9mm vs 10mm Ammo Review 2019

Today, we are going to look between the similarities as well as differences between the 9mm and 10mm ammunition. Honestly, they are both excellent in terms of performance however, it is good to get a little insight on the difference between them so you get to choose whether you prefer the 9mm or 10mm ammo. So, let’s get started!

Refer to the table below for the brief overview of the factors in comparison.

Summary Table

Best Products/ Factors10mm Rounds9mm Rounds
PenetrationThey have deeper penetration due to slightly higher sectional density.More to controlled penetration because of lower sectional density (expands more, depending on type of bullet too).
Energy & VelocityHas a higher amount of kinetic energy so the muzzle velocity and energy increases.
(300-400 ft lbs)
Lower kinetic energy however good enough for self-defense & range training (250 ft lbs)
Stopping PowerHigher power due to higher penetration (stopping power also influenced by bullet weight and design)Lower stopping power but depends also on the bullet type (JHP bullets expands more).
RecoilHigher recoil but also depending on the bullet and weapon weight Lower recoil but also depending on bullet and weapon weight
AvailabilityBest Product : Winchester Super-X Silvertip
Check it out here
Best Product : Remington Golden Saber.


Here is a practical demonstration of the 9mm vs 10mm ammunition (if you’re a visual person).

Brief Background History

First things first, we are going to look back to their individual history; basically how did the bullet make its way, its early usages and modifications made. I’ll make it brief so you won’t end up dozing like in your history class. Stay tuned!

9mm Ammo

The 9mm ammo round, also known as the 9mm NATO or 9mm Luger is a gun cartridge. The cartridge was designed by Georg Luger and brought to market by the German weapon manufacturer.

It started gaining popularity after World War I with the high demand for semi-automatic pistols. After that, the 9x19mm Parabellum cartridges were mainly used by law enforcement agencies. It was so popular that it replaced the .38 special calibers.

The .38 caliber rounds were popular during the older days because they worked with the M1911 pistol and were inexpensive. Compared to the .38 caliber 9mm ammo is shorter in length, and is stored in flat magazines rather than the cylindrical speed loaders.

Because it is one of the most commonly produced rounds the 9mm round is very inexpensive.  This makes it ideal in terms of self defense as 9mm target practice rounds are incredibly cheap.

10mm Ammo

The 10mm ammo, or also known as the 10mm Auto is basically a powerful semi-automatic pistol cartridge. This famous cartridge is designed by an American, Jeff Cooper.  Did you know that this ammo was first developed for the use of the FBI agents? Later, it was decommissioned and finally allowed for the use of agents and police officers.

Due to some issues where the cartridge a little large for small-handed users, it is replaced into a shorter version of the 10mm projectile that is known today as the .40 Smith &Wesson caliber. The shorter case is able to be utilized in pistols with the similar dimensions as the 9mm Luger. But the main importance here is that, it benefits the smaller-handed shooters, for added convenience.

Apart from that, the ammunition was designed to be a medium-velocity pistol cartridge with improved external ballistics. In other words, it is designed to beat the performance of the flatter trajectory and greater range feature of the .45 ACP and the excellent stopping power of the 9mm ammo.


Now, we’ll move on to how each projectile differs in terms of penetration. Generally, it is important for the bullet to have deep penetration upon entering the target, for the best and most devastating results. However, it shouldn’t over-penetrate the target which will lead to collateral damage, in the end.

Ever heard of a ballistic gel test? Well, you’re about to because it comes in handy to test the terminal performance of your ammunition. In other words, you get to see how much the well expands as well as its penetration when in contact with the target. However, they are not too reliable because it is all based on estimation.

By estimation, I mean that you can’t compare the ballistic gel with the thick skin of the animal, solid built products or heavy clothed people. One of the most important thing you need to familiarize yourself with is the sectional density (basically the measurement of the bullet diameter and weight). The relationship is rather straightforward; the higher the sectional density, the deeper the penetration.

Now, to make comparisons, the 10mm rounds are said to have higher sectional density compared to the 9mm rounds. Nevertheless, the depth of penetration also can be determined by other contributing factors such as the bullet design and weight. For instance, the jacketed hollow point bullet has a hollowed out shape. Therefore, it expands a lot when in contact with the target which further results in controlled penetration.

So, it’s safe to say that the full metal jacket bullets have higher penetration compared to the hollow point ones. Getting back to the sectional density, the 10mm cartridge is supposed to have higher penetration so it can be used well in applications such as hunting (where the bullet need to go through the animal flesh to reach their vital organs).

Thus, to have deeper penetration, the bullet (particularly the 10mm Auto) should have controlled expansion.

Energy & Velocity

Muzzle velocity refers to the speed of which the bullet is traveling once exiting the muzzle.  Muzzle energy measures the total kinetic energy of the bullet. That being said, the theory is rather straightforward.

In other words, the heavier the bullet, the higher its velocity and energy and voila, the more devastating its results. This is because the higher kinetic energy of the bullet actually contributes to a powerful impact when in contact with the target. And by impact, I mean how it travels through the body of the target, if you’re hunting for instance.

Coming to the point, the 10mm ammunition is measured to have a higher amount of kinetic energy, therefore it has higher velocity too, where the bullet travels a lot faster compared to the latter.  For your information, the velocity is measured in feet per seconds (fps) meanwhile the energy, foot pounds (ft lbs). The 10mm projectile is said to have around 300 to 400 ft lbs higher energy compared to the latter, which is good if you plan on taking out larger games.

However, it doesn’t mean that the 9mm rounds are useless and to be looked down. Most 9mm cartridges comes with muzzle energy of more than 250 ft lbs which is good enough for both self-defense, range training or target practice. The 250 ft lbs energy is more than enough to produce damage to defend yourself against your predator.

The muzzle velocity on the other hand plays an important role in the terminal ballistics of your weapon. If you’re a gun rookie, terminal ballistics is the physics behind the occurrence of when the bullet strikes the target. That being said, it mainly contributes to the behavior of the bullet when it is fired. Hence, as mentioned above, the 10mm projectiles comes with higher bullet speed compared to the 9mm ones.

Apart from that, you should be aware that the increase in speed might cause higher recoil. Not only that, the speed affects the bullet penetration where the higher the speed of the round, the deeper the penetration as it will produce a large force upon entering the target. Once in the target, it would slow down of course, logically!


The power basically refers to how much the bullet penetrates the target; which equates to penetration or over-penetration. Having an ammo with high power especially comes in handy if you’re hunting larger games or you want to deliver a fatal blow with one shot. It all comes down to your personal preference and what you plan on using the ammo for.

For instance, if you only plan on using them for target practice or range training only, you need not go for the higher power cartridges because puncturing the paper target won’t be too hard. However, for self-defense or hunting, you should totally go for one. Your cartridge should be powerful I agree, but not too much until it overpowers the whole shot. Meaning, it over-penetrates your target.

You should keep in mind that over-penetration is dangerous as you may cause harm to the civilian next to you or damage to other objects around your target. In other words, it might cause collateral damage which is not something to be messed upon. Therefore, you should be well aware of the type of cartridge and handgun used.

All in all, higher power results in penetration. In fact, most 10mm rounds are usually of higher power compared to 9mm ones. However, the penetration is not mainly caused by power as it can be caused by many other factors such as muzzle velocity, bullet weight and design.

Moving on to the stopping power, it defines the ability of the firearm to produce sufficient ballistic trauma to the living target to basically stop the target, regardless of whether they are dead. The stopping power is influenced by the physical properties of the ammunition, which includes the bullet weight and type and muzzle velocity. Technically, the 10mm rounds has higher power than the 9mm ones as mentioned above.

For example, the hollow point jacketed bullet has a great stopping power and is suitable to be used for both range training and self-defense purposes. To further elaborate on that, its hollowed out shape is jacketed with a stronger metal coating which expands upon entering the target. The great expansion leads to controlled penetration which further results in maximum stopping power.


To be honest, no one likes recoil because it will just cause you uneasiness. So, the recoil factor is one of the biggest factor to take into consideration when purchasing ammunition. However, you can’t totally prevent recoil from happening (remember the physic principle of Newton’s 3rd Law of Motion, yeah that’s why!). Nevertheless, you can totally go for a lesser recoil ammo if you really mind powerful recoils.

In addition to that, the 10mm rounds has significantly more recoil compared to the 9mm ones. But don’t fret, powerful recoils totally depend on other contributing factors such as size and weight of bullet as well as muzzle velocity and energy. But again, in terms of comparison, the 9mm ammo has lesser recoil.

Besides that, the weight of the weapon totally plays a role in the recoil factor. That being said, you would feel a noticeable difference, in terms of recoil when shooting a 3lb and 4lb gun. In addition to that, the handguns designed to fit the 10mm ammo is heavier than the latter. Usually, a powerful cartridge would result in a powerful recoil.

However, don’t sacrifice the reliability of your weapon just because you dislike powerful recoil. That was my first rookie mistake which I’ve learnt the hard way. For example, you have no choice but to endure the powerful recoil if you plan on hunting larger games, because you require a powerful cartridge in which you need to use a heavier round which has a higher recoil.

Here’s a tip if you really dislike powerful recoils. You can go for rifles that have extended eye relief as the eye relief not only allows you to get a full viewing angle of your target, but also to protect your eyes and face from the strong recoil once the weapon is fired. So, put the thought of getting a black eye behind you!

Again, I would like to stress that the recoil really depends on the power of your cartridges meanwhile the power depends on what you plan on using them for. If you plan on using it for self-defense in the city, don’t bother using the 10mm ammo because it would just make things messy with more damage than you intend to make. Hence, it all comes down to your purpose of utilizing the ammunition.

Shot Accuracy

To be honest, it doesn’t really matter whether you’re utilizing the 9mm or 10mm ammunition to get the best accuracy. They might vary in numerous other things, but not this factor. The accuracy of the shot solely depends on you and your skills.

Firstly, you need to master and brush up your shooting skills with the gun so you get to make better aims. Not only that, you should totally get a scope which comes in handy to provide you with proper aiming (with its reticle). That being said, the scope makes a great addition to your firearm and ammo.

For practice, you can utilize the 9mm Luger rounds during target practice or range shooting because it has lesser stopping power and recoil. After all, you’re just planning to punch holes on paper targets. But for the real deal such as hunting, you can either use the 9mm or 10mm cartridges. The 10mm rounds are recommended when dealing with larger games which provides the best self-defense against predators.

Also, here is a word of advice; since the 10mm rounds have generally higher recoil, you will need a little getting used to it for the best shooting performance. Don’t fret, just practice more and voila, you’re good to go.

Final Thoughts

All in all, both the 9mm and 10mm rounds have their own benefits. Based on what I notice, civilians and gun enthusiast mostly utilize the 9mm round because they are a lot safer, easier and just right in terms of power for simple self-defense or range training uses. If you have noticed, the 10mm ammo is more commonly used by the FBI and law enforcement agencies or even avid hunters who plan on hunting large games.

In the table above, I chose one of the best (my personal favourite) for both 9mm and 10mm rounds, which are the Winchester Super-X Silvertip for the 10mm and Remington Golden Saber for the 9mm, also featured in previous reviews. Check them out.

Therefore, I hope that you now have a little insight about the differences between the 9mm Luger and 10mm Auto ammunition. Do share your thoughts and comments below. Till then, go make amazing shooting experiences.