Why I switched from 9mm to 45 ACP

In the 1980s there were three events that helped influence my opinion on handguns and handgun calibers.

#1 – My dad and I were having a discussion on a revolver vs a pistol.  Even though a revolver holds fewer rounds then a pistol, my dad liked the revolver over pistol the  due to the reliability of the revolver.  There was nothing to jam with the revolver like there is with a pistol.

My dad worked as a Jasper County Texas deputy sheriff during the 1970s.  Even though I greatly respect his opinion, I feel that his opinion might have been influenced by organizations like the FBI who used a service revolver instead of a pistol like the 1911.

The service revolver my dad used was a S&W model 66 combat magnum.  When I graduated high school in 1986, mom and dad bought me a model 66 combat magnum just like dads.

There were two major sticking points on the revolver vs pistol discussion my dad and I had.  Those points where the effectiveness of the 357 magnum, and the reliability of the revolver.

If you are going to use a handgun, make sure its reliable and make sure the cartridge is large enough to get the job done.

#2 – When I was around 16 or maybe 17 years old, a buddy of mine and I went over to a mutual friends house.  The mutual friend brought us out to a field where we shot a 1911 45 acp.  The 1911 belong to the friends dad.  We had permission to be in the field, and the parent knew we had a handgun.

That was the first time I had ever shot a pistol, much less a 1911.

Shooting the 1911 was “enjoyable”.  I do not how else to describe it.  The recoil was not excessive, the trigger pull was just right, fast reloading as compared to a revolver.

#3 – Military testing in the 1980s as they were looking for a new handgun.

As the military test were being done, I picked up every gun magazine that talked about the test.  I just happened to have had a subscription to Shooting Times.  I remember getting the magazine in the mail that had “Beretta won the war” on the front cover.  A good bit of that issue was dedicated to the military testing.

As the military was looking for a 9mm pistol, there was always the 9mm vs 45 acp debate going on in the background.  People from both sides of the debate voiced their opinion, then there was the FBI ballistics test, how the 9mm and the 45 acp preformed in times of war.

There was one major difference between the military test and the civilian test, the military can not use hollow point ammunition.  While the civilian market was studying the effective of different types of hollow point ammunition, the military was focusing on the reliability of various handguns.

The military testing boiled down to the same thing my dad told me – effectiveness of the caliber and reliability of the firearm.

Beretta 92FS

I bought my Beretta 92fs in January of 1989.  Over the past 23+ years, the pistol has been a proven performer.  Some of my buddies and I used to go to a local sand pit where we would shoot over 2,000 rounds of 9mm in a single day.  The Beretta 92fs shot everything, and I mean everything.

The only type of ammunition that did not work well was CCI blazer aluminum case.  For some reason those rounds liked to turn vertical in the magazine.  If the magazine had an anti-tilt follower, the rounds turning vertical in the magazine would not have been an issue.

The military test greatly influenced my decision to buy a Beretta 92fs.  When the time came to buy, it was either the Beretta or the Sig Sauer, I went with the Beretta.

As much as I like my Beretta, I also have one major complaint, and that is the trigger. The trigger absolutely sucks. The first round (double action) is ok, the second round (single action) is terrible. The trigger feels like it has a mile of slack.

Overall, for the past 23+ years I have been very happy with the performance of the Beretta 92fs.

I have to admit, ever since I decided to go with the 9mm I have had doubts about its performance.  During the 1980s and 1990s there were various stories of heavy clothing that prevented the 9mm from achieving optimal penetration.

During the Moro Rebellion, the 38 long colt proved to be ineffective in stopping a charging Moro warrior. The inability of the 38 long colt has always been in the back of my head. How effective would the 9mm be in stopping a charging meth head?

Shortly after various police agencies adopted the 9mm in the 1980s, stories started coming out about police officers having to shoot people on PCP several times.

From the Moro warrior and PCP examples, I had doubts about how effective the 9mm would be in stopping looters during a SHTF situation.

Remington 1911 R1

My wife bought me a Remington 1911 R1 for my birthday. Ever since I shot a 1911 back in the mid-1980s I have always wanted one. I am not getting any younger, so why not go ahead and buy a 1911?

Around 15 years ago I bought a Ruger P90, which is chambered in 45 acp. About 10 years my wife and I got into a financial bind, and I had to sell the Ruger P90 to pay some bills. The P90 is a nice pistol, but its no 1911.

There is just something about the 1911.  It feels right in the hand, recoil is not excessive, its easy to field strip, its reliable,,, what is there not to like?

One of the things that makes the 9mm comparable the the 45 acp is how well the 9mm hollow points perform.  If you remove the hollow points from the equation, what you are left with is 45 acp making a bigger hole then 9mm.

If you are going to sling a chunk of lead down range, why not sling the biggest lead you can find?

I find comfort shooting a 220 grain bullet, as compared to a 115 grain bullet.

There is just something about the 1911 that feels “right”, if that makes sense to you.

Magazine Capacity

One of the big debates between the 9mm and the 45 acp is the magazine capacity. Would you rather have 15 rounds of 9mm or 7 or 8 rounds of 45 acp?

If magazine capacity should be the deciding factor, why did so maybe law enforcement agencies carry 6 shot revolvers after the 1911 was introduced? When the 1911 was introduced, and proven in world War I, why didn’t all law enforcement agencies switch over to the 1911 for the extra rounds?

One of the reasons why I originally picked the 9mm over the 45 acp is because of the 15 round magazine. I have to admit that I like having 15 rounds over 7 or 8 rounds.

Should magazine capacity be the deciding factor over cartridge performance?

Stockpiling Ammunition

From a survivalist point of view, while stockpiling ammunition for SHTF / TEOTWAWKI,its important to stockpile what works not only in your firearm, but also what works in your buddies firearm.

Lets say that some kind of long term SHTF / TEOTWAWKI situation happens.  You bug out to your Bug Out Location.  A couple of weeks later some relatives or friends of the family show up.  The guest bring whatever food, water, supplies and firearms they have.  Now you and your buddies are going to have to share the ammunition, just like all other supplies.

Its the classic debate, 9mm VS 45 acp.  Some people skip the debate all together and go with a 40S&W.  I do not care for the snap recoil of the 40, so I am staying with either the 9mm or the 45 acp.

We mentioned earlier that the 9mm relies on hollow point ammunition to match the performance of the 45 acp.  Why should I buy expensive hollow point 9mm when I can just buy 45 acp FMJ?

Share your opinion in the 9mm vs 45 acp debate.  Which one is your primary sidearm, and why?