Last month I wrote about the possibility of using a small lightweight pistol in .45 ACP in the woods or trails. I have to admit the results were pretty good as far as penetration was concerned. And while I think I would rather use a full-size pistol in that role it would make a viable alternative.
So the thought came to me. If the .45 works what about a 9mm and .40 subcompact? I know of a few cases of someone using a 9mm against Grizzlies but only one using a subcompact, a Glock 43. In this article, the person using it said: “because it was small enough to be taken every day”.
In this case both were using 9mm ball ammo and even though they survived it’s hard to say it was an overwhelming success. We know the 9mm ball isn’t the best for deep penetration. Of course shot placement is very important and since the bear was never found my guess is no vitals were hit.
Having a few rounds leftover from my Underwood 9mm and .40 test I decide to see how a subcompact would perform in some Clear Ballistics gel.
I use two rounds of Underwood’s 147gr +p Hard Cast in 9mm and the 200gr Hard Cast in the .40. Both guns were a S&W Shield with a with a 3.1-inch barrel. I shot two rounds of each into four blocks of Clear gel.
In the last test of this ammo both of the rounds, the 9mm passed through all four blocks of gel. In this test the first round had a velocity of 1044fps and passed through all four blocks. Even though it was caught by body armorer at the end of the block it was still stuck in the block. Normally if a bullet hits the body armor the armorer and the bullet fall on the floor. I think in this case the bullet was out of energy when it hit and probably wouldn’t have gone much farther. The second round’s velocity was 1026fps and it penetrated into the forth block at 52.5 inches. Both bullets retained 100% of their weight. So dropping almost an inch and a half of barrel length did appear to have some effect in the penetration but still an impressive performance.
The performance of the .40 S&W rounds very close the longer barreled Sig 226 at 4.4 inches. With the Sig we got 52 and 52.5 inches of penetration. With the shorter Shield the first round hit at 819fps and penetrated to 48.5 inches. Round two’s velocity was 920 and it went to 51 inches. And not surprisingly neither lost any of the weight.