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

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

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

The .40 S&W, released to the world on January 17, 1990. It was credited as the Second Coming by some and hated as if it were the antichrist by others. The haters claim that the cartridge is just too snappy with too much recoil. At the same time, many of those same critics make bold statements claiming that it’s short and weak. So which is it, too powerful or too weak?

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

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

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

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

The energy of the .40 S&W exceeds that of standard-pressure .45 ACP loads, generating between 350 and 500 foot-pounds of energy, depending on bullet weight. Both the .40 S&W and the 9mm operate at a 35,000 pounds per square inch SAAMI maximum, compared to a 21,000 pounds per square inch maximum for .45 ACP.

The .40 S&W was originally loaded at subsonic velocity (around 980 ft/s (300 m/s)) with a 180gr bullet. Since its introduction, the cartridge has been marketed with a variety of loads, the majority being either 155, 165 or 180 grains.

The 9mm round truly reigns supreme now. That was solidified after the FBI decided to ditch the .40 S&W. But what many don’t realize is that the .40 S&W is actually still a better cartridge since the new FBI load is really just a re-hashed 147gr Speer Gold Dot load. The super-hot 9mm loads that internet commandos claim beats .40 S&W far exceeds the pressure curve due to these being +P+ loads.

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

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

You can get all of the above in a compact, lightweight pistol that’s smaller than any 10mm and .45 ACP chambered gun. With my GLOCK 22 I get 15+1 in a gun that weighs less loaded than an empty 1911. Follow-up shots are easy and the pistol handles like an extension of my body. I compete in GSSF with my G22 and even bring out my G24 for bowling pin matches and hunting.

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

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

Some complain about the price of .40 S&W. It is more expensive these days, but its advantages justify the extra cost. Reloading it on a press is a breeze. With its flexibility, I can load powder puff plinkers or big game stoppers. I’ve actually used my G24 to hunt hogs and deer, and that’s with the factory 180gr Winchester Ranger SXT load.

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

The fad of shooters jumping back to the 9mm seems to be a fait accompli at this point. It’s one of those things that gun owners inevitably go through from time to time (remember the .380 mouse gun craze?). Who knows? Soon 9mm may be viewed as weak and the tide will turn toward .45 ACP. Or 10mm. These things tend to change over time.

Meanwhile, the .40 S&W keeps chugging along after a third of a century of service. The cartridge isn’t going anywhere. Its popularity may wane and the cool guys may move on to something else, but this dyed-in-the-wool, tried-and-true devotees ain’t going anywhere. I’m sticking with .40 S&W and I thank you for leaving more options on store shelves for me when the next panic buying comes.



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

      • BCG, I’m afraid you’re mistaken. I have around 100 handguns. A number of them are 9mm and .45 ACP. My nightstand gun is a Glock 22 with a Streamlight and Hienie Straight 8 nightsights. It’s loaded with 180 grain Gold Dot. I have as much confidence in this set up as any other I own.The reasons that LE is going back 9mm is limp wristed wussies and bean counters.

        • “BCG, I’m afraid you’re mistaken.”

          GF, you were responding to a 6+ year-old TTAG comment.

          (TTAG ‘recycles’ old posts, on occasion…)

        • Gadsden Flag: Spot on. The author didn’t mention the hydroshock value of the .40. If he did, I missed it. This “my dog is better than your dog” debate will never die though, as everyone wants to be validated for their choice. Whatever people choose, I just hope they carry everyday, as you can bet the criminals and crazies do.

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

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

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

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

      • zen&roger, That’s right the .40 rocks…too much. Slow motion shows too much rocking is a problem for many when firing .40 Glocks. Therefore the defensive follow-up shot choice for a Glock handgun is the 9mm or 10mm. Frankly the .40 is a bastardized 10mm.

        • I tend to disagree. When I first got my .40 I thought bigger was better. Not so. Most of the available practice rounds had 180 grain bullets and there was some recoil, and I shoot a .41 mag. When I got my first box of 165 gr. most of that was solved. My carry load is a 135 gr. Sierra Game Master moving at 1350 fps. Recoil of a 9 mm with a lot more energy. I load my own because they are not commercially produced anymore. If you look at most of the LE marketed rounds, most of them are 165 gr. I still prefer my .40 and always will. Just my opinion though.

    • And ANOTHER retread article from 6&a half years ago. FWIW I liked my 40. Shot it well. Next gat will be a real 40 in 10mm🙄

  1. Meh.

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

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

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

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

    • “It beats up your gun…”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  5. Well the .40 guns on the slightly pre-owned market are rather cheap.

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

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

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

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

        • I just wrote up a longer post that explained the history of OH deer firearm regulations in more detail, but it was lost in the ether when I attempted to post it. Thumbnail: for the 2017-2018 season, the rifle rule was updated to include any straight-walled cartridge from 357 to 50 caliber. This includes the 450 BM and 50 Beowulf. 350 Legend was shoehorned in a couple years later, although the bullets measure only .355. It also includes ARs and PCCs if they fit the cartridge requirement. 40 S&W is legal in handgun or rifle, so long as the other criteria are met. Rifles are limited to a total of 3 cartridges in the gun, although it’s interesting that it doesn’t apply to handguns. My AR pistol in 350 Legend can sport a mag full of 20, but if it was an AR rifle, I would be limited to 2 + 1.

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

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

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

  7. Love the history!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    • George in RI,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    • I’ve handloaded both for years and while I can run a 180gr JHP to 1350 from a G20, I can run the same 180gr to over 1300 from a Glock 35. The .40, even loaded hot, won’t match a hot 10mm, but it can get very close, close enough that there’s really no need to bother with 10mm…if you handload. Even if you don’t, factory .40 works well against deer and hogs.

      • Jay, I’m working with LongShot, 180 gn HST, and a G22 for 40 SW. Your numbers are impressive. Would you mind sharing your load data or at least what powder you are using? Thanks.

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

    • I agree, my go to EDC is a Glock 27. Mine must have been built on a Tuesday because it has never had a malfunction and the accuracy is amazing. I have many 9’s but I always gravitate to my G27 or G35.

  13. It’s not that 40S&W is bad..

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

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

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

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

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

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

        • I have ARX loads in 380, 9, and 45. I am transitioning over to the fluted solid coppers like the Lehighs, because they do better with barriers and bone. They are more expensive, however, but I watch for them to go on sale. Also bought some in 357 Sig–them’s little screamers according to the specs.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    • ^^^This.

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

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

      • I like .40 just fine.

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

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

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

  19. and .40 Glocks still explode more often than any other gun I have ever seen or heard of.

    • That’s like saying F150s crash more than any other pickup. Well duh, there’s more of them.

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

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

    • Glocks explode more than fireworks. They’re a bad version of XDM’s, XD’s and the rest of Springfield Armory’s polymer line. Glock was an innovative and wonderful creation when it came out. They lost me at plastic magazines. I and a growing number of folks will take SA and other polymers over Glocks any day. Like I said they were revolutionary when they came out, it feels as if they’re just coasting on success now. As we all will agree, opinions are like Glocks, everybody has one! Lol! Btw, I have a well used, well worn .40 subcompact XD that I’ve only shot +P, +PP, super high power cablowie, etc rounds through without changing a thing. No springs, no nothing. Same with XDM .45 compact, .45 Supers all day long without changing a thing. Zero problems with either. When you were able to get the Tanfoglio Witness Compact for $350, I purchased one in 10mm( this was after the cracking issues)and that is one of the finest firearms I have ever owned. When a little Italian company used to making $10,000 over/unders begins making a recreation of a CZ, you really got yourself a piece of well crafted pistol right there. In my opinion they easily rival all of our “ boutique” 1911 makers out there. In fact the most well crafted 1911 I’ve ever owned was made in the Philippines. I’ve yammered enough. Shoot straight, and if you don’t need to shoot, don’t. Thanks for hearing me.

  20. .40 is for people who don’t know who they are. They can’t handle the soul killing power of .45 but think 9MM is too emasculating. It’s like bi-sexual ammo.

  21. All semi-auto pist ol rounds are short and weak except the .50AE.

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

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

        • Says the revolver guy.

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

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

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

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

        • Hey Gov, take your 1911 and Superize it. Most 1911s just need a flat bottomed firing pin stop and stronger springs. Some don’t even need that. Will run you up to 700± ftlbs. Or, if you want near 44 Mag performance out of it, Rowland it. The old saw about shooting a 45 only because there isn’t a 46, doesn’t hold any more (at least in naming convention for 45 autoloaders).

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

    • why, oh why doesn’t TTAG have upvote buttons?

      They should implement one just for hank’s comment.

    • Well, now in the state of hellinios you are not to possess anything chambered in .50 caliber, but I have 454 & 460 revolvers. It’s funny going when going to the range with my daughter. Many of younger guys at the range get a very very strange perplexed look on their face when she shoots them and puts the round in the bullseye. Not sure if they are amazed or scared. I just smile.

      • Like my daughter at her archery matches. I figured if a young fella had sufficient sand to want to talk with her even after getting whipped, then he may be worth talking to.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    • Well, in all honesty I actually DO shoot my .40s better than the 9mm. However, I must state that I have a LOT of experience with the .40 S&W. When I first started in law enforcement my particular state division was still using S&W 686s w/.38spl +P. When Smith introduced the semi-auto M&P series in 2005-06? we were one of the first agencies to receive them. And they were chambered in .40. Once I made Mst. Sgt. I was our unit’s 2nd Armorer and a Range Master/Instructor as well as a Designated Marksmen fornone of our ERT companies. Handling yearly requals and rookies from ours and several other units as well. So a WHOLE BUNCH rounds downrange over the years on my part. I still prefer the .40 over 9mm. I own both but really do much much better with the .40.

  26. .40 S&W is far from perfect.

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

    • ‘.40 S&W is far from perfect.’

      If perfection is what you seek, it’s name is .357 magnum.

      • 357 mag or SIG both are great carry options especially with winter clothing coming out of storage. 40 and 9 are great too depending on outfit and level of scrutiny. 32 well still works, would prefer bigger but fuck going unarmed in NY the way it has been managed. Ultimately I prefer carrying 10 and 44 but not as much call for concealed carry where bear moose and bigfoot are the primary concerns.

      • Yeah, but Coonans are hens teeth. I’m working on a double stack 1911 in 9mm Super Cooper (223 brass trimmed to 1 inch and fire-formed to straight wall 9mm), which ought to get me 18 or 22 rounds in an autoloader with similar ballistics to 357. The slightly smaller case volume ought to be made up for by not having a cylinder gap in a 4 inch barrel.

        • Lower to higher middle 357 (like 357 SIG) or upper end of double tap/underwood/buffalo bore 357? Either way neat idea but I wonder if a longer barrel would be more beneficial to the case volume/shape.

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

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

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

    • Barring the CP33, higher capacity in 22 than 40 is hard to find. 5.7 might not be bad, but price per round even when reloading is crazy, practically as much as 223.

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

    • +1.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    • nope your wrong got to you tube and watch paul harrell 9 vs 40 and he shoots both on the clock. and you will see the 40 is only snappy and harder to get back on target for those who dont shoot it, those who own and shoot it are just as good with is as 9mm. and for all who bitch about 2-5 cent a round for practice ammo you dont need to shoot anything it that to much. more shots in 9mm??? most 40 hold 15 once your there it dont matter if 9 had 17, 40 has and will always be more powerful than 9 and all those bullet advancements in 9 guess what??? 40 got the too. its a stronger all around cartridge and 9mm fanboys just cant get over it, the fbi only went back to 9mm as it said in the report more agent could qualify with higher scores with it, and the price of the round so they can save a few 1000 a year,

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

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

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

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

  34. 9mm fanboys are easily triggered by their lack of girth, their chronic limp wrists, high estrogen levels and a silly obsession with caliber accounting costs. Splitting the small amount of hair that they have left on their heads over a few cents a round. I shoot what I want and I don’t mind paying up for my caliber of choice unlike Niners. 9mm fanboyists are most definitely Cialis’s biggest target market of bandwaggoning​ bafoons.

  35. Finally, some truth comes out. I like 9mm as much as the next dude but the 40 s&w has one advantage over the 9mm and that is terminal ballistics. Facts and science are not lying here when the data shows the 40 s&w being and amazing option for getting it done when things go bad. The 40 s&w niche is home defense and duty applications, were the the recoil in a full sized frame can be easy tamed even by novice shooters standards. Were the the recoil argument has legimtamicy, is in sub compact pistols, where 9mm is the more manageable option and where you want the extra magizine capacity. All in all, 40 s&w is a solid choice for home defense and duty applications were full size hand guns are used most and it’s nots going anywhere anytime soon.

  36. The .40 is the best all around option. It pokes a bigger hole and destroys more tissue than 9mm does on the same size platform with high capacity. Ammo options are plentiful, guns can currently be had relatively cheap and for the reloader, it’s about the most inexpensive option. Plus you can handload it to nearly match full power 10mm Auto using 135gr-200gr bullets if you want more power, but with factory ammo the .40 does well against deer and hogs, the .40 can do it all.

  37. Take a look at, “An Alternate Look at Handgun Stopping Power” by Greg Ellifritz. This will give you a well rounded assessment of the majority of defensive caliber handgun ammunition performance.
    “Greg Ellifritz is the full time firearms and defensive tactics training officer for a central Ohio police department. He holds instructor or master instructor certifications in more than 75 different weapon systems, defensive tactics programs and police specialty areas. Greg has a master’s degree in Public Policy and Management and is an instructor for both the Ohio Peace Officer’s Training Academy and the Tactical Defense Institute.”
    .40 S&W Rocks!

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  39. Article retread.

    According to one of yesterday’s authors, the .32 is the go to caliber. Probably because he can’t handle the recoil from anything more powerful.

    • All are good options it’s just figuring out what best suits your issues. Then again I am a weirdo who enjoys reloading and learning about oddball stuff.

  40. This caliber is the best caliber!
    No! This one is!
    No! No! That one is!

    Meh. Who cares. Shoot what you like in a gun you like. At the end of the day, you are the only one that matters.

  41. Those 2017 prices… People thought the biggest problems facing the country was Russian collusion, and Trump being a puppet. Those were the days.

  42. Two “.40’s” are on the bucket list (not the .40 S&W). A 41 Remington Magnum revolver and a 10mm semi. I’ll admit price per round the .40 S&W is a whole lot cheaper. The irony is the most expensive cartridge (if not reloading) is the .327 Federal Magnum over .357, .44, and .45 auto.

  43. Rise, rise necro thread, a topic of which long thought dead!

    Created by moronic power, I summon thee again, intelligence devourer!

    Haunt the forums once again, until you inevitably become a bore – Only to be arisen again in thrice years time, forever more!

  44. A 32acp gun is just fine. The only reason to carry a 40 or 9mm is because you can carry at least 15 rounds of ammunition.

    And my understanding is that the 40 was developed because female FBI agents could not handle the ten millimeter.

    Also 40 caliber is very expensive ammunition compared 9 millimeter.

  45. Blah, blah, blah, blah. I know how to load my guns, I know how to shoot my guns and I know how to clean my guns. Is there something else?

    • “I know how to load my guns, I know how to shoot my guns and I know how to clean my guns. Is there something else?”

      Yes, there is. If you don’t do it the way I do, you are wrong. And evil, wicked, mean, bad, and nasty.

        • “I appreciate that brief but accurate assessment of my essential character.”

          Happy to be here. Grateful for the opportunity. Proud to serve.

          Just think of me as “The Great and Powerful Oz”

  46. Just to set the record straight the 9.8mm cartridge was never adopted by the Romanian Army. Colt did submit a Colt pistol chambered for this cartridge in the Romanian test trials where it did well but neither the pistol nor the cartridge were adopted. And the 9.8 was not adopted by any other European Nation I am aware off even though Colt tried hard to sell it to them along with its pistol.

    The 40 S&W turned out to be a flop in the marketplace both with civilians, the military and with the police.

    People in love with the .45 acp myth considered the .40 inferior to the .45acp.

    The .40 cartridge had way more recoil than the 9×19 which resulted in lower police qualification scores.

    The 9×19 on average held way more cartridges than the .40 which did not endear it to the High Capacity crowd who rushed out to buy each new 9×19 model pistol that held yet more and more firepower.

    The .40 ammo was more expensive than the 9×19 which police bean counters took into serious consideration.

    With modern expanding bullets the 9mm is not inferior to the .40.

    The best bullet for the .40 which is the 180 grain cannot be used safely if loaded up to plus p plus velocities. About a decade or more ago Combat Handgun Magazine ran an article (naturally on its back, back pages) verifying that early hot factory loads blew up a Glock , a Browning High Power and a Ruger pistol. It was found that bullet set back created a compressed powder charge because the .40 has almost no air space to begin with and the compression resulted in a detonation blowing to pieces all 3 pistols. After that the Ammo Factories quietly and immediately scaled back the hot loadings for the 180 grain weight bullets which then resulted in a rush to use the lighter 165 grain pills which had way less penetration which is so necessary for incapacitating someone.

    Many .40 pistols were nothing more than reverse engineered 9×19 pistols and it was found they could not take the pounding of the .40 cartridge. The result was cracked frames, cracked slides, and galling of internal parts even in some high quality pistols like the Walther. This did not set well with cost conscience police bean counters or the police having a broken pistol during a firefight.

    All this resulted in the .40 S&W becoming perhaps one of the most hated cartridges ever marketed. Sales slumped so low about a decade or more ago that the Ammo Companies paid off prostitute gun writers to mount a huge propaganda campaign extolling the 40’s none existent virtues which made the gun buying public laugh so hard many cancelled their magazine subscriptions in disgust.

  47. 40 Short & Weak

    if you can’t handle a real full-power 10mm you might as well just shoot .25 ACP which is basically the same as .40S&W by comparison.

  48. Caliber wars….again? At 66 years old and carrying since I was 21, I’ve owned quite a few handguns, several of which I kick myself for not having now, one being a REAL Colt Python, not the new one and a Classic Ruger Super Blackhawk 44 Magnum 3-Screw. God I wish I had that gun. My first real carry though was a S&W 39, then came a P226 9mm which was a really fine shooting weapon, just rather larger for a small framed man. My next carry weapon and still is to this day…sort of, is a Sig P229 in .40 What I do like about the P229 is I shoot it extremely well without excessive recoil. I’m not stuck on .40 but that’s what I ended up with.

    What’s important is shot placement along with the ability for a quick clean draw or presentation and just as important CARRY IT!!

    As of last week, I’m the proud owner of an HK P30sk which is going to be my primary carry weapon. I DON’T LIKE STRIKER fired handguns and why I chose rather expensive, QUALITY hammer fired models as I also dislike run of the mill cheap weapons.

    Caliber wars is old as dirt and tiresome and generally I don’t play but being Monday morning, just finished my coffee and still naked as a Jay Bird, I thought I’d bang out a few sentences and bore everyone to death.

    • to Mlee

      Congratulations on the purchase of your H&K p30sk. You bought one of the safest handguns ever designed and of course with HK reliability. I love the fact that on my P30s and also my P30sk I can load or unload the weapon with the safety in the “on” position which contributes so much to its safe handling and carrying. Its de-cocker is well designed and useful as well.

      Be aware that if you want to up your firepower from the standard 10 round mag the 13 round and even the 17 round mags will work in your gun. I recently bought a couple of the 13 round mags that have the extended floor plate and they make the p30sk no more taller than the Gock 19.

  49. I’m overall fine with .40, supposedly there’s weirdness around reloading using bulge busters with it. Lyman has a warning in their book. It will “glock smile” like most other rounds will, which in an unsupported chamber is a down side. My SD40 does it but my Sigmas don’t. Odd.

    The other thing I’ll say is that the Lyman 38-40 mold is awesome in this round From memory about 175gr. I bought a ton of em off a guy, wish they still made the mold. I should just go to one of the makers out there and have a replica done. And hollow pointed.

    A nice thing about this round is that parts kits from gun breakers tend to be a bit cheaper than 9mm counterparts too.

    I’ve read it was meant to replicate .45 auto in a smaller gun with more rounds. If that’s the case, certainly mission accomplished. It’s got a better SD than .45 auto as well.

  50. In a perfect world, there would only be 45 acp in a 1911 , .357 sig and .357 mag…IMO the .357 sig is one of the best all around handgun rounds ever…

    • Overwhelmingly I do like 357 sig for a whole lot of things but I will admit 40 can do some barrier penetration better even if it is a nogo for armor penetration of any level above 2a even with the copper solids that I was able to try at the time……..or HG 1 on the new standard (somewhat between level 2 and 3a of previous).

  51. Personally I’ve always liked the .40S&W, it’s the perfect cartridge/caliber right between the 9mm and .45acp. I was very interested in and wanted the .41AE but then the 40S&W came out and I’ve been a proponent ever since.

  52. I carried a HK Compact 40 with LEM module for 15 years and qualified with it every 6 months. In all that time I never experienced a FTF or jam of any sort and had no problem managing the “dreaded” recoil.

    Frankly, I think people make too much of the differences between 40/9mm/45. Each caliber is more than adequate to stop a threat if you do your job placing the shots. I certainly wouldn’t want to be hit with any of them.

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