Most Popular Handgun Ammo

If variety is the spice of life, then handgun ammo is a dish with curry piled on. There have been thousands of different calibers used over the course of firearm history, but the top ten most popular handgun ammo calibers (by sales) are (in no particular order):

.380 ACP Ammo 
Also known as .380 Auto, .380 Short, 9mm Browning, 9mm Corto, 9mm Kurz or 9mm Short, and 9x17mm. Used primarily in Europe due to restrictions on using military calibers, but there is a growing number of users in the United States (driven largely by civilian CCWs).

9mm Ammo  
Also known as 9×19, 9mm Luger, 9mm NATO, 9x19mm, 9x19mm NATO, 9mm Parabellum, 9mm Para. The 9mm is the most prolific caliber of handgun, largely due to use of NATO forces.

357 Sig Ammo
Released in 1994, the 357 Sig was created to match the performance of a 357 Magnum round out of a semi-auto handgun. The case is a modified 40 S&W, bottlenecked to the size of a 9mm.

.38 Smith & Wesson Special Ammo
Also known as .38 Special, .38 Spl, 38 Spc, and 9×29mmR (Europe). Originally release in 1902, this was the standard round for law enforcement in the United States for over 50 years. 38 Special is able to be fired in 357 Magnum revolvers.

.357 Magnum Ammo
Also know as 357 Mag, 357 S&W Magnum, and 9x33mmR (Europe). Developed in 1934 as a way to defeat car doors and create reliable stopping power. The 357 Mag case is 1/8th” longer than a 38 Special and due to the pressures cannot be used in firearms marked 38 Special. It is still the measuring stick for stopping power.

.40 Smith & Wesson Ammo
Also known as 40cal, and 40 S&W. The 40 S&W is a reduced power 10mm that was developed in conjunction with the FBI, by Winchester and Smith & Wesson. The 40 S&W has comparable energy to the 45ACP with increased magazine capacity. The popularity of this round is growing among US law enforcement and civilians alike.

.44 Remington Magnum Ammo 
Also known as the .44 Magnum, and 44 Mag. The 44 Mag is primarily used as a hunting round, as the recoil is too strong for quick follow up shots. A revolver marked 44 Magnum will also shoot 44 Specials. Both 44Special and 44 Magnum are actually .429”. This caliber became extremely popular with the release of Dirty Harry in 1971.

.45 Automatic Colt Pistol Ammo
Also known as .45 ACP and .45 Auto. The 45 ACP was released in 1902, and grew in popularity with the release of the 1911 pistol by John Browning. 45 ACP is considered the benchmark for stopping power out of a semi-auto handgun.

.45 Long Colt Ammo
Also known as .45 Colt and 45 LC. The 45 LC has been in active use for the last 130 years. Primarily used in Cowboy Action shooting, the 45 LC can also be used for hunting medium sized game and in the new Judge by Taurus. The 45 LC was developed in conjunction with the Colt Single Action Army Revolver.

10mm Auto Ammo 
Designed in 1984 and adopted by the FBI, although the 10mm was quickly determined to be too much for the average agent. The 40 S&W is a shortened version of the 10mm and has eclipsed it in popularity. The 10mm can achieve Magnum revolver power out of a relatively short cased semi-auto handgun.