Fourteen plus one rounds of 10mm, 5″ barrel, and a single-action trigger to make 1911 fanatics rethink their devotion. That’s what the Grand Power P40L offers, but this pistol isn’t for everyone, as we’ll get into shortly.
Before diving too deep, I must declare that I’m a bit of a Grand Power fan. The photo below is most of my personal collection, minus the one that was holstered and on my hip. I’ve run Grand Power guns for years including trips to Front Sight and Thunder Ranch and I carry the K100 model during cooler months.
Grand Power pistols (aside from .380ACP and .22LR) use a unique action type that rotates the barrel to lock and unlock (see video below). The result is what I would judge as about a half-caliber reduction in felt recoil.
How does that work? For starters a rotating barrel doesn’t need to shift back and downward like the classic Browning action you’re accustomed to with most modern handguns.
Less weight shifting reduces perceived recoil and produces a smoother experience while the gun cycles. Additionally, because the barrel rotates, it can’t have a feed ramp and has to sit lower in the action to be fed directly from the magazine. That makes for a lower bore axis.
This isn’t one of those visual tricks (in fact it visually appears to be the same height as a Browning action) the internet likes to ramble on about with the old CZ guns simply because the slide looks different. The barrel IS at a different height in Grand Power pistols.
Another characteristic of Grand Power pistols is the use of a stainless steel chassis machined from billet. This isn’t like the SIG P-series. Grand Power started this about a decade before SIG, and uses it to give all the pins, springs, and other mechanics a sturdy frame. That means pins don’t have the chance to wear out polymer like in other guns and it provides for an incredibly consistent trigger feel, shot after shot.
The gunsmith who assembles the chassis stamps his initials on it, for ultimate responsibility should a warranty claim ever be made. Nighthawk Custom is famous for this. Grand Power has been doing it longer than Nighthawk has existed.
The “L” designation on the Grand Power P40L 10mm means long slide. The regular P40 model (not currently imported) features a 4.25″ barrel, The L pistols have a 5″ barrel.
While testing the CMMG Banshee 10mm for a magazine article, I chronographed thirteen 10mm loads through 4.25″, 6″, and 8″ barrels and found that only one load showed any significant gain in velocity with a barrel over 6″. Conclusion: 5″ for 10mm is the sweet spot for serious firepower without an overly-long or heavy handgun.
On the topic of power, Grand Power designs, calibrates, and proofs their firearms around European ammunition and bears the CIP proofing stamp. You can shoot a Grand Power knowing it will handle the “real” 10mm. With so many ammunition companies seeming to load 10mm closer to “.40 S&W long” there are no worries about the P40L running the hot stuff if you stumble across it.
For a closer look at the P40L see the tabletop video below.
The Grand Power P40L is a big pistol, there’s no getting around that. As a result the P40L lacks the usual four interchangeable grip panels their other models include. Building a grip around a double-stack 10mm magazine simply requires girth.
In an attempt to counter this, the grip features contours at the heel allowing space for a fleshy palm. Although this model can function in double-action, there’s no de-cocker. The single-action trigger reach shouldn’t be a problem for those with smaller hands.
Field stripping and reassembly is different than your run-of-the-mill Browning action. The slide must be pulled rearward and lifted off the gun. It may seem strange and complicated at first, but gets easier with practice. It’s a small price to pay for the recoil-reducing properties of the Grand Power action.
When it came to range time, I was curious what the experience would be like. I’ve fired tens of thousands of rounds through Grand Power pistols over the years, but most of it was 9mm, and the 9mm guns have a different grip to them.
One thing I kept in my mind as I drove to the range was that the trigger on this P40L measured just over 3lbs. That’s not normally an issue, but with such a short take-up and short reset (see tabletop video), combined with potentially higher recoil, it could lead to an interesting afternoon.
Teya and I packed up to run the gun through our standard battery of tests and, as always, film without a script or retakes. Our first-shot impressions, full magazine +1, trademark What’s For Dinner test, sights and trigger control test, accuracy, and concluding thoughts can be seen in the video below.
Fortunately Grand Power includes three 14-round magazines with the P40L which makes range days a lot easier than they could be.
As you saw in the range video, the combination of a short trigger pull and light weight with higher recoiling rounds caused Teya to experience what was effectively a bumpfire. This is a risk with guns like this, but thanks to her experience in the Army and pistol training with Front Sight, CENTER-T, VerTac, and Thunder Ranch, that second shot still hit the torso target at seven yards. Be advised, though, that such a power and trigger combination can be a lot to hold on to, especially at first.
Did Grand Power’s famous action type work to reduce recoil? Yes, somewhat. Both Teya and I noted that the gun felt more like firing a spicy 9mm +P than a standard 10mm. I doubt I’ll ever have enough ammunition to do so, but my wrist wouldn’t fear spending full range days in a training course with this pistol.
Is there an application for such a gun? If you ever want full power (5″ barrel) from full-power 10mm rounds that you can release with a crisp trigger, the P40L is your gun. Although the P40L doesn’t feature a de-cocker, the double-action chance for a second strike on a hard primer is a nice added benefit considering the cost of 10mm ammunition these days.
Specifications: Grand Power P40L Pistol
Trigger mechanism: SA / DA
Standard magazine capacity: 14
Height without magazine: 5.35″
Barrel length: 5″
Weight w empty magazine: 34.7oz
Weight w/o magazine: 34.2oz
Ratings (out of five stars):
Reliability * * * * *
With 11 loads tested of various various projectile shapes and weights, not one of them malfunctioned. The CIP proof stamping is extra reassurance for a cartridge like 10mm that seems to vary wildly in loadings.
Ergonomics * * * *
A double stack 10mm is naturally going to be a big gun, there’s no way around that. Grand Power did a good job of keeping the trigger within reach of shorter fingers, but little could be done about the inherent girth this caliber/capacity combination demands.
Accuracy * * * * *
The single-action trigger is spectacular for accuracy. The only thing limiting tight groups will be the shooter’s expectation of recoil.
Concealability * * *
Like any battle tank, it can be hidden, but concealment isn’t what this gun was meant for. I would assume anyone looking for this level of power is headed into bear country and would want to carry it openly anyway.
Overall: * * * * ½
It wouldn’t be fair to judge this gun for things it wasn’t intended for. As a pistol meant to be a powerhouse, it’s outstanding, but that also requires it be large and beefy. The single action trigger might be too light for some, especially in this caliber, but that’s something you’ll have to decide for yourself. If you’ve ever shot a 1911 and wished it had a better trigger, 10mm power, and double-stack capacity, the Grand Power P40L should make you very happy.