Choosing between a 9mm or a .40 cal.? : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) Preparation Forum : One Thread

Just talking it around,. Have a choice between a 9mil and a .40 but not sure which I'm getting. Same make same price, diff cal. Anyone have any real knowledge on these two? Input from military or police types would be helpful. Considering cost and availability of each calibre as well stopping power and shock effect. Thanks.

-- Satanta (, February 15, 2000



Poop in the shooting industry is that the .40SW is about the best compromise between .45 cal and 9mm. It is certainly more powerful than 9mm but doesn't take up anywhere near as much space as a .45 round in a magazine.

A big advantage of 9mm is that many police and the military use that round. So, if something drastic should happen, there should be some lying around *cough* so to speak. If your buying used and the pistol includes pre-ban mags you may get a high capacity magazine (Like 12 plus rounds) or two.

The .45 edges out both the .40SW and the 9mm in power. All the old coots around me swear buy it. After seeing what their Colt 1911 put up with and still keep shooting I can easily understand this. Those things shake, rattle and roll like some old jalopy that is prone to spit it's whole engine block at you if you threaten it's owner. I think the FAA requires N numbers on the tail of the bullet if your going to fire it over the United States.

Since people who buy their guns legally are not allowed to purchase new magazines with a capacity over ten rounds the .45 is a very viable choice.

If I were you I'd get the .40SW because if you have less rounds to work with you need to have more effective rounds. Here's to hoping you don't get attacked by more than twelve thugs at once.

Hope that helps.

Watch six and keep your...

-- eyes_open (best@wishes.2all), February 15, 2000.

I'm not an expert, but from my reading it seems there's not much effective difference - .40 hits harder, 9mm penetrates better (or worse if you're worried about down-range damage). That being the case, how about thinking about which is the most economical for ammo in terms of practice? Or which one is going to be more common for ammo availability and even second-hand firearms with same ammo in the future? Or even which is gentler for recoil if you get older (as some of us do); or someone else may also need to shoot the firearm, or another firearm that you'd like to be able to share ammo with?

-- Don Armstrong (, February 15, 2000.


Somehow my "bookmarks" at work got deleted, so I don't have a link @ present, but what I remember from an FBI report was that the main thing you need from a firearm is that the round you're using is able to penetrate ~16-18 inches of ordinance gelatin. This is to assure that even if someone is wearing a leather coat, is fat, and has his arm in front of him the bullet can still penetrate vital organs.

Also, the human body can actually take LOTS of abuse getting shot and still function. THE most important thing IMHO is that you shoot enough rounds through whatever gun you buy to make sure you hit what you're aiming at in a vital organ. This is far more important than any issue of caliber.

That being said, if you're looking for a self-defense arm, I personally would recommend a .357 revolver (if concealed carry isn't too big an issue, with a 4" barrel). The reason for my choice is that the .357 can fire magnum cartridges if you want, or if that's too much or if you want it loaded for your wife to shoot you can load in .38 specials that don't have NEARLY the same kick (and which my wife shoots just fine). My reason for the revolver is that while a good semi-auto these days rarely misfires, the one time you really need it may be when a casing "smokestacks", and under pressure, I wouldn't want to be in that situation even with a 5 gagillion round clip underneath it. OTOH with a revolver you are limited to 6 or 7 shots (I like my S & W 686) but if you have a misfire you just pull the trigger again, no muss no fuss. This to me is what you want for an emergency.

Also, what I'd REALLY recommend is that before buying a gun, go to a range that rents them (to shoot there), or try a friend's. I've shot several guns that are supposed to be great, but for one reason or another didn't fit my hand or otherwise agree with me. Shooting one before buying it will let you know if it's a gun you'll shoot or one that'll sit in its box.

Thanks for the patience reading this post,


-- Someone (, February 15, 2000.

I concur with the above poster RE the 1911A .45 ACP. However, your question is between a 9 MM and .40 S&W. Without specific condition, make and model info i would recommend the 9 MM because of the probable availability & affordability of ammo in the future. Due to NATO, US military & police usage. A handgun without ammo is usually less effective than a baseball bat. ;-) Good luck, be safe & practice often. JCC

-- JCC (, February 16, 2000.

Well, I should have been more specific about the firearm and situation. The firearm is an Intratec. It's basically a long barreled pistol with a butt stock. Clip feeds thru the handgrip and it has a 10 round clip. It comes with a laser and scope rings. Basically it is an Entry weapon similar to the HK models used by SWAT teams.

As far as a handgun to carry. I'm in a Right-To-Carry state. Can carry openly on my belt. I usually carry a .357 and am looking at a .45. I'll get my concealed permit and carry one in the open and the other hidden. The way I see it the more ya bring to tha' party........

So there is a bit more info on what I'm considering and the situation. I thought the Intratec might be a nice backpack gun since I am a wildlife photographer and spend a lot of time in the mountains.

the .40 would fit the bill if it came to haveing to scare off a bear. [won't kill an animal unless it's absolutly neccesary] but the availabilioty of the 9mm is another consideration- as someone else said: about plenty *lying* around......

-- Satanta (, February 17, 2000.


Please do not depend on a .40SW round (or a bunch of them) to stop a bear. Pistol rounds that are adequate for defence against humans generally tend to piss bears off, perhaps because they feel your not taking them seriously. Angry bears tend to be unpleasant company. If you insist on shooting bears with these rounds, try to use the smallest gun possible. A sub-compact pistol will hurt far less when the bear shoves it up your a$$. ;-)

If you have to shoot a bear you should use a 12 gauge slug or one of the .30+ calibur magnum rifles.

If you can, avoid the bears all together.

Watch six and keep your...

-- eyes_open (best@wishes.2all), February 17, 2000.


Well, good luck. Can't say I know anything about Intratecs except for having heard the name. Do they have a good rep. in some area? Also, I don't think I'd worry about being able to buy ammo after a "UN takeover" or some such. Getting caught with ANY handgun in that situation is likely to end up with you in prison, whether you have ammo for it or not. IMHO, just buy the gun you want and a coupla thousand rounds of ammo, putting some in dessicant "for later". If you end up shooting against the army, you probably won't need that much :(

If you do need more, it'll be lying right in front of you already loaded into someone else's gun :)


-- Someone (, February 17, 2000.


And around we go... .

1) Handgun stopping power? Ain't no such thing, hardly. Accuracy (YOUR ability to be accurate) is most important, given adequate penetration, logistics (ammo, magazines, parts) is next. Caliber doesn't make THAT much difference as long as it's adequate. I've been carrying a Glock 19 (9mm) since 1990. That's enough to fight my way to a REAL gun, which is all a pistol's for... .

2) Bear ? WHERE?!? WHAT BEAR??? Don't know if you mean blacks or browns. Some folks lately, up north in big-ol-bear country, have been favoring cut-down Marlin .45-70 or .444 lever guns, so much so that the factory now makes them that way. I wouldn't carry a pistol caliber carbine expecting it to do that kind of a job, or even to take care of a blackie for that matter. On the cheap, for up close, an 18-20" barreled 12 ga. pump shotgun with sabot or Brenneke slugs would be a possible choice. Personally I have no use for pistol caliber carbines at all, but YMMV. But any excuse to get another gun is a good one in my book, so have fun.

-- Lee (, February 17, 2000.

Lee, you said,

"But any excuse to get another gun is a good one "

Damn Straight!


-- Someone (, February 17, 2000.


Let's be reasonable. How many guns do you need? I only want one....of each!

Watch six and keep your...

-- eyes_open (best@wishes.2all), February 18, 2000.

I would agree that an essential part of your decision process should be a trip (or trips) to a range where you can rent pistols in both calibers. I recommend shooting at least a box of 50 rds with each. You may find out some surprising facts.

Myself, I can hit consistently with a Colt LW frame .45 but less so with a full size pistol. It's supposed to be the reverse. 9mm Beretta's do not fit my hand but a Browning will. I am proficient with either caliber, but .357 mag 4" Colts and Smiths do not work well and I cannot hit the proverbial "broad side of the barn" with a revolver under 3" in barrel length. I cannot get my trigger finger through the guard on most Glocks and all those stories about Cops shooting themselves in the butt in training sessions make me leery of the triggers anyway. Yet another odd bit: one of the best sessions I ever had was with a friend's Astra 900 9mmm. This is a WWII era Spanish surplus pistol and it cost him $65 originally. Wierd looking, with equally funny-looking grips but a great shooter. Try everything and discount nothing.

They'll probably be argueing about 40 watt range laser rifles someday. There is a certain amount of validity in comparing stopping power and bullet design and magazine capacity, ad infinitum but more important to me is this question: can you make consistent hits with your choice?

-- chairborne commando (, February 18, 2000.

OK OK OK (ala Joe Pesci in Lethal Weapon :-) )

I'm baaaack!

I thought the question was 9 mm or .40 S&W. Silly me. These; as well as the .45 ACP, .357 mag, .380, .25, or even 22 LR (did I leave anyone out?) are small caliber self defense sidearms.

How'd we get from people defense to nasty 'ole bears, (assuming you get between a momma & her cubs or do something so stupid it should be fatal).

OK OK OK, bears. Lethal defense, short range, in my opinion, is best served with a 12 ga w/ slugs. Sabots for rifled barrels, rifled slugs for smooth barrels. Magazine extensions for Rem 870 pumps can be acquired through Cabela's (formerly Gander Moutain) or Brownells. I'm sure they are available other places, but this is where I know you can find them. I have seen discussions about rigled slugs, and their twist, and rifled slug barrels, and I don't have a clue about this. Ask somebody who knows, and that ain't me.

If you want exotic or rare, I know a fellow who a has a .356 (yes that's right, NOT .357, look it up), lever action that will drop anything in North America. I thought it was BS, and it took some time to find the ballistics, but he was right! (I hate being wrong, and it cost me a six pack of imports.)

Per your statement, for hikes or photography, I have heard, but do not know, that there are some very effective pepper sprays that are non lethal for all concerned :-) (Horrible sentence structure, but beer will do that)

I'd say that was my 2 cents worth, but y'all gotta know that its at least a nickel ninety-five worth.

Eyes open - any relation to check six from last year? I've been a forum fan for about 13 months. (Doomer since about '85, so used to ridicule :-) )

Sorry for the length, couldn't get it all in in less.


-- Look Out! (, February 19, 2000.

-- Look Out!,

If you really want to drop a bear, and want something exotic, why stop with the 12 gauge? Go for a .50 BMG! If that won't stop a bear, not much will. Personally however, I'd go with the "discretion is the better part of valor" theory myself.


As far as Glocks, I was shooting a friend's .40 cal and somehow managed to take two divots out of my skin in front of my thumb from a combo of poor hand position and (well, can't really blame it on anything else I guess). After somehow doing it TWICE I said "to H*ll with it". Haven't had that problem with anything else, so who knows, but I'm glad I didn't buy one before finding that out!

And wandering really OT from the thread's intent, I really like my Rem 870! After firing thousands of rounds through it over the years, I can still say it has NEVER given me a single problem. Now THAT'S worth owning.


-- Someone (, February 19, 2000.

Ok....this way-....I know about .45's and .357's. All I'm considering is this nice, light little carbine for backpacking and home defense. Let's face it- A .45 or .357 would be nice but I can't swing $400+ for one at the moment. I can swing $185 for the carbine...all I'm trying to decide is whethewr the 9mm or .40 cal would be better- Ease of getting ammo and if I have to poke some idiot full of holes whether I can do it in one or two shots or if I have to waste all 10 rounds from the clip. [We're not talking Jason from Friday the 13th here, just yer normal, run-of-the-mill asshole.] I have a nice Mossberg 500. But to carry it and my camera gear and ammo and misc survival/camping gear and I'd need a pack animal. The carbine is about 8lbs loaded. Eventually I WILL get another .357 but due to disability and non-job at the moment I just can't swing it. Also about name 'Satanta' means 'Whitebear'. It's Native American and was given to me by my chief- I'm not NA. but I am more like that than I am a white man and am an brother accepted in three tribes. I won't shoot a bear if it can be avoided. however I know from my past as a bear hunters guide in Michigan that you don't need a bazooka to kill a bear. We used bows and arrows and .22mags. Now-in a serious bear attack situatiuon 99.99% of the people couldn't hit a bear with a weapon- .50BMG with a thousand rounds and they would still miss. I'm not worried about bears. Was a joke. What I want is a nice round [9mm or .40, remember?] that would be a nice pack gun so if I stay out for a few weeks I can shoot a deer or a rabbit and be sure to kill without blowing it to pieces. And again- if I need to use on a *cough* human that I won't have to waste a bunch of expensive ammo to bring them down as well. Later, after I get things settled out- Got a nice S&W .45 handgun I will get. But for now, the carbine will get me a little better armed than my single 12G. Mossberg. So how about it? 9mm or .40 cal? };-]

-- Satanta (, February 19, 2000.

Satanta: Since budgetary considerations are a major factor, I stand by my 2-16 post and recommend a 9mm. If you can get a "cheaper than dirt" catalog and see the price of some of the military surplus or foreign manufactured stuff you'll see what I mean. Also, when backpacking, a larger number of rounds can be carried for the same weight. Good luck. (Great thread, particularly some of the tangents)

-- JCC (, February 20, 2000.


I wasn't overly serious on the "bears" thing myself. To get on topic, it seems several police depts. here are changing from 9mm to .40 cal for increased stopping power, but personally I agree with JCC in that if what you want is a *cheap* shooter, get the 9mm. There's so much of that ammo floating around it'll always be here, and probably cheaper than anything other than .22lr. Again though, my biggest criteria would be how accurate you are shooting either one.

Good luck in your choice from,


-- Someone (, February 20, 2000.

Frank: I don't have a 9 but I am surprised that ammo cost is anywhere near 22lr. For Satantas ability to shoot it, I think he said it would be a carbine, which increases the likelihood of accuracy.

Satanta: Another advantage is if you get a 9mm sidearm in the future, on the trail both weapons would be able to use the same ammo.

-- JCC (, February 20, 2000.

Frank, JCC- Yeah, this was a fun talk, eh?

Actually, for a guy who is legally blind I'm a hell of a shot with almost any firearm I've used, Notable exceptions were a .22mag revolver and my old .30-30 Winchester. But even with one eye gone and my vision at 20/200 in my right eye I could draw and knock a cat off a fence with my .22 Llama semi-auto at 30 paces. [Used to run a horse ranch in Texas, moved there and there were 38 of them running around getting into stuff... left 8 alive.]

So I'm not too worried. Plus I can always trade the toy for something else if I'm not satisfied. Thinking about it I'll go with the 9mm. Ballistics should be similar to the M-1 carbine I had a few years ago and until I can get another AK-47 or some such thing... /;-]

Well, care all and as been yer 6!


-- Satanta (, February 20, 2000.

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