When it comes to personal defense, there are a few major considerations. The first is the handgun versus the shotgun. The shotgun is the end of the argument for most and I would agree. Nothing clears out a room faster than locking and loading a pump shotgun…the sound of the shell being racked into the chamber is unlike any other sound and if one wants to get someone’s attention, a 12 gauge pump gun racking a round will do it for sure!
But shotguns have drawbacks, size being the most obvious, therefore personal defense outside the abode dictates a handgun of some sort and there in lies the controversy…revolvers hold 5, 6 or sometimes 7 rounds in the cylinder. A semi auto can hold anywhere from 6 to about 17 in some Glocks. So of the handguns which do you prefer? Prefer a semi auto or a revolver?
Let’s discuss the semi auto loader in smaller caliber….9mm, versus larger caliber auto loaders. Basically this breaks down to two choices…9mm versus the .45ACP. I have both so I am well experienced with the pros and cons. In the right hands both are exceedingly deadly, but often the “right” hands do not end up being yours….allow me to explain.
If one had to draw down on another human being, unless one is exceptionally well trained, it is unnatural to point a gun at another person. Nerves, fear, decision making and outright terror manifest for most of us if we found ourselves in need of pointing a loaded gun at another person to defend ourselves.
If one is a poor shot I guess more bullets are better. If one is not familiar with handguns and their use, or if one tends to be fearful, nervous, etc, perhaps more rounds is the better choice. For my wife, who is not very proficient with weapons, a 9mm with 12 or 13 rounds or so in the magazine is her best way to go. She can shoot plenty and still have plenty more bullets.
One of the drawbacks of the smaller rounds, but plenty more of them in the magazine, is the smaller round does not do the job nearly as adequately as larger rounds do. A larger, slower bullet, and larger bullets are slower in handguns anyway, will do far more damage on a per round basis than will a smaller round. The typical .45ACP round is a 230 grain hollow point (HP)or full metal jacketed (FMJ) round, whereas the 9mm round is typically a 115 grain HP or FMJ round. Notice the 9mm is exactly half the weight of the .45ACP round?
The smaller round means that one can carry more rounds in a the 9mm magazine than can the .45ACP weapon. The .45 round is bigger, much heavier, much slower leaving the muzzle and delivers a really big punch when it hits its target. The 9mm, being half the size of the .45ACP, will by definition do much less damage and not deliver anywhere near the kinetic energy of the large, slow .45ACP slug.
Personally I opt for the big, slow bullets every time. Kinetic energy is for me the key. One well placed .45ACP round will put one’s intended target on their butt…no ifs, ands or buts about it – NONE!. Any “center mass” strike will disable the target. Not so with smaller rounds.
I yesterday saw a video on You Tube of this very thing. A cop got into a fight with an ex-heavyweight boxer. The cop was 5’7″, the ex-heavyweight boxer was 6 inches taller and 100 pounds heavier than the police officer. So when they fought the cop first tried to taze the boxer, to no avail whatsoever. Then the cop’s handgun gun came out and he fired. He missed with the first shot, but his second shot hit the boxer in the abdomen…center mass at 2 feet and guess what the boxer did? He charged the cop and tried to get his gun…AFTER being hit center mass with a 9mm or .40 caliber semi auto loader. The round had seemingly NO EFFECT on the boxer…NONE!
I am here to tell ya that if the cop had a .45 ACP and had fired and struck the boxer in the abdomen from 6 feet, the boxer is on the ground – no discussion, no “would it put him down?” The boxer is on the ground.
The beauty of big, slow bullets is the sheer mass of kinetic energy they deliver to their targets. During WWII the Germans were in total fear of the Thompson Sub-machinegun used by American officers, NCO’s, tankers, and many rear area personnel. The Thompson shoots the .45ACP round and if animal flesh is struck by that big, slow by comparison bullet, the animal is incapacitated, and isn’t that the point is self defense? To stop the threat?
Sure there is something to be said for having lots of rounds going out, thus hopefully scaring the threat away. But there is far more to be said for hitting one’s target and putting it down. There is no discussion in firearms circles that one well placed .45 ACP round, meaning center mass, will put one’s target down. Animal flesh cannot withstand such kinetic energy so focused on a tiny little place.
To make my point, ever seen an old newsreel of a strongman having a bunch of stone slabs placed on his back and watching as someone comes down with an 8lb sledge hammer on the stack of stone on their back? The stone breaks but the strongman jumps up seemingly none the worse for it? Why? That’s a lot of energy, no?
It’s because the force is spread out over a larger area. What would happen if the strongman were struck with the 8lb sledge without the stone to diffuse the force? His back is broken, no? See my point? The boards spread out the energy making it acceptable to the human body. Same principle with big versus small bullets.
Big, slower moving bullets deliver more energy to a finite point. Smaller bullets deliver less energy. So while one’s 9mm might have a dozen rounds in the magazine, it might take 3 or more hits to down one’s threat, whereas one center mass strike from a .45 will put ’em down without doubt. And there are higher capacity .45 autos too. Some hold as many as 9 rounds or so, but I am good with the two I have…a Ruger P90 that holds 8 in the mag and on in the pipe or my Springfield Armory Micro Compact .45 ACP that holds 6 in the mag and one in the chamber. I also have a 9mm that holds 13 in the mag and one in the pipe.
Last but not least, consider this…when the 9mm goes bang it is a “pop.” When the .45ACp goes bang it is a roar! At night the flame from the barrel of my .45’s looks more like a flamethrower than a standard firearm. Imagine being on the wrong end of the barrel? Even if I am not struck, my ass is long gone before one can shoot a second time. The flame from the end of the barrel looks to be 3 feet long…it might not be that long, but it sure looks it.
In the end I prefer less, big, slow, very heavy hitting bullets. Hell, I’ll be scared, shaking in my boots, so I want to hit my target with the first shot and not have to play old west gunfight with an assailant. I know that if I strike them center mass, it’s all over for my assailant(s). As the sourced video demonstrates, even point blank with a smaller caliber handgun fired by a well trained and cool under fire police officer does not do the job. I’ll opt for one shot doing the trick. History is clear. The .45ACP was developed to stop an assailant and it does it every time.
Lastly, the .45ACP was developed by John Browning, the father of the modern American firearms industry. It was first used in what are known as model 1911 auto loading handguns, the venerable 45 Auto. As next year is 2011, thus the 100th anniversary of John Browning’s 1911 ACP, keep in mind even with the development of tons more modern technology, still nothing replaces the .45 ACP auto loading handgun. But for the novelty .500 caliber hunting sidearms and a few other specialty weapons the .45 ACP is still the last word in knockdown power, and has been for the last 100 years. Even more modern technology has not supplanted this fact. That says something to me.