The 9mm Luger cartridge is the single most popular centerfire handgun cartridge ever manufactured. The popularity of the 9mm cannot be without merit. It is a powerful number with excellent velocity and penetration and in the right handgun very accurate. There are also undeniable demerits clinging to the cartridge. The 9mm has proven to be a poor stopper exhibiting limited wound potential with full-metal-jacket ammunition. Today we have modern loadings that make the most of the 9mm and offer a good balance of expansion and penetration.
The 9mm must be approached with care in load selection. The .40 S&W was developed to fix the shortcomings of the 9mm and did so in good fashion. The .45 ACP offers even better wound ballistics. That being said, there is something to the 9mm. Practice with inexpensive ammunition—cheap ammunition is even better—but proof the handgun with the best personal defense ammunition possible. This means a load with a good balance of expansion and penetration. Above all, reliability is more important than anything. Here are seven reasons to adopt the 9mm Luger as your personal handgun.
1. Ammunition is cheap.
The 9mm is available in a wide variety of loads. FMJ ammunition is among the least expensive available in centerfire handgun calibers. This means inexpensive practice, and those who practice often are more effective in personal defense situations. Prior training is the greatest predictor of survival in a gunfight.
2. The finest handguns in the world are chambered in 9mm.
The Glock is reliable above all else, among the most reliable handguns ever built. The SIG P series is in the same category, perhaps more so. Each is as reliable as a machine may be. The Glock is more than accurate enough for personal defense. The SIG is more accurate than we may hold. Did I mention CZ and HK? Beretta? There is no shortage of good pistols chambered in 9mm. Even relatively inexpensive handguns such as the Canik offer good reliability in the caliber.
3. The 9mm offers good wound ballistics.
The 9mm has benefited more from modern technology and bullet design than other calibers. The .357 Magnum and .45 ACP offer plenty of power even with non-expanding bullets. The 9mm needs an expanding bullet so it doesn’t just zip through tissue without doing much damage. A bullet that offers an excellent balance of expansion and penetration is the Hornady XTP. In either 115- or 124-grain weight, this bullet maximizes the 9mm Luger. The American Gunner 124-grain XTP +P is powerful and affordable. You must shoot straight and put the bullet where it does the most good.
4. The 9mm offers good magazine capacity.
I like to refer to the 9mm’s generous gun load as a good reserve of ammunition. You may grab the 9mm when you hear a bump in the night, and you will have the capacity necessary to engage multiple assailants. Even compact 9mm handguns now hold as many as 11 rounds. The CZ P 09 holds 19 and isn’t difficult to handle.
5. The 9mm offers light weight.
While there are high-capacity-magazine .45 ACP pistols, most are large, heavy, and wide enough in the handle to prevent many of us from handling them efficiently. The 9mm offers good handfit and light weight. Most of the Glock 9mm pistols weigh less than 25 ounces. Some are under 20 ounces, yet with the 9mm’s low recoil they are manageable by trained shooters.
6. The 9mm has low recoil.
The 9mm’s recoil is low to tolerable. The 9mm Luger offers lower recoil than the sometimes sharp .40 or the heavy push of the .45 ACP. Fast shooting and fast follow-up shots are possible. The shooter is able to concentrate on marksmanship and getting a solid center hit. While some of us will move on to a larger caliber, others will stick with the 9mm for their shooting life. Everyone should begin with the 9mm. And those who deploy larger calibers often carry the slimline 9mm as a backup or a primary handgun when concealment is at a premium.
7. The 9mm is a baseline.
I think professional shooters and trainers will agree on this. The 9mm is the baseline for personal defense. Calibers smaller than the 9mm do not offer acceptable wound ballistics. Arguing for a .380 or .32 is a hollow discussion. After all, there are no service-grade handguns in this caliber, and when have you seen a pro with an active shooting regimen working out with a small handgun?
The 9mm offers modest recoil that allows a great deal of shooting without hand cramps, sore wrists, or, worse, developing a flinch. A flinch is an involuntary reaction to recoil. The hand tightens and clutches in anticipation of recoil. I have seen this many times with the compact .40 and all .357 SIG handguns. Sure, some master these handguns, but they are few and far between. A mature, responsible gun owner masters their handgun to the best of their ability. Life is too precious not to learn to protect our life and the lives of loved ones. By the same token, a stray shot may be deadly. The 9mm offers a baseline in power. It is good—sometimes very good—and offers economy and precision in the right firearm.
Can you think of any other reasons the 9mm should be every shooter’s preferred cartridge? Do you prefer another caliber? Why? Share your answers in the comment section.
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