9mm vs .45 ACP Calibers Compared

9mm vs .45 ACP: Calibers Compared

The 9mm vs .45 ACP debate has been going on for decades. Which caliber is “better” will never be answered absolutely, however in this article we will break down each caliber and help you decide which one is best for you.

The differences in these two rounds include effectiveness, price, carry capacity, and muzzle control just to name a few.

Each of these are things to consider when looking at any weapon to purchase, but especially when seeking out a 9mm or 45 ACP handgun for concealed carry.

If you are new to firearms, check out our article on the Best Handguns for Beginners.

9mm vs .45 ACP: Which Is Better?

With recent advances in ammo capabilities and designs, the difference in effectiveness has been closed quite a bit between 9mm and .45 ACP. The .45 ACP round is still slightly more effective, but the advantages that 9mm has in areas such as capacity, ammo price, and muzzle rise have led more people to switch to 9mm in recent years.

This does not mean that 9mm is better for everyone, however it is becoming more popular than ever. Many people will still opt for the more powerful .45, if they are comfortable with slightly less capacity, a slightly higher ammo price, and a little less muzzle control, then that round is best for them.

9mm vs .45 ACP Comparisons

While these two rounds are different from each other in many ways, the differences may not be by a large margin in many areas. Below we will look at a chart that offers a closer look at their comparison.

While looking at the comparison it is important to note that there are many different versions of these rounds. Below we are looking at the two common carry rounds for concealed carry that I happen to have sitting next to me as I am writing.

9mm Federal Premium HST 147 grain vs .45 Federal Premium HST 230 grain

Bullet Weight147230
Muzzle Velocity1000890
Penetration Depth15.2″14″
CapacityMore CapacityLess Capacity
Price (Box of 20)MSRP: $35.99MSRP: $40.99
Info from Federal Premium and a study by Lucky Gunner

As you can see, these two rounds are very similar. Its not hard to see why they are both so popular. It really will come down to your personal needs and wants from your firearm.

As a general rule, if you want slightly more rounds and accuracy go with a good 9mm. If you want pure stopping power, go with a good .45.

9mm Breakdown

9mm Expanded Bullets
9mm Expanded Bullets from luckygunner.com

9mm is currently the most popular caliber for carry guns in the United States. If you are like me, you love both calibers, but your carry gun is usually 9mm. This is due to the lower weight and higher capacity that the caliber offers. The drawback of less power is noticeable, but modern 9mm rounds are still pretty good at stopping power.

The FBI and many police departments across the country have switched to 9mm. This is probably due to the latest updates to self defense ammo that helps 9mm catch up to the perforce of .45.

9mm Pros


There are many different versions of the 9mm, each of which is small and easily concealable. It is easily hidden from view, can be put in several types of holsters without a large bulge, and is readily available to use for defense.


Another pro of the 9mm is that it typically has a larger magazine, making it an ideal weapon for home defense or competition shooting. This large magazine means that you will take less time reloading and will be able to use this extra time to protect yourself in time of trouble.

A 9mm magazine will typically hold about 10-15 rounds, which could mean life or death in a defensive situation. This is something important to keep in mind when choosing a weapon to carry on your person.

Muzzle Rise and Recoil

With less muzzle rise when fired, the 9mm can be more accurate for some people on follow up shots. This may not be an issue for some stronger, experienced shooters, it can help out many others.

Some also like the fact that this caliber has less recoil. Some newer, inexperienced shooters tend to struggle with the expected recoil of larger rounds and it can effect their accuracy.


Since the 9mm is so widely used, there are many accessories and replacement parts available if you need them. They are not specialty made, so you would not have an issue finding someone to work on your weapon, either. This is important to think about when considering what weapon to keep on your person.


For me, this is not really a consideration as the savings is not really that huge. But for some, it can save quite a bit of money by shooting 9mm. This really comes into play when you go to a training class and they require at least 1000 rounds.

This price difference can really add up and is a deal breaker for some shooters who were thinking about choosing .45.

9mm Cons

Stopping Power

Let’s face it, this is the calibers weakness to the .45. While we did mention that the difference is less than many people think, it is still enough to make it a sticking point for some people.

If you want pure power and stopping power…then the .45 is your best option. Choose a high quality pistol from a well known company and you are set.


Just like stopping power, expansion can be a deal breaker for some gun owners. The larger the expansion, the better the round will do at stopping the attacker. This is not where 9mm shines, but it does hold its own.

If you want the biggest, prettiest flowers from your bullets, then go with a good .45. Just check them out in the picture below.

9mm Pistols
Handguns in 9mm

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.45 ACP Breakdown

Expanded .45 ACP Bullets
.45 ACP Expanded Bullets from luckygunner.com

.45 ACP is an extremely popular pistol caliber. And for good reason…I mean “two World Wars” and all. But seriously, choosing a .45 for a carry gun is a great choice. As long as the choice of a larger gun does not hinder you from carrying every day, you are good to go. And like we like to say…Carry Safe, Carry Smart, and Carry Daily!

.45 ACP Pros

Stopping Power

If you are considering a .45 over 9mm, this is probably why. This is the main argument in favor of .45. You know you are getting more power.

While there are many variants of both calibers, all of the .45s will out perform 9mm in this category. If this is your main concern…go with a .45 and be happy!


Expansion is another great benefit of choosing this caliber. With larger expansion you get more energy and a larger wound cavity. Both are great at stopping an attacker. If you want to see the difference, just check out the pictures above and see the beautiful flowers!

.45 ACP Cons


Since the .45 is larger, it tends to recoil a tad more than the 9mm does. If you are not used to this, it can throw you off and affect your accuracy…especially on follow up shots. You can choose a larger pistol which will help lessen the recoil. However, a larger pistol would be more difficult to carry concealed.


Another con is that ammunition for a .45 is more expensive than 9mm ammo. Depending on the brand you purchase, this can really add up.

Using the ammo listed in our chart above (Federal Premium HST) you will be paying quite a bit more for .45.

200 Rounds of .45: $409.90 MSRP


200 Rounds of 9mm: $359.90 MSRP

That comes out to $50 more for just a couple hundred rounds. This does not rule out .45 for many people, but it is something to consider when making a caliber choice.


Finally, since the .45 round is larger, the magazine can hold less rounds. Round count is extremely important to some people. If this is you, it may be a good idea to move over to the 9mm. However, if you are fine with a few less rounds to get a little more power, go for it.

Besides the round count, weight comes into play here as well. Most concealed carriers, especially newer ones, prefer a lighter gun. The .45 with the same round count is going to end up weighing a bit more than its 9mm partner.


9mm vs .45

The choice between a 9mm and a 45 ACP is in your hands. Both are reliable calibers that have been trusted by the military for years. The 9mm tends to be more easily concealed, but the 45 ACP has a larger caliber and is considered to have a bigger knock down power than the 9mm.

Whichever caliber you choose, be sure to get plenty of training and practice. The caliber of the tool used is less important than the training that you have to use it.

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