Lately a lot of so called “experts” have been worshiping at the altar of the 9mm handgun as a self-defense cartridge. With no argument containing logic, ballistics or physics on their side, most feel they need to tear down the other, bigger cartridges to make their case. I suppose that approach has some merit in today’s America, after all Obama’s entire campaign was “Romney Sucks” and he got re-elected. Still, while these guys may be trendy, following their advice can get you killed.
One recent example is a blog by a writer named Richard Mann. Now, I know Richard and have shared some hunting camps with him. He is a decent guy even if he is a bit delusional about some things. I think his history is distorting his thinking here. Before starting a writing career Richard was a railroad cop in some hillbilly town in West Virginia. That meant he spent his time running hobos off the boxcars. Hobos tend to be homeless, which means they are under-nourished, unhealthy and feeble. So I suppose an under-powered cartridge like the 9mm might work on them. But, his failure of logic is assuming it will work on grown-up, healthy bad guys.
Most men who fight real bad guys, those who are in the trenches, getting shot at and shooting back, are not 9mm fans. I know several elite special forces type military types, the guys with beards and options on which guns they carry. They do not carry 9mm handguns. One long time Delta Force guy I know carried a custom 1911 for most of his career. I asked him why and he snarled, “Because the 9mm sucks!” This is a guy who did some hairy stuff for a lot of years. If that doesn’t convince you, consider that the U. S. Marines, arguably the best fighting force on earth just went back to the 1911 .45 ACP. Why? Because the 9mm sucks.
The reason the .40 S&W was created was because the FBI was using the 9mm during a big shootout in Miami and it failed horribly, resulting in a bunch of dead agents. Some of the dead FBI agents were killed by a guy after he had been hit multiple times by 9mm bullets. (Google it, see how using a 9mm can get you dead.)
You have no doubt heard about the DHS buying 1.6 billion handgun rounds? They are not 9mm; they are .40 S&W. While there are implications to explore, the fact that they use handguns starting with a four is telling. Most federal agencies and police departments have abandoned the 9mm for the underpowered relic of a cartridge that it is. No cops carry .38 S&W handguns or the .32 ACP anymore either. Why? The same reason they abandoned the 9mm, they suck when it comes time to fight for your life.
The military uses the 9mm because a bunch of politicians decided it would be good to standardize NATO cartridges and they liked the European approach of a kinder, gentler pistol cartridge. Remember, this is the same mind-set that gave us non-expanding bullets for the military. They decided it was OK to shoot the enemy, but we must use bullets that don’t hurt as much. The prevailing thought about that with a lot of people is that it takes more resources to deal with wounded than it does with dead, so if you make the enemy use resources you can win the war.
But, a defensive pistol is not defined by political thinking. (At least not yet.) A defensive handgun has only one use, to keep you and your loved ones alive. This is not a ballistic experiment or a chance to show off how what a hell of a shot you are. You carry a handgun to protect your life and if you plan on making it a fair fight or think it’s all about your training and shot placement, you are a fool. Anybody who has ever had to fire a handgun in a hurry and under duress, even well trained guys, will tell you that shot placement is about as much of a sure thing as betting your retirement on winning the lottery. Bullets go where they go in a fight, so why would you use a small, barely “adequate” cartridge? That might work fine if you hit him in the eye, but if you hit a shoulder, a leg or his guts, he might have a lot more fight left in him with a 9mm hole than if you use a bigger, more powerful cartridge.
If you are so sure about shot placement, why not bring a .22 LR handgun? Let me know how that works out for you. The smart gun guy will want to hit them hard and do the most damage possible. With handguns that means shooting something that starts with a four. Because, after all, size matters. The 9mm might expand, but a .45 will never shrink. In fact, it has the same odds of expansion as the 9mm, so it too grows bigger. Much bigger. Bigger holes mean the fight stops faster.
Richard makes an argument for velocity, which is correct, but he left out a lot of important facts. A 165-grain .40 S&W bullet at 1,100 fps is going to do a lot more damage than a 124-grain 9mm bullet at 1,100 fps. It’s bigger, heavier and going just as fast. Physics are physics and nobody can make a credible argument for the 9mm here. If you look at a 185-grain .45 bullet from the .45 ACP at 1,100 fps, the argument is even stronger. It’s bigger, heavier and carries more energy. That means it hits harder and makes a bigger hole. If they are going the same speed, which would you rather be hit with a ping pong ball or a baseball?
If you are attacked, you will only get one chance to protect your life. If you lose, you die. Why on earth would you risk it with a small, underpowered cartridge with a terrible track record like the 9mm? So you can brag to your buddies that a 9mm is “all the gun you need” even if it is not? That’s pretty stupid. If I have to fight for my life I plan to beat the snot out of the guy, devastate him and overcome with a superior force. Not politely shoot him with a cartridge designed more to wound than to stop.
I understand that Richard is trying to make a living and has decided to get behind this cartridge. He is entitled to his opinions, no matter how wrong they might be. Remember opinions are like assholes, everybody has one and they all stink except mine. You don’t have to believe mine either, but at least believe the laws of physics and the history of gun fights. It’s like they say, “no gunfight survivor ever said he wished he had brought a smaller gun.”
Listening to the guys like Richard who are jumping this trendy bandwagon can get you killed.
You don’t want that, do you?
Bring enough gun to a gun fight; your odds of surviving are much higher.