FBI Training Division Justifies 9mm Caliber Selection

LooserRounds got its hands on a PDF document from the FBI Training Division going into detailed justification of the 9mm Luger pistol round for Law Enforcement.

My take? Makes sense for law enforcement, but the caliber wars are far from over.


Full text of the justification below. If you want to see the original, hit the link to LooserRounds.

“May 6, 2014

FBI Training Division: FBI Academy, Quantico, VA

Executive Summary of Justification for Law Enforcement Partners

  • Caliber debates have existed in law enforcement for decades
  • Most of what is “common knowledge” with ammunition and its effects on the human target are rooted in myth and folklore
  • Projectiles are what ultimately wound our adversaries and the projectile needs to be the basis for the discussion on what “caliber” is best
  • In all the major law enforcement calibers there exist projectiles which have a high likelihood of failing LEO’s in a shooting incident and there are projectiles which have a high ting incident likelihood of succeeding for LEO’s in a shooting incident
  • Handgun stopping power is simply a myth
  • The single most important factor in effectively wounding a human target is to have penetration to a scientifically valid depth (FBI uses 12” – 18”)
  • LEO’s miss between 70 – 80 percent of the shots fired during a shooting incident
  • Contemporary projectiles (since 2007) have dramatically increased the terminal effectiveness of many premium line law enforcement projectiles (emphasis on the 9mm Luger offerings)
  • 9mm Luger now offers select projectiles which are, under identical testing conditions, I outperforming most of the premium line .40 S&W and .45 Auto projectiles tested by the FBI
  • 9mm Luger offers higher magazine capacities, less recoil, lower cost (both in ammunition and wear on the weapons) and higher functional reliability rates (in FBI weapons)
  • The majority of FBI shooters are both FASTER in shot strings fired and more ACCURATE with shooting a 9mm Luger vs shooting a .40 S&W (similar sized weapons)
  • There is little to no noticeable difference in the wound tracks between premium line law Auto enforcement projectiles from 9mm Luger through the .45 Auto
  • Given contemporary bullet construction, LEO’s can field (with proper bullet selection) 9mm Lugers with all of the terminal performance potential of any other law enforcement pistol caliber with none of the disadvantages present with the “larger” calibers

Justification for Law Enforcement Partners

Rarely in law enforcement does a topic stir a more passionate debate than the choice of handgun caliber made by a law enforcement organization. Many voice their opinions by repeating the old adage “bigger is better” while others have “heard of this one time” where a smaller caliber failed and a larger caliber “would have performed much better.” Some even subscribe to the belief that a caliber exists which will provide a “one shot stop.” It has been stated, “Decisions on ammunition selection are particularly difficult because many of the pertinent issues related to handguns and ammunition are firmly rooted in myth and folklore.” This still holds as true today as it did when originally stated 20 years ago.

Caliber, when considered alone, brings about a unique set of factors to consider such as magazine capacity for a given weapon size, ammunition availability, felt recoil, weight and cost. What is rarely discussed, but most relevant to the caliber debate is what projectile is being considered for use and its terminal performance potential.

One should never debate on a gun make or caliber alone. The projectile is what wounds and ultimately this is where the debate/discussion should focus. In each of the three most common law enforcement handgun calibers (9mm Luger, .40 Smith & Wesson and .45 AUTO) there are projectiles which have a high likelihood of failing law enforcement officers and in each of these three calibers there are projectiles which have a high likelihood of succeeding for law enforcement officers during a shooting incident. The choice of a service projectile must undergo intense scrutiny and scientific evaluation in order to select the best available option.

Understanding Handgun Caliber Terminal Ballistic Realities

Many so‐called “studies” have been performed and many analyses of statistical data have been undertaken regarding this issue. Studies simply involving shooting deaths are irrelevant since the goal of law enforcement is to stop a threat during a deadly force encounter as quickly as possible. Whether or not death occurs is of no consequence as long as the threat of death or serious injury to law enforcement personnel and innocent third parties is eliminated.

The concept of immediate incapacitation is the only goal of any law enforcement shooting and is the underlying rationale for decisions regarding weapons, ammunition, calibers and training.1

Studies of “stopping power” are irrelevant because no one has ever been able to define how much power, force, or kinetic energy, in and of itself, is required to effectively stop a violent and determined adversary quickly, and even the largest of handgun calibers are not capable of delivering such force. Handgun stopping power is simply a myth. Studies of so‐called “one shot stops” being used as a tool to define the effectiveness of one handgun cartridge, as opposed to another, are irrelevant due to the inability to account for psychological influences and due to the lack of reporting specific shot placement. In short, extensive studies have been done over the years to “prove” a certain cartridge is better than another by using grossly flawed methodology and or bias as a precursor to manipulating statistics. In order to have a meaningful understanding of handgun terminal ballistics, one must only deal with facts that are not in dispute within the medical community, i.e. medical realities, and those which are also generally accepted within law enforcement, i.e. tactical realities.

Medical Realities

Shots to the Central Nervous System (CNS) at the level of the cervical spine (neck) or above, are the only means to reliably cause immediate incapacitation. In this case, any of the calibers commonly used in law enforcement, regardless of expansion, would suffice for obvious reasons. Other than shots to the CNS, the most reliable means for affecting rapid incapacitation is by placing shots to large vital organs thus causing rapid blood loss. Simply stated, shot placement is the most critical component to achieving either method of incapacitation.

Wounding factors between rifle and handgun projectiles differ greatly due to the dramatic differences in velocity, which will be discussed in more detail herein. The wounding factors, in order of importance, are as follows:

A. Penetration:

A projectile must penetrate deeply enough into the body to reach the large vital organs, namely heart, lungs, aorta, vena cava and to a lesser extent liver and spleen, in order to cause rapid blood loss. It has long been established by expert medical professionals, experienced in evaluating gunshot wounds, that this equates to a range of penetration of 12‐18 inches, depending on the size of the individual and the angle of the bullet path (e.g., through arm, shoulder, etc.). With modern properly designed, expanding handgun bullets, this objective is realized, albeit more consistently with some law enforcement projectiles than others. 1 Handgun Wounding Factors and Effectiveness: Firearms Training Unit, Ballistic Research Facility, 1989.

B. Permanent Cavity:

The extent to which a projectile expands determines the diameter of the permanent cavity which, simply put, is that tissue which is in direct contact with the projectile and is therefore destroyed. Coupled with the distance of the path of the projectile (penetration), the total permanent cavity is realized. Due to the elastic nature of most human tissue and the low velocity of handgun projectiles relative to rifle projectiles, it has long been established by medical professionals, experienced in evaluating gunshot wounds, that the damage along a wound path visible at autopsy or during surgery cannot be distinguished between the common handgun calibers used in law enforcement. That is to say an operating room surgeon or Medical Examiner cannot distinguish the difference between wounds caused by .35 to .45 caliber projectiles.

C. Temporary Cavity:

The temporary cavity is caused by tissue being stretched away from the permanent cavity. If the temporary cavity is produced rapidly enough in elastic tissues, the tensile strength of the tissue can be exceeded resulting in tearing of the tissue. This effect is seen with very high velocity projectiles such as in rifle calibers, but is not seen with handgun calibers. For the temporary cavity of most handgun projectiles to have an effect on wounding, the velocity of the projectile needs to exceed roughly 2,000 fps. At the lower velocities of handgun rounds, the temporary cavity is not produced with sufficient velocity to have any wounding effect; therefore any difference in temporary cavity noted between handgun calibers is irrelevant. “In order to cause significant injuries to a structure, a pistol bullet must strike that structure directly.”2DiMaio, V.J.M.: Gunshot Wounds, Elsevier Science Publishing Company, New York, NY, 1987, page 42.

D. Fragmentation:

Fragmentation can be defined as “projectile pieces or secondary fragments of bone which are impelled outward from the permanent cavity and may sever muscle tissues, blood vessels, etc., apart from the permanent cavity”3. Fragmentation does not reliably occur in soft tissue handgun wounds due to the low velocities of handgun bullets. When fragmentation does occur, fragments are usually found within one centimeter (.39”) of the permanent cavity.4 Due to the fact that most modern premium law enforcement ammunition now commonly uses bonded projectiles (copper jacket bonded to lead core), the likelihood of fragmentation is very low. For these reasons, wounding effects secondary to any handgun caliber bullet fragmentation are considered inconsequential. 3 Fackler, M.L., Malinowski, J.A.: “The Wound Profile: A Visual Method for Quantifying Gunshot Wound Components”, Journal of Trauma 25: 522‐529, 1958. 4 Handgun Wounding Factors and Effectiveness: Firearms Training Unit, Ballistic Research Facility, 1989.


Any discussion of stopping armed adversaries with a handgun has to include the psychological state of the adversary. Psychological factors are probably the most important relative to achieving rapid incapacitation from a gunshot wound to the torso.5 First and foremost, the psychological effects of being shot can never be counted on to stop an individual from continuing conscious voluntary action. Those who do stop commonly do so because theydecide to, not because they have to. The effects of pain are often delayed due to survival patterns secondary to “fight or flight” reactions within the body, drug/alcohol influences and in the case of extreme anger or aggression, pain can simply be ignored. Those subjects who decide to stop immediately after being shot in the torso do so commonly because they know they have been shot and are afraid of injury or death, regardless of caliber, velocity, or bullet design. It should also be noted that psychological factors can be a leading cause of incapacitation failures and as such, proper shot placement, adequate penetration, and multiple shots on target cannot be over emphasized. 5 Ibid.

Tactical Realities

Shot placement is paramount and law enforcement officers on average strike an adversary with only 20 – 30 percent of the shots fired during a shooting incident. Given the reality that shot placement is paramount (and difficult to achieve given the myriad of variables present in a deadly force encounter) in obtaining effective incapacitation, the caliber used must maximize the likelihood of hitting vital organs. Typical law enforcement shootings result in only one or two solid torso hits on the adversary. This requires that any projectile which strikes the torso has as high a probability as possible of penetrating deeply enough to disrupt a vital organ.

The Ballistic Research Facility has conducted a test which compares similar sized Glock pistols in both .40 S&W and 9mm calibers, to determine if more accurate and faster hits are achievable with one versus the other. To date, the majority of the study participants have shot more quickly and more accurately with 9mm caliber Glock pistols. The 9mm provides struggling shooters the best chance of success while improving the speed and accuracy of the most skilled shooters.


While some law enforcement agencies have transitioned to larger calibers from the 9mm Luger in recent years, they do so at the expense of reduced magazine capacity, more felt recoil, and given adequate projectile selection, no discernible increase in terminal performance.

Other law enforcement organizations seem to be making the move back to 9mm Luger taking advantage of the new technologies which are being applied to 9mm Luger projectiles. These organizations are providing their armed personnel the best chance of surviving a deadly force encounter since they can expect faster and more accurate shot strings, higher magazine capacities (similar sized weapons) and all of the terminal performance which can be expected from any law enforcement caliber projectile.

Given the above realities and the fact that numerous ammunition manufacturers now make 9mm Luger service ammunition with outstanding premium line law enforcement projectiles, the move to 9mm Luger can now be viewed as a decided advantage for our armed law enforcement personnel.”

If you want to know more about FBI test protocols for duty ammo, the premium line law enforcement projectiles the FBI is talking about and what rounds to select for self defence, here is a related article: looserounds.com duty/defense-carry-ammunition-selection

Nathan S

One of TFB’s resident Jarheads, Nathan now works within the firearms industry. A consecutive Marine rifle and pistol expert, he enjoys local 3-gun, NFA, gunsmithing, MSR’s, & high-speed gear. Nathan has traveled to over 30 countries working with US DoD & foreign MoDs.

The above post is my opinion and does not reflect the views of any company or organization.


  • M.M.D.C.

    “What is rarely discussed, but most relevant to the caliber debate is what projectile is being considered for use and its terminal performance potential.

    One should never debate on a gun make or caliber alone. The projectile is what wounds and ultimately this is where the debate/discussion should focus.”

    But the projectile can’t perform as designed without sufficient velocity, right? Also, shot placement still matters. It seems they’ve simply replace one sola for another.

    • allannon

      The point is that 9mm and .45/.40 perform smilarly, with (assuming any care in round choice) negligeable differences in round performance. So, since 9mm has less recoil (assuming similar guns) and you can stuff more rounds in the stick, why not carry 9mm?

      Regarding shot placement, that’s theoretically true. The problem is that when it comes to emergencies people get hit with adrenaline, and their fine motor skills kinda go to crap. Given sufficient experience that reaction can be moderated, and some few people just don’t react that way (but, commensurately, some react worse), but there’s not really a way to train or find that out except by doing, which isn’t really practical.

      • big daddy

        I have been one on one in a lot of dangerous situations, not by choice. I do not get that surge, most people do and that’s why training is so important. When everything goes out the window hopefully your training will kick in automatically. You naturally go into auto mode and do what you did by repetitive actions.

    • Their point was that the design and construction of the bullet matters way more than its diameter.

      • M.M.D.C.

        I agree. I just think it’s curious that they would have inserted the above as it sounds so much like the old “if it don’t start with a 4” argument.

  • Blake

    My God, a document put out by a US government agency that makes good sense!

    • big daddy

      Amazing isn’t it!!!!!

      • supergun

        Next year they will switch to the 40 because it is a better bullet.

        • Jamie Clemons

          Next year they will switch to .22’s just because.

          • supergun

            Give them a reason to buy ammo

        • Kivaari

          They already use the .40. The .40 does have negatives that out weigh the benefit of a 1mm bigger bullet.

          • supergun

            My wife says her Smith and Wesson M&P 40 shoots better than the Taurus Model 92 9mm (the one that looks like the Beretta 92).

          • Tuulos

            And .223 AR-15 shoots better than 7.62 AK.

            What your post told us was that your wife shoots her S&W M&P better than the Taurus Model 92. The comparison doesn’t work since they are two different weapons.

          • supergun

            I love the 223 AR. I shot the M-16. Probably the best weapon ever made. But the AR-10 308 had more firepower. Same with the 7.62 AK. Both are heavier and the ammo is heavier. A very important factor when you are in the jungle all day long. But the AR-10 308 and AK 7.62 against the 223 is like a football playing fighting a tennis player. As for my wife,,,I think it is neat that she enjoys shooting the 40 cal. over the 9mm. After all, this is what the article was pretty much about. So much for your theories.

          • bb

            The article has nothing to do with Rifle calibers. It is also not about enjoyment but rather, effectiveness of the projectile.

          • supergun

            My carbine shoots the 40 caliber pistol ammo. My other carbine shoots the 9mm pistol ammo. So what is your point. Are you the TFB nazi police tending to other people’s business. You sound like a full bloody liberal. Get lost.

          • gunsandrockets

            I think his point was well made: that pistol design, in particular a grip the properly matches the shooter, is more important to accurate shooting than lighter recoil. Hence the larger caliber M&P shoots better than the smaller caliber Model 92.

          • The Brigadier

            And .308 NATO shoots better than .223 and on and on.

          • BB

            Did you even try and imagine how she would shoot and enjoy the 9mm version of the M&P? Certainly different platforms can make things more or less comfortable. My 380LCP is uncomfortable to shoot with plus p ammo, but that doesn’t change its unique capability or roll in concealed carry.

          • supergun

            You are right. The M&P also has a 357 Sig. barrel. That is the main barrel on this gun. The 40 cal. is just a bonus. The 357 Sig is NICE shooting. And all that is, is a 9mm in a 40 cal. casing. I will take these 2 barrels over the 9mm barrel. That is just another man’s opinion. PS. I love the 9mm, but I prefer the 357, 40, and 45.

    • supergun

      You trust them?

  • Nimrod

    Jeff Cooper is rolling over in his grave.

    • Jon

      Why? As the article states the ammunition has greatly improved over the decades. I think Cooper through his own great wisdom would have looked at the facts and came to the same conclusion. The greatness of Cooper was the fact he could adapt to the every changing tactical environment.

      • iksnilol

        I find him somewhat ignorant.

        “.45 acp is best, everything else sucks and will barely scratch the BG”
        – Jeff Cooper (probably)

        • Jon

          If you like the .45 keep it. I carried a Colt 1911 series 70 for years. I choose to change but I also understand technology can make things perform better. I think Cooper would agree. So ignorance no, experience yes.

          • iksnilol

            He had a lot of good things but he was stuck too much on .45 acp.

          • Jon

            misread your last post. First read, I thought you were stating that the .45 ACP was the best. You were clearly quoting Cooper. My misread!

          • iksnilol

            No problem, I misread stuff all the time.

      • Cooper was a pretty major caliber cultist. I don’t think he’d be that happy with this document.

        • Jon

          With that said Nathaniel, Jeff Cooper was also involved in the design of the Bren Ten 10mm pistol. While not the .45 ACP he considered it more powerful.

          • Yes, Cooper was only willing to go down in caliber so long as that was accompanied by an increase in performance that pushed the gun into “wildly inappropriate” territory.

          • DrewN

            Hey, I bought a Bren 10 new. It is/was an enormous piece of crap (or at least the magazines were). It made my Delta Elite look like a Glock, which is saying something. Hell even my Automag (I’m a sucker for big bore semi’s that don’t work very well evidently) beats it for reliability. At least the Automag causes much excitement at the range when I break it out, the Bren is more like a novelty paperweight.

          • n0truscotsman

            “It made my Delta Elite look like a Glock, which is saying something”

            That IS saying something, wow…

            (my Delta Elite was as unreliable POS that behaved like a prototype Jaguar)

        • Mako_Dragoon

          Can you blame him? He didn’t have the high quality JHP ammo we have today. So the only way to improve equipment was with a larger or faster projectile.

          This is exactly why the military wants a larger pistol caliber while the FBI wants a smaller. Military shoots ball and FBI gets JHP.

          • Yes, I can blame him. Here’s a line from the 1989 FBI Training Unit paper “Handgun Wounding Factors and Effectiveness”:

            “Frequently, forensic pathologists cannot distinguish the wound track caused by a hollow point bullet (large temporary cavity) from that caused by a solid bullet (very small temporary cavity). There may be no physical difference in the wounds.”

            If the permanent wound track caused by a hollow point bullet is almost indistinguishable between that caused by an FMJ, how do you think a .45 ACP FMJ wound channel will be different from a 9mm FMJ wound channel?

            Here’s the thing that I think a lot of larger-caliber fans should remind themselves of on a regular basis: Handgun rounds, all handgun rounds, are completely inadequate as man-stopping projectiles. They produce levels of energy that can literally be replicated by the fists of a trained martial artist. Now, this is to say they are not useful; they are of course because they will fit in a handgun while rifle rounds will not.

            The difference between “inadequate” and “still inadequate but technically maybe a bit better” is barely nominal.

            It’s much better to, instead, accept the fact that chemical propellant metallic handgun cartridges are always going to be inadequate, and that not everyone wants a defensive handgun that is pushing the limit of what a grown man can practically handle, let alone anyone else.

          • Mako_Dragoon

            So your argument is that all pistol rounds are “completely inadequate as man-stopping projectiles” then we should just give not worry at all about which one is better and just carry… what? 9mm ball? .380 acp? .22lr?

            Except for the military because they’ll investigate renamed EFMJ? You just told me it doesn’t matter what you shoot out of handgun because they are all “completely inadequate”, but the military will be able improve on that with EFMJs?

            Let’s just shoot hard cast lead at bad guys and not worry about over penetration because handguns are so inadequate that no one could be stopped by them.

          • n0truscotsman

            You are being obtuse.

            “then we should just give not worry at all about which one is better and just carry… what?”

            You should carry whatever offers the best balance between muzzle energy, penetration, magazine size, recoil, service life, overall cost, etc and that ideal happy medium for now is 9mm until something better comes along.

            “but the military will be able improve on that with EFMJs?”

            Is that so hard to believe, or at least, making the 9mm service round more effective than FMJ without going outside the confines of the Hague convention?

            We have done this before with the 5.56, so its not rocket surgery to do it to 9mm. Ever hear of Open Tip Match? same concept. Read about the M855A1 recently? it is designed to have more predictable performance against human targets than M855. Again, incremental improvements assuming the army prioritizes “improving” 9mm in the first place, which it probably wont.

            Your last paragraph is dripping with sarcasm and takes what was said completely out of context.

            Handguns can be effective against human beings, although they are really only useful for being concealable and providing a means to fight to a long gun (or another). They are not, however, as reliable, accurate, and effective as purpose built long guns that is the point of the entire discussion.

            The entire argument in favor of 40 is too gear centered for my tastes.

          • Mako_Dragoon

            I am not say that the 9mm is a fully adequate pistol round.

            Nathanial’s statement is that there is no need or reason for the .40 S&W and it shouldn’t exist.

            I submit to you that ANY argument for or against a particular cartridge can simply be scaled up or down to support any other cartridge. So it is “obtuse” to think that one cartridge is the “correct” one and all others are “obsolete”.

            For instance, there are .380 ACP cartridges that meet FBI standards, so, since we “know” that energy doesn’t matter, then we can go ahead and adopt the .380 because it meets standards and has less recoil therefore quicker follow up and less wear and tear on guns.

            To say that one cartridge is “THE” cartridge and all others are “obsolete” is simply arrogant and obtuse.

          • n0truscotsman

            “Nathanial’s statement is that there is no need or reason for the .40 S&W and it shouldn’t exist.”

            Then sell me.

            Sell me a reason for one to own 40. Ill be eagerly waiting.

            “So it is “obtuse” to think that one cartridge is the “correct” one and all others are “obsolete”

            No, you’re not even close.

            Obtuse is :

            -Comparing modern service pistols to 22 lr for example. That is utterly obtuse.

            -Getting wrapped around the axle for fractions of a fingernail width in difference. That is obtuse.

            -Defending a cartridge that has all of the aforementioned disadvantages to 40, trying to justify its existence against a cartridge that effectively minimizes those same disadvantages while having similar energy and penetration and more capacity. That is just silly fanboyism no matter how fast you spin it.

            “To say that one cartridge is “THE” cartridge and all others are “obsolete” is simply arrogant and obtuse.”

            Then why own a 40? Thats a serious question.
            Why own a 357 SIG?
            Or 45 GAP?

          • Right, you could just as easily issue a .380, 9x18mm, .38 Special, 7.65 Parabellum, 7.62×25 Tokarev, etc. and in terms of the ballistics of individual rounds, be pretty much in the same boat.

            The key element you seem to be missing is that 9x19mm has been around for about five times as long than the .40 S&W.

    • scott will

      Jeff found something he liked,got good with it and stuck to it.That is something most gun people cant do.Instead they waste their days like the people above arguing caliber.All calibers are good, some more than others.

  • blanddragon

    LEO’s miss between 70 – 80 percent of the shots fired during a shooting. Lack of practice/training. They could have a 50BMG or a .22 and still miss, regardless of caliber.

    • hking

      In the case of the NYPD, having 12lb triggers might contribute a few of those missed shots.

      • BryanS

        Having a culture that prevents them from ever having trigger time as a child probably hurts just as much, if not more.

    • Jon

      Your statement is one of ignorance. Until you can speak from real life experience than do not speak. The U.S. military expended approximately 250,000 round per kill in Iraq. The real world is vastly different than the gun range or COD my friend. So go back to playing your video games.

      • sianmink

        Combat and self defense are completely different scenarios. When combat doctrine is fire+maneuver with a solid base of suppressive fire, of course a lot of rounds are going to be expended. The comparison is simply not at all applicable to police work.

        • Jon

          The point being made is you can not compare the gun range with real world. There are many other factors involved in a real world self defense or military operation that will greatly reduce your percentage of hits. Also using your argument of combat doctrine, then why did we go from 75,000 rounds per kill in Vietnam to 250,000 in Iraq. The military is still studying this kill ratio difference. We all would clearly agree are troops are better trained today or are they. This would fly in the face of your own argument. I would have to disagree with you on is this also:

          “Combat and self defense are completely different scenarios”
          No matter the situation if your fighting for your life it is combat! It might be hand to hand or it may be with weapons, but none the less it is combat. Military combat doctrine is a different animal in itself from the definition of combat.

          • iksnilol

            Ranges are farther, in Iraq the adversaries were much farther away than in Vietnam.

          • Jon

            Disagree most combat operations in Iraq where in built up areas, thus followed the CQB doctrine. Very little was done at longer ranges outside of the initial invasion. Vietnam also had a lot of CQB actions.

          • iksnilol

            If that is true then why did DMRs become widespread in Iraq and Afghanistan, and not in Vietnam?

          • Jon

            Improvements in our tactics. We are always improving our tactics. We always start out fighting our next war like we fought the last one. That is a fact even when comparing Iraq and Afghanistan. The DMR has become an important tool in Afghanistan because we are see firefights at greater distance than even in Iraq. I do know if you remember but when we went into Iraq the Marines were equipped with the M16A2/A3, later to be replaced by the M4 because of the increased CQB operations.

          • Commonsense23

            You realize the marines went to the M16A4 as their primary rifle right, the M4 isn’t standard issue.

          • Jon

            I stand corrected. The M16A4 was already in use by the Marines upon entering Iraq. While the M16A4 is standard issued they did issue the M4 later. I linked an article with a pic of a Marine (note he is in Afghanistan) clearly carrying an M4 in 2009.


          • Commonsense23

            Yes, NCOs and Officers, due to their primary jobs not being shooters, get issued M4s, your regular shooters get the M16A4.

          • Jon
          • Commonsense23

            What is your point with that link?

          • Jon

            We can fight this battle all day or I guess we can just disagree. I guess the question is are you still an active duty Marine? We are getting off Nat’s topic of discussion over this pissing match!

          • Commonsense23

            Are you trying to suggest that the primary weapon of a LCpl or Private in the Marines that is a 03 series is not the M16A4?

          • Jon

            Nope that Marines adapt to situations. Not every Marine is issued an M4 or needs one. The Marine Corps has seen prudent to issue them to certain front line Marines currently in Afghanistan and in Iraq in the past. Are you disagreeing with that?

          • Commonsense23

            If you are referring to SOF that is one thing, but if you a saying that the 0311s are going to swap between the M16 and M4 depending on where they are fighting, they don’t. You are going to have the same number of M16s and M4 per squad no matter where they go. Guys who are the shooters are going to get the 16s and your corpman, certain NCOs, your officers are getting the M4s.

          • Commonsense23

            Urban warfare and CQB are not the same. Urban warfare is going to involve lots of suppressive fire, which is going to really get your rounds fired to kills pretty high. And trying to compare military shooting to that of cops is not even close to the same thing. Saying most cops don’t shoot enough to be proficient in a pistol is not outrageous.

          • Jon

            Have not seen much Urban warfare that does not devolve into CQB at some point. I think what allannon posted below really states it well.

            “Regarding shot placement, that’s theoretically true. The problem is that when it comes to emergencies people get hit with adrenaline, and their fine motor skills kinda go to crap. Given sufficient experience that reaction can be moderated, and some few people just don’t react that way (but, commensurately, some react worse), but there’s not really a way to train or find that out except by doing, which isn’t really practical.”
            This really come down to the point about the comments of people who do not understand the other elements present during a fight for your life that you do not have at the range while shooting those deadly paper targets.

          • n0truscotsman

            urban warfare is not the same as “close quarters” necessarily. Just because MOUT operations often create the environment for CQB, CQB is not necessarily exclusive to MOUT.

            What do you call a near ambush in a wooded area? or open grassy plain?

            What was medieval warfare? certainly not “urban warfare”, yes?

            The two are not synonymous.

          • Torrorojo

            Military operations consume more ammo then police operations. When Uncle Sam trained me for Mout operations at FT. Benning they taught us to use M60 machine guns and grenades as well as full auto rifle fire. Phoenix P.D taught me to use a revolver and a shot gun.

          • claymore

            Yes it is. How many police department have you contacted to obtain your data to make your determination? There are about over 800,000 LEOS in total in the USA of course some of them are going to be in the bottom 1% just like anything else.

          • Commonsense23

            Becoming a proficient combat pistol shot is one of the hardest things to become. How many cops do you know whose training regularly incorporates force on force training. Moving targets. Actual flight or fight responses, not just getting your heart rate up by running around. How many cops you know shoot 500 rounds a week? Saying cops just are not proficient shooters isn’t meant to be a insult to cops, its a problem of the system they are stuck with.

          • claymore

            A lot of police training now actually incorporates all you mention when is the last time you actually ran one or even asked any of them what they do?

            And 500 rounds a weeks is not necessary to become proficient with any firearm.

            Our Swat team used to train every two months with all our issued weapons and it was a requirement that we fire a 28/30 score using only 5 scoring area if you dropped more than two into the 4 area over two sessions you were gone. Everyone made it so it was moved to only headshot 5 area and still everybody made it and we used no where near 500 rounds a week.

            Granted there are still some depts. that don’t train well but with recent case law requiring depts. to retain the actual targets of anyone qualifying on their ranges for liability reasons the training has improved greatly.

          • Aaron E

            Claymore you’re talking about a SWAT team that shoots 1-2 times per month. Most patrol officers and detectives shoot 1-2 times per year on the police range. And most police shootings involve those officers and not SWAT.

            Even if your SWAT team is only shooting 200 rounds per officer per range day, that’s nearly 5000 rounds per year. The patrol officer and detective are getting 2-500 rounds per year. There is a lot of skill building and muscle memory not being passed on to those officers. So when the “fight or flight” kicks in during a close encounter of the deadly force variety, the minimal training of the majority of police officers turns into at best “point and shoot” and at worst “spray and pray”.

          • claymore

            How can you continue to “generalize” about what training any police officer gets? When was the last time you actually did some research instead of relying on “The net memes” to make blanket condemnation for police training. Which PDs did you contact RECENTLY to make your determinations?

            Which PD only trains once or twice a year?

          • Mark N.


          • John

            Tell me more about your time spent in both Iraq and Vietnam.

      • iksnilol

        What sianmink said, most of the rounds fired in battle are suppressive fire with automatics (FA guns).

        • Steve Truffer

          The 250,000 number irks me, because it includes rounds expended in training. You have guys sitting around, bored, with access to weapons & ammo. US soldiers stationed in Saudi Arabia seem to have taken to bottles of $0.30/gal gasoline and tracers for entertainment.

          • iksnilol

            That makes sense.

      • Jack

        The initial statement came out of the FBI report. Are you saying that all LE are shooting/training as much as they need to?
        There was no caliber specified in the 70-80% miss. His statement was pretty straight forward.
        I bet you’re fun at parties

        • Jon

          His reference to it being a “lack of practice/training. They could have a 50BMG or a .22 and still miss, regardless of caliber lack of training.”
          The point is training can only prepare you to a point. The rest will come from real world experience and thank goodness our LEOs do not have a lot of day to day real world experience in gun battles.

      • michael

        bs…I want to see that study

      • marathag

        Military ammo expenditures include suppressive fire

        Is that the excuse for poor NYPD accuracy at hitting tangos, covering fire?

      • dallasdeadeye

        so your excusing 70-80 percent miss ratio, because “real world” lol , wow just wow.

      • guest

        You know due to the fact that US military is probably the most wasteful when it comes to ammo, what it has experienced and how is like taking a retard’s experience of wiping its ass into account when manufacturing toilet paper. My personal favorite was when Cronkite’s team documented US air assaults on MAP COORDINATES in Vietnam with small arms calibre weapons. Yep, aactually shooting at a geographical location with machineguns from helicopters at ASSUMED enemy positions. Like a 500×500 ft square of forest. Pure genius.

        So nope, even COD has more “logic” than this.

        • Anonymous

          I believe what Mr. Cronkite was describing was “suppressive fire,” a normal part of modern fire-and-movement infantry tactics.

          For that matter, indirect fire with machineguns is a technique going back to the First World War if not earlier.

          It can be effective, too, with well trained gun crews and forward observers, but requires an old, WWI-style tripod MG mount upon which the gunner can adjust elevation and windage by milliradians, repeatably. At two kilometers a burst from a belt-fed HMG in such a mount will typically create a cone of fire 2-3 milliradians in diameter, creating an oval or elliptical beaten zone 4-6 meters across at that distance and 15-20 meters deep, from first catch to first graze. With four to six water-cooled rifle-caliber HMGs organized in a battery, this can make an enemy position on an exposed hilltop quite an uncomfortable place, almost as efficiently as mortar fire. Under some circumstances it may even have the advantage that at such a distance rifle-caliber bullets are falling onto the target at a very steep angle, negating some of the defensive advantage of earthworks lacking overhead protection. I don’t think the US military trains MG crews in these techniques any more, though, and may not have since before WWII.

          • guest

            View his documentary series yourself and see. I don’t remember what part it was but it were S&D missions many times when enemy location was *assumed* because they had this machine which supposedly picked up human scent.
            And this “technique” is ATM where it should be – long forgotten.

      • Anonymous

        Doesn’t that 250,000 rounds per kill figure include all the ammo the soldiers in question fired in Basic and at AIT?

        Let’s see. We’ve got an infantry squad with two fireteams, three guys with 210 rounds in seven M16 mags each, and a fourth guy carrying a ‘249 with a thousand rounds in five 200 round belts distributed among the guys in the fireteam. Two fireteams mean 8260 rounds at squad level. Four squads in a line platoon plus two M240 teams with 500 rounds of belted 7.62x51mm each gives 14,040 rounds for the platoon, not counting resupply, just basic combat loads. I’m not mentioning M203s because I’m not sure how many of those show up in the Big Army’s current TO&E for an infantry platoon, or what the “correct” ammo loadout is for them, and I’m not sure they count as small arms anyway.

        And that’s 42,120 rounds of small arms ammo for the company, not counting handguns. Well, let’s say there’s an 8-man HQ section with M4 carbines, each with four mags. That brings us to 43,080 rounds for the company’s combat load.

        Do US Army infantry battalions still have four companies, or are we down to three? Let’s be generous and say four companies. That gives us 172,320 rounds of small arms ammo for the battalion. Let’s be generous and say the scout-sniper platoon has enough ammo to bring this up to 173,000 rounds exactly. This is, of course, just small arms, we aren’t counting mortars, antitank weapons, HMGs, automatic grenade launchers.

        173,000 divided by 250,000 is 0.692. Are you trying to tell me that if we have a hypothetical American infantry battalion in Iraq that’s surrounded by insurgents and cut off from resupply, in days-long heavy fighting without relief or linking up with another unit, long enough and heavy enough fighting for every swingin’ dick with a weapon to expend every last round of his basic load and be down to frags and cold steel, there’d be less than a seventy percent chance of killing one single insurgent?

        Jesus. Maybe they shouldn’t have done away with bayonet training.

        …and if I may now pull my tongue out of my cheek, this is why I say that 250,000 figure may be a bit misleading. That’s got to include ammo expended in training.

      • nagurski

        That 250,000 round per kill number is bullshit. Some body saw that the military used 1.8 billion rounds a year and divided it by an estimated number of people killed. Back then there was about 2,250,000 people in the military. If they each average 800 rounds a year that’s 1.8 billion. Machine gunners doing training probably account for a billion by them selves

  • Brocus

    Can we call .40 S&W a fad now or do we still have to wait?

    • I see no reason for it to exist. “Fad.”

      • big daddy

        That could be said about many sizes and types. Like people ammo & guns come in all shapes and sizes. I think it’s great that there are so many sizes and guns and I want more and more. But can we all agree on the facts, 9mm is the best choice for a handgun round as long as modern JHP ammo is used. I think .40 is a fad, as well as .357 SIG, 10mm & .45 GAP but I love them all and wish I could afford to have them all complete with ammo, mags, cleaning kits and so on. On issue is that most all .357 SIG & .40 S&W handguns are based on a 9mm design which takes it toll on a gun not designed for the more powerful rounds.

        • I have no problem with variety, I just don’t see a reason for .40 S&W outside of ammo collecting. 😉

          • big daddy


          • Mako_Dragoon

            Really? Let’s see…
            -more energy and larger wound channel than 9mm
            -energy levels equal to .45 ACP with 50-100% greater mag capacity.
            -90% of 10mm auto performance but with reduced recoil and grip size
            -Maximizing cartridge potential while maintaining small grip size (compared to .45 and 10mm)
            -A fantastic selection of high quality JHP ammo available.
            -Easily makes Major Power factor in USPSA competitions while allowing higher round counts.

            If you can’t see any reason other than “ammo collecting” for the .40 S&W, the I would sure love to see you justify ANY pistol cartridge.

          • Here’s how I justify any pistol cartridges: AS BACKUPS. Sidearms are that, sidearms.

            .40 S&W does not offer any SIGNIFICANT increase in terminal performance compared to 9mm.

            If we’re going to debate energy, many 9mm +P defense loads approach what .45 ACP do. With more capacity (typically) than .40.

            If we’re going to talk about 10mm Auto, then your estimation must be based off of FBI light loads. Which are not what 10mm Auto was meant to be.

            Bullets? EVERY common handgun caliber out there, from .380 to .44 Magnum and everything in between, has manufacturers making quality defense JHP ammunition.

            USPSA competitions I’ll keep my mouth shut, competition isn’t my thing, so you could be right about that.

            The sole reason I see for one picking .40 S&W over anything else, is if one was fast and accurate with .40 S&W. Once again… Pick what is best for you, not what the internet tells you is the best.

            (P.S.: 10mm master race.)

          • FightFireJay

            I do not disagree with you that pistols are defensive in nature and rifles are much more potent.

            However, if there were no concerns of energy then the FBI would be switching to .380 ACP and hiring SHOOTINGTHEBULL410, lol.

            But having the extra energy does allow the bullets to expand more reliably while still reaching FBI standards of penetration.

          • RegT

            Hebizuka, you are making an apples and oranges comparison. Yes, the hottest 9mm +P can exceed the energy of the weakest .45, but a .45+P with the same style bullet (Gold Dot, Golden Saber, etc.) will have a higher KE than the 9mm+P round. It is easy to find .40’s and .45’s that will outperform the hottest 9mm.

            Buffalo Bore’s 9mm +P 147 grain offering puts out 450 ft lbs. I load 230 gr Golden Saber bullets in .45 +P Starline brass at 1050 fps (average speed over my chrono), which equals 563 ft lbs.

            The 10mm rounds I load are definitely not “FBI Lite”. Again, the FBI was using basically a “.40 Long”/10mm Lite load because of female agents and a bunch f lawyer/accountant trained agents who couldn’t handle a real cartridge either. They are simply sliding even further down in caliber and energy because it makes it easier for their agents to hit anything. Remember Miami.

          • Nope.

            9mm standard ball: ~500J
            9mm +P: ~650J
            .45 ACP: ~500J
            .40 S&W: ~650J

            Also, if you read the document that is the subject of this article, you’d know that in it doctors were unable to tell the difference between .35, .40, and .45 caliber wound channels.

            .40 S&W is just an overcompensating 9mm, in my opinion.

            Also, if major power factor for IPSC is the only reason for your cartridge to exist, then you’re in the good company of such popular rounds as .356 TSW, 9×23 Winchester, and 7.62×41 Wilson Tactical.

          • Mako_Dragoon

            Per Winchester LE website regarding Ranger T ammo…

            9mm 147 – 430 joules

            9mm+p 124 – 511 joules

            9mm+p+ 127 – 587 joules

            .40 S&W 165 – 633 joules (The current choice of several Fed LEO agencies)

            I did read the article, “That is to say an operating room surgeon or Medical Examiner cannot distinguish the difference between wounds caused by .35 to .45 caliber projectiles.”

            Is that because the of the bullet (45 acp has over 50% larger surface area than 9mm but leaves no noticeable difference?) or “Due to the elastic nature of most human tissue…” because the body simply collapses on the wound channel afterwards?

            The argument for IPSC power factor for .40 S&W does not really apply for the cartridges you mention because while they may meet the energy levels needed, they are not ubiquitous like the .40 is. Further more, the 7.62x40WT doesn’t fit in a pistol magazine, so no dice there.

            Finally, my point was simply that there are many factors in which the .40 S&W cartridge differentiates itself from other cartridges. Many of those differences are positives depending on the application.

            If you truly cannot “see a reason for .40 S&W outside of ammo collecting” then you are as closed minded as anyone on the argument of calibers.

          • First, manufacturer’s websites are not the best place to find data. Further, I can’t lend any credence or analysis to the data you cite, as you did not link to the page, and I have been unable to find it myself. Also, you can come up with almost any result you want if you use a long enough bullet (like that 147gr) that eats up case capacity. Winchester in particular generally under-loads their ammunition. Here’s a website you should check out that might change your mind. Note that the Cor-Bon 115gr +P load produces almost exactly 650 Joules of energy from a 5″ barrel. Now, some Cor-Bon .40 loads (which are not labeled as +P) produce more energy than that. But so what? These are all pistol rounds, and certainly the energy produced by standard .40 S&W loadings is readily replicated in with 9mm +P ammunition.

            You might think about the permanent wound channel, and why it is important in pistol terminal effectiveness. The wound channel is so important because it results in bleeding, reduced blood pressure, and may result in eventual death. If these wounds aren’t distinguishable by a doctor, then tell me how, exactly, a .45 or .40 has better terminal effect? The FBI Training Division itself thinks they are no different!

          • Mako_Dragoon

            So… your website data is better than my website data? Okay…
            from corbon…
            9mm +p 115 – 480 ft/lbs (1372 fps)

            40S&W 165 – 549 ft/lbs (1225 fps)
            40S&W 150 – 565 ft/lbs (1303 fps)

            9mm +p does NOT duplicate 40 S&W energy levels. So stop arguing that it does.

            Because “wound channel measurement 101″ is not taught in med school and certainly not practiced in the OR. So I don’t care if a doctor cant tell from one month to another if a wound channel looked 10% larger or not.

            Larger bullet = larger wound channel. End of story, or else cops would be shooting 22 lr at bad guys.

            I get it, statistically there is a small difference between the cross section of a 9mm, 10mm, and 11mm projectile. But as you say, shot placement is critical. If a shot misses the CNS by 1mm it’s gonna make a big difference.

            Example… 3 shots of 9mm vs 3 shots of 40S&W
            9mm bullets have approx .30″ combined frontal area. 10mm projectile is about .37” frontal area. Greater than 20% increase. That’s a larger wound channel capable of damaging more tissue including vasculature, CNS, and anything else sensitive, like lungs.

            I get it, the difference is small, but it’s there, so don’t try to tell me that it makes “no difference”.

          • OK, let’s break this down, or else we’ll just be throwing websites at each other. Not that having more data isn’t a good thing, but I think you’ll understand what I’m saying better if I approach it from a different angle. So let’s examine the cartridges themselves, .40 S&W and 9x19mm:

            .40 S&W has more case capacity and swept volume (that is, a wider bore) than 9mm, which improves its performance relative to that cartridge. However, the wider case head means that for a given peak pressure, .40 S&W will put more stress on the locking elements of the firearm. So a firearm designed to shoot .40 S&W that has a 9mm variant (which is most 9mms these days), the 9mm variant will be able to withstand 17% higher peak pressure than the .40 S&W variant.

            At the end of the day, these factors do give the performance advantage to .40 S&W, but the advantage is very marginal. There is more overlap in performance between different variants of 9mm and variants of .40 S&W than there is non-overlap.

            If you feel that this very marginal advantage in energy in a general sense (while understanding that one 9mm load may well produce more energy than another .40 S&W load) is worth your time and money to adopt, then feel free to buy .40 S&W caliber handguns. However, understand that the science of terminal ballistics doesn’t support this margin as being significant.

          • Mako_Dragoon

            Yes, .40 S&W has increased wear and tear on a weapon. When I finally shoot out the barrel on my M&P 40, I’ll let you know. Until, I don’t think it’s a particularly convincing reason to choose one caliber over another.

            Regarding your “very marginal” increase in performance versus 9mm. I do not dispute that the difference between 9mm and .40 S&W is small. Just as the difference in round capacity is small, the difference in swept volume is small, the difference in recoil (particularly +p or +P+) is small, etc etc etc.

            My argument was never that .40 S&W was absolutely superior to 9mm in every way or that it is the right cartridge for everyone.

            I am merely attempting to illustrate that to completely rule it out as even being a legitimate option is far from reasonable considering that there are many pros and cons for each cartridge.

            Many of the decision criteria are based on PERSONAL decisions. And if you can argue that 9mm is superior to .40 S&W cartridge because it is adequate and has less recoil, then the very same argument can be made for .380 ACP and against 9mm. There are .380 rounds that meet FBI standards and have less recoil and wear and tear than 9mm.

            I suppose you will never say that the .40 S&W is anything other than a fad and is only good for cartridge collecting. So, I’ll drop the argument because quite obviously we’ll never get there.

          • IveBeenSaying40SWSucksForYears

            Butthurt .40 fad fanboy. Lmao.

          • Kivaari

            The wear has nothing to do with the bore, as modern pistol barrels will last tens of thousands of rounds. It is the frame that gets beaten up. It is why the early .40’s self-destructed so fast. Compare a “one pin” Glock 40 with a “two pin” Glock. Look at how the Browning High Power in .40 self destructed with a few thousand rounds. The 9mm frame could not take the pounding.
            As long as the user knows the .40 guns will wear out faster and are slower to fire, then let them buy .40s. The FBI going back to 9mm makes perfect sense. Ammo today is superior to what existed 20 years ago. If the guns last longer, easier to hit with and are as effective it makes no sense to buy guns that wear out fast and pay more for ammo that wears out the guns.
            My service pistol was a 2G Glock 17. I stopped counting after I hit 22,000 rounds. All was pretty much +P+ ammo or department reloads having the same velocity and bullet weight. I know I could out shoot all the officers having .45 Glocks. Before long the whole department went to 9mm. The .40 did not exist at the time. Since we carried MP5A2s, it made sense to have handguns in the same caliber.
            Along the way the department went from M1911s, SIG P220s, Glock 21s, Glock M17 and M19 (with one M34 for me) and to Glock M22. ALL of the .45 pistols had serious problems with early wear and reliability. The 1911s simply self destructed. The SIGs needed to have all the chambers opened up for reliability. The Glocks needed new slide assemblies. Before they wore out, we switched to the 9mm Glock’s. I retired before the .40 was adopted. I have witnessed people having trouble with nearly every make and model out there.
            One year we had 5 homicides with .25 ACP Raven pistols. All were one shot stops. I also know of three people shot with .25s where the slugs bounced off ribs or skull. Only good hit count.

          • Kivaari

            True. An 1mm increase in diameter doesn’t mean much. Like the first .40 Glock model 22. Those guns failed quickly when put into service. It is why Glock re-engineered the .40 (and now 9mm) with an extra pin holding the locking block. S&W had early failures of the “converted” 9mm guns.
            The trade off of going to a .40 were not worth it. Our 9mm +P+ loads pretty much equaled the .357 SIG. The only time a 9mm will have a hard time doing the job is when it is fired with FMJ slugs and no vital. part is hit.

          • RegT

            BS, again, Nathaniel. You are forgetting that even when there is no difference in the recoil spring (and many of us who intentionally shoot heavier/faster loads use a heavier spring), the engineers at Glock have taken pressures, recoil impulse, and the strength of the steel into account. The .40 caliber Glocks have been tested and found to accept the extra energy involved without damage. If there is any extra stress or wear, it occurs on the weakest part, which is not the face of the slide where the firing pin exits to strike the primer, nor on the locking elements (geometry of the bottom rear of the barrel and the elements imbedded in the frame), but the brass (much, much softer) base of the cartridge case. That’s why heavy loads will often flatten primers, and occasionally leave a slight smear of brass on the face of the slide.

            Then you argue _backwards_, saying the 9mm will withstand a 17% (where do you come up with these bogus numbers and “statistics”?) higher peak pressure? Because the 9mm doesn’t blow up in spite of the fact that it is designed the same way as the .40, which obviously does_ accept higher peak pressures? The 9mm is incapable of generating the higher peak pressures of the .40. My Accurate Arms Powder loading manual, (I have it here on my laptop) shows the highest pressure possible with the various powders listed is less than 35,000 psi. The highest with the same powders in .40 is exactly 35,000 psi.

            [As a side note, since the pressures are close to being the same for 9mm and .40, you can see why the Glock engineers determined that it is safe to use the same basic design for both calibers. Let’s drop the “.40 isn’t safe in a 9mm gun” silliness, OK?]

            Physics is physics, Nathaniel, even if they did teach “The New Math” when you were in school. Energy that exists in the mass x velocity equation is indisputable. It is a provable mathematic function. A heavier bullet driven at the same velocity will possess more kinetic energy. If the bullet construction and shape are the same, it will penetrate farther in the same medium. And a larger bullet will create a larger hole, permitting more and/or faster blood loss, and might even make the slight difference of hitting or missing a blood vessel or nerve (CNS) tissue, stopping the fight sooner.

          • mosinman

            what i find interesting is that people keep talking about 9mm +P being about the same as .40
            isn’t +P going to put a bit more wear on your firearm faster than normal 9mm?
            i mean if it’s so great why do you need +P ?

          • It will, but you don’t need to shoot it all the time.

            9mm is very good in part because of the small case head diameter, allowing a higher pressure ceiling (“+P”).

          • Kivaari

            We issued Federal 9BPLE +P+. Glock 17 and 19s held up very well. Our training ammo equaled the velocity and bullet weight. We did not wear out the Glocks in 9mm. Prior to my joining the department they wore out M1911s and SIG P220s. I wore out a M66 in 2.500 rounds of .38 Special. It was an “all-white” early model. Gun makers learn by selling guns, that sometime wear out prematurely.
            Look at the poor track record of the Browning HP in .40. They wear out fast and are so battered that they are not worth rebuilding.

          • mosinman

            what i’m getting at is, someone saying “oh 9mm is great! look at how 9mm+p or +P+ delivers the about the same or more energy than a .40 or 45” they compare standard loads vs the the highest safe pressure 9mm. it just comes off as bias.

          • Anon. Y. Mous

            A significant part of .40 pistols are built on the same, or very similar frames as 9mm, and .40 has been shown to have been battering frames to a good degree, so it just about evens out.

          • Mako_Dragoon

            9mm +P is a fantastic cartridge. There are several very good JHP available in 9mm +P. But it doesn’t equal .40 S&W energy levels in most cases. It takes at least 9m +P+ to do that. But there are still several .40 S&W cartridges that are higher than 9mm +P+.

            More energy allows a properly constructed bullet to more reliably fully expand and still meet FBI penetration standards.

          • n0truscotsman

            “But as you say, shot placement is critical. If a shot misses the CNS by 1mm it’s gonna make a big difference.”

            And this is not supported by any documentation whatsoever, other than hypothetical assumptions.

            Is the 1mm difference worth it, for a single, hypothetical firefight, for a smaller magazine capacity, increased recoil, increased life cycle rate, and more expensive ammunition?

            For your example, you are conveniently missing the fact that 17 rounds of 9mm is going to cause more tissue damage than 15 rounds of 40 (using glock as a example) totaling the number of shots assuming the bad guy needs to be stopped with that total number.

            “Larger bullet = larger wound channel. End of story, or else cops would be shooting 22 lr at bad guys.”

            reductio ad absurdum

            22lr produces 100-150 ft lbs of energy, versus the 9mm and 40 which produce similar energies around the 400-500 ft lb range for defensive ammunition.

            “so don’t try to tell me that it makes “no difference”.”

            It doesn’t. Just try talking to a surgeon, trauma nurse, or doctor sometime. The width difference of a fingernail is not any respectable difference whatsoever.

            Anybody that thinks any different is grasping at straws.

          • Mako_Dragoon

            .1775^2 x 3.14 x 17 = 1.68 sq in
            .2000^2 x 3.14 x 15 = 1.88 sq in
            R^2 x Pi x mag count

            In a mag dump scenario the total frontal area is larger from a .40 S&W. 15 rounds of .40 roughly equal 19 rounds of 9mm.

            reductio ad absurdum…
            The argument being made is that at pistol velocities energy does not affect likely hood of stopping bad guy. If that were completely true, then why bother carrying anything other than .380 ACP or .38 special? Both same diameter as 9mm, and both capable of FBI standards of penetration.

            Look, I am NOT arguing that 9mm isn’t a good pistol cartridge. I am ONLY trying to illustrate that it is absurd to claim one cartridge or another as being the very best and all others obsolete.

          • n0truscotsman

            LOL the difference is .20, or a fraction of the total width of a fingernail. In other words, it tells you nothing, which was the point I was getting at if you were paying attention. Funny your formula ignores muzzle energy because it tells you nothing within 3 rounds, but paints a picture of which one has an edge when you count full magazines.

            “The argument being made is that at pistol velocities energy does not affect likely hood of stopping bad guy”

            It depends on how much energy you are talking about. 100 ft lbs? no difference generally when it comes to handgun cartridges. 1000 ft lbs? generally a difference. You accept that 44 magnum measurably provides more energy than 9mm 40 or 45 yes?

            “then why bother carrying anything other than .380 ACP or .38 special”

            Because 380 APC has snappier recoil than 9mm and is more expensive per cartridge for no advantage whatsoever. There are also not nearly the options in handgun availability in 380 as the others.

            38 special? how many semi-automatic, magazine fed handguns are there in 38 special?

            Both are terrible examples.

            “I am ONLY trying to illustrate that it is absurd to claim one cartridge or another as being the very best and all others obsolete.”

            Given the balance between cartridge cost, recoil, overall service life, overall energies and penetration, muzzle flash, and magazine capacity, 9mm balances these attributes better than any other major handgun cartridge out there when it comes to modern magazine fed, semi-automatics.

            Its not that difficult to figure out.

          • Mako_Dragoon

            .2 square inches “a fraction of the total width of a fingernail” is the same as 2 rounds of 9mm.

            Whatever numbers you use… the real difference is that it takes 19 rounds of 9mm to equal the same frontal area as 15 rounds of .40 S&W.

            I don’t think that’s a small difference.

            Same with energy. The .40 S&W has 20-30% more energy per round than a 9mm. If you think that’s marginal. Fine. It’s no 44 mag, but what is?

            So, if you think 9m is adequate… okay by me, I also think it’s a good round. But don’t tell me there is no reason to have a nearly 25% increase in frontal area and about 25% increase in energy because some doctor in the O.R. who’s main concern is saving someones life can’t tell the difference between two wounds he saw on difference days under different circumstances.

            Everything is an incremental increase. 9mm is incrementally better than .380. .40 is incrementally better than 9mm. 10mm is incrementally better than .40S&W… then 41 mag, then 44 mag, then .50 AE, etc etc etc.

            So go ahead and pick your increment and stick with it as the best reason for you, but don’t tell me that my cartridge which is so close to your is completely wrong.

          • n0truscotsman

            “I don’t think that’s a small difference.”

            I dont CARE what you think. That is irrelevant.

            What is important is that it IS a small difference based on established fact. If you think a fraction of the width of a fingernail is a determining factor for ending a fight, then I have the brooklyn bridge to sell you.

            “he .40 S&W has 20-30% more energy per round than a 9mm.”

            Which cartridges are you talking about? you do realize that different brands and types have different energy levels right?

            This is a astoundingly ignorant statement considering more than one person has already posted the energy comparisons of 40 to 9mm (nathaniel did previously, yet rather predictably, you had your fucking two cents of criticism of that too)

            ” But don’t tell me there is no reason to have a nearly 25% increase in frontal area and about 25% increase in energy”

            Again, when putting those percentages into perspective (in terms of hard numbers), what myself and others have already done, you will realize that such “advantages” are meaningless assuming they’re true (and they’re not).

            9mm and 40 produce similar wound channels, energy, and penetration levels. End of story.

            “because some doctor in the O.R. who’s main concern is saving someones life can’t tell the difference between two wounds he saw on difference days under different circumstances.”

            That makes him a far more credible expert than some twit that drinks from the caliber-wars koolaid of good ol’ fashioned marketing and wishful thinking.

            So yes, I believe a doctor, trauma nurse, and surgeon over you. Sorry.

            “Everything is an incremental increase. 9mm is incrementally better than .380. .”40 is incrementally better than 9mm. 10mm is incrementally better than .40S&W… then 41 mag, then 44 mag, then .50 AE, etc etc etc.”

            And predictably, you are comparing energy levels only while ignoring every other variable I have mentioned that is just as important (if not more so). How two dimensional!

            But if you were astute, and as the more astute have noticed, as you increase energy and the size of the cartridge itself, you create more recoil, muzzle flash, typically shorten magazine capacity, service life, and substantially increase expense. Tradeoffs, in a word.

            Is that so hard to understand? eventually these aforementioned disadvantages result in a a handgun that requires more skill, training and experience to use effectively, which makes it even less effective in the hands of the average police officer/soldier/whatever.

            There aint no such thing as a free lunch.

            “So go ahead and pick your increment and stick with it as the best reason for you, but don’t tell me that my cartridge which is so close to your is completely wrong.”

            I already told you why it is less advantageous to use it rather than mine. If you are unable to grasp why, that is your own problem. There is no reasoning with irrational fanatics trying to justify their purchases.

          • I’m hearing “just because there’s no demonstrable advantage in terminal effect for .40 doesn’t mean I shouldn’t feel good about my .40s or that I should run out and buy a 9mm!”

            And I didn’t say otherwise. Do what makes you as a person happy. But trying to hang on to this culture that worships caliber and has been repeatedly proven to have a much stronger connection to marketing and sales than to reality is silly. Let it go!

          • Kivaari

            Who is saying your round is wrong. It just makes sense from other factors regardless of caliber. I can’t effectively shoot a large frame .45 Glock, SIG or m1911, so none of them are right regardless of caliber. If a Glock 17 fits my hand and I can shoot it well and better than a Glock 22 in .40, then the 9mm is a better choice for me. And from experience it will be a better choice for an agency. We have all heard of and/or seen where people shooting the .40 have more trouble and failures than when shooting a similar gun in 9mm.

          • Mako_Dragoon

            Who is saying “my” (I shoot both 9mm and .40) round is wrong?

            Nathaniel F.
            – I see no reason for it to exist. “Fad.”
            – I have no problem with variety, I just don’t see a reason for .40 S&W outside of ammo collecting. 😉
            – .40 S&W is just an overcompensating 9mm, in my opinion.
            – A long-lived fad. 😉
            – 40 S&W is remarkable in that it makes the list as a fad, for
            me. I just don’t see the attraction there, from a practical sense. It
            appears to essentially be a safety blanket: People feel better carrying something bigger. :

            My argument is not that any cartridge is “better” than another. Simply that

            A) the .40 S&W is not a fad (as sales over 24 years have shown)
            B) there are several reasons for it to exist other than “ammo collecting”

          • Well, I would argue that nowhere do I say the .40 is “wrong”, just that it’s redundant. If it’s your cup of tea, great, but that doesn’t mean there’s really any reason for a major agency to buy it at this point.

          • itsmefool

            A likely hood is a bad guy!

          • Kivaari

            The report is not trying to say a 9mm is better performing than the others. Just that it will perform as well in tissue. In the field the 9mm has added benefit of being lighter, easier to hit with and the guns last longer. If performance cannot be distinguished between calibers, than the 9mm still comes out on top based on all factors. Remember if cops only hit with 20% of the bullets launched, none of those that miss are effective. Therefore having more easily placed bullets makes sense.
            I only carried 15 rounds in my G17 magazines. When I first started we carried a total of 18 rounds. We abandoned the .357 as it was much harder to shoot rapidly and accurately. I’d rather get there with less FPE than miss entirely. Chances of missing with a .45 or .357 is aggravated by the heavier recoil.
            It’s like packing a Desert Eagle in .50, it simply doesn’t make sense if the gun doesn’t fit the hand, weighs too much, and after the first shot can’t make fast repeated shots if needed.

          • Mako_Dragoon

            No, the study says that doctors can’t tell the difference between wounds, not that they perform the same in tissue.

          • Coincidentally, they also perform the same in tissue.

          • Kivaari

            The study did not include unreasonable calibers. It is concerned with 9mm to 11.25mm. I would suspect had a .327 with a good expanding bullet had been tested, it would outperform a 9mm FMJ. In the cited studies, the wound tracks are so similar to be irrelevant. I would pick a 9mm over a .40 or .45 simply because the 9mm is so much easier to use. I want to hit the target, and a 9mm allows much faster follow up shots.

          • Kivaari

            Mako, No a bigger bullet doesn’t always mean a bigger wound. At least in the eyes of surgeons that treat those wounds. Even in gelatin tests, the caliber between .35 and .45 leave similar wound channels.
            Even when testing simple FMJ loads, it is hard to distinguish a 9mm NATO from a .45 ACP. How a bullet performs is a function the cutting edges of an expanded bullet. Only hits where it matters count. As the article states the stopping power is a MYTH. People fall down when they are shot at, missed, and uninjured. That is stopping power.

          • Mako_Dragoon

            I simply cannot accept that a larger hollow point expansion will not damage more tissue than a smaller hollow point.

            If you do, then you are choosing an unscientific “study” (really a collection of anecdotal accounts) of Doctor’s perceptions against the laws of physics.

            Just because a Doctor (whose job it is to save lives not perform scientific measurements and observations on patients while they are bleeding out) can’t tell the difference between cartridges given the varying circumstances they are used, DOES NOT MEAN THERE IS NOT DIFFERENCE.

            I choose to believe in the fallibility of Doctors over the idea that there is a new law of physics regarding projectiles between .355 and .45 inches in diameter as they pass through flesh at approximately 800 to 1200 fps. And that the law states that a .40″ and .45″ projectile makes the same hole as a .355″ projectile but don’t see this anywhere else in the universe.

          • Kivaari

            Don’t mistake FPE and J. The metric system needs to be corrected to our system. Energy, as pointed out in the article and the reference reports, says that energy (knock down power) is a myth. It really is a myth. A stable bullet in 9mm, 10mm or 11.25mm will leave a wound track so similar that a surgeon or ME can’t tell the difference. a 9mm can have a similar FPE to a .40. Unless that bullet expands and produces sharp cutting edges, AND cuts nerves or blood vessels will not produce a wound or reaction that shows one is better than another. A slow moving .45 bullet that doesn’t expand, will leave a wound where nerves and vessels are simply shoved aside, with no serious damage. A good expanding bullet in any caliber still needs to cut nerves and vessels or rupture large fluid filled organs.

          • Mako_Dragoon

            Having extra energy does help ensure that a bullet reliably attains full expansion and still reaches appropriate penetration levels.

            This is the main reason why a .380 ACP (same diameter as 9mm) is not used as a primary duty cartridge by any major LEO in America.

            There are good JHP loads available, but they do not perform as well as 9mm because they don’t have the energy to get the job done (the job being full expansion AND FBI minimum penetration.

          • usmcmailman

            That’s easy. A .45 will blow your head off with a good hollow point!
            Good enough for the Marine Corps…..good enough for me !

          • I ‘d be interested to see a detailed physical analysis of this phenomenon.

            Also, isn’t 9mm also good enough for the Marine Corps?

          • RegT

            Wrongo, Nathaniel. Read the report yourself. That quote from it was written by Urey Patrick of the FBI himself. The current folks in the training unit are simply trying to justify the fact that their agents can’t hit accurately with anything more potent than 9mm.

            The reason the California Highway Patrol went with the .40 S&W instead of the 10mm (back when the FBI flirted with the 10mm), was because the big push was on for female TO’s (traffic officers), most of whom had hands too small for the 10mm or .45 auto. So they went with the .40, which had a grip the same size as the 9mm, but with a more potent round. I know, I was working for CHP at the time.

            The FBI is probably trying to justify the change due to the fact that there are more women working now as agents, probably (don’t ask, don’t tell) more agents with “reduced wrist strength”, and because 9mm is a lot cheaper than .40, 10mm, or .45.

            Yes, the 9mm _can_ be effective with well-constructed bullets, but given the same bullet construction, the bigger bullet – making a larger wound channel – has the edge. Unless you don’t bother to practice or can’t handle the recoil, since the bottom line is proper placement and sufficient penetration.

          • RegT

            Right on, Mako. As the FBI’s own firearms expert stated in his report (Urey Patrick, when he was head of the FBI’s Firearms Training Unit):

            “Given desirable and reliable penetration, the only way to increase bullet effectiveness is to increase the severity of the wound by increasing the size of hole made by the bullet. Any bullet which will not penetrate through vital organs from less than optimal angles is not acceptable. Of those that will penetrate, the edge is always with the bigger bullet.” This is from the report the current FBI staff quotes in this very article, the report titled, “HANDGUN WOUNDING FACTORS AND EFFECTIVENESS”

          • Mako_Dragoon

            Amazing, isn’t it? Nice find.

          • olsarge

            How many of the doctors are wasting their time “measuring” the wound channel? All I have ever seen them do is try and stop the bleeding, get the pof to surgery and save a life, what Dr do you know that knows that much about calibers, hell, after watching some recent episodes of ‘cops’ even these new LEO’s can’t figure out how to make a perps weapon safe or know the caliber. wrong focus guy!

          • Panzercat

            Wait… 50-100% greater mag capacity? How do you figure that? How much bigger do you think .45 is over .40?

          • Mako_Dragoon

            Just one example would be S&W M&P…
            Full Size .40 S&W holds 15 rounds
            Full Size .45 ACP holds 10 rounds

            Same for Ruger, so 50% more capacity for .40 S&W.

            It’s less in the favor of .40 S&W when considering Glocks.

            But if you consider that 1911’s are possibly the most popular .45 ACP, you are now dropped down to 7 or 8 rounds. Roughly half of the capacity of most full size .40 S&W pistols.

          • RegT

            Glock 22 .40 cal holds 15
            Glock 21 .45 cal holds 13

            As you stated, not as big a difference. I reload to +P specs for both, and the energy available in a full magazine of .45 exceeds what is available in a full magazine of .40. (7319 vs 7260) Plus a slightly bigger hole.

            Consider also that some states limit mag capacity to 10 rds in any caliber, and now less in places like New York. So mag capacity ay no longer be relevant.

          • Mako_Dragoon

            Those are good points and fortunately I don’t (and hope never to) live in a state with limited capacity.

            I did, however, in my first post about capacity mention that with Glock it is less of a disparity, however it is still a little bit “apples to oranges” as the G21/G20 frame is larger than the G19/G22.

            I haven’t held the Springfield or S&W M&P .45 ACP, how do they compare in size?

          • RegT


            Yes, I noted in my post that you differentiated the Glocks from other pistols. No one mentioned frame size, so it’s only “apples to oranges” once that difference is raised.

            Frame size is different for two reasons: first, because the rounds are large enough to require a deeper grip (why a lot of females and men with smaller hands have trouble grasping pistols in those calibers), and secondly because the engineers (are you listening, Nathaniel and Big Daddy?) knew the larger dimensions were necessary to deal with the pressures/forces involved with the .45 and 10mm ammunition 🙂

            I don’t know about the other pistols. I don’t deal with S&W because they illegally copied the Glock when they came out with the Smegma, I mean the Sigma, because their owners sold us out some years back, and because I believe they are now owned by a British consortium. I don’t like the fine weapons made by Springfield because I don’t like grip safeties. I do like 1911A’s, qualified with them in the Navy, but don’t own one for that reason.

          • Mako_Dragoon

            I’ve never been a fan of the idea of a grip safety, but I don’t have much experience with them.

            If I recall correctly, S&W was owned by a British corporation (same one that made the deal with Bill Clinton) when it introduced the Sigma (and got sued by Glock). Around 2001 they were bought by a US entity and have been all US since then.

            So, as much as I like to keep grudges too, it’s not even the same people anymore.

          • RegT


            Yes, like I said, you spoke of a smaller difference with the Glocks. I can’t tell you about Smiths or Springfields. I don’t do business with S&W since they sold us out some years back. Plus I think they are owned by a British conglomerate now. I understand the Springfield XD’s are fine weapons, but I hate grip safeties, so I have no experience with them. I’ve owned and shot H&K’s and Glocks in .45, Glocks in .40 and 10mm, and a Ruger in 9mm, purchased because one department I worked for only allowed 9mm on duty.

            I won’t live in a state with reduced capacity laws, but if the UN treaty Obama had our ambassador to the UN sign (yes, we are a signatory at this point) gets rammed through the Senate while Reid is still perverting it, we would lose the right to own most of our small arms, including handguns. Not that I would comply, but the treaty would make it possible for Obama – or whoever replaces him, like Hillary – to outlaw any small arms they wish to deprive us of. You might wish to contact your senators and remind them that they _can_ be removed from office if they support this treaty.

          • Mako_Dragoon

            Nope, S&W is once again fully US owned again. If they were still owned by the British company that made a deal with Bill, I wouldn’t have looked at the M&Ps at all, no matter how well they fit my hand.

            As soon as the American company that bought them (Safe-T Hammer or something like that) they told Bill to FOAD and rescinded their “non-binding agreement” making a lot of gun control folks angry.

          • RegT

            Thanks, Mako. That’s good to know. Are they still in the People’s Republic of (M)Assachusetts?

          • Mako_Dragoon

            Looks like Connecticut and Massachusetts.

          • Kivaari

            Mako, You did not read the article. Wounds are essentially the same regardless of bullet diameter. In Fackler’s research he showed that a wound from a 9mm, .45 and 7.62mm NATO leaves a wound channel that appears to be no different from each other. A wound trough a thigh, without bone impact, is so similar no surgeon would know the difference. What makes a different is how well a bullet is placed – only good hits count. It is why the wound Randy Weaver took from a .308 168 OTM bullet was no bigger than a 9mm wound.

          • RegT

            Kivaari, you _do_ realize .308 is smaller than .356, right? The match bullets are not designed to expand like hunting or defensive bullets. That small hollow in the tip is there to keep the center of gravity of the round aft of the physical center, to increase accuracy. Not to expand. So you would expect the hole to be smaller than a 9mm, especially smaller than a 9mm designed to expand in flesh.

        • RegT

          This ridiculous old fairy tale should have died at birth. Anyone who believes that Glock engineers are too stupid to figure out how to design a barrel, recoil spring, slide and supporting parts to handle the higher pressures of the .40 S&W round probably should return to school for remedial classes in physics, or at least admit they are simply repeating misinformation they heard from some other ill-informed in_duh_vidual. Ask yourself why G20’s in 10mm don’t blow up every time they are fired, why Desert Eagles’ in .50 cal don’t kill the closest 10 people when they are fired. Good grief.

          The few real “kabooms” that have occurred in .40 have been shown to be due to either a blocked barrel or bullet set-back, which happens when the bullet isn’t crimped properly and slides back into the case, raising pressures above what the gun – in that caliber – was designed for. It occurs more frequently with 180 grain bullets, but can happen with other weights as well. Oregon Trail and other bullet manufacturers warn specifically about this possibility.

          • big daddy

            If you say so. I guess I should always expect ENGINEERS to know everything and be prefect since they are so smart. See how dumb your comment sounds, I guess you don’t. It’s more about money than engineering in designing anything these days. Bottom line is cost. You cannot tell me modern pistols made with polymers or even metals will NOT have more wear and tear on them with more powerful cartridges. It might not show up until firing a few thousand rounds but unless they are beefed up significantly their life cycle will be shorter. That goes with any mechanical device.

          • RegT

            Big Daddy, it’s back to school for you. Physics is physics, and obviously some engineers are pretty smart. No one but you said engineers were perfect. Putting up straw man arguments is what sounds dumb.

            I’ve got over 24000 rounds through my G21 .45, including +P loads, and there is no visible wear or change in function. I’m still using the same recoil spring, plastic recoil rod, and all the other original parts. So I guess those dumb, greedy engineers must have known what they were doing. Fail, Big Daddy.

          • big daddy

            Give it a rest, RegT, esquire.

      • guest

        For the first time ever Nathaniel, I agree with you wholeheartedly.

    • John

      It’s been around too long to truly be called a fad. If it were a flash in the pan like 6.5 Grendel or 6.8 SPC then I’d call it a fad but .40 S&W has been mainstream for many years.

      • A long-lived fad. 😉

        • Mako_Dragoon

          Are there any cartridges made after 1963 that you don’t consider a fad? Or does 5.56 count too?

          • 5.56 predates 1963, so it doesn’t really count, though I certainly don’t consider it a fad.

            Really, most cartridge configurations had been tried before the ’60s. This doesn’t make any cartridge from after that point that duplicates one from before (e.g., .300 WM vs. .300 H&H), but it does mean that the vast majority of cartridges introduced after that time are going to be unnecessary and designed primarily to grab attention.

            But hey, here’s an example: 7mm-08 seems pretty cool. Oh, also 7mm STW is rad, if extremely specialized.

            Further, and I’m being true to my online character here, I think 5.7×28 fills a certain niche, even if for most people 9mm is a better choice.

          • Mako_Dragoon

            As far as I can tell, the 5.56×45 was standardized in 1963 and the .223 Rem was released in 1964.

            Moving on. Since all cartridges have been done before. What are the only cartridges that don’t qualify as a fad unnder Nathanial F’s definition?

          • .222 Remington Special dates to 1957, and is not substantially different from 5.56×45.

            I couldn’t list all the cartridges that aren’t “fads”, the list would be too long.

            .40 S&W is remarkable in that it makes the list as a fad, for me. I just don’t see the attraction there, from a practical sense. It appears to essentially be a safety blanket: People feel better carrying something bigger. :

          • Mako_Dragoon

            Regarding the .222 Remington… an extra 4 inches of barrel still put’s it almost 200 fps behind the 5.56. And I think we can both agree that if a person were to try to fire a 5.56 out of a .222 that one would think it is certainly substantially different, lol.

            The fad argument goes the other way too…

            9mm is remarkable in that it makes the list as a fad, for me. I just don’t see the attraction there, from a practical sense. It appears to essentially be a safety blanket: People feel better carrying 1 or 2 extra rounds in their magazine. :


            …People feel better thinking their slightly faster follow up shots will be better than an initially larger swept area. :

            (for the record, I don’t personally believe in either of those statements, just as I don’t subscribe to your fad statement. It was simply to illustrate their arbitrary nature.)

            Maybe that’s where the problem is, our definition of FAD. A fad is not just a personal view on something, it’s a societal reflection. And it’s totally arbitrary. Almost no one uses flint locks anymore. Was that a fad? I don’t think so. Better than Ezra… that was a fad. .45 GAP, while it had a great advantage in double stack guns… was a fad. (although oddly enough there is still a source of brass for it!)

          • .222 Remington Special =/= .222 Remington.

            Trying to equivocate my argument with an argument that 9mm is a fad is just silly. You can do better than that, I’m sure.

          • Kivaari

            When looking at 5.56mm we see that increasing twist rate made the SS109 more destructive than the 55 gr. M193. The Swedes were promoting the more humane SS109 load over the nasty M193 we were using in Vietnam. They performed fake science to show how mean the USA was. Yet, with the increase in RPM, the SS109 made nastier wounds. The Swedes used soap blocks before the real ballistics researchers went to live pigs and goats.
            Yugoslav army researchers proved how mean we were for using 7.62mm NATO (with a thin FN jacket) over their more humane 7.62x54mm and 7.62x39mm. Research can prove what you like if you use improper standards for testing.

          • Mako_Dragoon

            I missed the special. The .222 Special still needs 4″ more barrel to get within 200 fps of the 5.56.

            You said they are not substantially different, I say they are.
            9.4% difference in case capacity
            Increased brass length
            increased COL
            Increased pressure by 10-20%

            Which all stack up to a respectable 200 fps faster velocity out of 5.56 compared to a 4″ longer barreled .222 Rem Special.

            In closing. A cartridge that has been around for nearly 25 years, has large LEO buy in, and (according to Lucky Gunner 2013 sales) is the #4 most sold cartridge ahead of .22 lr, 5.56, 12 gauge, and .308. I don’t think it’s going away. It’s not a fad. Or is 12 gauge and .22lr a fad too?

          • RegT

            Yes, I find it hard to understand why Nathaniel isn’t shooting a 44-40. Or cap and ball, for that matter. I could loan him my Shiloh Sharps in 45-110 (2 & 7/8 is the actual caliber designation) to shoot black powder. Lots of bison killed with that round, don’t see why we need anything newer than that. That danged 30-30 is just a fad 😉

          • Kivaari

            The .223 only performed like earlier Remington .222 and .222 magnum. The case was changed to give better performance in the rifle. We could have M16s in .222 and essentially get the same performance. As for hunting rifles, Mauser had it right with the 7.65mm Argentine/Belgian. For everything but big bear and African critters, it will do all we need. Yet many great African hunters used .318 (8x57mmJ) and .303s with great results. Wimpy 6.5mm and .275s did the job well.

        • itsmefool

          A fad is generally considered a quick and short behavior.

          • Relative to 9mm, .40 hasn’t been around for very long.

            Regardless, I think it’s only popular for very superficial reasons, and therefore the term “fad” is, I feel, appropriate.

          • itsmefool

            Everybody has a right to be wrong.

      • Mako_Dragoon

        Etronx primers were a flash in the pan (pun intended?)

        But you are aware that 6.5 Grendel and 6.8 SPC II ammo and rifles are still being produced… right?

    • n0truscotsman

      A fad. I call it a solution trying to address a non-existent problem.

      • The problem (crappy handgun terminal effect) exists, I just don’t think .40 S&W is a very good solution. :

    • Anon. Y. Mous

      Well, it functions, but a pistol is still a pistol, and there’s not a significant difference in performance between 9x19mm and .40S&W in terms of ballistics.
      For example, .40 caliber pistols probably wouldn’t have killed Michael Platt any faster than the .38’s and 9mm’s they had (and the one shotgun at the end).

      • RegT

        Fackler and others who studied the Miami debacle understood that the failure was not due to caliber, it was due to a lack of penetration. The Winchester Silvertip used by the FBI stopped short of Platt’s heart. Had it continued on another inch or so, it would have stopped him before he was able to kill and seriously injure several other agents. That is why the FBI insists on penetration of at least 12″ in their protocols.

        That being said, a .40 with the same bullet is likely to penetrate farther than a 9mm due to it’s higher energy/velocity. Any physicist who knows what he’s talking about will also tell you that a heavier bullet will maintain its momentum longer – and travel farther – than a lighter bullet.

        So, it is quite likely that a .40 _might_ indeed have stopped Platt sooner.

    • nmgene

      I have a TZ75 in 41 action express it is a much better round then the 40 but never caught on. It is now very difficult to find ammo for. I was reduced to making brass out of 41 mag brass.

      • nmgene

        my TZ also had an interchangeable 9 mm barrel. I had no problem with the 41 ae and was just as fast with it as I was with the 9. The 41 mag held 13 rounds which is more then sufficent. The leos couldnt hit the broad side of a barn standing inside it!!!!!!!

    • Tothe

      It’s the 10mm Shorter and Weaker. So yeah. Why not?

  • iksnilol


  • Great post, Nathan.

  • big daddy

    Before I invested in a few handguns, having no experience with them I read, asked questions and read again. What it came down to is which caliber I would shoot the best, which caliber had the most invested in it and what gun was ergonomically the best fit for me.
    What I came up with was this;
    1- Most all handgun calibers are closer to each other than say a PDW/SBR/pistol AR in 5.56mm/.300AAC. A 9mm is very close to a .45 when compared to a 5.56mm AR15 even with a 10.5″ barrel. That means the real world effects of the big 4 as I call it in reality are much closer. The big 4 are 9m-.357 SIG-.40S&W-.45 ACP.
    2- No such thing as knock down power or stopping power. It much more depends on placement and effectiveness of the ammunition. Handguns cannot compare to even a light rifle round in potential for incapacitation of an attacker/target.
    3- Modern barrier blind ammunition is so much more effective than the JHP of the past and any ball ammo. Since I choose 9mm I wanted to find out what was the best gun and ammo for me. The new JHP ammos come in different flavors and they can be tailored to your gun. I choose Federal HST ammunition for my handguns due to many factors. Generally they do not penetrate as well as Gold Dots but I live in a hot climate, no heavy clothing. HST comes in both SP & +P in different grains. I use 147 in a shield for instance & 124+P in a M&P 9. Although Gold Dots are my second and Golden Sabers are third.
    4- In a fight it’s the rounds that hit the target that counts not the size of the round that doesn’t. You have a better chance of a faster follow up shot with a lower recoiling round, since knock down power doesn’t exist. You can carry more rounds in 9mm, not only in the gun but in your extra mags. 9mm is about the smallest viable round, it’s the most efficient and a compromise at the same time.
    5- Training is the key. Train as you would fight. Learn proper trigger control and work out scenarios for HD or if you legally carry for possible situations. Make sure you are prepared and don’t have to figure it all out on the fly. Know the laws for using deadly force and follow them if you must use your gun. Practice, practice, practice even if it’s dry firing between plays during a football game.
    6- Pick the best gun for you. It has to be reliable, that’s #1. Ergonomics are just as important but reliability is more. Make sure you are as comfortable as possible with that gun and shoot it well. Glocks are great guns but my hands like the S&W M&P line better. I love the 1911 but I’m not prepared to put the time and money into one to make it work as well as a Glock out of the box.
    These things are basic and what I have learned from extensive reading.
    Also after watching enough Youtube videos there are a few guys who are doing very scientific testing, following FBI protocols. From what I see it would be very hard to tell the difference in wounds with a 9mm +P compared to a .357SIG or .40 S&W. Even the .45 ACP makes very similar wound channels, it so much more depends on the make of the ammo. Federal HST seems to me like the most reliable and effective ammo. Picking the right ammo for your gun and the barrel length is important and hard to do.

  • NewerHCE

    Wow. that was really interesting. I like this line..

    Those who do stop commonly do so because they decide to, not because they have to.

  • Lance

    This will be a debate and a recurring problem for many years we see LE and Feds jump between 9mm and .40 all the time. I say make the agent pick what caliber he/she wants to deal with be the best solution. Cops are not the US Army and don’t need all one common caliber, matching rifles and tanks/APCs. Especially since 90+ percent of shooting is still 3.5 bullets according to almost every LE studies.

  • Aaron E

    The .40 S&W is not a fad! Not even close.

    First – The .40 S&W was developed as a part of another FBI study back in the mid 80’s. That study came about due to the dismal performance of the .38 rounds and and even so-so result from .357 rounds during the FBI’s deadly Miami Shootout. The FBI needed a handgun round that could incapacitate committed adversaries.

    When the 10mm quickly proved to be too much for many agents to wield effectively, S&W responded and produced the “short 10” or the .40 S&W. Even today the .40 S&W is one of the prevalent rounds used by American law enforcement on every level. It provides a decent middle ground between 9mm, and the .45 ACP, both of which are still very viable selections.

    Second – nearly every major U.S. handgun manufacturer and ammunition manufacturer has an offering in .40 S&W, and many have multiple offerings. The U.S. has the largest private gun market in the world, so this alone shows the popularity of .40 S&W. That level of popularity should weigh heavily to the argument against the .40 S&W simply being a fad.

    As this new FBI study points out – wound cavity is a big reason for ammunition selection. The .40 S&W is not as fast as a 9mm, but its speed when combined with its added mass, help to produce a greater wound channel.

    Finally – There are plenty of “fad” cartridges that will likely stay around, but never gain the popularity of primary cartridge selections. That doesn’t make them bad cartridges, and thank God for the variety, but either cost or function will keep them out of the majors.

    The .40 S&W has surpassed that “new” cartridge hype, and has proven itself in the ranks of the most popular cartridges.

    • B. Permanent Cavity: The extent to which a projectile expands determines the diameter of the permanent cavity which, simply put, is that tissue which is in direct contact with the projectile and is therefore destroyed. Coupled with the distance of the path of the projectile (penetration), the total permanent cavity is realized. Due to the elastic nature of most human tissue and the low velocity of handgun projectiles relative to rifle projectiles, it has long been established by medical professionals, experienced in evaluating gunshot wounds, that the damage along a wound path visible at autopsy or during surgery cannot be distinguished between the common handgun calibers used in law enforcement. That is to say an operating room surgeon or Medical Examiner cannot distinguish the difference between wounds caused by .35 to .45 caliber projectiles.

      .40 S&W does not offer anything over 9mm, and comes with disadvantages in weight, size, recoil, and magazine capacity.

      It’s a fad.

      • AJ187

        Yeah, well, you know, that’s just, like, your opinion, man.

    • n0truscotsman

      So in order to make up for the perceived lack of effectiveness following the Miami shootout, the FBI created the 10mm which was supposed to solve this problem. Then they found out the drawbacks of the 10mm were large enough to warrant the creation of another cartridge, 40 S&W, which has similar energy, penetration, and overall effectiveness against humans as 9mm and 45.

      That is circular logic if there ever was such a thing. A big waste of money and time to solve a problem that could have been addressed multiple ways without getting wrapped around the axle over pistol calibers.

      1.) Have local law enforcement arrest the two suspects (should have been done from the git go)

      2.) Colt Commandoes and other patrol long guns available then are more appropriate for such potential situations

      3.) Replacing revolvers with semi-automatics. Sorry revolver fans.

      “help to produce a greater wound channel”

      According to what evidence? Although gelatin is not the determining factor to close all debate all together, this is pretty damning for the fad cartridges.

      • TheKuduKing

        The FBI didn’t “invent” the 10mm Auto. It already existed. What the FBI did was develop a reduced loading for it – 180 JHP @ 950 fps. The problem with the system was the weapon, not the cartridge… S&W did a poor job of QC on the production guns, and the guns themselves even when working properly were too large and heavy for concealed carry. S&W developed the .40 S&W to duplicate the FBI 10mm Auto round ballistics in a short case, which was believed to be suitable for 9mm-sized weapons.

        • n0truscotsman

          They didn’t. That was a moment of lucidity on my part.

          But they made it popular.

          No matter how good the production gun is, with attributes of the 40 considered, it still doesn’t undue the fact that it has characteristics that are less than desirable for a common sidearm.

          Increased recoil, less magazine capacity, faster slide cycle rate (which decreases life cycle), for a cartridge just as effective as 9mm makes it a bigger problem than a solution.

          It is still circular logic where the FBI ended up with the same problem.

  • Don Ward

    Good. Good. Soon the circle will become complete and LEOs will return to using .357 magnum revolvers.

    *evil laugh* *castle thunder*

    • Bill

      That should certainly be an option. The 125 gr. .357 stopped a lot of bad guys right quick. Then a show called “Miami Vice” came on and revolvers weren’t cool. I wouldn’t hesitate to carry one, and still do on occasion. I will also eventually get a .357 SIG barrel…

  • Michael Walters

    All of you arguing about rounds spent and which is the best round. I don’t care, all I care about is what our military and our enemy carries. Because that is what I’m going to be using when SHTF!

    • Don Ward

      It’s kind of you to care about what ammunition our military or enemy will strip off your carcass because only having 35 Remington and .38 Super would be so inconvenient for them.

      *troll face*

      I kid. I kid.

  • dan citizen

    A great article with one horrible exception. Hit /miss ratio,

    A 20%-30% hit ratio is criminally unacceptable. Blindly sending unaimed rounds flying randomly around is ridiculous and should not be tolerated.

    I have seen an Eastern European police officer take careful aim with a makarov and instantly drop a criminal with one little FMJ round, all while being fired upon. If that officer had acted like an American cop he would be likely be dead. If he had survived he would never have held a firearm again and could have faced a firing squad himself if a bystander was hit.

    The modern theories and tactics of US law enforcement are just not effective. Collateral damage is too high, friendly fire incidents are too common, officer safety is low related to actual risk. As an experiment it is a failure.

    So why do some second and third world countries with miniscule training budgets have so much better practical results?

    First, require real training time, and don’t be afraid to wash people out. I have worked at multiple departments where the average firearms performance was disgusting. Patrol officers who could not place all their hits on a silhouette target at 10 feet being signed off on their annual test. Numerous negligent discharges but the union making sure consequences didn’t occur. Shooting incident reports doctored to cover up ridiculous results, I’m talking 21 shots from ARs at less than 6 feet, by 3 officers with only 1 hit. These practices are not pro-cop.

    Second, make there be real penalties for every single stray round, unless justified, and make that a high standard.

    Train officers sufficiently to do there job, fire the ones that can’t hack it.

    Currently police deaths are at an all time low in the US (http://www.odmp.org/search/year?year=2013) yet we still have panicky officers endangering those they should protect and regularly shooting unarmed people in situations that most of the world’s officer’s would have resolved with a baton.

    • TheKuduKing

      Honestly… you have no experience with the reality of training, combat shooting, LE work or even human behavior, not in the UNited States or anywhere else for that matter. Your comments are so ludicrous that they don’t even warrant the expenditures of key strokes to respond to.

      • dan citizen

        I don’t feed trolls.

  • ixlr8r

    The size really does not matter. 9mm is enough.
    Surprisingly they did not compare to a .22LR which penetrated a car windshield and 12″ of ballistic gelatin in a previous article on TFB: http://www.thefirearmblog.com/blog/2014/09/02/22lr-vs-windshield/

  • SSN

    LEO’s miss between 70 – 80 percent of the shots fired during a shooting

    Having actually been at ranges where LEO’s would show up to shoot, so

    true sadly. The LAST place I want to be is where LEO’s are blazing away
    at a “suspect” (anyone downrange it seems more and more).

  • Dan

    The caliber wars are indeed over. All we have left are self-righteous anger by big bore fanatics who don’t like the analysis in the FBI document. Empirical evidence always trumps wishful thinking. 9x19mm has indeed come a long way, and is now sufficiently effective (at least in JHP configuration) to render the .40 and .45 as curios. Thank goodness for that!

    • Anonymous

      To play the Devil’s Advocate, Isn’t that what they said back in the 1980s, just before the Miami Massacre that started the ball rolling in the first place?

      Yes, we are aware that if any of the G-Men who’d been carrying 9mm handguns had been carrying a mag of hot 9mm FMJ SMG ammo we wouldn’t be having this conversation, nor would we be having this conversation if they’d gotten the MP5s and M16s and 12 gauge Ithaca riot guns out of the trunks of their cars instead of bringing handguns to a long-gun fight, or if they’d hit what they were shooting at the first time instead of magdumping and praying and then blaming the ammo afterwards, but training standards for marksmanship and tactics have gone downhill at the Bureau since J. Edgar Hoover was running things, and he’s been spinning in his grave for a generation now. But that’s a different conversation for a different day, I think.

    • n0truscotsman

      They will be dragged kicking and screaming into reality sooner rather than later, then maybe they can stop bringing 22lr into the damn conversation.

      Unless something that has better overall attributes than 9mm comes into creation…

      • 6.8x23mm. 47gr FMJ/JHP at 2,100 ft/s, fits 20 rounds in a Glock 17, operates at 58,000 PSI. Would be pretty blasty, though.

  • Rich

    If handgun caliber stopping power is myth then why don’t they just carry .22 long rifle?

    • Marc

      Because penetration.

      • marathag

        most high velocity 22lr will do 10+ inches in ballistic gel. How much more you want?

        • seans

          Well the FBI wants a minimum of 12 inches every time

          • Anonymous

            High velocity .22 LR solids do 12″-14″ pretty consistently in 10% ballistic gelatin, even through four layers of heavy cotton denim.

            I’d predict it probably doesn’t do so well against auto bodies, but then again, every year the auto makers are making windshields, car windows, and auto door sheet metal a little bit thinner, chasing EPA-mandated gas mileage figures.

            Back during WWII the US military had contracts with Remington and others to purchase .22 LR ammunition with true gilding metal FMJ bullets. That might help penetration vs. hard barriers like auto bodies, building materials, and so on. Maybe a .22 LR FMJ bullet could do it.

          • Commonsense23

            Is that high velocity 22 doing 12-14 inches consistently from a rifle or a 4-5 inch pistol? And what is going to be the expansion of those rounds you mention.

    • I think you’ll find the answer to this question within the article itself.

    • Rimfire primers aren’t reliable, for a start.

  • Nathan Means

    One interesting point is the 2+ shot doctrine. With the exception of crainial conckers, the average rounds needed to terminally injure or slow down a person is >2 rounds to any body area with standard pistol loads from a 22 all the way to 357 (45 included but the ballistics make a 357 mag more devistating in my book). The only way around this is a rifle cartridge. The discussion may differ is one carries a 308 AR platform pistol… but I feel that would be hard to conceal. Just look at hunting. No one ever goes after a deer with a 9mm-45acp. I have seen a few 357 kills but that is with a long barrel and great shot placement. But if a animal charges you its not a concern of single shot heartshot or a headshot (skull is hard thus deflection may vary) but blood loss or destruction of vital arteries. Due to the lack of lab testing (anyone want to take a few rounds to the chest?) This debate will flourish and there will be more rounds like the 40 (anyone remember this is a short 10mm which is actually a good hangun hunting cartridge?) Who know what will be next but the 9mm will always be faster than rocks.

  • Limonata

    If LEO can miss between 70 – 80 percent of the shots, people in 10rnd Magazine states are screwed. And, this is why I hate magazine capacity laws, only the bad guys will have an advantage over civilians

  • justme

    Love me some 9mm. I especially like when I am told I have a, “girl caliber” by new shooters who think they need at LEAST a .45 so they can shoot once and blow people through walls like in the movies. I just laugh

  • Anonymous

    I want to know which 9mm rounds “outperform” .40 and .45. They certainly don’t expand more. They certainly don’t crush or tear more tissue. Are we counting the .357 Magnum as a “9mm round?”

    My EDC is a subcompact singlestack 9mm, which I chose on the basis that it allowed for the thinnest, lightest pistol that used the absolute minimum effective caliber for antipersonnel work, and secondarily that I already owned some other 9mm pistols and already reload for the caliber.

    I don’t even own a .40; the inherent difficulty of reloading for a caliber when the range brass so often bears the “Glock Smile” has kept me away. But this blunt claim that the 9mm destroys more tissue than .40 or .45 is Orwellian. I therefore find myself wondering exactly what’s going on here.

    • Whoah, Orwellian? Is that really the right adjective to use?

      I don’t recall claiming the 9mm outperformed .40 in terminal effect. Generally speaking, they’re about the same.

  • Panzercat

    So, the TDLR version–
    1) We miss a lot.
    2) It’s cheap!
    3) Modern bullet technology!

    I’ll buy #1 and #2. More pew-pew is better than less, especially if you miss a lot. Even better if it’s cheap to buy. #3, however, is almost always used to justify the first two reasons to make shore up any given decision. It normally fails to compare apples to apples and attempts to dismiss the laws of physics. Somehow only 9mm has benefited from this mythical modern technology that made it substantially more potent over ball. If .357 wasn’t good enough then, why is 9mm now…? And back we got to #1 and #2.

    It’s a comprimise round. 9mm has never been the best at anything execpt for being cheap and having a lot of it. Oh, and it’s very controllable… But when the best you can do is 20-30%, I’m not sure how that helps your case.

  • AJ187

    Funny, most people on here would never listen to government for advice. In fact they’re proud of it, but if it validates their bullet choice….

    • I feel that is too broad of a statement to make. TFB’s readership is very diverse, and for one thing many of them have a military history, which means they’ve spent a lot of time listening to their government. ;P

  • Mark N.

    I don’t know if it is training or reaction under stress or military background where putting as much lead as possible down range as fast as possible is the solution to an attack, but it seems to me, in my particular corner of the world, that officers here shoot to slide stop as fast as they possibly can, then pause for a reload. And they think that this is a good thing. Why? Not sure what that says about shooting to stop–I remember one officer commenting about the shooting of an armed robbery suspect that the 38 shots fired (which was enough to kill the suspect) were “not enough.” I am sure all of us can recall multiple instances of a “suspect” dying in a literal hail of bullets. At that point, does caliber matter at all?
    That said, and aside from the fact that the LEOs here transitioned to .40 long ago, .40 was the one caliber of handgun ammo you could find on the shelf during the last ammo drought. (Which was too bad for me since I don’t own a .40.) 9 and .45 were rarely seen. I think that a lot of female officers have issues with the recoil impulse of a .40, and this of course will adversely affect their accuracy. Let them shoot a caliber that they can hit with.

  • Don Ward

    Another thing which is making the handgun caliber debate obsolete in the LEO world is the proliferation of the AR15/M4 platform. In my neck of the woods (Seattle) anytime you have a shooter situation you see a surfeit of little black rifles in the hands of police officers. Now I’m not saying that the handgun is obsolete – far from it – there will always be a need for having readily available firepower on your person. It’s just that the situation where the difference between having a 9mm, .40, .357, .45 or whatever is so small that it really doesn’t really matter.

  • gunsandrockets

    No the caliber wars are not over, not by a long shot (heh)

    I find it hard to give much credit to the logic asserted by the FBI for switching to 9mm.

    First off it is hard to believe the something-from-nothing claims about 9mm performance. There is nothing magic about 9mm or the technology of pistol ammunition. Since all else is equal in ammunition technology, a larger cartridge will do more damage to a target than a smaller cartridge.

    Secondly the FBI claims of poor LEO accuracy and training problems seems like a better rationale for a switch to .22 rimfire rather than 9mm. In my opinion maybe the core problem with poor accuracy is from training LEO to shoot too fast rather than emphasizing greater accuracy. Certainly the vaunted accuracy of 9mm Glocks hasn’t seemed to help the NYPD shoot any more accurately. (and yes I know that the example of NYPD Glocks is a cheap shot!)

    The FBI admission that pistols are low powered weapons hardly seems like a good reason to use an even lower powered cartridge, unless one takes that to the logical minimum caliber conclusion of .22 rimfire. In my opinion pistol technology should drive towards the most powerful ammunition that can be accurately fired, because handguns ARE low powered. But then I guess it’s more tacticool to spray 9mm bullets from a racy black plastic automatic than boom out one or two shots from an old fashioned blued steel magnum.

    I think the real handgun problem which the FBI isn’t really addressing is the orthodoxy of one size fits all, universal handgun equipping of police. This may sound like heresy, but maybe every police officer shouldn’t have a handgun issued. And if a cop is qualified to carry a handgun, maybe that firearm should be a personal weapon rather than one issued from a department arsenal. Heck if such a policy was followed odds are most police would carry 9mm Glocks anyway, but then that choice would be more likely from an actual need rather than from following a rationalizing department doctrine.

    All that said, my favorite handgun is a .38 Super caliber 1911a1 firing hot loaded hollowpoints from Buffalo Bore.

    • n0truscotsman

      “I find it hard to give much credit to the logic asserted by the FBI for switching to 9mm.”

      Then you aren’t thinking hard enough.

      You have two cartridges that are similar in kinetic energies and penetration, but cartridge A has a smaller magazine size, heavier recoil, a shorter overall life cycle, and more expensive ammunition than cartridge B. What makes the most sense? cartridge B obviously.

      “Certainly the vaunted accuracy of 9mm Glocks hasn’t seemed to help the NYPD shoot any more accurately”

      The 11 lb NY trigger would be a huge part of the problem…

      “to use an even lower powered cartridge, unless one takes that to the logical minimum caliber conclusion of .22 rimfire”


      First of all 9mm is not “lower powered”. Not even close.

      22 lr produces between 100-150 ft lbs of energy. 9mm and 40? 400-500 for premium ammunition with some loads breaking 600 ft lbs.

      22 is completely irrelevant to the discussion because it is not even in the same ballpark as the big five.

      So can future posters STOP bringing 22 into the conversation? this is a frequently used 40 fanboy Reductio ad absurdum

      • Clearly, PDs should issue handguns only in 2mm Kolibri. 😉

    • “Since all else is equal in ammunition technology, a larger cartridge will do more damage to a target than a smaller cartridge.”

      Terminal ballistics is way, way more complicated than that.

  • Darrin

    Wow. I feel vindicated now. I’ve been saying this for several years. I am not a LEO, but I am a legally armed citizen. I did my research when choosing my carry weapon and caliber. I chose the Glock 19 with Hornady Critical Duty 135gr. +P for these same reasons mentioned in this document.

  • chartguy

    Penetration was why the FBI picked the 10mm Auto to begin with.

  • David Stephens

    That’s why all my pistols are 9mm!

  • ARJ190

    Wasn’t it the FBI who got this whole thing started in the Miami shoot out many years ago when agents who were out gunned died?? What were those agents carrying?? Cause the agency to adopt the 10 mm until they found that the agents couldn’t handle it so backed off to the .40 S&W. You keep your 9 (I have one for backup) I’ll keep my .45 ACP thanks.

  • Otis

    This just totally convinced me that 9mm is the way to go.

  • supergun

    I will still carry my XDs 45 over the 9 all day long. The Corbon 165 45acp is better than all of the 40s and 9s

  • Jamie Clemons

    Shot placement. What can you hold on target best.with.

  • Daniel Higgs

    I just think it’s refreshing that someone (FBI) finally accepted that pistol rounds are all generally weak compared to a rifle and are little more than a compromise between size and capacity. No matter what, you will need to put several rounds on target. Why not use something with a higher capacity and generally easier to use to put said rounds on target (when compared to other common LEO calibers). I liked the article, but i am still a fan of 45 as well as 40. .357 SIG and 45 GAP are little more than fads and only illustrate that if a company invents a round, someone will buy it just because.

  • usmcmailman

    Obviously the FBI doesn’t proof read their articles.

  • Robert V Martin

    Did Jeff Cooper live and teach in vain?

  • MrApple

    Long live the .45ACP vs .40S&W vs 9mm debate. As for me, I’ll stick with 9mm.

  • Johnny Nightrider

    i’ve owned .45 acp. pistols and went to a 4 day class with one than did the class again with my Glock 19 9mm and I was more accurate and faster.I’ve owned .357 magnum revolvers. Though I sold everything and own only a Glock 19 pistol with 10 magazines for the range and defense and a Colt M4 carbine for the range and defense and I feel well armed.

  • PARAMEDIC70002

    Give them a few years and they will conduct another study with vastly different results. It is the nature of government.

  • Ronin65

    Here is my personal take on the whole thing. Carry what you are comfortable with shooting. If you can put all your rounds in the vitals, can do it in an expeditious manner, and your gun goes bang every single time, what makes the difference. Your firearm is only a tool. You are the weapon. I am comfortable in the fact that I can do the job, whether it be with a .38 to a .45. This mine is bigger or mine is faster seems a bit like school yard BS. Again, just my opinion. 🙂

  • Robert Kalani Foxworthy

    9mm is the list effective overal. there are NOT 100% one stop shot pistols 44 MAG HIT IS AS CLOSEST being AROUND 98% but is an unweildy fire-arm.
    shot placement is more important. shooting that many rounds is horrible… High capicty will lead to more wastful shooting and it marginaly less powerful. The thing about it is its all pretty subjective and its about personal prefference or operational doctrine.

    20-30% hit ratio that is god aweful.

  • Kivaari

    An excellent article. Over 20 years ago, before the .40 existed, our agency issued .45 Glock M21. When I joined up the chief issued me a M21. I told him I can’t shoot them gun well as it is too large for my hand. After proving it, he ordered a M17. I demonstrated that I could put 9 rounds on two targets, faster and well centered compared to men with .45s that were lucky to get 3 hits anywhere on paper. I said, I’d rather get there with less than to miss with the .45s. After a year of handgun requalification’s, the department went to Glock M17 and M19s. Everyone showed improvement. Only good hits count.

  • cwolf

    The person who has to make the weapon decision has to look at multiple variables, not just one. And that solution on balance applies to all agents (female agents had to sue the FBI for not providing guns/holsters they could use). The FBI at one point allowed agents to buy their own guns as long as they could qualify.

    In this case the FBI looked at bullet terminal effects, recoil, rate of fire, accuracy, magazine capacity, cost, etc.

    Arguing any single variable out of context is misleading. True, the .50AE is bigger and creates larger wounds, but it creates other problems.

    The analysts are not saying that 9mm is the perfect caliber. They are simply saying the 9mm is an overall better choice given their chosen variables.

    My biggest concern is folks in live shooting situations are missing approximately 80% of the time (obviously police don’t use suppressive fire much).

    Therefore the bigger issue, regardless of caliber, is how can training, qualification, sights, pistol design, etc. be improved to increase the Probability Hit/Probability Kill (or in this case Probability Stop) within the assumed pistol scenarios (folks carry patrol rifles/shotguns for a reason). Therefore, the FBI should (just like they did with ammunition), conduct studies on how pistol design, sights, training, etc. can be improved to ideally reverse the hit-miss ratio.



    Stationary KD ranges and paper targets are basically a waste of ammunition in terms of real world transfer. When one military service put “expert” shooters on a moving target range, hits were pretty low. And we haven’t even started talking about shooting teamwork.

    Notionally, they should examine optical sights, lasers, muzzle heavy designs, grip angle, tactical shooting with Simunition, etc. True, the “new” gun will cost more, but that has to be weighed against the costs of the current system (medical, legal, etc.).

  • Kivaari

    If you notice this mentions the studies by Col. Fackler and associates in the 1980’s. In Wound Ballistics Review these facts were well documented. But, we have people in charge of issuing guns to cops that disregard science simply because they like big bullets when the guns that launch them are unsuitable for a third of the officers.

    • gunsandrockets

      Is caliber truly the issue? Or grip size? I bet those FBI agents who have trouble handling a Glock 23 vs a Glock 19, would do even worse with an M-9 in 9mm but do even better with a M-1911a1 in .45 ACP.

  • Kivaari

    I recommend everyone read the cited reports. As this report notes the basic information from the late 80’s already pointed in the direction of the 9mm being adequate when fed with the right ammo. An in depth study was done by the RCMP. Canadian cops wanted to equal or exceed the .38 Spl. (9x29mmR) firing the 158 LHP. RCMP were satisfied with the .38 fired from 2″ and 5″ S&W revolvers. The 9mm and .40 were similar in performance.
    Personally, I am happy with 9mm. I found the .40 in a Glock 22 to OK, but it did kick more and that resulted in slower times. That was shooting 9mm +P+ v. .40, where the higher performance 9mm still allowed for better control.

    • gunsandrockets

      When the FBI first adapted the ’10mm light’ load, it was because the hollow point loads tested for the 9mm and .45 couldn’t reliably satisfy the stringent FBI penetration requirements.

    • cwolf

      “Based on a review of nearly 200 agent-involved shootings over a 17-year period, the FBI discovered that 75 percent of these incidents involved suspects who were within three yards of their agents when shots were exchanged.”

      Basically, the attacker has the advantage (action beats reaction) plus the element of surprise (see the Tueller Rule). At those distances, seconds count.

      The problem is that there are multiple variables at work and any given study often only looks at one. Penetration is one variable and penetration in the FBI tests included car-to-car shootings.

  • Guest

    I’m not going to get into the caliber war, I believe you should use whatever you are most comfortable with but I wanted to comment on the part of the report that said medical examiners and doctors can’t tell the caliber from the permanent wound channel. I watch a lot of “Trauma: Life in The ER” (spent years in the business) and one of the things you hear inner city trauma docs talk about a lot is gang/gun violence. One of the things they talk about is, after doing the job long enough, how good they get at figuring out the caliber of the bullet from the damage it does. I’ve actually seen/heard a few different ER/trauma docs say it word for word so when I read this report saying that the wound channels are so similar that medical examiner’s and doctors couldn’t tell the difference I had to laugh. Ok, so maybe their findings wouldn’t hold up against cross examination because of the variables which are the nature of the human body and it’s likely not possible in every case but it’s pretty dishonest to say experienced docs are unable to tell the difference at all when many are clearly quite good at it.

    Makes me wonder what other bits of “data” they took those kinds of liberties with to make their point…

    • gunsandrockets

      Yeah, I thought that bit in the FBI report that said … it has long been established by medical professionals, experienced in evaluating gunshot wounds, that the damage along a wound path visible at autopsy or during surgery cannot be distinguished between the common handgun calibers used in law enforcement.”, sounded like the report indulging in myth-making of its own.

  • Archie Montgomery

    Interesting. The ‘executive summary’ lists – hidden in the middle of the list and not addressed again – the observation that LEOs miss 7 or 8 of 10 shots fired in action.

    No attempt to address this problem noted. The ‘answer’ is to select a sidearm that doesn’t recoil as much AND allows more wild shots to be fired. The logic is that by increasing the magazine capacity, the agency can expect agents to get three or possibly four hits (from fifteen or sixteen rounds) rather than just two or three from a ten round magazine.

    By reducing ‘recoil’, the agency can then qualify more new hires who can’t shoot, do not care about learning to shoot, and possibly lack the mental and physical ability to shoot.

    This is the goal of the progressive left. Anyone can be a LEO – in this case an FBI agent – whether they can actually do the work or not.

    Efficiency of sidearms have no bearing on the matter.

    • cwolf

      The FBI was heavily influenced by the Miami shoot-out (admittedly a rare event) where the FBI agents ran out of ammo. The conclusion was the only ammo you can count on is what you’re carrying (the Miami agents had more ammo in their cars but couldn’t get to their cars in the firefight).

      The FBI changed their qualification course in 2012 (60 rounds, with 40 of those fired from between three and seven yards. It also requires agents to draw their weapons from holsters concealed by jackets or blazers to replicate the traditional clothing worn by FBI special agents.). This was based on looking at all shootings in a 17 year period.

      Most LEO shooting is close distances (65 percent of law enforcement officers were killed by assailants who are just 10 feet away or closer).

      The core problem is training transfer (which is typically poor). Even shooters with thousands of rounds fired in high-stress shooting events don’t necessarily do that well in live fire. We can guess at reasons but there really haven’t been any comprehensive studies across variables. The attacker, of course, has the advantage (action beats reaction plus add the surprise effect); just look at the 21 foot tests (a guy running at the shooter from 21 feet can get to the shooter before the shooter can draw).

      The historical data is reasonably stable. KD paper punching has never transferred well. Expert target shooters don’t do well on moving targets, etc.

      People can be surprisingly difficult to kill. Look at the Navy SEAL who was shot 27 times from ten feet by AK47s.

  • BlueBuddha

    I think it’s clear that .40SW is another of those wildcat rounds with no purpose other than acting as a solution in search of a problem. Leave that crap on the shelf, and sell your existing stock for whatever you can get.

    Likewise, ditch those Sig P229, HK USP, & Glock 22 white elephants. I wouldn’t ask more than a couple hundred bucks though, or you’ll be stuck with them. I’ll take it all off your hands cheap, but I happen to be a collector of failed firearms & calibers.

    Thank you.

  • Core

    Ive known this for years, but its good to see it reinforced in TFB.

  • Maddawg

    A well written article justifying the stance and policy driven by their accountants…me thinks the Kel-Tec PMR .22 magnum will also fit this justification according to recent comparison between the ,22 magnum VS. the 5.57 (LOL).

  • ghost

    A 12 gauge is a better side arm. The FBI just can not handle the recoil.

  • Johnny Nightrider

    My Home Defense Pistol is a Glock 19 in 9mm back upped with a S&W M&P .45 auto,backed up by a Colt M4 LE6920 with a red dot sight.I like the 9mm as long as I have backup.

  • The Brigadier

    Dear FBI,

    Considering that you abandoned .38 Special revolvers and adopted the S&W 10mm after two years and millions of dollars of testing only to go to the weaker .40 S&W cartridge to satisfy female and small male agents, its amazing you have returned to a caliber similar to the .38 Special you replaced in 1988. The next time you have a shootout with thugs carrying assault rifles, please don’t waste another boatload of money casting about for a more powerful cartridge. Is anyone truly in charge of the FBI anymore?