I began carrying 9mm several years ago because modern bullet design has made the difference in energy transfer between handgun rounds of different calibers virtually identical when striking internal organs, and I wanted the higher ammunition capacity of 9mm. However, with JKB over at Gunfreezone pointing out that increasing numbers of opponents are wearing body armor, that it is becoming necessary to aim for the pelvis. Shattering the pelvis in such a situation carries certain benefits: it immobilizes the target (a person with a shattered pelvis can’t stand, much less walk or run) and with the major arteries that are located there, bleeding out is a definite advantage.

The heavier bullets of .40S&W and .45ACP are better suited to shattering bone. I may be doing a bit of research into this to see if my choice of EDC needs to be updated. I might even take a real look at getting me a 10mm. Always good to have an excuse for a new gun…

Categories: GunsSelf Defense


Reader · July 6, 2023 at 8:27 am

40 S&W is what I bought for my first gun and stuck with. Ruger’s SR40 and SR40c to be specific. Since leaving the People’s Republic of Illinoistan for the wilds of the western states, I’ve remained confident in carrying the 40S&W in bear country with hard cast ammo (or Buffalo Bore, ouch!). Didn’t stop me from buying a Glock 20 tho, haha.

    JD Fog · July 8, 2023 at 4:19 pm

    Glock 20. This..Is..The ..Way !

    More because of the caliber than because it’s a “G Lock.” Although having fired a lot of rounds from various Glocks I own or have owned (3 G19’s, one G17, one G20, one G23, and one G43) and NEVER encountering a malfunction is also an indicator of reliability.

Jonesy · July 6, 2023 at 9:28 am

I don’t know that I would choose a caliber with the intent of causing a specific outcome (shattering a pelvis). Its not guaranteed no matter the caliber.

As you mention, ammo has come a long way in performance. I would choose based on what gun do you prefer to carry? What are you accurate with? You mentioned capacity….that is important to some and not to others. I switch between 9mm and .45 based on a couple of factors, but none of my carry guns are high capacity. I carry spare mags to make up for that. Some folks prefer to carry just the gun, so having more on board is critical.

I would say your odds of having to pull your carry gun are pretty low, and are further reduced if encountering one of these mass shooters that is wearing a vest.

Lastly, I’ll add – if you don’t already have a .40, why get one? LE is moving away from them going back to 9mm….folks who carry. 45 do so out of choice, or they like 1911s (like me). 10mm? Likely very effective, but for me cost prohibitive.

Pat H. Bowman · July 6, 2023 at 9:37 am

Curious to see what you come up with here. I carry 147 gr. HSTs as I like the extra mass. But, now that I have a nice 1911 in .45, I’m also thinking of making the switch. At the same time, multiple attackers are a thing, so capacity is an issue. Much to consider.

Bad Dancer · July 6, 2023 at 9:54 am

WOOOO 10mm! Can’t sing it’s praises enough. Whether its my 29 or 20 I love it.

That aside what pistols are you considering for the 40 and 45? The Smith and Wesson Shield in .45 was amazingly comfortable and intuitive to aim during a defensive pistol course. However some of those new commander and officer sized 1911s have been singing their sirens song too lately as the reliability of the teeniest of the 1911s improves.

    Divemedic · July 7, 2023 at 6:21 am

    I already own numerous pistols in those calibers: Shield, M&P, 1911.

Matthew W · July 6, 2023 at 10:30 am

Our range instructor at work a few years ago taught the “Zipper” technique.
Shoot the pelvis and as he collapses, keep shooting in a line…….

Did I mention our range instructor was crazy????

    Divemedic · July 7, 2023 at 6:22 am

    That method is taught for full auto weapons. I don’t know how well it translates to handguns.

      Robert · July 8, 2023 at 12:47 am

      The “Zipper” technique works quite well in handguns according to a few of my trainers.

      They explain that people tend to shoot high with a pistol and pull to left or right on following shots. So, they recommend “start low center” and make one or two follow-up shots if the attacker does not fall or run away.

      I have not had the need to test this theory. I don’t want to have a need to test this theory. I do use a “Zipper” drill as part of my practice set.

        Divemedic · July 8, 2023 at 11:52 am

        It is overwhelmingly likely that the instructor teaching you this technique have never had experience with it either. The number of people who have had to shoot other people, much less on more than one occasion, is so small as to be statistical noise.
        There are a whole lot of people who are out there claiming to be experts in all things firearms and tactical, but have no idea what they are talking about.

          Grumpy51 · July 9, 2023 at 5:51 am

          CSM John McPhee, AKA Sheriff of Baghdad, retired commander of Troop A, 1st SFOD, teaches a similar drill called “Stitch ‘em up drill”

            Divemedic · July 9, 2023 at 8:07 am

            I’ve seen that one. He is teaching three shots in succession- chest, neck, head.

      Jon · July 11, 2023 at 11:31 am

      10mm is bare minimum for bear (no pun intended). When you get accosted by a 200 ish lb animal, with (drugs, or in the bears case adrenaline) with a weapon (bears have 10 small knives, criminals have a slew of possibles) then whats the difference?
      Also underwood and buffalo bore are hot loaded making them do their job properly.

Walter makowski · July 6, 2023 at 11:20 am

Look at underwood’s 200 grn flat point hardcast bullet in 40 S&w. It’ll shoot through a deer or pig with no problem so it should easily break a man’s pelvis with a through and through wound.

Jonathan · July 6, 2023 at 11:22 am

I wouldn’t worry about changing calibers.
First of all, it is still rare for criminals to wear body armor.
Second, body armor that stops 9 mm is also rated for 40, 45, and 10.
Third, getting shot while wearing body armor still HURTS and it doesn’t stop every shot.
Fourth, head, neck, shoulders, etc hits will still do lots of damage – it’s a great reason to spend more time at the range.
Fifth, the best gun (and therefore caliber) is the one you can shoot well and carry comfortably so that you have it with you.
I’ve carried a 22 before; at self defense ranges I can stop an attacker with 10 rounds of it.
My thoughts – yours may vary.

    Divemedic · July 7, 2023 at 6:25 am

    I wasn’t suggesting 40 and 45 for body armor. It’s because the 9mm transfers the same amount of energy because it is a lighter, faster bullet, but it is more easily deflected by bone than heavier, slower bullets. That’s where the cliche about 5.56mm “tumbling” through the target came from.
    The heavier bullets of the 40 and 45 are better at going through (breaking) bone because they aren’t as easily deflected.

Sardaukar · July 6, 2023 at 11:59 am

If staying with 9mm, perhaps going with a heavier grain bullet? Way back I switched to 147 grain pills after sitting in on an autopsy where the assailant was hit with 3 Winchester 147gr HP from a Glock 26. The damage each round did (2 in the torso, 1 in the right hip) was extensive. On my 9mm CC pistol’s, that’s the only round I use (same mfg.).

William Ashbless · July 6, 2023 at 12:43 pm

I understand the evolving nature of self defense shootings. That said, a high performance 9 mm into the pelvis is going to seriously impair the recipient and likely break enough structure to put target on the ground.
I don’t see 9 mm giving up enough terminal performance to cause me to worry.
Body armor is available enough so that not to train for/anticipate will be detrimental to your plans.

It's just Boris · July 6, 2023 at 12:47 pm

I wonder if the solid copper projectiles, e.g. Lehigh’s Penetrator series, would be better in this application. Lighter round, yes, but not designed to expand, so, keep the cross-sectional density high (or at least closer to its original value).

T Town · July 6, 2023 at 1:00 pm

You could look into using hard cast ammo in 9mm.

Anonymous · July 6, 2023 at 3:18 pm

Interesting. I’d love to see you go the 10mm route – I’ve always been fascinated by it … but in the real world I don’t think you are going to be undergunned with the 9, DM. A few of those in the pelvic area will ruin your day… unless your adversary is high on something I can’t see him walking those off either…

MN Steel · July 6, 2023 at 3:25 pm

You’ll be fine as long as you can hit them between the eyes with every shot like everyone but apparently me, or you’re not facing Moro warriors that are all hopped-up on opium and hallucinogens with a .38 caliber weapon.

Bill H · July 6, 2023 at 3:42 pm

Be very interested in your results.

I’d go for .45 myself simply because I have a 1911 and an ammo stash already, but if I had the scratch to do so I’ve wanted to add a 10mm to the collection for years.

Dick Tickles · July 6, 2023 at 4:15 pm

You originally wanted 9mm for capacity, but now are looking .45, which is the low capacity caliber. I’d say unless you’re looking to carry a really short barrel, don’t bother with .45 in an autoloader, it’s a known poor hard barrier penetrator.

If you want to break bone then you’ll want to be loaded for bear, which means look at the popular calibers for bear: .357 Mag, 10mm, .44 Mag. I doubt you’re into revolvers, so 10mm is your best option in an auto, however they’re not as small as a .40 is, but Glock 10mm’s are known to be able to shoot both 10mm and .40, so I like them for that reason.

The .40 will have a LOT more options in variety in both ammo and firearm choices, many used pistols in .40 are cheap, many police trade in .40s go for under $400.

Still, you need energy and velocity to break and break thru bone and 10mm has that over all the popular autoloader calibers and the price for ammo online is often cheaper than .45 is. Just avoid Federal brand, they loan their 10mm very weak, which brings up another issue: if you want REAL 10mm you’ll have to buy from brands like Buffalo Bore or Underwood, they load their stuff hot.

This is why reloading for the less popular stuff is better than trying to save half a penny a round reloading 9mm; you save money and you get better ammo that does what you want.

EN2 SS · July 6, 2023 at 4:37 pm

No, I’m not a ballistics expert, but IMHO, shooting what you shoot best will always be better than bigger is better. As the old saying goes, if you’re going to have a gun fight, have one in your hand.

    EN2 SS · July 6, 2023 at 4:39 pm

    Sorry, I forgot. I have a 9mm and a 40S&W, both are loaded with speciality hollow points alternating with solids. One is going to open a hell of a wound, the next will start breaking bones, car doors, whatever.

Danny · July 6, 2023 at 4:38 pm

If it’s a choice between the two, I would take .45 auto.

I think .357 magnum is the ultimate handgun cartridge. Think “fire breathing dragon.”

Gregb · July 6, 2023 at 4:58 pm

If at home remember the same principle applies but using 00 or 0 buckshot does the same on steroids though. Gregb

Exile1981 · July 6, 2023 at 5:57 pm

You can look at kinetic energy and compare the different abount of force transfered to your attacker.
Personally I prefer shooting 45acp, but living in a dictatorship with strict gun laws doesnt allow me the option to choose a side arm for defense.

I was car jacked once and fought back even after the attacker stabbed me twice. He ran off after i broke his nose with my fist. The cop that showed up threatened to arrest me for fighting back.

SmileyFtW · July 6, 2023 at 6:35 pm

Been carrying 45ACP for several years. Single-stack holds 7 or 8 rd mags. Plus two 7 or 8 round mags on the weak side. Interestingly, a G19 weighs essentially the same as my carry 45. But then big, fat, and slow is still my preferred EDC. 10mm just seems another caliber I don’t need and is not as readily available as 45 ACP or euro-pellets. I always appreciate your thoughts and perspective. Thanks…

charliemike · July 6, 2023 at 7:03 pm

Another take on dick shots…

Jester · July 6, 2023 at 7:10 pm

I have been debating this myself. A 9mm is better than nothing but at this point I agree with going back to my .40. Really as things evolve what’s old is new again. Still another issue to consider is where you are going or what you are up to. If this body armor trend continues and I’m positive it will.. this would almost start to remove the sub compact class of firearms. While there’s not a huge slump in lost velocity it’s still enough to think about the extra advantages that a 4 or 5 inch barreled pistol has vs something 3 or less. Another thing to consider is winter is coming sooner than later. Been some interesting studies out there on the new trend of big floofy winter coats/hoodies Not only do they help conceal a lot but the effect on hollow point bullet performance can be troubling.

Anonymous · July 6, 2023 at 7:20 pm

45LC – good enuf for a horse, good enuf for a bad guy

B · July 6, 2023 at 8:27 pm

Your choice, but I find that follow up shots are much faster with .45 ACP than .40S&W. Having sid that, both are MUCH faster than 10MM for me, at least. 10MM is great, but it makes for a fairly large gun and you might need those follow up shots.

But remember the FIRST rule of gunfights:

Have a gun.

James · July 6, 2023 at 10:13 pm

I started shooting IDPA and USPSA and multigun around 2010 and have everyday carried 40SW for self defense since. i’ve handloaded 25k rounds of 40SW. an example of major power factor, large pepper poppers are crushed by 40SW major while 115 or 124grain 9mm sometimes barely move them. 40SW is much maligned but i’m sticking with it.

C · July 6, 2023 at 11:58 pm

Join the 10mm cult.

Mario · July 7, 2023 at 12:15 am

If you are competent enough to aim for the pelvis you should be able to hit the cranium.

neomunitor · July 7, 2023 at 12:31 am

Liberty Civil Defense 9mm Luger +P 50 Grain Copper Hollow Point 2000 fps will go through Level IIIA

joe nobody · July 7, 2023 at 6:32 am

Gunfighting 101: adrenalin, no amount of “range time” will prepare you for it’s effects… Pro Tip: get the first rounf out QUICKLY to get there head down, then take your time, if you can control adrenaline loss of focus and coordination. F=MA, physics matter more than opinion. Bulet cross sectional number (.40 or larger), is critical (physics matter).

Don Curton · July 7, 2023 at 6:46 am

And here I am with a 38 snub loaded with wadcutters. Damn.

    Divemedic · July 7, 2023 at 8:41 am

    Nothing wrong with a J frame. I carry a little 38 snubbie more than any other handgun. In Florida, it’s just too hot to wear the clothes needed to cover a full sized handgun. That little 642 in a pocket holster is easy to drop into the front pocket of some cargo shorts on the way out the door.

Mr Todd · July 7, 2023 at 7:56 am

I’ve watched a lot of comparisons on 9 and 40 and most often the 9 out penetrates the 40 but the wound channels in gel and bullet mushroom is a lot bigger in the 40. I’ve been doing my own comparisons at home shooting the big silhouette man steel targets 1/2 in thick, and heavy mounted on T posts, not swinging. I have shot with 9mm ,40,10mm,45, and the most notable difference I have seen is between 9 and 40! Man I was surprised myself due to all the talk of 9mm being the cat daddy, but when the 40 hits the steel it absolutely rocks it! I mean really makes it shake. I’m new to 40 , because of ,the 9mm is better with new bullets crowd, so I never gave it a whirl, I now have a Glock 27 and also shoot 40 out of my Glock 29 ,the heavy 10mm spring tames down the 40 kick a bit. I always carry and I go from one extreme to the other from 22 to 45, and I love all the calibers but my UNSCIENTIFIC research has shown the difference of 9 and 40 and no doubt the 40 hits way harder and will do all the bone crushing you’ll need, and in the little Glock 27 it’s easy to conceal and carry. This is just my own observations over the last couple months.

neomunitor · July 7, 2023 at 7:59 am

Liberty Civil Defense 9mm Luger +P 50 Grain HP penetrates Level IIIA

Vlad the non-Inpaler · July 7, 2023 at 10:44 am

I used to shoot my carry G27 in GSSF shoots. Won a gun and ordered a G26.
I shoot the 9 faster and more accurately than the 40, verified on target with timer.
Plus I have one more BB.
I carry 147gr HST and have a stash of 135gr +P HSTs.
(those are HARD to find these days)

Bobsuruncle · July 7, 2023 at 2:39 pm

.40 and .45 are so obsolete, all you need is a super, mega, subcompact, ultra-high capacity 9mm with lung blower ammo and a red dot sight for, deep, deep cover carry appendix style is the bees knees in bear country, against barriers, ballistic vests, a platoon of ferals, and dont forget two extra, high capacity mags worn IWB for a hour long firefight at starbucks.

Power factor, penetration, cost, availability, size and common sense, not what the FBI does, or what law enforcement does now, that argument is like saying mil spec is best. Watch all the police shoot vids, almost everyone with a 9 is at dropping at least six rounds if not a mag dump. Watch police vids where a 40 was used from my general count its about 2 and homeboy is down, the 357 and 45 disappeared from law enforcement a long time ago, so there are only old stats on “one shot stops”. Of course 357 w/ a 125jhp is king, the 40, 135g jhp nearly matches it in ballistics and one shot stops. The .357 sig was a great idea that failed miserably. Compare all three standard cap S&W Shields, which i feel is a good example of a well rounded concealed carry firearm, especially in Florida, in 9, 40 and 45 based on size, weight, power factor, etc…i own all three and its the 40. Hands down. I carry mine IWB sometimes even in wgym shorts with a tie wast band, its hot here and Im not dressing like the dude from a 5.11 advertisement to conceal a commander sized 45, no thanks, i know dudes like that. With loads from 115g penetrator ammo, 135g corbon flying ash trays to 200g cast core buffalo bore. A 10mm sub-compact wouldnt justify the blast, recoil, weight increase, frame size increase and cost for a nominal few feet per second increase in velocity in a short barrel. The air Marshalls i trained with doing CPS, were mostly all carrying G23s, as was I. We trained on hip girdle shots mid-2000’s in Afghanistan, a hip girdle shot, Im not concerned if its from a 9,40 or 45, of course generally bigger is better.Im sure we get all technical here, hi-cap or a bear country round/caliber wont be needed. If you have 350-400lb fat ferals, make sure youre using a penetrator round, same as up north in the shit holes cities i had to frequent for years with ferals wearing huge thick coats in the winter and other clothing underneath and their chest is like 60″ yeah, without the right round regardless, 9, 40 or 45 you are hitting shit but blubber and bone.

joe · July 7, 2023 at 6:55 pm

been debating if i should turn my G21 in to a 10mm…or a 460 rowland…
https://460rowland.com/ …cost and ammo is the hard part to deal with…

    Mr Todd · July 8, 2023 at 5:22 am

    I have the 10mm barrel for my g21 and it works great, also runs the 40’s great too

Swede · July 7, 2023 at 6:57 pm

Since 9mm seems to expand to about .45 or .50 caliber, I just buy the cheap solid nosed bullets for 2 legged protection in .40 or .45. Don’t want the slow .45 to get slowed down too much with expansion, I’m partial to penetration.

Dr Bob · July 7, 2023 at 10:27 pm

I own 9mm, .40 and 10mm. I carry the Glock 43x every day because it’s small. I carry my Glock model 22 in .40 when the danger factor is higher (going into the city) and I carry a Glock model 40 (10mm, 15 rounds/magazine) in the woods when I bird hunt with my dog. The 10mm, with the 6″ barrel is too big for concealed carry, even on my large frame, but when “it” has to be stopped, the 10mm is my choice. While there are bigger, more powerful revolver cartridges, I want 15 rounds available when it’s “ow sh!t time”, and the option to slam in another 15 rounds when the first 15 are gone. Concealed carry, in winter mode (more clothes), might make the Glock model 20, with its shorter barrel, but 10mm cartridge a good choice. I have loved the looks of the 1911 since I was a small boy, but the reliability of the Glock concept has me in thrall. My motto is, “if it HAS to go bang, get a Glock”.

Han Shot First, He Was No Fool · July 8, 2023 at 6:44 pm

“Shattering the pelvis in such a situation carries certain benefits …”

And if the shot hits a femoral artery, win win, amirite? 🙂

But for Han here, it’s about shooting what doesn’t mess up my hands and shoulders because of several injuries over the years.

Plus Lemmy Caution’s advice, “I am old and I am slow, therefore I like to shoot first and ask questions later.”

And so twenty-seven rounds (with a 90% down-loaded magazine) in a Kel-Tec PMR-30 gets the job done.

You can kneecap assholes all day long without repetitive stress injuries, plus you get to save the knitting needles for reducing their IQs at close range, and it’s even more fun with the compatible carbine.

The Israeli military now has a kneecap artiste whose job it is to bust kneecaps using a Ruger 10/22 with black banana mags and all of the appropriate trimmings to make it look like a Kalashnikov pattern rifle to the untrained.

Besides, wouldn’t you want to take the armour intact and mostly unused after you beat the shit out of these people post-kneecapping? Before, hypothetically speaking, they develop serious deep brain trauma through their ear cavities?

Waste not, want not! 🙂

Bobsuruncle · July 9, 2023 at 8:20 am

Well. If we would have gotten open carry in Florida passed as well, this wouldnt even be a debate. My choice would be either a Smith 19 in 357, or a Ruger alaskan in .480 ruger, body armor be damned. 275g or 400g. It works as a anti-material round also. Just dont be in the background when it lets fly.

Free Florida , open carry now!

Historian · July 9, 2023 at 8:57 pm

1) Pelvis shots, per folks I know who *have* shot other people in both military and civilian situations, are not reliable stoppers even with carbines with 77 grain OTM. I therefore train to deliver a hammer to COM and then an immediate hammer to the head if that fails.
2) A particular concern for me is the growing prevalence of violent perps under the influence of any one of several kinds of chemicals that induce insensitivity to pistol fire. Something with more whomp than a regular .45 ACP would appear to be in order. The 10 mm meets that requirement, but it is slow on the splits, makes for a longer grip (I have small hands) further slowing matters, and it can be hard to find brass or ammo.
An alternate worth considering is the .45 ACP +p or the .45 Super, which will deliver 230 grain Gold Dots at 1150 to 1200 fps. You can easily get 45 ACP +p brass and when loaded with Enforcer, a 230 gr GDHP will make 1200 fps without exceeding max SAAMI +p pressure. Same for the Hornady 230 XTP. I’m told that Glock 21 pistols will handle +p, but have not tried it. The 1911 will once properly modified, but it will require modification. I’d expect that the 1911 would tend toward more muzzle flip than the Glock.
3) if perps with soft armor are a concern, a 7.62 Tokarev from a CZ-52 will easily penetrate soft armor, as ammunition delivering an 80 or 85 grain projectile at 1700 fps can be had, and while the fireball and the report are both impressive, the recoil is manageable and splits can be reasonably fast.

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