The decision was justified based on the development of “hotter” 9mm ammo, like +P loads, which make penetration and wound channels similar to larger calibers.
And for their agents, that meant the larger pistol size, greater recoil, and lower capacity (in general) of .40 S&W and .45 ACP ammo did not outweigh the benefits of a bigger caliber.
While that may be a reasonable conclusion for thousands of FBI agents collectively, there are still many good reasons why you shouldn’t rule out a pistol chambered for .45 ACP as an everyday carry (EDC) or concealed carry weapon (CCW).
History on Its Side
When the U.S. Army was looking for something with a bit more punch than the .38 Long Colt, John Browning stepped up with the .45 ACP and its timeless partner, the Colt Model 1911.
For three-quarters of a century, the .45 ACP and Colt Model 1911 sat on the side of American military men and women through virtually every major conflict of the 20th century.
And that’s saying something because, at the rate with which weapon technology renders older weapons obsolete, the military retaining one pistol platform for over 75 years demonstrates what an effective man-stopper the .45 ACP really is.
Size Can Matter
No one can argue that shot placement is the most important factor in stopping a threat, outweighing caliber.
That being said, to insist that caliber is therefore virtually meaningless is absurd.
In the wake of the FBI’s decision to switch back to 9mm (from .40 S&W) due to caliber being ballistically-unimportant, some die hard .45 ACP fans asked, “If it’s all about capacity and caliber is unimportant, why isn’t the FBI arming its agents with pistols chambered for .22 LR ammo?
There are now .22 LR pistols carrying over 30 rounds in a flush magazine.” While placement is without a doubt the most important factor in gunfights, the heftier bullet on a .45 ACP round simply widens the area of effective placement.
It’s also certainly the case that the hotter new 9mm +P loads are a ballistic match for traditional .45 ACP ammo.
The penetration, wound channels, and “stopping power” of the two were virtually indistinguishable. (Which, it could be argued, means that a 9mm +P hollow-point expanding, if it expands, has the same stopping performance than a traditional .45 ACP FMJ ball has.)
However, +P loads are now also available for.45 ACP, making the old standby thumper even more effective.
Most importantly, as is so often pointed out, is what works best for you should be the primary deciding factor.
What works better, considering pistol size, recoil, capacity, and so on for a large population of FBI agents doesn't mean it's what will work best for you.
Considering its size, many of its fans find that .45 ACP has surprisingly mild recoil.
So, if you're looking for a caliber with a little extra umph and the tried and true .45 ACP proves a good shooter for you, use it.
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