.450 ACP or 9mm – Which is better?

What is the best self-defense caliber? This is for sure, one of the first questions a person might ask when deciding on buying a gun for these purposes.  Considering a variety of choice, it is not surprising people may find it difficult to make a reasonable decision in this aspect. .380 ACP is most certainly very popular but what about larger calibers? Here, we are faced with one of the most heated debates among gun users- which is better .450 ACP or 9mm.


Why is there so much fuss about whether to use .450 ACP or 9mm for self-defense? Simple answer would be because both rounds are so good that people find it extremely interesting to debate on which is better. Both are widely used, highly reliable and have a mass of devotees. But, the differences between the two are not that small.  So, to give an answer to this forever debated question it is necessary to be extremely analytic and go into details. Yet, to take “things are either black or white” approach in consideration of this matter, would be completely wrong.

Our bellowed 9mm

9mm caliber is definitely one of the most popular rounds in the world. It is used by police, army, air force etc. The advantages of this caliber and guns that use it can be summarized as follows:

  • Firearm in a relatively small size
  • Large magazine capacity
  • Compact weapon
  • Easier concealed carry compared to larger calibers
  • Lower recoil

What also characterizes this caliber is high muzzle velocity. This means that the bullet is surprisingly fast. Does all this suffice to say 9mm beats .450 ACP in an everlasting race called 9mm or .450 ACP?

Good old .450 ACP

Irrespective of how extensively used and popular 9mm is today, .450 ACP has a historical background which can hardly get beaten in any race.  It has proven to be one of the most reliable calibers in human history. .450 ACP was used by US forces in both World Wars, and it remained in this use until 1980’s. So, what does .450 ACP have to offer in this 9mm or .450 ACP competition?

  • Large stopping power
  • High reliability
  • Over 100 years of use
  • No problems with exceeded penetration

The last means that .450 ACP bullet is not likely to go through a wall or flesh and potentially harm another person, which is not the case with 9mm.

When compared to 9mm, it is fair to say that .450 ACP has following disadvantages:

  • Heavier weapon
  • Smaller magazine capacity
  • Lower bullet speed

Who beats the race - 9mm or .450 ACP?

Taking everything above said in account, it is still difficult to give a final opinion. 9mm seems to have it all. However, .450 ACP, as an older and bigger brother, has the class. Technically speaking, the debate which is better – 9mm or .450 ACP comes down to what a buyer prefers more:

  • having more bullets or using bigger bullets
  • having a light gun with faster bullets or heavier one with slower rounds

Concerning self-defense purposes, it might be important to give another perspective. Due to its penetration power, 9mm might be better for an outdoor self-defense where there is less chance that you will have to shoot at close range. On the other hand, .450 ACP is probably one of the best home self defense handguns. It easy to grab, will definitely stop an attacker and there is low chance you might hit an innocent person because of the over-penetration.

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