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By LC Judas

Each of the colors in the rainbow of self defense rounds, above, has its own purpose. Its dedicated group of proponents and detractors. Each slot in the spectrum is different from the others, but not all are given the same respect. Case in point: the red-headed stepchild of duty calibers  – the .40 S&W. It may be considered superfluous by a lot of shooters, but when Smith & Wesson came up with this round, they changed the game . . .

In 1990 the .40S&W cartridge was designed to score a fat government contract with the FBI. Essentially, it was designed to take the place of lightly loaded 10mm rounds that were used by shooters who didn’t like the full-powered variety. The ballistics of the round were considered great at the time and are still more than passable today.

I got into shooting with a stock Glock 23 in .40S&W. Truth be told, that’s not a way you want to start any new shooter. The main reason being that a .40 polymer pistol isn’t terribly forgiving to a shooter trying to get over (or avoid developing) a flinching habit. And a .40’s snap and flash have induced plenty of cases of the yips in both new and experienced shooters.

So yes, that’s a drawback, but the caliber itself offers better muzzle energy and weight over 9mm when you compare similar loads. And it can do all this with less flash and recoil than its closely-related brother, the .357 SIG.

But let’s assume the typical human isn’t a walking ballistics calculator, nor are they also willing to tote a .50BMG rifle to assure target incapacitation for typical personal defense needs. To select a carry gun, most people run through a mental calculation, taking into account a number of factors. So let’s run the math.

To pick the right gun for you, you’ll need:

~ Enough rounds in your caliber of choice to handle the kinds of situations you anticipate are most likely crop up. Be that 5 rounds in a .38 Smith 642 or 19+1 in a 9mm Springfield XDM.

+ Security in the “stopping power” (air quotes used sarcastically) of your caliber and round choice, whatever flavor of the rainbow you prefer. I’ve met people who will talk you to death on the greatness of .22LR and others who claim to conceal a .50AE Desert Eagle on a regular basis. Whatever doesn’t sink your particular boat.

– Any recoil beyond your physical ability to control so that you can handle the pistol and keep it reliably on target – a subjective decision.

– Bulk, size and weight that you can’t comfortably carry in your typical style of dress. Here the heater frequently takes a back seat to style and seasonal considerations, which can mean less firepower (in the form of a smaller package or even none at all) rather than a change of clothes.

= Some general idea of a caliber and size of weapon for your lifestyle.

You take those four criteria and a few others — form factor, make of weapon, type of action, trigger, what you have experience shooting and what you trust — and then come up with a few choices east of the equal sign.

Now, being as arbitrary as a .40 Glock fanboy can be, six years ago I ran that equation and came up with an answer that equaled something compact with at least 12 rounds of a caliber bigger than 9mm. But since that was unlikely to come in a .45 package with the size and capacity I wanted, my choices ultimately came down to either the Glock 23 or the H&K USP Compact.

Since then I’ve run similar equations for determining what I’d carry for funerals, weddings and as a daily service weapon. And each situation can result in a different answer. For instance, I’m comfortable with a full size double stack 9mm on duty given the likelihood of being fired upon and having to return fire with plenty of capacity.

For a funeral or wedding, when I can’t conceal a larger capacity gun, I’m content with my Kahr P9 with 7+1 and a spare magazine because it’s manageable for its size, accurate and concealable. It’s also comfortable to carry all day and usually gets me past impromptu hugs without relatives wondering what that bulge is.

But back to the .40…it’s not for every occasion. But because nearly all .40 cal pistols share frame dimensions with their 9mm counterparts, you can usually find one that fits the carry situation you anticipate.

Tactically, in a full size double stack duty weapon, you (usually) lose 2 rounds if you’re going to carry .40 vs. 9mm. In the case of the Kahr P9, you lose only one. So most of the time you can do whatever you want with a .40 (in the same size and weight) that you would with a 9mm. It’s a great, versatile middle choice for EDC carry.

As I mentioned, there are plenty that consider the .40 neither here nor there. Less capacity and more recoil than a 9mm without the ballistics and stopping power of a .45. But for the reasons I already mentioned, it’s versatile and satisfies the guys who won’t carry anything that doesn’t start with a 4.

It suits what I imagine my needs to be and doesn’t weigh down my pants and make sitting a hassle like a threaded barrel 1911 in an IWB holster does. But it isn’t a caliber I have trouble believing will stop a potential adversary. I also handle it well, not only on the days I re-qualify, but also on the days I just go plinking at the range. In short, for me it’s the answer to my personal equation and it works.

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  1. Umm, just curious, but what is your basis for your belief that the .40 lacks “the ballistics and stopping power of a .45.”?

    With the right loads, Marshall & Sanow report that the .40 is just as good as the best .45 loads, and better than many .45 loads in actual shootings. In fact, with the best loads in each cailber, there is very little difference in terminal performance between the .40, .357 SIG, .357 magnum, and the .45 (and only a tiny smidgen of difference between those and the 9mm +P).

    I understand Marshall & Sanow’s methodology is often criticized, but even if your ignore them, the FBI and thousands of local law enforcement agencies issue the .40. Have all picked a round that lacks “the ballistics and stopping power of a .45.”?

    The 1911 pistol is a great gun, probably the easiest of all guns to shoot very well because of the trigger. But cartridges have come a long way since 1911, and unless you are in the military and restricted to ball ammunition, I don’t think the caliber is demonstratively superior anymore.

    If it is, please provide links to the data . . . .

    • Pick the gun that you shoot well and conceal well that chambered in a cartridge that will get in deep and do the job–basically, anything .38 Special on up–and you’re good to go.

      There are times that I carry my .32 Colt 1903. It’s a pipsqueak, but I know what I can do with it.

    • The data and popular opinion is that weight of projectile change “stopping power” characteristics. I do NOT buy into any stopping power myth. Only the dim correlations of numbers like feet per second, muzzle energy in foot pounds or flat out sectional density of larger caliber bullets creating wider wound cavities in targets that are incapacitated. Basically, please do not take the use of “stopping power” literally. That term is a myth. Placement is key above everything else. I am only addressing .40 as it is commonly seen for what makes it different from .45 and 9mm. In the following installment I address what appears to be the ballistic point of .40S&W and the fact remains bullets are bullets but none are equal by design. Otherwise there would be no calibers to debate.

      • “Placement is key above everything else.”

        Be careful when you speak the truth like that. some chucklehead will throw up the 22 LR logical fallacy, characterized as “since shot placement and quantity of rounds are important, you should carry a 22 buckmark” (or other 22 pistol).

        • I invite said chucklehead to leave such a remark. If they somehow missed the fact that my EDC is a .40 that’s on them. What’s more is that I hope that they in fact do carry a .22 pistol and come out on top in all of their engagements just to spite me.

          Or get eliminated by natural selection, as Charles Darwin and his theory never included trolls anyway.

        • LOL well there is a reason why I sent you that warning (because I was embroiled in a bloody conflict with a couple of people that kept lumping 22 lr in with my comparison of the 9mm vs other calibers; dont take my word for it, the damage was done on the james yeager’s “40s suck” video thread).

          That is my entire contention on the caliber wars: if something was drastically better, every competitor would be superseded and rendered obsolete.

        • Nothing is drastically better caliberwise; bullets are and will continue to be bullets. However, different calibers were created and are used for different purposes. The .40 finds a way to be versatile in hunting, defense, plinking and competition and ballistically does tend to sit exactly between 9mm and .45 according to every applicable number you can apply as far as ballistics go so I think it is the “perfect” middle ground only because it’s pretty damn smack dab middle.

        • Not badly stated LC. Hi there WLCE. In truth, 9, 40, and 45 are considered ‘the big three’, though revolver people like the versatility of a revolver that can shoot 357 and 38special (a great thing outdoors with an animal on you…or with a two legged predator pressed against its muzzle). 22lr suck for defense unless you REALLY cant shoot nothin else.

    • In the hottest loads the .45ACP outperforms the hottest .40S&W. (

      Given that the .45ACP does it with a heavier and larger round the wounding potential is obviously greater.

      Comparing very hot combat loads the .45 deposits more energy over a similar wound path with a larger diameter projectile.

      Just as the 9mm is not the equal of the .40S&W when comparing equal loadings the .40S&W is not the equal of the .45ACP. I’m not sure why this won’t die but the argument comes around again over and over. While the .40S&W is closely a match for the .45ACP in many configurations you can always go hotter and harder with the latter and still with a larger projectile, which has to be accounted for.

      When comparing serious .40S&W and .45ACP loads the 9mm need not apply, it’s often out muscled by 2/3’s or more ftlbs by either one and it with a smaller and lighter projectile to boot.

      Still, the .44mag puts all three to shame and frankly uploaded .380ACP is adequate for defensive shooting.

      It’s not that any of these isn’t a viable choice but yes, the .45ACP is available in more powerful formats than the .40S&W.

      • I think you overlooked the fact that those hot 45’s (45 +P) are doing that from a 5″. And the 40 OTOH are from a 4″. When you equalize the barrels you’ll find 40 is on par with 45 +P… Plain and simple.

  2. Arguing over handgun caliber/stopping power is like arguing over what brand of gasoline you prefer. All that matters is that you have some when you need it.

    • very good comparison! interesting because in more than 90% of the cars powered by gasoline, the different types have negligible differences/improvements.

      • Sure, Shell’s just great if you believe the FBi POV manual and a bunch of greenhorn pumper wannabees. But every fast mover, virtually any real operator who’s actually been in the sandbox, knows that a fluid ounce of Exxon Super Premium (I only run Super Premium fill-ups on the street) has a gun-it effect that belies the understated numbers on its spec sheet. Only spelling it Exxxon could make it any better!

        • That’s funny that you pay more for premium fuel because you are getting gas with slower less efficient burn rate, that’s why a higher compression engines require premium ( higher octane ) fuel it’s basically to prevent compression Ignition. That’s why Diesel engines are approximately 16:1 or so compression the friction between the molecules creates heat that ignites the fuel you don’t want that to happen in a gasoline engine you want the spark plugs to ignite the fuel. Actually 87 octane is a better burning grade of gas you could almost use water to raise the octane numbers or gasoline. Some cars/trucks actually suggest the use of 87 octane look it up it’s really interesting

  3. It’s probably great but I’m a cheap SOB and if 9mm is almost as good, allows more rounds and is a lot cheaper then I’d rather own 9mm guns.

      • This, plus I’m already stocked up on 9mm and have all the widgets that go with supporting the 9. If I dip my toes in the .40 waters then I have to make all sorts of adjustments and I’m a lazy as well as cheap mofo.

    • Yup! 9x19mm works for me because I can fill my ammo boxes for less. That said, quality .40s are more readily available as used guns since something like 80% of LE agencies use them and subsequently sell them. If you get a heavy .40, it’ll feel like shooting a polymer-bodied 9mm.

      And to add to the flaming, I have been tempted to “upgrade” to a micro 9 from my .380, but I just can’t do it. The ballistic advantages are not worth the increase in size. I trust my P3AT to do the job if I’m “business casual.” Great article.

    • hymmmn, “Almost”, is Only Good in “Horseshoes” & “Handgrenades”!… LOL! You might change your Mind, if confronted, and had to shoot your 9mm [chambering 115 -125 grain bullets, a few times to Stop, your Adversary; “If” he Stops?… “Crack-Heads” Run on, and on !…]. The.45 caliber side Arms, were disigned pre W.W. II; as an Anti-Personel, side arm!… Hard Hitting, Knock him Down, Dead!… Big Holes, Much Bodily Damage!…Spend a few Extra Bucks, get familiar with a Gun, with Real Stoppng Power!!!…
      Why do you think, the “Police”, have Moved up, to larger Caliber Guns? The Days, of the .38’s are far behind!…. [and so are, the 9mm’s, and shortly, the .40 calibers!]. When Dealing with my life, i’ll spend the little “Extra”, to Stay Alive and Leave
      , “Big Holes”!…

      • Do all .45 fanboys have to use a bunch of weird-ass punctuation? One of the rules in your special club?

        • Lol, just the “Correct Way”, to show “Expression”?… It’s “Obvious”, if you have to Even Ask! Your education “Level”, Seems to lack that of a 5th grader!… lol

      • This reply appears to be a series of copy/pasted snippets of hot button words emphasized with quotes. I couldn’t imagine paying this anymore mind than a child talking unless it suddenly joins the human race with some logic or at least rhyme to this chaotic jumble of letters.

        • “This reply appears to be a series of copy/pasted snippets of hot button words emphasized with quotes.”

          Using quotes for emphasis, in turn, is one sign of illiteracy.

    • Why would anybody use a 45 if it was not really better than a 9? More rounds in a smaller gun and cheap ammo to shoot. No No, I aint startin somethin’ here……or am I. The 9 vs 45 wars came LOOONG before the 40 hit the scene. I will let these two duke it out before slipping the ol’ 40 blade in.

        • Lol. Why stop with 45 Super? The 460 Rowland is a really great round. 1200+ ft lbs delivered to the target with each hit. It’s easier to shoot than 44mag revolver and does as much or more renovation on its way through.
          When I can carry a full size, I like my Springfield/ Rowland conversion. Spare mag I’d the meanest stuff I have ever shot. Meanwhile some good 45acp+p in the primary mag does most of what I’d need. If I’m out with big animals, I just switch mags. No problem.
          But for daily protection from two legged varmint , I do carry a Shield 9mm and extra mags. I can hit with it at 50 yards while moving quickly. So I trust the whole package.

  4. You touched on this, but isn’t caliber alone ALWAYS trumped by the ergonomics imposed on the shooter by the combination of weight, form factor, caliber, load, action etc. ?

    • lol, get a gun, with Real Knock Down, “Power “…. And, “Practice, Practice, Practice, and than “Practice Some More”!… Wondering, how many, of the People Commenting here, today, have “Ever” been in a “Fire-Fight”?… [Most likely, “NONE”!…. ] Or have Served Time, in the Military!]. Again, probably the Same answer!….Hymmmmn,So Easy, to Read up, on Weapons, and learn from What you’ve Read, And form an Opinion; But, Another thing, to be faced, with a problem, dealing with the uncertainty, and Adrenaline “Rushes”, while trying to Save yourself, and your “Team”!… With that, “I’ll Stand, at Ease”!…

      • You say it’s “so easy to read up on weapons” but you mispell “hmm” by adding a ‘y’. I don’t see a logical pattern but to try to start a flame war.

        Mission failed, Captain.

        • hymmmn, But “I Have been Successful, in “Fire-Fights”!…. And, Getting my “Point” across!…. [I get “Hot”, when these “Civilians, with “No Clue”, on the subject, “Commenting”!… I “ACCEPT, Your Apology, for Risking my life, “Defending”, our Country, and Your Freedom!…! While you stayed in School “Criticizing”!… lol.

      • I am only sorry if you wanted to be taken seriously; your approach and attempt here probably is not a good place to start. Anyone with ten minutes of military experience knows that your rank goes before your last name, not your first and your “success” in a firefight is not measured in who you hit and how many times but how many bullets you avoid and coming home. So, if you would please, stop with your inane comments. They appear to be generated by an offshoot of a Siri program at best and the novelty is long done with.

      • Can’t speak for the rest. But I’ve seen more than I wanted. Been in way more than anyone could imagine. It sux. I wouldn’t wish it on anyone. But for the right reasons, I’d do it again. Plan for the worst, Pray for the best.

    • Actually, yes caliber alone is always trumped by the form and other ergonomic considerations of your lifestyle when picking a firearm. However, here in the free market there usually is a selection of calibers even in the most discriminating of criteria as far as dress and restrictions.

      However even in the idea of picking a caliber…caliber is indeed trumped by everything else because anything that fails ergonomics is left in the drawer not on your person. So the answer is definitely a yes but caliber shouldn’t be an afterthought either.

  5. Ooooh…caliber discussion…TTAG mods, prepare for this one to explode…lol. I think .40 is the one caliber I dont have.

  6. Pfft your puny caliber is for little girly-men. Real MEN carry a brace of 500 S&W revolvers. Oh and maybe a 1911 all American taped to the taint. Maybe. As a backup. It must cost over $1600 though.

  7. One reason why TTAG is the best: The first 10 comments on an article about handgun caliber are all a variant of “it doesn’t really matter”

    • You are correct. We must also realize that calibers were created for a reason, for the most part. There might be a specific task at hand that the manufacturer wanted to address. I am sure there is lots of history behind why a .357 came to be, or how the 9mm became so popular. In the end though, it is a personal preference kind of thing.

      • hymmmn, researching, guns most of my life; the 9mm, was brought on the scene, by Austrian “Plastics Mogul”, Herr Gastron Glock, making polymere guns, for the Austrian Army, [early 1970!]. Finding, a Big Market, here in the U.S., selling to the “Police Departments!… After a few years, the “Bad-Guys’, got better guns!… He than developed and sold, the “Police Departments, .40 calibers, [offering to buy back their old 9mm!…] Which, he in turn, resold!… Now, pressing the Sales of the “Ultimate” side-arm, the .45 A.C.P.!… [Herr Glock, is not only, a Plastics, Genius; but, a Very Wealthy, Good Businessman!….

        • Hate to burst your bubble there. captain. But the 9mm was an old round before glock ever got to it.

          Lugers, p-38’s, Browning Hi-Powers to name just a few. And for a man with all the experience you lay claim to you seem to have missed out on the whole lack of knock down power available to a handgun regardless of caliber.

        • Just figured it out: Captain George is an early beta version of the MIT AI workshop “Artificial Intelligence automatic gun blog comment generator” being run by an undergrad who downloaded the wrong file: In beta version 0.24 a sloppy grad student had coded the Funcall as Dofunction Commagenerate. Simple.

  8. Actually if you read the article for the most part it all makes sense. Caliber goes out the window. We can say that shooting someone if you aim right they wind up dead regardless.
    So really what this comes down to is your need. Do you need a small gun during summer or occasions where size is a major factor? Are you OC or CC? Is cost a factor? If you practice a lot, a 9mm is cheaper, plus learning to reload on your own helps as well.
    What are you comfortable with? Comfort equals confidence, and that can be a mighty important thing. I have shot quite a few different calibers, and I like my 1911 .45 ACP. I also like 9mm as well. It feels different but you can be proficient with both. My wife on the other hand might not want a 1911, and prefers something smaller.
    Bottom line is if you like how your gun feels, and you practice, that is what’s important.


    • hymmmn, looking back, at the “Old School’, 1911, hard hitting, bad kick, hard to shoot effectively, and Accurately!… “Not So’, with the Newer .45’s today!… Having both, the Springfield XD, & the XDm, in .45 caliber, the ease, of shooting, is incredible!…[ie.], when i first purchased, my Springfield XD.45 caliber, i took “It”, and my Glock, 19, 9mm to the range, [Chambering, .230 grain, bullets in my .45; while chambering 115 & 125, in my Glock, 9mm]. After an Afternoon, of shooting, [500 Rounds, between, the 2 guns]; i was Amazed, how little recoil, and better Accuracy, my “Springfield XD.45”, had well over my 9mm Glock!… i was “FLOORED”! Never wanting, to shoot anyone, but, if i do, i’d much rather shoot them, with a Smooth ,Comfortable, Hard, hitting, .45 caliber, than, to Save a few pennies, shooting a 9mm!…

    • Thank you sanchanim. I never intended for it to be a caliber flame war and I’m not surprised that it is but looking at the posters who saw me selling .40 and then the posters who saw me dissing .40 in the same article it’s rather funny. I’m just preaching about finding what works. I have a large gun for the occasions that I want one and smaller ones but the .40 in question is my EDC go to. I’m not implying anything by that but that maybe it could be for others. Not trying to indoctrinate in my .40 cult but…

      …the stones have been cast. May there be peace in time. *laughs*

      • found this post late but must say i appreciete your info here and posts elsewhere lc. another reason ttag rules. btw my one and only handgun is a g23 for all the reasons you cite plus same as my leo spouses duty carry. makes spares and ammo easy too.

  9. I’m going with the James Yeager quote on this one “All guns should be Glocks, all Glocks 9mm, all 9mm Glocks a 19”

    • lol, obviously, “NOT”, a Shooter!…[relying on someone elses word?…] LOL Springfield, an American Company, have been making weapons, for the American Armies, since the time of “George Washington”!… Gastron Glock, developed the Polymer pistols, in 1970!…

      • The Springfield XD and XDm line is manufactured in Croatia…Springfield just bought it tweaked a few minor things and slapped their name it. Also, I have trouble understanding what you are saying in your posts because your use of punctuation is terrible.

        • No, you really don’t. I got off of work and read them. Imagine someone cutting and pasting whilist bashing the punctuation side of a keyboard. That’s really all I’ve seen.

      • that Springfield Armory closed in 1968. It is now a national park. the classical, revolutionary war-era springfield has nothing in common with the new springfield in geneso, illinois.

        FYI, please, please type halfway right. just halfway. it hurts me to read..

        • Still, an American Company!… [Moving to “Croatia”, to save money!…]. I’m “Not”, an Advocate, of these relocation; but the company, is one of the oldest, makers of Guns, for the U.S.!


          the modern springfield located in geneso illinois is a different animal than the original springfield armory located in springfield, massachusetts defunct since 1968. The two are only the same in name only.
          The modern springfield not only outsources the XD handguns. the 1911s are mostly imbel frames from brazil, with only small quantities of customs built in the US. The M1a uses a myriad of domestic surplus USGI parts and foreign ones.

      • CG,

        There are many reasons why I carry a Glock 19 and believe It the best of all worlds for a carry gun, not going into all of them here, Yeager is very opinionated on why one should stick to 9mm or .45ACP, checkout some of his videos and you just may find he makes a lot of sense.

        • lol “Springfield”, and American Company, [unfortunately making Guns, now in Croatia]!…. Makes a far better Gun, than “Glock”! More acurate, less recoil, Especially, in the higher caliber guns, due to the barrel, “Porting”!… And, you’re buying, “American Made”!… [It seems obvious, to me?].

  10. I read the Marshall-Sarnov report with the jaundiced eye of someone who has done OR for the Navy. The report is designed to support the FBI’s choice of the 40 cal not make an objective assessment. The 40 cal is only marginally better than the 9. While I am a 45 guy I accept that with modern loads you will get the job done any of commonly used calibers. However, I wonder how much personal defense ammunition (JHP) most people carry in their inventory. I generally keep two or three mags plus maybe a reload; after that it’s ball ammunition. So if the SHTF and you are down to ball you are going to wish that you had a 45

    • If the situation has gotten so bad that I’ve exhausted my rifles and shotguns and am down to ball ammo for a pistol then caliber truly is the least of my problems.

      • If you are hunkered down in your family bunker that’s true but what happens if you have to bug out? That is a one pistol one long GUN situation. If you have 100 rounds of JHP then bully for you.

        • “Family bunker?” Why didn’t I get the memo? Now we’re supposed to have bunkers. Now i got to get a butt load of sandbags.

        • Your real problem is not getting the sandbags themselves, but deciding whether you want the 3.5, 4.0, or 4.5 pounders.

          Some say 3.5 is enough, but others swear the 4.0 pound sandbags actually hold _more_ than the 4.5 pounders.

          Tough call.

        • Dryw, gave it some thought. Basically I’m lazy, so building a bunker is right out. I think I’ll just wait until SHTF and then steal an APC. Instant bunker and if I’m lucky there’ll be something belt fed on the top.

        • 12.7x99mm, not 12.7x108mm?

          (and with that, my ridiculousness ends. Can’t help myself. Caliber wars make me chuckle)

    • Having “Dove” NAVY!… Also, working with United States Customs; I believe, i have a little Better “Handle”, on this subject!… lol [re], peoples comments, “i’ve Read…or, i was told!… lol give me a “Break”!… lol I Stand “At Ease”!…. And will “Not”, comment, Ant Further!…. Bye-Bye!… kiddies!…

    • i disagree. 17-19 rounds of 9mm ball is far more useful than 8 rounds of 45 ACP for a number of reasons (more time in the fight, increased probability of penetrating a vital structure/organ/cns, increased probability of being able to fight multiple assailants to name a few). If im using my pistol in a SHTF scenario (such as holding ground or house), then something as seriously gone wrong/I fucked up. If I run out of ammo for any of my long guns, then my handgun is going to be used to fight tooth and nail for another long gun.

        • That argument still doesnt change my opinion. I would still take the 9mm.

          Lets go bigger: the FNX45 with 15 rounds of 45 ACP. Nope. Unchanged. Those are big bastards. There are more tradeoffs between calibers than just a increase perceived power (if you call 1-200 joules a measurable difference; it is not). Even objective power (such as a 357 magnum) has tradeoffs that place them at a disadvantage in some circumstances compared to other calibers.

        • No it doesn’t make it as safe as a 1911 but since you have to do two things wrong to make it go boom it is safer than a Glock. However, you can get a XD with a safety which makes safer than a 1911.

        • “safe” is subjective.

          “safe” in a 1911 can easily be a demerit. the grip safety and manual safety lever can impede the user if he/she needs to fire the gun. it happens all the time in training.

          Here’s a tip: keep your finger off the trigger until youre read to shoot. using this rule, the glock is a very safe gun.

        • “I will remember that the next time Robert gives the coveted IGOTD award to a Glock owner.”

          …which is a case for blaming a inanimate, mechanical object: a common fallacy that us gun owners have a helluva time killing.

    • I like the Fuller index myself. If the 45 and 40 are only marginally better than some would ask why not just use the 9. I do think that the 45 and 40 give you the option of using the temporary stretch cavity to temporarily incapacitate an individual with the internal punch effect on a nerve center (why the 357 was so effective in the past).

  11. Evidence from studies suggests that the vast majority of DGUs do not result in the firing of a weapon, or if fired, with any injuries inflicted. Thus, the most important factor in any DGU is simply having a gun, even if its a pea shooter. Simply showing the firearm is enough to deter crime. And that’s why the OP is right–carry what suits your immediate need and don’t worry about the rest. For me, concealability is an overwhelming priority, and large capacity (aside from the fact it is illegal in California) makes concealing far more difficult. Sign me up for pocket pistols. (If I had my druthers, it’d be an xds in .45, but that isn’t legal here either.)

  12. I have large hands, so perhaps I’m missing something, but with semiautomatic handguns, recoil for me is only a matter of the size and weight of the gun. Caliber from 9mm Makarov on up feels irrelevant.

    • Gregg, the “New” Springfield XDm, in ,45 caliber, has 3 different size inter-changeble pistol grips, that come, with the gun!… Great Shooting, very little recoil, extremely accurate!…[i prefer shooting this over, my 9mm Glock!… with better Acurracy, too!

  13. LC Judas will get no argument from me on any point, as I don’t have moral standing to argue — my go-to gun is an H&K USP 40.

    I based my decision on many of the same considerations, plus one: once you get up to full-power loads behind a modern jacketed hollowpoint, accurate shooting with lethal intent will deliver the desired results whether the bullet is 9mm, 40 or 45.

    • That is really all I’m saying. Caliber debate seems to have started from nowhere. I mean in the next post I touch on the whole idea that people have been stating all day; essentially a bullet is in fact a bullet. But…folks will be heard.

      • Could be worse. It could have devolved into a discussion over which bullet in which caliber will penetrate a windshield at a 11.5 degree angle and still adequately ventilate a bad guy wearing a denim jacket. You know, everyday DGU situations.

        • The simple fact that the .40 can be powered up to SIG .357 by a simple barrel change, takes 30 seconds on average, makes it a favorite of mine. 15 rounds of either round is very effective when properly placed. ( I’d carry the .357 for bear protection ) The ammo for a .40 is so readily available that it makes sense to have it in a SHTF scenario.
          Of course I agree with the others here who said you must train with the caliber you rely on. Both are available in Carbine rifles as well so, in a Bug Out scenario, I prefer to have ammo work in both weapons.

  14. Owned primarily .40 for a number of years. Spent an inordinate amount of time researching justifications for why .40 was “better'” than 9×19 and “just as good as” .45. Finally realized that I wasn’t trying to win others over… I was trying to convince myself.

    I no longer own any firearm in forty caliber. Strictly 9×19 and forty five now.

    This is not to say _you_ should not own anything in forty however. If you can put it inside the nine ring (or even better, 10) consistently, then by all means stick with what works for you. To me, forty feels like a solution looking for a problem.

  15. I’ll stick with my .357 revolver for all the reasons listed above. I shoot it the best, am comfortable with recoil, can conceal it and trust the weapon to perform at any time (and trust a hit to perform as intended).

    In autos though, I do think that a good 9mm offers the right amount of caliber to power ratio. The 40 is a good choice, but its cost and recoil for MARGINAL increase in power cant warrant the change. That, and hollow points from both cartridges will expand to approximately equal diameters.

    In reality though, caliber is a very minor choice. The difference between the 9, 40, 45, 380, 357, 38spl are very small. What’s important is hitting your target.

    • I am consistently impressed with adept wheelgun shooters. Purchased my wife an SP-101 because she “doesn’t like all that stuff moving around and flying back at her” (wish I was being sarcastic).

      She slings it like Doc Holliday with full bore .357 loads. I don’t consider myself particularly recoil sensitive, but it just beats the ever-living crap out of me. Loathe shooting it.

      Conversely: she’d rather passionately kiss Al Gore than have trigger time on any of my forty fives. Too much “pop”. Go figure.

      • I just shot a defensive pistol competition this weekend where everyone shot a full sized firearm, 1911, Glock 19/17, XD, etc. I shot my 2.25 SP101 and took 5th. Maybe my electronic muffs must have shorted out after the first stage because I couldn’t hear the “shoot a real gun” comments anymore. LOL

    • .357 calibers, just keep on going!…. thru doors, walls, ect.!… not dependable, like the .45’s!…[Research, if in doubt!…]. Also, your information, regarding ,the “Minor Difference”??? in Caliber; is Way OFF BASE!…. lol, believing this!… You’ve “Obviously”, Never “Fired”, a Gun?… lol

      • Suit yourself. Most studies show very little difference between the defensive calibers.

        Also, penetration is a key factor in SD, and good JHP can eliminate a lot of over-penetration.


      • Not sure why they took it as a flame, I’ll restate:

        What study can you show to claim excessive over-penetration OR a huge difference in caliber.

        I have done the research, so if you know of a reliable study which shows a large difference in handgun calibers, please share it.

  16. But according to James Yeager, if you like .40 S&W then you have a small dick and are incompetent. And James Yeager is never wrong.

  17. (Edit: This was supposed to a reply to Dryw!?)

    I wonder why anyone has anything but JHP and variants. I don’t have a single round of ball…

    • Not all autos are reliable with JHP, especially older or lower end guns.

      Plus, ball can be cheaper to target shoot or train.

    • One practical reason: 500 round (minimum, in my opinion) break-ins with JHPs would be incredibly expensive. I do try to put at least 200 quality defense rounds though any weapon before I would ever consider it a go-to (in addition to the 500+ FMJs), but I cry real tears at my evaporating wallet as I do it.

      I’d feel even more secure about the weapon if I had the connections to efficiently put 500+ defense rounds (with no malfunctions) through each.

      At any given time my FMJ to JHP ratio is at least 3:1.

    • You want ball when you are out in the woods in bear country. JHP isn’ t going to cut it against a big one. You need penetration. All three common automatic calibers are inadequate, however this summer some guy in Alaska put down a Kodiak with his 45. Emptied the magazine into the bear who then wandered off to die.

      • it doesnt matter what you carry in a pistol for bear country. They suck against two legged predators and will suck even more against smokey. Statistically, ill carry a can of bear mace and a rifle.

        • In many states when you don’t have a bear tag or seasons are closed, only a concealed pistol is allowed for carry, with a permit. In such case hard-cast lead or Noslers are preferred, backed by a powerful (for pistol) charge. 10mm is often chosen, or .357. 44 magnums start to get heavy while hiking. .41cal’s are, for many people, two difficult to get back on target…and difficult to find in a store.

        • Bear mace is great……though a 44 in the other hand couldnt hurt (357 or 10mm, minimum…..high powered rifle preferred).
          A Grizz is an insanely powered creature.

        • Actually just came back from Yellowstone last month. Man, half of the Rangers are butthurt little liberals. Anyway, this summer, two of them emptied two cans of spray on one bear and said bear kept coming, one Ranger ended up with something like eight stitches and twelve staples on leg and head. I told hatefilled liberal Ranger lady if you want me to carry spray for a one off use don’t charge me $45 for something I’m probably never going to use. Subsidize the price or rent the things. Otherwise, and in addition, if the spray doesn’t work, yogi’s catching 200grains of Corbon 10mm in the head. That seems to stop them. BTW, the libs were forced to allow the Second Amendment back into Yellowstone but they’ve made it illegal to discharge said firearm. What a bunch of assholes.

  18. 9×19, .40 S&W, and .45 ACP all expand to about a half inch and penetrate about a foot. 9×19 does it with a lot less cost, less recoil, and more capacity. That’s why it’s my choice. Energy means essentially nothing in reasonably powerful handguns. They don’t create large temporary wounds and fragment like rifle rounds.

    • If you believe what’s on the Winchester PDX specs a 230 grain 45 cal JHP expands by 50% so it makes a 2/3″ hole.

    • Fuller index. Some think a 357 is better than a 9 because of the temporary incapacitation due to a more robust stretch cavity that hits a nerve center (like getting punched in the gut….real hard). Some 40 and 45 loads approach the 357 level of affectiveness and there is a significant size difference in the permanent wound cavity (crush) as well. Nobody wants to get hit by a 9mm +p though.

  19. That’s why I OC here in NM a Glock 20 10mm; there is really is no significant difference ballistically in 9, .40 or .45acp with good self defense ammo and good shot placement; however, with the 10mm and Buffalo Bore ammo the 180 gr bullet is moving at 1370 fps and 720 ft pounds of energy at the muzzle and for me, the recoil feels just a little more than a +p. 45acp round; it helps that the 20 has a heavier slide to tame the recoil. I’m a big guy with big hands so I have good control of the gun with quick (and accurate) follow up shots.

    What’s also a plus is that with a change out barrel from Wolf, I can shoot bulk .40 ammo for practice while using the same mags.

  20. There is no “perfect middle ground” for common defense pistol cartridges (like I said 100 times in the “40s suck” post in response to james yeagers video…which 3/4 of the population missed the entire point). With a rise in kinetic energy and velocity, the size of the handgun and recoil rises and the shot quantity decreases (which is the ENTIRE point of pistols because shot quantity equals time in fight without taking the gun apart, meaning you are buying more time to fight to a long gun or defend yourself). With handguns, there is no deus ex machina cartridge that is far superior to the rest when you weigh cost, recoil, wear, magazine size, and weapon size versus just raw power. You want something measurably more powerful in a pistol? carry a 500 S&W. Oh wait…you cannot conceal it, the recoil is obscene, its heavy, and its cartridges and the handguns are expensive, and it has a limited shot quantity. If there is something groundbreaking, then it would render every other cartridge obsolete; that hasnt happened.

    • There is a case to be made on the snap of the recoil in the similar sized guns (G17 vs G22), but the reduction from 19 to 17 rounds seems minimal as both are insanely large amounts of lead per pencil in a world where many carry 5 shot revolvers or 7 shot 1911’s.

  21. I’ve found that both of my .40 Glocks are easier to conceal and have less recoil than my .460 Smith and Wesson.

    Seriously, though the .40 is still a decent caliber with more energy than a 9mm and more capacity than a .45. If you own a Glock, you can get a 9mm conversion barrel, which might just be the next thing on my Christmas list.

    • If you’re just plinking, I have a couple of the Lone Wolf ones. It’s a nice little thing to have just because and they’re just over $100ish. It’s a neat thing.

    • Bingo! Best of ALL worlds. Get a G22 (the most popular pistol in the US for law enforcement….and the only one for the FBI) and a conversion barrel. If you use the gun for self defense and choose the 9mm conversion then you would want to swap the extractor for more reliability (than just plinking).

    • I have the aadvantage 22lr conversion slide for the g23. $.05 per bullet same training effect per my ret usmc and leo trainer bud.

  22. I might be the world’s biggest .40 caliber fan. And I have a conversion barrel for my M&P compact so I can shoot 9mm when I want to practice with a cheap, toy caliber.

    • 22lr is a toy caliber (and talk about cheap)……9mm is a member of ‘the big three’ with 40 and 45 (though the little brother).

      • lol, a 22lr, will “Kill”, at a mile away; and will travel, 1.25 miles, unhindered….. Get in front of “One”?… You’ll Find out, how this “toy” plays!…

        • I was just pointing out to Ralph that the 9 is hardly a toy caliber. I am assuming that you aint shootin someone from a mile away with your Browning Buckmark (lol). My point is that you REALLY should choose something better than a 22lr handgun for protection (unless you are paralyzed in a chair or are a four year old girl…..or both (lol). No gun is a toy (odviously)…..unless its, well, a toy gun (and even then, you can get killed aiming realistic toy guns at cops and such).
          All the ‘big three’ (9, 40, 45) have their advantages for different people. The point is that the 40 is hear to stay.

  23. ‘Powerful Handgun’ is an oxymoron. The fifty-odd ft-lbs energy difference and couple hundredths of an inch diameter difference between 9s, .40s, and .45s isn’t worth the cost of ammunition, or increased hoop stress (and resultant kabooms). Professional hired guns admit that the 9×19 is more than adequate, even with non-expanding ammunition:

    “Many disparage the 9mm’s stopping power, and knowing that only military “ball” ammunition was available, I asked if this had been a problem. Spook said that it hadn’t. He knows what some of the gun magazine chest-beaters claim in print, and admits that he hasn’t shot any blocks of ballistic gelatin. He has shot eight men with the nine, though, and all went down with center thorax hits.”

    A shotgun is more effective, in any case. Here, in Canada, it’s legal to keep a shotgun unloaded and locked in a cabinet with shells. CCW is a moot point, since only a handful of people have the very rare ATC Type 3 permit. The RCMP, CBSA, Toronto Police Sevices, and even some rangers use the nine. As for bears, forget pistols, including the 10mm. Murphy’s Law will guarantee problems, and revolvers (.454 Casull), or better yet rifles (.45-70, etc.) are preferable. In Canadian provinces, Authorization To Carry permits are usually given out for .44 magnums and the like, for wilderness defense.

    • If there is a difference between the 9mm and the 357, then there is a difference between calibers as the 40 and 45 get much closer to the stretch cavity nerve center punch effect that the 357 uses in temporary incapacitation (their larger beginning cross section diameters help according to the Fuller index the total effect of stretch and crush cavity combination).

    • “.9mm”, Try the Taurus, “Millenium” PT-145, [Small, Compact,,.45 caliber, hide in your hand], 10 shot magazine, in the handle, another, in the “Throat”. Life Time Warranty, on All “Taurus” made Guns; after their purchase, of the Brazillian Factory, off “Berretta”.

  24. 9mm is the way to go. pros- greater capacity, cost less, less kick. (and with modern loads you can get pretty darn good stoping power.)

    45 is ok. pros- good stopping power. cons- cost, kick, least capacity

    40 eehhh ill pass. pro- more stopping power than a 9. cons- cost, capacity less than a 9mm, to much snappy kick for not enough more power over a 9mm,

    so either get a 9mm or go all the way and get a 45.

    • Compromise. 135-200 grain weight slugs in a wide energy range, bigger bore for more effect in expansion (especially with clothing which sometimes hurts 9mm), 17 vs 19 rounds of ammo (no big diff in a 5 shot snubbie world). If you can find loads that dont snap you so much or practice so it dont bother you, its a great cartridge in a package thats the same size as the 9 and smaller than the 45.

  25. Personally, the muzzle blast and recoil velocity of 9’s and .40’s bothers me, so I keep going back to .45 with it’s easier-on-my-ears dull thump. I carry a G20 with heavy hard-cast lead bullets, but only in the field when the threat is bears. I use the G20 on targets sometimes with a KKM .40 barrel. The availability of various calibers is supposed to offer fun, not fights. Or so it seems to me.

    • Sometimes its fun to fight (with due respect, of course). Various calibers actually end fights if used properly, and the rounds hit the BG.

    • It sucks (alongside 380, 40 S&W, 45 ACP, 10mm, 357 sig, and 45 GAP). You want “stopping power”? get a long gun.

    • Ok I know but jersey is limited to fmj an I already have an XDm 45 full size for home. Looking in to something like a p938 for when I go to fla, but want to know if it’s even worth pointing at someone should the need arise and I only have fmj available

      • the 9mm is fine. in fact, for a concealed carry gun, 380 and up will just work fine. If you want a 45 then I guess you can get a Glock or a XD-S. I personally like the S&W shield in 9mm or 40. so many choices…none of them bad 😀

      • If you are stuck with FMJs then your 45 is a quicker stopper. But a good quality 9mm +p or 40, is still gonna mess up a bad guy. I’ve stopped 800lb Hogs with 9mmFMJ. +P, so, It will stop a bad guy. And it’s easier to controll than a 40 in the same size gun. That said. Smith and Wesson just released a new version of their Shield 9mm / 40 in performance Center editions (ported, better trigger, and fiber optic sights. I bought the 9mm version first, good shooting gun. The 40 has a more noticeable benefit from the porting but holds a round less per mag. The 9 is now my favorite Carry for times I can’t carry full size. And yes the 800lb Hog was shot with the SHIELD 9 at 40 yards away. It only took 1 shot.

  26. I have to admit scrolling down through the comments looking for Captain George remarks. I think they’re just a prank, but a part of me wants to pretend it’s an actual person.

    My big pistol at home is .45 ACP. My concealable pistol is 9mm. I try to spread the love evenly between the two, but the 9mm gets more care, attention, and affection. Am I being untactful to her big sister?

    • Nope. When it comes to sisters the customary view is that you’ve got to pick one or the other. Just remain friends with the big sister. “Did you ever have to finally decide, to pick up on one and let the other one ride? It’s not often easy and not often kind. Did you ever have to finally decide?” As for the Captain, he’s clearly commatose.

  27. “A” for controversy, “F” for physics. The recoil of the .40 is not less than .45. It’s more. The case volume of the short .40 case is smaller than .45, pushing heavy bullets to higher speeds than .45 using less powder requires faster burning powders that generate more chamber pressure and a harsher, faster recoil impulse. If .40 had less recoil than .45 why do all the IPSC shooters that shoot .40 run handloads that are loaded longer than standard .40 rounds, using heavy bullets going at .45 velocities and chamber pressures? “Major” power factor can be achieved by heavy/slow loads and light/fast loads as long as bullet weight x velocity makes the minimum threshold. A lot of shooters believe the myth that .40 recoils more than 9 and less than .45, because their understand of ballistics and recoil is limited to thinking that bore diameter is the only factor that matters, but the truth is more complex. Worse, most guns chambered in .40 were originally designed for 9mm pressures, and were modified to shoot .40 solely by making the barrel walls thinner, so generally guns available in 9 and .40 last a lot longer in the 9mm version.

    • Exactly. And the same “recoil velocity” is what makes 1 1/2 ounce high-brass 12 gauge loads so uncomfortable even when compared to a .375 H&H, which has as much absolute recoil but at a lower velocity, due to a slower burning powder.

    • “Worse, most guns chambered in .40 were originally designed for 9mm pressures, and were modified to shoot .40 solely by making the barrel walls thinner, so generally guns available in 9 and .40 last a lot longer in the 9mm version”


      The only weapon I have ever encountered that was ideal for the 40 was a HK USP, primarily because it was downscaled from the Mark 23 (which was designed to fire ANY 45 in existence…to include 45 super). Most 40s I have encountered were just upscale from 9mm, which is a no-no (glock found that out and i remain dubious that they learned their lesson).

      • I love the G21 gen 4 without the larger grip backplates. That said, the G20 SF 10mm is essentially G’s .45 G21 but with a thicker slide. Put a .40 cal barrel in it and it should last well. I haven’t noticed 10 mm causing much wear to it.

    • You are exactly right. I have spent more time than I care to relate trying to explain that .40 recoil and bolt flash are higher than that of a similar .45 pistol. However, in the last decade or so, newer pistols that have been designed appear to have followed H&K’s solution of starting and building down from a larger caliber so that the weapons don’t have the excess early wear issues that plagued several other .40s originally.

      Physics says no matter what you do though, even if you build a .40 better, the 9mm will last longer with those same tolerances. It’s just a fact but a well-built .40 only means a very well-built 9mm on the same frame.

      • I think 40s suffer from the same wishful assumptions as 10mm and any other higher caliber choice that many perceive as superior to existing tried-and-true cartridges. From my experience, gun owners have a propensity to focus on only size and power, foolishly discarding equally important attributes such as ergonomics, recoil/ controllability, wear/durability, magazine size, etc, etc.

        Of course, I have always held handguns in contempt. Never cared for them and will always maintain the Matthew Quigley sentiment towards them: “I said I never had much use for one. Never said I didn’t know how to use it.”

        • I will concur with the remarks as far as handgun owners are concerned. When I spoke in the article and when I speak in person I speak at length again and again at finding the weapon that fits your lifestyle not the bullet that gets your blood racing. The weapon is an extension of your will, not your penis. That is the turn of phrase I find fits most people’s approach to the purchase of the pistol.

          But regardless, the handgun certainly has it’s place and uses. Persuading the masses of the proper of both contexts is the problem.