9mm vs. 10mm! Which One is the Best?

The 9mm and the 10mm handguns have been at the center of discussion for quite some time now as far as self-defense is concerned. Both sides have got valid arguments, with all of them having their advantages and disadvantages.

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Comparison Chart




Place of origin

German Empire

​Sweden, United States





Pistol / Revolver / Carbine /
SMG / Derringer; Cartridge



9 mm NATO, 9×19mm Parabellum
+P, 9×19mm 7N21
+P+, 9×19mm 7N31 +P+

.40 S&W

Bullet diameter

​9.01 mm (0.355 in)

10.16 mm (0.400 in)

Overall length

29.69 mm (1.169 in)

32.00 mm (1.260 in)

Case length

19.15 mm (0.754 in)

25.20 mm (0.992 in)

Case type

Rimless, tapered

Rimless, Straight

Case capacity

0.862 cm³ (13 gr H2O)

1.56 cm³ (24 gr H2O)

Parent case

7.65×21mm Parabellum

30 Remington

Primer type

Berdan or Boxer small pistol

Large Pistol

Maximum pressure

235.00 MPa (34,084 psi)

258.55 MPa (37,500 psi)

Rim thickness

0.90 mm (0.035 in)

1.40 mm (0.055 in)

The two calibers are both very popular with the 9mm handgun being regarded by many, as the ideal self-defense pistol of choice. It is the most preferred option for conceal carry as well as for home defense.

Due to the 9mm caliber’s popularity, this article is going to mainly give the strengths and weaknesses of the 10mm in comparison with the 9mm version so that one can be able to make an informed decision, whether the 10mm is also a viable option or not.

The 9mm vs. 10mm discussion is meant to give you a clear picture of what the market has to offer. It is, however, worth noting that the choice of a handgun to buy depends on the buyer’s personal decisions.

Different people have got different preference on the power, felt recoil, size, weight and even the appearance and brand of the gun.

There is a class of gun users that prefers to conceal carry their weapons, whereas there is that group that will prefer to have a long gun for home defense. There is yet another class of people that doesn’t stay in the cities hence have nothing much to worry about security concerns, but they spend a lot of their time in the wilderness hunting the prey or eliminating predators that harm their livestock.

All these categories have different interests and requirements. Don’t just buy a gun simply because you have heard others say that it is a good one. What is ideal for my needs may not be the best for your needs. In a nutshell, before dishing out your money to purchase a gun, weigh your options and priorities first.

Just for fun!


It is important that we first understand the origin of these calibers, and their respective guns before we can talk more about their specifications.

Developed by Smith & Wesson, Colonel Jeff Cooper, and Norma, who was an FBI agent, the 10mm handgun was originally designed to be used by the FBI agents. However, it didn’t take so long before it was overtaken by other weapons.

There is a claim that the recoil that comes with shooting this gun was too much for the FBI agents, who are a bit wimpy. This ideology is not true. The main reason why it was set aside is due to the fact that the gun is a bit heavy, and comes with a lot of power that ultimately leads to a slowdown in firing.

The additional recoil together with weight makes it a bit difficult to acquire the target. The 10mm is thus not ideal for an agent’s defense if at all they need to shoot two to three rounds.

It is worth noting that tests were done on the 10mm guns, using lighter calibers, and the results were impressive. The speed was better, recoil was reduced, target acquisition was better and the overall performance incredible.

It only didn’t make sense to have such a heavy gun for the light calibers. This made it necessary for the 9mm and .45 calibers to be revisited by the FBI, with the .40 Smith & Wesson also being designed.

Such a history makes a very strong argument and performance for your 9mm vs. 10mm. But does this mean that it is the best?

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Gun power brings about one of the most discussed points in the evaluation of the 9mm vs. 10mm. The two main factors of consideration are penetration or over-penetration. There are two groups of shooters and schools of thoughts when it comes to those two terms.

The first group wants maximum damage with a single shot, no matter what happens behind the target. This group wants a gun that will cause over penetration instead of that which just penetrates, and that’s all. Such a gun would best serve you in the wilderness, especially when you are hunting for the big game. Imagine that instance when the bear or lion is charged towards you. It’s only safe if one shot is guaranteed of stopping it.

On the contra-wise, with such power, there will be lots of acts of irresponsibilities when you have such power where it is no needed, or where other people live. You may bring down your target yes, but end up destroying your property, or that of your neighbor, or even go to the extent of injuring humans and animals. The worst can happen in that you may end up killing someone else. Such power is ideally not needed when you just want to guard yourself against human intruders in your home.

Ballistic-wise, whereas the 10mm travels over 17 inches after impact, the 9mm counterpart only goes for about 13 inches. What this means is that whereas the 9mm may penetrate through a single person, the 10mm brother can go through two grown up humans and still keep going. In other words, the latter is what you need when hunting the bear, while you need the former for home protection and self-defense. As far as power is concerned, there is, therefore, no outright winner in the discussion on 9mm vs. 10mm. If there are no collateral damage risks, then the 10mm carries the day but if you live in the city, go for the 9mm.


The 9mm vs. 10mm recoil feature is by far the biggest argument whenever the 9mm vs. 10mm discussion arises.

Whereas almost any shooter comfortably handles the 9mm’s recoil, it doesn’t mean that the 9mm becomes the outright winner. The 10mm rounds chosen to give an array of results, some of which are far much better than the results that can be attained and obtained by the 9mm caliber handguns.

There are numerous rounds of ammo that can produce similar kick to that of a 9mm caliber. If you, therefore, can’t be able to handle the recoil that results from using the large & high-speed rounds, don’t demonize the 10mm handgun. Instead, choose the smaller calibers that perform better with you. However, if you intend to use your gun for self-defense in the Bush, then the heavy calibers still end up being the best for you.


Whereas the two guns have similar costs, the running costs are a bit different, with the 9mm having a slight edge against the 10mm.

The 9mm off the shelf rounds are far much affordable than the 10mm rounds. When it comes to reloading, the cost of reloading both is almost the same.

The popularity of the 9mm makes it’s a bit easier to find it in nearly all the ammo stores. On the contra-wise, the 10 mm may be difficult to find at times. But the advantage is that in stores that sell the 10mm, it is almost impossible that they will run out of stock even if there arises a disaster and everyone is shopping for calibers. They will all go for the 9mm and leave your 10mm on the shelves.

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All the guns on the market are purpose driven hence the need to determine the purpose of your choice firearm before making a decision on the 9mm vs. 10mm argument.

The 9mm features a wide array of models, purposes, and sizes. There are those that are best for home defense, others offer incredible concealability, with others being your best carry options. Other 9mm’s are the best backup handguns for pocket carry when you are in the wilderness with your machine gun. Though all of them feature excellent stopping power attributes, they come with different sizes for specific needs.

On the contrary, the 10mm handgun is quite limited. The gun isn’t easily concealable hence isn’t the best for self-defense. Its relatively large size makes it quite challenging and uncomfortable to carry. It is, therefore, a good choice for wilderness defense or home defense but not for self-defense.


9mm vs. 10mm! Which of the two is best? This is a question that is quite tough to respond to. The only person who can give and answer to the question is the jury and you are the jury.

Both the two caliber guns have got their pros and cons with both of them having incredible loyalists who will never set either of the two aside for the other.

There are those who love the power that comes with the 10mm handgun. All their joy lies on the fact that they know that with a single shot, the target gets disabled.

On the other hand, the 9mm is loved for its easy to handle feature, versatility and the fact that you have the peace of mind that your safety and that of others other than your target, is almost guaranteed.

All in all, know your needs before making your choices.

2 thoughts on “9mm vs. 10mm! Which One is the Best?”

  1. One must also consider what an adversary might be hiding behind. I choose a caliber that can penetrate walls, doors or even a parked car. My intent is to stop an assailant wherever he may seek shielding.


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