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9mm Parabellum vs .45 ACP

Updated on March 29, 2016


To everyone who reads my blogs. Thanks, guys! It keeps me going.

It's a scream, this, at bullets.

I'm back on the blog tonight with a whole new look, a whole new base and a whole new feel and a lot of crazy new ideas that've never been seen or heard of before. Well, no, actually. I just made that up in an attempt to brighten up your day. During my six-or-so-month absence due to college life, I tried to think up new ways to keep my blogs up and about.

First things first. I decided to stay off the blog for so long cause I anticipated that this is the hardest time of my college life. And I was right. Bombarded left and right with professors more than eager to destroy your life with their usual teacher terrorism, I was glad I survived. So then, I decided to make a new blog.

And now, guess what?

9x19mm Parabellum or 11.43x23mm. The only difference, really, is I've gotten a bit rusty with blogging and I've gotten fatter. And... Is it me or has my beer belly gotten bigger? Anyway, tonight, we'll see which is better for you, dear readers. A German or an American.

A what? Well, put simply, two of the most popular pistol calibers you can buy.

To Ze Germans

"Si vis pacem, para bellum." "If you want peace, prepare for war." That's where the word Parabellum came from. But it was actually an invention from George Luger in 1902 for use on the German Army's Luger pistol. Originally designed as a bigger but shorter brother of the 7.62x25mm Borchardt cartridge, Mr. Luger simply increased the bullet diameter from 7.62 to 9.01mm and shortened the cartridge from 25mm to 19mm. Add that with Si vis pacem, para bellum and you've got a big-bore bullet in a concealed firearm - a pistol.

During it's time, it must've been a revolutionary bullet. A bullet bigger than a rifle (rifle bullets at that time were 7 or 8 mm in diameter) but had a smaller cartridge and after WWI, it's popularity increased. In fact, it increased to the point that after WWI, it became the standard Sub-Machine Gun cartridge. And today, it's so popular, some guns are designed around the bullet. Heck, the U.S. Military adopted the bullet in 1985, replacing the American .45 ACP. It could accommodate different shooters and is relatively inexpensive to produce.

It's now the world's most popular pistol bullet out there and most military, law enforcement and private security agencies use this because it offers ferocious firepower with risible recoil. It's also quite popular among self-defense and home-defense platforms because it's cheap and easy to produce.

By the way, to give you a perspective of cheap, I shall enlighten you with a few things I've researched. Back in 1902 - an awfully long time, I know - it was cheaper to buy gasoline and clothes rather than bullets. Percussion caps were only just being replaced with full cartridges during that time and manufacturing processes hadn't been efficient or reliable. Correct me if i'm wrong, though, but I daresay that you could buy a car cheaper than bullets.

Nowadays, however, bullets are cheaper than paper and manufacturing is all automated.

Sweet lovers


Oh,say, can you see?

There are currently five men in U.S. history that have had their guns entered into service. Samuel Colt, John Browning, John Garand, Eugene Stoner and Ronnie Barrett. However, when you talk about the .45 ACP, you talk about John Browning.

You see, John had a desire to put his name in the history books. And he fulfilled his dream when he designed the .45 ACP. It was to be used in Colt pistols and eventually be used in the Colt M1911 pistol used by the U.S. Army in 1911 to 1985.

Historically, at the time of it's creation, armies around the world were using less powerful cartridges such as the .38 Long Colt. It proved ineffective against Filipinos in the Philippine-American war. The British suffered the same with the .30-40 Krag and switched to .303 but had similar issues with the old bullet. So, in 1904, the Army decided to use bigger bullets. Yeah, baby.

During testing - in a rather gruesome manner of using cadavers and animals - it was shown to have superiority over all pistol cartridges at the time. It was found that humans and animals alike would be eviscerated with the new bullet, capable of chopping a man in half if aimed properly, if it hit the right spot and if the shooter was close enough.

For crying out loud, the .45 ACP cartridge has a reputation for effectiveness against human targets because its large diameter creates a deep and substantial permanent wound channel which lowers blood pressure rapidly. Energy is also a contributing factor in it's effectiveness. Bullet energy for .45 ACP loads varies from roughly 350 to 500 ft-lbs. That's the same torque you get from a sports car. It's enough to twist your body in half 5 times. The .45 ACP bullet geometry is the highest power-per-pressure production, repeating round in existence.

To put this power in perspective, imagine a body builder. If you shoot him once, he'll feel excruciating pain. Shoot him twice, he'll fall to his knees and shoot him thrice, he'll beg for mercy.

9mm variants

Unjacketed (left), Full Metal Jacket (center) and Hollow Point (right)
Unjacketed (left), Full Metal Jacket (center) and Hollow Point (right)

Built for the bullets

Ok, so 9mm Parabellum is a fast bullet. And a lot of people like that coupled with manageable recoil. Some guns have been made around the bullet. Examples are the 1960's classic and favorite of militaries, law enforcement and home owners alike is the H&K MP-5. With a cyclic rate of fire of over 800+ rpm, it delivers massive, overwhelming firepower to anyone at the receiving end of the weapon. Other weapons include the Isreali-made Uzi. Built for extreme close quarters, the Israeli's sure know how to utilize big-bore pistol bullets in concealable, fully automatic SMG's.

However, when you want to deliver more massive, overwhelming firepower, you turn to the M1928 Thompson, Mac-10 or the KRISS Vector. Be advised, though, that .45's travel slower than the 9mm.

So, you'll have to choose carefully. Fast but small bullets versus slow but enormous bullets.

WWII, Korea, Vietnam and Panama

When Adolf Hitler decided he wanted to go mental and attack Poland in 1939, the world held it's breath. Slowly, the world and the soldiers saw the power of the .45. For the average soldier, one shot was all it took to knock out a Westerner. And these people were tall and muscular. They were given the best training their respective armies could offer but once you were shot with this, it didn't matter who you were. Private, Sergeant, Lieutenant or even a General. Get shot with this bullet and you will go down. It was also devastating against the Japanese. The Nips were so short and so puny compared to the Americans that if you shot them with a .45 caliber bullet, you were guaranteed that they'll never bother you again. It was so effective, you wonder why the soldiers were issued rifles in the first place.

It proved itself again in Korea against the North. The Northerners were quite small and somewhat malnourished compared to their Southern brothers and one shot would split them in half and the same can be said for the Vietnamese.

Come, Panama and Marines would stop using their M-16 rifles completely when they entered a house in close combat. For one, the rifle was way too long to use anyway, let alone get inside the house and the other was the 5.56 just didn't have the omph to knock someone out.

Today, I can't imagine why militaries replaced the .45 with a 9mm. It's sad. Do forgive me for my bias, dear readers, but I prefer immense stopping power over bullets carried.

Behold and feast your eyes

The present day

I will admit that the 9mm is a superb bullet. It does actually get the job done but it takes somewhat longer.

Yes, I've seen the slow mode cyclic actions of both cartridges in their respective weapons and 9mm cycles faster. But .45 gets the job done in one shot what your 9mm does in two or three.

The Chart

1,300 fps
1,225 fps
I'm using bullets with the fastest velocities and most energy I could find. Different bullets, brands, weights and propellant powder may differ from this chart.


So, we end again and it's time for me to say what I think you should use or what I think is better.

To cut to the chase and to make a long story short....

I'd take the .45 any day. Although, I wouldn't put away with the 9mm either.

Your choice

What'd you take to a zombie apocalypse?

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