10mm vs 45 ACP — Which is Better?

Caliber debates have been going on for some time now but while we often see arguments over 9mm and 380 ACP, this one is a bit different. This time we’re discussing 10mm vs 45 ACP. In the video below, Paul Harrell talks about which cartridge he feels is a better performer, using a Glock 21 chambered in 45 ACP and a Glock 20 chambered in 10mm to prove his point.

Paul Harrel 10mm vs 45 ACP
Paul Harrell uses a pair of Glocks to try out 10mm versus 45 ACP. (Photo Credit: Paul Harrell)

Cartridge Histories

The 10mm and 45 ACP have rather different histories. The 45 ACP was designed by John Browning in 1904 and was eventually used in the Colt M1911. At the time it was the height of ammo-related technology. In fact, 45 ACP even won the famed Thompson-LaGarde tests of 1904.

Most people tend to associate the 45 ACP with 1911s and see it as a large but sluggish round—and they aren’t exactly wrong. Of course, technology changes, and the cartridge of today is a lot different— and better—than its predecessor. It’s still heavier and slower than some but faster than others. Sometimes it’s all about perspective.

10mm vs 45 ACP watermelon test
Watermelons were harmed in the creation of this caliber debate video. (Photo Credit: Paul Harrell)

The 10mm got its start in the mind of the late Jeff Cooper, who founded what is now known as Gunsite Academy in Paulden, Arizona. In the end it was Dornaus and Dixon that designed the Bren Ten and the cartridge to go with it, but it all started with Cooper.

The idea of the 10mm was to have a cartridge capable of putting a 200-grain bullet out there at greater velocities which would be fantastic for longer-distance pistol shots. Did Cooper get his wish? Well, the 10mm didn’t catch on at the time—and neither did the Bren Ten, for various reasons—but today it enjoys all kinds of popularity, especially among handgun hunters.

Which one is better? Well, define better. It depends on what you want to get out of it. In the video, Paul Harrell covers everything from the cost of the ammunition to the cartridges performance:

Caliber Wars

We’re always going to have battles over which caliber is best in the gun world. It all changes with time, too; 9mm is far better today than it was decades ago and 45 ACP is no longer the cartridge of choice for our military. Times change and the ammo changes with it.

When choosing what caliber you want your gun chambered in, first decide on its purpose. Ask yourself a few questions including these:

  • Is it for self-defense, competition, or hunting?
  • Do you need a compact, highly concealable gun or a large gun for open carry?
  • What’s your experience and skill level?

Answer those questions before you make a choice between 10mm vs 45 ACP and then get some trigger time with the guns and calibers in question. Being well-informed goes a long ways toward helping you choose the right gun for you and there is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all gun. Take your time making your choice and in the mean time, check out videos like this one from Paul Harrell to get more information about the many options on the market today.

Kat Ainsworth Stevens is a long-time outdoor writer, official OGC (Original Gun Cognoscenti), and author of Handgun Hunting: a Comprehensive Guide to Choosing and Using the Right Firearms for Big and Small Game. Der Teufel Katze has written for a number of industry publications (print and online) and edited some of the others, so chances are you've seen or read her work before, somewhere. A woman of eclectic background and habits, Kat has been carrying concealed for over two decades, used to be a farrier, and worked for a long time in emergency veterinary medicine. She prefers big bores, enjoys K9 Search & Rescue, and has a Master's Degree in Pitiless Snarkastic Delivery.

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