By Luis Valdes

O .40 S&W, you are being driven from your throne!
Thou, from when you graced the world,
The world has loved and hated thee.

10x22mm is your measurement,
Both strong and true.
Sadly many have insulted you as short and weak,

You pack the punch needed,
With the capacity wanted,
Thou many claim to hate you,
My love for you is true.

The .40 S&W, released to the world on January 17, 1990, has been credited as the Second Coming by some and hated as if it were the Anti-Christ by many. The haters claim that the cartridge is too snappy and has too much recoil. At the same time many of those same critics make bold statements that it’s short and weak. Which is it? Too powerful or too weak?

The truth is .40 S&W is neither…it’s perfection. The cartridge replicates the most popular Old West cartridge, the .38-40 Winchester, considered in its day an ideal “all-around” cartridge. It was actually a heeled .40 caliber projectile and was later modernized by the great John M. Browning himself with the 9.8mm Colt cartridge in the 1911 for the Romanian Army at the turn of the 20th Century.

Even further, the original design for the Hi-Power was as a striker-fired pistol chambered for a .40 caliber projectile replicating the 9.8mm Colt and the .38-40 Winchester. But Mr. Browning’s passing lead to the Hi-Power falling into the hands of ‎Dieudonné Saive (designer of the modern Hi-Power, SAFN/FN-49, FN FAL) who made it a 9mm.

Time marched on and folks toyed with the idea off and on until Mr. Paul Liebenberg of South Africa came to the United States. Many know him for his work in Smith & Wesson’s Performance Center and the excellent craftsmanship he he performed there. But when he first arrived in the US he started working for Pachmayr Gun Works where he worked on a side project known as the Centimeter Cartridge. It was to replace the .38 Super for IPSC purposes and was part of Whit Collins’s .40 G&A, the first .40 caliber auto cartridge.

Mr. Liebenberg left Pachmayr and founded his own company, Pistol Dynamics. From there he made a friend, Tom Campbell. he pair worked on the Centimeter Cartridge and tried to get Smith interested in it. They were eventually successful. The president of the company at the time, Steve Melvin, approached Liebenberg about converting a couple of their new 3rd Gen 5906s. Liebenberg obliged and the .40 S&W we know today was born.

The energy of the .40 S&W exceeds standard-pressure .45 ACP loads, generating between 350 and 500 foot-pounds of energy, depending on bullet weight. Both the .40 S&W and the 9mm operate at a 35,000 pounds per square inch SAAMI maximum, compared to a 21,000 pounds per square inch maximum for .45 ACP. The .40 S&W was originally loaded at subsonic velocity (around 980 ft/s (300 m/s)) with a 180gr bullet. Since its introduction, the cartridge has been marketed with a variety of loads, the majority being either 155, 165 or 180 grains.

Everyone is flocking to 9mm in recent years, especially after the FBI decided to ditch the .40 S&W. But what many don’t realize is that the .40 S&W is actually still a better cartridge since the new FBI load is a just a rehashed 147gr Speer Gold Dot load. The super-hot 9mm loads that the internet claims beats .40 S&W far exceeds the pressure curve due to these being +P+ loads.

There are three reasons for the .40 S&W’s superiority:

1. You can get mild loads that rival 9mm powder puff plinkers
2. It still has better barrier penetration than 9mm or .45 ACP
3. You can get loads that rival some 10mm loads

You can get all of the above in a compact, lightweight pistol that’s smaller than any 10mm and .45 ACP chambered gun. With my G22 I get 15+1 in a gun that weighs less loaded than an empty 1911. Follow-up shots are easy and the pistol handles like an extension of my body. I compete in GSSF with my G22 and even bring out my G24 for bowling pin matches and hunting.

I’ve carried a GLOCK 22 as my primary duty gun in the majority of my LE career and it’s never failed me. The .40 S&W has and will do the job. The gold standard 180gr JHP loads from Winchester, Speer, Remington, Hornady, and Cor-Bon are all dependable.

While some deride it as the amateur’s caliber, I believe it’s just the opposite. It’s the cartridge of the discriminating shooter, the true believer of the “master of one gun” mindset. You get compact-ness, capacity, power, and penetration all without the issues of excessive recoil or weight.

Some complain about the price of .40 S&W. Yet I find it for about the same per-round price as 9mm. Reloading it on a press is a breeze. With its flexibility, I can load powder puff plinkers or big game stoppers. I’ve actually used my G24 to hunt hogs and deer. And that’s with the factory 180gr Winchester Ranger SXT load.

For protection from armored meat eaters like Florida’s numerous gators, crocs, and bath salt-addicted zombies, the .40 S&W does the job there, too. A 200gr Hardcast Solid from Double Tap does the job against those pesky marine meat eaters and two-legged predators alike.

The fad of shooters jumping back to the 9mm is just that. One those that gun owners inevitably go through from time to time (remember the .380 mouse gun craze of a decade ago?). Soon enough 9mm will viewed weak and everyone will jump onto the .45 ACP.  Or 10mm. In fact, that’s already occurring to a certain extent as we’ve seen more a resurgence in those two cartridges.

The .40 S&W just keeps chugging along after a quarter century of service. The cartridge isn’t going anywhere. Sure, its popularity may wane and the “cool” guys may move to something else. But this dyed-in-the-wool, tried-and-true devotee ain’t going anywhere. I’m sticking with .40 S&W and I thank you for leaving more options on store shelves for me when the next panic buy comes.

 

Fun Fact:
GLOCK was the first company to have a commercial product chambered in .40 S&W on the market. They beat S&W to their own game. When the cartridge was unveiled at the 1990 SHOT Show, GLOCK reps were able to get a few samples and got the G22 to market before Smith got their 3rd generation 4006 out. Despite some of the lore, the first agency in the US to adopt the .40 S&W was not the California Highway Patrol (which many credit as doing so since they were the first to adopt the S&W 4006). It was the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division; otherwise known as SLED. You can look it up in the November 1990 Issue of Shooting Times.

97 Responses to In Praise of the [Clearly Superior] .40 S&W Cartridge

    • No kidding. This is a fake news feel-good piece designed to .40 owners with their poor choice. A .40 is just big tires on a Chevy Luv.

    • MLK, BCG, Hank…?
      Haters gonna hate.

      .40’s rock.
      Just as much or as little as every other round.
      “Beauty is in the eye…”
      As PCCs keep getting more popular, the proof will stand out to those who have not seen the light.
      The forty is less expensive than ten mm, forty fives, and three fifty sevens, and far more potent out of a carbine than a nine.

      BTW, who is it that is buying the three eighty carbines?!

      • I could care less if someone prefers the 9mm or .45, why would I? I’ve been very happy with my .40 and have no intent to move on to anything else. But haters gonna hate. The penis-envy in this thread by 9mm fan-boys is strong.

  1. Meh.

    It was a scam in the 90’s to sell something new to PDs so that gun manufacturers could liberate “pre-ban” 9mm mags from the police as part of trade-ins, which they could then turn around and sell to private citizens after the stupid AWB went into effect.

    It beats up your gun, recoils more than a 45 with none of the coolness of the 45, and is terminally not really better than a 9mm (with lower capacity).

    It’s the perfect police gun. They don’t shoot much.

    I’m mostly kidding except for the first part (they did pull back a lot of “high-cap” mags in trade). If you like .40 then more power to you. Personally I don’t care for it, but hey its a free country (in most states).

    • “It beats up your gun…”

      No, it beats up pistols that were originally designed in 9mm and companies just re-sized the 9mm slide, changed the barrel and called it a day. Companies like H&K and Walther who took the time to actually design a new version of a current model around the round don’t have those problems at all. Felt recoil is also firearm design sensitive. Lower bore axis counts for alot.

      “…recoils more than a 45 with none of the coolness of the 45…”
      Thats a half assed comment at best, I could use the same logic to say “45acp recoils more than .45 LC without the coolness of the LC” or “.45 acp recoils more than 5.7×28 without the coolness”

      “and is terminally not really better than a 9mm”
      I personally like a hundred to a hundred and fifty more ft. lbs. of energy in my round with a greater weight and larger diameter, but like you said…to each their own.

  2. To each their own.
    I like 9mm and love 45acp. I have no need or want for .40 cal. And really no need or want of a glock.

    • I agree, carry what you’re comfortable with.

      I generally carry a 9mm with a small .38 as backup. Depending on my mood and outfit for the day I may instead pack my .45 or .357 as the main gun.

      I had a Glock in 357 Sig for a few years and would sometimes shoot .40 out of it with an aftermarket barrel but wasn’t super happy with either so I sold it. My dad still loves his .40s though so I see the appeal; it’s just not a round I have much interest in.

    • “I have no need or want for .40 cal. And really no need or want of a glock.” My sentiments exactly.

  3. The .40 is a good cartridge—in a pistol designed around it. Glock .40s have the ever present risk of KABOOMING.

  4. I don’t have any major disagreement EXCEPT claiming it’s the same price as 9mm. I can get 50rounds of brass 9mm for 10bucks ALL the time. And cheap defense ammo. I have no problem shooting 40 but cost(and much wider availability) is the main reason I’ve gone with 9mm.If I want “stopping power” I’ll use my 12 gauge. Or my soon to arrive Ruger AR 556…

    • In MI, it’s pretty much .380 and up straight walled cartridges in the shotgun zone, or ‘anything but rimfire’ in the rifle zone:

      A conventional (smokeless powder) handgun must be .35 caliber or larger and loaded with straight-walled cartridges and may be single- or multiple-shot but cannot exceed a maximum capacity of nine rounds in the barrel and magazine combined…
      It is legal to hunt deer north of the limited firearm deer zone with any caliber of firearm except a .22 caliber or smaller rimfire (rifle or handgun).

      • Same with Ohio, but they don’t allow it in carbines. You’d be limited to the Glock 35, M&P40L, and rarer things in Ohio because the rules say “5 inch barrel and .357 Magnum caliber or larger” (they specifically allow .38 Special and .45 ACP in rifles, which have shorter cases and are weaker than .357 Magnum, so .40 shouldn’t be an issue; on a side note we might be allowed to use .450 Bushmaster and .50 Beowulf next season).

        • Yeah, funny thing, in MI’s shotgun zone I can use a 45ACP handgun but I can’t use a 45ACP carbine because the cartridge isn’t long enough. I can see why there’s a maximum length, but I can’t see why there’s a minimum length in a long gun and no minimum length in a handgun.

      • Shooting at an elk with a .40 is ridiculous. I am sure it has been done but I am also sure that 95% of the elk ran away only to die a slow death that winter. Use the right tool for the job. A rifle .243 or bigger and 1000 foot pounds at 100 yards.

  5. “I’ve carried a GLOCK 22 as my primary duty gun in the majority of my LE career and it’s never failed me. The .40 S&W has and will do the job.”

    I think your years of no gun failure have more to do with the gun being a Glock and less with the type of ammunition. If we want to talk about perfection, the Glock should be the discussion topic, not the ammo.

  6. Love the history!

    I’ll have to check out a 200 gr load. My current favorite is a hi-tek coated 180 gr lead bullet over 5 gr of WSF.

  7. That Ruger is a nice AR
    A solid ” entry level” rifle that will start you down the path of buying a different upper in 7.62 x 39, then a slidefire stock and soon you have an arsenal er- collection
    I am very interested to know where you buy 9 mm for $10 per box of 50
    Here in Florida, Walmart sells Winchester target 9 mm for $14 a box
    That’s the cheapest I see

  8. So go with 10mm. You can run it at .40 levels with less recoil and lower pressure since there’s more case capacity and larger guns. You can also hot rod it further than you can hot rod .40.

  9. never understood how fast folks seemed to turn on the .40 SW. Seems one minute the 9mm was under powered and the next, .40 is “too snappy” or some other foolishness, yet the same folks who deride .40 as snappy are all about 10mm. go figure. No dog in this fight as I own and reload for them all. .40 is a good compromise between .45 and 9mm, though if I were a police officer I would carry .357 sig. Yeah they suck to reload, but you can’t beat them for energy, velocity (think penetration power) and reliability (bottlenose going to cycle better than any straightwall). I need more folks to get on the .357 sig bandwagon so they will get cheaper, which seems to be the main reason folks are in love with 9mm anyway. I’d prefer a cartridge designed 100years later, when they used super computers and not slide rules. whats the opposite of “get off my lawn!”?

    • HP bullet designs in the 1980’s and early 90’s were nowhere near the maturity we see today. 9mm loads of Hydrashok or HiShok, as examples of earlier designs, perform poorly in gel tests. Making up for that poor performance led to adoption of more powerful cartridges.

      Fast forward to the last 5-10yrs, and we have a slew of 9mm loads that perform exceedingly well from barrels as short as 3″. Why pay more, endure more recoil, and carry less when you gain little in terminal performance?

      Review any STB410 video to see 9mm subcompact performance, or this luckygunner article:

      http://www.luckygunner.com/labs/self-defense-ammo-ballistic-tests/

      You can see exactly what you gain by stepping up to 40, and it’s not much.

      • All valid points, and there is some great data collection in there. But what all of this testing ignores that sometimes one has to shoot through barriers, and other times the thing just doesn’t expand like it does in a nice controlled test and all you have to fall back on is energy and the size of the hole. I guess I would like to see something in the form factor of the 9mm(mag capacity wise) redesigned to take advantage of modern metallurgy and powders, etc. If we could turn back time and use modern technology to re-design for whatever the 9mm requirements were, what would it look like? If the 9mm ammo cost the same as .45 and 5.7 and everything in between, would it still be as popular? I don’t know the answer to any of this but I can’t help but think there is only so much you can do with such an old design. I guess I just have to wait for armor piercing, exploding tip caseless to come along so I can bitch about not having a laser rifle yet.

    • George in RI,

      As I understand it, .40 S&W with 180 grain bullets penetrate better than .357 Sig with 125 grain bullets. I saw super-slow motion video of various caliber bullets hitting windshield glass at really oblique angles and remember both .40 S&W 180 grain bullets and .45 ACP 230 grain bullets sailing straight through without any significant deflection.

      • entirely possible. I was also remembering some Police testing where .357 sig performed best in penetrating some sort of truck door. multiple officers fired rounds into some large vehicle and only the .357 sig made it through. My memory is a little off and possibly the .40 round you mentioned wasn’t included. one thing is for sure, when it comes to hard barrier/steel plate penetration the largest factors in success are velocity and bullet diameter(eliminating density of the round), and .357 sig has them all beat in those two categories. Glass at certain angles, yeah who knows. its all voodoo once you start cherry picking medium and angles.

    • I blame the proliferation of gel testing videos on the internet. Now everyone and the retarded brother can get a YouTube channel and a block of gelatin and pretend to have a freakin’ clue about actual stopping power.

      Here’s the thing here. Humans aren’t all stamped out of a factory. No only is there plenty of bone to cause problems. But not all humans are made the same in terms of level of density. This was showed out in practical terms during the incident that inspired ‘Black Hawk Down’. There’s many reports of some of the hostiles having to shot several times to completely incapacitate them.

      Now this is not to say that 9x19mm can’t do the job. I simple am not impressed by this level of hype given that’s exactly the same hype we’re seeing from the last time the FBI made these claims of the so called superiority of 9mm. Hell… I’d really love to see an honest non-partisan explanation of what makes these new rounds supposedly so much better than the old ones. I’ve looked quite a bit and I can’t really find any honest comparisons.

      • Agreed that the proliferation of gel tests has been a mixed bag: some folks are scientifically inclined and follow consistent procedure, while others do not. Some testers also extrapolate data or inappropriately attribute greater performance for data produced.

        However, the good tests do show something. Gel tests (assuming from this point on that we’re only discussing tests performed to FBI spec or a similar degree of consistency) provide a universal medium from which we can correlate penetration and expansion to what we would expect to see in the human body. The key word is correlate: 8″ in gel does not equal 8″ in a human, nor does it account for that femur you hit at an acute angle. There are far too many variables to consider in an actual shooting, so we must eliminate some in order to compare Load A and Load B.

        The oft-cited 12-18″ of gel penetration is simply a benchmark derived from what people smarter than me determined is the optimum penetration in a human body. It doesn’t necessarily mean 12-18″ of penetration in a bad guy.

        Think of it this way: you can’t directly measure the heat absorbed by a space shuttle’s tile as it re-enters the atmosphere, because the device used to measure it would be destroyed. But you can run some numbers, simulate it using computer modeling, correlate the temperature that those tiles need to endure in a laboratory atmosphere, and then test it under those conditions. It’s not a perfect replication of what those tiles will do upon reentry, but it’s close enough and it provides a benchmark for mass producing tiles and testing a sample.

        It’s not that 9mm is superior (generally speaking) in any way to 40, 45, etc. It’s that modern 9mm loads (HST, GD, etc) perform beautifully and do so at less cost, higher capacity, less recoil, etc. When you’re an acquisitions officer comparing long term training costs, $.05/rd adds up fast over hundreds of thousands of rds. Add in that the milder recoil allows a wider range of individuals to shoot it well, and it’s an easy sell.

  10. My only complaint about this article is the part about some 40 loads rivaling some 10mm loads. You’d have to cherry pick some very specific loads in both cases, kinda like comparing those ultra hot 9 loads to a standard .40 loads. No 40 loads I’ve ever seen rival an Underwood 10mm hollowpoint load.

    • “My only complaint about this article is the part about some 40 loads rivaling some 10mm loads.”

      While it is strictly true that most .40 S&W loads are equal to 10mm factory loads, that is because most 10mm factory loads are seriously watered down. If manufacturers would load 10mm anywhere near maximum pressure, they would clearly outshine .40 S&W.

      • A similar situation exists with .357 magnum. Pick the right load and you’d think 9 mm is just as powerful, yet they both run the same max pressure and the .357 has over twice the case capacity.

      • Yep, Buffalo Bore has a 200 gr. jhp 10mm that is cooking at 1350 fps. There is no way to get that kind of performance from a .40

  11. I too have carried a Glock 22 for many years in law enforcement and also a Glock 23 when off duty. My back up gun was a Glock 27. In all my years of qualification and shooting I have never experienced a malfunction or failure to feed. And my wrists aren’t limp so I don’t use the word “snappy” to describe the recoil. In real life shootings (in law enforcement we get the info not made available to the public) the .40 has been highly effective in taking down bad guys, permanently. Nothing against 9MM, I have a couple of handguns chambered for them, but for me I am sticking with the .40.

  12. It’s not that 40S&W is bad..

    It’s that ammunition technology has developed way beyond the point where it is necessary.

    Not to mention I don’t need to load “powder puff” loads because I can buy by a $9 box of ammo from Walmart mart any day of the week.

    • “It’s that ammunition technology has developed way beyond the point where it is necessary.” How true. To me, one of the most surprising rounds is the stuff PolyCase makes for Ruger. Using water jugs, a .380 ACP Ruger ARX round blows the jug like a 9mm HP and the 9mm Ruger ARX blows it above 38 Spl +P but not quite .357 Mag HP. When I can carry a Ruger LCP Custom that performs like a 9mm, that’s some advancement. A 9mm LC9S with ARX ammo is primary & the LCP with ARX secondary. But if I need absolutely total concealment, the LCP Custom with a reload is it.

  13. My only guns chambered in .40 are M&Ps and that’s because they were designed around the .40 S&W and scaled down to 9mm (they are not the only ones, others were also designed around .40 first and scaled down), whereas Glocks and some others were designed as 9mm and then converted to .40 without upgrading the rest of the gun for the increased load. That said, the caliber war stuff will never be settled, I don’t carry .45 because it’s slow moving (and much less likely to open hollow points in short barrels) and reduced capacity or increased size of the gun make it too big a compromise, but I do carry 9mm or .40 S&W without worrying about it no matter which I have.

    • Try ARX, or Lehigh copper solids out of a short barreled 45. These rounds don’t need to expand to produce their effects.

      • See my thoughts on the ARX ammo above. I have only used the .380 ACP & 9mm; want to try the .357 Mag, but I have tons of ‘normal’ .357’s. Projectile technology has come a long way. But nothing is absolutely new. There is skeleton of a soldier at the Jamestown, VA museum that was very interesting. Using modern forensic sciences they can where a person lived, etc. They say this soldier was killed instantly in a training exercise by a single shot to leg because the projectile had been deliberately cut in such a matter to vastly increase tissue damage. Interesting stuff.

      • You do know the Nazis invented the lehigh extreme penatrator projectile in ww2 and stopped using it because it would smoke MP40 barrels in less than 500 rounds? The barrel wear is extreme with that stuff.

        • I don’t think it’s going to be a problem. You aren’t going fire more than a few a rounds .

  14. “Reloading it on a press is a breeze”. Yes and no, all the pick up brass 40 I run through a push through resizer, because of base buldges. You can skip that step, but you are then going to likely be culling finished rounds at case gage.

    I like 40 S&W, it was my first handgun. I don’t think there is a question of if it’s more powerful than 9mm, especially when the loads are compared to similarly loaded rounds (relative to max powder charge). I rarely shoot my 40 because for 3gun with no power factor, everything about 40 is a disadvantage. I will likely convert my 40 to an open div 3 gun, not because it’s suited to that but because I have it and don’t want to get rid of it. I do think major 40 is easier to load vs 9mm major because of the extra case capacity of the 40.

  15. I bought a pistol chambered in .40 S&W.

    Then in a “what the heck” moment I bought a .357 SIG conversion barrel from EKF Fire Dragon and gave it a shot. The original .40 barrel hasn’t been back in the gun since.

    We use identical pistols chambered in .45 ACP as our standard home defense guns, so this for me is a range toy. But it’s a fun one!

  16. Hows that weapon light function on a .40?

    I have the same light on my 17 and upon firing it will turn itself off. Not the greatest option, glad I learned it at the range and not the hallway.

  17. Even though I don’t own any 40 Caliber pistols I still like the round. I think one of the reasons the 40 gets a bad rep as snappy, hard to shoot cartridge is that majority of people prefer small guns. Like the 45, 40 is full a full size gun caliber.

    I haven’t switched to 40 because there are modern 45 ACP self defense loads like the Hornady Critical Duty +P that perform in the mid range of the 40. It is cheaper to by a $25 box of ammo than a new pistol plus range ammo plus self defense ammo. If Sig gets through its problems with Steyr and actually releases the P320 in a full size 40 I may reconsider.

    • ^^^This.

      Personally I don’t find the G27 too snappy but that’s an eye of the beholder type thing. What doesn’t bother me doesn’t really matter to others.

      To me, this argument is a bit like the people who trash the Serpa holsters. You have to mate the gun, round (or holster in the case of the Serpa) and your body. People often forget the last bit and end up with something that doesn’t really work well for them.

      • I like .40 just fine.

        Out of my full size and compact* .40s, it’s not hard to shoot in the slightest.

        That being said if I could find one of the old EFK Fire Dragon barrels in .357 SIG for my Ruger 944, I would drop the .40 like a bad conversation.

        *Is a Beretta 9000s considered “compact” any more? Was it ever?

      • As a former Chevy guy I should point out that Ford could only make that claim because GM split their truck sales between GMC and Chevrolet. GM has always sold more trucks than Ford. However, after taking $85 billion of our tax money GM can ES&D.

    • I *just* got back from the range where I put another 50 rounds through my 1995-ish Glock 23. The gun probably has 15,000 rounds through it, because I used it for IDPA competition for around 10 years. Surprisingly it didn’t blow up on my, just like it never has. Maybe next time.

  18. .40 is for people who don’t know who they are. They can’t handle the soul killing power of .45 but think 9MM is too emasculating. It’s like bi-sexual ammo.

    • Yeah, but we can actually hit what we are shooting at if we don’t have 10 minutes to set up the shot.

        • Every fire arm is inaccurate in rapid fire, even long gu ns. At the ranges where rapid fire is applicable rev olvers are just as suited to the task as a semi-auto, other than the fact that they need to be reloaded sooner. Which is why I prefer a rev olver that hits hard to minimize the need for mag dumps.

        • Says the revolver guy.

          A lot of SPECOPs guys carry non regulation pistols. The most common one will undoubtedly surprise you. It’s the 1911 and nobody carries a revolver.

        • First, special operations military personnel routinely face situations that would be rare as being hit by a meteorite for a typical CCW citizen. But it is a bit funny that they tend to pick a weapon with nearly as low of capacity as a revol ver. So what advantage does the 19 11 have? A single action trigger. Now I’m not an expert on 1911s but I do have one and one that supposedly has one of the better triggers on the market. And I can attest that all of my revol vers have SA triggers that are a bit better than the 19 11. It could be that they buy into the ‘kills your soul’ BS but I’d think they’d be smarter than that. Either way, it’s also their backup weapon, not their primary.

          Second, I am a rev olver guy, but only one of my revo lvers is suitable for carry (although I’ve carried all of them just for sh!ts and giggles) and my backup carry weapon is a Rug er P95 with a 17 ro und maga zine. And my backup, backup carry weapon is the aforementioned 19 11. I don’t disagree with the carry a lot of am mo philosophy, more like I have a philosophy that if you’re going to limit your rou nd count you should make each rou nd count. Not a big fan of .38 snubbies, but then I’m not a big fan of .380s either.

          So what should you carry if the most important thing is accurate rapid fire? I’d nominate the Rug er 10/22 with 25 ro und mags and a 2-7x scope. With practice you could probably dump 75 rou nds on a 12″ target at 50 yards in 30 seconds with that, but it might be a bit hard to conceal. And it might take 75 rou nds to stop a determined attacker.

  19. Well now that the popularity pendulum is swinging again I’m just gonna call everyone a bitch because I shoot and carry .44 mag. So, you are all bitches. Except the few you who shoot/carry .454, .460, and .50. You got me beat.

  20. Thanks for a great article! I don’t have any 9mm, although my wife does.

    As for superiority, I hope technology has evolved for the .40 as it has for the 9mm.

    My only Glock is the 42. My 40s are Sig and FN…

  21. Hate on .40 all you want, the fact remains that it is a very adequate performer, commonly available, and reasonably priced.

    Being both common and unpopular means I never had a problem finding ammo when all other shelves were bare.

  22. I’m heavily paraphrasing Chris Costa here, but I think he gave good advice when he said to always assume your ammunition will fail you. Choosing the right ammunition is great, but if you understand that it will fail you, it puts the onus on you to train to run the gun as fast and accurately as you can, rather than putting the responsibility on your ammo to be a magic lightning bolt. I believe Mr. Ayoob concluded in one of his books, after having spoken with medical professionals and coroners, that it doesn’t seem to matter so much what you shoot someone with, but how many times you shoot them. In my own gunfighting experience, I’ve only ever seen bad guys shot with rifle rounds, so I don’t have any direct experience with what pistol rounds do or don’t do in a real fight, but this logic makes sense to me.

    I would love to find the person who, all other things being equal, can run a handgun chambered in .40 S&W with greater speed and accuracy than they can a 9mm.

    That’s not to say that “because it makes me happyc isn’t a valid excuse to do or own anything within the law, and within reason. It’s not an excuse that’s used enough, in my opinion. If .40 S&W makes you a happier person, then I hope that a semi truck full of it overturns in front of your house and the boxes break open and spill out and the momentum carries them and it fills your basement full of free ammo and you shoot your weird snappy cartridge that everyone but you hates forever and ever and ever.

    • I suspect that one can also shoot a 5.7×28 or .22 TCM faster than most 9mms and get the same penetration (depending on the load). It is very easy to find ineffective factory loads for the 5.7 though.

  23. .40 S&W is far from perfect.

    Little girls, arthritic old timers and thin-wristed girly men would be much better off shooting the 9mm, which was designed exclusively with them in mind.

  24. Given the fact that all handgun cartridges are nominal, the 9mm really only has 2 advantages over .40 S&W; higher availability (due, in large part to the fact that virtually every military uses it) and smaller physical size.
    Day to day this translates to generally cheaper (even if only slightly) per round and greater capacity per magazine.

    That’s not to say that 9mm is somehow superior for everyone. But if one or both of those are your priorities, then 9mm probably is better for you. Otherwise, it is a crap shoot.

    Oh, and if the latter, solely, is your priority, then think more along the lines of .22LR or something; you can get even greater capacity.

  25. My 1st autoloader was a Star FireStar in 40 S&W in 1991.
    It was out before any ones 40 s&w. I dont have that gun anymore but do have a Commander sized 1911 and my favorite gun of all. A Hi-Power in 40s&w.
    Nothing really wrong with the cartridge in my view. Maybe just with the person complaining about it who is firing it.
    Like any gun. The right size and weight. There is nothing snappy about it at all.
    Put it in too small a gun. Say made for a 9mm. Its a little bit more to handle. But not much.

    • +1.

      There are no free rides. A cartridge that generates more energy is going to generate more recoil than a less powerful cartridge in guns of equal weight. Put the .40 in a subcompact/compact platform and it’s going to be “snappy” compared to a 9mm. Get over it and get used to it.

      The .40 is a compromise cartridge and perfectly adequate for its intended purpose. Ditto for the 9mm and .45.

      I do love the folks complaining about the ammo cost for the .40. I learned many years ago that shooting pistols wasn’t going to keep hard earned dollars in my pocket.

      Bottom line, I wouldn’t turn my nose up at a police trade .40 in good shape at a decent price and neither should you.

  26. Blah.
    For a given handgun size, 9MM will provide similar or greater cartridge capacity. For a given momentum and velocity, 9MM will provide greater sectional density. For a given penetration requirement, 9MM will provide a stronger accuracy/ rate of fire mix.

    Just get out a shot timer and compare speed and accuracy of rounds with similar terminal performance.

    • Does this improvement stop at 9mm? What if it was an 8mm with the same sectional density/penetration? How about 5.56mm? 1mm?

  27. I have been shooting the 40 S&W for 25 years both on the job and for recreational shooting. Let’s see, not powerful enough but it can shoot a 155gr projectile to 1250 FPS for over 500 foot pounds of energy. It can go thru car doors, it can be used to hunt hogs and deer. In trained hands it can be accurate out to 200 yards. Yes, it has more recoil but so does the 357 and nobody really claims that the 357 is a bad caliber. Let the FBI keep the “strawberry short cake” and will keep “Bitch Pudding” for real work. The FBI, like any organization, can justify the need for change in anyway they want, shooters that like the 9 mm can continue to use that caliber (nothing fundamentally wrong with it) but in the end, they just criticized the 40 cal without any good reason. If you do not like a caliber, then do not use it, just stop speaking out of your ass and without thinking to justify the use of a lesser caliber. Think instead of going with fads, and then make your selection, it’s your life on the line anyway.

  28. Funny the lowly .22 has probably taken more game and been involved in more shootings than the .40 ever will,

  29. okay im sure alot of people come here everyday like myself but this has to be the most ridiculous story i ever heard 40 just plain just sucks its its in no way the “best” all around cailiber not close never will this article was written to stir the pot. all.40 cailber guns are the cheapest for any model for a reason

  30. I have a Glock 22 and my EDC is a Shield in .40SW. Love them both. I could shave about 1-2 seconds off my time shooting a complete mag of 9mm at full speed compared to the .40, but the difference between 9 and 11 seconds for 16 rounds is pretty useless to me since the first .40 is going to take down someone with my accuracy level.

  31. 9mm fanboys are easily triggered by their lack of girth, their chronic limp wrists, high estrogen levels and a silly obsession with caliber accounting costs. Splitting the small amount of hair that they have left on their heads over a few cents a round. I shoot what I want and I don’t mind paying up for my caliber of choice unlike Niners. 9mm fanboyists are most definitely Cialis’s biggest target market of bandwaggoning​ bafoons.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *