9mm Luger vs 10mm Auto: Best Handgun Ammo?

What’s The Difference Between 9mm vs 10mm Ammo?

The self-defense cartridge king is the 9mm. The 9mm has had such a significant impact on American society that many individuals only know of this one cartridge. Fans of the Terminator may recite the catchphrase “Uzi nine millimetah” without even realizing what a “nine millimetah” is.

The 10mm has a significantly narrower market. If the FBI had not judged that its recoil is too strong and that its weapon is too huge for smaller and more sensitive “alphabet boys,” it may have gained greater notoriety. Strangely, more than one client has mistakenly thought the 10mm was a fake cartridge from the Fallout video game series.

The 10mm, which was first introduced in 1983, subsequently underwent reduction to become the far more widely used 40 S&W. However, a lot of people still adore the 10mm and would never want it to be altered. Why do they favor the 10mm when there are so many 9mm available?

That one extra millimeter does, indeed, carry a whole lot more power, but it also contains other important changes. To help you decide which handgun round to prefer, we’ll examine the two handgun rounds’ physical characteristics, ballistic capabilities, stopping power, and recoil.

Advantages of 9mm

Recoil is unpleasant, and most people concur. Recoil may impair your shot in a high-stress circumstance, so be aware of it. The 9mm shines brightest. Even with a little handgun, 9mm is renowned for having much more controllable recoil.

Less recoil enables you to fire fast and accurately after being hit, and minor damage eliminates the risk of the bullet veering off course. After some time of practicing with a 9mm, you’ll notice that you’re not concentrating as much on the recoil, which lets you practice other crucial skills like draw speed, target shooting, and of course self defense situations.

Additionally, the accessibility and affordability of 9mm are two of its most noticeable benefits. Almost all firearm producers provide a 9mm variant.

Contrary to most other ammunition rounds, you are twice as likely to locate another 9mm handgun or rifle if you can’t find something you like about it from another manufacturer. Prices for 9mm ammunition often remain inexpensive as well.

Disadvantages of 9mm

While having less recoil may seem like a huge advantage, there are drawbacks as well. Less energy means less recoil. This means that although hollow points might fix the problem, the damage inflicted by this ammunition won’t be as fatal and it is more likely to generate a narrow wound channel.

Advantages of 10mm

Due to its size, 10mm is well renowned for its capacity to provide great velocity and stopping force. This is viewed as a benefit if you’re looking for something lightweight to carry on camping/hunting excursions, or if you’re taking a trek in the woods and come across a dangerous animal like a wild boar, mountain lion, wolf, or other large animal.

Disadvantages of 10mm

Contrary to 9mm, this cartridge has a relatively big amount of recoil, although experienced shooters shouldn’t have any trouble handling it. This bullet would certainly escape the threat and fly far at dangerous speeds, which isn’t ideal for self defense because greater recoil also means more force.

Another notable drawback is that there aren’t as many gun selections available and this pistol is bigger, which might be an issue for people with little hands. This caliber of handgun has a highly specialized market. Handguns that fire 10 mm ammunition often have extremely small clip capacities, and the cartridges are not as affordable or widely accessible.

Last but not least, there is a ton of 10mm available for purchase on counters, although the most are fake. The objective of your 10mm is defeated by the fact that the majority of 10mm ammunition is really loaded to.40 S&W power. Even yet, a select few businesses, like Hornady, manufacture full-power 10mm Auto.

9mm Luger vs 10mm Auto: Cartridge Dimensions

The term “bigger” is the simplest approach to contrast the 10mm and 9mm is in this way. Its bullet weighs more than the 9mm’s, which in this case is typically 115, 124, or 147 grains. Its bullet is typically 180 or 200 grains. Its casing is also significantly larger, providing enough for both an 81 percent larger amount of powder and a projectile with a larger diameter.

The larger size of the 10mm has various effects. Naturally, it costs more to produce a cartridge with more copper and lead. It is heavier and calls for a heavier handgun as well. The most crucial factor is that a larger cartridge produces more power. In a moment, we’ll describe what it looks like.

Ballistic Performance of 9mm vs 10mm

Comparisons of accuracy are far more intriguing when they use rifle ammunition. Handguns often fire over such close ranges that little variations in ballistic performance between two rounds are inconsequential.

Depending totally on the ammunition you are comparing, a 9mm round’s trajectory may or may not be flatter than a 10mm round. Both rounds may be placed in extremely small shot groups with experience. As a result, you can essentially compare the accuracy of the 9mm and 10mm.

Stopping Power/Self-Defense

The term “stopping power” refers to how well a bullet will disarm a danger. Stopping power is influenced by a number of factors, such as expansion rate, expansion breadth, and bullet diameter.

Given this, the FBI test process for wound channel width and depth may be properly satisfied by the 9mm and 10mm. Both also produce greater energy at a distance of 25 yards than is normally advised as the minimum for self-defense.

Nevertheless, the 10mm is far more potent than the 9mm. Its average muzzle energy exceeds that of the 9mm by 55%, and at 100 yards, it transfers around 49% more energy. In the most straightforward words, the 10mm is equipped to neutralize a threat faster and with fewer rounds due to its far more furious power.

A shot from a 10mm may quickly remove a threat, but a blast from a 9mm would only hypothetically slow it down.

Gel Test Results: 9mm vs 10mm Bullets

Our 115 grain Hornady XTP 9mm Luger bullet entered the ballistic gelatin at a depth of around 17 inches. When the Federal Bureau of Investigation assesses ammunition for its agents, that’s exactly where they want to see shots penetrate.

The 180-grain Hornady XTP 10mm didn’t penetrate as deeply as the 9mm did. The penetration was just shy of 16 inches. However, after the extended bullet passed through the Clear Ballistics gelatin, it was evident that the 10mm left a larger wound path.


One of the main factors influencing why people choose 9mm or 40 S&W over 10mm is its comparatively strong recoil. And they don’t only stay away from the greater recoil of the 10mm for comfort’s sake. A cartridge with more recoil energy will cause the pistol’s muzzle to flip further up.

This lengthens the time it takes to line up the subsequent shot, and while someone is attempting to damage you immediately, you need to be able to fire rapid, precise follow-up rounds.

Comparing the 9mm and 10mm’s recoil energy will be helpful. With four variables—muzzle velocity, bullet weight, powder weight, and weapon weight—this is simple to do. Assume all 9mm loads include 5 grains of powder and are fired from a Glock 17, which weighs 24.87 oz empty, and that all 10mm loads contain 11 grains of powder and are fired from a Glock 20, which weighs 30.69 oz empty, for the purposes of comparison.

The average recoil energy for 9mm ammunition is 5.68 ft pounds, whereas that for 10mm rounds is 11.73 ft lbs. The 10mm produces almost twice as much recoil energy as the 9mm, to put it simply.

A recoil energy comparison should be viewed with caution. The increased recoil of the 10mm isn’t even noticed by some folks, who don’t seem to dislike it at all. Your bones, muscles, and nervous system, in addition to the weight and shape of your handgun and the specifications of the ammunition you are using, determine how much recoil you really feel.

It’s hard to predict how much kick you’ll experience. However, you might anticipate a 10mm pistol to have a far larger kick.

Price & Availability

Compared to the 10mm, the 9mm is both smaller and far more common. As a result, the most popular centerfire handgun cartridge in America is far more affordable and much simpler to locate. This doesn’t mean that 10mm ammunition is hard to get by; it just means that you’ll have fewer alternatives and pay more for them.

The same holds true with firearms. Due to the 9mm’s widespread appeal, there are a lot of 9mm handguns available on the market, but the specialty 10mm offers fewer weapon alternatives. However, buying a good 10mm handgun is as simple as going to a gun shop.

Is 9mm better than 10mm for Concealed Carry?

Both the 9mm and 10mm rounds are suitable for concealed carry. For personal defense, the 9mm and 10mm have almost the same success rate. Because it is more powerful than the 9mm, the 10mm can handle some conditions that the 9mm cannot for concealed carry. It’s more difficult to hide 10mm handguns than 9mm. Both have magazines with comparable capacity.

Choosing which is superior to another can occasionally be difficult. Personal preference, what you have, or what is offered locally are frequently the deciding factors. Even though it’s more prevalent than ever, you might not be able to get 10mm ammunition at your neighborhood shop for your concealed carry, and that will undoubtedly affect your purchase.

Is 10mm Too Powerful For Self-Defense?

10mm is a manageable caliber for self-defense. Most shooters find the recoil to be tolerable, and the majority of 10mm defensive ammunition passes the FBI handgun ammo test for penetration and wounding power. Both 10mm and 9mm have the potential to over-penetrate, although 10mm are more likely.

It depends on your particular preferences and unique circumstances. If excessive penetration worries you, you might want to think about the 9mm, which penetrates a little bit less. However, there is still a greater danger of overpenetration with good 10mm defensive ammunition.

9mm vs 10mm for Bear Defense

For bear protection, a 9mm handgun is insufficient. A minimal handgun for bear protection is a 10mm AUTO, which is significantly more suitable. On a bear with thick skin, the 10mm will penetrate more than the 9mm and leave a significantly bigger wound.

If you spend enough time in the gun store, you’ll hear someone mention a “bear gun.” They often refer to a handgun that is carried in the woods to fight off a wrathful bear. In the past, a huge revolver was the perfect firearm, but semi-auto handguns are now just as popular.

In bear country, I do know several folks who carry a 9mm handgun. There are some amazing tales of ferocious grizzlies being killed by the little 9mm. But I can’t suggest that in any way. The 9mm handgun cartridge, which has a mid-power, doesn’t really burst holes as a greater bullet would.

Soft tissue can be penetrated by a 9mm bullet up to 3 feet, however not all bears are soft tissue. Their robust hide is covered in thick, coarse fur, followed by a layer of soft fat, followed by solid muscle and hefty bones. Under ideal circumstances, the 9mm will reach a bear’s vitals, but it is prone to malfunction.

Home Defense Comparison

For home defense, 10mm and 9mm are both suitable. Whichever you can fire swiftly and accurately is the best option. 10mm has significantly less capacity but more power. For most shooters, 9mm is easier to handle. Both worry about excessive penetration in home defense.

The size and weight of a handgun are unimportant for home defense. In reality, a heavier handgun is advantageous since it reduces recoil. I recommend carrying the largest firearm you can safely and effectively wield.

Key Takeaway: Is the 10mm Better Than The 9mm Round?

The most common self-defense cartridge is the 9mm for a variety of reasons. You can’t go wrong picking it as your everyday carry gun because of its controllable recoil, trustworthy stopping power, and respectable accuracy. You’ll also like how simple it is to locate 9mm ammunition.

But the 10mm has a loyal following that is no accident. The semi-auto self-defense round is appreciated for what it is: heavier, more expensive, harder to find, and capable of overwhelming a threat with massive takedown terminal ballistics.

People who believe there is no such idea as too much stopping power and are willing to put up with rapid recoil will appreciate it for these reasons. You can carry a sidearm that will dispatch polar bears, much alone an assailant, if you’re prepared to see past the deficiencies of the 10mm ammunition.

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