.40 S&W: The Perfect Middle Ground, Part 2

By LC Judas

This is the second installment (part one is here) of my .40 dissertation and I’d like to address the hot-button issue of what contributes to the .40 caliber round so often being the butt of jokes. As in “.40 S&W means .40 Short and Weak.” Like that. Let’s look at what the round actually does after it comes out of the gun . . .

Ballistically, given the choices of most law-enforcement agencies as far as sidearm calibers, the .40 is going to suffer one way or the other depending on what you’re looking for. It’s typically only faster than the .45, and only heavier than the 9mm and .357SIG bullets. So the .40 doesn’t really shine in any one area. And usually, when picking a sidearm caliber for a particular task, you want it to shine for its intended purpose.

I’ll admit that while I think it’s a well-rounded carry caliber, I don’t find it to be the best caliber to start with for a new shooter. Recoil is snappy and a 1911 .45, being heavier and easier to handle in some hands, may make a better teaching gun for someone with a higher caliber preference. But before you think I’m downplaying the .40 as not really great at anything, take a look at some of the self defense loads.

I shoot Remington Golden Sabers in my guns almost exclusively. I have my reasons and I think it’s an overall good round. While it’s an apples-to-orange comparison, taking the same round across calibers of 9mm, .40 and .45 you get the following:

  • 9mm +P Remington Golden Saber JHP 124 Grain: Muzzle velocity: 1180 fps Muzzle energy: 384 ft/lbs
  • 9mm Remington Golden Saber JHP 147 Grain: Muzzle velocity: 990 fps Muzzle energy: 320 ft/lbs
  • .40 S&W Remington Golden Saber 165 Grain Jacketed Hollow Point: Muzzle velocity: 1150 fps Muzzle energy: 485 ft/lbs
  • .40 S&W Remington Golden Saber 180 Grain Jacketed Hollow Point: Muzzle velocity: 1015 fps Muzzle energy: 412 ft/lbs
  • .45 Auto +P Remington Golden Saber 185 Grain Jacketed Hollow Point Bullet: Muzzle velocity: 1140 fps Muzzle energy: 534 ft/lbs
  • .45 ACP Remington Golden Saber 230 Grain Jacketed Hollow Point Bullet: Muzzle velocity: 875 fps Muzzle energy: 391 ft/lbs

Each of these weights and calibers has its promoters and detractors, but I posted these stats to show that they’re essentially comparable and the .40 remains middle ground. That’s not speculation, it’s fact. There are more powerful and less powerful loads for all three calibers, but the .40 is a good compromise among them all. You’re going to end up making the decision for yourself, just don’t make it based on hopes that any round will convert your pistol into a death ray.

The .40 S&W caliber is based on the 10mm Auto cartridge. That’s the parent case and .40 is the shortened version. That may be elementary for a lot of us here, but going over the ballistics and what the bullet is supposed to do involves the inevitable comparison of the .40 is to 10mm. Essentially, when adopted by the FBI, it was found that the 10mm round was hard to handle as far as recoil, noise and muzzle blast were concerned. This prompted a search for lighter loads that were later called light 10mm or 10mm Lite.

This class of round, a lighter-loaded powder 10mm, carried the same ballistics as .40 did upon its inception but in a larger and more cumbersome frame with wasted space inside of the case. Someone at Smith and Wesson had the bright idea to market 10mm Lite as its own cartridge. And to produce a gun made specifically for it with a more universally acceptable dimension that would accommodate more hand sizes and at an acceptable level of recoil.

That history lesson is essentially a reminder of why the .40 exists. So if you think the .40 is weak compared to the 10mm, go get a 10mm. That’s not intended as snark — don’t pretend the .40 as it was intended is what the 10mm was. Reading back on some of the texts on the subject of the “stopping power” of 10mm and the hopes as well as hype placed in the then-untested .40, it would appear that the light version of 10mm fell a little short of expectations. In my experience though, a lot of the ballistic knowledge we operated on in the past appeared flawed at best.

For the .40 to be as amazing and lethal as the 10mm round was, it would have to have remained the 10mm round. Physics says if you lower the weight of the projectile’s maximum payload by 20 grains (10mm tended to top out at 200gr and .40 is usually 180gr at the heavier end) and reduce the amount of propellant used (which is apparent given case dimension differences) and you’re hoping for more fireworks, you’re likely to be disappointed.

For what the round was intended to do in gelatin and through the barrier scenarios specified in the FBI Ballistic Test Protocol, the .40 performs admirably. For the lazy who don’t want to do the reading, that means it will penetrate at least 12-18 inches into a person through the following at 10 feet:
 winter clothing
, car door, drywall
, plywood and automobile glass. That’s the first thing you need to remember about the .40. It was created for a specific purpose – to incapacitate people through intermediate barriers by penetrating a human body to a minimum of 12 inches, causing enough of a wound cavity to incapacitate.

I find that test to be more exhaustive than the equation I run in my mind before I buy handgun ammunition. Placement remaining the key, if the bullet can come through for me (no pun intended), then it’s a tactical advantage I want to have. If you require a bullet that does more than that, you probably have higher expectations than I do because you foresee some other situation that’s a hazard to your health. And there are other rounds in other calibers that can pass all parts of that test with flying colors.

However, for the FBI, the essential functionality listed above combined with a general useability by its field agents added up to the .40 cal. They weren’t trying to duplicate the performance of any other round. They just wanted a level of performance that suits their projected need without being unmanageable for their agents. That leads this writer to believe that other qualifying ammunition in other calibers has more felt recoil and is less manageable than the .40 Smith & Wesson.

Considering the original market for the .40S&W and how the caliber was approached for mass production I find that a lot of the caliber debate can be effectively negated. Saying “it’s not heavy enough” or “it’s not fast enough” are moot points as those weren’t the intentions of the .40 round; you can’t lose a contest you didn’t enter.

I don’t tout the ballistics of this round as gospel. It performs as desired for the purpose it was designed for. Not as a 10mm substitute. Not to outperform a .45ACP or 9x19mm. The .40 is its own round. If what it is and does suits your needs, it’s indeed a good round. And while their are more than just the ballistics that contribute to the .40 cal’s popularity, that’s something for the third and final installment.

comments

  1. avatar Matt in FL says:

    Oh my God!

    How did I miss the first installment in this series?!

    I’m gonna have this written up on parchment by monks and distributed as the gospel.

    The only thing that will make it better is if Part 3 consists of the sentence:

    “And lo, it shall be fired from a Springfield Armory XDm, thus sayeth the Lord.”

    And nothing else.

    Seriously, though. Nice post.

    1. avatar Max says:

      So shall it be said, so shall it be done.

    2. avatar SteveInCO says:

      It was tagged and categorized as “Forty Short and Week.” The misspelling of “weak” undoubtedly confused you.

      All kidding aside, I brought the G22 out to play last Thursday at the local range’s scenario shoot and did pretty well with it, getting ‘er done quickly.

    3. avatar rolling says:

      So say we all.

      1. avatar John Mauer says:

        You’re fracking right.

    4. avatar LC Judas says:

      I let a lightly used one with night sights full size slip away from me. Still kicking myself over that. That magazine and ergonomic value…amazing. Flat out.

      Thanks for the compliment.

    5. avatar JeffR says:

      I do love the caliber wars. For fun, can we just put FLAME DELETED on this whole thread tomorrow?

      1. avatar Matt in FL says:

        Just pick a bunch of comments at random?

        1. avatar JeffR says:

          Maybe only the .45 guys this time. When parts 3 and 4 come out, the 9 mm and .40 people can get their turns.

    6. avatar Mort Leith says:

      Or a Sig Sauer P229 0.40cal SS Elite

  2. avatar ST says:

    I’d submit, humbly, that the problem the 10mm /40 S&W was designed to address has been solved via better 9mm loadings.

    Back in the late 70’s , pistoleros had two broad choices.A 9mm loaded with lots of small bullets which may or may not expand as intended, or a few big ol bullets like a .45 ACP or bigger. The development of the 10mm sought to address the problem of capacity vs power, and for a time it did.

    Problem was, a gun which can handle full power 10mm comfortably has to be a big piece. Big guns are a pain to carry, as the FBI discovered. And 10mm isn’t for a novice or casual shooter.

    In the meantime, as 10mm rounds were breaking Bren Tens and Delta Elites, the manufacturers of 9mm rounds were toiling and came out with the loads we like and use today. Now, I can go to Wally World and buy a box of 9mm JHP which will open up reliably . Why bother with a bigger bullet which wears out guns faster and is harder to shoot when a 9mm can be stuffed with 17+ rounds of similarly effective ammunition?

    I’d thus submit the .40 is an obsolete caliber. The 10mm has a niche as a hunting round for semi autos, but it’s smaller cousin is a ballistic version of the 56K modem.

    1. avatar Michael B. says:

      I don’t think “obsolete” means what you think it means.

      I have no use for .40 but it is not obsolete.

      Now .357 SIG might become obsolete in the next 10 – 15 years and .45 GAP is well on its way to obsolescence, but .40 will be around for a while for the people who wanna be special little snowflakes and don’t want to choose either 9mm or .45 ACP.

      1. avatar John Sager says:

        And those in need of ballistic compensation…

        Legitamate use: USPSA Limited/Limited 10 to make major.

    2. avatar Phil in NYC says:

      “…but it’s smaller cousin is a ballistic version of the 56K modem.”

      Umm, what? You had me until this point. Please clarify!

      Thanks,
      Phil in NYC

      1. avatar tmm says:

        Comparison to a 56K modem would be another way of saying the .40 is obsolete, of course. I tend to disagree with the notion that the .40 is as obsolete as the 56K modem, though.

        A 56K modem was what was used to connect to the internet via dial-up (internet through the phone line). Nowadays speeds had through cable or DSL or other high-speed options dwarf the capability of 56K, although the 56K modem was the highest speed capable with the dial-up modem (dwarfing 300 or 2400 baud, i.e. .3K or 2.4K by comparison).

    3. avatar MD says:

      “Why bother with a bigger bullet which wears out guns faster and is harder to shoot when a 9mm can be stuffed with 17+ rounds of similarly effective ammunition?”

      ST – You’re assuming that everyone can gas up their 9mm with 17 rounds. Some of us are limited to 10 rounds per mag (or event less!). In this case, rounds like .40 S&W become more attractive.

      1. avatar Hannibal says:

        “Similarly effective”… not sure what that means. By one brush stroke, all handgun rounds from .380 – .44 are similarly effective, in that they are capable of causing lethal wounds but not nearly like that of a rifle. Or you can get granular.

        Whenever I hear 9mm folks talk about all the advances that have made that bullet more effective I wonder… do the consider that those same advances have made .40s and .45s ALSO more effective? It’s always a compromise. Me, I’ll take a .357 or .45, but I’m not too concerned about capacity. YMMV.

    4. avatar Accur81 says:

      Ridiculous. The .40 can push 135 – 200 grain JHPs faster and with more power than the 9mm +P+ could ever hope to achieve. The 9mm sucks for knocking down bowling pins, where the .45 rules. The 9mm isn’t great for knocking down some metallic silhouettes, either. On the LAPD range, the range master has to re-set metallic targets or the 9mm won’t knock them down.

      The .40 has more power than the 9mm and more capacity than the .45. It’s that ‘obsolete’ caliber that you can find anywhere, because its in use by police agencies and shooters all over the nation. Anyone who doesn’t like the .40 just leaves more ammo for me.

      The 9mm and .45 are great calibers. I enjoy the massive capacity of the 9mm and the accuracy and momentum of the .45. If the .40 is obsolete, Hornady, Federal, Winchester, Remington, Underwood, Buffalo Bore, Fiochhi, CCI, Herter’s, and Co haven’t ever received that memo.

      1. avatar Sixpack70 says:

        I own a gun in each caliber. The good thing is, when ammo was scarce last year and the year before I could always pick up a box of .40. That was nice being able to walk past the guys wanting 9mm and .45 and grab a box and go. Unfortunately, I only have an XD so it holds 12 rounds which sucks. The XDm holds 16.

      2. avatar Model66 says:

        Do the LAPD officers ever knock down any targets?

        Or just the ones, next to the ones they intended….

        1. avatar Joe50 says:

          burn!

          that there is funny stuff. I’m a cop and I’m sick of all the big city jackboot thugs giving LEOs a bad name

        2. avatar Accur81 says:

          Well, sometimes!

          I’m not LAPD, though.

      3. avatar DJ says:

        I’ve seen the same thing at USPSA competitions. You can hear the 9mm hit steel, but the plate doesn’t fall. Shot placement is a factor, though. There’s a guy at our local range who competes with a 9mm and has no problem dropping plates.

    5. avatar Bill says:

      I disagree with the notion that a full-sized 10mm is difficult to shoot. Consider the following: I, a male, approaching 6 1/2 feet tall, weighing 270lbs, have no trouble whatsoever shooting my friends Glock 20, full power loads. Quick follow-up shots are possible without much effort. My friend is 5’9, maybe, 135lbs, scrawny. He also only fire full power loads, not an issue. I actually find my direct blowback cz82 to have more ‘SNAP’ than the Glock 20.

      1. avatar Anonymous says:

        I agree Bill. I have no problems whatsoever firing the 10mm. I shoot mine out of an all steel (frame and slide) EAA Witness. Shooting 1300fps hornady hollow points was easy for me. The gun is heavy and recoil was minimal. My Taurus TCP 380acp kicks more than my 10mm due to the weight. Plus the energy of the 10mm is on par or slightly above a 357mag:

        From wikipedia:

        357 mag:
        180 gr (12 g) WFNGC Hard Cast 1,300 ft/s (400 m/s) 676 ft·lbf (917 J)

        10mm:
        180 gr (12 g) Underwood Hornady XTP JHP 1,300 ft/s (400 m/s) 676 ft·lbf (917 J)

        And? yes… my EAA holds 15 rounds. Yup. Not 6. Lovin it.

    6. avatar Kris says:

      OPTIMAL BARRIER PENETRATION. That’s what a .40 is all about.

      9mm: cuts through a car door, but (typically) can’t perform through auto glass. 17 round mags.

      .45: cuts through auto glass like butter but often fails to completely penetrate a car door. 8 round mags?

      .40: cuts through car doors and auto glass without a problem. 15 round mags.

    7. avatar Mort Leith says:

      A 9mm has too fast of a muzzle velocity to expand and goes thru n thru with very little damage
      Just mho

  3. avatar Craig says:

    The reason why I like 9×19 is because it’s very easy and comfortable to shoot in large quantities.

    The reason why many people like .45ACP is because it’s big.

    Never felt the need for middle ground. 10mm Auto is another story.

    1. avatar Jandrews says:

      +1 here.

      I get 9 – Small bullets, but you can shoot twice as many, with more controllable recoil. Two 9mm wounds are better than one .40 wound.

      I get .45 – Bigass bullets. Much reduced mag capacity, and more kick, but you probably only need to hit ’em once. One .45 wound better than one .40 wound.

      I do not get .40 – A bullet smaller than .45, of which you can shoot fewer than 9mm because of diminished magazine capacity, with snappier recoil increasing the challenge level to score on-target follow up hits.

      1. avatar rlc2 says:

        Ya, this is a good point. Here in CA we are limited to 10 in a mag, so the trade-off works better for the .40, assuming you can manage the snappy recoil… and that is by no means a given, especially for a plastic gun, vs the heavy 1911 in metal, if you subscribe to the “don’t bring anything to a gunfight that doesn’t start with a 4 in the caliber” rule.

        IMHO, for the first gun buyer- itt goes back to first step and best advice I have heard – “find something that fits your hand, and you can shoot well” (enough to train not to flinch).

        That’s subjective but realistically, for many smaller shooters that could mean .380 or even .22LR, at least as a start.

        Its all about “fast enough to get into action in time, with enough accuracy to hit the bullseye shot placement”, in the end, vs carry nothing, otherwise. And that means lots of practice, so if you are uncomfortable shooting, so much that it deters you from that practice, its not worth bothering.

        1. avatar DownrangeFuture says:

          Snappy recoil? I get if you’re recoil sensitive due to medical issues. But the only time I’ve ever felt my XD40 sub compact hit hard is when I limp wristed it. I also never had any issues dumping a mag in 5-6 seconds at 20 feet and staying on target.

          The caliber argument seems silly to me anyway. Any handgun caliber is going to be “underpowered”.

      2. avatar Anmut says:

        I can load up 15 .40 in either my G22, my G23 or my G27. The 40 travels faster than the 45. It weighs less in bullet size so it recoils less. And it meets the FBI standards in every load combination for penetration. What’s not to love about that?! 9mm you get two more rounds than me? .45 you get 50g of bullet (average load). Big whoop.

      3. avatar Tile floor says:

        I would venture to say most .45s I’ve fired have less recoil than most .40s. The 45 usually had a lot more metal to soak up the felt recoil, and in many cases, like the Glock 22, the pistol is essentially the company’s 9mm offering with a 40 barrel stuffed in it, hence the “snappiness”

    2. avatar Hannibal says:

      I happen to like the type of recoil (more of a push) from a .45 better than the snappiness I feel from some more high-velocity rounds anyway.

      1. avatar ropingdown says:

        Agree. And even more persuasive for me is the more pleasant muzzle blast of .45. It’s a much lower-pressure round.

      2. avatar RandallOfLegend says:

        Then shoot 180 grain 40 s&w. It’s subsonic. And the push vs snap is horsecrap. In comparable frames recoil from smallest to largest is 380, 9mm, 40, 45. Peroid. The firearm and it’s bore axis determine snap, which is a torque about your wrist. Physics don’t agree with internet buzzwords.

        1. avatar ropingdown says:

          The difference in felt recoil comes from the difference in diameter of the barrel, of the case, and therefore the rate of the powder burn and expansion. The curve is different.

          I own a nine, a forty, a 10mm, and a slew of .45’s. Both the nine and forty have a greater ‘velocity of recoil’ and both have a much harsher muzzle blast (the nine is a different design but plastic; the forty, ten, and four .45ACP’s are Glocks, a few of my .45’s are 1911’s). When I lend the pistols to friends I don’t even have to mention it. They notice and mention it to me.

          The phenomena is very similar in long guns. Shotgun loads burn much faster than medium bore rifle loads. It’s supposed to be a feature, not a bug. But it means that the shotgun ‘velocity of recoil’ is much faster than a .30-06 loading. It has a big effect on ‘felt recoil,’ even where the physical total recoil is the same. So they say….

        2. avatar JAS says:

          You hit the nail on the head with the frame (platform) argument. IMHO not so much with bullet weight. I see recoil as a combination of three factors: Platform weight, bullet weight and cartridge pressure.

          The .40 S&W is a high pressure round at 35,000. It contrast, the pressure of the .45 ACP is ~ 21000. That’s quite the difference. However, the platform weight is still the most important factor.

          I find that the most uncomfortable gun to shoot is the Glock 27 with the 180 gr round. It’s much easier to shoot with the 135 gr load. The important thing here is the platform weight. The Glock 27 comes in at 21.9 ounces. In contrast a SIG P226 is quite easy to shoot with the same 180gr round. That platform weighs in at 34.0 ounces.

          1911 Platforms are around 28 ounces for the lighter alloy ones, They are still a pleasure to shoot because of the lower pressures. But take the same round an shoot it in a Glock 36 at 22 ounces and recoil starts getting snappy in a hurry.

          The problem with the .40 S&W is that gun manufacturers squeezed the round into small and light guns. It was meant to be shot from a full size service pistol.

      3. avatar Anon in CT says:

        My wife would agree. She much prefers shooting my 1911 Range Officer to her G19.

  4. avatar Evan HB says:

    All pistol calibers pretty much suck in terms of stopping power. An argument can be made for some of the magnums as having more stopping power, but generally speaking, pistols are short to medium range hole punches. Pick the one that you shoot best and use quality defense ammo and the bad guy won’t know the difference.

    1. avatar Cliff H says:

      Faced with a determined enemy the single-shot stopping power of any pistol caliber is liable to be unreliable, hence the need to fire until the threat ends.

      Faced with a diffident enemy the mere threat of being shot at all, by ANY caliber, .22 LR through .50 S&W, has a high success rate of stopping power if what you are trying to stop is the attack itself, not the attacker’s physical ability to attack.

      1. avatar Evan HB says:

        Oh I agree, I wouldn’t particularly want to be shot by any caliber, and my personal philosophy would be to shoot until the attacker either runs away, surrenders or drops to the ground. I’m open to all of those options, it’s really up to them.

  5. avatar Larry says:

    So much hot air over the years trying to prove why this round is better.

    I have seen it said many times about a .45 or .40 round that killed someone….”would a 9mm placed in the same spot as the 45/40 that killed someone, not have done the same job?” The answer has always been “NO”.

    Pistols poke holes. Rifles tear shit up.

    I carry a 9mm, always have, always will. If I have to use it some day, I don’t plan on pulling the trigger only once.

    1. avatar uncommon_sense says:

      I think what the .40 S&W provides over the 9mm is superior penetration in obese/muscular people (simply because .40 S&W bullets are significantly heavier than 9mm bullets traveling at the same speed) and barrier penetration without deflection. When shooting at a vehicle windshield at an oblique angle, light bullets (especially 115 grain) can deflect several inches by the time they reach the vehicle’s occupants. A 180 grain bullet in .40 S&W does not deflect significantly. (I have seen high-speed photography of .40 S&W 180 grain bullets in such tests: they do not deflect.)

      Of course the .45 ACP is even better than the .40 S&W with respect to penetration and deflection on barriers. And you have less rounds and likely more recoil than a .40 S&W.

      So, basically, .40 S&W gives you an edge if you expect to fight super muscular or obese attackers or if you expect to shoot at oblique angles through barriers at attackers. Otherwise, 9mm is absolutely fine.

      1. avatar Larry says:

        I own and LOVE Glocks. I have a lot of them. I have a Glock 22 and a 21. I have more than few Glocks in 9mm.

        The 22 is the most snappy Glock I own. It has the most barrel flip if you will. The 21 has a bit more felt recoil than say a 17, but the 21 is the very best 45 I have shot. I love shooting my 21 because its like shooting a 9mm Glock but its that big fat bullet. That said I never carry it, nor does it have a place in my night stand. Its a fun gun. Part of my Glock collection.

        I get all that you have stated, that in testing the .40 or 45 might have better this or that. My point though is in every case where there has been ballistics evidence of a death caused by a .40 or .45 a 9mm would have caused the same result, at least in the ones I have read and the question was asked/stated.

        Also no matter what pistol round I was using, if I have to use the pistol for self defense, I am taking at least two shots, probably more. There would not be a case, IMHO, where I could use a 40 or 45 and take one shot and have to take more with a 9mm (135grain for me)…..being car door, house door, glass, wall, body. If I had my 21, I would pull the trigger until the threat was gone. Same goes for my 17 that I do carry.

  6. avatar former water walker says:

    Google “terminal ballistics as viewed in a morgue”. If you’ve never read it the author’s a medical examiner & a former cop. Real world experience. Made me try .40cal(and .45). In essence he believes .40 is the MINIMUM caliber one should carry to stop a BG(& .357). VERY interesting reading. Carry what you can control. It’s VERY graphic if you’re the squeamish type.

    1. avatar seans says:

      Interesting that Damneck’s preferred caliber is a 9mm. Somebody get on the phone and let them know what that cop thinks.

    2. avatar Vhyrus says:

      As a counter point, I have seen an xray from a now well circulated medical conference video (I believe it was on TTAG at one point) where an adult male took a 40 dead center to the heart and survived. The bullet hit the breast plate dead on, flattened and stopped dead as if it were hitting a steel plate.

      1. avatar Hannibal says:

        A butterfly flapped it’s wings.

        1. avatar DJ says:

          Yeah. I remember reading a story about a policewoman who survived after taking a .357 to the heart and killing one of her five assailants. She received a Medal of Valor. (Officer Stacy Lim – look it up)

    3. avatar T-DOG says:

      ” I get to see what the same caliber does with various bullets weights and designs and how it reacts to different parts of the body. The best of all are when the gangbangers use the mix and match technique and shoot a variety of bullets in the same magazine and these bullets wind up in the same victim shot from the same gun. Hardball and hollowpoints in the same body from the same gun give a great comparison on the effectiveness of each. ”

      A very interesting observation in the article.

  7. avatar michael nieto says:

    i have a 40. and i love it even in California during the ammo shortage i was still able to find ammo for it(at inflated prices).

    1. avatar rlc2 says:

      That was a secondary benefit- you figure that with all the training rounds being made out there for LEO buys, there would be some left over in the big batches, for civilians, and so it has worked out here in So. CA too.

      Found a few boxes of .40S&W for a long time at Wally World, when the shelf was bare of 9 and .45.

      And you can get an Advantage Arms slide and barrel that converts the G23 to .22LR to shoot cheaper and train to avoid flinch, with cost savings that pays for itself after 6 or 7 months of practice at the range, 1x/mo.

      Works good for the kids plinking too!

      1. avatar SteveX says:

        You can find .22?

        1. avatar rlc2 says:

          shhhh….its on the lower shelf.

  8. avatar Frank Masotti says:

    The 40 is meant to be the best of a 9 and 45, while failing to do both. Why should someone like me go get a 40 S&W when I already have the best of both worlds? I have a 9 sitting here nest to my keyboard and a 45 in the next room.

    1. avatar Cliff H says:

      Why the 9mm close and the .45 next door?

      Reminds me of: “A pistol is the tool you use to fight your way back to where you left your rifle.”

      That said, assuming minimal accuracy, how can 14-18 rounds of 9mm +P JHP NOT out-perform 7 rounds of .45?

      1. avatar Dracon1201 says:

        Why are you just buying 9mm +P JHP and not also .45 +P JHP? Who said it’s 7rds and not 13? Or 15? That’s a lot of assuming and ill preparedness.

        1. avatar ropingdown says:

          Agree. Why? My .45ACP house gun carries 13+1. My usual load in it is 200 grain Speer Gold Dot +P. The backup magazine is a Kriss….which also can be popped into the .45 carbine arrangement instantly.

  9. avatar RockOnHellChild says:

    The .40S&W is the minivan of the caliber world.

    1. avatar rlc2 says:

      Well, the minivan is good enough to carry the kids.
      Reliable, hauls all their sports stuff, the dog, buddies, and not the fastest, but safest.
      Only need one minivan right now, too- kinda like the G23.

      When they are grown and college paid, THEN I can buy the obligatory fast car to recapture my youth.
      Talk to me then about the Wilson Combat.

    2. avatar Fred says:

      More like the rally car of guns.

    3. avatar Vhyrus says:

      If you know much about minivans, you know that they are superior to SUVs for every single aspect related to driving on pavement, which is where 98% of all SUVs are driven, and they are superior to cars for their intended purpose (carrying people/cargo). If that was intended to be an insult… well, lets just say it didn’t work.

      1. avatar rlc2 says:

        And don’t forget the “gray man” aspect of the mini-van. http://westernrifleshooters.blogspot.com/2007/05/next-steps-grey-man.html

        Your Range Rover might be a car-jacking target for the wanna-be well-heeled urban Thugster, or
        road-rage inducing to nitwits on unregistered ninja bikes,
        but who is gonna take offense at the old dusty Dodge Caravan with soccer stickers on the back window?

        Theres much more to self-defense than the gun or bullet in it…grasshopper.

      2. avatar RockOnHellChild says:

        It’s was less of an insult and more of a “meh…”

    4. avatar RockOnHellChild says:

      Whole lot of minivan/.40 cal lovers, apparently.

      1. avatar Hannibal says:

        Figures.

        1. avatar rlc2 says:

          Hey, I get you are making a jest, but if not,
          Don’t get me wrong- I loves me some high speed low drag toys, been there done that, got the tee-shirt…

          Just not in guns, and humble enough to say thanks again, Hannibal to those who do know TTAG.

      2. avatar Accur81 says:

        I despise minivans, and enjoy my .40’s.

        1. avatar jwm says:

          I have a job that puts me in traffic all day. Not the first time in my life my job has been behind the wheel. Every wreck I’ve seen involving an SUV, every one without exception, has resulted in the SUV being on it’s roof or side. Chevy Suburban t boned by a Honda civic. Honda driver walked away. Chevy driver had to be cut from the upside down wreckage and life flighted. Fords, Toyotas, same same.

          I’m not enamored of mini vans either. But given a choice between a free Escalade or free mini van? Mini van.

        2. avatar Ing says:

          Take the free Escalade! Not to drive, but to sell. Use the proceeds to buy yourself a handy compact pickup truck, a rifle in your favorite configuration, a pistol in your favorite defensive caliber, and a thousand rounds to feed each of them.

      3. avatar scoutino says:

        You might be right. I enjoy shooting my .40 and I do drive a minivan. The other family car is Chevy Traverse so another minivan looking like a SUV. Coincidence? I think not!

  10. avatar Michael says:

    The compilation of data at the bottom of this link lines up exactly with what you are saying in this series. The .40 was designed for a specific task and it does a very good job at said task. Ballistically it lines up right in between the 9mm and .45acp and the results of actual shootings correberates this evidence as well.

    [quote]
    9mm Luger
    # of people shot – 456
    # of hits – 1121
    % of hits that were fatal – 24%
    Average number of rounds until incapacitation – 2.45
    % of people who were not incapacitated – 13%
    One-shot-stop % – 34%
    Accuracy (head and torso hits) – 74%
    % actually incapacitated by one shot (torso or head hit) – 47%

    .40 S&W
    # of people shot – 188
    # of hits – 443
    % of hits that were fatal – 25%
    Average number of rounds until incapacitation – 2.36
    % of people who were not incapacitated – 13%
    One-shot-stop % – 45%
    Accuracy (head and torso hits) – 76%
    % actually incapacitated by one shot (torso or head hit) – 52%

    .45 ACP
    # of people shot – 209
    # of hits – 436
    % of hits that were fatal – 29%
    Average number of rounds until incapacitation – 2.08
    % of people who were not incapacitated – 14%
    One-shot-stop % – 39%
    Accuracy (head and torso hits) – 85%
    % actually incapacitated by one shot (torso or head hit) – 51%
    [/quote]

    Keep up the good work!

    1. avatar Michael says:

      The link for where I found the data was left out but can be found here. http://www.buckeyefirearms.org/handgun-stopping-power

    2. avatar Evan HB says:

      Just from looking at the data you present. It looks a bit like although the larger calibers produced more effective stoppages in attackers, the accuracy was also better. I doubt at these shooting distances that there is much of an inherent accuracy difference between cartridges do I am wondering if the more proficient shooters generally chose the larger calibers(harder to control for beginners), and the shot placement was a bigger factor than the actual round used especially since the differences in stop rates seem to be minimal. Just a thought.

      1. avatar Evan HB says:

        As a proficient shooter, I shoot a 9mm most of the time so that wasn’t a jab at people who don’t shoot the “big Boy” calibers.

  11. avatar rlc2 says:

    Excellent summary.

    I also like the point someone made in some reading I did three or four years ago, before settling on the G23- probably Mas Ayoob: If you are going to have to defend yourself after a self-defense shooting, it would make sense to be able to make the common-sense argument that this round is the one most extensively researched and effective compromise between stopping power, without being inhumane.

    In response to something an aggressive prosecutor might spin- “armor piercing, this, hollow point that”.

    Or more simply, if the .40S&W is good enough for all the civilian law enforcement agencies, the FBI, most PDs, and Highway Patrols, with all their high-tech testing, then its good enough for a little old responsible citizen carrying for self-defense.

    Besides, at the time, there was no single stack 9MM Glock, which was my first choice.

    1. avatar JR says:

      Another one of the things I choose to disagree with Ayoob on…

      To make the claim of self defense, you have to show the threats of ability, opportunity and jeopardy. None of that other nonsense matters in the real world.

      if his argument were at all relevant, why are people not losing SD cases left and right when .22 or .380 are used?

      You don’t have to justify your choice of caliber or ammo; only that you had the legal right to self defense in that situation. If it’s a “good shoot” with one caliber | pistol | ammo, it’s a good shoot with any other.

      1. avatar Hannibal says:

        Agreed. The only thing you’d have to remember when asked about why you bought such and such ammo is: “Um… it fits in the gun I had.”

        Now MAYBE if you’re using a glock with a bayonet loaded with RIP FOREVA ammo you might see some problems… or a big .44 Dirty Harry magnum… but the idea that juries are going to be interested in the intricacies of caliber performance stretches the imagination. Actually I think it’s a product of some overactive imaginations in the gun world.

      2. avatar rlc2 says:

        well…with respect- I disagree with your assertion that the legal aspects of self defense don’t matter-

        they are SECOND, to stopping the attack- better to be judged by 12 vs carried by 6 and all that.

        But I think what Mas says is still true, even if some of the law in his early writings has been updated- the main point is you have to think it thru FIRST how you will handle scenarios-

        to be able to speak carefully to first responders, and a jury, if it comes to that, to explain your reasoning, so that you CAN invoke your states self-defense law, and have it work.

        One big boo-boo and your self-defense defense goes out the window, and then what have you done to your loved ones, with the legal costs, and possible penalty of incarceration as a result?

        There have been some excellent articles on this in past, here at TTAG.
        And note that each state has its own wrinkles- so you have to dig a bit deeper than the advice on internet forums from well meant posters who might mislead by mistake on generalizations, including me.
        Again, with respect- that’s just my two cents…

      3. avatar ropingdown says:

        I’m with Hannibal on the jury bit. I’ll also say that I find Ayoob’s comments about “the law” all over the place. I’ve read part of the record from three of his expert testimony stints, and he’ll argue….whatever. Everyone raved about “In the Gravest Extreme.” So I read it, and two of his books on shotgun defense issues. The law of self-defense is better learned from a clear state legal text that is illustrated by relevant case facts and holdings.

      4. avatar JR says:

        rlc2, you are changing your argument in mid stream. I was responding to what you said about Masad Ayoob (or whoever) making the following assertion (to quote your post):

        “If you are going to have to defend yourself after a self-defense shooting, it would make sense to be able to make the common-sense argument that this round is the one most extensively researched and effective compromise between stopping power, without being inhumane.”

        And, quite frankly, that’s a load of crap. None of that matters. What matters?

        You were in fear for your life from a credible threat, yes or no.

        That’s it.

        You may have a hard time showing that, but the ammo in your gun or what caliber you carry will have nothing whatsoever to do with your mindset at the time or with the credibility of the threat against you.

        By the logic of the quoted statement, people defending themselves with .22 LR would never win on self defense claims. This is patently untrue. Ditto any other hundred methods of self defense.

        Educate yourself on the realities of legally defending yourself in the event of self defense actions.

        1. avatar LC Judas says:

          JR, I don’t doubt what you say but I think rlc is saying that your trial doesn’t happen in a vacuum with the prosecution seeking only to determine innocence or not. Common tactics to badger or slander you will include your weapon and ammunition choices. To appear humane and sensible is not a statute of the law. It is to persuade the jury that you aren’t simply looking for trouble or trying to test your R.I.P. ammo on a moving target.

          You only need to prove you were in fear for your life. The speaking to your choices that inevitably will come from the prosecution is merely to discredit that in every way. Bad press is just as dangerous as weak testimony. If your jurors are awestruck or frightened by your mall ninja edc kit they are less likely to empathize and find favorably.

          In a perfect world that wouldn’t matter. Your threat to your life would be enough explanation but…anything that can be painted as scary about you will be. That influences even if it is not factual. Thus the end of “Black” Talons and a continuous disregard of DRT or R.I.P. ammo for serious carry purposes. The law doesn’t require justification for weapon and ammo selection but it will be questioned to a point of requiring justification in a prosecutioner’s line of inquiry while you are on the stand.

        2. avatar Hannibal says:

          Certainly no trial happens in a vacuum. But there’s a difference between the prosecutor holding up a box with “RIP” written all over it and the difference two digits over from the decimal spot (.40 vs .45) right? We’ve had many DGU trials, have these issues really been raised that we can see?

        3. avatar LC Judas says:

          Fair statement on the lack of caliber relevance. I was only referring to using one of a few differing firearms that are scary or scary ammo designs with aggressive scary marketing as that sells to the jury. Not a scary caliber concept; Ayoob, as well meaning as he was, went a bit out the side of his neck on that claim as good advice on “humane and sensible” or whatnot.

          Masterpiece Arms I believe it is makes a nice 9mm pistol…With a distinctly similar appearance to that of a Mac-11. Still a great defensive idea with the controllable weight and capacity but…scary looking.

          That humane quote is kind of shaky advice but it is the closest approximation to what leaves a juror with a good or bad feeling about the defendant and his motives if I were to try and articulate it.

          No caliber is more or less humane in the pistol world and sans a 100% instantaneous and painless incapacitation rate guaranteed regardless of placement no round design is more or less humane either. It’s all in how you spin it. May the best attorney and justice prevail.

        4. avatar rlc2 says:

          Thank you for the tips. I have done quite a bit of reading on the realities of “after the shooting”, and all the variables that can arise from a confusing situation, once arm-chair quarterbacked, and twisted to suit a political agenda.

          I certainly don’t intend to put myself in that kind of circumstance, but when you are all done with the other priorities for ammo and weapon selection, then the after the shooting part of it, is worth considering, if only as part of your continuum of preparation and training.

          It only takes a small mistake to lose the protection of self-defense, and if theres a gray area, then the prosecution is going to look at your character- are you the kind of person that went around in black tactical web gear at night in your HOA, did you brag on innertubz about your AR15 bayonet etc etc.

          Low key, low vis, responsible vs wacko, including the rationale for the ammo.

          The best recent example is Zimmerman.

  12. avatar Mark L says:

    Just another article about ammunition and the virtues of any choice over the other. It’s been going on…..well forever on every single weapon….ever. It will continue to carry on as long as man walks this planet or other planets. There are drawbacks and advantages to every weapon and caliber. None is perfect for every person in every situation. To be honest, I try to avoid these articles because when it really comes down to it, it’s the same thing every time. The only reason I even bothered to read this one is because I carry P229 in .40. Beyond that, this shit bores me to death. Choose a weapon, choose a caliber, choose a few if you like, but STFU about it. How many times does this same conversation have to happen?

    1. avatar rlc2 says:

      Well, I agree, but its worth remembering that theres always going to be new gun owners, or those doing their homework, and

      To any of those visiting here, one of the BIG benefits of TTAG is telling the truth, and educating.

      So once in a while its worth at least summing up the current best practices, and cut to the chase on the history, so

      the new gun owner to be DOESNT have to go out and wade thru the mind-numbing amount of info, including the caliber wars, the nit-noid arguments that occasionally (?) deteriorate into borderline OCD flaming wars, that we all know go on in some other places….

      In other words – fellow noobs, “just get started, vs hung up in analysis paralysis”,
      as there’s no perfect answer. “Perfect is the enemy of good enough”.

      1. avatar Zach says:

        rlc2 took the words right out of my mouth =).

      2. avatar JR says:

        Well, I’d rather see a noob getting good advice than bad, and listening to anyone staking a claim in the caliber wars is very likely offering bad advice…for THAT person.

        New shooters need to define ‘why’ they are shooting. They can pick more than one of self defense, fun, competition, hunting (and maybe a few others), but there should be one that dominates the reason for selection of any given firearm.

        If SD is the purpose, they need to shoot a large variety of handguns in various calibers and find one that works well for them and that they will shoot (and carry). And that means actually shoot them, not just fondle them at guns shows.

        Having fanboys yammer on about “this is the best” does nothing to helping people choose what is right for their circumstance.

      3. avatar Mark L says:

        Well, to some extent I relent to informing the new shooter, but really, are we not continuing what I was talking about? It’s almost like discussing politics or religion.
        As an example, a friend in AZ wanted a small self-defense gun to carry in his car in case, hell who knows. I suggested the Springfield XDS .45 He got the gun but not the extended magazine which gives the shooter lots more to hang on to. He shot it and complained it’s too small to shoot. Well he told me he wanted a self defense gun to carry in his car! Now he’s thinking about a 9mm maybe in Glock. (barf)
        You just can’t win. I told him to go to a big range, gun store as he lives in Phoenix for gods sake, and check out some guns and try them. Did he do this? Fuck no!
        So he can just add to his collection and have multiple guns and eventually figure out that not one size fits all. It’s comes down to mood, use, clothes, what holster you want….it just never ever ends and it never will!

      4. avatar Chaz says:

        Once I witnessed a new shooter struggling with a 40S&W sub compact pistol. Probably he had done some research and concluded that 40S&W was popular with police and that a sub compact would be easer to carry concealed. OK, but the part he missed was actually shooting that combination before buying into it!

        However one gets used to the snappiness. The first few times shooting my Kahr PM40 were uncomfortable. Now I can shoot 100 rounds for practice with no ill effects. Same gun, same me except now with more experience. The PM40 is more comfortable in my hand than shooting some tiny 380s.

        A friend has the Kahr PM45. Its recoil feels similar but not identical to the PM40’s.

    2. avatar Zach says:

      I think we forget that new people are always coming into the game and wondering what kind of gun to buy. I went with .40S&W just out of gut feel initially, without really doing a ton of investigation. I like having people talk about their preferences and explain why they shoot what they shoot, and I think having a fair look at a given caliber’s pros and cons can only help. Knowing what I know now I still carry a .40S&W XD (ammo is cheap, and I can usually hit what I point it at), but I’d probably advise someone new to grab a Glock 17. But if we just shut up about it and don’t keep talking, I don’t think we’re fair to people who are new to guns.

      Now, I don’t mean we need to go all fan-boy here, but hey, let’s talk!

  13. avatar William Burke says:

    This issue can (and will) be debated until (if) another “ideal” caliber comes along. As things stand presently, this issue will never be resolved, because there is no resolution to an argument based on personal preference.

    I mean, really. What is the point of going over this one more time?

    1. avatar Matt in FL says:

      Well, it allowed me another chance to spread the gospel, so I don’t regard it as time wasted.

      1. avatar Mark L says:

        Put your hands on your radio…..!

        1. avatar Matt in FL says:

          One hand on the radio, one hand to God.

    2. avatar ropingdown says:

      There is nothing to resolve. There is no right answer. Every caliber and loading has its + and – side, as does every firearm (well, except for the ones I’ve bought….).

      I laugh when I see a complaint about “caliber wars” under the very thread that announced “Caliber War!” in so many words. Why do people read further if they don’t consider CW a healthy and relaxing pastime?

  14. avatar Vhyrus says:

    When the .40 came out, it was absolutely better than the 9mm rounds available at the time, and almost as good as the .45s. I admit that when I started shooting I bit hard into the 40 bandwagon. It isn’t that the round is bad or has gotten worse, it is that all other defensive rounds have gotten exponentially better in the last 20 years, to the point that they are now more or less equal to the 40. The 40 actually caused ammo makers to up their game in order to keep their other calibers relevant. The 40 more or less has stayed the same performance wise while the other calibers made huge advancements. Since were comparing it to cars, the 40 is the Subaru WRX STi of the American market. When it came out, no car in its price range could touch it, and many cars significantly more expensive than it had a hard time competing. This touched off the new horsepower wars which are still going on to some degree today, but while everyone else has been upping their numbers, the STi is still putting out more or less the same power that it did 10 years ago.

  15. avatar former water walker says:

    When there was no 9mm on the ammo shelves there was mountains of .40. And it hasn’t changed much and yeah I like shooting 18 rounds of 9mm in rapid succession. If I can find it. Carry a shotgun if you’re insecure.

  16. avatar Ralph says:

    Caliber wars are fun to watch, from a distance.

    1. avatar rlc2 says:

      And when waged by noobs, add body armor…;)

  17. Hooray for caliber wars!!!!

    So much fun. Such a huge waste of bandwidth on the Interwebz.

    1. avatar Vhyrus says:

      Huge waste of bandwith?

      You do know that the internet is not, in fact, a series of tubes, right?

      1. avatar Hannibal says:

        An inapt analogy but not wholly without merit. There is a limited amount of bandwidth available through the infrastructure at any one time.

    2. avatar ropingdown says:

      The waste of electrons spent spelling out the specific tradeoffs involved when choosing particular calibers and pistols is nothing compared to the destruction of vast forests caused to print literally endless theological quibbles which, BTW, often have led and do lead to actual wars. We are, in other words, never going to pull even with the theologians.

      I do agree with you, though, that the go-to 9mm today is the Walther PPQ. I cannot in good conscience recommend the .40 caliber model!

      1. avatar Jay Williams says:

        Interesting that you would say that. Just picked mine up a few weeks ago (the lever mag release version):

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VdQpwdQbD4g

  18. avatar JoshtheViking says:

    According to James Yeager, 40 s&w was made for men with small reproductive organs. Personally, I don’t see a reasonable way to connect penis size with caliber preference.

    1. avatar Vhyrus says:

      Anything James Yaeger dislikes immediately gains favor with me.

      1. avatar Tim U says:

        Agreed. I do not like that guy at all, and think he does more harm than good to the gun community.

        Although I find his comments on .40 at least somewhat ironic, isn’t he a 9mm Glock guy?

    2. avatar ropingdown says:

      …and his mouth was made for men with large ones.

      1. avatar JoshtheViking says:

        LOL!

        1. avatar Matt in FL says:

          Seriously, Paul. Just. fucking. stop. I’m not kidding.

    3. avatar RockOnHellChild says:

      Connecting anything to penis size, other than penis size, isn’t a reasonable connection- it was likely in jest.

  19. avatar James says:

    .40 makes USPSA major power easily. 9mm, not so much. 3gun Nation rules still require .45 for heavy metal class, so .40 doesn’t help here (I haz sad.)

  20. avatar Accur81 says:

    I would be remiss if I didn’t point out that the Golden Sabre is known to have jacket / core separation issues. I’m loading latest version of Winchester PDX. It’s a nice fat JHP. I believe the Golden Sabre issues were with the non-bonded 165 and 180 grain JHPs. YMMV

    http://thefiringline.com/forums/showthread.php?t=457689

    1. avatar Ralph says:

      I too am no fan of the Remington Golden Shower Sabre. I have a lot of confidence in Hornady Critical Defense, but the price — let’s just say I carry with them but don’t train with them.

      1. avatar DJ says:

        How do you know they feed reliably, then?

        1. avatar Matt in FL says:

          He’s not dumb. I’m sure he put a box or two through his gun to make sure they cycle. He’s just saying he doesn’t practice with them week in and week out.

    2. avatar LC Judas says:

      I do concur there. My GS supply has been my go to mainly because…I liked the default primer seal on the ammo and as I did ammo research I could not replace the vast majority of defensive ammo I have on hand. However, as I get more money to budget a change in ammo, I want to move to the 9mm and .40 HST and .45 Critical Duty. For my .357SIG that I seldom play with the Golden Saber should still suffice since they’re bonded and comparable to the Ranger T’s or re boxed Winchester Supreme (we all know it’s the same…they always perform utterly identical in gel).

      That aside, it was easy to get numbers for all three calibers and it’s well known ammo for purposes of comparison.

    3. avatar Vhyrus says:

      HST. /discussion

      1. avatar Accur81 says:

        A 165 HST mushroomed so perfectly that my stepson made it into a necklace. We used ghetto gel – three 1 – gallon water jugs held together in a straight line with gorilla tape. The round mushroomed to about .68 inches average diameter.

        I’ll be shooting gel soon, but Shooting the Bull and Tnoutdoors9 have some YouTube great vids on HST.

        1. avatar ropingdown says:

          I’m fond of 160 grain copper +P .45ACP and Cor-Bon .45ACP 165 grain +P in my short-barreled Glocks.

  21. avatar Colby says:

    I do not disagree with you arguments about what happens after a bullet fired from a .40 S&W cartridge leaves the barrel.

    However, why the .40 S&W looses many often has nothing to do with external ballistics. While, truly, the .40 effectively averages together the best attributes of both the 9mm and .45 (projectile speed and mass), it also averages together the worst attributes of both cartridges (recoil impulse and recoil energy). While the 9mm’s recoil impulse is abrupt due to its high velocity, it remains light enough to be controllable. On the other end of the spectrum, the .45’s recoil energy is higher, but remains controllable due to a less abrupt impulse as a bi-product of its reduced velocity. Now, I understand that the above is an oversimplification of the physics present during recoil, but I’m simply making generalizations for easier conceptualization. For many shooters, the .40 S&W is less controllable than either the .45 or the 9mm, when shot from as near as possibly identical platforms, because it generates a high level of energy transferred to the shooter through an abrupt recoil impulse.

    For the reasons listed above, I have pistols in all three calibers. But I tend to prefer to shoot the .40 ad .45 in larger heavier pistols, while preferring to shoot 9mm in smaller lighter platforms to mitigate the effects of increased recoil energy and/or impulse present in the other two calibers.

    YMMV.

    1. avatar LC Judas says:

      As I said above and say again, recoil is pretty snappy and more so for the less experienced. I’m not gifted with ham sized mitts so I can concur as far as felt recoil is concerned.

      Your typical shooter already has an idea of what they imagine a pistol should do and how it should feel in hand. Some people like the somewhat intimidating and less than comfortable feel of high recoil pistols. I have seen people use it as part of their selection process though it does seem pretty counterintuitive to pick something that you have less chance of shooting well with that being part of your reasoning.

      And if you ask your average shooter what they have, if they’re a low info annual sort of shooter, they often pick .40 because the local cops were issued it. Not the best logic to use but I’ve met folks who state that as their sole criteria for carry and while I bought my G23 for my first carry as a personally researched optimum price to value purchase most of the other G23 or G22 owners cite the FBI choice first and often as part of their selection process. Not the best reasoning but…One of several.

      Most of us here and those like us are informed on what we buy but we aren’t the typical gun owners. We are a minority and if the public wants what Jack from Without a Trace carries or Jack from 24…These are often the first and only biases they use. Experienced shooters develop logical biases based on incidental knowledge. But…for those starting from nowhere…hard to call. Since they’re the majority I doubt the .40 detractors will ever outnumber it’s lovers.

      Mileage indeed.

      1. avatar Accur81 says:

        Yep, you got me. I’ve got two Glock 23’s, a 27, and a 35 (and a bunch of other handguns, shotguns, rifles, two Tasers, pepper spray, knives, etc) cause I just don’t know that much about guns or calibers. Once I learn more I’ll get a Wilson Combat 1911 or a Sig 226 Mk 25. The .40 must be terrible because it isn’t a 9mm or a .45.

        / sarc

        1. avatar LC Judas says:

          You know what? You’re hopeless. Obviously. /sarcasm

          If not for that accursed grip angle I would still carry my G23 everywhere and im glad your decision to go G23 worked out. But a lot of the buyers of the G23 just like saying “it’s bigger than a 9 and holds more than a 45” and calling it a day. I throw my hands up at that point. What else can you do?

        2. avatar Accur81 says:

          @ LC,

          I call that a good place to start. / seriously.

          So also is the G19 / XD / M&P / Sig 226 / revolver, etc. I don’t denigrate any reasonable caliber or platform choice as long as the safety rules are followed. The rest can be learned with practice and competition.

        3. avatar LC Judas says:

          Many people before I take them out to the range count firing into the air at New Years the last time they were shooting and a basic ability to compare 9mm and .40 next to each other visually as the entire comparison between the two as far as ballistically. Those same people seldom understand how .38 Special fades compared to either round in most instances but…I digress. Caliber wars and loyalty aren’t my aim. It just is that some folks just don’t honestly care to know. And I suppose it’s the same way I haven’t memorized all the specs to most vehicles in production and still drive but…it makes my mechanic frustrated at times when he’s explaining very particular nuances of vehicle attributes and I flub them trying to understand. Ignorance of nuance doesn’t change needs or rights in any case

          I try to never denigrate. Keeps you from learning. If you saw my prior comment as such it wasn’t meant that way.

  22. avatar Don from CT says:

    Thanks for the history lesson.

    But it doesn’t change the fact that most people shoot the .40 much much worse than they shoot the same gun in 9mm. Amazingly they usually shoot it worse than a smilarly sized gun in .45.

    I don’t know why, but the .40 has a recoil impulse that screws with people. It just plain doesn’t work for most people.

    Ive taught hundreds of people to shoot and most do better with a .45 than they do with a Glock loaded in .40. I understand physics. I understand F=MA, I understand what a foot-lb is. I dont’ know why this is true. But it is.

    Defensive shooting is about getting the maximum amount of lead down range as fast as possible while maintaining moderate accuracy. By this measure, most .40s fail miserably.

    Most people’s splits between shots with a .40 are almost 2x what they are with a 9mm when using proper aimed fire out of a carry sized gun.

    Don’t get me wrong. My reloads out of my 40 oz 2011 based Brazos limited gun are a pleasure to shoot. But factory ammo out of most polymer framed guns is just not conducive to fast and accurate fire.

    The ONE recent exception I’ve found is the Glock 22 gen 4. It seems the double spring system in the Gen 4 guns tame the snappiness of the recoil better than the old system. But for the most part, changing a gun from 9mm to .40 merely makes it miserable to shoot.

    Nowhere is this more true than with the Kahr PM9 and PM40. The PM9 is an amazing little gun in that despite being so small, its an absolute pleasure to shoot. The PM40 is just an evil, vile little thing.

    Don

    1. avatar scoutino says:

      Most people may shoot better with 9mm but this one is much more accurate with .40. From the same gun, anytime I switch to 9mm conversion my grouping opens visibly. The felt recoil doesn’t make much difference.
      It might be because I shoot full size all steel Witness Stock, not plastic framed carry pistol.
      Before I decided on caliber of my first gun I went to local shooting range and rented two SIGs. Almost identical, one in .45 ACP other .40 S&W. Just to see how much they differ in “feel”. I just liked the forty little bit more… YMMV

      1. avatar Bruce B. says:

        Christmas time took about 15 absolutely new shooters to the range. Had my CZ75b in .40 and my EAA Witness in 9mm. These guns are both full sized steel frames with a nearly identical form factor. Started everyone with .22s. As they gained confidence they all wanted to try the centerfires. Shooters ranged from a petite 13 yr old girl to a petite 60 yr old women, with some burly, big men (and women!) in the mix. Nearly everyone shot as well with the ,40 as the nine and several appreciably better. Of course the CZ is just a tack driver.

        Had a couple show a marked preference for the 9mm, but had more that couldn’t get enough of the .40.

        My point? The .40 – at least in a full sized steel gun – is not inherently more punishing, or less accurate than a nine in the same platform. Yeah, it barks with a bit more authority. But for some, that’s part of the fun. Oh, by the way, my newbies were shooting about 6″ groups at 10 yards.

        1. avatar Don from CT says:

          I don’t dispute either of your guys experiences.

          But that doesn’t detract from my point, which is that in most DEFENSIVE sized guns, shooters are better off with 9mm than .40.

          My 40 ounce 2011 is no problem in .40.

          Next time you go into a gun shop, pay attention to how many S&W shields and Kahrs are in the used gun case. Then look at how many are in .40 vs 9mm. Its astonishing.

    2. avatar rlc2 says:

      Thanks Don for the voice of experience, and if I may,
      I understand and can concur with the point you are making about felt recoil-

      the G23 DOES feel more snappy, than a similarly sized gun, in .45 or a metal gun in .40, and I think LC Judas hits on part of it-

      Remember high school physics: F=MA ? Force equals Mass times Acceleration.
      And remember that Accelleration is Velocity Squared- so F = V2 (cant find the way on keyboard to make the 2 smaller and up high, but you get my point?)

      So, if the velocity of the bullet is higher, the efffect is not just doubled but squared, on that number, as to the Force (recoil?).

      On the other end of the equal and opposite effect- is the gun. If the gun is lighter (mass being somewhat comparable to weight- size of gun being roughly same)

      then you are going to “feel” that higher force MORE in your hand, as your hand is part of whats holding the gun in place.

      One other part of this might be in the way the gun “rotates” around a point in space- people talk about bore height- the force pushing back from the bullet going out is in the straight arrow back centered on barrell. Take an extreme example- pretend you could duct tape your pistol onto the end of a yardstick, at a ninety degree angle so you are firing the gun, at a target, holding the yardstick vertically, with fingers on it at the very bottom and the gun 3 feet away up top.
      (you’d have to kludge in some way, with a piece of string, and paperclip to pull the trigger)

      What would happen to the gun?

      Now, back to holding in your hand- if your gun has a high bore to grip measurement, theres that much more “rotation” to counteract….with me so far?

      Now, the famous Glock grip- we all “feel” it, and yes, it does somehow feel odd, if you are used to shooting a 1911. Why?

      Well, heres an excellent possible explanation from a guy who has a survival blog/business- David Morris…

      If you can imagine punching something with your fist-
      boxers- how do you hold your hand, instinctively? non-boxers- how?
      Probably pretty same- all four knuckles more or less hit the target at same time.
      Thats the 1911 natural grip, which is what you probably default to as you hold up your first gun, to shoot. Something about how we evolved, and the bones line up, I suppose- the point being- where you naturally aim thats where the bullet goes- I remember learning to shoot a handgun (1911) for the very first time 40 years ago, after no experience at all. I promised myself to just listen very hard and do exactly what the teacher told me- and it wasnt hard to remember because they were USMC drill instructors with a lot of experience teaching total noobs like me…and I shot Expert for years after to requal with pretty much zero practice in between, by just remembering what they said and the muscle memory of the drilling. I wasnt exceptional- I think it was a combination of the gun that fit my hand, with a natural pointing angle for an average noob, and the exceptional teaching of course.

      Now, imagine you are are a martial artist hitting a hard target- any shotokan or tae-kwon-do folks in the crowd, who broke boards? How do you hold your first to do that?

      Ok, I will cut to the short cut- you DONT punch like a boxer- I can tell you from personal experience having boxed a bit in college and you default to a boxer punch that instead of being inside a glove is now hitting a hard target – uh…no details, opsec on the internet and all that- it had NOTHING to do with being a nitwit losing his temper….

      point being- just like you see on youtube vids- dont punch the skull with your hand in a real world fight-
      because if you are off even a bit- you are going to get what doctors call a “boxers fracture”, where one of your knuckles, most likely the third or the fourth (pinky) finger weakest, is going to get crushed and flattened <>.

      What the serious martial artists all have is calluses, INSTEAD, is on their number one and two knuckles, becuz its MUCH easier to line up those to hit together, and they are bigger, and stronger bones, so if you practice, those CAN break things, without crushing the knuckles, within a much wider range of final FORCE…

      but here is the key bit- that punch requires a slight but precise downward rotation, in the wrist- to match that zero bore centerline to your forearm and upper arm as it lines up straight….to where its transmitted to the target at your knuckles.

      Thats the Glock grip.
      It takes practice getting that tiny but important alignment of the wrist.
      Its “not” a natural point of aim in my experience. And thats partly why Glock came out with different size grips in the Gen 4, and why you can also buy aftermarket bits and pieces to mod your own Glock, including to help hold your big ole’ fat hands out of the way of the slide if you smoosh too much up on the stock.

      Ok, sorry for length- last piece of the puzzle- remember the yard stick? Imagine you have to cock it ever so slightly at same time, to line up the bore to target…

      AND, when that extra rotation is applied, from bore ABOVE centerline- the middle of your fist on the grip, theres a little bit of extra rotation, from the Glock grip. IF, you dont have the muscle strength or familiarity of the “”feel”” from the long practice in a martial arts type punch, that little bit of extra rotation is going to feel “weird”. and the extra FORCE, which is whats transmitted to your hand, because its not soaked up by the heavier MASS of a metal gun, or larger plastic gun than a compact G23, or even smaller G27, is going to be perceptible- and that is often described as “snappy” – a bite to the hand, from that rotation, vs more of a slow pushhhh… from a metal 1911 lined up more on all four fingers.

      Bottomline- go rent a gun at your Local Gun Store (LGS). Shoot not 20 rounds, or 50 rounds, but 200 rounds once you settle on your top two or three. If one is a baby or compact Glock, you will notice the difference. And the bloody spots will also remind you if your grip is sloppy or riding up on the slide or the gun just doesnt fit that way.

      So sayeth the noob.

  23. avatar Oxygenthief says:

    So I see a few comments here about 357 Sig but no real meat in the comparison. Kind of sad…

    I have a Steyr M40 A1 with a 357 Sig barrel. The Steyr is the first 40 and the first 357 Sig that I have ever owned. I also own a 9mm and 45 both Springfield XDms. The Steyr with the 357 Sig barrel is my EDC above the others, and here’s why.

    The 40 has too much muzzle flip for accurate follow-up shots, the 45 while capable of putting down some metal targets with authority the limited round count is always of concern. The 9mm, while having a whole lot of bullets does not give me a strong sense of security when plinking, it may as well be a 380 considering how deflated I feel after shooting it.

    The 357 Sig on the other hand sits in the middle of the road for most categories, like this article suggests the 40 does. The difference is the reduced muzzle flip and when plinking not even my 45 puts down targets with the same authority. My follow-up shots are quick and accurate (well, accurate on good days at the range). My gut feeling tells me the time it takes for me to acquire and shoot at subsequent targets is just a bit slower than with the 9mm but faster than the 45 and way faster than the 40.

    Yes, 357 Sig bullets are just as expensive as 45 ammo. But that’s what reloading is for right?

    I get it, for law enforcement 40s make sense as they do offer a middle ground and they are paid to practice with their EDC weekly. But to me the “right” solution for the average Joe/Jane is the one that offers the best combination of repeatable accuracy and stopping power. Yes, the whole stopping power debate has been done to death and is at the heart of just about 90% of all the responses in this thread. Whichever camp you subscribe too (ultra fast vs big/heavy bullet) the other half of the equation still exists, repeatable accuracy. No matter what round you choose you need to be able to quickly, accurately and successively put lead/copper on target. I’m sorry but most people, me included believe the 40 is the worst in this requirement due to the excessive muzzle flip.

    Great article, I enjoyed the read. But I have purchased my last 40…

    1. avatar Hannibal says:

      “I get it, for law enforcement 40s make sense as they do offer a middle ground and they are paid to practice with their EDC weekly…”

      ermmm….

    2. avatar Don from CT says:

      Oxytheif,

      I’m with you mostly. Just a couple of things.

      1) I agree that the .357 sig is an effective, easy to shoot round. But the ammo is more expensive than .45 I thought. Correct me if I’m wrong
      2) .357 sig is difficult to reload for. Right? Does the bottle necked case need to be trimmed to length like a rifle case after being full length resized?

  24. avatar Mozart says:

    What a bunch of armchair gunslinger BS. You all want to help a newbie??? Enlighten them to shoot what they shoot best get training and practice as much as possible.

    Fun article but very well rehearsed.

    1. avatar LC Judas says:

      Armchair gunslinger BS? It’s numbers. I don’t put a bid in for .40 as I know we’ll it ain’t perfect for every damn thing; it’s good at being middle ground not the last round you’ll ever need. It’s middle ground for most comparison purposes…What’s offensive about this that it’s BS?

      I mean you buy what you want and I own guns in other calibers. I’m not finding what the issue is. “Well-rehearsed” meaning what? I looked around and put data together. Should I instead cite nothing at all? I don’t get your issue. Reading this will substitute nothing for actually getting on the range but some people pick guns based on bullet appearance. Let’s add facts and numbers. Where’s the flaw in that?

    2. avatar ropingdown says:

      I can’t help but laugh: If a newbie is reading this thread he/she is going to be left utterly confused. I suggest newbies take the usual route and rent various caliber guns in various actions, and try different loadings in them. Pick the one that feels right. It’ll do just fine until they realize they bought the wrong gun. Then they’ll buy a different one. Sound familiar????

    3. avatar Don from CT says:

      Mozart,

      I’ve been a NRA Basic Pistol instructor for 10 years. That doesn’t mean I’m a great shooter. But it does mean that I’ve seen a LOT of new shooters shoot a gun for their first time and I’ve seen a lot of people’s reaction to various guns and calibers.

      New shooters generally do not do well with .40. This is a sound generalization.

      It doesn’t run counter to yoru suggestion that they get what they shoot well. I’m just telling you that most won’t shoot .40 very well out of most plastic framed guns.

  25. avatar Grumpy in Kali says:

    The 40 cal round is a very effective round, just ask the department in the city where I was born how many gang members and pit bulls they put down every year.

    Why bother with a pee-wee 45 when there’s a man’s gun 357 mag?

  26. avatar Mozart says:

    The flaw isn’t the article though the 9mm vs 45 acp vs 40 S&W is very well rehearsed kinda like chocolate vs vanilla ice cream is there really a better? My comment was aimed at all the opinions in the comments not necessarily the subject. I’d be interested to know how many of those commenting have real world experience with

  27. avatar Tom in Oregon says:

    Good article.
    Thought provoking. Especially for someone who may be looking for a good EDC gun.

    1. avatar ropingdown says:

      Agree. The .40 cal hardly has to be defended. It has virtues. It was good to lay out what those particular virtues are.

      We are very lucky to have such a robust firearms and ammunition market in the US, and the liberty to make use of these, so that people can fulfill their own perceived needs according to their own lights.

  28. avatar Mozart says:

    oops hit the wrong button.. anyway how many commenting have any experience with real life self defense situations. Like you I own all the calibers mentioned and would not hesitate to carry any of them. It’s just that inevitably with an article like this every gun toting expert chimes in with the mine’s bigger than yours BS that takes away from what I assumed was the intent of the piece…the 40 S&W as a self defense round.
    That was my point. No disrespect intended.

  29. avatar ensitue says:

    The 40 is the Gen. Montgomery of the pistol world, Big Plans which were all total failures

    1. avatar jwm says:

      Hey, Market/Garden was 90% successful. Whatever the phuck that means.

      1. avatar Hannibal says:

        sorta like being about 90% pregnant…

    2. avatar rlc2 says:

      Well- for the average shooter, you and Don are probably correct.
      But remember it was developed after the FBI reviewed the Miam shootings, and realized they needed something more, that could shoot thru metal and glass without going thru all of a city block, and could be shot by hand, worn on belt.

      So, it takes more practice, and we seem to have gotten sidelined on the Glock issues- which are separate.

      My advice to first time gun buyers based on my very tiny personal experience is the same, as I think many others have said- go shoot a variety of guns at your local gun store, that has a range attached, and dont listen to what the clerk tells you if “this is the best period” kind of advice.

      Then go home and think about it. Go back and shoot some more. You will naturally settle in on a couple that fit what you need, in size that fits your hands, first, and how you want to use it, and based on how it feels after shooting a couple hundred rounds, at least.

      Then choose one. After time, your opinion may change with more experience, but you want your first gun to be one you can shoot comfortably, so its fun, and not a pain, to gradually get better.

      Oh yea- invest in good coaching up front- theres tons of good teachers out there, like Don- contact NRA for a list in your area, or ask a couple of the rangemasters at different places who they recommend- there will be a couple names that keep popping up.

      go there and listen very carefully.
      Report back here when done.

      So sayeth the noob.

    3. avatar T. McNamara says:

      Wow, poor old Bernard ain’t too popular in these parts.
      I think Erwin Rommel might disagree with you, if he was alive…
      Let’s face it, a PRACTICAL handgun is a marginal fight stopper at the best of times.
      We should be thankful that ammo companies are continually developing better projectiles in most calibers, due to public demand for better performance.
      The .40 ain’t so bad.

  30. avatar Delmarva Chip says:

    My open carry weapon is my Glock 23. Works for me. Definitely has a lot more kick than my 9mm Taurus (especially given that the Taurus is single/double action).

    I did make the mistake once of introducing my cousin to handguns via the Glock 23, but I’m going to take him back soon and let him shoot the Taurus. He didn’t do badly with the .40 but I think he’ll have a better time with the 9mm.

    1. avatar Don from CT says:

      The question is not whether or not you can “handle” it. Its how many rounds you can put down range in a given amount of time AND how many you would be able to put down range in the same amount of time with a 9mm.

      I owned a 23. Did it scare me? No. But I also own a 19. Reacting to a buzzer, I could draw and hit 5 steel targets with the 19 in roughly 4 seconds. Not great, but respectable.

      With the 23, the time is almost 7 seconds.

      These are facts. What preference one draws based on these facts is where the debate happens.

      I decided I shot so much better with a 9 then with a .40, the 9 was the choice.

      Your experience may be different.

      One other thing. If you like shooting a gun, you will practice and will be better for it.
      This was recently re-impressed upon me. I’ve owned a Ruger LCP for years.
      Its a wonderful gun to carry. Tiny, light, and reliable. But a miserable gun to shoot.
      My trigger finger gets beet up on the front of the hand guard and its not accurate enough to be satisfying to shoot for fun.

      I recently tried, then bought a Kahr P380. This gun is marginally larger than the LCP but is a lot of fun to shoot. Recoil is negligible with no pain and its real sights allow amazing accuracy for such a little gun. I’m already better with the Kahr than I was with the Ruger simply because I shoot it every time I go to the range.

  31. avatar Mozart says:

    Ensitue made my point!

  32. Just a note to anyone reading this who is now seeing cross-eyed by all the caliber arguments.

    Use any caliber you want but realize this:

    First, it is a handgun. No handgun cartridge contains the, pardon the pun, “magic bullet.” Any handgun most of us carry is “weak” compared to a shotgun or a rifle.

    Second, 9mm, .40, .45ACP, .357 or .22LR are all worthless rounds if you do not know how to use your handgun in a situation where you have to defend your life or the life of another. You can load up the biggest, baddest, hottest, +PJHPMagnumSuperLoad and it will do you no good if you do not place rounds, multiple rounds preferably, on the target in a location that will stop the threat.

    Third, do not be fooled by those who agonize over charts, graphs, statistics and what-not. Train. Train. Train and finally remember, it if first about mindset. Then training. Training. Training.

    So, you will read these kinds of discussions all over the Internet.

    People get all wrapped up emotionally over a particular caliber. It is ultimately silly.

    As for you, learn to shoot, what you choose to shoot, well.

    Practice makes perfect.

    1. avatar Accur81 says:

      Amen to that.

    2. avatar DJ says:

      Perfect practice makes perfect.

      Imperfect practice turns bad habits into muscle memory.

      You can see this in practice at your local range every day,

      🙂

    3. avatar SteveInCO says:

      How in blazes could you write all that and forget to mention training?

      1. In case you missed it:

        “Third, do not be fooled by those who agonize over charts, graphs, statistics and what-not. Train. Train. Train and finally remember, it if first about mindset. Then training. Training. Training.”

    4. avatar T. McNamara says:

      I don’t have caliber issues, I have Chuck Norris. Any questions ?
      I didn’t think so.

  33. avatar mdc says:

    I like the .40. I use it to warm up when I shoot 10mm. I like the Saber 165 jhp as well.

  34. avatar ggrimes2 says:

    The best defensive caliber is the one you’re carrying… Not that long ago most LEO’s carried a High Standard Derringer in .22 mag or a small Colt or Smith in .38 special. Neither was great for knockdown but they are a lot better than a stick. I moved back to .45 years ago and that remains my preference, I do however have a couple .40’s (a Taurus and an HK USP) both are very reliable and present a lot more stopping power than a 9mm. I also have several pistols in 9mm, couple of .357’s couple more .38 a .380 and a Walther in .32 and a limited edition Delta Elite (a true POS). The .40 kinda fell out of favor with me because it did nothing well but everything just so-so. The combination of high capacity and excellent stopping power make the .40 pretty much ideal for LEO applications it just seems that all the bad fallout from the 10mm days had a downside impact. I still carry a .40 on the motorcycle as its a good choice between firepower, capacity and size. Cheers

  35. avatar DJ says:

    The real first rule of a gunfight – don’t get shot.

    Let’s not forget that the given name of the humble 9mm is “9mm Para Bellum”. To translate “9mm – for war”. It was designed to kill humans (and do it with ball ammo). I have nothing against the 9mm, .40 or .45. I think they all have their place. I personally carry a 9mm because 1) it’s cheaper to shoot (and I like to shoot) 2) I have confidence in my ability to place a bullet where it needs to go to end a fight and 3) I can carry enough ammunition to engage multiple attackers without worrying about a reload.

    But I wouldn’t say someone is wrong for carrying a .40 or .45 either. I’ve carried a .45 in the past, until I decided that, shot placement being equal, 15 rounds in 1 magazine was preferable to 14 rounds in 2. I don’t own a .40, but I’ve considered getting one. For one thing – the ammo is more expensive, but also more available than 9mm.

    Overall, I felt this was a well reasoned and well written article – thanks for your insight,

  36. avatar ropingdown says:

    I have to ask myself, “do gang bangers out shooting up the hood every week ever read these informative posts?”

    Ah, the leisure and income to indulge the Paradox of Choice!

    1. avatar Vhyrus says:

      I live in Phoenix, which is a days drive from both LA and San Diego. This means, among other things, that we get a lot of bangers and their ilk at the gun shows (well, a lot compared to most places. I still only see a handful). It is pretty obvious, not simply because of their clothing, tattoos, and mannerisms, but mainly because they are almost exclusively buying hi points and jimenez, with some kel tecs and taurus occasionally. The caliber of choice? Without fail its 380. There must be a 380 shortage in California that makes the 22lr situation look amazing in comparison.

      So, if gang bangers know about guns, then 380 must be the hottest thing out right now.

  37. avatar Weirdcloud says:

    Just carry a 10mm.

    1. avatar Vhyrus says:

      Why stop there? Pick up a serbu shorty 12 gauge in a drop leg holster!

    2. avatar T. McNamara says:

      Amen…

  38. avatar Tim U says:

    I have 9mm, .40, and .45

    They all have virtues and do something well, they all have downsides. I feel comfortable carrying any of them. It’s mostly a matter of what I feel like that day. I usually will take a 9mm or a .40 over a .45 though, because of capacity.

  39. avatar Clark says:

    My concern is with noise. I carry a 9mm because I don’t imagine I will be wearing ear protection in an emergency and I want to be able to hear after taking shots, especially in the dark. With my .45 I can’t. I have never tried a .40. Can you still hear after firing one without ear protection?

  40. avatar ValleyForge77 says:

    To me, it’s like arguing Small vs Medium vs Large.

    It’s a zero-sum game. You can only carry so much lead. It’s only in what size parcels you choose to carry (and hopefully not have to deliver) the same mass.

    SMALL – ‘Small is the best. I can carry more smalls. Small is light and fast and a small will mess you up plenty good. And if it doesn’t, I’ll just use a few more real quickly’. – All true.

    LARGE – ‘Large is the best. I can carry fewer larges yeah, but I only need one or two larges to do the job. Go Big or Go Home’. Combat proven over time. Mass better defeats barriers, etc’ – OK, I can dig it.

    MEDIUM – ‘Medium has some of the best advantages of both small and large. Sure, it’s not as small as small and it’s not as large as large, but it’s the ‘perfect middle ground’. Go Medium!’ – Yup. All good.

    You’ll never get the ‘cult’ for ‘medium’ as you do for small or large, because it’s not optimized to be either small or large. It’s just like politics. Usually the two extremes attract the most followers and attention.

    Of course, felt recoil does not necessarily chart linear across the spectrum from small to large, but then again, felt recoil really depends on who’s doing the ‘feeling’ and is as much based on the size, weight and mechanism of the firearm as it is the caliber (not to mention the options within said caliber)

    Ultimately there are very few absolutes in life. Even in the darkest of space there are protons. I see everything in shades of gray, so have no trouble understanding the value that Small, Medium and Large provide, the positive characteristics intrinsic to all three respectively, and how some are better for some and others better for others. I personally have all 3, so have no stake in the game for one against the other. They all have their place.

    I wonder if the same people who say that ‘Medium sucks’ apply the same logic to rifle cartridges, and only love 5.56 exclusively and think x39, 300BLK, 6.5, 6.8 and .308 are only for people with smaller sex organs trying to compensate.

    Personally I don’t feel too terribly intellectually challenged by the same ‘beautiful mind’ that would pretend that a 10/22 is an assault rifle, but hey… to each his own.

    Oh – and Hi James! 😉

    VF77

  41. avatar Banky74 says:

    I don’t have anything against the .40 S&W and I find the “short & weak” moniker laughable as it is obviously a very capable and lethal round.

    But it’s also one of the only mainstream pistol cartridges I do not shoot. I’ve shot thousands of rounds of .40 S&W in other guns and while it’s ballistically superior to the 9mm, in my estimation the snappy nature of the cartridge in most guns negates the aforementioned advantage.

    While I have never been in a firefight, my brother has. His experience led him to state that the impulse for rapid fire is almost impossible to avoid. Consequently, he was very happy that he had a pistol (Glock 17) in a caliber that allowed for extremely accurate follow up shots.

    1. avatar rlc2 says:

      Yep. and the cost of training to get to the place where you dont devolve to impulse when your brain is working at the lizard limbic level, as opposed to being in sync with muscle memory of the training instead, is very expensive in both time and bullets. Maybe thats why the NYPD misses so much.

      Thats not to say you need to be like the pro athlete who shoots thousands of free throws to be in the flow, the zone, to make that shot under pressure- the one you “know” is going in, as soon as it leaves your finger tips. Thats what gun guys call “being able to call the shot”.

      But you do have to train some to be proficient for self-defense, to get 8 out of 10 in the pie plate, most of the time, from your real world stance. Add in being abole to do that, after taking cover, shooting from a kneel, for example, and then moving to cover again, reloading – the typical mall situation while protecting your wife and kids….

      this is why you want to think about what you are going to use the gun for, because its not just about the bullets, or the weapon- its about being able to use it as you see fit, and if you are going to be both proficient and responsible, theres more involved- its a very worthy pursuit that you will find challenging and a life skill with many benefits if you do.

      So picking a gun that doesnt make it harder helps a lot, up front. I’d go with the G17 vs G23 for any beginner knowing what I know now, if you are gonna carry a plastic gun outside the waistband holstered as your first handgun.

  42. avatar 27 Words says:

    I’m indifferent to the .40 S&W. I own one, but it’s certainly not my favorite caliber to shoot. However, I read this a while back at http://www.vintagepistols.com and found it absolutely hilarious…whether you agree or not….

    “The .40 is symbolic of the pussification of America. You see… in the past, someone at a firearms company took a look at a cartridge like the .38 S&W and said, “Hey… If we made this thing longer, we could get more powder into it and make it more powerful.” Everybody within earshot said, “Let’s do it!”, and the .38 Special was born.

    One night several decades later, Colonel D. B. Wesson and Phil Sharpe were sitting around on stools made from elephant legs, drinking straight whiskey and smoking Cuban cigars when the Col picked up a .38 Special and said, “Dude, we should make this thing longer, stuff it full of smokeless powder, and give it a cool name. It would kick ass!” to which Phil Sharpe replied, “You’re a pussy if you don’t”, and Bingo! the .357 Magnum was born.

    The same thing happened with the .44 – except Elmer Keith wouldn’t stop whining about it so he was drinking whiskey alone, angrily writing magazine articles until Remington finally made his cartridge.

    The .40 was developed backwards.

    In April of 1986, the FBI was involved in a shootout in Miami with two heavily armed career criminals. The bad guys were killed, but not before they took the lives of FBI Special Agents Gerald Dove and Benjamin Grogan. The subsequent investigation placed partial blame for the agents’ deaths on the lack of stopping power exhibited by their 9mm handguns, so the FBI adopted the far superior 10mm cartridge.

    Field agents loved the additional firepower, but some of the sissy office staff complained about the 10mm’s recoil. One day, some pale doughy accountant picked up a 10mm and said, “If someone else would make this smaller and weaker, it wouldn’t hurt my little hand as much when I shoot it.” His transgender assistant said, “That a great idea! They could even make the guns smaller to fit in my evening bag”, and the .40 was born.”

    1. avatar T. McNamara says:

      Now that’s damn funny !
      I salute your witty and erudite prose Sir. !
      I’m a retired cop, old school and as politically correct as a the Bonny Blue Flag on a Volvo.
      I can just hear the gun fight at OK Corral fought by the new man:

      “Hey Wyatt, do these pants make me look fat?”
      “No, Doc, say, that’s a lovely hat…Abercrombie and Fitch ?”
      “Why no, silly, some butch company called Stetson.”
      “Say, I got a horrible splinter from this damn revolver…again, couldn’t we find something smaller ?”.

      Had this conversation happened, I think that the Clantons and McLaurys would have shot themselves…

      I still like the .40 but, the reasons for the FBI ditching the mighty 10 mm are just absurd.

  43. avatar Mike says:

    To funny. Folks lets get real a ,40 hole in anyone will slow them down a bit. My Spring Field XDM has a 17 round mag and with one in the pipe I deserve what happens if I can’t unload my ordinance into the target properly!

  44. avatar Mort Leith says:

    I used to carry my .380 all the time, but then I agreed with the adage:

    Never use a small caliber gun,
    on a large caliber man

    now I always carry my Sig Sauer P229 0.40cal SS Elite

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