9mm cartridges, image via Wikipedia.
9mm cartridges, image via Wikipedia.

Oh, how I tire of the caliber wars!

When I first started reading and posting on early message boards in the late 1980s (yes, there was an Internet before the World Wide Web), shooters were debating “the best” handgun calibers. If my memory serves me correctly, the debate then was over  .380 ACP, .38 Special, 9mm, .45 ACP, and .357 Magnum.  Following the “bigger is better” school of thought, I bought a military surplus 1911 clone (a Sistema 1927).

I held on to that .45 ACP Sistema and the then-new 230-grain Federal Hydra-Shok hollowpoint for many years as new calibers to add to the mix. The 10mm, .40 S&W, and .357 SIG came into existence and were touted as the “next big thing.” All three cartridges have their merits and their fans, including many law enforcement adopters. It was completely subjective, but I never took to any of them.

It wasn’t until 2004 that I finally traded in the 77-year-old Argentine Colt for my first “modern” pistol, a Springfield Armory XD in 9mm.  The last decade with the “euro-pellet” (as some have called it) has been an informative one, and unless something radically changes in the decades ahead, I suspect I’ll be shooting and carrying 9mm pistols for many years to come, despite the “advantages” of other pistols.

Here’s why.

The Springfield Armory XD was my first 9mm pistol.
The Springfield Armory XD was my first 9mm pistol.

Capacity

One advantage of the 9mm compared to other defensive semi-auto pistol calibers is that in a given platform, it holds more cartridges than it’s competitors. When I selected the XD as my replacement for the 1927, I was drawn to the 16-round capacity of the pistol. If I carried with a round in the chamber and a spare magazine, I had 33 ready rounds at my disposal, which was more than enough for any adverse social situation I could reasonably expect to encounter this side of the zombie apocalypse. The same-sized pistol in .40 S&W or .357 SIG had twelve-round magazines, dropping my two mag/loaded chamber carry count from 33 rounds down to 25 rounds. I preferred having more… especially considering the after-action horror stories I’d read of police officers shooting their guns dry against especially determined or drugged-up attackers.

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