Choosing the 10mm vs. 45 ACP: Which do I want?

Most of you who want to start hunting may have already taken rifles through an elimination process but upon narrowing down to a point, you are now not able to choose the 10mm vs. 45.

This guide may probably give you some information that will enable you to make some informed decisions before you settle on one. It is important to note that the more you spend time with your gun, the more you will love or dislike it. Whereas a given cartridge and its corresponding handguns may find favor among the majority, there are instances when what ends up pleasing you isn’t that which is loved by the majority. In other words, the decision as to which of the two is better will solely lie with you.

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Comparison Chart



.45 ACP

Place of origin

​Sweden, United States

United States






Pistol / Revolver / Carbine /
SMG / Derringer


.40 S&W

.45 ACP +P, .45 Auto Rim, .45 Super

Bullet diameter

10.16 mm (0.400 in)

.452 in (11.5 mm)

Overall length

32.00 mm (1.260 in)

1.275 in (32.4 mm)

Case length

25.20 mm (0.992 in)

.898 in (22.8 mm)

Case type

Rimless, Straight

Rimless, straight

Case capacity

1.56 cm³ (24 gr H2O)

25 gr H2O (1.625 cm³)

Primer type

Large Pistol

primarily large pistol (but also
small pistol in some brass)

Maximum pressure

258.55 MPa (37,500 psi)

21,000 psi (140 MPa)

Rim thickness

1.40 mm (0.055 in)

.049 in (1.2 mm)

Rifling twist

381 mm (1 in 15 inches)

1 in 16 in (406 mm)

1. The 10mm Cartridge

The 10mm Auto ammo is a pistol size cartridge commonly used by the Special Weapon & Tactics Teams of the FBI and the FBI Hostage Rescue Team. The cartridge comes in four main variants namely, the .357 SIG, the .40 S&W, the 9×25mm Super Auto G and the 9×25mm Dillon, with the .40 S&W being the most common variant.

10mm JHP ammo in loaded magazines with a handgun

  • Cartridge Anatomy

The cartridge features .30 Remington rimless parent case types. The bullet diameter is 10.17mm, neck diameter is 10.74mm; base diameter is 10.80 mm, a rim diameter of 10.80mm and a rim thickness of 1.40mm. Its case length is 25.20mm, the overall length 32.00mm and the case capacity of 1.56 cm3

  • Ballistic Performance: 

The 10mm cartridge features bullets with a mass between 135gr and 230gr. The muzzle velocity lies between 16000 ft/s for the light 135-grain bullet and 1,150 Ft/s for the heavy 230-grain bullet. Similarly, they feature muzzle energy between 768 ft-lbs and 676 ft-lbs from the lightest to the heaviest. The most common bullet is the 175-grain STHP Winchester that features a velocity of 1290 ft/s and produces 649 ft-lbs energy.

The maximum C.I.P. pressure is 33,000 PSI with the maximum for SAAMI being 37,500 PSI.

  • Performance

The cartridge at its full potential is considered a high-velocity type that produces a less-curved flight path when fired as compared to other handgun cartridges.

  • Usage

It is mostly used with the Glock 29 and Glock 20. The cartridge has been marketed for tactical, defensive and hunting use, and is among the very few rimless semi-automatic cartridges that have been legalized for hunting the white-tailed deer within most of the USA states

2. .45 ACP Cartridges

.45 ACP Ammo

.45 ACP Ammo

Designed by John Browning for the world war I, the .45 ACP comes in a number of variants such as the .45 Super, the 45 ACP +P, and the .45 Auto Rim.

  • The Anatomy

The bullet features a rimless, straight case type, just as is the 10mm cartridge. It comes with an 11.5mm bullet diameter, 12.00mm neck diameter, 12.1 mm base diameter and a 12.2mm rim diameter. The rim thickness is 1.2mm, case length 22.8mm and overall length of 32.4mm. The cartridge comes with a 1.6cm3 case capacity.

It is characterized by a maximum C.I.P. pressure of 19,000 PSI and 21,000 SAAMI PSI. From this, it is clear that when it comes to pressure, the 10mm vs. 45 ACP has an edge, almost twice as much.

  • Performance

The .45 ACP cartridges generally operate at relatively low maximum chamber pressures as compared to the 10mm. The cartridge is large in size, heavier than most of the handgun cartridges and is expensive due to the increased material used in the manufacture. It has a relatively low muzzle flash and blast but the recoil produce is quite heavy with handguns and worse with the compact models. Its trajectory isn’t also as flat, thus making it a little more difficult for target acquisition. As far as terminal ballistics is concerned, the 10mm vs. 45 ACP carries the day.

Comparison and Contrasts

  • Power

The 10mm can be able to produce over 700 ft-lbs, with up to 1300 FPS speed realized with a 200-grain caliber. Yes, when it comes to gun power, the 10mm vs. 45 ACP has a cutting edge. The 10mm cartridge comes with high-pressure capabilities, something that the 45ACP doesn’t.

  • Velocity

As mentioned above, the 10mm is capable of producing up to 1300 FPS velocity. On the other side, the 45 ACP is only capable of producing about 900 FPS. The heavy bullet in the latter makes the projectile to drop like a rock when used at extended ranges.

  • Penetration

The 10mm vs. 45 ACP has better penetration ability. The 45ACP is very large in diameter, an aspect that limits its penetration capability. On the other hand, the 10mm isn’t that large, something that works to its advantage whenever it hits a target.

  • Range Performance

The 10mm cartridge has a flatter trajectory as compared with the heavy .45 ACP. The .45 ACP loses its power very fast hence isn’t a good cartridge for hunting. Its power is only good within short distances that aren’t practical for hunting. The 45 ACP is thus a very good gun for use in home defense as when compared with the 10mm gun. If you will thus be hunting the meth heads, medium deer, the big hogs, the mountain lion or the black bear, you need the 10mm guns. The .45 ACP is only practically effective when shooting targets at less than 40 yards.

  • Availability

There are more .45 ACP options for you to choose from as compared to the limited 10mm choices. You can get the modern SD loads in abundance in most your nearest gun stores. You are thus sure that your chance of getting ammo whenever you want them is almost guaranteed.

  • Carry & Concealment

The .45 ACP cartridges are generally used with weapons that are easy to carry and to conceal. This is not the case with the 10mm as even though smaller, most of the handguns designed for it are always a bit bigger and heavier.

  • Recoil and Muzzle Flash

If you won’t be irritated, those next to you will hate you when you use the 10mm. The muzzle flash and noise produced by the 10mm is almost unbearable, which is in contrast to the noise produced by the .45 ACP. It is almost impossible for you to do a series of shots with your 10mm handguns without having some ear protection on. The .45 ACP can, however, be used even by those having the most sensitive ears, without having to wear ear protection gears.

In a Nutshell

All that a hunter needs is penetration and power. Additionally, a hunter needs something that can travel fast and a gun that can allow them numerous shots within the shortest time possible. This may not be exactly what you need for self-defense. Normally, for home defense, one accurate shot is always enough to stop an aggressor. As a result, the .45ACP may come handy. It is, however, worth noting that the 10mm also performs pretty well in stopping two-legged targets.

When it comes to hunting, the 10mm cartridge travels faster than the .45 ACP. It also travels for longer distances and stores more kinetic energy. Theoretically, the 10mm cartridge has a higher penetration power. However, when it comes to practicality, there is almost no difference at all. The reduced recoil that comes with the 10mm allows the hunter to make a series of shots as they try to bring down that aggressive animal that is charging towards them.

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The 10mm cartridge is characterized with a lot of power; it is very versatile, produces flat shooting performance and is perfect choice for hunting even though it can also be used for self defense.

The .45 ACP on the other hand has weight and penetration limitations. This increase in weight and diameter of the cartridge results into a reduction of the sectional density. Sectional density is an aspect that is greatly needed when you are trying to bring down a charged bear or any of the other tough big games.

It is not an overstatement to say that in general, the 10mm cartridges and their corresponding handguns have more benefits than the .45 ACP counterparts.

As a result, in the 10mm vs. 45 discussions, 10mm is an outright winner.

9 thoughts on “Choosing the 10mm vs. 45 ACP: Which do I want?”

  1. The choice is clear, you need one of each. The 10mm for hunting and the .45 for carry and home defense. Set your priorities!

  2. Just a couple points from someone who has owned/carried both. I do agree that for hunting, the 10mm beats the .45.
    That said, I firmly believe that the .45 is the better choice for protection and CCW. Pass-through is of great concern for anyone carrying a weapon for protection. This is where the .45 and it’s “slow” bullet beats the 10mm.
    A 230 gr bullet is subsonic, and being quite a bit larger AND slower, it penetrates structure far less. Secondly, humans are very thin skinned, so penetration is secondary to pass-through.
    At pistol range, I have shot boars with both with my .45 and 10mm, and cartwheeled more with the .45. I believe this also relates to power related to game size. The thinner/lighter 10mm and higher velocities cause the bullet to pass-through before expending all of its energy through a smaller animal whereas the slower and bigger .45 bullet can really dump it’s kinetic energy before exiting.
    Having spent 20 yrs working in ER and Trauma units, I learned many valuable lessons on gunshot wounds. I can’t count the number of patients I cared for after being shot, often multiple times with 9mm and rarely fatality unless organs were hit. Even one memorable patient with 4-.357 mag rounds through chest and abdomen… he walked into the ER.
    We must keep in mind, John Brownings GENIOUS 1911 was implemented in the US Army in large part because of the inability of the .38 round to stop the drug-fueled, maniacal charges of the Moro warrors of the Philippines.
    The .45’s amazing stopping power lived up to the challenge, and the round remained the choice of soldiers for nearly 100 yrs for good reason.

  3. Oh, forgot to mention…. if you think the .45 can be fired “comfortably” with no hearing protection, you must have severe hearing loss such as I do. And that hearing loss in my case is no doubt connected to my firing countless .45 rds while in the service. “C’mon, it’s not THAT bad”… Famous last words…
    Even a pistol firing .22 LR SHOULD be done with hearing protection when possible.

  4. Some of these statements and conclusions make me seriously doubt the competency of author. Not trying to be mean or anything but ’45 is only practical less than 40 yards’?? ‘ hunting needs many rounds while self defense only needs one shot’?? Com’on now. You gotta do better than that. People read this stuff.

  5. As the FBI announced a couple years ago after much testing and research, “stopping power” is a myth. Most hunters will confirm this. Shot placement is paramount. I spent 26 years as a Marine, carrying the 1911 for around 20 years. Even though their T/O weapon was the 1911, most grunt officers carried rifles or, in some cases, shotguns when they left the wire. 1911s were just not reliable. Now that I’m retired, I spend at least 3 days/week on the range and see shooters with 1911s and variants still having feeding and FTF problems. There’s a cult following for 1911s and maybe it’s deserved. I would venture to say most of the cult followers never depended on them in combat. The Beretta 9mm was totally reliable, and, as the FBI report noted, with the new 9mm ammo on the market, the 9mm is recommended over other calibers.

  6. I take issue with the author’s statement “The .45 ACP can, however, be used even by those having the most sensitive ears, without having to wear ear protection gears…”

    As someone who carried a 1911 overseas back more than 45 years ago and has permanent hearing loss as a result of my service, I will state unequivocally that anyone who thinks shooting any firearm without hearing protection is not a big deal has no business giving advice on anything related to firearms. The .45 ACP delivers 157 dB and shooting one round without hearing protection can cause permanent damage to your hearing. Look up to see what that will do to your ears. I had a drill sergeant in the Army who told us we were candy a$$ P—–s if we wore hearing protection on the range because we would not be wearing it when we got to Vietnam. I would like to sneak up behind that deaf old man (if he is still alive) and beat him until my hearing was restored. It would be easy because he will be completely deaf by now.

    I still shoot (I have 2 1911’s, an AR, a .270, as well as several foreign caliber rifles. I hunt but I do not go out in the woods or to the range without my Caldwells and neither should you.

  7. entirely biased. the 10 mm does kick allitle harder than the .45, the myth that stopping power isint a thing is a myth. physics says otherwise if stopping power is a myth then so is physics due to different weights and velocitys doing different things. a average pellet of 00bk caries around 400ft lbs of energy and those rounds will tear apart hell when used right. thats around the same energy as a .45. while weighting slightly less. it is true that a force from a handguns recoil cannot be greater than the force exerted on a target however. but take this into account it would litterally be hitting someone in a specific surface area of 11.4 mm with a force equil to the recoil of said .45 and thats before you factor in velocity thats how it knocks a target off balence also the bigger bullet can help hit a part of the central nervous system which is the only thing that actually guarentees a kill but getting the shit knocked out of you and then a wonderful cold burning feeling is liable to toss you into shock. especially if your not expecting it due to the bodys natural reaction. shot placement is always key no matter what your using. the 10mm moves faster but is about 2 to 20 dollars more expensive per box on average. also walmart doesent carry it and its smaller. the sf still use the cartridge for a reason and yes there is a cult to 1911s but that goes for glocks, desert eagles, revolvers, aks, ars, and shotguns. and cheap and poorly maintained weapons generally mess up like the m4s getting sand lodged in their lady bits and refusing to cycle. all guns are nothing more than moving parts and all jams are generally just a clearance issue “you hope”. every gun i have ever shot has jammed once or twice. its man made its not perfect. i like both guns but i will say that each have a time and place and no one can accurately predict when we will have to bear arms. train with what you have and maintain loyalty to your weapon. i.e sleep with it, caress it, lube it lol alot like a woman but easier to sate. keep it clean and use it often and train and even a old wornout highpoint will treat you well.


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