Why the Nine? Advocating the 9x19mm

Why the Nine?   Advocating the 9x19mm

Why the Nine? Advocating the 9x19mm
by Todd Louis Green, me@greent.com

Probably no other handgun cartridge has been so misunderstood and maligned as the 9x19 (also called 9mm Luger, 9mm Parabellum, or just 9mm). But in a world where new calibers seem to go in and out of vogue almost daily (10mm, .40S&W, 357SIG, 400CorBon, what's next?), the venerable 9mm still seems to be a popular choice for shooters. Why?
The reasons are legion and depend, to a great extent, on each individual asking the question. However, the basics can all be boiled down to what I call the Three E's of Ease of Use, Economics, and Effectiveness.

Ease of Use Compared to most other defensive calibers, the 9mm has relatively little recoil and muzzle flip. This affects both new shooters and more experienced handgunners.
Beginners frequently have problems taming recoil. This can lead to bad habits such as flinching, which makes accuracy almost impossible to achieve. More importantly, a shooter who is recoil sensitive might get discouraged trying to learn with more punishing rounds and give up shooting altogether. With the light recoil of the 9mm, inexperienced shooters can learn the basics of sight picture, trigger control, etc., without being battered by the gun.

Of course, with experience, most shooters learn to handle recoil properly and can move on to other calibers if they choose. However, recoil force has a direct impact on things like muzzle flip, which in turn affect how quickly and accurately a person can make follow-up shots. This shouldn't surprise anyone. The more the muzzle flips up, the more time and effort it takes to bring it back down and on target. Time equals marksmanship, and the more time you have to take your aimed shot, the more accurate you will be. Therefore, the 9x19 allows a shooter of any given skill level to be faster and more accurate when firing multiple rounds.

Most tactical handgun trainers agree that the ability to put multiple rounds downrange into a target is critical for self-defense. The obvious conclusion, then, is that the 9mm gives the shooter an edge when performing double taps (two rapid shots to Center of Mass, or "COM") and similar defensive techniques.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Economics Nine millimeter ammunition is just plain cheap. Places like Natchez and Cascade regularly have sales at around $7/box of 50. You can find even better prices if you find a reputable commercial reloader or quality surplus ammo at gun shops and gun shows. In fact, 9x19 ammo is so cheap that it's almost a waste of time and effort to reload for it.
By comparison, most other defensive ammo calibers are significantly more expensive. Discussing just practice ammo (like FMJ or Blazer), the 9mm is usually two to four dollars cheaper per box than comparable .40S&W and .45ACP ammo; 10mm and 357SIG ammunition can be twice as expensive! Of course, shooters of these other calibers can save money by reloading, but that requires (1) an outlay of substantial funds to buy the reloading equipment and (2) time and effort spent sorting brass and loading ammunition. Many shooters would rather not be bothered with all of that, myself included.

Also, in my experience, great deals (like specials, sales, etc.) on 9mm ammo are much more common than for other calibers. Surplus NATO 9mm "ball" ammo makes an excellent training/practice round.

Less expensive ammunition, of course, means more ammunition. Whether you want to spend $10 or $100 or $1000 each month practicing, you'll get more for your money with 9mm. More ammo means more practice, and more practice means greater skill.

In a defensive shooting situation, shot placement is much more important than tiny differences in so-called "stopping power." The only way to improve shot placement is by practicing. By switching to 9mm from .40S&W or .45ACP, you can practice half again as much for the same cost.

When considered along with the 9mm's inherently reduced recoil, the economic efficiency of shooting 9mm means that you get better, faster, cheaper.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Effectiveness This is the big one, of course. Many of the "big names" in the gunzine world disparage the 9mm right and left because, they claim, it lacks "knockdown power" or "stopping power" or whatever they're calling it this month.
I won't lie to you. They're right. The average 9mm load probably isn't as effective as a defensive round as the average .40S&W, .45ACP, 357SIG, or 10mm round.

Whoa, hold on a minute! Did he just say the 9mm isn't as good as those others?

No. I said that the average load wasn't as good. When you start to look at the best loads in each caliber, you begin to see that they're almost identical in terminal performance (ability to penetrate, expand, and otherwise wound a violent threat).

Here are some samples of performance in bare gelatin:

Round Penetration Expansion Wound Area
Federal HydraShok

9mm 124gr +P+ 13.3" 0.67" 44.8 sq. in.
.40S&W 155gr 13.3" 0.68" 47.9 sq. in.
.45ACP 185gr +p 12.9" 0.69" 31.5 sq. in.
.45ACP 230gr 13.7" 0.71" 28.4 sq. in.
Federal PDA

9mm 135gr 11.5" 0.72"
.40S&W 135gr 9.6" 0.68"
.45ACP 165gr 11.3" 0.78"
Remington Golden Saber

9mm 147gr 12.8" 0.68"
.40S&W 165gr 12.5" 0.67"
.45ACP 230gr 14.1" 0.76"

As you can see, the 9mm versions of most "premium" loads are very close and sometimes superior to the .40S&W and .45ACP versions. It's all about bullet design, not bullet weight or velocity.

The problem is that while there are few "bad" loads in the other calibers, there are tons of "bad" 9mm defensive choices out there. Many rounds either fail to expand or fail to penetrate, or both. It is important that you, as a shooter, do a little research and choose 9x19mm ammunition which is tailored to your particular needs.

So for 9mm, load selection becomes paramount. (Click here to see CALIBERS recommendations in 9x19mm) But once you choose a good load, it works just like a good load in .40S&W, .45ACP, or any of those other calibers. Sure, it's not as heavy as the heavy bullets, and it's not as fast as the fastest bullets. But if it penetrates the same, expands the same, and disrupts tissue the same, who cares? All else being equal, I'd prefer a cheap, easy to control gun rather than one that makes me work harder and spend more money to get the same results.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------

Conclusion. The 9x19 certainly isn't the choice for everyone. Plenty of people are very hardware dependent or simply lack confidence in the 9mm because of anecdotes and the performance of some of the "bad" ammo discussed above. That's fine. Those people are certainly free to use bigger guns which generate more recoil, which they cannot afford to practice with as often, just to have the same terminal performance ("stopping power") as my wimpy little 9mm.
Oddly enough, I haven't found a single person so far who is so unimpressed with the stopping power of a 9mm that he is willing to stand downrange and catch one fired out of my Beretta. 8-)

Stay safe ...

All text, images, and HTML code Copyright © 1998-2002 Todd Louis Green or their respective owners. All rights reserved.

13 Comments

4 years 37 weeks ago, 10:38 AM

LittleDragon

LittleDragon's picture

Rank:
Points:
2560
Join Date:
Apr 2009
Location:
Dallas, Texas

the article is interesting too and like so many article on 9mm ammo it leave out the newer 9mm x 21mm para mag, 9mm x 22mm para super mag and the 9mm x 23mm para ultra mag. all but the x23s will fit and fire from any normal 9mm parabellum pistol. like have say before, the Mauser 9mm x 25mm round is not technically a parabellum neh. to say nothing of the new 9mm rifle rounds coming out such as the 9.3mm x 39mm Russian, the IWI 9mm x 44mm for which they are also designing a serie of rifles and the 9mm x 66mm IWI sniper round that a new Galil is being design for too. ryo is fascinate by 9mm pistols and really would like to have one. can't wait to see what the new 9mm Galil sniper rifle look like since have been hearing about it for almost 1 sai now. 9mms are great and like the article demonstrate, they are powerful round for cheaper too. look at those comparison stats to the 40s&w and .45acp! and when Bul and IWI come out with the 9x23 +p+ look out! btw, IWI already load the 9x21 and 9x22 with special propellants. beretta already makes their very excellent CX4 Storm bullpup in a 9mm x 21mm version. IWI make a version of the Tavor in 9mm x 21mm too. when the Bul company finally come out with that 9x23 special propellant round, you can be sure that ryo will be bugging pops to stand in line with neh. the so call humble 9mm x 19mm para is really a bad boi's round. the believers like ryo and Mr. Green will grow in numbers you can be sure! as victor chan have point out, the 9mm x 21mmSP (Special Propellant) is very similar in performance to the super .38 as well, and victor chan have more than 26 sai experience as reloader neh. and from what ryo have read here on the forum, many of our people get a kick out of target shooting 9mm para +p+ rounds.

Your ichiban magomusuko,

Little Dragon

Moshi Moshi from LittleDragon
4 years 37 weeks ago, 10:44 AM

Reaper308

Reaper308's picture


Rank:
Secretary of Defense
Points:
6226
Join Date:
Jun 2008
Location:
Airstrip One, Oceania
9x19

has always been a good round. Its great for beginners and plinking because of the cost. Its also good enough for defense. I still fell more comfortable carring a .40S&W and using another .40S&W as my night stand gun for all 2 legged threats. If I same shoot .40 just as accurately as 9mm, why not? After reading the article, I still find it very hard to believe that any factory 9mm round would have as much penetration and tissue damage as a .40 dpx round

"Proelium Comminus Auctoritate" "Sometimes the light at the end of the tunnel is a muzzle flash."
4 years 37 weeks ago, 11:19 AM

LittleDragon

LittleDragon's picture

Rank:
Points:
2560
Join Date:
Apr 2009
Location:
Dallas, Texas

the article only cover the standard 9mm x 19mm parabellum round. as ryo point out in comments, today there are more options for the 9mm than the standard parabellum too. there are many new 9mm parabellum rounds available that give lots higher performance and you can try some of them in your 9mm because the kewl thing about many of these powered up 9mm rounds will fit and fire from any standard pistol chambered for the 9mm parabellum. the 9mm x 21mm para mag and the 9mm x 22mm para super mag will fit and fire from your weapon. only the 9mm x 23mm para ultra will not. these rounds hold more propellant even though they seat the bullet slightly deeper in the neck so it will fit standard 9mm weapons. these up powered 9mms are not much more expensive than ordinary 9mm rounds either. except for the 9mm x 23mm Bul and IWI rounds. btw, beretta will soon be producing these too, and they already make the 9x21s. as far as know no one has yet make a 9mm x 20mm and it seem like there would be no reason for this because you wouldn't gain much because of the deeper seating of the bullet. ryo have fire the 9mm x 21mm Beretta CX4 Storm and would like to try the Tavor in this round too. so if the x19s are so close then you can imagine what the up powered x21, x22 and x23s are like.

Your friend,

LittleDragon

Moshi Moshi from LittleDragon
4 years 37 weeks ago, 11:28 AM

Reaper308

Reaper308's picture


Rank:
Secretary of Defense
Points:
6226
Join Date:
Jun 2008
Location:
Airstrip One, Oceania
ryo

comparing a 9x19 to a 9x21 or 9x22 is kind of like comparing a .40S&W to a 10mm auto. I realize that there will be a lot more behind a 9x22 than a 9x19, but for the purpose of this discussion, I was just stinking to what the article refered to. What I said still stands... in a defense situation, I would rather be holding a .40 than a 9x19.

"Proelium Comminus Auctoritate" "Sometimes the light at the end of the tunnel is a muzzle flash."
4 years 33 weeks ago, 4:47 AM

mehranbiz

mehranbiz's picture

Rank:
Brigadier General
Points:
315
Join Date:
Jun 2009
Location:
Karachi, Sindh, Pakistan
Good discussion

Good Discussion please keep it on, Please again calrify that 9x21, 9x22, 9x23 canbe fired with any normal 9mm handgun,Most Poeple preffer the cheaper and most available rounds

I wish million of visitors for my website http://www.mehranbiz.com
4 years 33 weeks ago, 5:15 AM

luckybychoice

luckybychoice's picture


Rank:
Secretary of the Treasury
Points:
6761
Join Date:
May 2009
Location:
United States
The way i see it

the 9mm is the military choice and anyone concerned about what type of ammo will be available if the shit ever really hits the fan should have a 9mm gun available because the other ammunition will dry up quickly and you will use your last few rounds of .40 cal(or whatever)to get a 9mm so you can continue to fight.I have a glock 26 and 19 and carry one or the other daily but i am pretty confident in my shooting ability because i practice,capacity and availability makes up for the rather anemic 9mm.
Now i am talking about real shit hitting the fan, not personal/home defense.

i tried being reasonable,i didn't like it, NRA LIFE MEMBER,USMC VETERAN
4 years 33 weeks ago, 8:09 PM

rhager24

rhager24's picture

Rank:
Colonel
Points:
165
Join Date:
Jul 2008
Location:
Minnesota, United States
9mm

A 9mm is not too bad, but I agree with reaper. I feel better with a bigger bullet. I use a .45auto. He uses a .40S&W. Both better any day than a 9mm.
I was thinking getting a 9mm for my wife. Something she can handle. I can shoot the .45 at a target at 25 yards and hit the black all day. Why not if you can..

4 years 33 weeks ago, 8:12 PM

photobear6

photobear6's picture

Rank:
Lieutenant General
Points:
1576
Join Date:
Aug 2009

I'll keep my .40s&w Nothing says goodbye pest like a .40s&w in the chest.

America is not at war. The U.S. Military is at war. America is at the Mall. If you don't stand behind our troops, PLEASE feel free to stand in front of them!
4 years 33 weeks ago, 8:40 PM

rhager24

rhager24's picture

Rank:
Colonel
Points:
165
Join Date:
Jul 2008
Location:
Minnesota, United States
Boom

Like Sam noted, shot placement is key. You can get a kill with a well placed .22 Just use what your comfortable with. I do. God bless. Take care and don't take any shit from violent criminals, or wild animals.

4 years 32 weeks ago, 3:47 PM

Cool.Breeze.9mm

Cool.Breeze.9mm's picture

Rank:
Major General
Points:
485
Join Date:
Sep 2009
Location:
Bullhead, Arizona, United States
A-FUCKIN-MEN! 9MM

A-FUCKIN-MEN! 9MM

Taking (a) life one controled pair at a time.
4 years 25 weeks ago, 6:12 AM

PBR Driver

PBR Driver's picture

Rank:
Brigadier General
Points:
245
Join Date:
Oct 2009
Location:
Afton, Wyoming, United States
the 9?

Sub caliber training round.
We dropped nine and went back to the .45 for one reason...it works

INDIVIDUAL LIBERTY NEVER GOES OUT OF STYLE. If you do not love the CONSTITUTION AS IT IS WRITTEN then you are free to leave MY COUNTRY at this time.
4 years 25 weeks ago, 7:50 PM

Crazhman

Crazhman's picture

Rank:
Lieutenant Colonel
Points:
74
Join Date:
May 2009
Location:
Tucson, AZ, United States

glock 23 .40 S&W Nuff said

Obama = #1 Firearms Salesman of 2009
3 years 19 weeks ago, 1:08 AM

Lyle Hutchins 1

Lyle Hutchins 1's picture

Rank:
Lieutenant General
Points:
1261
Join Date:
Feb 2009
Location:
Cee-more, Ok., United States
9MM

Love both of my 9's. I now have 2300 rounds ball ammo, and 200 rds. of HP ammo. With ammo prices the way they are, I'm happy with them. Remember Double Tap? Now, the last 2 years we are trained 2 Center mass, 1 To the Face. We use Remington 124 gr. hollow pts. I asked the Range Master if I can use Hornady Critical Denfence ammo. He asked, "Think you can quallify with um"? I said Does a wild bear shit in the woods?, He said they would
be an excellant round to use. But they have to be 124 gr.
Lyle

Lyle Hutchinson
samD's picture
Posted by: samD
4 years 37 weeks ago
Views:
8,335
Comments:
13

Rating Overview

User Rating:
(2 votes)
This text will be replaced

Recent Activity