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Case Closed: FBI decides 9mm as the #1 best pistol round and this has tons of science behind

Written by Wamiq Ali

The best calibre ever seems like a myth but wait FBI has finally selected the best pistol round based on science. Common people have an ideology that what someone shoots well is the best round for his own self. Though for FBI the case is different, they have a lot of research done in their ballistic lab to support their argument of the best pistol round.

According to a study, they’ve declared that the 9mm Luger pistol round is the best round for the law enforcement agencies.

The study which was conducted is actually a cross field study and we’ll try to cover most important aspects of the study.

Executive Summary of the Report (FBI Academy, Quantico, VA)

Projectiles need to be the basis of deciding the best calibre instead of following the folk myths. In law enforcement calibre family, there are projectiles which are highly likely to fail as compared to the ones which are more likely destined to success.

Handgun stopping power is simply a myth.

The best perimeter to decide the gun effectiveness is the scientifically valid penetration depth which is around 12-18 inches. Contemporary projectiles have dramatically increased the effectiveness of getting indulged in a shooting incident.

The 9mm Luger has outrun most of the premium line .40 S&W and .45 Auto projectiles as tested by the FBI. The 9mm Luger offers high magazine storage, less recoil power, lower cost and high life cycle persistence.

The 9mm Luger offers all the features required by the law enforcement agencies while removing the defects present in the larger calibres at the same time with same benefits.

The bigger the better?

There are always justifications present when one has to choose. 20 years ago it was said that the bigger the better in the case of guns. However, this can’t be the deciding factor for any calibre.

The cost in the market, the life cycle, the recoil strength, the weight and the availability in the market are some of the factors which weigh a lot in projectiles. One shouldn’t start the discussion on the gun, rather the projectile is important. The projectile actually hits the target and then causes the harm.

Medical Realities and Tactical Realities:

There should be only two deciding factor for the choice of calibre. Since the only purpose of the law enforcement agencies is to stop the process rather than killing all the people, so medical and tactical realities have the most weight.

Medical Realities:

Shooting to the central nervous system is going to stop the victim quite soon, and the 9mm calibre can do this damage. However, any other calibre would do the same, but again why chose the larger one which is more costly and rare than the smaller one?

Projectile must penetrate deeply enough to cause the harm. It must pass through a distance of 12-18 inches as decided by the medical experts to cause the harm to the vital organs.

The permanent cavity in the body of the victim is caused when the projectile penetrates and expands inside. The extent of expansion is the cause of permanent cavity. Now medical experts can’t differentiate enough between .35 or .45 calibre wound due to the elasticity of the human body.

The temporary cavity is merely caused when the speed of the projectile is high enough. The high speed actually tears the tissue with high rate and this cause shearing stress which causes a temporary cavity. Now, none of the hand guns projectile travel at very high velocity thus it would be needless to compare.

Fragmentation is the breaking of the projectile into small pieces once it hits the target. Now, none of the hang gun projectile breaks into considerable small parts also since new handgun projectiles are bonded with copper, so this is needless to discuss.

Psychology factor is the most stronger one, after getting hit in the leg, it’s the psychology which decides whether to stop or to continue doing vicious actions.

Tactical Realities:

Shot placement is quite important and a perfect shot placement must be followed by the required damage. Thus the shot must damage the victim at the right place and with the right penetration. Any projectile shot must have the higher probability of penetrating inside and damaging the victim.

The lab tests which Ballistic Research Facility have conducted have shown that among the hand gun rounds the 9mm was able to produce required penetration and damage. The 9mm provided the struggling shooters with the best advantage of speed and accuracy.


This means that the most agencies have shifted to larger calibre at the expense of reduced mag, more weight, great recoil and lesser market availability. Thus, the FBI move to 9mm calibre makes sense.

About the author

Wamiq Ali

Programmer, Blogger and an Entrepreneur trying to make this web a better place by making others learn for free.

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