It’s been en vogue lately to poo-poo the .40 S&W caliber. All the tacticool operators and serious pistoleros seem to carry 9mm’s and turn their noses up at those misguided and amateurish enough to tote the mini 10mm. I know this because I used to be one of them. Lots of beginners choose .40 S&W because they don’t know any better and simply mimic what they see on the internet or what some dude at a gun store has spoon-fed them . . .
“Don’t carry a caliber that doesn’t start with a 4.”
“A 9mm don’t have enough stopping power.”
“If I shoot someone, I want to make sure I knock ’em down! That’s why I carry a .40.”
Just typing that nonsense made me roll my eyes. Time and time again I see some noob buy a .40, take it to the range and they can’t hit anything smaller than a Buick five yards in front of them. They figure the larger bullet will make up for their lack of skill. Unfortunately, for most beginners without a solid grasp of pistol fundamentals, the snap of the .40 only exacerbates their inexperience. After all, shot placement is king, right? Who needs a .40 if you can actually hit what you’re aiming for?
In my law enforcement career I’ve been issued a GLOCK 19, a SIG P229 in .40, and finally a M&P40. I’ve always been partial to 9mm GLOCKs as they’re what I cut my teeth on as a shiny new recruit. When I switched agencies and got my hands on the SIG, I eventually grew to love that as well, and the same goes for the M&P. I always shot my .40 caliber duty guns extremely well, and I had no real reason to dislike the caliber.
I’ve also always carried a backup gun on duty, and, until recently, it was a Ruger LCP in my support side hip pocket. Off duty was a G19 in a Crossbreed because, you know, .40 was for amateurs. I thought I was above the .40 caliber nonsense. I knew that shot placement was the real key and thought the .40 is for posers. However, even the tacticoolest operators agree that the mission dictates the gear.
Agency policy mandates the M&P40 for duty and only allows for a mere two additional guns to be qualified with per officer. The additional guns can be any caliber you want and any gun you want, as long as it’s from a reputable manufacturer. Since I carry under the umbrella of LEOSA, I have to play by the department’s rules. I either have to make do with those parameters or get appointed as Chief and rewrite department policy. Since the former is much more realistic I’ve had to choose my personal weapons carefully.
My on-duty backup gun and one of my off duty carry guns, the M&P40c, was selected for its magazine compatibility with its on-duty counterpart. Thoughts of my primary sidearm suffering a catastrophic failure during a gunfight left me feeling uneasy about relying on seven shots of .380. Since I carry a total of five M&P mags on my person — one in the gun and four between my belt and armor — the 40c made sense.
I expected the compact .40 to be an unpleasant, necessary evil. I was wrong. The 40c is the little gun that shoots like a full-size. I couldn’t believe how forgiving it was, and the new S&W triggers have improved 100% over previous generations. The 40c almost perfectly replicates the feel of my primary gun, and that familiarity translated into great accuracy and fast shooting. My 40c also doesn’t have the same tendency to auto-forward when I slam a mag home, a quirk some people like, but I would rather not have to deal with. My 40c mags don’t rattle, whereas my full size mags sound like they’ve got loose pebbles in them once twelve or more rounds are loaded.
The 40c is my new on duty backup and one of my two off duty carry pieces. It takes a little work to hide it in uniform, but it can be done. With the flush mag it disappears in all but the tightest Ed Hardy or Affliction shirts or wife-beater tank tops; which means it’ll completely disappear with anything in my wardrobe. A bonus is that this gun is one that I can actually carry AIWB.
Realizing the gun is supposed to be comforting, not comfortable, I ditched the LCP and stuck with the GLOCK 19 as my second gun. I have to be somewhat more aware about dressing around these guns off duty, and it takes a little extra work to conceal the 40c as a BUG on duty, but the tradeoffs are worth it. I carry both the G19 and 40c IWB in Crossbreed Supertucks or OWB in Kydex pancakes made by Zero9.
The 40c has been getting more time in my carry rotation than my G19 lately. With a spare full-size mag in a pocket I have twenty six rounds on tap, only six fewer than my G19 carry setup. Since the chances of getting into a gunfight off duty are slim, let alone getting into a gunfight that requires more than twenty six rounds, the 40c is suited for my off duty mission parameters: self defense. The 40c does everything I need it to do, and it’s quickly becoming my favorite. Plus, .40 really ain’t that bad after all.
(See the rest of the posts in this series here. Send your What I Carry and Why submissions with a photo to firstname.lastname@example.org with WICAW in the subject line.)