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There have been many, many good ideas and innovations that have to the world of cartridges and guns in the last few decades and the .40 S&W was certainly one of the most well-intentioned. I’ve already covered the ever-popular 9mm, a great beginner’s caliber, and the .45 ACP, a not-so-great option for the newbie, but fine for an experienced shooter. The more recent .40 S&W is something of a middle ground option between these two classics and it has suffered as a result.

The beginning shooter, shopping for a first handgun, will likely be presented with a great number of inexpensive, used guns in .40 S&W that seem like great bargains. I’ve seen police trade-ins with names like GLOCK for under $300. I would go so far as to say that the pistols chambered in .40 S&W are some of the best deals around today. But there’s a reason those guns are in the used pistol case and it’s not all roses.

The .40 S&W has been dying a slow and prolonged death for over a decade now. There will be loud and aggressive defenses mounted in favor of the cartridge by those who are passionate about it, but realists know that the 9mm has essentially killed it off. It’s a (mostly) dead caliber walking. The reason you’ll find all of those cheap .40 cals for sale is that nobody wants one you can have a 9mm.

As I’ve stated in my previous articles in this series, the significant advancements in bullet technology, especially around smaller calibers, has resulted in ammunition that shoots extremely well, displays superior internal ballistics, and increased relative capacity when compared to legacy options. Yes, a .40 S&W gun offers more capacity in a given frame size than .45 ACP, but less than 9mm. In the same vein, the .40 can’t really compete with 9mm in terms of recoil and ease of use, while producing more felt recoil and generally costing as much as .45.

So what would be the reason for a beginner go with a .40 over a 9mm or even .45? The real answer, dear reader, is that I can’t give you one. The .40 was designed because, in a nutshell, it was what the FBI decided it wanted in a pistol cartridge.

The original intent was to have it be a duplicate of reduced-power 10mm Auto loads that were tested by the FBI in the late 1980’s. This meant that many law enforcement groups were quick to adopt the .40 and didn’t ask too many questions about it. Many still use it, but that’s changing and it’s why there are so many on the surplus market today. And that may be the only real modern benefit of the .40; cheap entry-level guns.

As a beginner, you will be confronted with plenty of opinions about 9mm, .40 S&W, and .45 ACP because they essentially occupy the same zone of the gun ecosystem, competing for your gun-buying dollars. I would be insane if I told you to get a .40 over a 9mm in today’s gun market and there are several reasons:

– .40 S&W pistols are generally made on the same frames as 9mm pistols (think GLOCK 26 and 27) and as such display (slightly) reduced carry capacity for the same size gun.

– Compared to 9mm in the same sized gun, .40 S&W has a far greater felt recoil and ‘snap’. That means that there will be a comparatively longer learning curve to develop proficiency.

–  The cost of used firearms is relative. .40 ammunition is over 50% more expensive than 9mm for range ammo, with the average being about $0.33/round compared to 9mm at $0.20/round. That means that for a meager 1000 rounds of cheap ammo, you’ll pay about $130.00 more for .40. That’s easily the difference between an inexpensive, used .40 pistol and a new 9mm.

– Dwindling aftermarket support means that there will be less new innovations being made for .40 and fewer good ammunition options over time.

IN short, much like .45 ACP, the .40 isn’t a great beginner’s caliber. Sure, it works and works well, but 9mm just has too much going for it. The .40 S&W is a dying caliber and, despite a large number of available guns, will likely be gradually phased out of a lot of mainstream makers’ catalogs over the next decade.

That’s not to say that the .40 S&W doesn’t have its relative benefits. It offers a number of good, positive features that can benefit the right shooter.

– Excellent power-to-size ratio. Because of the fact that you can fit .40 parts into 9mm frames you can also expand the power of a given class of pistol.

– The available ammunition options for .40 are very well-developed considering its origins as a duty cartridge.

–  As mentioned earlier, guns chambered for .40 S&W are cheap and plentiful. On guns like a GLOCK 22, you can always convert it to 9mm later by changing out the barrel and a few other small parts.

–  Handloading for .40 S&W is fairly easy and offers a low-budget beginner cheap starting guns and easy-loading recipes.

Good guns that the author recommends in .40 S&W:

– GLOCK 22, 27, and 23. These are great pistols that come with the GLOCK name. They will be reliable and can often be found used or like-new for $300 or lower.

– Smith & Wesson M&P series: These pistols are pretty damn good as well. One of my long-time carry guns when I was new to shooting was an M&P 40C.

– SIG SAUER makes their awesome P320, P226, and many other pistols in the cartridge. Used duty guns can be had from this premium maker for relatively low prices as well.

So there you have it. I don’t believe that the .40 S&W is a long-term option (relatively speaking). Because of the world we live in and the random cult followings that pop up, the .40 will never truly die out. Hell, the .44-40 is still around today and I’m sure that some guy out there carries one every day.

What the beginner needs to know is that there are better options and that there’s more to consider than just the cost of the gun. My recommendation is to go straight to 9mm and skip the .40 altogether. The cartridge has always been a compromise, but rarely a happy one.

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  1. There are some advantages to .40S&W:
    1. You do get a bit more muzzle energy out of the caliber, so in a state that limits the number of rounds that you can carry in your magazine, it may be a worthwhile compromise compared with a similarly sized 9mm. Looking at the LuckyGunner tests, the .40SW Winchester Ranger-T, for example, outperforms many of the 9mm loads (from memory).
    2. If you shoot USPSA, pretty much any commercial .40 load will be worthy of Major Power Factor for slightly more generous scoring, whereas most other calibers would require handloading to reach the same (other than .45ACP, which has an even more limited magazine capacity). The other major contenders (9mm, .38 super) require very precisely balanced loads to reach Major PF, as well, so even handloading for it may be easier.

    • You touched on just about the only role that 40S&W will be relevant for in the near future – Making a certain power factor for competition. Beyond that for defensive purposes, 9mm is softer shooting, gives you more capacity in a given magazine/frame size, and is just as effective.

      If you’re not shooting 9mm through your defensive/carry gun these days, you’re wrong.

      I look forward to all of the butthurt “BUT MUH STOPPING POWER!!!!” responses

      • If you’re paying for it, use whatever caliber makes you happy.

        Don’t let others determine the right caliber for you.

      • Your 9mm ain’t got none of the stopping power my 500 Magnum has.

        Plus that stainless steel BFR with a ten inch barrel coming out of your coat will generate some guaranteed brick shiting on the perp’s part.

      • I carry a .44 mag. Straight up opens black holes inside what you’re shooting at.

      • The issue of making power factor (eg, in IPSC) was always easily handled by the .38 Super. Same magazine capacity as a 9×19, makes major power factor.

        Today, you could use either the .38 Super, 9×21, 9×23, etc to make major with the magazine issue handled.

        • It’s handled, yes, but not easily. Try to find a commercial .38 super round that makes major PF. I think Buffalo Bore may make one, but they’re the only one I’ve found- it usually requires handloading to reach major velocities. I don’t know that you can easily buy 9×21 or 9×23 in a pinch, either.

          On the other hand, go to the store and pick up a brick of the cheapest stuff you can find (Blazer Brass, Magtech, PMC, Winchester White Box, whatever) and you’ll hit major PF.

          Sure, handloading will lead to better results in whatever caliber you’re shooting, such that you can tune the recoil impulse and gas release, potentially tune the compensator if you’re shooting Open, etc, but at least you have the option to go storebought with the .40.

        • Remington and Federal both load +P’s in .38 Super.

          But the IPSC crowd loaded their own, just as they did for the .45 ACP with 185gr pills to get faster velocities and more gas to light up their comps. IPSC in the 80’s was a game where you loaded your own to compete for most of the higher levels of competitor. I load(ed) my own for 9×21 back in the 90’s.

          This aversion to hand-loading is a recent development in the world of shooting, something I’d say has come along since the 2000’s. It used to be that just about any serious shooter or competitor hand loaded – regardless of whether you were shooting a rifle, pistol, revolver or shotgun, as long as it wasn’t a .22LR.

          Today, the recent entrants to the world of shooting seem to want everything to be “off the shelf,” and if it doesn’t exist down at the local sporting goods store, it doesn’t exist at all.

      • I thusly give my butthurt “Muh stopping power!” argument, because it does have better stopping power. Size will always matter, and the mighty, but slow, .45 ACP will have more energy transfer than the faster, but weaker, .9mm. The .40 s&w has better capacity than .45, but is faster, so it performs better at penetrating barriers, like a 9mm, while keeping the higher mass.

    • The mag capacity thing is very overlooked in this article, too.

      Saying the 9mm is better because you can carry more is a complete waste when you can only carry 10 anyway.

      • Now that is a valid observation. Assuming your capacity is limited to begin with, and assuming you shoot other calibers as easily as 9mm, a larger caliber may indeed be more useful

        • The reason for .357SIG’s existence, unless I’m mistaken, is that it performs better against obstacles than 9mm or .40, like a car’s windshield. That’s something that that may be a major consideration for law enforcement, but it’s not for me.

          On the other hand, having a larger diameter after expansion increases the chance that you’ll clip something that puts an end to the threat immediately. Not to mention other concerns with bottlenecked cases and feed reliability, etcetc.

        • The other “solution” presented by the .357 Sig was that, being a bottle-necked case, it would feed more reliably that straight-walled cases.

          That was a reason given at the time, as I recall.

        • DG: You would know far better than I would, my being a complete layperson who has never owned a .357SIG firearm.

          Thanks for the education.

      • I carry a bakers dozen in my 40. Not sure how many more I really need. We are supposed to be carrying for self defense. Not going to war or looking for a gun fight. I also don’t carry concealed either. The myth about the open carrier will be targeted is just that Myth. I say carry it open. Don’t cry 2nd amendment then tuck it in your underwear to never see the light of day.

    • The ONLY advantages that I see for 9mm over .40 S&W (with respect to full-size handguns) are:
      — 17 round magazines rather than 15 round magazines
      — less expensive practice/range ammunition

      And that is it.

      I reject the claims about the recoil advantage. While .40 S&W does generate more recoil than 9mm, the added time it takes for you to bring the pistol back on target is negligible — on the order of 1/20th of a second.

      Note that high-quality self-defense ammunition is about the same price (and expensive) no matter what caliber you choose.

      • You’re forgetting the extra 100 FT LBS of energy you get with modern self defense .40 loads. That is significant enough to be an advantage. 9mm guys are usually quick to discuss the “advanced ammo of today so my 9 is just as good as a .40”. Well if that’s the case with today’s modern ammo my .40 is just as good as a .50 AE. Apples compared to apples, just about every modern benefit to apply to 9mm also applies to 40 and 45. Which still puts 9mm behind both of em!

      • Last I checked, and I try to check frequently, range ammo is a lot less than 50% higher with the .40 S&W.

        I don’t mean to open a bag of terminal ballistic worms here, but there are lots of tests out there, measuring various attributes of various loads in various calibers. There are some advantages to high velocity handgun ammunition, and some to heavier bullets, with some comparatively benefiting from a longer barrel, and some compensating for necessarily shorter barrels on carry pistols.

        A lot of us like the flexibility of the .40/.357/10 system. The .40 can be used as a cartridge with similar velocity and sectional density to a 9mm. With the same bullet design, they should both do about the same thing, except for the slightly wider hole. With .357 we get long barrel 9mm velocity out of a short barrel with a heavier bullet (as even “quality” ammunition seem to have expansion failures from short barrels through denim), or near rifle velocities from a longer barrel. Handguns chambered for 10mm can usually be fit to one of the others, or be left as a full 10, loaded down if desired to .45 Auto levels, but still keeping a slight capacity advantage.

        • Agreed! I just bought 40 S&W for $11.80/50
          A lot less than 50% more…more like 24%!
          I am experiencing a 40 revival of sorts. I have four 40’s already and just ordered four more!
          The people (children, girls?? Alright, the elderly too…) who can’t handle the 40 “snap” (yeah, right) should stick to squirt guns! 9mm is fine, but so is 40, 357 Sig and 45acp. While we’re at it, so is 357 Mag and 44 spl/mag too. There is no doubt, 40 S&W packs more initial ft/lbs ME, than 9mm, most of the time/in most loads. Sure, 9mm +P and +P+ will have more energy. But it will have more “snap” (snap! what is this world coming to??) than the 40 too.

      • So of my Glocks….

        The 21 (45) is by far the easiest (softest) shooter of the bunch.

        Then my 9’s (17/19/26)

        Then my 23 is the most “harsh”. Add to that is has the Glock trigger with the serration or whatever you call them. After shooting the 23 with that trigger for a while, you don’t want to any more.

        Ammo costs….9mm is just way cheaper all the way around. I wish 45 was as cheap because I simply love shooting that 21.

        I should sell my 23 since I honestly do not like shooting it.

      • I’ll say it!! A grown man who can’t take the time to learn to handle the negligible recoil difference between 9mm and .40 S&W shouldn’t be taken all that seriously as a shooter. This is getting silly, the constant talk of “snap” in .40 recoil. Back in the ’70s all the young men had .357 Magnums – what is happening to the shooting culture that .40 is now talked about like it’s a .454 Casull?? And the comment about any “modern advantages” to 9mm ammo ALSO apply to .40 is exactly correct.

        • I’ve been shooting .40 for 15 years. The snap should not be a concern for anyone, but the difference in “cadence” for follow-up shots is a real issue. I can shoot any other caliber without a problem, but follow-ups are markedly slower with anything but a .40. I imagine it’s the same thing when people go the other way.

  2. Calibers for Beginners (recap): Buy a 9, buy a 9, buy a 9……every thing else is outdated and dying……Buy a 9, buy a 9, buy a 9

    I could almost make it into a song.

    • Right. While I agree 9mm is the best choice for a conceal carry gun, these articles really come off as a 9mm sales article. There’s no real information presented about .45 or .40. Nothing about who, what, when, where, or why, of the cartridges developed, beyond casual mentioning. Nothing about their service histories. Nothing about ballistics. No pictures. No mention of real world examples using the calibers in action. I get these days gun blogs are all about what some YouTuber does with ballistics gel, but real personal experience outweighs that shit by 10 fold. If I was a new shooter reading these articles I wouldn’t have learned anything at all, other than the author is trying to sell me a 9. New shooters should be presented with more information than this. These articles really aught to be called, “Why I think 9mm is the best caliber for conceal carry.” While that may have some merit, did it ever occur to anyone that a new shooter might be open carrying? Or that a new shooters main threat could be from animals as opposed to humans? 9mm might be great for people, but it is a pretty piss poor choice for a wide range of hostile animals. Also, the failure to mention ban states. If your forced to carry a reduced number of rounds, it is a far better choice to make those few rounds you have as powerful as you can handle.

      • I completely agree.

        Personally I am not sure that the 9mm is really that special of a round that a new shooter really NEEDS to own one. If recoil is a problem for them, why not a more manageable round like .380? If they need more stopping power, then why not a .40 or .45? To me the whole 9mm, .40 S&W, and .45 acp debates are silly and never really make a lot of sense. You buy what you need or you buy what you want. The rounds are too close to compare with any real clear winner….each has its advantages/disadvantages.

        • Many of the .380s are micro pistols, and I would never hand one to a newbie. They are loud, snappy, and difficult to control with only a couple of fingers on the grip.

      • Gotta remember he carried a .40 M&P whenhe was a “NEW SHOOTER”..Meaning, at MOST,he has been shooting for 10 or12years.. I have socks that old.

  3. Couldn’t make it through the article before calling bullshit. A quick search on GunBroker reveals 6700 new semi-auto pist ols for sale vs. ‘over 10,000’ for 9 mm, or 70 pages of results in .40 and 105 pages for 9 mm. The .40 has never been as popular as the 9, so I can’t see how being 2/3 as popular now constitutes ‘dying a slow death’. Again this is new pis tols with used ones filtered out. FFLs wouldn’t be buying them and listing them if they couldn’t sell them.

    • I kinda disagree. Yeah the listings may be there, but they don’t seem to be selling. Locally, most of my LGS’s aren’t even carrying 40’s anymore, because they aren’t selling. My brother tried to trade something in recently to a dealer and they wouldnt take it because it was in 40. I see used guns in the various shops in town in 40 that have been languishing there for months.

      • Maybe it’s a regional thing? Maybe .40 buyers are more likely to pass on a used pis tol and buy new?

        I’m guessing that the resurgence of the 10mm car tridge has come mostly at the expense of .40 sales.

        • The resurgence of 10mm is probably part of it, but all of the local gun stores around here filled up with used beretta 92s within a week of the army dumping them, and got swamped in 40s within days of the FBI going back to 9mm. Apparently there’s a large segment of American gun owners who are just that fickle.

        • Up here in rural northern California, the one round one could reliably find on store shelves during the Obama drought was .40. I almost bought because of it.

    • They are always nothing more than click bait to generate comments and viewer traffic.

    • + they’re louder, and if you’re ready for it, and they’re not, part of they’re brain will be wondering what cannon you brought.

      Don’t believe me? Shoot at the range aling with a line of others shooting the not-so-snappy 9mm. You’ll have people looking.

      Plus, to up the capacity, you’ll carry a full size gun (preferably in a shoulder holster) and not mess with any of those puny key-fob guns, that your small handed sister likes. ; )

      • I agree and believe intimidation from muzzle blast can be a pretty effective tool against untrained and inexperienced attackers. Especially these days as so many people shoot smaller cartridges. There’s been several times I’ve been shooting my 30-06 at the range, with normal factory loads, and it causes heads to turn and people to ask things like “damn, what is that? A .338?”. And times when I’ve been shooting regular .44 mag and someone asks “whoa man is that a .500?”

        • Not to change the subject too much, but…
          If you really want the range rats to stop and look, bring a 12 gauge and fire a 3″ slug or 00 shell.
          If you want the RSO to come and look at what you’re shooting, bring a gun that will shoot 3 1/2″ shells.
          A big plus is being a big guy like me, and not have the recoil shove you back when you shoot it.

    • I shoot a DE .50 magnum and believe me, once you learn to deal with that a .40 has no snap. My EDC is a .40

  4. Freedom Munitions .40 starts at $.245/rd. and 9mm starts at $.205/rd. so it’s not 50% more expensive. More like 25%.

    And that muzzle energy thing.

    But for a beginner, you’re right, its 9mm all day long.

  5. .40 Short and Weak most useless round ever.
    There was a reason SMUs dumped it.

    10mm is much more versatile if one reloads.

    • Weak? Oh come on, it’s stouter in every way than 9mm, even +P. Maybe only 20-25%, but stouter nevertheless.

      .40 was dumped because of training issues. It’s easier to shoot a 9mm, and therefore easier to train cops. 9mm ammo finally caught up to make it an acceptable alternative to a bigger round. Not better, but acceptable.

      • kevin,

        I am not even sure that it is easier to shoot/train 9mm. I taught proper grip technique (which took all of 5 minutes) to two average build/strength women who shoot .40 S&W just as well as they shoot 9mm. In fact they even enjoy shooting .44 Magnum now that they have proper grip technique.

        I do agree with your characterization that full-size 9mm handguns with high-quality self-defense ammunition is “acceptable” for self-defense — while recognizing that .40 S&W is better because .40 S&W launches substantially heavier bullets than 9mm at comparable muzzle velocities, which means better (deeper) penetration.

        The real advantage of .40 S&W over 9mm is intermediate barrier penetration. Those popular 9mm Luger 115 grain self-defense loads will not go through car doors, windshields, and wood doors nearly as well as popular .40 S&W 165 grain self-defense loads.

        Oh, and another thing: I’ll take the .40 S&W over 9mm Luger every time for self-defense against a 350 pound black bear, 250 pound feral hog, or 170 pound cougar.

        • I’ll do you one better: I’ll take the .40 S&W over 9mm Luger every time for self-defense against. . . ANYTHING.

        • Penetration in Ballistic gelatin testing is a function of sectional density and bullet construction. All three major calibers have nearly identical SD in there corresponding / analogous three most popular loading weights. Across the gamut of premium defensive loads the average difference in penetration is actually less than in expansion. On average all 3 calibers penetrate essentially the same in gelatin using duty sized guns with duty ammo. Intermediate barrier tests ( wind shield, plywood) have all been conducted ad nauseam by various entities public and private over the last decade, the differences are also negligible. The ascendance of the 9mm is not occurring for only cost or ease of training, it’s better, more ammo less recoil, virtually identical performance. This isn’t the 90’s or even 2000’s the issue has been put to rest. It has been established for decades that 9mm fmj actually penetrates hard barriers the best of all three in fmj. “Power”, or energy is a very old argument going back literally decades, there is a virtual consensus among experts in 2018 that Ft LBS of energy has no provable correlation to stopping power in handguns. Foot pounds energy can be measured objectively, so people naturally wanted it to mean something, but it doesn’t, never did, not in pistol cartridges anyway. The 9’s advantages are provable and real, the 40’s and 45’s advantages have always just been “perceived” and anecdotally based.

      • What? Another Kevin that likes freedom munitions and shoots .40 S&W?

        There can be only one (sorry too much highlander as a kid)

        • Ha, ha. It’s a big internet. It had to happen eventually. Maybe I should be “kevin in CA”
          I shop freedom like my wife shops Costco. “Another 1000? Might as well.”

        • And your from CA also….man its like looking in the internet mirror. I up in northern CA, between Sacramento and Reno. Freedom munitions was my go to until they passed that stupid ammo registration……

    • Not really, I mean really the .40 is better than the 10mm overall. It’s cheaper both to buy and to handload for and speaking of handloading, the .40 can be loaded hot just like the 10mm and the difference isn’t that great. It’s cheaper and can shoot the same bullets the 10mm does, only slightly slower. I’ve loaded for both and in a G20 10mm I can run a 180gr to 1350 fps with a stout charge, or the same 180gr to a bit over 1300 fps from a G35 .40. Nothing alive will know the difference, plus the gun is smaller, lighter and again, costs less to feed.

  6. There are dangers to reloading 40 cal. Lyman’s reloading book calls it out. It’s a round that is of higher risk for “blow out” especially in unsupported chambers.

    Where I think the niche of 40 will fall are places that only let you have 10, but you can’t quite fit 10 .45 ACP rounds into the gun.

    • The .40 is not a good entry level gun in my opinion. I really don’t believe that it is a caliber to “plink” with and really relax with as a new shooter. Not a good reload round because of its high pressure aspect. That being said I carry a Sig in a .40 because of its power and performance. Perfect happy medium between the 9mm and the .45.

  7. If you’ve got a 10mm with a threaded barrel, subsonic 180gr .40S&W makes for a quiet and effective small game round.

    • Ive always thought the 40, particularly in the heavier weights, is an oddly over looked round for suppression. Ill admit that the unusual (at least not 9mm or 45 threaded) thread patter, has always been a turn off though, when my suppressor pistons are $90 a piece!

  8. Well, I bought a .40 S&W because it’s easy to convert to .357 SIG … just a barrel swap, for the most part.

  9. I agree with the BS factor in this article. How come the 9mm is not dying it’s a very old cartridge which basically has not changed since before the last major war it could use a more modern replacement if anything. I also wonder then why the .38 super has not/won’t die it’s got a very small following but keeps chugging along. I’ve got at least 3 .40 pistols the compact item does have a lot more felt recoil but none objectionable the full size frame HK I shoot is very easy in control and exhibits a lot more knock power than my 9mm. Most people acquire a small pistol then find out how much harder it is too shoot proper training and some practice would be a better option. I don’t think many GI’s from WWII complainedua about recoil in a stressful situation I’ve never noticedd the kick from eithr a .40 or a .45 when you’re concentrating on the target you tend to ignore the recoil…

    • But the 9mm cartridge *has* changed.

      .45 acp used to have a significant edge in terminal performance, but modern bullet construction brings 9mm up to par with both .45 and .40 — with less recoil and more cartridges in the same size of gun.

      Combine that with the fact that 9mm ammo is cheaper, and it’s the clear winner for “most ideal pistol cartridge,” especially for beginners.

      I’m a 9mm fan, but I’m not going to try telling anyone that their personal choice is wrong. There’s a whole world of effective pistol cartridges out there. Shoot whatever you want and have fun doing it. That’s the real point.

      • Ing. When .45 and 9mm where all fmj’s the .45 did not have an edge in lethality over the 9mm. I remember more than one study made public back in the day that showed that the 9mm was lethal more often than .45.

        Had something to do with the high muzzle velocity and smaller cross section of the 9. It was more likely to do a thru and thru of the human body. The one shot ‘stopping power’ of both rounds in fmj were almost identical at 63% or so.

        I prefer the 9 cause I’m a cheap skate and practice ammo is cheaper.

        • Both rou nds put out nearly identical muzzle energy. A slower heavier slug will penetrate deeper while a faster lighter slug will dispense more of it’s energy outward causing a larger temporary cavity. The .45 will maintain it’s momentum better but unless you’re comparing 100 yard shots there shouldn’t be much difference in the two in FMJs.

        • The stat that sticks out in my mind, Guv, is that if you’re shot just one time with either round in fmj the 9mm causes a fatal wound more often than the .45.

    • The reason the 9×19 isn’t dying is because it has the backing of NATO and the DOD.

      Look, there’s little that the .40 S&W does that the 9×19 can’t do. Making “major” power factors might be one of those things – but you can hot load the 9×19 to make major power factors, but you’d better be shooting it in a supported chamber.

      The .40 is a bastard round, to be sure. The 10mm was a great idea for a semi-auto round, but the FBI, as with most every law enforcement agency has done since WWII in ballistics, subordinated actual results to the lack of ability in their employees. So the 10mm was downloaded, which left a bunch of empty space in the case. This meant that handgun grips were larger in girth than necessary, so the .40 S&W was the result of cutting down the case to meet the FBI’s preferred powder charge. And here we are.

      The .40 works as intended, but it doesn’t work significantly better than the 100+ year old rounds it was supposed to replace. This is the story about most every round invented since WWII for rifles and handguns – most of the “new hotness” rounds are only marginal improvements, at best, over the classics. You can go down the line and make the same sort of comment:

      – will any of the new rifle cartridges under, oh, .35 caliber do anything revolutionary over the .30-06? Nope.
      – will any of the pistol cartridges for semi-auto pistols (other than the 10mm) give you substantially better terminal ballistics than the old standards, 9×19, .38 Super, .45 ACP, .45 Colt, etc? Not really.

      I’ve maintained for years that most of the “new hotness” in cartridges is just marketing gimmickry. Would anyone really feel “under-gunned” if they were carrying a 9.3×62 Mauser? I doubt it. Would anyone going to Africa feel “under-gunned” with a .404 Jeffery, or a .505 Gibbs? I seriously doubt it.

      Same deal in pistol cartridges. If the 9×19 isn’t to your liking, then why are you ignoring the 9mm Largo, which you could load to “major” power factors, and pre-dates the .38 Super. Why is the Largo ignored? Because marketing needs to convince you to buy the new hotness, that’s why.

      The only people who were foolish enough to buy the .40 S&W “new hotness” were the law enforcement agencies who were sold on it by the FBI and S&W/Glock/etc. That’s why we have .40 S&W.

      • ‘This is the story about most every round invented since WWII for rifles and handguns…’

        Well there was the .44 magnum, but you did say ‘most every’.

        The marketing whizzes aren’t looking out for the consumers’ interests. Having recently purchased a .260 Remington I am realizing what a joke the 6.5 Creedmoor is. The .260 accomplished one thing over the 6.5×55 in that it can be chambered in a .308 length rifle action. It did make a small boost in velocity, but nothing a handloader couldn’t do provided he wasn’t using a century old military surplus rifle. So mission accomplished. But no, first Lapua and then Hornady had to do it all over again. Neither offers even a slight advantage over the .260 even at 1000 yards. In fact if I were a serious long range competitor I’d go with the .260 since I would assume it’s thicker brass at the neck would lead to longer case life. But now we all pay more for our ammo, even the Creedmoor shooters. The Creedmoor should have gone the way of it’s parent cartridge, the .30TC.

        • You are absolutely correct about the .260 Remington vs the 6.5 Creedmore! The .260 Rem can do everything equal or better than the 6.5 CM and has much better brass thickness for multiple cycles of reloading! Plus anyone with even basis reloading skills can make great .260 Rem brass from .308 brass. And once fired .308(7.62NATO) brass is dirt cheap and available by the tons! And yes, the thin brass was also the problem with the .30 TC. My friends and I have all moved to the .260 Rem over the years and love it, especially with the new Berger and Hornady heavy bullets. My favorite is the 147gr ELD-Match from Hornady. Hit a 6 inch rock at 1375 yards with my DPMS AR-10 recently. So, we’ll pass on the 6.5 CM.

        • Hornady themselves doomed the .30TC. They touted it as a .30-06 in a .308 package because they ramped it up to an advertised 3000fps with a 150gr and then turned around and made a ‘Superformance’ round for the .308 that launched the exact same 150gr at 3000fps. Who’s going to buy a new rifle just so they can shoot an identical round to the one they can buy for the rifle they already have and will take 140 other readily available loads?

        • I should probably have said “pistols” instead of “handgun.” The revolver boys are constantly inventing new cartridges that cry out for a gun carriage under the revolver that shoots them. The semi-auto guys have invented far fewer and far less powerful cartridges since WWII.

    • Have to say this GI’s from second war were real men still not the candy assed limp wristed wannabe of today recoil was what it was, that said today’s ammo science makes the caliber argument mute
      Most importantly one must shoot well what they carry
      We shoot about 150rds a week thru our carry practice guns so that we can shoot well when needed that friends is the real answer

  10. Trolling article meant to bring out the comment section caliber warz trolls.

    Weak fucking sauce.

    • Yes and no. As someone who only has .40s for carry weapons (plea of GUILTY for as part of the “schtopping powah!” crowd), I was wondering when the Caliber column would discuss the 40sw. Not too interested in the ins and outs of beginners’ preferences, as I’m not one, but to see the general criticisms of the caliber. If the general criticisms are 9’s are as good nowadays with magic bullets, and 40 kicks too much, I’m not disappointed in my current load-out. 10s really kick too much for carry guns, and 45s just lack the capacity, so while 9 is a reasonable choice, it’s not like I’m missing much. The column was helpful in that regard at least

      • I don’t buy it for a second. The question isn’t what caliber the gun is. It’s what you are comfortable with.

        The second pistol I ever personally bought was a full sized .40. Out of all the guns I own that’s the one people want to buy off me after they shoot it. I’ve lost track of the offers I’ve had on that pistol. Outrageous offers up to a bit over 2x the value of the gun if it was NIB today (and the price is up nearly $300 since I bought it). It was my carry piece for years. My dad is 78 this year and a copy of that pistol is still his carry gun.

        As for capacity, again, what you’re comfortable with dictates what you carry, not some arbitrary number. I currently carry, and have carried for years, a full sized USP in .45. 12+1 capacity for a total of 13 rounds in the gun. That’s the same capacity as that .40 I referenced above and only 3 rounds less than a G19 which is 15+1 for a total of 16 on tap without a reload. 13 rounds of .45 vs. 16 rounds of 9mm isn’t a big gain or loss regardless of which way you choose to go so it comes back to which gun you prefer. I prefer the USP even though it’s pretty large compared to a G19. I own both but I carry the USP because I like, and am therefore more comfortable with, the USP.

        These articles are, IMHO, dumb. What’s the best gun for a beginner? The one they’re comfortable with. Go beg/borrow/rent/whatever a bunch of guns and shoot them. See what you like. Go from there. Don’t take some interwebz guru’s advice based solely on “it’s a dead caliber” because that’s been said on the interwebz of nearly EVERY popular caliber. I’ve seen articles on how .40, .45, 9mm, .38 Special, .44 Mag, etc are all “dead” yet they continue to fly off the shelves.

  11. Police departments still miss with 9mm and I’ve never read an article stating an attacker or bad guy or whatever ran off or continued to be a threat after being shot with 40sw. It’s only controversial on internet blogs, YouTube and in the comments sections.

  12. Looks like the only ones who don’t like .40 S&W are frail men who cant handle the recoil.

  13. We get it, you like the 9mm…sheesh. I grew up on 45s and 357s with a few 38 speciala shot. No bad habits, no flinching.

  14. I bought a S&W 1079 10mm in stainless back when the FBI thought they needed that much power in a sloppy, short gun. Damn thing recoiled harshly, the grip sucked and I could barely hit a close target. I put one box of rounds through it and sold it ASAP. After that I bought a full size HK USP in .40 and put a Hogue grip on it and it was wonderful, still own it, lots of power and never failed. I could easily hit minute of degenerate asshole with the HK .40 all day long. The HK USP in 9 mm with a Hogue grip was a tack driver. Like a dumbass, I sold that one, I will buy another some day to replace it, even though I own a Sig Legion in 9 mm. My advice is to find a gun that fits your hand in just enough caliber to be in the range of controllable accuracy (9mm, which can be found in smaller guns) to .40 or .357 Sig or .45 (which will depend more on grip, bore height [lower is better], and weight of gun [which favors full size]),

    Do not be afraid to buy several guns and trade them off as you find out what works best for you. I still have my S&W 5 shot stainless that has perfect point of aim from my Private Detective days, which is one of my go to night guns.

    • Gerald,

      Ah hah! You provided the best advice yet with respect to the “best” calibers for beginners: grip-size and weight of your everyday-carry handgun should determine your “ideal” caliber!

      If your everyday carry handgun is:
      — super-light and sub-compact, carry .380 ACP
      — light and compact, carry 9mm Luger
      — medium-weight full-size, carry .40 S&W
      — heavy-weight large-size, carry 10mm, .45 ACP, or Magnums

      • Many “old school” shooters who have been engaging in the caliber debate for decades are missing the point. Larger calibers even in larger guns just produce more recoil, hence slower and or less accurate shooting under adrenaline dump (almost no human shoots well under adrenaline dump), there is no difference in terminal performance. The “pro’s” FBI, Military, newer generation commercial trainers have come to a near consensus for the first time ever. A hundred years ago people thought a good pre-fight meal was steak and eggs, they were wrong, provably. Thirty years ago people thought cardio was the best way to lose weight, they were wrong, provably. Time and progress marches on; “Stopping power”, “terminal performance” are pseudo-scientific red herrings, we know that now. If you carry a .40 or .45 (even if limited to ten) you are choosing a caliber that offers you no factually provable advantages and many demonstrable disadvantages. Guys, go home, the movies over, 9mm won.

        • Not really. I’d take 7.62 x 25 mm with modern bullets over 9mm any day. With 7.62 and modern magazines, you could easily fit 20-25 rounds in a concealable handgun, beating the 9mm at its best game. Also, 7.62×25 has higher velocity and better penetration then 9mm. Add that with modern HPs and it would easily out match 9mm on its best day. But, 9mm is the caliber of the US and NATO, so it’s popularity ensures it can’t be dethroned by the superior 7.62×25.

        • You know what you could be right, I wouldn’t dismiss your theory off hand. Something even smaller in diameter than 9mm may be more optimal, ala tokarev or 5.7×28, .327 federal. If it demonstrates negligible differences in scientifically measured and controlled “terminal ballistics” testing backed by decades of data from actual shoots and if it recoils less and holds more then it would in fact be better. But scientific testing and a large real life sample size for such calibers doesn’t exist as of yet.

        • Captain Crunch,

          Basic physiology and physics refute your claim. Here are some FACTS:
          (1) .40 S&W bullets pass straight through windshields at oblique angles.
          (2) 9mm Luger bullets deflect noticeably at oblique angles.
          (3) .40 S&W bullets will expand to a greater diameter than 9mm Luger
          (4) .40 S&W bullets will penetrate just as deep or deeper than 9mm Luger
          (5) larger diameter bullets are more likely to cause physical incapacitation faster than smaller diameter bullets when both bullets penetrate the same distance.

          Those are facts, not opinions: the .40 S&W cartridge indeed provides a modest advantage over 9mm Luger for self-defense. The real question is whether that modest advantage is worth the added cost of practice/range ammunition and giving up one or two rounds of capacity in a magazine. That is obviously up to each person to decide.

        • Ansel Hazen
          Correct but the additional velocity created by that extra powder is wasted, in fact it’s worse than wasted it creates additional recoil, flash and blast which degrades every human beings accuracy under life threatening stress. Despite some peoples conventional wisdom those that study the topic the most have come to conclude in the last 15 years or so, that recoil mitigation is even more important than previously believed. You can expect to shoot less than half as well as you have ever shot on your best day, if you ever have to shoot under life and death stress. Additional velocity and hence energy has not been shown to have any significant measurable effect on terminal performance past a certain threshold of terminal ballistics that have more to do bullet construction than anything. In fact additional velocity in a given weight of bullet can degrade terminal performance by causing over expansion poor penetration, jacket separation, lack of penetration. Even if .357 sig expands earlier and penetrates deeper than 9mm (cuts a wider whole for a longer tunnel) statistically it won’t make a difference. Bigger holes through longer wound tracks have not been shown to produce greater incapacitation effects. I understand that is counter intuitive to most of ya’ll, but it’s true. If you haven’t at least skimmed the 2015 FBI report you really should, it’s quite compelling. But that report is a just a culmination of work from myriad sources over the last 15 years or so. The implications go beyond use of duty ammo, to FMJ as well, it doesn’t matter even in fmj, shot placement and hence recoil is paramount, that is the state of the authoritative research presently.
          Uncommon- sense
          For the sake of argument let’s say I agree that .40 offers some very modest advantage over 9mm. The real question for one to consider is not cost or capacity, it’s recoil. The greatest myth involved in self-defense is not caliber its shooter ability. Everyone believes they can shoot well and “handle” there caliber of choice. Everyone is fooling themselves. The vast, vast majority of people that carry for self defense have never participated in any simulated force on force training, and yet they just assume recoil is subjective, it’s not, it will degrade your speed and accuracy under stress weather you want to believe it or not. This is one of the major lessons of the post 9/11 “new school”. It’s why most professional trainers under fifty (many of them with significant combat experience) carry and recommend a double stack 9. Muzzle energy beyond the threshold of roughly 350-400 ft lbs give or take is a one way street, it degrades your speed and accuracy and has no statistically or medically measurable effect on immediate cessation of a human attacker (big carnivores, eh who knows, maybe, were talking duty, not magnum calibers).
          As to the rest of your assertions, I respectfully disagree. The facts you quote are born of conventional wisdom from the 90’s, the far more thorough and methodical examination of the problem that has occurred over the last twenty years has debunked those beliefs.
          “ (1) .40 S&W bullets pass straight through windshields at oblique angles.”
          All duty pistol calibers experience significant change in point of impact after penetrating windshield glass (not sure if this what you mean by deflection). There are many good videos on You Tube demonstrating this. Weight and there for sectional density is important here, you can’t compare a 115gr 9 to a 180gr 40. Yes the 40’s average change in point of impact may be slightly less but again its not that significant.
          (2) 9mm Luger bullets deflect noticeably at oblique angles.
          If by deflect you mean change in point of impact then agreed. They all do. All 3 major duty calibers in most modern JHP loadings adequately penetrate windshield glass with significant change in p.o.i., but then fail to penetrate gelatin to 12in fbi minimum, some come close.
          (3) .40 S&W bullets will expand to a greater diameter than 9mm Luger
          Agreed. And twenty years of research and statistical analysis has produced no convincing evidence that that matters enough to compensate for larger calibers inherent and objective disadvantages. The human body and mind on average doesn’t notice the difference. That’s what the FBIs 2015 report was essentially all about. You can say “the FBI doesn’t know what they’re talking about”, but if they don’t then tell me who does?
          (4) .40 S&W bullets will penetrate just as deep or deeper than 9mm Luger
          Agreed ,same, same on average. Weight, loading, bullet construction, velocity matter more, but on average roughly the same in all three calibers. And penetration past a certain threshold is unnecessary, like ft lbs, it exists, but it’s contributing nothing. All 3 calibers easily achieve that threshold now. That’s not an argument in .40 or .45s favor.
          (5) larger diameter bullets are more likely to cause physical incapacitation faster than smaller diameter bullets when both bullets penetrate the same distance.
          That’s the whole enchilada just reframed as a singular un- nuanced fact. Even if it’s true the most up to date examination of available data by government and industry professionals indicates it is to such a minimal degree that capacity and reduced recoil are a far greater advantages.
          This is about the overall effectiveness of the gun you are carrying not the caliber independently. If 9mm didn’t hold more and kick less, most people should still pick 9mm because they are more likely to carry a thinner more comfortable gun, that’s how little a factor “stopping power” has been determined to be over the last twenty years by those that know most about it. But 9mm does hold more and kick less, you compromise nothing with it. The biggest part of this debate is getting people to get over their egos and understand that beliefs and personnel experience aren’t important. If you’re human and not an elite military or law enforcement member with a retarded autonomic reaction, (due to repeated exposure to danger), you can’t shoot well under stress, less recoil and more rounds will help compensate for that maybe, caliber size will not.

  15. To be honest, I skipped the article and followed the headline straight to the comments just for this war! Love it. Just to be more honest, I would rather never be shot with either, I think any perp would agree with that.

  16. My daughter has help a number of ladies buy their first gun. Too often she sees a boyfriend or husband buying a gun HE WANTS, rather then what will fit the lady. Then there’s the “Big gun for the little lady” thinking that shows up on YouTube:
    A person that’s comfortable with their gun will practice more. When it comes down to stopping an attacker, being trained and able to shoot center of mass is what counts.

    • Yup, shot placement is everything. A good hit with a 9mm beats a marginal hit even from something like a 10mm or 41 Magnum.

  17. 40 s&w can be cheap range ammo for your 10mm! Plus all guns chambered in 40 can be converted to 9mm but not always the other way around. And, lastly, when 9mm and 45 were nearly impossible to get after Newtown, 40 was always on the shelf.

    • Absolutely correct on the panic buying. 9mm, .38 sp, and .45 ACP were all out, but there was lots of .40 on the shelves. I bought a couple of .40s after that, but I don’t have them any more.

      Can you really shoot .40 from any 10mm? I know you can with Glocks. I shot .40s from my G29, and TTAG wrote an article to that effect.

  18. To add a little fuel to this fire…

    There’s a problem with 9mm, once you’ve mastered it, shooting 9mm is kind of blase. Every time I take any of my 9mms out, it’s like shooting an airsoft pistol. I need something with a little more oomph.

    The .40 in most cases reminds me that at least I’m still shooting a gun. So yes, I do enjoy shooting 40 more at the ranges.

    • + This.

      I have nearly fallen asleep at the range while using a 9mm. I can’t even type 9mm without yawning.

      If you’re not going to carry a .40 S&W, then carry two 9mm, ’cause, nappy-time.

    • I have to agree. I bought 9mm conversion kit for my full size all steel .40 pistol. Took it out to the range couple of times, but it feels so subdued it stays home now, unless I have a new shooter with me. (Got .22 lr kit for that purpose too.)

      Bigger hole and heavier bullet at the same speed can’t be a bad thing. If you are bothered by recoil, you can get heavier/bigger gun or train more.

      Progress in bullet construction that raised the 9mm’s utility also applies to other calibers. So, while 9 is now comparable to .40 or .45 it’s by no means the same, no matter what Cpt. Crunch says. Barrier blindness especially differs a lot. .40 S&W is far from being dead.

      But the author is not wrong about one thing – 9mm is good for a beginner.

  19. As Texican said I think the most important use for a 40 right now is a “panic” gun. Whenever stuff gets bad for our gun rights, 9mm disappears off the shelves. I started really getting into handguns in 2012 when 9mm was very difficult to find, and started out with 40’s. I’m mostly 9mm and 45 now these days, but I like to keep at least one 40 in the stable “just in case”.

  20. Meh. My personal semiauto pistols are indeed 9×19. He’s right that the 9 is softer and quicker shooting and about the same from a terminal ballistics standpoint.

    That being said, the .40, while snappy, isn’t exactly a hand cannon. I can put 6 rounds in a pie plate from 5 yards in 1.5 seconds from a duty retention holster with a bone stock Glock 22. I’ve taught hundreds of new officers to shoot it. The recruits that fail would fail regardless of what caliber gun they have. If you can get a good deal on a .40, buy it! Don’t let the online bullshit scare you. It shoots just fine. Or do the best of both worlds and get a drop in 9×19 barrel for your .40!

  21. The author always recommends three gun manufacturers in the end. Believe it or not there are other choices and a few are arguably better.

    • I think the Beretta 96 should rank way up there. It’s exactly like a Beretta 92, without all of that 9mm induced drowsiness.

      • A lot of the factory am mo should top 500ft/lbs out of that 4.9″ bar rel in the 96.

        • I always said the 92 was too much gun for 9mm. That frame size and weight should have a bigger round in it.

      • I have a Beretta 96 and I love it, and you are right .40 in the 96 is a real pussycat.

        My Beretta 96 was my first handgun and I never understood the complaints about he .40 being “snappy” because in my 96 it sure isn’t snappy at all. It wasn’t till I shot a Smith and Wesson SD40VE that I understood what people were talking about.

        If you are talking about small concealed carry guns, I can see some of the reasons why people would pick a 9 over a .40. But if you are talking about a range gun or a nightstand gun, then get a steel frame .40 and get all of the ballistic advantages of the .40 with none of the drawbacks.

      • Hey Joe, I agree wholeheartedly.
        I carry a Beretta 96D (double action only) and
        have no trouble with accuracy. And I like the
        fact that it is a safer carry gun.

  22. I believe in physics and the .40 has it over the 9 mm.

    9 mm proponents move the goalposts. The cheap practice ammo is the stuff that people will practice on NOT +P+ loads that cost a buck a bullet. They will have plenty of snap. .40 practice has the same or similar balistics to most .40 defensive loads.

    .40 is about 20 %more than 9mm Much cheaper than .45.

    I like all 3,but if you can double tap with a .40, go with that.

    Oh,. People made a big deal when Ruger released the American without a .40,. But Smith and Wesson won’t abandon their baby any time soon and almost everyone else makes a .40. Beretta just released the APX in .40. The dead round walking line is just ridiculous.

  23. I bought my 1st 40 S&W back in 1992. It was a Star Firestar. The 1st gun available in the 40tay. Before even Smith and Wesson with its 40** line of bricks for guns.
    I carried it for about 3 years then got me a Hi Power in 40Tay. Still have that gun and will never sell it.
    I just bought me last year a RIA Commander size 1911 in 40Tay with a 10mm barrel. Best of both worlds.
    I have however for the last 6 months been carrying a plastic fantastic something or another in 9mm.
    4 guns all big name compacts still looking for a decent double stack to EDC in 9mm. Maybe a PPQ SC with the 15 round mag will do as why use the 10 rounder?? Only 2 rounds more total then my Sig 938…..So far these plastic guns aren’t making me a believer. Cant compare a striker fired gun to a SA anything. My Caniks trigger is close, best of the 4 striker fired guns I do have. But too big a gun for IWB EDC.
    I like my 40s over the 9mm any day and will in all likelihood.
    End up back with any one of my 4 1911s in 45acp. Still the king and preferred gun for me..

  24. I encourage all new shooters to own several different calibers in several different guns. No one caliber “does it all.”’

  25. The 40’s still beat the frames up after a few thousand rounds and Glocks do not hold up very well in the 40. One of the main reasons the FBI and most police departments are going back to the 9 is because the 40’s destroyed the guns and the cost of replacement couldn’t be justified. The 40 is a fine round if you don’t shoot it very much because it will destroy your weapon over time.

  26. You guys are funny. Just like in the 45 acp article a couple of days ago I would like to point out that 9mm 40 S&W and 45 acp all average between two and three shots to stop. Yes, shot to shot the 40 and 45 tend to be more powerful than the 9mm but in practical application there is very little difference.

    The debate between these three calibers is mostly academic, as their muzzle energy overlaps so closely. At the top end and bottom end of the power sets for each gun the difference is almost never more than 30 to 50 ft-lbs, which is not a substantial increase. You can separate calibers into power tiers, which tend to correspond with real world effectiveness, but all three of these calibers are on the same tier. For example:
    (all data from

    22lr, 25acp and 32acp fall into tier 1- sub 200 ft-lbs. All three have similar terminal effect from similarly sized guns. From the two inch barrels that are common for these calibers there is almost no distinction one two the next. Yes, 32 at the bottom is akin to the very best 25s, but at these pressures it still doesn’t make much difference in practice.

    380 and 38 special are in tier 2- 200-300 ft-lbs. This is the absolute bottom end most people would consider for self defense. In the kinds of guns most people carry these in HP expansion is iffy, and often retards penetration too much to be worth it.

    38 +p is kind of an out lier- in Snubbies it is closer to tier 2, but in 4 inch barrels it is squarely in tier 3.

    9mm, 40S&W, and 45acp are in tier 3, generally producing between 350 and 550 ft-lbs between your standard and +P loadings for all three. All three generally need to go +P to break the 500 ft-lb mark, though not always depending on bullet weight. Keep in mind that velocity is much more important than mass for power.

    Tier 4 includes 10mm, 357 magnum, and 357 sig- These rounds will all produce between 500 and 800 ft-lbs. there is a dramatic increase in effect over tier 3 rounds, unless of course you are comparing bottom end tier 4 to top end tier 3 rounds. These are the minimum calibers I would consider for bear, and the maximum calibers most people would ever consider carrying for self defense. If you want a round that is inarguably superior to 9mm in real world effectiveness you should start here.

    Tier 5 are the true bear loads- 44 Magnum, 41 Magnum, 480 Ruger, etc. These start at 800 ft-lbs and up, usually to around 1450-1500 ft-lbs. These are proven Grizzly stoppers that have taken all North American game animals with handguns.

    And, tier 6 would be the “Handguns that hit like rifles” category- 50AE, 454 Casull , 460 S&W Magnum and 500 S&W Magnum. These all can start around 1500 ft-lbs and some can go as high as 3000 ft-lbs Meaning all of them start in the 30-30/7.62×39 class.

    In short, You shouldn’t consider your pistol to be truly “powerful” unless it’s a 10mm or more, as that is where you really start to see a difference in real world effectiveness.

    As far as this article specifically: remember that this is an article about calibers for “BEGINNERS,” meaning people who are looking for an adequate gun for self defense and are new to shooting. Most of those people will be better served buying a quality 9mm and a ton of ammo to practice with so they can be proficient, and you can practice between 25 and 50% more per dollar with 9mm than 40 or 45. THAT is why 9mm is the best defensive caliber choice for beginners, since hits with a 9 trump misses with a 45. Honestly, if they aren’t dead set on a defensive gun right away they should start with a 22 and practice until they are proficient.

    As I said several times on the last article- shoot what you shoot well and don’t expect any round to be a one-shot stopper.

    • Since this is a ca liber war post and nits were made to pick, I’d argue the .355 Sig should be in tier 3. It only bumps slightly ahead of the .40 with low SD bullets which rapidly shed velocity to the air and tend to under penetrate. Sure it can rival the lighter loads in 10 and .357 but loaded hot they are easily a full category up from .355 Sig.

      • I put it in that tier because the average ft-lb of the rounds tested on ballistics 101 were in the upper 600 to lower 700 range, a pretty steep advantage over the 40s 550 or so top end. It probably should have gotten a caveat like the 38 +p, but, oh well. I’d go for the 10mm over the 357 sig, simply because it is much easier to reload. 357 Magnum is my preference in that tier, anyway.

        • Hmm… interesting. Double Tap claims over 600ft/lbs with a 115gr and over 500ft/lbs with a 147gr. Buffalo Bore claims 575ft/lbs with a 124gr. This is (I assume) +p, but still better than the .40. This sounds counter intuitive since, for instance, when you neck a .308 down to .243 you get significantly lower case capacity and muzzle energy. However, a quick check of the two on Wikipedia reveals that the max pressure for the Sig is 40,000psi as opposed to 35,000 for the .40. So maybe it does belong as an entry level tier 4 round.

          For comparison though, a full pressure (not +p) .357 load from a 4″ revolver will net over 700ft/lbs at the muzzle and the 10mm is just a bit behind in a 4″ semi-auto. .357 gains a bigger advantage with high SD bullets, so if I had to face a brown bear with any of the tier 4s I’d want a 6″ .357 loaded with 200gr hard casts. For comparison a 200gr 10mm is equivalent to a 158gr .357 in SD, so the 10 can’t come close to .357 when very deep penetration is necessary.

          Yeah, I’m a .357 fanboy.

        • @Gov – agreed, though my 357 bear loads are 180s, I haven’t been able to find 200s either loaded or just bullets, if you have a source I would appreciate it. I generally think of calibers in this tier as black bear guns, since I wouldn’t feel terribly undergunned with any of them on black bear. I have, and sometimes still do carry a 4 inch 357 in grizzly country, but feel much better with my 44 Magnum with 325 grain hard cast handloads, so I bring that if I know I may face a griz.

          I think a 4 inch 357 mag is the most versatile handgun a person can own, being able to harvest anything from rabbits with light 38s to deer, having a proven track record on 2 and 4 legged predators, and being just small enough to conceal if needed. I also think it is the most powerful round that every able-bodied person can learn to shoot well. It also gets a fair boost when chambered in a rifle. Unfortunately, like 10mm, it is difficult to find full power factory ammo.


          Also, I’d pray that if I had to face a grizzly with a .357 that it would happen in the spring when they’re 700 pounds as opposed to in the fall when they’re 1200 pounds.

          I live quite a drive from brown bear country, but out of what I have, if I were hiking around in big bear country I’d carry my Vaquero birdshead (SAA) .44 mag with it’s 3-3/4″ bar rel loaded with 300+gr hard casts. I have a 6-1/2″ Blackhawk (anniversary model), but it just doesn’t carry on the hip like the birdshead, which btw is about 6 ounces lighter than either the 2-3/4″ Redhawk or the 2-1/2″ Super Redhawk Alaskan. While I haven’t shot any heavy loads through it, it shoots very accurately with 180gr. The only downside is you have to thumb the hammer back between rou nds. For bear, I just don’t see a speed loader coming into play for bear defense.

          Yes, if you could only have one g un it should probably be a 4.2″ GP 100. Honorable mention to the S&W 686.

    • FYI. If you reload you can use 35 rem bullets in a 357 case. I loaded 195 grain hard cast up to about 1100 fps (4 in revolver). I think I could have done better, but since it’s heavy for caliber it’s tough to find load data.

      • That’s good to know, thanks. I’ve also always wondered about loading bullets meant for 9mm or 380 in 357. Does .002 inches make that unreasonable? I don’t see much practical value, but it would be neat if you could launch a 90 grain bullet meant for 380 somewhere in the neighborhood of 2000 fps from the magnum.

  27. Had a 40. Had no problems shooting accurately. I mainly shoot 9mm because it’s CHEAPER and available. I too got 40 during the ammo famine of 2013. I have no real preference but if you can’t handle recoil WORK OUT😏…or man up!

  28. That low demand coupled with still high production capacity is exactly why I love my Glock 23. Damn people forget so quickly. During the heat of the ammo shortage just a few years ago I could still find more 40 ammo than I could afford. Rarely could I find a box of 9mm.

    Plus, I just shoot it well. Not sure why, but I get along well with it.

  29. .40 S&W has been known to cure hair loss, weight gain, circles under your eyes, and several varieties of foot fungus [the latter is an un-substantiated claim]. It is even rumored to have grazed Chuck Norris, and may have broken the skin.

    Carry a 9mm all you care to, if you don’t mind your hairline receding.

    When I saw the OP pic, I nearly wept. By Gawd, It is a thing of beauty.

    • Before I noticed the dented primer on the round laying down, I said to myself . . . “Self, I’d hit that”, and I agreed.

  30. In a world with 357 Sig and 10mm, 9mm vs 40 S&W vs 45acp should no longer be a relevant debate, yet here we are

  31. I forgot to mention that the one place where the 40 is inarguably superior to either the 9 or 45 is in pistol caliber carbines. It gets about the same speed boost as a 9mm, but because of it’s weight hits more like a 41 magnum from a pistol, whereas 9mm from a carbine hits more like 357 magnum from a pistol. I bought my Sub2k gen 2 9mm when I found it because it was actually priced at MSRP and was available, but if they had had one in 40 I’d have bought that instead. As an aside if you have a Sub2k you should check out for their trigger springs and other upgrades, cut my rifles trigger pull in half.

  32. I have to call bullshit on the best 9mm is on par with the best 40 s&w and 45acp. Your showing your lack of ballistics knowledge.

    • “Ballistics” in the way most people think about it is nearly irrelevant in judging the efficacy or efficiency of a handgun caliber for self defense.

  33. As a non-firearms owner, in an Socialist Eastern Bloc Communist Police-State.*(2nd amendment is a privilege, NOT a right…)* I have found the still “legal” large 3-4 inch diameter granite rock to be an effective stopper! And according to the early 19th -20th Century Hatcher Stopping Power index…I’m at the top of my class, short of a 3 shot snub-nose shooting coffee cans filled with cement!

  34. 40 S&W doesn’t have more recoil than a 45 ACP out of the same size frame. More anecdotal evidence from people that can’t handle the recoil of anything higher than 9mm.

    That being said, 165 grain 40 S&W at 1100 fps is my favorite carry round. Never liked 180 grain pills.

  35. Why does it have to be one or the other? There are far too many gun and caliber snobs these days. That guy is a FUDD, those are FUDD guns, this model is better than that model, this caliber is better than that caliber, blah blah blah. A true gun enthusiast wants to own and experience it all. Ive owned modern, antique, and replica guns chambered in 45 lc, 44 C&B, 44-40 wcf, 40 S&W, 9mm Luger, 357 Mag., 38 special, 22 LR, 69 cal round, 58 cal. Minie, 54 cal round, 30-06 Spring, 223 Rem, 12 gauge. And Ive borrowed and shot just about everything else in between, including Military and LE qualifications. I enjoyed every one of them. And if I had the cash and the wife approved, I would own everything that showed up at the gun shop, and special order everything else that didn’t. Just get to the range and have fun. And if you just HAVE to choose one caliber, then make your damn choice and STFU.

  36. This is an easy fix.I have a 22lr,380,9mm,40 and 45. Now I don’t have to worry I just pick what I want to carry.Easy!!!!! By the way the Desert eagle 50 is coming 😃

  37. Honestly ive the 40 s&w always seems like an answer in search of a problem.
    That being said shoot whatever you are most proficient with. If you like the 40 cal, then shoot it. If you dont like it, then find a cartridge that works for you.
    Btw my edc is now a ruger gp100 in 357 magnum.

  38. If we are talking about “best caliber for beginners”, I’d argue strongly for the .38 special in a medium frame .357 revolver. Low cost, low recoil, easy safety checks, great to learn shooting basics without the complexity of a semi-auto pistol. Get the trigger control down then try a pistol and see if it’s right for you. While less intimidating than a pistol, it’s easy to upgrade to more powerful loads up to .357 magnum.

    • I do agree with most of your points; however, at least around here 38 special isn’t any cheaper than 40 or 45, so the cost advantage of 9mm is still substantially better.

      • I’ve personally shot a Springfield Armory 1911 Range Officer .45 that a co-worker owned before he sold it due money constraints, I didn’t think the recoil was that much more than my Springfield Armory XD(M) 9mm, if anything I felt it was louder (My ears definitely rang after shooting the 1911) and I recall the frustration of being out of ammo after just firing 8 rounds. I’ll stick with my 19+1 rounds of 9mm thank you very much…

  39. I’m still surprised that there are big healthy adult male shooters who regard the .40 S&W as ‘snappy.’ C’mon! Eat your Wheaties or something, man! I shoot a 12-gauge Mossberg 500 pistol-grip shotgun one-handed with way way more felt recoil. I thought gun guys were manly men, not sissified opera-glasses metrosexual millennial types! A guy who shoots 9mm is like a man who wears his sister’s pants.

    EDC, I carry a Glock 20, with 15 rounds that come in at over 700 ft-lbf apiece. If that’s too much for you, it’s time to call a waahmbulance!

    • I can’t speak for anyone else, but when I refer to felt recoil in the comments for these articles it is in the context of new shooters, since that is who the article is referring to. For the inexperienced felt recoil is very much a factor in their ability to hit a target and their enjoyment of the gun at the range.

  40. As a “Newbie” to shooting handguns back in my N.C. Dept. of Corrections days, approximately 2004-05 time frame, they decided to switch from the old S&W model 65 .357 revolvers (.38 Special P rounds) to the S&W M&P .40 equipped with tritium front and rear sights. I was astounded by how well it felt and shot, and ease of handling. When I decided to buy my very first firearm I was seriously considering buying one. But hence a co-worker of mine at the time told me not to. Why? I said to him – his response was exactly what was stated in this article it’s a dying breed/caliber. He said I should buy a 9mm instead and then showed me his Glock pistols. I ended up purchasing a Springfiled Armory XD(M) 3.8in Bi-Tone and never looked back. It is a great shooting pistol that I’d recommend to anyone!!!

  41. 9mm is a great beginners caliber, and before that was an even greater one. The 22 ling rifle, that’s the best beginners caliber besides a bb gu n

    • I love the 22 ling rifle, that’s the Chinese knock off of the 22 long rifle from the 80s, right?

      Seriously, though, you are right, 22 is the best round to learn on. I read these articles as advice for someone who only wants to buy a gun for self defense and hasn’t really done much shooting before, in which case the author is correct and 9mm has the fewest disadvantages in that specific role.

      People are too emotionally invested in the caliber of their choice and, like I said earlier, unless you are choosing something in the 10mm/357 range you don’t see any substantial differences in real world data. Even there the benefit isn’t massive, just observable.

  42. The M&P 40C dates your packing a gun to 13 years or less. How about some articles written by people with some perspective?

  43. The 9mm is certainly superior to the .40 cal for utilization by the elderly, the infirm, and men with thin wrists and way too much estrogen.

    Actual American men can easily shoot the .40 and the .45, but that’s patriarchy or something.

  44. 9mm is good if you want something more powerful than .380, but still relatively concealable. For true concealable pocket protection, I’d go for .380. However, if you want a gun that looks mean, but has more capacity than the .45acp, and has higher velocity, go with .40s&w. If you don’t mind low capacity, and favor something that could stop a bad guy no matter where you hit, go for the slower, but bigger, .45acp.

    At least, that’s what I think is correct. Anything bigger than 45acp is overkill for self defense in a pistol.

  45. To quote Ronald Reagan after a particularly nasty episode in his life as well as in the history of our country…”rumors of my death have been greatly exagerated”.

  46. This is nothing but great news to me. Since the “demand” for .40 is going to be dropping, can I assume I’ll be able to pick up used firearms chambered in .40 S&W and surplus .40 S&W ammo for a song, pretty soon? Take care. Tom Worthington

  47. Gunfight math:

    Caliber (standard choices) 10%

    Capacity 10%

    Shot Placement = live or die

    You should pick a good quality firearm, super premium self defense ammo, and a high quality holster.

    The rest of your budget should be spent on the best training you can find.

  48. Do I dare stick my toe in the water? OK I will. FK it.
    I love my P229 in .40 I hit what I shoot at and I’m confident that in a DGU, I will be the one going home and sleeping in my bed and the other person is going to the morgue in a Ziploc.

    I’ve shot .357 Mag, 9mm, 44 magnum, .22, .45, .38 and .38 special.
    My suggestion for the beginner is…..good luck! Do your own thinking, research and shooting and you figure it out. I’m not about to give an serious opinion concerning calibers. You can’t go wrong with 9mm though. I’d carry 9mm and I happen to carry .40

  49. Honestly, I find the argument that .40 S&W is too ‘snappy’ almost comical. My brother’s first duty weapon was a polymer frame .40, and he took me to the range for the first time when I was 10. If a little kid can handle .40 S&W, anybody can.

    • Paul is an awesome YouTuber! In all of his caliber comparison videos, the 40SW does the jobjust like the sexier rounds. And without the use of the ultra expensive “hyper ammo”. To get a 9mm to be “just as good,” you need the +p or +p+ ammo. This might make the Jello Junkies mad, but making pretty bullets does not prove much. Pretty ammo sells, like pet food is advertised for the pet owner, on looks and packaging.

      The one thing I still take away from his 40 vs 357sig video was how the 40’s bullets still expanded even out to 60 yards!

      • Paul has objectively demonstrated the pluses and minuses of many handgun calibers, but it is quite telling that he usually carries a 9mm, and sometimes nothing more than a 25 acp. Shot placement is everything, and people should carry and shoot what they shoot best.

  50. This is all B.S. 40cals are great ,when you live in black bear and wild cats,couger and bobtail,feral hogs and big 6’3 + bad guys and a heck of a lot of wired crack,coke and heroin attacks that can keep coming at you with a ,380,9mm or 38spl in there gut or chest you need want and love the knock down power of a 40 or bigger so why has this not been main-lined on this topic….i am a Gunsmith and FFL dealer and I carry 40 everyday and everywhere and a case of 9 is around $100 bucks and a case of 40 only around$129 bucks so for the advantage of the round in almost every aspect what’s the big deal when being comfortable in what you carry will get the job done no matter what it is……come on guys don’t dis a round that has a place ……i love the feel of shooting the 40 as well. Leaves a bigger hole

  51. Was mugged by a thug with a single action revolver one night and a member of my party chased him away with a .40 cal. Shot him in the butt through blue jeans. The perp still ran about 30-40 ft before he finally fell. Out of 13 rounds fired hit perp twice. You will not rise to the occasion you will sink to the lowest level of your training. Adrenaline will not let you feel the difference of a 9mm vs .40, get training and a gun you can afford to train with. End of story.

    • I think your central premise about neurological and kinesthetic response under stress is basically correct although James Yeager would tweak it to say “,… level of training which you have,… mastered.” What ever his opinion is worth to you. How ever I have to disagree on the topic of recoil, it doesn’t matter weather you perceive it or not, it’s there, throwing your shots off and worsening most peoples already nearly non existent fundamentals during dynamic adrenaline dump.

  52. I dont know where you get info but its bad and wrong!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    40 S W is not dead by a long way and a long stretch of time to go

    I Missouri every major Department like KCMO PD has Glock 22 40 S W 5000 in service now.

    Not including a large amount of Smiths 4026 40 S W, still being use by the older officers close to retirement and dont want buy a new gun, to use.

    Missouri Highway Patrol has over 5000 Glock 22 40 S W in service now on all of their dept.

    In Missouri Glock 22 40 S W is the king of duty weapons carried by 99% of the all police, sheriffs dept.and court services, out there, big and small even a 1 man dept.

    The only other main gun the Glock 27 40 S W as a back up weapon.

    The only other weapon that can be used used is the Glock 23 40 S W.

    Missouri Highway Patrol duty weapons is the main choice for 99% LE Dept out there for liability issues, and training issues, every other LE Dept have the same weapons and same training courses.

    That way everyone can shoot the same guns and ammo out there, and if when someone runs out of ammo, they can get ammo of other LE personal, on scene 40 SW.

    In Missouri there more than a Million 40 S W Glocks being carried police, sheriff, and court services, everyday, out there. 40 S W is not even slowing down

    There is almost unknown amount of Sig 229 in 40 S W on the dept that allow, them.

    There is many Beretta and Taurus 40 S W guns being used or carried.

    There are even some dept. that are Smiths M & P 40 S W

    In KCMO there are over 10.000 licensed armed security officers, a large amount of them, are carrying Glocks guns, and most are carrying 40 S W.


    Part of the KHP use 226 in 40 S W

    In Kansas there is a large of amount LE depts carrying Glocks in 40 S W also

    I also have 4 ft 9 in tall wife that shoot a Glock 32/23 in 357 sig and 40 S W in full house loads, recoil is not a issue if you learn how to control it!

    I have friend that owns a reloading equipment sale booth at RK Gun Shows and 40 S W
    and 5.56 reloading dies are the two most requested and the two most sold reloading equipment he has.

    40 S W will not die anytime soon in Missouri most of the boys in the hoods have
    them or are trying to get or buy them.

    40 S W In the redneck parts of country, most of them have one or want one in some type of gun. (maybe even more than 2 or 3)

    40 S W is not dead by a long ways.

    Many (1975 to 1985) years ago the ammo companies told us the 9 pee pee ammo was new and improved and the bullet technology had improved to point that it would work like and get the performance a 45 auto ammo.

    That ammo failed badly and many times, shooting people up to and not less then
    17 to 18 times and the suspect in a crime would get up walk in to the ambulance on their own and win a multi million dollar lawsuit against the cities that shot him for no reason

    1985 FBI Miami shootout and the 9 mm latest greatest ammo failed to stop anyone quickly again, got many of the wrong people killed because the ammo they were using failed to stop people they shooting with it.

    Then the 40 S W came along and it works better than most, to stop someone on the first shot, and made to fit LE needs and it did.

    The same ammo companies that were feeding us that line bullshit about their latest greatest new and improved and the bullet technology had improved then. failed

    They are the same ammo companies that are feeding us now, the same 9mm is the latest greatest and best thing ever invented wont fail bullshit again, because they make better profit off 9 mm than other ammo they sale. ha ha

    When it comes down to brass tacks, when you shoot someone with a 9 pee pee round and the hollow points get full and fails to expand and open up you still a 9 mm sized holes is crook, that take them twice as long to bleed out, as other rounds do, and the crook is pissed off and trying to kill again what do you think
    of your squat and pee round then

    What I Know

    40 S W wont die that soon when the 9 mm does not open, and wont stop or kill the suspects again they come running to guns and ammo that works again.

    History will always repeat itself, again when it comes to ammo fails, and they will have
    to go back to the larger bullets again, because a stoned tweekers dont feel any pain, and it takes a bigger bullet to get them to notice, and bleed out faster, and slow them down.

    40 S W

    45 auto

    • Same thing in ILLINOIS. The small town departments, where the LEOs have to buy their own weapons and gear, the G22/G23 still remains king.

      And I don’t know why the myth of Glock 40SWs are wearing out quicker than Glock 9mms using +p+ ammo comes from? Same with the recoil, ultra high pressure ammo in 9mm is snappy!


      • Are there any documented incidents of “worn out” .40 cal glocks not being repaired or replaced by Glock for $0? It’s always been my understanding that while there isn’t a “warranty “, if you send glock a broken gun, they’ll send you back a working gun, pretty much no matter what you did to it. I suppose they might charge a department that had a big stack of truly “worn out” guns, but one guy, who shot a glock enough to wear it out- seems like he’d get taken care of gratis, based on what I’ve read in assorted forums.

        • Yes, Glock has gotten WAY better at customer service since the first time I ever dealt with them. Both as a civilian and part time LEO.

          But what is was referencing to was the myth that the long time established Gen4’s won’t take the recoil of the 40SW yet somehow able to digest a lifetime of rounds of +p+ LEO 9mm ammo with no problem. That just doesn’t make sense.

    • I carried a 92 for 20 years in the Navy. So when it came to EDC I wanted the muscle memory that I have to carry. So I saw an apartment where a gunman went wild with a 9mm. That round travels. Through too many walls to feel good. I want to shoot the bad guy not the bad guy and the little kid next door. So when I bought my EDC I bought a 96. I hope to hit the bad guy and not have the round leave the room. Now maybe the 40 will travel hopefully it won’t. But 9 in my opinion is too small and too fast for good self defence.

  53. There are no best caliber than others, it all depends on what you use it for and the 40 is, my opinion, the best compromise between stopping power and accuracy.
    I have a Steyr in 40 and the recoil is not a problem as it can be in a small frame in 9 or even 380 and carrying 12 + 1 is way enough to stop any problem. I trust that ammo for self defense more than others as the FBI and the Swat used it for 30 years for a good reason

  54. The writer is not exactly correct about the Glock 22 when stating: “On guns like a GLOCK 22, you can always convert it to 9mm later by changing out the barrel and a few other small parts.” You do not need to changing anything but the barrel, which takes less 20 seconds, to shoot 9mm, 40SW and 357Sig out of the Glock 22. One may experience some jams if using 22 mags. It seems that using appropriate caliber magazines and good ammo removes 98.3% of all issues (yes, it made this stat up).
    There is a reason why one can feel the “recoil” / power of the round. If you can’t handle it, just shoot something else.

    • If using the newer Alpha wolf barrels to convert a gen 4 glock .40 to 9mm lone wolf recommends swapping out the recoil spring to 9mm as well. They didn’t initially but customer feed back informed them of enough problems. Was having some failures to feed (oddly) with the slightly stronger .40 spring in a fairly dirty g4 22 swapping for the 9 seemed to fix it, weird.

  55. I’m bouncing between an M&P 2.0 Compact chambered for .40 S&W, and a Glock G29 10 mm as my EDC. 9 mm, frankly, is hardly on the radar for me. If I need to hit something, then I want to hit it hard.

    • Go with the 10mm, if you want something that hits hard, the difference between 9mm and 40 defensive loads in ft-lbs is less than the force of an untrained persons punch, 50-70 ft-lb on average.

      Arguing that 40 is substantially better than 9mm is like arguing that a 99 Malibu V6 is worth the extra cost and worse gas mileage than the 99 4 cylinder because it has 155 hp instead of 150. Both cars are adequate for getting someone around, and the driver will probably never notice the slight increase in performance.

      In real world application there is almost no difference in shots to stop a threat between 9 and 40. There is between those two and 10mm.

    • I’m a very experience shooter and owned/carried a Glock 29…, pass. In that package the recoil really is abusive and you’re shaving a lot of the 10’s potential out of that short barrel. I carried that gun a lot and shot it a little, it wasn’t fun, and I don’t like that in an EDC.

  56. I’d say a new shooter should strongly consider buying one of those cheap used LE guns & a stack of “high capacity” mags, (used LE mags for glock .40 often pop at $10-12), for the next panic. And there will be another panic. Might not be a bad idea to pick up a Lee load master, a few cases of primers & a few one-pound kegs of powder. $1000 for a gun, a nice stack of mags & some reloading materials (even if you never intend to use them) is common sense in a panicky world.

    Right after 9mm hit $1 a round in the last panic, powder, primers & brass went into low supply & silly pricing as well, but you could still buy a bucket of .40 brass for cheap, because cops shoot .40 & they often aren’t paying for it.

    In the next ban, I’d rather have any “hi cap” magazines over zero. And a $125 for a loadmaster gets you freedom from mail-order ammunition, which is definitely on the radar for the ban hammer. Ask them about that in California.

    When all the common calibers are $1 per bang for practice ammo, having 10,000 primers, a few pounds of HP-38 & a loadmaster will get you through a panic with your marksmanship skills intact. You can make a .40 shoot like a 9mm if you’re loading your own & the day will come when you’ll want to load your own. If you choose not to load your own, the supplies can be sold or bartered very easily in a panic. Better than gold or cash.

    • Agreed availability in a supply shortage and ability to convert to 9mm is the most compelling reason to own at least one .40 in 2018. A glock 22 converted to 9mm with shortened grip to accept both 22/17 and 23/19 mags is just about the perfect “one pistol for the rest of your life” gun.

  57. A quick browse of Wikiarms shows .40 S&W as cheap as $0.18/round compared to 9mm at $0.14/round – so your cost argument is not a good one.

    That said, .40 S&W is like an all season tire – it does nothing well.

  58. The .40 S&W was often chambered in guns originally designed for the 9×19 which resulted in excess wear and tear, parts failing early, frames and slides cracking etc.

    The early loading’s with the 180 grain bullets actually blew up guns when the bullet suffered setback when the cartridge was being chambered. Combat Handguns Magazine documented 3 modern guns, A Glock, Browning High Power and a Ruger that all blew up using factory ammo which was the result of bullet set back and then detonation because the .40 S&W with the original hot loading’s did not have enough air space in the cartridge.

    The cost of ammo does not compete with the 9×19 prices

    The recoil is more excessive than the 9×19 and many shooters do not like this especially women and also older people that have arthritis.

    Because of excess recoil many people do not shoot the 40 as well as they do the 9×19.

  59. I own and shoot far more 9 than 40. And, I’m not really a huge 40 fan, but I do religiously carry .40 (department regs, common mags, etc.) The only point I’ll throw into this particular caliber war is that, it’s always understated, but .40 is a better performing round. It’s larger in diameter, faster, and heavier. It does better at barriers. Now, you can marginalize that all you want, and you may be better with a 9 (I shoot 9 in competition), but these debates always always always downplay that .40 is superior performing. Would I feel under gunned if issued/carrying 9? No. Do I prefer 40? Yes. But actually read the FBI’s results. The old one where they switched to 10mm repeatedly lists that they need more penetration and that slight advantages in diameter could make the difference in stopping a fight. The new report reads, and I’m paraphrasing here, that its cheaper and will help them shoot more accurately. Much of the switch back to 9 is cost and marginal shooters. I understand people choosing 9mm. I shoot a lot of 9mm. Let’s not gloss over that .40 outperforms it.

    • Exactly. And in a few years we’ll see the next Miami Dade and then back to the 40 they will go. The nine has gotten more sophisticated for sure but it still isn’t a penetrator.

  60. I’m not defending .40 S&W because I think it’s a terrible idea, but the cost argument isn’t really true.

    You’re looking at 19 cents/round compared to 14 cents/round in 9mm. That’s not going to break the bank, especially when you can get one of those awesome Sig Sauer .40 P229 trade ins for 1/4 the price of a new Sig Sauer in 9mm.

  61. Blah blah blah people. As long as you are proficient with it… any gun is better than no gun. Caliber shmaliber.

  62. 40 s&w has better terminal ballistics than 9mm, period! In most compacts and all full size hand guns, recoil ain’t shit. With that said, 40 s&w is rightly not the better option in sub compacts. 40 s&w is not dead and will most likely be the next caliber flavor of the month in 7 years, so don’t loose any sleep.

  63. The .40 performs better than the 9mm, simple as that. Yes bullet technology has helped out the 9mm, but the 9mm has always been at a power disadvantage, and it still is. The recoil of the .40 in same size/weight guns isn’t that different, it’s more but not so much so that it’s difficult to shoot. The .40 hits harder, pokes a bigger hole, expands bigger and destroys more tissue than the 9mm does, those are things you want in a defensive cartridge. The 9mm crowd keeps lying to itself, the 9mm isn’t as good as the .40 and it never will be, the only half positive aspects in favor of 9mm is slightly cheaper practice ammo, the good stuff costs the same and slightly less recoil, but again the difference isn’t enough to matter to anyone with even a little training.

  64. two questions have to be answered first: are you using a compact polymer pistol, and do you handload your ammo. there is no legitimate against the 40 being a ballisticly superior round. but in the smaller and lighter weapons recoil can be unpleasant shooting a 40 or 45 over a 9. it then becomes a preference based on comfort not the performance of the round. however practice all but eliminates the effect of the increased recoil. consistency and follow ups are substantially equal. but i am willing to concede that for a pocket pistol the 9 can be a better option.
    but for those shooting full size pistols this leads to the second question about reloading. if you do, the cost difference is negligible, lighter practice loads can be made (also can be used in the pocket pistols) as well as much stouter defense loads. the 40 has been downloaded so far that few understand its capabilities. at the same time we are seeing a resurgence in the 10s popularity, and the common everyday +p loadings for the 9 and 45, the ammo manufacturers still refuse to offer loads that go above middle of the road for the 40. 600+ energy in weights up to 155gr, 500+ in the rest .. without going +p.
    the 9 has a 2-5 round advantage, 15 being the most you can get in 40. same advantage of the 40 over the 45. stats show that defensive shootings don’t use all of your ammo. many say better too much than not enough. is three or four lesser performing rounds better? you be the judge. but use fact not hype or hate.
    you will probably be ok with a 9 or 45. but just like those who say ‘better too much than not enough’ to justify their choice of the 9, isnt more power and performance better than less?

  65. New shooter, go to a gun range, most have guns to try, if not most of us will let you shoot ours to see which one fits your like. I shoot 9mm and a 40, I like the 40 over my 9, but different strokes for different folks. Every caliber is better than the other do to store bought bullets to reloaded bullets, so just go out and find your fit. Good luck, be safe, have fun.

  66. It appears that many shooters make fun of the increased
    “stopping power” of the forty caliber over the nine, but if
    it weren’t for stopping power, you might as well shoot the
    perp with a paint gun. I have never shot a criminal yet,
    but if I ever do, I don’t want to die by being shot with my
    magazine full of mouse-gun cartridges. I would rather stop
    the perp with a caliber that has exceptional “stopping power”.

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