Tuesday, July 15, 2014

The derp is deep and wide...

Here's a good example of the sort of internet gun wisdom engendered every time the military gives a tiny hint it might like to switch small arms:
In 1985, the U.S. Army took a huge step backwards when it summarily dumped the 45 ACP in favor of the underpowered 9mm Luger cartridge (a.k.a. 9mm Parabellum). Irony: The 9mm is not quite as powerful as the 38 Long Colt cartridge which was replaced by the 45 ACP about 75 years earlier.
(Italics in original)

Hm. Let's consult our handy Big Book o' Bullets*, shall we?
  • .38 Long Colt: 150gr bullet @ 770 fps = 195 ft/lbs
  • 9x19 M882: 124gr bullet @ 1299 fps = 465 ft/bs
So, basically, the only place that 9mm is "not quite as powerful" as .38 Long Colt is in that guy's head. But that's a professional page with a nice layout that paid him to write that! Layers of accountability!

No telling how many people caught a case of the derpes from reading that and blithely went off repeating "9mm isn't even as powerful as .38 Long Colt!" around the water cooler.

*I am tickled to discover that the ultimate in gun nerd bathroom reading material is now available in Kindle format.


TCinVA said...

Dear Russ Chastain:

You're a derp.


TC, writer at Gun Nuts Media.

Jason Mills said...

The comments on that article... Good lord! One guy, a ex cop, special forces, air marshal, "One round from a .45 would be sufficient to stop the threat and move to the next target."

Woodman said...

I always worry, since my knowledge is so thin on guns that I will grab hold of something really.stupid and run with it.

Tam said...

Jason Mills,

"The comments on that article."

Never read the comments. That's where the derp swims upstream to breed. ;)

Joseph said...

I don't know why people get so worked up about what handgun the army carries. How many times do they actually get used in combat? I'm thinking that "pistol" is just barely above "other" on the bar graph of enemies killed.

Cybrludite said...

Yeah, I stopped reading at that point.

Jason Mills said...

I was hoping that someone would call him out on his BS... Yeah, I still believe in Santa Claus, why do you ask?

DAG said...

This along with some other low content quality "reviews" is why i can not take that site or its sister site The Firearm Blog as anything more than a press release mill.

God, Gals, Guns, Grub said...

I carry a 9mm daily, but I have an actual 1911A1 Army issued in 1942 and it runs and eats any .45ACP ammo I've put in it. I had it "tuned up" with new springs by the techs at Springfield Armory 8 years ago (it worked before, and it worked after) and it runs without fail... 72 years-old and still going strong...


Anonymous said...

I'm sure it was just a rounding error on his part. Math be hard.


Scott J said...

And here I thought caliber wars were a relic of the last century.

Jennifer said...

"Never read the comments. That's where the derp swims upstream to breed. ;)

Please collect your internet for today at the reception desk

Paul said...

Does not matter caliber if you cannot hit the target.

I quit reading the rags a long time ago.

I have things I can shot accurately and repeatedly. Beyond that I don't care.

I do wonder sometimes on more popular sites where do some of the commentators actually live.

Don said...

I read the year as "1895" somehow. Then I couldn't't figure out why you were all so focused on comparing the two calipers. I had a whole thing worked out in my head with the U.S. adopting .45 acp at the end of the War of 1812 after a visit from a time traveler.

Matt said...

I am no longer a soldier. I know long care past curiosity, what caliber/cartridge the U.S. Army adopts. Only viable choices are 9mmP, .45ACP and 40S&W. They would do better finding a superior launching platform and retire the Berretta M9.

staghounds said...

I believe I would rather be shot by a U.S. army soldier's 9mm FMJ in 2014 that by his great great grandfather's lead, black powder, greasy felt wad .38 LC in 1898.

Anonymous said...

I'm still wondering; why the reference to a half forgotten cartridge? -- Lyle

Cargosquid said...

"Case of the derpes"

That's going to me smile for a while.

Matt G said...

As usual, Jennifer (at 9:47) reflects my thoughts. That's good stuff, right there.

Be aware, though, that while I LOVE me some Cartridges Of The World (did I send you that copy? I don't recall), there is a little bit of derp in it, too. Barnes made some questionable comments regarding the relative power of the .38-200 vs. the .455. He had some ideas about relative efficacy that just weren't quiet consistent. The new editor, who clearly lauds Barnes, gently apologizes for Barnes repeating the wive's tale about the inaccuracy of the .32 Winchester Special.

Joe in PNG said...

Anon 12:42- according to guncounter mythology, the .38 long colt tended to make Moros feel invigorated, while the .45 would knock them right down, even if you hit them in the hand!

It's true, an Army seal ranger told me!

Windy Wilson said...

"Never read the comments. That's where the derp swims upstream to breed. ;)"

You keep winning the internets like that you're gonna get audited, let me tell you.

Mike_C said...

If the .38 vs 9mm stuff is internet derpes (snerk!), this is full-on meningovascular neurosyphilis.

Angus McThag said...


TM 43-0001-27 (APR94) says M882 is 112gr @ 1263±5 fps.

Cartridges of the World 11th says 124gr @ 1251±25 fps.

STANAG 4090 Ed.2 says anything between 108 and 128gr and 400-600 ft-lbs energy is A-OK.

Even with this quibbling, 9mm NATO is at least twice as powerful as .38 Long Colt...

JAD said...

The 9x19 is 0.355" in diameter. .38 LC is 0.375" (not a typo). Your hollowpoint 9 might get bigger, but the .38 LC won't get smaller.

The Jack said...

I guess he decided that not only does power scale with bullet mass but it *only* scales with mass.

Geodkyt said...

JAD -- While non-expanding pistol rounds (and we're talking military loads, not civilian JHPs) are VERY dependant on bullet size to do damage, and the surface area (not diameter) is the critical dimension to guesstimate tissue destruction volume in those cases (for example, the .45ACP FMJ has about 50% more surface area than 9x19 FMJ, and thus makes a tunnel of messed up meat roughly 50% larger in volume), the difference between 0.355" and 0.375" is insignifcant.

The other issue is, while BOTH the 9x19mm and .45ACP are going fast enough to go through and through any likely unarmored battlefield opponant at any likely effective range, the .38LC is enough slower than either to make me wonder. (I'm sure some Jello Junkie has shot it and seen the depth. I just don't know what that number is.) If the bullet doesn't go as deep, then even a larger bullet is likely to destroy less tissue volume, reducing the odds of messing up something the target really needs working.

I mean, .41 Short (130gr @ 425 fps, diameter 0.405") is considerably larger than 9x19mm, .38 Spl, .357 Mag, .38 Super, 9mm Largo, 9x18mm Makarov, .380ACP, or even 7.62x25mm Tokarev -- but I would take ANY of those smaller bullets, in an FMJ loading, over a .41 Short loaded to spec weight and velocity - even if you used the finest designed HP made from lead so soft you could dent it with a sneeze.

Size may mattera bit, if everything else is effectively equal, but it ain't even in the top three considerations for determining effectiveness.

Sigivald said...

Mike_C: Man.

I don't know whether to curse you or thank you.

"Popular among handgun-owners, pistols are defined by their built-in barrel and short stock."


I ... just... wow.

Tam said...

I tend to believe that dentist guy on these topics.

staghounds said...

Don't count the bottlenecks out just yet.

There's something to be said for looking harder at penetration than has been done before. Our opponents may be kevlar'd up, or at least carrying magazine pouches.

I wonder what sort of hole punching results could be gotten from a very light saboted penetrator in an otherwise conventional 9mm?

Anonymous said...

It really doesn't matter what handgun the military carries. I was transitioning from tracked vehicle commander (TC) to aircraft crewmember during the .45 to 9mm switch. The TC had a pistol, and a rifle that was secured in a rack inside the track and he also manned the M-60 (in our case). The pistol never left the shoulder holster - when we were out walking we had to have the M-16 on our person. Flash forward to flying armed along politically sensitive cold war borders after the switch to 9mm and I was issued a 2.5inch .38, (we had S&W Colt and Ruger) with just 5 rounds since "all autoloaders are dangerous around ejection seats" Why they issued the other 4 rounds I never found out...

staghounds said...

Five is one…

Geodkyt said...

Staghounds -- that's one reason why I don;t support switching to JHPs for military use as standard (there's a good case to be made for them in miltary LEO use or against terrorists outside "combat" zones. But, penetration is really important if you have to shoot through ammo pouches, comnpasses, etc. Punching through actual vests, however, is a fool's game with handguns.

Anonymus 9:21 PM, July 15, 2014 -- I once read a piece by a guy who related a conversation he had had with an IDF armor captain. Asked what handgun the captain was issued. Answer was, "I'm in a MBT, with a 105mm main gun, a 7.62mm co-ax, ANOTHER .50BMG coax, a pair of 7.62mm GPMGs on the roof, a 60mm mortar on the roof, and everyone in the crew has a Galil. What the Hell am I gonna do with a pistol?"

Anonymous said...

I have both a .38 Long Colt and a 9mm. I will do some research at the range and see what I can come up with. I will send Tam an email when I am finished. She can post it if she wants to.

Ed said...

Another comparison of the .38 Long Colt, the .45 ACP, and the 9x19 NATO:

There is a small problem with that muzzle energy calculation for the 9mm M882 cited from “Big Book o’ Bullets”:
124 gr @1200 fps = 396 fpe, not 465 fpe
150 gr @770 fps = 197 fpe

This video uses 1235 fps for the 9x19 M882:

124 gr @1235 fps = 420 fpe

So, I went looking online with the search string “9x19 M882”. The first hit:
“Why The Continued Military Use of the M9 Pistol and 9X19 Cartridge Should End” by David Tong

I have seen something by David Tong before:

So, what should it be – 9x19, .40 S&W or .45 ACP? Since I do not have access to DOD test data, there are a few reports available to all.
Using self defense ammo (not ball), we can consider this (recommendations from "the dentist"), which suggests that all three rounds work:

Or this, which does not differentiate between ball and hollow point ammo:

From Greg Ellifritz’s “An Alternate Look at Stopping Power”
9mm .40 .45
Luger S&W ACP

# of people shot - 456 188 209
# of hits - 1121 443 436
Average number of rounds until incapacitation - 2.45 2.36 2.08
% of people who were not incapacitated - 13% 13% 14%
Accuracy (head and torso hits) - 74% 76% 85%
% actually incapacitated by one shot (torso or head hit) - 47% 52% 51%
% of hits that were fatal - 24% 25% 29%
One-shot-stop % - 34% 45% 39%

The data suggests that there is either as longer site radius or more skill (% accuracy) with the .45 ACP shooters which may contribute to a slightly higher percentage of hits that were fatal. There are slightly more one-shot-stops (not necessarily fatal) with the .40 S&W, followed by the .45 ACP and then the 9mm Luger. There was not much difference between the three rounds on the percent that were "actually incapacitated by one shot (torso or head hit)" and the percent of "people who were not incapacitated".

Tam said...


That was a miskey on the M882 ball; I typed "1200" instead of "1299". The energy number is correct.

Tam said...


"I have both a .38 Long Colt and a 9mm. I will do some research at the range and see what I can come up with. I will send Tam an email when I am finished. She can post it if she wants to."

You can just shoot the .38LC out of any ol' .38 Spl. I'd be interested in seeing this research.


"The 9x19 is 0.355" in diameter. .38 LC is 0.375" (not a typo)."

.38 Short Colt uses a .375" heeled bullet; .38LC uses newfangled modern .357" inside-lubed projectiles. ;)

staghounds said...

The two numbers that seem most significant to me in that breakdown are the lower rounds to incapacitation and higher deaths for .45.