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9mm vs 9 Popular Handgun Cartridges (Ballistic Graphs & Tables)

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Let’s explore the 9mm vs 9 popular handgun cartridges using ballistic tables and graphs out to 100 yards. The 9mm’s velocity, trajectory, energy, and recoil are compared to all 9 cartridges providing a clear and data-driven perspective on how the 9mm stacks up.

When it comes to handgun ammunition, the 9mm cartridge stands out as a favorite among shooters worldwide. Known for its balance of power, ammo capacity, and ease of handling, the 9mm has become a staple in personal defense, law enforcement, and competitive shooting. But how does it stack up against other popular rounds like the .45 ACP, 10mm, .380 ACP, .357 Magnum, .38 Special, .357 Sig, .44 Magnum, .40 S&W, and .32 ACP? Let’s find out.

How To Use This Article:

I used common bullets for the cartridges in this article for a realistic comparison. In the graphs and tables, I make sure to show the grain of each bullet for simple comparisons. All of the bullets in this article were made for self-defense.

The Ballistic Tables

If you want a 1-on-1 comparison from 0 to 100 yards in 25-yard increments for any of these cartridges to the 9mm, you can find that after the graphs in the ballistic tables section.

The Ballistic Graphs

Keep in mind that with different bullet grains and different ammunition, you can achieve different results than shown below. However, you can use the information below to determine the potential of each cartridge.

Let’s jump into the graphs first because they’ll answer your broader questions faster.

Velocity Ballistic Comparison Graph: 9mm vs Popular Cartridges

Below are velocity ballistic graphs of all 10 cartridges. The 9mm is shown as a black line in all graphs.

9mm Bullet Velocity vs Popular Cartridges Comparison Graph

Trajectory Ballistic Comparison Graph: 9mm vs Popular Cartridges

Below are trajectory ballistic graphs of all 10 cartridges. The 9mm is shown as a black line in all graphs.

9mm Bullet Trajectory vs Popular Cartridges Comparison Graph

Bullet Energy (Stopping Power) Ballistic Comparison Graph: 9mm vs Popular Cartridges

Below are bullet energy or stopping power ballistic graphs of all 10 cartridges. The 9mm is shown as a black line in all graphs.

9mm Bullet Energy vs Popular Cartridges Comparison Graph

Recoil Comparison Graph: 9mm vs Popular Cartridges

Below are the recoil values of all 10 cartridges. The 9mm recoil energy and recoil velocity are shown as dotted black lines for easy comparison to the other cartridges. This graph assumes that all cartridges are shot out of a handgun that weighs 30oz. This was done to create a better apples-to-apples comparison between cartridges.

9mm Recoil vs Popular Handgun Cartridges Comparison Graph

Ballistic Tables: 9mm vs Popular Cartridges

9mm vs 45 ACP

Velocity

The 9mm (124 gr) consistently exhibits higher velocities than the .45 ACP (230 gr) at all distances from 0 to 100 yards. Starting faster at the muzzle (1150 fps vs 900 fps) and maintaining its speed advantage throughout, the 9mm demonstrates superior velocity retention over distance compared to the heavier .45 ACP.

9mm vs 45 ACP Bullet Velocity Ballistic Table

Trajectory

The 9mm (124 gr) experiences less bullet drop compared to the .45 ACP (230 gr) at distances up to 100 yards. With a flatter trajectory, the 9mm shows a smaller decrease in height, dropping -8.8 inches at 100 yards compared to the .45 ACP’s drop of -14.6 inches. This indicates that the 9mm maintains a closer path to the line of sight over distance, making it more favorable for precision shooting.

9mm vs 45 ACP Bullet Trajectory Ballistic Table

Energy

At all distances up to 100 yards, the .45 ACP (230 gr) consistently exhibits higher bullet energy compared to the 9mm (124 gr). While the 9mm starts with an energy of 364 ft-lbs at the muzzle, the .45 ACP begins with a higher energy of 414 ft-lbs. This trend continues across distances, with the .45 ACP maintaining its lead in energy, demonstrating 354 ft-lbs at 100 yards compared to the 9mm’s 263 ft-lbs. The heavier bullet of the .45 ACP contributes to its greater energy, making it potentially more powerful on targets.

9mm vs 45 ACP Bullet Energy Ballistic Table

Recoil

The .45 ACP (230 gr) exhibits significantly higher recoil than the 9mm (124 gr). Specifically, the .45 ACP has a recoil energy of 7.8 ft-lbs and a recoil velocity of 16.4 fps, which is notably higher than the 9mm’s recoil energy of 3.9 ft-lbs and recoil velocity of 11.6 fps. This increase in recoil for the .45 ACP is due to its heavier bullet and larger powder charge, resulting in a more pronounced kick when fired. The lower recoil of the 9mm makes it generally easier to handle and quicker for follow-up shots.

9mm vs 45 ACP Recoil Table
Calculation assumes a 30oz handgun*

9mm vs 10mm

Velocity

The 9mm (124 gr) generally exhibits higher velocities than the 10mm (200 gr) at all distances from 0 to 100 yards. Starting with a slightly higher velocity at the muzzle (1150 fps vs 1130 fps for the 10mm), the 9mm maintains its speed advantage throughout, showing superior velocity retention over distance compared to the 10mm. Just remember the bullet is much heavier for the 10mm.

9mm vs 10mm Bullet Velocity Ballistic Table

Trajectory

The 9mm (124 gr) experiences less bullet drop compared to the 10mm (200 gr) at distances up to 100 yards. The 9mm shows a smaller decrease in height, dropping -8.8 inches at 100 yards compared to the 10mm’s drop of -10.0 inches. This indicates that the 9mm maintains a relatively flatter trajectory over distance. However, they’re very similar which is impressive since the 10mm bullet is much bigger.

9mm vs 10mm Bullet Trajectory Ballistic Table

Energy

The 10mm (200 gr) consistently exhibits significantly higher bullet energy than the 9mm (124 gr) at all distances from 0 to 100 yards. While the 9mm starts with an energy of 364 ft-lbs at the muzzle, the 10mm begins with a substantially higher energy of 567 ft-lbs. This higher energy level for the 10mm remains across all distances, demonstrating 361 ft-lbs at 100 yards compared to the 9mm’s 263 ft-lbs. The larger powder load and heavier bullet of the 10mm contribute to its greater energy, making it more powerful on impact, especially at closer ranges.

9mm vs 10mm Bullet Energy Ballistic Table

Recoil

The 10mm (200 gr) has significantly higher recoil than the 9mm (124 gr). Specifically, the 10mm exhibits a recoil energy of 10.2 ft-lbs and a recoil velocity of 18.7 fps, which are notably greater than the 9mm’s recoil energy of 3.9 ft-lbs and recoil velocity of 11.6 fps. This increase in recoil for the 10mm can be attributed to its more powerful load and heavier bullet, resulting in a stronger kick when fired. The lower recoil of the 9mm makes it generally easier to handle and quicker for follow-up shots, especially for shooters with less experience or lower tolerance for recoil.

9mm vs 10mm Recoil Table
Calculation assumes a 30oz handgun*

9mm vs 380

Velocity

The 9mm (124 gr) typically has higher velocities than the .380 ACP (99 gr) across all distances measured from 0 to 100 yards. The 9mm begins with a velocity of 1150 fps at the muzzle, compared to the .380 ACP’s initial velocity of 935 fps. This trend of the 9mm maintaining a higher velocity continues through each measured distance, indicating superior speed. If you’re looking for more in-depth information on the 9mm vs 380 you can check out my article: 380 vs 9mm Comparison (with Ballistic Tables & Graphs).

9mm vs 380 ACP Bullet Velocity Ballistic Table

Trajectory

The 9mm (124 gr) experiences less bullet drop compared to the .380 ACP (99 gr) across distances up to 100 yards. The 9mm shows a trajectory drop of -8.8 inches at 100 yards, whereas the .380 ACP has a more pronounced bullet drop of -14.0 inches at the same distance. This indicates that the 9mm maintains a flatter trajectory over longer distances, which can be advantageous for accuracy.

9mm vs 380 ACP Bullet Trajectory Ballistic Table

Energy

The 9mm (124 gr) consistently has higher bullet energy compared to the .380 ACP (99 gr) at all distances from 0 to 100 yards. The 9mm starts with an energy of 364 ft-lbs at the muzzle, while the .380 ACP begins with 192 ft-lbs. This higher energy level for the 9mm is maintained across distances, demonstrating 263 ft-lbs at 100 yards compared to the .380 ACP’s 149 ft-lbs. The 9mm’s higher energy is due to its greater velocity and mass, contributing to more power.

9mm vs 380 ACP Bullet Energy Ballistic Table

Recoil

The .380 ACP (99 gr) has significantly lower recoil than the 9mm (124 gr). The .380 ACP exhibits a recoil energy of only 1.6 ft-lbs and a recoil velocity of 7.4 fps, which are considerably less than the 9mm’s recoil energy of 3.9 ft-lbs and recoil velocity of 11.6 fps. This reduced recoil in the .380 ACP can be attributed to its lighter bullet and less powerful load, making it easier to handle, especially for shooters who are sensitive to recoil or prefer a more manageable shooting experience.

9mm vs 380 ACP Recoil Table
Calculation assumes a 30oz handgun*

9mm vs 357 Magnum

Velocity

The .357 Magnum (158 gr) typically has higher velocities than the 9mm (124 gr) at all distances from 0 to 100 yards. The .357 Magnum starts with a velocity of 1240 fps at the muzzle, compared to the 9mm’s initial velocity of 1150 fps. This trend of the .357 Magnum maintaining higher velocity continues throughout the distance range, indicating its superior speed.

9mm vs 357 Magnum Bullet Velocity Ballistic Table

Trajectory

The 9mm (124 gr) and the .357 Magnum (158 gr) exhibit similar trajectories, with the .357 Magnum showing slightly less bullet drop at longer distances. The 9mm experiences a drop of -8.8 inches at 100 yards, while the .357 Magnum has a slightly lower bullet drop of -7.1 inches at the same distance. Both cartridges maintain relatively flat trajectories, but the .357 Magnum’s marginally superior performance in this aspect can be largely attributed to its higher velocity.

9mm vs 357 Magnum Bullet Trajectory Ballistic Table

Energy

The .357 Magnum (158 gr) consistently delivers significantly higher bullet energy than the 9mm (124 gr) at all distances from 0 to 100 yards. Starting with an energy of 539 ft-lbs at the muzzle, the .357 Magnum surpasses the 9mm’s initial energy of 364 ft-lbs. This trend continues across distances, with the .357 Magnum demonstrating 396 ft-lbs at 100 yards, compared to the 9mm’s 263 ft-lbs. The higher energy of the .357 Magnum is due to its greater velocity and heavier bullet, resulting in more power.

9mm vs 357 Magnum Bullet Energy Ballistic Table

Recoil

The .357 Magnum (158 gr) exhibits significantly higher recoil than the 9mm (124 gr). Specifically, the .357 Magnum has a recoil energy of 8.5 ft-lbs and a recoil velocity of 17.1 fps. In contrast, the 9mm’s recoil energy is lower at 3.9 ft-lbs, with a recoil velocity of 11.6 fps. The increased recoil in the .357 Magnum can be attributed to its more powerful cartridge and heavier bullet, resulting in a more substantial kick when fired. This higher recoil level can affect shooter comfort and the speed of follow-up shots, especially for those less accustomed to handling higher-recoil firearms.

9mm vs 357 Magnum Recoil Table
Calculation assumes a 30oz handgun*

9mm vs 38 Special

Velocity

The 9mm (124 gr) generally has higher velocities than the .38 Special (120 gr) across all distances from 0 to 100 yards. At the muzzle, the 9mm starts with a velocity of 1150 fps, compared to the .38 Special’s initial velocity of 1000 fps. This higher velocity of the 9mm continues through each measured distance, indicating superior speed.

9mm vs 38 Special Bullet Velocity Ballistic Table

Trajectory

The 9mm (124 gr) experiences less bullet drop compared to the .38 Special (120 gr) at distances up to 100 yards. The 9mm shows a bullet drop of -8.8 inches at 100 yards, while the .38 Special exhibits a more pronounced drop of -12.7 inches at the same distance. This indicates that the 9mm maintains a flatter trajectory over longer distances, which increases accuracy.

9mm vs 38 Special Bullet Trajectory Ballistic Table

Energy

The 9mm (124 gr) generally exhibits higher bullet energy than the .38 Special (120 gr) at all distances from 0 to 100 yards. The 9mm starts with an energy of 364 ft-lbs at the muzzle, whereas the .38 Special begins with slightly lower energy, at 266 ft-lbs. As the distance increases, this trend continues, with the 9mm maintaining a higher energy level, registering 263 ft-lbs at 100 yards compared to the .38 Special’s 186 ft-lbs. The higher energy and power of the 9mm can be attributed to its greater velocity.

9mm vs 38 Special Bullet Energy Ballistic Table

Recoil

The .38 Special (120 gr) has lower recoil compared to the 9mm (124 gr). Specifically, the .38 Special exhibits a recoil energy of 2.7 ft-lbs and a recoil velocity of 9.7 fps, both of which are less than the 9mm’s recoil energy of 3.9 ft-lbs and recoil velocity of 11.6 fps. The reduced recoil in the .38 Special is due to its lighter load and lower pressure, making it easier to handle, especially for shooters who prefer a firearm with less kick. This can make the .38 Special a more comfortable choice for recoil-sensitive shooters.

9mm vs 38 Special Recoil Table
Calculation assumes a 30oz handgun*

9mm vs 357 Sig

Velocity

The .357 Sig (125 gr) typically exhibits higher velocities than the 9mm (124 gr) at all distances from 0 to 100 yards. At the muzzle, the .357 Sig starts with a velocity of 1350 fps, surpassing the 9mm’s initial velocity of 1150 fps. This higher velocity of the .357 Sig is maintained throughout the distance range, indicating superior speed at the same bullet weight.

9mm vs 357 Sig Bullet Velocity Ballistic Table

Trajectory

The 9mm (124 gr) and the .357 Sig (125 gr) have similar trajectories, but the .357 Sig shows slightly less bullet drop at longer distances. While the 9mm experiences a bullet drop of about -8.8 inches at 100 yards, the .357 Sig has a slightly lower drop of -6.1 inches at the same distance. Both cartridges maintain relatively flat trajectories, but the higher initial velocity of the .357 Sig contributes to its marginally better performance in maintaining a closer path to the line of sight over distance.

9mm vs 357 Sig Bullet Trajectory Ballistic Table

Energy

The .357 Sig (125 gr) consistently delivers higher bullet energy than the 9mm (124 gr) across all distances from 0 to 100 yards. The .357 Sig starts with an impressive energy of 506 ft-lbs at the muzzle, substantially surpassing the 9mm’s initial energy of 364 ft-lbs. This trend of higher energy in the .357 Sig continues as the distance increases, with the cartridge demonstrating 323 ft-lbs at 100 yards compared to the 9mm’s 263 ft-lbs. The higher energy of the .357 Sig is largely due to its greater velocity.

9mm vs 357 Sig Bullet Energy Ballistic Table

Recoil

The .357 Sig (125 gr) exhibits higher recoil than the 9mm (124 gr). The .357 Sig has a recoil energy of 6.3 ft-lbs and a recoil velocity of 14.7 fps, both higher than the 9mm’s recoil energy of 3.9 ft-lbs and recoil velocity of 11.6 fps. This increased recoil in the .357 Sig can be attributed to its higher velocity and energy, resulting in a stronger kick when fired. The more pronounced recoil of the .357 Sig may affect shooter comfort and the speed of follow-up shots, particularly for those less accustomed to handling higher-recoil firearms.

9mm vs 357 Sig Recoil Table
Calculation assumes a 30oz handgun*

9mm vs 44 Magnum

Velocity

The .44 Magnum (240 gr) is almost double the weight of the 9mm (124 gr) yet still is has faster velocities at all distances from 0 to 100 yards. The .44 Magnum starts with a velocity of 1210 fps at the muzzle, compared to the 9mm’s 1150 fps. Despite its larger and heavier bullet, the .44 Magnum maintains higher velocities across the measured distances, suggesting superior ballistic performance, especially in terms of speed.

9mm vs 44 Magnum Bullet Velocity Ballistic Table

Trajectory

The 9mm (124 gr) and the .44 Magnum (240 gr) have similar trajectories, but the .44 Magnum shows slightly less bullet drop at longer distances. The 9mm experiences a drop of -8.8 inches at 100 yards, while the .44 Magnum drops about -7.7 inches at the same distance. Both cartridges exhibit relatively flat trajectories, but the .44 Magnum’s higher velocity contributes to its slightly better performance in maintaining a flatter trajectory over distance.

9mm vs 44 Magnum Bullet Trajectory Ballistic Table

Energy

The .44 Magnum (240 gr) significantly outperforms the 9mm (124 gr) in terms of bullet energy at all distances. At the muzzle, the .44 Magnum starts with a remarkable energy of 780 ft-lbs, much higher than the 9mm’s 364 ft-lbs. This high energy level of the .44 Magnum is consistent across all distances, maintaining a substantial lead over the 9mm, with 559 ft-lbs at 100 yards compared to the 9mm’s 263 ft-lbs. The .44 Magnum’s higher energy can be attributed to its big and heavy bullet that moves at high velocity resulting in a lot of power.

9mm vs 44 Magnum Bullet Energy Ballistic Table

Recoil

The .44 Magnum (240 gr) has significantly higher recoil than the 9mm (124 gr). The .44 Magnum exhibits a recoil energy of 18.7 ft-lbs and a recoil velocity of 25.4 fps, substantially more than the 9mm’s recoil energy of 3.9 ft-lbs and recoil velocity of 11.6 fps. The increased recoil in the .44 Magnum is due to its higher energy and larger caliber, resulting in a much stronger kick when fired. This higher recoil can affect shooter comfort and make accurate follow-up shots more challenging, especially for less experienced shooters.

9mm vs 44 Magnum Recoil Table
Calculation assumes a 30oz handgun*

9mm vs 40 S&W

Velocity

The 9mm (124 gr) generally has higher velocities than the .40 S&W (180 gr) across all distances from 0 to 100 yards. The 9mm starts with a muzzle velocity of 1150 fps, compared to 1010 fps for the .40 S&W. This trend of the 9mm maintaining higher velocity continues through each distance, indicating its superior speed and potential for a flatter trajectory over distance.

9mm vs 40 S&W Bullet Velocity Ballistic Table

Trajectory

The 9mm (124 gr) experiences less bullet drop compared to the .40 S&W (180 gr) at distances up to 100 yards. The 9mm shows a bullet drop of -8.8 inches at 100 yards, while the .40 S&W has a drop of -11.4 inches at the same distance. This indicates a relatively flatter trajectory for the 9mm, which can benefit accuracy.

9mm vs 40 S&W Bullet Trajectory Ballistic Table

Energy

The .40 S&W (180 gr) typically exhibits slightly higher bullet energy than the 9mm (124 gr) at all distances from 0 to 100 yards. The .40 S&W starts with an energy of 408 ft-lbs at the muzzle, slightly higher than the 9mm’s 364 ft-lbs. This trend of higher energy in the .40 S&W continues across distances, albeit the difference is not as pronounced as with larger calibers like the .44 Magnum.

9mm vs 40 S&W Bullet Energy Ballistic Table

Recoil

The .40 S&W (180 gr) has higher recoil than the 9mm (124 gr). The .40 S&W exhibits a recoil energy of 6.1 ft-lbs and a recoil velocity of 14.5 fps, both higher than the 9mm’s recoil energy of 3.9 ft-lbs and recoil velocity of 11.6 fps. The increased recoil in the .40 S&W can be attributed to its heavier bullet and higher energy, resulting in a stronger kick when fired.

9mm vs 40 S&W Recoil Table
Calculation assumes a 30oz handgun*

9mm vs 32 ACP

Velocity

The 9mm (124 gr) consistently exhibits higher velocities than the .32 ACP (65 gr) across all distances from 0 to 100 yards. It starts with a muzzle velocity of 1150 fps, while the .32 ACP begins at 925 fps. The 9mm maintains this velocity advantage throughout the range, demonstrating superior speed.

9mm vs 32 ACP Bullet Velocity Ballistic Table

Trajectory

The 9mm (124 gr) experiences less bullet drop compared to the .32 ACP (65 gr) at distances up to 100 yards. The 9mm shows a trajectory drop of -8.8 inches at 100 yards, whereas the .32 ACP experiences a more significant drop of -14.5 inches at the same distance. This indicates that the 9mm maintains a flatter trajectory over longer distances which increases accuracy.

9mm vs 32 ACP Bullet Trajectory Ballistic Table

Energy

The 9mm (124 gr) has higher bullet energy than the .32 ACP (65 gr) at all measured distances. The 9mm starts with 364 ft-lbs of energy at the muzzle, in contrast to the .32 ACP’s 123 ft-lbs. As the distance increases, the 9mm continues to outperform the .32 ACP in terms of energy, with 263 ft-lbs at 100 yards compared to the .32 ACP’s 94 ft-lbs. The higher energy of the 9mm is a result of its greater velocity and heavier bullet.

9mm vs 32 ACP Bullet Energy Ballistic Table

Recoil

The .32 ACP (65 gr) exhibits significantly lower recoil than the 9mm (124 gr). The .32 ACP has a recoil energy of only 0.7 ft-lbs and a recoil velocity of 5.0 fps, much lower than the 9mm’s recoil energy of 3.9 ft-lbs and recoil velocity of 11.6 fps. The reduced recoil of the .32 ACP is due to its lighter bullet and less powerful load, its an exteamly low recoil cartridge but at the cost of power.

9mm vs 32 ACP Recoil Table
Calculation assumes a 30oz handgun*

Final Thoughts: 9mm vs Popular Cartridges

As we’ve seen through our comprehensive comparisons, the 9mm (124 gr) cartridge holds its own as a well-rounded choice in the diverse world of handgun ammunition. Its balance of, velocity, bullet size, and power, make it a comfortable and reliable option for personal defense. In terms of energy, while the 9mm doesn’t always lead the pack, especially against powerhouses like the .44 Magnum and 10mm, it still delivers sufficient stopping power for human-to-human defense.

One of the standout features of the 9mm is its manageable recoil, which stands in stark contrast to more powerful cartridges like the .357 Magnum and .40 S&W. This lower recoil not only makes the 9mm accessible to a wider range of shooters but also facilitates quicker, more accurate follow-up shots, a critical factor in both self-defense and competitive shooting.

While cartridges like the .45 ACP and .380 ACP have their niches, the 9mm’s balance of power, capacity, and ease of handling keeps it at the forefront of firearm choices. Whether for law enforcement, self-defense, or sports shooting, the 9mm’s versatility and effectiveness are undeniable. It’s a testament to why, after so many years, the 9mm continues to be a popular and trusted choice among handgun enthusiasts.

In the end, the best cartridge depends on individual needs and preferences. However, for those seeking a middle ground in power, precision, and usability, the 9mm emerges not just as a jack-of-all-trades, but as a master of many.

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Article Written By: Jason Tome

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