If you’re looking for a powerful cartridge for your semi-auto handguns. Then it boils down to a couple of choices. The 10mm and the .45 ACP. Both of these are widely popular so many will have a difficult decision to choose. Some folks that have the money will get both. However, for this scenario we need to choose one. Even if you do own both a 10mm Auto and a .45 ACP handgun, how do you know which one is best for certain task? Both of their capabilities overlap each other but their characteristics and traits differ. Each has distinct strengths and weaknesses. Anyways, we’ll keep this un-biased and help you decide which one is best for you.
Brief History .45 ACP: John Browning’s Masterpiece John Browning .45 ACP is the iconic cartridge for over 100 years. His thinking was on designing a cartridge to shoot a big full metal jacket, slow bullet that has knock down power, alias “man-stopper”.
It was a highly popular among gun enthusiasts. Typically a .45 ACP load is a 230-grain bullet that fires at 830 fps for 355 foot-pounds of muzzle energy. This was the gold standard for short range with knock down power in a handgun, this ruled for many decades. As mentioned earlier using FMJ ammunition is highly effective in a .45 ACP. The military adopted the legendary 1911 pistol that drove the .45 ACP in all of our military wars from World War I to Vietnam and other small conflicts throughout the globe. This cartridge even found its way into the law enforcement world, gun hobbyist and hunters in the U.S. Many manufactures make this popular 1911 pistol, these includes: Colt, Dan Wesson, Kimber, Remington, Rock River, Sig Sauer and Springfield. Obviously, not the complete list.
Popular Glocks also makes it in .45 ACP as well for those that don’t prefer the 1911 model. Glock offers: the Glock 21 (full-size), 30 (compact), 36 (sub-compact) and 41 (competition). The same goes for the H&K45, the Ruger American, SR45 and the Springfield XD.
One of the big thing about the .45 ACP is its big recoil, but most hard-core gunners don’t find this a problem. Competitive shooters love the .45 ACP because its very accurate. The round itself is very affordable and available everywhere, online or in-store.
10mm Auto: Jeff Cooper’s Conception During the 1970s and 80s shooter only had 2 choices for the semi-automatic handgun cartridges, it was the 9mm Luger and the .45 ACP. The .45 ACP went with the “slower heavier bullet” route while the 9mm went the opposite direction with a lighter high velocity bullets. Legendary gun trainer Jeff Cooper wasn’t satisfied with the two cartridges. So, he teams up with the Swedish ammunition company Norma A.B. to build what he considered the ideal combat handgun cartridge.
The result was the 10mm auto: its a medium-bore cartridge that really has a “kick ass” punch. First introduced in 1983, the original load was a .40-caliber, 200-grain bullet at 1,200 fps for a 759 foot-pounds of muzzle energy.
Dornaus & Dixon Enterprises came out with the first production of the Bren Ten which was very popular. However, the company suffered many production issues which forced the company to go into bankrupt.
With the demise of the Bren Ten and there wasn’t any other 10mm pistols in mass production at the time. Other big manufactures like Colt and Glock decides to fill this gap. Colt produced the “Delta Elite”, a modified 1911 that propels the 10mm. Glock followed suit few years later with its Glock 20.
For those that wanted more variety of 10mm pistols to choose from, there just wasn’t that many available compared to the .45 ACPs. Glock also had the G40 with the long-slide released in 2015 which was popular among hunters and shooters. Few others have started showing up on the market radar such as: Kimber Sig P220 Dan Wesson Razorback Wilson Combat Hunter (Ted Nugent)
The FBI even looked at adopting it, but had its 10mm design in lite mode back in the 80s. The cause for the reduced-power 10mm was due to their agents not being able to handle its stout recoil. Smith&Wesson eventually came out with a .40 S&W, which was a shortened cartridge that had the same capabilities as the 10mm. Hunters like its the 10mm because of its hard-hitting, flat-shooting characteristics, which is great for deer hunting. It also passes as a bear-defense cartridge. -One of the big complaint for 10mm’s is the power, this creates huge recoil. But is it that bad of a recoil? Many experienced shooters have attest that 10mm recoils only a little more with than the .45 ACP. So, well-trained shooters using good quality handguns can handle it without much trouble. So maybe, not for the newbie. -10mm ammunition isn’t as common as the .45 ACP’s. Here are some of the major ammo manufactures that make 10mm.
-Another downside to 10mm cartridge is the cost, it does cost more than the .45 ACPs.
Which Cartridge is Best for You? So which one should you buy? Just like with everything, it’s really a matter of what you intend to use your handgun for. On the 10mm side of the fence they like to point out that it has more energy at 100 yards vs the .45 ACP does at the muzzle. But, the .45 ACP counters that it is bigger at 100 yards than the 10mm at the muzzle.
The 10mm Auto devotees point out that the 10mm has more energy remaining at 100 yards than the .45 ACP does at the muzzle. Fans of the .45 ACP counter that the .45 is bigger at 100 yards than the 10mm is at the muzzle.
As you can see the table below, both of these statements are true.
However, those statements also points to the strengths, weaknesses and ideal uses of respective cartridge.
The .45 ACP when combined with high-quality ammor for short range is an awesome choice for self-defense. The recoil is much easier to handle in compact and/or sub-compact handgun than 10mm. For the concealed carrier its ideal because of the smaller frame. Taking follow-up shots rapidly is way lots easier. This cartridge won’t break the bank if you’re using it for plinking.
For the 10mm Auto folks that use this baby in their hunt, this is the way to go. It shoots a lighter bullet at a much faster muzzle velocity than the .45. In physics this means it has more kinetic energy and the cartridge has a flatter trajectory than the .45 ACP. Which means reaching out and touching an animal from a distance is easy. When the 10mm hit its target it hits it harder than the .45 and makes larger wound holes. That also translate to putting down your game than a .45 ACP. Even if the .45 user was packing Buffalo Bore with P+, 10mm Hornady XTP loads is in a league of its own.
For these same reasons, it’s a better cartridge to use than the .45 ACP for personal defense against large four-legged predators.
That’s not to say that the 10mm won’t work against a human assailant, but just keep the costs of the cartridge in mind before you decide to use it in that role.
If you’re looking to use a 10mm in a smaller framed handguns for CCW. Its going to be harder to handle when shooting. We may be beating this over a dead horse here but 10mm has more recoil than the .45. Over-penetration is another concern with the 10mm. These issues are less of a problem in a home-defense situation, though, particularly when using high-quality defense rounds for the .45s.
Regardless of which cartridge you pick, test out a couple of different handguns and choose the one that fits your needs. Use high-quality ammunition and spend plenty of time out at the range so that you get comfortable with the loads. As long as you practice neither the 10mm Auto nor the .45 ACP is likely to let you down.
When we talk about Glocks, most of us usually think these are used by law enforcement for service or for personal protection. Handgun hunting is really not at the top of the list, but there are the few minority that carry Glocks for hunting.
Most folks either love it or hate it.
So, according to Youtuber Braydon Price having a Glock 10mm was a good choice to have for his situation. He was able to take down a big whitetail buck with it. (See the video at 10:03)
For this situation, Braydon went with his Glock 40 since it was easier for him to pull it out from his chest holster with minimal noise.
Glock 40 in 10mm is probably one of the lesser-used calibers. These are not popular amongst deer hunters when compared to the many other handgun hunting like a .357 Magnum.
Overall, it was a pretty good shot and the Glock 40 was very efficient in putting that big game down with a quick and clean kill.
Love it or hate it, the vaunted 10mm has definitely been enjoying a resurgence of late, we also like to shoot and argue about guns.
Here are some of the top 10mm handguns out there capable of taming this underrated beast of a cartridge.
Colt Delta Elite
Colt stepped up in 1987 after the original Bren Ten went out of production and introduced this 10mm pistol.
The Colt Delta Elite was for the 1911 followers, re-designed to fire the 10mm cartridge.
It was the best of both worlds: a gun worthy for personal-defense but powerful enough to take hunting.
Why would you use it?
The Delta Elite is simplistic and effective. It’s for the handgun folks that want performance and reliability but don’t about being flashy. Look at its basic design, doesn’t even come with a rail system like other pistols.
This Delta Elite pistol is for the 1911 purists – the people who know and love the time-tested Colt 1911.
But there’s more to it than old-school cool in 10mm.
Their double-recoil spring system makes it so that it takes some of the kick away from shooting 10mms, as well as a comfortable beavertail grip safety that doesn’t dig into your hand like other handguns.
Delta Elite has that timeless design that you can’t go wrong with.
Rock Island Armory Rock Ultra MS
Do you know whats cool about the Rock Island Armory’s 1911s? They give you that pulp fiction 1911 look and feel, and even when they add a bit of a Hollywood twist and it still like a classic.
This 10mm pistol performs with the best of them and might be better than your .45 ACP 1911 and then some. Why is this gun so good?
The reloading is simple due to the slightly larger-than-usual opening which allows the magazine fit just right without jigging it.
The fiber optic fight sight is nice on this bad boy.
Makes for a quick target acquisition than iron sights.
The Glock brand and quality is enough, most people will buy it whether its a 9mm or a 10mm without thinking.
The G20 is based on the new larger frame meant to accommodate chunkier cartridges such as the .45 ACP, the full-sized Glock 20 boasts a 15-round capacity.
Besides from the bulk, the Glock20 weight is 27.6 oz unloaded. If you want a slimmer model Glock does make the G20 in Short Frame.
Reliability, the high magazine capacity 15+1 and the dual recoil spring makes the recoil less. Makes this gun a good choice.
The G40 ($770) ain’t cheap, but it just might be the closest you’ll ever reach to 10mm perfection. In terms of how well the gun shoots, you can expect for the G40 to perform similarly to its smaller sibling, the G20. This is why this Gun Gocks
Think of the G40 as Glock’s 10mm handgun on performance enhancers. It’s bigger and more accurate than the other 10mm models because of it extended barrel, which is just for 6” in length.
While the G40 probably wouldn’t be my first choice for concealed carry, it’s barrel length does make it an exceptional handgun to hunt with. The odds of you hitting and dropping that whitetail or wild hog will be better with the G40 than with some of the other 10mm pistols out there. And since you get the same 15+1 capacity as the G20, you also won’t have any problem squeezing off any follow-up shots.
The primary purpose of the G40 is to ensure long-range accuracy. For this reason, all models come equipped with the dual-recoil spring system to help absorb any unnecessary kickbacks that come from firing 10mm cartridges.
And while optics are sold separately, the G40 comes with a pack of baseplates that makes your handgun ready for all of the popular red dot systems, including Trijicon and EOTech optics.
Smith & Wesson 610
Since revolvers is what Smith & Wesson are into, they fitted the large stainless steel “N” frame to house six 10mm rounds. Since the 10mm is a rimless design, something needed to be done to allow extraction of the fired cases from the cylinder.
Smith & Wesson looked at a simple solution for the .45 ACP-chambered model 1917 and 625 revolvers in the past, the use of “moon clips”.
Having to fill and empty moon clips may seem like a chore, but charging the gun or emptying the cylinders can be achieved in a flash. This makes loading the weapon after storing gun and ammunition separately more convenient.
The 610 wasn’t very popular at the beginning.
However, 610s are popular in the competitive shooting arena which Smith & Wesson brought it back to limited production in 1998.
Overall, Smith & Wesson 610 offers a great deal of versatility. From shot to shot it can be a popgun or cannon.
Sig Sauer P220 Hunter
As the name implies the P220 Hunter is the 10mm Auto variant of Sig’s popular P220 line of handguns for hunters.
While it’s one of the pricier 10mm pistols out there, buying a Sig Sauer means that you’re guaranteed to get reliability and pinpoint accuracy with every round fired – which is one of the reasons why Sig won the US Army MHS contract at the beginning of the year.
Why is this gun awesome?
The P220 Hunter is no slouch. It’s big, bulky, and with a weight of nearly 40oz, it’s not something you’ll holster and forget about.
If you’re humping the woods all day, you’ll feel this thing.
With that said, the Hunter is also a beautiful gun that perfectly combines the power of the 10mm cartridge with Sig’s superior engineering.
The truth is that there’s very little not to love about the Hunter aside from its jaw-dropping sticker price. Just looking at the gun’s exquisite design and Kryptek camo finish is mesmerizing. And when you look at all the perks that come with owning this gun, you start to justify its price tag. Some cool features…
Aggressive grip texture that lets you grip firmly on the gun without irritating your hands.
Solid stainless steel slide and frame.
Ambidextrous safety system that feels natural and easy to operate on the fly.
Adjustable rear sight and tritium fiber optic front sight.
Match-grade barrel (5”) for improved accuracy over longer range.
Sportsmen have embraced the P220 10mm readily, prompting Sig Sauer to offer a camouflaged variant geared towards hunting.
Shooting the big 10mm
If you don’t shoot the 10mm, then you give it a try to see whether you like it or not.
Some people love the 10mm Auto, while others prefer their .45 ACP, 9mm.
But in the end, it’s about what you’re able to shoot comfortably and accurately.
There are mix feelings whether its too powerful that sacrifices accuracy and the shooters that don’t have a problem managing the kick.
So its pretty much up to you, please don’t say you want one for CCW, maybe you do.
What do you all think? Let us know below.
Sources: Sig Sauer, Colt, Smith & Wesson, Rock Island Armory, Glock
Jeremy S Youtuber was out testing his Gen3 Glock20SF 10mm using the Underwood Ammo Xtreme Penetrator round against a Level IIIA plate used in a bullet proof vest, to see if the round would go through. Here’s what happened:
After squeezing the trigger BLAM! The shot was loud and debris peppered his face. There was a stinging feeling in his shooting hand. Once it registered in his brain what had happened he looked at the pistol. Sees the right side of his Gen3 Glock20SF frame had blown out, mag release missing.
Obviously, there were some flowery words that followed after the shot. Jeremy wished that he wore gloves while shooting but good thing he did have eye protection on.
Excerpt from Youtube
After investigating it as thoroughly as possible, it does appear to have been ammo-caused.
Could have been an overcharged round, could have been a loose bullet that got shoved down into the case when chambered [EDIT: Underwood examined the ammo and this is exactly what happened!], etc., but it was almost certainly something that was “off” with the ammo.
That said, I still have great respect for *and* trust in Underwood Ammo. I’ve shot hundreds of their rounds, including through this very gun, and have had zero issues whatsoever. They have an extremely good reputation, and for good reason.
In fact, this may be the first ammo-caused problem I’ve heard of with somebody shooting Underwood. Not only that, but their customer service was *GREAT* and they stood behind this and are replacing everything that was damaged. They made the process very easy and were responsive, gracious, and apologetic.
Additionally, this sort of incident has happened with every major ammo manufacturer…Winchester, Federal, Remington, PMC, etc etc etc…if you make enough ammo a couple bum rounds are going to get out there.
It’s an inherent risk we all take as shooters. What with holding a little explosion in our hands and all. Mechanical devices fail. I will continue to shoot Underwood and feel confident in it.