If you have been reading my blog for a while you know a lot about me including that I listen to a number of podcasts, that I am a proponent of the 9mm cartridge and carry a Glock 19 (but I would switch to a mid sized M&P9 if they ever make one… I will keep beating that drum!), and that I really like the caliber wars! Yesterday we had a public win for the 9mm.
About 3 weeks ago Paul from the Safety Solutions Academy released a podcast discussing why he doesn’t carry a .40S&W and I piggybacked off the idea igniting a small anti-40 fire storm that was covered by Michael Bain (don’t call him Mr. Bain he doesn’t like that ), George Hill and Say Uncle over the course of the following week.
About 2 weeks ago Paul happened to be passing through Charlotte and I met him for lunch. As we were talking about the “drama” that he had caused, it became clear that we had both chosen not to carry a .40S&W for the same reasons, but that we had also chosen different calibers for our own reasons. Neither of us were wrong, we just weighted the factors differently and therefore came to different logical choices.
In yesterday’s SSA podcast, Paul public announced that he had made the decision to switch to the 9mm because of:
- Wounding Capacity
- Ammunition Capacity vs Firearms Size
- Ammunition Cost
- Integrity with students
I am not egotistical enough to think that my arguments changed Paul’s mind (Ok, I am. But I’m also pragmatic enough to realize that he is a smart guy and likely came to the realizations on his own) but I do think it is interesting that 1st 3 are the same arguments that I made in my 9mm vs 45 (Round 1), my original anti-40 post and my response to the Mad Ogre. Maybe there is something to this!
The only area that I disagree with Paul is in his desire to integrate with his students.
If you accept them as true, reason’s 1-3 should be enough alone to drive a person to carry a 9mm and I think 9mm is the best choice, but I also think an instructor should educate his/her students and let them make the choice themselves.
Playing devils advocate…
The argument about wounding capacity can be approached from the standpoint that the time to the 1st shot is the same for both guns and some people believe that the 1st shot is the most important. In that case a bullet with more power is desirable. There is also the argument that felt recoil is subjective and that some people may actually have faster follow-ups with a .45 than a 9mm, only the use of a timer will let them know for sure. Some believe that they should switch to a .45 in the winter because of heavy clothing (I have never understood this one, which round is criticized for over penetration?)
The ammo capacity argument can be negated by the belief that accuracy is more important and they feel they are more accurate with a .45 (BS) and that the statistical likelihood of a gun fight lasting more than 8 rounds is very low.
The ammo cost argument is very personal and both George Hill and a training executive I interviewed on another topic, said that they carry what they think will work the best and are willing to pay the extra money. Great! Cost isn’t a constraint for everyone.
Clint Smith famously said “Carrying a gun for self-defense should be comforting, not comfortable.” Obviously he was talking about the physically carrying the pistol, but confidence in the ammo choice goes a long way to being comforted by your carry gun.
I think it is fine for an instructor to say to his students…
“I have dedicate my life to the study of armed conflict. I know can draw and fire the 1st shot of my .45 as fast as a 9mm. I accept that I am giving up .08 seconds in my averaged aimed splits, because I fire 12,000 rounds per year in training and I am confident in my ability to be combat accurate with 95% of the rounds I fire under stress. Yes, I may have to reload in 2% of the armed conflicts that I hope I am never in, but I can do it from concealment in 1.5 seconds and I believe that is fast enough.
For a less experienced shooter, I recommend a 9mm because it provides nearly the same terminal ballistics, it will allow them to get back on target faster, the smaller round size permits more capacity reducing the likelihood of a mandatory weapon manipulation, and for it to be loaded into a gun that they are more likely to carry or that fits their hand better.
If you are interested I can point you to resources to help you decide what is best for you and you can give me a call after class if you have any questions you would like to discuss. My phone number is on the syllabus I passed out at the beginning of the class.”
At the beginning I said I like the caliber wars debate. And I do… I mean I really do, it is like a socially acceptable religion discussion because.
- There is a bunch of data that can be quoted
- There are so many variables at play that nearly all of the data is refutable based on the scenario
- It is a decision we bet our life on
but I have said before and I will say it again…
- All Pistol Calibers SUCK! If you need a gun you want a long gun.
- All Guns are better than harsh words or a sharp stick
- All pistols/calibers are a collection of compromises
As Paul points out in the podcast there isn’t much difference in the damage done by a .38, 9mm, 40S&W or .45ACP… but there is a difference and I believe each shooter should make up their own mind on what to carry. (That doesn’t change the fact that I think the best decision for most people is a mid-sized M&P… I mean Glock 19.)