9mm vs .45 ACP

9mm vs .45 ACP

January 29, 2023 By Posted in Blogs

If you are wondering which is a better round for your needs and are considering the 9mm or 45 ACP, you might also be surprised to find that they are much the same. However, one of them has higher velocity and is a thinner round making it a better option for distance shooting. Both do well for self-defense, but not necessarily hunting big game.

9mm or 45 ACP

Here is a closer look at the two bullets and what you can expect from them.

Brief History of 9mm

The 9mm began in 1901 as a bullet for the Luger side arm and for machine guns. It is a rimless round with many applications including higher capacity and sound muzzle velocity. Both the German army and navy adopted the 9mm as their primary round around 1904 and it served them well during WWI.

After WWI, many nations adopted the 9mm as their bullet of choice due to its versatility for automatic pistols and machine guns. It would go on to become a favorite in the United States by law enforcement and others who wanted 9mm ammo.

Today, it is a versatile round that ranges beyond the Luger and remains a top choice for ammo for semiautomatic handguns and machine guns.

Brief History of .45 ACP

The .45 ACP stands for Automatic Colt Pistol and can also be called the .45 Auto. It is a rimless straight body round, and its design began in 1904 for a prototype Colt semi-automatic pistol by John Browning as a replacement for the .38 special for the US military. It has a lower chamber pressure than the 9mm and the S&W .40 caliber. The lower chamber pressure is important in a military capacity because it extends the service time of the gun and still leaves a bigger hole.

In today’s shooting world, the military honors are held by the 9mm, but the .45 ACP has a home with shooters who enjoy larger caliber rounds for activities like competitive shooting.

9mm vs .45 ACP


Ballistics – grains range from 100 gr to 147 grains –
Stopping Power – 280 – 441 ft lbf
Recoil – Nearly 1/2 that of the .45 ACP
Magazine Capacity – on average 12-15 rounds but some guns have exceeded that, and the options will vary from gun to gun.
Affordability – much cheaper than the .45 ACP – Expect to pay around $125 for 1000 bullets vs. around $170 for 1000 .45 ACP bullets.

The 9mm is a lighter bullet than the ACP ammo. It has less recoil, nearly by half, making it one of the most popular handgun caliber options available. The .45 ACP cartridge is heavier and slower which is one of the main differences between the two rounds. Gravity has more impact on bigger bullets, and you trade off higher muzzle velocity with a larger round. If you are a reloader, you can set up the .45 ACP with a lighter load that makes up the difference to make it more like a 9mm in performance.

.45 ACP

Ballistics – grains range from 185 gr to 230 grains at Berry’s.
Stopping Power – 592 ft lbf – 356 ft lbf
Recoil – Nearly 2x the recoil of a 9 mm round.
Magazine Capacity – 8 to 15 rounds – eight for those older guns and upwards of 15 with an aftermarket add-on magazine
Affordability – Expect to pay around 60% more for the .45 ACP bullet vs. the 9mm.

The .45 ACP bullet is heavier and has more recoil than the 9mm round. If you are looking for a shorter-range bullet and don’t mind a little more recoil, then the .45 ACP will have greater stopping power. Both the .45 ACP and 9mm bullets are available with different tip options including hollow points, flat nose, round nose, hybrids, and wadcutters.

Should I Choose 45 ACP or 9mm?

Should I Choose 45 ACP or 9mm?

Self-defense – The .45 ACP would be a better option for home defense and self-defense. It is a larger round and has more stopping power with deeper penetration. However, with the 9mm caliber bullet, you are talking about 50% less recoil, which improves accuracy for people with smaller hands and less arm and wrist strength. The .45 ACP has a deeper bullet penetration making it more dangerous for hostages and innocent bystanders.

Hunting – Neither bullet is superb for hunting. The .45 ACP is better at shorter ranges – it is bigger and slower. The 9mm at distance does not have enough stopping power to guarantee you will bring down bigger game with one shot. It has better long-range accuracy being a smaller-diameter bullet with a flatter trajectory. The .45 ACP gives deeper bullet penetration.

Recreation – Both are fun bullets even though they have some very similar attributes. For target practice and casual shooting, the .45 ACP has a big fan club. The 9mm is one of the world’s more popular handgun cartridges options. For a longer range go with the lighter bullet and the flatter trajectory and choose the 9mm. For short-range shooting, the larger diameter offered by the .45 ACP won’t make a big difference. The 9mm will also shine at short-range targets.

Choosing between the 9mm and the .45 ACP has a lot to do with how you shot, what you shoot, and why you shoot. It also has a lot to do with the relationship you have with your gun.

Looking Beyond Bullet Performance

Shooters have access to different caliber rounds and bullets. Whether you want a 9mm caliber pistol or one that fires ACP rounds you will need to look closely at the factors that impact the accuracy of your shots. Some of those things include the gun itself and others are the way you handle the gun.

If the fit of your hand on your gun’s grips is a struggle, you will likely do better with the 9mm over the .45 ACP. The recoil will impact accuracy and can intimidate shooters to the point where they pick up bad shooting techniques. How the gun fits in your hand needs to be a consideration.

If you shy away from pulling the trigger because you fear the recoil or you anticipate that the kinetic energy is going to hurt, then you can work on that either by shooting a lower caliber pistol cartridge or working your way up to a heavier bullet.

The big differences between the 9mm and the.45 ACP bullets are the power, weight, and flight trajectory. Pair those differences with the way you shoot, and you will be on the right track for a better choice between these rounds.

Another aspect of this is also the fact that you can load your own rounds, which means you can play around with the total grain and choose the right grain weight for the bullet as compared to the cartridge.

45 ACP and 9mm Bullets from Berry’s

Berry’s is your one-stop shop for reloading. We offer a range of 9mm and .45 ACP bullet options.

For .45 ACP bullet options, we offer a range of grains from 185-230 with a lot of options for nose design. Those include:

185gr flat point, hollow base round nose, hybrid hollow point, Semi wad cutter. This selection fits most shooter needs from self-defense and hunting small game, to target practice, competitive shooting, and casual shooting.

200gr options are also well stocked with selections that include – Flat point, Hollow base Flat point, Hybrid Hollow Point, Round nose, Round shoulder, Semi Wad Cutter, and Target Hollow Point.

230gr options include – Hybrid Hollow Point and Round Nose bullets.

For 9mm bullet options, we offer a range of grains from 100-147 with a lot of options for nose design. Those include:

100gr – Hollow Base Round Nose
115gr – Hollow Base Round Nose Thick Plate, Flat Point, and Round nose
121gr – Hollow base hollow point
124gr – Flat point, Hollow base Flat Point Thick Plate, Hollow Base Round Nose Thick Plate, Hybrid hollow Point, Round nose, and target hollow Point,
135gr – Hollow Base Flat Point and Round Nose,
147gr – Round nose and Flat point,

The huge variety of options allows you to craft the best round possible in the comfort and privacy of your home workstation. With affordable pricing, you can keep your ammo box fully loaded and ready for whatever shooting situations you encounter.

Berry’s works to ensure that self-loaders have the options they need to produce the type of round they require. Many of these bullets are fit for NATO forces or U.S. federal law enforcement. Both the 9mm and the .45 ACP were started in the early 1900s they remain a valid option for shooters around the world.

Berry’s is your one-stop shop if you are looking for quality bullets for rifles and handguns. Check out all of the tools, equipment, and products that we offer including a range of quality 9mm and .45 ACP bullets. We also stock reloading tools for those who self-load their own rounds.