 (Not The Typical Debate)

I'm in the market for my first handgun and I thought I had my heart set on a .357 revolver however as the date draws near to pick my first purchase I find myself reconsidering a semi automatic. I've only ever fired firearms once, at an NRA pistol course in VT last August, so I have limited experience. The class I took was a bit large for the two instructors, 10 students, so our range time per person was minimal. I shot, one full magazine/cylinder each, of 9mm, .38 and .45 with several magazines of .22 in various handguns. I remember the 9mm and .38 feeling about the same when fire and the .45 knocked me back a half step with each shot however that is most likely due to improper stance and handling of the weapon.
My question to the more experienced users is about my body type versus the caliber I choose. I'm 5'5", 140lbs with hands slightly smaller than a standard size small glove. The 9mm was somewhat manageable however I'm wondering if the .45 will become easier with practice and proper fundamentals. Despite the difficulty I had shooting the .45 it was, and I can't stress this enough, the most fun cartridge I tried that day. Am I better sticking with a smaller more manageable round or should I go larger and just learn to compensate?

PS- This will not be a carry gun, simply a range/hobby firearm so stopping power is not a concern for me. Also, I live in NY so getting out and trying several firearms before purchase is not exactly a viable option. I had to drive three hours just to get to that one NRA class.

PPS- In case anyone is wondering my picks for a revolver were between a 6" S&W 686+ (Pre-lock), a 4" Ruger GP100 or a 6" Colt Python in stainless or nickle.
Ale GOlem is offline  
Old January 31, 2013, 09:17 AM   #2
Join Date: December 10, 2009
Posts: 33
You'll likely get this a lot but...

A good .22. It'll be easier to master good shooting with and inexpensive to shoot.

Between the two choices you've put in the title I'd say 9mm for the same two reasons. If you can manage the recoil better you're more likely to use better form, less likely to develop a flinch. Also, if you can find it, 9mm ammo is significantly less expensive.

Body type will be of less importance if you spend your up-front time learning good mechanics.
dopar66 is offline  
Old January 31, 2013, 09:24 AM   #3
Senior Member
Join Date: November 26, 2006
Posts: 1,084
By removing stopping power from the equation you fall right into the realm of the 9mm - low cost and mild recoil make for a fun round.

Don't discount the .22. Even more economical and just as fun. Especially advisable for newbies as it all but removes recoil from the firing equation and allows you to focus on mechanics. Even as you progress you'll find yourself going back to your .22 for high quality, low cost practice.
.44 Special: For those who get it, no explanation is necessary. For those who don't, no explanation is possible.
treg is offline  
Old January 31, 2013, 09:31 AM   #4
Join Date: March 16, 2010
Location: East Tennessee
Posts: 86
I also am a small guy 5'2" 155lb. I am very experienced. At first the .45 will be a bit much. Practice as much as you can. Make sure you keep your wrist locked to give resistance to the slide. If you think it will be to much for you go to 9mm. With the self defense ammo on the market today you will be just fine using that set up. I carry a Kimber ultra carry 2 with crimson trace grips. It works for me. In time you than can go up to the .45 Good luck
Bowdog is offline  
Old January 31, 2013, 09:49 AM   #5
Senior Member
Join Date: June 16, 2008
Location: Wyoming
Posts: 11,020
My daughter started shooting my Colt Gold Cup when she was 8, (she's 41 now).

You can get use to the recoil, nothing too it. One of the best hard ball (full load 45 ACP) was a young lady named Kim Dyer. She shot for the army and wasn't as big as a minute.

However: The 9 mm is also easy to shoot and ammo is cheaper. Cheaper yet for the 38 Spl revolver.

Yeah yeah yeah, lots of people say "get a 22" .............good idea but that wasn't what you asked about.

Of the two: 9mm vs 45, I'd pick the 9mm. If the revolver was thrown into the mix, I'd go that route.

Thing is, I cast and reload my own ammo for all three, and with todays prices I can shoot either cheaper then I can the 22.

Go fondle all there and buy the one that just jumps out at you.
Kraig Stuart
USAMU Sniper School Oct '78
Distinguished Rifle Badge 1071
kraigwy is offline  
Old January 31, 2013, 10:01 AM   #6
Junior member
Join Date: January 21, 2013
Location: NY
Posts: 150
First off, in shooting anyway, size doesn't matter! Go with your gut instinct, buy a S&W, or Colt 357 mag revolver. Stay with a 4" barrel. Practice your form, and trigger control with 38's. When you get the hang of things, load up with 357mags for defense duty.
Revolver1 is offline  
Old January 31, 2013, 10:22 AM   #7
Senior Member
Join Date: January 7, 2010
Location: Houston, TX
Posts: 802
I would not recommend that anyone start with a .45 simply because of the recoil. That often results in flinching and for a beginner that could become a bad habit that's hard to break.

I agree with what others have said bout a.22 It has very little recoil, therefore you're less likely to flinch and that will enable to focus on trigger control which is fundamental to good shooting.

Having said that , both of my kids (male and female in their 20s) started with a 9mm Glock and it worked out fine for them. I still don't have a .22 but after the hysteria calms down I'll be in the market for a Keltec PMR.
"Socialized Medicine is the Keystone to the Arch of the Socialist State.” -Vladimir Lenin
"I predict future happiness for Americans if they can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them." - Thomas Jefferson (An early warning to Obama care)
Eppie is offline  
Old January 31, 2013, 10:29 AM   #8
Senior Member
Join Date: February 3, 2011
Posts: 122
If you just are going to the range to have fun I would pick the cartridge that is most fun to shoot to you...

Best of both worlds: buy a .45 + a .22 conversion barrel. Develop fundamentals with .22, switch to .45 for "fun".
HK_Flo is offline  
Old January 31, 2013, 10:54 AM   #9
Senior Member
Join Date: April 4, 2012
Location: South Jersey
Posts: 2,177
My vote is for a 9mm if you want centerfire. Ammo is inexpensive and usually very easy to find. Look at Beretta 92, CZ-75 and especially a Browning High Power. If you will go to a .22lr your ammo is eaven easier to find and less expensive. Check out the Buck Mark and Ruger Mark III. Small grip you may want to look at the Beretta NEOS, its very under rated and a terific gun.
If you like the revolvers buy a .357 because you always have the option of shooting .38. Ammo is a little more costly but you do get 2 guns in one. Light shooter and a heavy stopper.
DONT make the mistake of buying light guns. More recoil and harder to shoot accurate until you get more experience. Think longer barrels like 4"ish.
Have Fun, shoot safe
Concentrated power is not rendered harmless by the good intentions of those who create it.
Milton Freidman
"If you find yourself in a fair fight,,,
Your tactics suck"
- Unknown
BoogieMan is offline  
Old January 31, 2013, 10:58 AM   #10
Join Date: October 11, 2012
Posts: 76
I second the .22 or 9mm. For fun on range, .22 is actually quite fun especially when you get your fundamentals straightened out and can actually group shots.

9mm would be second choice, for it's ammo price, recoil, and again better to learn basics on. Also, same as .22, it's a lot of fun to shoot wen you can start to group with 9mm.

*edit* Would you buy a 450+hp car as first car or something more modest to learn the basics and gather some experience before moving to more powerful cars? I know it's not the best analogy, but close enough.
Let's wait until we actually see concrete legislation before we go off half-cocked. ~ Tom Servo
Mr_Jumper is offline  
Old January 31, 2013, 11:31 AM   #11
Senior Member
Join Date: February 2, 2007
Location: Iowa
Posts: 2,676
I'm also in the .22lr camp but if you have you're heart set on a centerfire 9mm is fine. But I have to wonder, I've never noticed much recoil difference between the 9mm and 45 for recoil. Yes, the .45 has more but it's not as if one is managible and the other a monster. Definitely not enough difference to knock one backwards vs. the other.
L_Killkenny is offline  
Old January 31, 2013, 11:34 AM   #12
Senior Member
Join Date: June 30, 2009
Location: dallas
Posts: 640
I am guessing you are the young side so keep this in mind, if you enjoy shooting this won't be the only gun you will ever buy so don't over think it. Probably everyone here has at least one .22, revolver or semi-auto. Same can be said for 9s and 45s. Seems like a good start would be a 38/357 revolver simply because the 38 is relatively cheap and thus a good training round and when you want a little more bang just slide in those 357s. Once you have made your caliber decision, check to see if you have any of the large retailers or some gun shows in your area and go handle as many as you can. There are a lot of choices of frame size and grips so pick the one that feels best in your chosen caliber. You'll probably be back here next year asking "what is a good choice for my second gun."
jag2 is offline  
Old January 31, 2013, 01:25 PM   #13
Senior Member
Join Date: January 2, 2005
Location: Where the deer and the antelope roam.
Posts: 2,397
Like most say, start with a 22. Size has nothing to do with it, once you learn proper technique recoil will not matter much. If you have your heart set on a 357 get a 357 or you will never be satisfied.
Retired Law Enforcement
U. S. Army Veteran
My rifle and pistol are tools, I am the weapon.
Nanuk is offline  
Old January 31, 2013, 02:19 PM   #14
Ale GOlem
Join Date: September 14, 2011
Location: Port Henry NY
Posts: 78
Originally Posted by L KillKenny
I've never noticed much recoil difference between the 9mm and 45 for recoil. Yes, the .45 has more but it's not as if one is managible and the other a monster. Definitely not enough difference to knock one backwards vs. the other.
Like I said, it was most likely a combined lack of proper stance, flinch and improper grip. I doubt there's actually that big a difference between the two.

I appreciate all of the advice, I hate living in a state where I can't try before I buy.
Ale GOlem is offline  
Old January 31, 2013, 03:34 PM   #15
Senior Member
Join Date: November 11, 2006
Posts: 2,292
Welcome Ale,

Recommend you consider the .357Mag, as you can use the target .38Spl loads to get familiar (without killing your budget). 6 inch barrel is good for range work, but later if you decide for a CPL, you night want to consider then a 4 inch.
Revolver mention are great also look at the S&W m19's and the Ruger Security Six (on the Ruger you might find a drawer puppy safe queen, that need a good home.

Best caliber is WHAT FEEL good to you. ( I'm comfortable with either the 9mm. 357Mag or .45.)

Good luck ask more questions.

Is there a local club or commercial range in your area, to help try differnt sidearms?
jrothWA is offline  
Old January 31, 2013, 04:47 PM   #16
Senior Member
Join Date: May 8, 2009
Location: Florida
Posts: 3,465
Even if it is not going to be carried, will your want your new handgun to play a role in self defense? If yes, 9 mm is the cheapest center fire ammo by a considerable margin. If no, then the .22LR is a good recommendation - ridiculously cheap ammo (in normal times), lots of fun, and a good tool for learning the basics of pistol craft.
TailGator is offline  
Old January 31, 2013, 04:55 PM   #17
Senior Member
Join Date: April 22, 2010
Location: MPLS, MN
Posts: 1,193
Lower cost, milder recoil, and still plenty of punch. The 9mm is the 'does it all' wonder round in my book. The .45 is fun to shoot, I do like the .40 s&w, but the 9mm is way out in front as my favorite round for everything.
597 VTR, because there's so many cans and so little time!
pgdion is offline  
Old January 31, 2013, 05:30 PM   #18
Senior Member
Join Date: July 1, 2001
Posts: 4,450
Personally, I think a 38/357 revolver would be a best place to learn to shoot well. A striker fired 9mm would also be good and use cheaper ammo. To me the revolver will be a better life long choice.
Nathan is offline  
Old January 31, 2013, 07:57 PM   #19
Join Date: January 20, 2013
Posts: 25
If you really have your heart on the 45 because of giggles then get it, but if your interested in growing as a shooter and becoming better i would say stick to the 9mm because you will be able to develop better technique shooting something that wont cause you to flinch with each shot and it will be much cheaper to to purchase ammo and practice frequently. Again if you do not see yourself shooting very often and thus the cost of shooting 45 is not a problem, the go with what makes you happy, in the end that is all that matters that you have a smile on your face each time you go shooting
Munkster is offline  
Old January 31, 2013, 08:53 PM   #20
Senior Member
Join Date: July 24, 2011
Location: Texas
Posts: 917
I would advise to do what i did and check out the price of ammo (and now who knows where itll land). If 45 does it for you then get that but ill say last i 45 ammo i saw was around 35$ a box. 9mm was $12. I roll my own like alot of folks mostly due to that. you dont want an expensive paperweight due to the cost of ammo alone but also dont let that be the only deciding factor if its within your reach. Do the math.
Crankgrinder is offline  
Old January 31, 2013, 10:24 PM   #21
Senior Member
Join Date: July 9, 2004
Posts: 5,162
You did not state your age or your station in life. If money is not an issue, then the availability of ammo (and not the price) is what is important.

If that is your situation, and you like the .45, then I second the suggestion to buy a .45 and a .22 conversion kit. Perfect your technique using lots of cheap ammo, and then move up using the same pistol. Everything will feel familiar but the recoil, and honestly, using correct stance and grip will resolve any further issues. First handgun I ever shot (at age eight) was my dad's WWII 1911. I'm not going to say I was a master, nor did I get many shots with it, but it was enough to start a lifelong fascination.

orionengnr is offline  
Old January 31, 2013, 11:06 PM   #22
Ale GOlem
Join Date: September 14, 2011
Location: Port Henry NY
Posts: 78
Originally Posted by orionengnr
You did not state your age or your station in life.
I'm 29 with a decent income, my girlfriend of 5 years and I are looking at marriage within the next two years. Due to a couple bonuses from work that will be hitting my bank account within the next two months I'm seriously looking at either a 6" Colt Python or a Sig Sauer P226 Elite as my first handgun, along with an engagement ring for the lady of the house. Despite my current station in life a .45 may be a bit pricy to fire on a regular basis so it looks like it'll be either a 9mm or a .357. I'll have to see how the court battles turn out here, Coumo may have made my choice for me by effectively outlawing the P226 due to capacity.
Ale GOlem is offline  
Old February 1, 2013, 01:00 PM   #23
Senior Member
Join Date: February 23, 2005
Posts: 13,198
right now ammo prices are all over the board.....but

.357 mag ammo ...and .45 acp ammo my area - retail - is typically about the same around $ 30 for a box of 50 rds...

9mm ammo in my area is $ 16 - $20 for a box of 50 right now ....

with the new NY State regulations in force, I don't know if you can still buy a Sig 226 with a 10 round mag or not...or if its entirely prohibited. The 226 is a nice gun - and personally since your state only allows mags of 10 rds or less, I still think its a good solid gun ( I have all stainless versions of the 226 both in 9mm and .40 S&W).

A good revolver a Colt Python or a S&W model 27 ( which in my view, are comparable in quality ) and are both high end, desireable guns, that will be good long term guns in your collection ...are very good buys - and going up in price for the last several years..

Many of us ( or at least me ..) have a number of revolvers, and a number of semi-autos a lot of picking a gun depends on where you want to go long term. From my perspective, both the Sig 226 Elite - or a Colt Python are very good long term choices...vs guns that you will end up trading in or getting rid of short term.

Last edited by BigJimP; February 1, 2013 at 01:22 PM.
BigJimP is offline  
Old February 1, 2013, 01:25 PM   #24
Join Date: October 15, 2012
Location: Illinois
Posts: 67
I personally started small with a .38 special taurus and worked my way up. I use .22's now for low priced fun and to work out that nasty flinch my .40's gave me. Have you considered an EAA Witness? You can run .45, .40. 9mm, and .22LR all through the same gun. If I had to start from scratch all over again, that would be where I would start.
aarmel732 is offline  
Old February 1, 2013, 03:06 PM   #25
Join Date: May 31, 2012
Location: Seattle-ish
Posts: 58
Start with a 22. It's the best caliber to learn with and it's really inexpensive to shoot. You will learn to shoot on that gun. My wife and I still love to blow through a few hundred rounds on a Friday night and I reload for our centerfire weapons.
jib is offline  

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump

All times are GMT -5. The time now is 02:40 PM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2018, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
This site and contents, including all posts, Copyright © 1998-2018 S.W.A.T. Magazine
Copyright Complaints: Please direct DMCA Takedown Notices to the registered agent:
Contact Us
Page generated in 0.10138 seconds with 10 queries