The Fading 40

I’ve never been a fan of the .40 S&W cartridge and I explained why in my “Teats, Bulls and the .40 S&W” article of June 22nd. While I never jumped on the .40 bandwagon, many police departments across the nation did in the 1990’s. That appears to be slowly changing.

I see regular news stories, some dating back several years, documenting the switch back to 9mm by PD’s nationwide. The reasons given for the switch to 9mm vary, but most PD’s feel the .40 S&W lowers hit probability and are concerned with the reduction in capacity. Back in 2011 the Wichita (KS) police made the switch back to 9mm from .40. Their tactical firearms instructor at the time said that “many officers’ shooting scores have been bad ever since the department armed with the .40-caliber handguns.”

This seems to be a fairly common theme, many departments have seen their qualification scores drop after switching to the .40 S&W. In an article from July 29th of this year, Chief Doug Barthel of the Sioux Falls (SD) PD said “the pistols have better accuracy and the ability to carry two more bullets than the [.40] Glocks.” 

Columbia (SC) made a similar switch back to 9mm, swapping their Sig .45 ACP handguns for FN 9mm’s. Assistant Police Chief Ruben Santiago said officers will have improved accuracy with the lighter handgun, which doesn’t have as much recoil as the Sig .45-caliber pistols they’re replacing.

In 2011 the St. Paul (MN) PD switched from .40 back to the 9mm as well.  The St. Paul PD started off with 9mm’s then switched to .40 S&W 18 years ago when the .40 S&W craze was sweeping PD’s across the nation. At the time when the switch occurred, 9mm ammo wasn’t performing as well as it does today with modern bullet technology.  According to Sgt. Cory Tell “the performance of 9mm ammunition has changed dramatically and it’s much more powerful than it previously was.”

This is something I’ve talked about as well, modern 9mm bullet technology has leveled the playing field. When many of the police departments were jumping to .40 S&W, bullet technology was still in its infancy which helped to fuel the switch-over to .40. PD’s felt bigger was better in the absence of quality bullet designs. Today we have an assortment of modern high-performance 9mm loads that offer better penetration and expansion than loads on the market back in the 1990’s. A modern 9mm easily rivals the best .40 S&W or .45 ACP round in terms of ballistic performance and in real-world shootings. Even the FBI, who lead the charge in developing the .40 S&W, now authorizes their agents to carry 9mm service pistols.

Many people don’t understand how modern bullet technology has benefited the 9mm. Most .40 and .45 hollow points have historically been able to achieve 12″-18″ of penetration in 10% ballistics gel while offering on average 1.75% expansion — the magical numbers necessary to meet FBI standards. For the 9mm, this hasn’t always been the case. It took many years for bullet technology to evolve to allow the 9mm to achieve the same performance as its bigger brothers.  Going past 12″-18″ of penetration is considered a bad thing which is why manufactures aren’t trying to increase the penetration capabilities of .40 and .45, just the 9mm.

The 9mm isn’t just making a comeback in police circles, most of the nations top firearms instructors also prefer 9mm handguns. Here’s a list of a few big names in the training world and their caliber of choice. This list is captured from public sources.

Trainer
Gun(s) / Caliber
Travis HaleyGlock 17 9mm (also 9mm M&P)
Massad AyoobGlock 9mm (.357 Sig & .45)
Chris CostaS&W M&P 9mm
Larry VickersGlock 17/19 9mm
Gabe SuarezGlock 17 9mm
Rob Pincus9mm (recommends a variety of handguns in this caliber)
Paul Gomez (RIP)Glock 17/19 9mm
James YeagerGlock 19 9mm
Andy Stanford Glock 19 9mm
Kelly McCannGlock 19 9mm
Jason FallaGlock 17 9mm
Michael Janich Glock 17 9mm
Dave SpauldingGlock 19 9mm (sometimes Ruger SR9c)

It seems .40 S&W continues to fall out of favor with more people coming to the realization the 9mm offers higher capacity, lower recoil, lower training costs and solid terminal ballistics when compared to the .40 S&W. During the last gun buying craze every caliber from .22LR to .45 ACP was absent from shelves around the country, however most people reported ample supplies of .40 S&W sitting around. Obviously this is a bonus for the .40 S&W since in times of crisis you might have a better shot at finding ammo, but does this single point outweigh the other benefits of using 9mm? That doesn’t appear to be the case as it seems not only the police and trainers are moving away from the .40 S&W but the general gun buying public is too.

***Update:  ToddG over at pistol-training.com penned a similar article that went live a few hours after this one.  He makes some interesting points in his article that I believe are worth consideration.

MAC

MAC is an avid shooter, former MCSF Marine, NRA member, Oath Keeper and is commissioned as a Colonel by the Governor of Kentucky. Known for his videos on the Military Arms Channel, he also writes for The Bang Switch, for Shotgun News (Be Ready!) and freelances for Guns & Ammo. MAC has been a life long shooter who has an interest in all things that go "bang" but gravitates towards military type firearms.

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  • Paul O.

    I shoot .40 in my Sig 239 because it’s cheaper to practice with than .357 Sig. It’s a simple barrel (and mag) change to swap calibers. I carry single stacks because that works for me. That leaves out 9s because I prefer larger/faster BBs. The same bullet improvements go across calibers. So actually all mainstream pistol have become more effective. Some of the competition shooters around here prefer .40 because 9mm will occasionally not knock down the steel poppers. Choice is good.

    • Rob

      Cost effectiveness is the culprit here and many depts don’t have the available resources of finances to keep up w high cost, supplies, training etc. The ISP uses .40 caliber, we never had an issue w them, however, they once used the 9mm and decided about 14 yrs ago to go w the .40, so far I haven’t seen them mention anything about the 9mm but most LEO Depts go with what other Depts are doing, trends, etc Even what the FBI uses…

      • Nick D.

        Odd. All of the ISP guys I know who shoot a lot have all reported reliability issues, especially guys on teams that carry pistol mounted lights on their issued Gen3 G22s.

    • Johnny Geetar

      What really cracks me up? The DHS buying binge of the 1.6 billion rounds included a BOATLOAD of this ammo in the HP variety! I guess they didn’t get the memo…..

      • Jwilobe

        Sooner than later there may a flood of that caliber ammo on the shelves at surplus prices…..we can always hope.

    • AgSfr

      I think it would be better if LEO focused on training and marksmanship rather than to fall back to 9mm. As for the high profile trainers you mention in your article…how many of them are sponsored shooters by ammo companies. They shoot what pays the bills. To say the 9mm offers better performance than a bullet that is larger in caliber and mass does not make sense. Most guys on the USPSA circuit use major caliber (38 Super, 40 S&W and 45ACP). They are able to achieve tremendous proficiency with practice. Fix the problem by training rather than excuses.

      • Kyle

        Actually it does make sense, ballistic ally speaking…they are very similar. It’s science!

        • AgSfr

          You are correct Kyle it is science…F=MA. Terminal ballistics are greater with larger bullets of same design. It all goes back to training and how many rounds you shoot and hours you spend with the gun. Practice would be 10-15K or more rounds per year practicing drills. If you are not seriously shooting then you are just giving gun store commando talk.

          • Marc

            Force isn’t a wounding mechanism. When the FBI used science of the forensic variety to determine if .45 is better than 9 mm their conclusion was “none of the eight experts were able to say definitively that the larger .45 automatic round caused more damage than the 9mm round; and four of the eight experts found that there was no difference in the wounding effects of either caliber given equal penetration”.

            Science, it’s more than a misapplied equation.

          • http://www.ocats.com Jim Cline

            Actually the correct formula would be E = 1/2mv^2. That is the formula for kinetic energy. You would then have to calculate the transfer of energy over time. Which would include the speed of the round, the impulse (length of time to transfer the energy), the elasticity of the energy transfer and the heat lost in the transfer.

      • Nick D.

        Most guys running .40 for USPSA are loading their own powder puff loads which just barely make power factor. In reality their .40 competition loads are softer shooting than modern factory 9mm defensive loads so your comparison is Apples to Oranges.

        • AgSfr

          The point is practice is what matters. You get used to what you shoot.

          • Rhino

            So true, and it does not matter how big the hole is, if, there is no hole to begin with…. I used 9mm after transferring from the .45 when We changed from the .45 to 9mm at the US Army MP School (USAMPS) I wrote the Program of Instruction for the Department of Basic MP Training, (DBMPT)(CSTD). for the transfer to the 92sb(f) pistol. I can only tell you, the 45 is a great round, (if it hits the target) (I like the Kriss SMG, there you maximize the impact of the 45 when it can used consistently to hit your target) but the 45 pistols we had in the MP Regiment were shaky at best. The 9mm’s were new and I have to say, the marksmanship, which is totally different than combat shooting, IMO, were much better, from 93% to 98.5% 1st time qualifications, with the 9mm. Combat ops reports are the true facts when they are available. When pistols are used as a last ditch weapon or PDF, they will serve the mission as required. The rounds available now are much better.

      • Tater Salad

        AgSfr… My sentiments exactly on the training / marksmanship issue. The 40 is capable. So is the 9mm. Carry whatever you like, but please don’t try and blame marksmanship scores on the caliber. As for the 45 ACP, I have always found the recoil from any rounds that are not +P to much easier to handle in a full sized weapon than a snappy 9mm or 40. that may not be the case with a smaller 45 ACP (I do not own one) but I am pretty certain that my experience is not unique. Bigger does not always mean more felt recoil and smaller, higher capacity is not always better. Find what works and train. Don’t waste the money of the taxpaying citizen.

        As far as price, the ‘better’ 9mm ammo is going to be as costly to a PD to train with and carry as comparable 40 Smith. I don’t see this saving any departments any money. Especially if they are changing weapons completely which will require new holsters and other accessories.

    • Bryan

      “The same bullet improvements go across calibers”

      That’s not really true. .40 had reliable expansion and proper 12″+ penetration even without the modern advancements. 9mm did not. 9mm either had round nose FMJ that overpenetrated and did not expand, or it had HP’s that were either not reliable expanders, or expanded too much and didn’t reach proper penetration. It was that shortcoming that made the 9mm truly lesser than the .40 in terminal ballistics. However, once the tech was able to create 9mm rounds that expanded reliably while still achieving 12″ penetration, they caught up to the ,40 in terms of lethality. The .40 already had those characteristics, so the tech advances perfecting reliable expansion with reliable penetration did not benefit it quite as much, because it was not previously short on those areas.

      Because of this the terminal ballistics of the two are now so close that choosing one over the other on terminal ballistics alone is almost pointless. So instead choose on other characteristics. Some departments chose to decide based on as capacity and ease of shooting. In those instances 9mm now wins. Others chose to decide based on effectiveness after penetrating barriers, In that case .40 wins.

      For civilian self protection I’d personally now choose 9mm, as it’s more often that easier accurate shooting makes the difference. As an officer’s carry weapon, I’d go .40, since it’s more often that an officer faces situations where barriers need to be penetrated. But it does now truly come down to situation, .40 is no longer simply better than 9mm all around. It now does better in its niche and 9mm in its, because 9mm caught up.

      • Brandon

        I really like your assessment of the calibers and i agree with what you say, i personally carry a .40 M&P but i have toyed with the idea of getting a 9mm.

    • Kbo

      A good way to fix the Popper knockdown issue for 9mm is using flat nose 147 gr. rounds. They run like a champ in a Glock and actually have less record than the smaller ones from being just barely subsonic.

  • Kevin w

    I have shot the Glocks 17, 19, 21,22,23 ,26,27,30 and 34. by far the worst felt recoil were the. 40sw. even the 45s felt easier to control. I have no use for a 40sw in my collection

    • https://www.facebook.com/richard.turner.357 Richard Turner

      its funny, i’ve always thought that myself. the .40 seems a bit sharper, and the .45 pushes a bit more over a longer period in my opinion.

      • http://jackrayner.wordpress.com Jack.Rayner

        “the .45 pushes a bit more over a longer period”

        I think that’s a description I’d use as well, in the differences I feel between .40 and .45.

  • Justin Pascual

    I try to own and train with as many calibers as I can for the reason that if the S does hit the F and you run out of your own personal ammo then you’re going to be hard pressed to fin ammo at your LGS or wal mart. You’re going to be scavenging whatever you can muster. This is also why I like to train with a good longbow and arrows as well. But with that said I do feel modern 9mm is a superb choice with a lot of flexibility. I love my .45 and .40 but for EDC the winner is 9mm hands down.

  • https://www.facebook.com/richard.turner.357 Richard Turner

    the place where i work is going to be selling some m&p .40’s for 215$ that is one of the only reasons i might not buy a 9mm for my birthday tomorrow. maybe i’ll buy 2 and trade for a 9MM. there always seems to be a reason that pops up that makes it more reasonable to buy those .40’s over the 9. but i’ve had my eye on a 4th gen glock and i’ve never owned a 9mm.

    • Francois

      Where are you finding them? I would like to get an M&P in .40 SW

    • Dan Frain

      Please PM me with details on your surplus .40 S&W pistols. I LIKE .40 call.

      Mr. Forum moderator, please let tht post go through. Thanx!

  • Jay

    Velocity is where the 9mm gains the added advantage when it comes to new bullet technology. The 40 S&W is really only decent with light weight bullets, so why not just use a 9mm?

    • booker

      So you’d rather be shot with 180gr Nosler JHP .40S&W (1100fps / 484 ft-lbs), or 150gr Nosler JHP (1275fps / 542 ft-lbs) than the most potent 9mm on the market, since heavy-for-caliber .40 is no good? The logic of thse caliber-war-posers escapes me, and has for going on two decades.

  • Brett

    I have both a 9 and a .40 and have no issues with recoil for the .40 they both are part of my carry guns. I think PD are not making this move because of shooting scores and more on ammo cost for the future.

    • Justin Pascual

      I agree. I have an FNP 40 and it shoots smooth and accurate. My Glock 23 seems a little snappy but I still have no problem shooting it. I think it boils down to cost like you said.

  • Not Jimbo

    I don’t know – my personal perception of recoil is that SD loads for .40 are only a little sharper than Comparable 9mm SD loads (say Hornady 165gr CD .40 vs. Hornady 124gr CD 9mm) and I’m no less accurate with .40 than I am with 9mm. I’m a pretty big guy (though not as big as MAC) so perhaps recoil sensitivity is mitigated somewhat.
    I suppose a sweeping generalization is to be expected when making purchasing decisions for a whole PD, but I still like .40 for myself. My summer carry gun is a Glock 27. But then again, I have to admit to being a bit of a caliber slut: I shoot a 9mm G26 in GSSF competition (except this past May when 9mm wasn’t available AT ALL) and I also have pistols in several other calibers.

  • http://garpholsters.com Peter Bilbao Garcia

    I’ve had a 40 since ’94 and rank it in a great compromise between my 9’s and 45’s. the notion of it not being accurate is not true at all.

    • Matt

      I would agree, it is not an inherently inaccurate round. But, it is harder for the average shooter who practices very little to shoot it fast and accurately when compared to a 9mm.

    • John

      I agree with you. Every review and video that I’ve watched on the Smith and Wesson M&P .40 has been positive. Everyone pretty much has been impressed with its accuracy. Negative opinions about the gun seem to be in the minority.

  • Gary

    I feel the issue is lack of practice. I am equally accurate with the 9 and .40 (Both Springfield Armory Xdm’s) BUT I practice. Police proffessionals can not show up to qualify with little or no trigger time and expect to do well. It is alarming to me that a few “extra” rounds becomes such a bonus verses getting out there any firing their side arms. I like both equally …. PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE

  • chris

    Shortly after I got out of the Coast Guard, they switched to the .40.

  • Tim U

    I will always own at least one 9mm, one .40 S&W, and one .45 ACP. Ideally, multiples.

    If anyone feels that the .40 is so terrible they want to dump it, I will give it a loving home free of charge.

  • harold

    i don’t love the cartridge but its a bit of a necesity when shooting limited division USPSA. if i had enough cash for a open division gun, you would never see me shoot one.

  • http://cruciblearms.wordpress.com cruciblearms

    I find 40S&W hate largely amusing. I shoot 22, 9mm, 40S&W, and 45ACP in the various handguns I own. Training will make you accurate. Most LEO’s “certify” once or twice a year. Certifying is not training. Is 9mm easier to shoot than 40S&W in the same model of handgun? Yes. So, along with the round count, I get why people may prefer 9mm.

    To me, it’s no different than 5.56 vs. 7.62 vs. 30-06 vs. ……… fill in the blank. There’s a place for nearly every round in my arsenal.

  • Murderfase

    I shoot better with 9mm (my carry choice) and .45 acp. I’ve always had trouble getting tight groups with .40 s&w.

    • Charlie Kilo

      Whether or not you can group, either slow or rapid fire, is not an issue with a caliber (any caliber).

      • JunkfoodZombie

        True. That is a shooter issue, not a caliber issue.

    • Tim

      Try different grain weights. I can’t shoot the 180 Remington UMC, Winchester Ranger, or Blazer Brass for nothing but can shoot a very tight group with the 165 Winchester white box and the Hornady Critical Defense are both perfect loads. The 135 hyda-shok is also another VERY effective round that shoots extremely well out of my XD.

  • Pingback: More: The Fading 40 | The Gun Feed

  • http://jackrayner.wordpress.com Jack.Rayner

    I’ve been coming around from .40 to 9mm as well. I was warned about the .40’s “snappiness”, but being accustomed to the .45 I didn’t think it would be a big deal. I was wrong. I’d still rather shoot .45ACP than .40S&W.

    As a soon as I’m actually able to find one for sale, I’m trading my PT740 in for an 9mm XD-S!

  • Mark7Seven

    Perhaps if LEO would train more they’d get better scores. Once a year qualifying is as often as some get to the range. Notice I said “some” not all.

    One a year shooting and most folks would have trouble getting decent scores. This seems like a whole lot of fertilizer to me. Having entire departments swap to 9mm to gain the advantage of better scores (need more range time) and to justify the swap saying the ballistic numbers are about the same AND we two more rounds in a magazine doesn’t sway me at all. You won’t need the extra two rounds of you get to the range more often and learn trigger control, sight picture and gain some muscle memory with your weapon.

    ‘Nuff said.

  • D

    James Yeager invented the 9mm, don’t you know?

  • Wilson

    Just like “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder”. Firearm preferences are in the hand of the shooter. Use what you are comfortable and accurate with. At least then you can be reasonably assured of your ability to defend you and yours.
    I like my 9 and 45, I know those who prefer the 40.

  • JunkfoodZombie

    I don’t know where you’re shopping, but I saw tons of .45 around before 9 and .40 ever showed up around here in east TN. I like all three of those calibers. I don’t shoot my .40 any worse than I do my 9 or .357 Mag. Maybe the recoil is more pronounced in the Glocks. My SR40 and my friend’s FNX both shoot beautifully and very accurately in that caliber. I like choices and options. In 9mm, I carry 147 grain and in .40 I carry 180. I like heavier bullets and both are okay by me. As far as capacity, my nine holds 17 rounds and my forty holds 15. That’s really negligible. I understand you like the 9mm, and that’s what I usually carry, but the .40 has a really good track record of effectiveness in police shootings that can’t be ignored. I don’t carry a .44 Mag, but that doesn’t mean I encourage the demise of the cartridge. Regardless, I always respect you AND your opinion MAC, and I almost always agree with you 100%. Keep up the good work. Always look forward to you videos and articles.

  • JunkfoodZombie

    And I know you shop in Indiana and not East Tennesse……. ;)

  • Matt

    I am no expert, but training with what you have is probably, in my humble opinion, the most important factor. I agree that the .40S&W has a punchier recoil than the 9mm (and even more than some .45ACPs, depending on recoil spring design and handgun weight). That shouldn’t dissuade someone from using it and it especially should encourage whole PDs from spending gobs of money to switch back to 9mm. I carry a full-sized xD .40 Service model when I am out and about. I wouldn’t feel any less or more safe with a 9mm or a .45…I just carry what I have. Surprisingly, I have found the Taurus PT 24/7 Pro in .45 to have a surprisingly lower felt recoil than my xD. I really liked that weapon b/c it was the same size and carried 12+1 in .45. That’s a lot of firepower, considering .45ACP’s ballistic capability and performance. It simply has more knock-down power (larger bullet = more mass = knock-down power). Regardless of personal likes or dislikes…carry something that you’re not only comfortable with handling, but also, most importantly, something you’ve trained with.

    I guess my question would be… what are all those PDs going to do with their excess .40 ammo? I’ll take two cases, please.

  • DBTT

    I find it amusing that people still regard handguns as an effective way to kill someone and think one of these calibers is actually better than another.

    • http://www.military-arms.com MAC

      There are literally millions of dead people who died by a bullet fired by a handgun. They are clearly capable of killing people. I think the point you’re trying to make is that better alternatives to the handgun exist that are more powerful, like the rifle or shotgun. This would be a true statement. However, most people can’t walk around all day, every day, carrying a rifle so we’re relegated to handguns for self defense. There’s FAR more to choosing the best caliber than how powerful it is. As I pointed out, the playing field is pretty much level between the 9mm, .40 and .45. That’s why size, capacity, recoil, training costs, etc. all become important factors in choosing the right caliber for self defense or for a police department.

      • http://twitter.com/JustinHohn Justin Hohn (@JustinHohn)

        MAC, I understand you have the pro-9mm argument, but I think there are a couple weaknesses in your case. (I’m a glock .40 guy, so ‘case weakness’ is an area of my expertise, lol. As me about smilies)

        First, I don’t think that bullet technology has “leveled the playing field.” It makes no sense to me that advancing technology would increase 9mm lethality by, say, 25%, but only increase .40 or .45 lethality by 10%. No, the rising tide raises all ships.

        I think what you mean is that technology has made the 9mm “sufficient” while previously the additional power of the .40 was thought to be necessary to be “sufficient.” THAT I would stipulate. So it’s probably true that newer bullet tech means that you no longer need to make the sacrifices in recoil and capacity you previous had to make to gain the additional performance of the .40.

        It’s a very different thing to say that the 9mm is sufficient than it is to say that it’s as powerful or capable as the .40. It’s not. Period. The rounds are not equally powerful, nor–ceteris parabus– equally lethal. But, all else is never equal.

        Which is not to say that the difference matters. Rare, if not fictional, is the case where the additional power of the .40 would have been dispositive to the outcome. But additional power it is– the physics don’t lie.

        I think the reason 9mm is so popular with tactical Joes is the realization that 3 or 4 fast, accurate hits with a “sufficient” round beats 1 or 2 hits with a more powerful round that the shooter can’t place as well.

        Most people can’t shoot a more powerful load as accurately as a less powerful load. Each shooter has their own threshold below which no additional accuracy is gained.

        I enjoyed .40 from my Gen 4 G22. It was easy to handle even as my first handgun. Now that I shoot .40 from a converted G20, the round is a pussycat like 9mm– the heavier slide of the G20 neuters that .40 “snap.” Accuracy and speed of followups for me is no better than a good 9mm. But I can carry that G20? Not really. I would probably carry 9mm in a G19 for concealed, and .40 for an OC duty weapon.

      • https://www.facebook.com/Cogito83 Chad Baker

        Carrying around a carbine every day gets old fast.

        Who am I to judge? If someone wants to carry around a Barrett M107 every day, more power to them! :-D

      • DBTT

        That’s the point I was going for MAC. I didn’t mean to say they can’t kill someone, but long guns are much better at it.

        • deoblo

          Over a longer distance too!

    • JunkfoodZombie

      :)

      • Tim

        Well said, Justin! Very good argument!

  • Tim

    Do you have any sales/ownership stats or downward statistical trends to back up this up? Listing a few PDs and even a few trainers (no matter how famous) is a bit anectodtal compared to how many .40s there are out there.

  • Jacen

    During the ammo crunch moment when there are more .40 ammo on the shelf, it would be a good idea to have at least one gun that shoots that caliber just in case to stock up on ammo of that kind when all other ammo is running low.

  • Tim

    Yawn, another I hate .40 agenda rant. We get it we get.

    • http://www.military-arms.com MAC

      Yawn. Another drive-by post from a guy married to the .40 and can’t stand reading a news story that doesn’t favor his pet cartridge. This wasn’t a rant post, this was a report of the 9mm having a resurgence.

      • https://www.facebook.com/Mdoucette27.AAS Matthew Doucette

        But we are all curious if the resurgence is in part due to PD’s budgets being over extended and they are trying to cut pennies any way they can.. or is it truly because the 9mm loads have gotten “so much better” .. see the thing is MAC ammunition companies didn’t decide one day “OK!! We are going to focus all technology into the 9mm loadings and keep the other calibers the way the are!!” .. of course not.. they put all the new technology developed for every round of ammunition into every viable round of ammunition.. to say that the 9mm is ballistically superior now because technology is improved is like saying a Chevy Truck is Improved while a GMC has not.. despite them technically being made by the same company. And numbers are something that NEVER lie.. 9mm JHP 115gr 1,240 ft/s 393 ft·lbf .. .40s&w 155 gr JHP 1,205 ft/s 500ft·lbf .. almost exact feet per second but yet.. 100 ft/lbf of more energy transferred.. I am no rocket scientist but that in itself speaks volumes.. even when you step the 9mm bullet weight up near that 155 to 147gr .. the Speer GDHP only generates an advertised Muzzle Velocity of: 1090 fps with a Muzzle Energy: 327 ft/lbs.. that’s almost 175ft/lbf less!! So stating that 9mm is equivalent to a .40s&w .. at standard pressures.. because at what point do you go.. well..let’s crank up the pressures to get better numbers !! Well as a man of gun enthusiasm sir.. you also know that more pressure means more wear and tear on your firearm. So I guess I am confuddled by the whole 9mm loads are equal to and/or better than .40s&w. :-/ If I am looking at this wrong please tell me.. this isn’t meant to be an ignorant post.. moreso.. just inquisitive by looking at the facts and numbers before me and producing my formulated hypothesis on those alone.

        • http://www.military-arms.com MAC

          You really don’t understand what’s happened in the market place. Yes, they make Critical Duty in 9mm, .40 and .45. However, if you look at the penetration and wound cavities of all three calibers, the 9mm stacks up very nicely. The new bullet designs have favored the 9mm more than the other calibers and offerings such as Gold Dots, SXTs, Hydrashocks, etc. all have similar ballistic performance across the 3 major calibers.

          As for foot/lbs of energy, the differences in .40 and 9mm have been proven time and time again in actual shootings to be mostly meaningless. It’s also interesting how you cherry pick the 9mm. If you check out Buffalo Bore 9mm +P+ you’ll find a 1,400fps muzzle velocity and a 500ft/lbs muzzle energy. The Buffalo Bore .40 +P has 82ft/lbs more muzzle energy — meaningless ballistically.

          Anyone that knows anything about ballistics will tell you 9mm, .40 and .45 are pretty evenly matched in terms of terminal performance. By far the most critical factor is penetration. The pretty stretch cavities people on the internet get all excited about are neat but not nearly as devastating as many like to believe. 9mm, .40 and .45 are really all quite under powered and arguing foot/lbs of energy as if a hundred here or there makes any real world difference is a waste of time.

          Somehow people have gotten it in their heads that .40 and .45 are uber powerful deathrays and the 9mm is a poodle cartridge. Nothing could be further from the truth.

          Since the 9mm is just as lethal as .40 and .45, the other benefits of 9mm come into play which make it a far smarter choice for a PD to adopt. Lower recoil, less wear and tear on the pistols (even in +P offerings), lower training costs, higher capacity and smaller lighter pistols.

          • JunkfoodZombie

            Hey Tim, I agree that all three cartridges (9,40,45) are close enough ballistically that all are effective. Like I said, I carry my 9mm about 95% of the time. Mostly because my 9 is compact and my .40 is duty sized…. Regardless, I ask this one question. If all three calibers are effective and shot placement is key (which I agree with wholeheartedly) and you argue for 9 mm’s capacity over .40’s, then why do you own .45s? They have less capacity than both. I just like shooting pretty much any gun in any caliber, so I don’t mind any of them. I Love what you do and always respect your opinion. (Almost always feel the same as you do) Keep up the good work. And thanks for the IWI video. I’ve been waiting for what seems like forever. It turned out great!

          • J

            There are a few ways of looking at the puzzle. Traditionally, hunters have prized sectional density, velocity, and bullet composition. Today, the 9MM rates very well in all of those categories. A 147 grain JHP has a sectional density higher than a 230 grain 45 ACP. It also has higher velocity. Further, it can have similar composition. Thus, it’s terminal performance is very good.

            Or, one could look at the FBI requirements. When one examines loads meeting the requirements, one finds all serious calibers represented. Federal’s P9HST2, for example, does very well.

            Third, one could look at real world cases. The 45 is not a magical death ray. No pistol round is (see attached link). Once one absorbs that fact, then one can begin to appreciate that if one shoots caliber X better, it may be worth considering carrying caliber X. People are different. I won’t tell someone what to carry, it’s their behind, not mine. However, how an individual shoots with a caliber is a factor. Some just shoot 9 better than 40.

            Finally, one could take into account what some of the real pistoleros have to say. Costa, for example, spoke of being able to “drive” the 9MM much faster than other calibers. That is something to consider, not a be all and end all, but something to think about, especially if one thinks that no pistol provides guaranteed one shot stops. Haley made the same comment when comparing 300 Blk to 6.8 SPC. He could “drive” the 300 Blk as fast as a 5.56, which is to say, much faster than a 6.8. For him, being able to run it faster was important.

            http://www.policeone.com/patrol-issues/articles/6199620-Why-one-cop-carries-145-rounds-of-ammo-on-the-job/

      • https://www.facebook.com/Cogito83 Chad Baker

        MAC, I like 9mm, .40S&W and .45ACP… Does that make me a cartridge slut?

        It’s a fun debate to have and people can sit around and toss about various ideas for and against any cartridge. It’s a good debate to have and I like what you bring to the table. Your article was great. I can’t wait to see a comparison video… (Please!)

    • gipbmac

      Huh – I didnt take it that way at all… I love the .40 round… I love the 9mm and 45 too… MAC has some of the best advice out there and one of if not the best blogs online for fair and accurate appraisals and comparisons… I thought it was a great thought provoking article… I’m still keeping my Glock 23 and 27… but I am now going to go get Smith & Wesson M&P9 compact I fondled the other day now.. ;)

  • D. Hide

    I’m pleased to see this switch. Never in my life have I personally been a fan of the .40. I was indifferent at best and hostile at worst. I still don’t like it. That being said, I do like a .45 but over time I have been convinced that the ever-popular 9mm Para will perform admirably, allowing more capacity and faster follow-up shots to boot.

  • 33AD

    I don’t practice caliber discrimination. They all have a place in my heart.

  • Torrey Riches

    If you don’t shoot a .45 then you better squat when you pee.

  • Silver Bear

    To each his own, Mac. I’m most accurate with ,45 ACP, followed by .40S&W. .38 Spcl., and then 9mm. I personally dislike 9mm for CQC. And I would never trade a Sig ,45 for a Glock 9mm!

  • Matt

    Well I guess that’s a good thing. More .40 ammo for us.

  • http://loveslaughinglocksmith.blogspot.com john bradley

    I had a box of .40 someone gave me. I borrowed a hi-point and shot it off. Didn’t see any reason to buy more. And the guy I borrowed the pistol from offered to sell it, cheap. 9mm or .45 will do me fine.

  • Mike

    My solution, keep buying Glock “otays along with conversion barrels. That being said, I’ll probably end up with a Glock 19 as it seems to be the most loved Glock around.

  • Mike

    that should have said fotays and yes I’m saying that jokingly

  • bringit

    love my 13 shot 40 cal glock,shoots excellent and accurate !!

  • Rhodes

    Considering how a LOT of police shoot during the qualifications I have watched at the range maybe they should go to 22LR.

    My qualification with a XD 40SW Sub-Compact 3″ barrel produced a grouping about the size of my fist shooting fast enough that range master stood behind me to make sure I was hitting. Oh yeah I was hitting.

    At some point skill must be served and stop with the excuses.

  • Wayne

    I have all 3 calibers being discussed. If I had to give up one caliber, it would be the 9mm. Yes, it would cost me more to shoot. The numbers are just not on the side of the nine. If someone were shooting at me I would hope it would be with a nine.

    • JunkfoodZombie

      If someone were shooting at ME, I would hope they used a water pistol! :D

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  • Eric

    While I get MAC’s general point, I think some of his comments are a bit misdirected. For instance, “This is something I’ve talked about as well, modern 9mm bullet technology has leveled the playing field” implies that the 9mm is the only round that’s improved since inception. Yes, current 9mm rounds are very nearly as effective as .40 rounds were 5+ years back… but .40 rounds have gotten better, as well. Toss in modern reloading options and it’s pretty tough to make a ‘superior technology’ argument in favor of one of these handgun cartridges over another.

    There won’t ever be a huge difference between the two rounds, there hasn’t ever been, and the whole point of the .40 in the first place was to approximate a 9’s capacity while getting a bit more of the 45’s mass, not to be some exotic new caliber with fresh ideas.

    As far as so many instructors sticking with 9’s, it makes complete sense to me. All of those guys shoot thousands of rounds every year. The full time trainers might shoot 10k, I have no idea. Shooting a round that’s 5ish cents per cheaper can end up being a massive, massive difference to the bottom line. For ‘normal’ shooters like me who maybe get 500+ rounds in of practice per year, and even that’s a lot by some standards, the cost savings isn’t as significant.

    That’s not to try and paint the Instructor decisions as being ones made wholly for financial reasons, as I said there’s not a big difference between the rounds anyway, but if it makes financial sense and it’s the cartridge they use all the time in training, why not carry what you use most? Seems like an obvious conclusion.

    For others, however, the .40 is a nice mid point between the more affordable and lighter-shooting 9 and the heavier hitting (in both directions) and lower-capacity .45.

    Which, hey, was the whole point of the .40 to begin with.

  • Gary

    I found the information interesting the dept i use to be with when it was range time and a certain srg went most were happy because some of the target next to him had extra round in them not his…. That being said many do not practice without practice having a gun is useless I have two 45’s a 1911 and xds with a xd 9mm and ruger lcr 357. regardless which day and which gun I carry I always carry a backup one never knows and anything made by man will break

  • Mike

    Not sure about this article. I’m not convinced. Just because a few prominent firearms and tactics trainers out there use the 9mm and noting that some PDs have switched back to the 9mm does not necessarily mean there is a resurgence based on the terminal ballistics of the round. I won’t argue that improvements in ammunition have not improved the sufficiency of the 9mm cartridge (I would agree that improvements have also increased the lethality of the .40 and .45 Auto as well). But I would also say economics has a large part to play in handgun and ammunition selection, especially nowadays. “It’s the economy, stupid,” comes immediately to mind when it comes to reasons why any government entity does anything regarding equipment.

    Finally, to say that the 9mm is more accurate than the .40 because it has less recoil and is “easier to shoot” is a ridiculous argument. From my own experience, I shoot my .40 handguns better than I shoot my Glock 19 (and I’m not bashing the Glock, as I enjoy shooting that one as well as any others…I’m just not as accurate with it as the others). It comes down to personal preference. Use what is good for you. And remember…something is better than nothing.

  • Mike

    I’m replacing my P229 in .40 with an M&P45 4″ for a carry gun. I’ll put a few K rounds through it and see where I want to go after that. I’d be more apt to try the 9 but in MA that means 10 round magazines in a 17+1 gun… which I would have trouble bringing myself to do.

    I’ve developed a love/hate relationship with the sig. It runs great, I shoot it well… but I’ve slammed my funny bone on the hammer a bunch of times which just sucks, its heavy and big for the capacity, and I don’t like the DA/SA pull differences. I feel like I delay myself too much with the first shot.

    I’ve opted to steer away from the .40. I reload so 9mm to 45 are negligibly different in price (think 110/K vs 130/K). I’ve decided to try the venerable .45.

    Mike

  • https://www.facebook.com/Cogito83 Chad Baker

    I’m a proud owner of an FNX-9 & FNX-.40. You can call me a “brand whore” (and I’d be guilty) but I enjoy shooting both guns. I like 9mm and I don’t disagree with anyone who veers away from .40 in favor of 9mm or .45 (I also love my SIG 220). For my own collection, the .40 provides another caliber option. I’m a fan of the FNX and based on what folks have said about other platforms it seems to be a positive anomaly in .40. MAC, I’d love to know your opinion on the FNX-.40 compared to the 9mm!

    IMO, caliber isn’t all that important. Shot placement is 99% of the issue. Your go-to gun should be a gun that you can reliably shoot accurately when everything else in the world is going wrong. You should be willing and able to practice with it regularly. When you find that, buy it, train with it and be able to employ it effectively. That is all.

  • http://twitter.com/BIGBEN6961 BIGBEN6961 (@BIGBEN6961)

    .40 over .9 all day any day

  • http://Facebook Dean

    Tim,

    I’ve always appreciated your point of view but you know there’s an old saying out there that goes; “There’s lies, damn lies and statistics.” Some police departments change guns and calibers like you change your socks and I’ll bet you a case of ammo that you’ll find an equal number of agencies that have transitioned into a .40 caliber weapon. The changes usually involve someone being promoted as the head range officer or master firearms instructor who has a different outlook on the caliber that his/her department originally selected. And I promise you that it’s not always based on scientific data.

    Some of the guys on here, yourself included, act like the .40 has the same recoil and blinding muzzle flash of a .500 S&W. The felt recoil of the .40 is sharper but it’s not uncontrollable by any means, unless you can only bench-press a bag of marshmallows. I’ve trained numerous police recruits with .40 caliber Glock and M&Ps with no issues that can be a attributed to the caliber selection. You have a training issue if you’re having problems with accurate, rapid, follow-up shots with a .40 – not a caliber section problem.

    I also want to mention that I’ve been to two officer involved shootings where the .40 caliber was employed. I can emphatically state that the .40 did it’s job in saving my co-worker’s lives. I can’t speak for them, but I’d bet a second case of ammo that they’d select a .40 caliber over anything else if placed into another deadly force incident.

    Here’s a challenge for you Tim! I dare you to get some more ballistics gelatin and do a .40 verses 9mm comparison and check the data on wound channels and penetration. I’ll bet a third case of ammo that the .40 comes on top. I double dare you!

    The freedom to choose is what makes this the greatest country on the planet. If you like to place your faith in another caliber, more power to you. By I know through my training and experience that the .40 works and I have complete faith that it will get me home to my family if I need to call on it.

    Tim, you’ve got some of the best reviews on the web and I thoroughly enjoy them! No hard feelings buddy, but I think you’re beating a dead horse on this issue.

  • Drmaudio

    The irony is that the .40 owes it’s existence to the fact that many FBI agents had trouble qualifying with the 10MM, now the same issue is driving its decline.

  • Michael

    As I commented on the Teats, Bulls and the .40 S&W article….

    “It does seem like there are plenty of 9mm users that have a chip on their shoulders when it comes to the 40 S&W. They want to believe that they give up nothing by going to the 9mm. Don’t ignore the truth. There are real and measurable advantages to both. Sorry 9mm fanboys! The 40 S&W does some things better than the 9mm ever will. And the 9mm will do some things better than the 40 S&W ever will. Truly I like both calibers.

    The performance difference between the 9mm and 40 S&W is closer than these examples, but it illustrates the real differences.

    Is the 38 Special just as good as the 357 Magnum?

    Is the 380 Auto just as good as the 9mm?

    All calibers are a compromise. All calibers offer some advantages and disadvantages. You just have to figure out what is best for you. But what is best for you, isn’t best for everyone.”

    … I’ll add… as for me, I’ll take the 40 S&W in a full size or compact pistol. I’d have to go to something as tiny as a Sig P938 before I would consider the 9mm.

    The 9mm just doesn’t offer enough advantages to me over a 40 S&W. A couple more rounds and a hundredth of second faster between shots isn’t enough gain, versus superior ballistics and power. But to each their own! I’m glad there are a bunch of 9mm fanboys. It makes buying 40 S&W ammo possible, when 9’s are no where to be found.

  • JD

    I’m not sure about the physics of the whole exodus, as explained. Unless the bullet development includes swapping out lead for osmium and copper for palladium, in order to get a bullet heavy enough to achieve professional grade penetration of 18-20″ in bare gelatin. Interesting, I’ll wait for a scientific study before I head back to the shallow end of the pool.

  • james

    This has zero to do with anything BUT cost… period.

  • Bob Ratliff

    Of course all of those trainers prefer the 9mm. They teach people of all walks including women. Didn’t you just read General Odierno’s statement that today’s Lads aren’t ready for Army training so hence the greater need for more women. Enough said!

    • http://www.military-arms.com MAC

      Why would you think those trainers let their students shoot their personal weapons? You bring your own weapon to class, and people bring all sorts of guns and calibers. The trainers use 9mm because they prefer it.

  • http://gravatar.com/chieftain6 chieftain6

    I have only been shooting for 59 years and have extensive combat experience starting in 1967.

    I did understand the 10mm. I have yet to figure a reason or purpose for the 40 S&W.

  • Eric

    As an aside, since Instructors using 9mm implies that’s the best possible cartridge bar none, I suppose since 11 of the 13 MAC sited use/carry Glocks we can also conclude that those are the best guns to carry, bar none?

  • Mike O.

    This article is only two-and-a-half years old, but says that the “9mm is fades from the highways.” Written by Massad Ayoob in the Jan/Feb 2011 edition of American Handgunner:
    http://fmgpublications.ipaperus.com/FMGPublications/AmericanHandgunner/AHJF11/
    See page 22. It’s a pretty good read…especially for folks who think the .40 is on its way out.

  • PavePusher

    “Their tactical firearms instructor at the time said that “many officers’ shooting scores have been bad ever since the department armed with the .40-caliber handguns.””

    So, what I see here is that they have a training problem. Got it. Where have I seen this before…. oh, right: http://www.rand.org/pubs/research_briefs/RB9359/index1.html

  • Yoni

    I never got on the .49 bandwagon as I was in Israel at the time it came out.
    I will confess to being one of the few guys that carried a 1911 in Israel and I have shot some people with it. When I did my job with shot placement it worked just find.

    Then came the day I was ordered to start using a Hi Power like everyone else.

    Guess what the 9mm worked as good as the 45acp when I did my job with shot placement.

    What I have learned from years of carrying a pistol, was that regardless of the caliber, today the bad guy in front of you is going to need to be shot x number of times to put him down.

    If the guy needs to be shot 10 times with a pistol to stop him that day, then with a 1911 you need to factor in a reload with a terrorist with a hatchet that wants to plant it in your head. But with a Hi Power or Glock just keep shooting.

    In the USA or other places outside of Israel where you can’t put a rifle on your shoulder, then we are stuck using pistols. But on;y a fool takes a pistol to a gun fight if he has the choice and can bring a rifle.

  • Hybris

    Like the bulk of the other commentators above me I agree more training is the best solution. That being said PD’s usually can’t afford “The Best Solution” so they go with what they feel is the next best idea and that is to go to the 9mm.

    If by reducing the caliber and therefore recoil will improve the officers accuracy on qualification days then here is my idea for the “perfect” police handgun.

    You take a gun that is roughly the size and weight of a steel frame government 5″ 1911 and make it a .380. You would have enough weight in the gun to absorb most of the recoil and with a double stack mag I can see having 20 or more rounds per a mag thus giving the officer even more shots for a given loadout. And as shown by MAC as long as you load good quality FMJ rounds a .380 will pass the FBI penetration tests.

    Besides .380 is probably even cheaper than 9mm.

    • JunkfoodZombie

      Oddly enough, where I live, the 9mm is cheaper! The .380 has been priced about the same as .40 S&W for what seems like forever. Not sure why that is……

  • Michael

    Trainers punch holes in paper. Some times they shoot steel. I carry my pistol for other reasons. Personally I’d take the advice of experienced hunters, in a similar size animal, for caliber selection, over any “expert” trainer or blogger. But to each there own.

    • Stjjames

      You don’t know who Travis Haley is . . . Uffda.

  • http://www.madogre.com George Hill

    I know some of those guys on that list, and I disagree with each of them. I’ve been a .45 1911 Guy since I was a kid. Only just a few years ago did I “Convert” to being a Glock .40 Guy. After doing a lot of IDPA (yes, it’s like a drug) and observing the guys banging away with 9mm and finishing stages without a reload, and me having to do one or two reloads on the same stage… I had to really consider my choice.
    I noticed the 9mm shooters having to go back and make pick up shots on plates that didn’t fall. The .45 guys while reloading, didn’t have to do that.
    Then the .40 guys. No reloads… and no pick up shots. This got me interested.
    Over time I found I really do like the Glock 23, and keep it loaded with 180 grain JHP’s. It’s a beautiful combination for this old school guy.

  • Mark

    Mac, I don’t lose sleep over this debate, enjoyable as it is to argue about, but I will say that I’m very glad to have guns in both 9mm and 40. Earlier this year, when 9mm ammo all but disappeared, I could still shoot, because 40 cal. ammo could still be found.

  • Pete Morrison

    One question Mac. Being that the .357 Sig is nothing more than a necked down .40, do you predict the same fate for this “9mm Mag”?

  • https://www.facebook.com/benjamin.froland Benjamin Isaac Froland

    I generally like MAC but these 40 bashing articles are just lame. Eventually every firearms “expert” lets their personal prejudices obstruct their objective writing. 40 is fine. So are 9mm and 45. That’s not to say they are the same. They exhibit different characteristics, some positive, some negative. The variables should be presented and the reader left to come to their own decision as to which caliber to choose.

    • http://www.military-arms.com MAC

      It’s not .40 bashing, it’s called expressing an opinion. Why do you have to call everything you disagree with a “bash”?

      • https://www.facebook.com/benjamin.froland Benjamin Isaac Froland

        I’ve only posted once (now twice) so I’m not sure how that’s calling “everything” that I disagree with a bash. Actually I’m generally in agreement with your posts and videos.

        You are absolutely entitled to express your opinion, which is a dislike for the .40 S&W. In an earlier comment you stated “This wasn’t a rant post, this was a report of the 9mm having a resurgence.” Unfortunately, I don’t believe we are seeing the usual measured, objective coverage we are used to seeing from MAC.

        The title of this post is “The Fading 40″ not “The Resurgent 9mm.” The caption photo is a Glock .40 with the prohibition sign superimposed on it and the verbiage “Good Bye For-Tay.” If the primary purpose of the post was to highlight the 9mm, it would be reasonable to expect to see the 9mm mentioned in the title or photo.

        Striking at something whether physically or verbally is by definition bashing. It’s your blog and your prerogative to do so.

  • Michael

    Completely agree with Benjamin’s last post.

  • Travis

    Just an update, James Yeager as of late said the M&P 9 is GTG. Skimmed most of the comments to see if this was noted, didn’t see it.
    MAC, I’ve been following your Youtube videos for years. Good solid unbiased reviews and advice. As for the butt-hurt .40 fanboys, they need to learn that if you put the rounds where they go, that’s all that matters. The .40 is a cop out round. They want something stronger than a 9 but too pussyfied for the .45.

  • Michael

    Why do so many of the 9mm guys on this comment thread seem angry about the 40 S&W, and ultra sensitive about any possible weaknesses of the 9mm?

    Take a look at the above comment. Is there anything of merit there?

  • Michael

    Now if the 9×23 Winchester was readily available in popular pistols and ammo, then I might consider moving over to the 9mm from 40 S&W. But the 9×19 isn’t as good for Me as the 40, in a full size pistol.

    • http://www.military-arms.com MAC

      In what way is the 9mm not as good for you?

      • Michael

        Thanks MAC for your response! So in what ways is the 9mm not as good for me?

        Availability:
        I can currently buy just about any 40 S&W ammo that I would want to. I can’t say the same for 9mm.

        Flexibility:
        I can go with a heavier bullet with the 40, as heavy as 200gr. And I can go as light as I would want to, with the 125gr Barnes. This gives me the flexibility to go from a backcountry load, to a light & fast load.

        Power:
        The 40 S&W has more case capacity, so I can drive the same weight bullet faster than 9mm. You could argue about 9 +P+ loads, but in the end the brass and pistol have a limit to pressure, and that limit is similar in 9mm and 40, so case capacity will determine more power.

        Standard Ammo:
        From my testing the inexpensive ammo that you can often grab off the shelf has better performance in the 40 S&W than the 9mm. There is a significant power and penetration difference here between the two calibers.

        So for me, in pistols the size of a compact or full-size, I prefer 40 S&W for the above reasons.

        • Michael

          On a crazy side note, for availability and ammo restrictions, some other countries have made military calibers illegal to possess for civilians. But in many of these same countries, a civilian can purchase and own non-military calibers. I hope that would never happen in the USA, but it is something to think about. Never thought we would see the restrictions that are currently in place in many states. 9mm is of course a military caliber, where the 40 S&W is not.

  • A.M. Kaiser

    This was a good read. Thanks for the post, since this has been something that’s been sticking in my craw for a while now. See, for the longest time I was an unabashed critic of the .40, mainly because of its extra snap and increased wear. However, during this last ammo drought I, like others, was able to come across more .40 ammo than I was 9mm (which remains my favorite cartridge). For that reason alone I picked up a gen 4 Glock 23 and have to admit that this little pistol has changed my perspective on the .40.

    While remain a fan of the 9mm as a great all-round cartridge for self defense and range work I think it’s fair to note that while “modern” ammunition has leveled the playing field for the 9 (even though the Secret Service and IL State Police swore by the old Federal 9BP 115 +P+ as far back as the 80’s) I think that same logic can be applied to the .40 with regard to this new generation of guns to chamber it. Pistols along the lines of the gen 4 Glocks, the M&P, and the Ruger SR-40 series (which is to say nothing of old-school favorites such as the USP and Sig P229) which were designed around the .40, go a long way toward mitigating the bite of recoil the round generates as well as limiting wear in the process.

    These changes in design for the .40 are a good thing in my book, as it’s about time that the industry learned the .40 is not simply a “big” 9mm but is a unique round that can’t just be shoehorned into a 9mm gun with nothing more than a barrel and magazine change.

    As for the utility of the .40, we can go round and round about penetration, expansion, performance through barriers, and yadda-yadda-yadda. Ballistically the 9, .40, and 45 all do the same thing, give or take. However, the thing that I’ve found myself liking about the .40 is that when I buy bulk practice ammo it feels just like good defensive ammo, recoil wise. Contrast this with the 9 which tends to be really light in its bulk offerings and quite a bit more “snappy” in its +P loadings. In fact, the 9mm +P has always felt to me much like the .40. Considering that a great many people tend to practice with something light like Wolf and carry something hot like Cor-Bon’s there is quite a step-up in recoil from the range to the street. The .40, at least in general, will do a better job of providing consistency in felt recoil between practice and defensive loads.

    Admittedly, I’ll probably not give up the extra two rounds that most 9’s offer to go for the .40. However, I don’t by any means think the .40 is the detriment to marksmanship or service life that it was 20, 10, or even 5 years ago.

    As an aside, the Atlanta PD just adopted gen 4 Glock 22’s so rumors of the .40’s demise may be a tad premature.

  • LeftThumb

    In Ball Ammo the 40 and particularly the 45 have an edge. I would bet that this is the most common ammo used in pistols among less serious folk. Correct me if you have real numbers. But MAC otherwise is right for what he noted. If there’s anything to be learned if at all possible use a centerfire long gun. Just be proficient with whatever pistol you have and hope that it’s a backup.

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  • Dave S.

    I have shoot 40 cal for the last 12 years. I was raised in a house where the 45 ACP and a 1911 is the only good gun. Oh, 9mm sucks. Over the last few years, reading gun articles and learning about bullets, I know more about 9mm to say I would own one. It is a good round that has gotten a bad rap in my house growing up. I did buy another 40 cal handgun. When I am asked why, I get free 40 cal rounds for free at work. Is that wrong?

  • https://www.facebook.com/patrick.martin.10 Patrick Martin

    I’m going to shove my .02 in here and explain why I only have .40’s;

    1) All handguns suck, if I know I’m going to a fight (or might be) I’m going to have a rifle or shotgun. My pistols are for emergencies and I pick the ones that I think are going to suck the least.
    2) Premium ammo does bring all major caliber ammo to a similar level of terminal performance, but can you DEPEND on having the best ammo available when you need it? Most people I know have somewhere between 50 and 90% of their on-hand ammo stocks made up by FMJ, so if the S hits the F, they will be betting their lives on all that cheap FMJ practice ammo they have, I am comfortable with that, are you?
    3) The ability to hit to hit hard and often is important, but new info is showing that 9mm users are putting more rounds into the target than .40, .45 or .357 shooters, is this because they have to, or because they can yank the bangswitch faster on a 9mm than the others?
    4) Recoil is an effect, throwing a heavier bullet at a higher velocity delivers more recoil, but it also delivers more energy to the target. You cannot separate cause and effect, you have to ‘take some to give some’. Yes you can increase stopping power with trick ammo, but (again) will you have it when you need it? my 180gr flat-point FMJ will still deliver a heavy blow, will your 115gr round-nose FMJ? I judge ammo by the BOTTOM of the scale, not the top.
    5) “I can carry more ammo”, yep, so what? My XD40 carries 12 rounds, an XD9 carries 16 rounds, BUT the current average rounds per stop (RPS) on a .40 is 3 while the current RPS for 9mm is 5, so I have 4 dead bad-guys in my magazine and the XD9 has 3.33 so who has the advantage? Rather like the 5.56 vs the 7.62 NATO, if you have to have more rounds to do the same job your numeric advantage disappears. Again, the increase MIGHT have more to do with being ABLE to shoot more before the BG goes down but who cares? Are you going to shoot slower or shoot less because the target MIGHT go down with fewer rounds?
    6) What do you want your pistol to do? We are all “What If Monkeys” as Marc “The Animal” MacYoung calls it, we all decide what we need based on what MIGHT happen because most of us have never needed to use a gun on another human being so if past performance really did indicate future need we could leave our guns home. The problem is we get stuck on wildly outlandish scenarios, like the survivalists who insist on getting an AR15 and a pile of 90 rounds magazines because they expect to fend off hoards of mutant bikers who get mad when I point out that the biggest threat (given that they are living in the boonies many miles from any city or even a major highway) is the local herbivores eating their garden or the local predators easting their livestock and might be better served with a major caliber MBR. Likewise, if you live in a crack and gang infested urban hellhole you might be better served with a Glock17 and 3 extended mags as your EDC, while out here in rural Montana I might be more likely to end up using my EDC on a wolf, cougar or to put down an injured deer or rutting elk who decides I’m after his cows. So, are you picking your tool based on what you are most likely to actually need, or what some armchair commando posted on Youtube?

    I could go on but I think I made my point. I no longer disparage other peoples choices, if you think a 9mm will do the job YOU need to do, carry one. If you think your 5shot snubby is all you need, use it. I made my choice and I am prepared to bet my life on it because the bottom-line is that is exactly what you do when you strap on a gun, you bet lives on it, and you, doing what needs to be done if necessary.

    • Dan Nabis

      FMJ is generally more lethal than HP, as I understand it.
      Hollow Points are about preventing over penetration, which is a problem with FMJ (and allegedly with 9mm)
      I’d never want to over penetrate with innocent people in the area.

  • ST

    During the Dark Days of the 2013 Gun & Ammo Drought, the only ammo I could find for sale was .40 S&W. That’s the only reason ill maintain one .40 in the collection,in the event of a repeat incident in the years to come.

    That being said, my take on the “debate” is this: my main carry gun is a Beretta 92FS.

    10mm and its decendant cartdide in the 40 S&W are pistol rounds built to do a rifle’s job. If you want to hit something at 50 meters, get out the long arm. If youre trying to defend yourself from Mr Felon, you’ll be lucky if he’s ten feet away before hostilities commence-and on that point I speak from harrowing personal experience w/ a self defense incident. Jeff Cooper , the brainchild behind the 10mm, realized that in one of his Commentary articles. What good is a pistol round made for a flat trajectory at 100 yards when your problem is across the table?

  • Ragsdale0509

    There’s no significant difference between 9mm Luger, .40 S&W and .45 ACP when they are compared scientifically or with real world observations. Scientific testing with ballistic gel demonstrate no significant difference in penetration or expansion. Unless the bullet can be recovered, a trauma surgeon will not be able to identify a difference between a wound channel created by a 9mm Luger, .40 S&W or .45 ACP. If you hit someone in a vital organ with a 9mm Luger and he is not incapacitated, a .40 S&W or .45 ACP would also fail to incapacitate that individual. In other words, if a 9mm Luger fails to incapacitate, you need a rifle.

    • Dan Nabis

      What you wrote is consistent with what I’ve read.
      Generally all handgun rounds on average require two shots to a stoppage and some stoppages will not occur until an essential vital channel is hit such as high up the spinal column

  • Michael

    This is meant as a sincere questions. From the testing that I’ve seen with bone in front of the muscle or ballistics gel, the heavier bullets tend to do better. Since most of the vital areas of a human are behind bone, shouldn’t this be a major consideration? Wouldn’t this tend to favor 40 S&W and 45 ACP, over 9mm?

    • JunkfoodZombie

      Logically, it would, but if you see Sturmgewerhe’s (MAC) recent video, 9mm can penetrate steel and still get quite a way into gel behind it. To me, it’s simply a matter of preference. I carry a 9 most of the time, but a .40 as well. I like shooting .40 because it’s a lot of fun for me. I am noy recoil sensitive at all though. I most enjoy shooting my snub-nosed .357 Magnum and do that with one hand sometimes. I guess I’m just weird….. :)

      • Michael

        I enjoy shooting 9mm and 40 S&W. Really I don’t feel much of a difference between a Glock 19 with +P and 23. From the testing I’ve done personally, I feel more comfortable with my 40 S&W. I also have a 15 oz. 3″ barrel S&W J-frame 357 mag. It was my dream trail gun, but shooting that revolver with full power 357 Mag loads, is like shaking hands with the devil!!!

  • Paris Stone

    Had XDM 9mm’s (2), sold them, bought XDM .40’s (2). Right before the crunch. Bought Storm lake .357sig and 9mm conversion barrels, and 9mm mags for them. I can shoot any of 3 calibers, and the storm lake barrels are threaded. 16 rounds of .40 or .357sig and 18 rounds of 9mm. During the crunch, 9mm was unobtanium, but .30 was all of the sudden cheap.

  • Paris Stone

    19 rounds of 9mm and .30 was all the sudden cheap, I can’t type.

  • Leo Daher

    Massad Ayoob has stated in writing on several occasions, and confirmed that to me personally during the Snubby Summit in 2005, that his favorite Glock is the G30, not the G17.

  • Leo Daher

    By the way, before someone speculates that Mas might have changed his mind: the last time I read that statement from him was in the 2013 edition of his annual Complete Book of Handguns.

    • http://www.military-arms.com MAC

      Upon further research, it seems he carries everything from 9mm to .45 and prefers Glocks. He claims he changes calibers depending on where he is and what he’s doing. He said he liked .357 Sig for walking around Florida brush for example.

      • Leo Daher

        Yeah, but of all Glocks, he does prefer the G30. It’s even on his list of top 10 all-time favorite wheelguns and autopistols, in the aforementioned 2013 Complete Book of Handguns.

    • RickP

      I agree, ID like to see the references where these trainers prefer the 9mm. Yeager and Pincus surely do but others I’m more suspect. I was recently in a Rangemasters class and I’m pretty sure Mr. Givens had a forty so posting some names that support the position of the article doesn’t prove much, IMO.

      • Leo Daher

        Yup… Tom Givens, Scott Reitz, Clint Smith, Chuck Taylor are some well-known trainers who favor and carry larger calibers, yet were left out of that list.
        As far as I’m concerned, it’s perfectly possible to choose and intelligently justify any of the major/service calibers.

  • Kenneth J. Schmidt

    My agency uses the .40 Glock. I am beginning to think that the move back to 9mm may have something to do with the huge increase in female officers who find the recoil off-putting.

    • hot rod

      You sir have won the debate.!!!! Many of the larger forces are having some problems with thee .40 to 9mm conversion and the resulting problems that incur . as I’m sure you can well imagine.Also reloading the .40 has some issues with the out of round brass . the larger the bullet the bigger the hole .so the pendulum is swinging towards the.45 acp .recoil is for ladies and the weak wristed.

  • maveric101

    “A modern 9mm easily rivals the best .40 S&W or .45 ACP round in terms of ballistic performance and in real-world shootings.”

    If this were true, there would NO reason for the .45 ACP to even exist. In fact, using it in combat would be utter stupidity. But it isn’t. Take the FBI Hostage Rescue Team, for example. These guys are the most elite domestic combat personnel in the U.S. They don’t have the budget constraints of most PD’s, and they don’t have to work with NATO, so they’re basically free to choose whatever weapons and calibers they want. And you know what? They recently switched from 9mm to a high-capacity 1911 in .45 ACP. They would NEVER take the hit to magazine capacity if they didn’t firmly believe that the .45 is a more effective round.

    There’s another, better argument, though. You keep going on and on about how penetration is far more important than anything else. But if that were true, using hollow point rounds would be the stupidest thing anyone could do (not to mention the biggest scam in firearms history). However, it’s widely accepted that HP rounds are more effective at incapacitating a target (note I didn’t say more lethal – lethality is irrelevant. Incapacitation is what matters). Why? As you reference above, 12-18 inches is generally considered an ideal amount of penetration. Any less and you risk not doing enough internal damage, but any more than that, and you’re wasting bullet energy by overpenetrating the target. Now within the same caliber, HP rounds increase the amount of energy delivered to the target by preventing overpenetration. You can then extend this argument. If HP rounds are good because they deliver more energy with the same penetration distance, then bigger rounds are better because they do the same thing, assuming they penetrate equally (and they do, roughly).

    “But wait,” you say. “Everyone has been wrong all these decades! HP rounds aren’t actually more effective at incapacitating a person. The only reason to use them is for safety, to reduce the chance of hitting an innocent person behind your target.” Okay, I have a retort for this, too. Even if this were true, recommending 9mm HP would be very poor advice. Why would you recommend that, when you can get similar penetration from an even smaller round, like .32 ACP ball? As a bonus, you could get even higher capacity than 9mm. And if for some reason you feel that 9mm HP is better than .32 ball, then I refer you back to my previous paragraph.

    Lastly, your list of instructors is useless. It’s a very small sample size, hand-picked by a single person with little control over variables. It’s statistically irrelevant. All it does is show that picking 9mm isn’t stupid.

    • http://www.military-arms.com MAC

      First, you need to read the article I link to at the end of my article. You might learn something about how the FBI views the 9mm.

      Secondly, you’re putting words in my mouth, it’s a practice called creating a “strawman argument”. By the time you get to the end of your post, you’re arguing with yourself. I made no such assertions about hollow points being useless. That’s a complete fabrication.

      Thirdly, discussing “wasting bullet energy” is silly. Over penetration isn’t about dumping the last couple of foot/lbs of extra energy hoping it will cause more damage, it’s about limiting the depth of penetration so you minimize the risk of, we’ll, over penetration. Using the phrase “dumping energy”, or any derivative, when discussing handgun ballistics screams inexperience.

      Lastly, all of the names on my list are the top trainers for civilians and police. It’s far from irrelevant, it’s actually quite telling.

      You obviously have a vested interest in .45 and being shown its not the death ray you think it is apparently upsets you. Such is life when someone’s sacred cow is gored.

      • maveric101

        Did you delete my reply? Either way, I had saved it just in case anything happened:

        Wow, I really expected a better counterargument. This’ll be easy.

        1) Yeah, I read that article. It does nothing to help your point. All it says is that ONE particular 20 year old loading of .45 loses out to ONE particular brand-new loading of 9mm. That’s hardly a fair, comprehensive comparison of the two rounds. Not to mention there’s no source for that claim. It’s hard to put a lot of faith in a claim when the source is unnamed and possibly biased.

        You also completely failed to address my question about the Hostage Rescue Team. Even if the rest of the FBI switched to 9mm, the fact that the Hostage Rescue Team uses .45 says a lot. Unlike the rest of the FBI, they don’t have to worry about their shooters passing qualifications, and they probably have what amounts to a blank check for practice ammo. So please, give me a good reason why such an elite team would use a “substandard” round.

        2) Don’t patronize me. I know what a strawman argument is. The problem is you so wildly misunderstood my argument that you should be embarrassed. I never claimed that you said hollow points are useless. I fact, I said the opposite. I said that you RECOMMEND hollow point rounds, which obviously means that you think they’re useful.

        Furthermore, you completely misunderstood the structure of my argument. The second paragraph presented one argument. I then said that even if that argument is incorrect, there is another argument that refutes your statements. That’s not arguing with myself, that’s attacking on all fronts.

        3) See what I’m saying now? I completely anticipated this. That’s what my third argument was for.

        Sorry, but I’ll take cognitive capacity for logic and reasoning over subjective experience. I actually have the ability to construct a solid argument and see the holes in the arguments of others.

        If you think that personal experience improves your argument, then I point you back to the FBI HRT, who are far more experienced and have far more skill and training (no offense to the courageous Marines).

        4) Like I said, all that list is “telling of” is that 9mm is a fine round. However, it’s statistically irrelevant. If you don’t understand why, then take a course on statistics.

        5) I have no vested interest in anything other than logic and truth. I don’t carry, and my guns are locked up. Shooting, for me, is a fun hobby, and so is learning about firearms (among other things). Anyway, I’m not sure why you seem to think I’m obsessed with the .45. I only mentioned it in my first paragraph about the FBI HRT, because, well, that’s what they use. You, on the other hand, have an obvious vendetta against anything that isn’t the 9mm. This appears to be a classic case of superiority complex (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Superiority_complex). You’re a huge fan of the 9mm, and it’s reputation as being weak bothers you greatly and leads you to overcompensate in singing the graces of the 9mm and putting down other rounds.

        ———————————

        I’d also appreciate it if you would respond to my third argument. If penetration is what matters, then why not use something smaller than a 9mm that achieves similar penetration, like perhaps .32 ACP ball?

        Look, I’m smart. I’ve thought about this a lot, and there’s no way around it. Your opinions conflict each other. I’ll summarize my argument: 1) If hollow point rounds are more effective at incapacitating a target than ball, then bigger bullets are better than smaller bullets, assuming equal shot placement and penetration. 2) If HP rounds are not more effective than ball, then you should be recommending something like .32 ACP ball instead of 9mm HP.

        Please take care in reading my comment this time.

        • rhino

          Holy cow, all that fancified syphin, I preeeezoom that some wahrs in this here jaw fest a bullet has to hit the target to mean anything…..22 has killed more vittles and them damn revenooooerrs than anythang else.

          • maveric101

            Okay, looks like you’re saying that accuracy/hitting your target matters far more than anything else.

            Well no shit. But since that applies to every single round, it’s irrelevant to the “per bullet effectiveness” argument.

      • maveric101

        So I guess you don’t have a reply for me?

  • Pingback: Why Nine | The Bang Switch

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  • Rhino

    “well no shit” since only a complete asshole would respond to someone they don’t know in such an asinine manner, I presume you are having problems with constipation, there are some solutions to this, more fiber and also possibly prune juice…. The previous entry was to highlight the fact that no matter the formulas that exist, the emphasis should always be on the basics of marksmanship and no matter the size of the bullet, if it don’t hit the target, it don’t matter. Also, when the SHTH if it ever does, it wont matter the size of the bullet you use, it will be gaged upon 3 factors: Availability and compatibility of ammunition VS your available weapon system, Size of the target and its ability to shoot back or engage you an then in the end, as always, MARKSMANSHIP under stress.

    • maveric101

      Are you SERIOUSLY calling ME an asshole? Your original reply was written with an exaggerated “hick” accent with the intent of mocking me. That’s WAY more dickish than saying “no shit.”

      I’m well aware that the emphasis should always be on hitting your target, and matters much more than the round you choose. But like I said, that applies to every round ever invented, and it’s just common sense. Still, it’s worth taking a look at inflicted damage per round.

      What exactly was your goal when you replied to me? Why are you so offended?

  • Bill

    I don’t think that it is as much about the cartridge as it is the delivery system. .In the same platform a 40 will recoil more than a 9mm. Simple physics. Some people say that they cant tell any between the .40 and 9mm in the same platform. I guess that is possible, but highly unlikely. unless that person has absolutely no sensitivity to recoil. Sure the competition shooters use .40s, .38 supers and the like. They aren’t using a standard Police issue lightweight Glock or a S&W MP. Give the LEOs custom built ported competition guns in .40 or 38 Super and watch the scores go up. Probably much better scores than a standard 9mm Glock, S&W MP or Springfield XD.The improvement will be due to much less recoil and muzzle flip, even less than a standard Glock in 9mm. It’s not just the cartridge. It’s the combination of cartridge and gun….

  • Andy in West Haven

    I carry 9mm. And 10mm. And .45 ACP. And 357 magnum. And .44 magnum. And .357 SIG.

    I pretty much like everything. And to me it doesn’t matter which gun I carry on any given day. I practice with all of them.

    The true weapon is between your ears.

  • Charles reed

    I shoot the 40 S&W and I always well . It was my first and only pistol . I can not afford to buy another gun .

  • David

    Ok i have read allot of the posts here. I own both 40 and 9mm and i will choose the 40 in a combat situation over the 9mm any day. But the only reason for that is because i am comfortable with it and i know the gun well. Any gun will be effective in reference to its killing ability. Shot placement is all that matters for this aspect. As far as cost…Think about it from a business perspective…If I am selling 500 more boxes of 9mm than 40…I am going to mark up the 9mm and drop the 40 to move product. Any product that has a demand will always be higher in price than those that do not have a demand. 9mm is a great caliber for pretty much anything you want to do with it if you can actually shoot. But 40 will trump it on any real life test. It has long been know that the bigger the bullet the more “knock down power” it has. The 40 gives you the between effect from the 9 and 45. 45 had a great knock down power but is slow and highly inaccurate at longer distance. 9mm has great long distance accuracy but has little knock down power. whereas the 40 has a good long distance accuracy and good knock down power. Im no gun expert or anything but i have seen 9mm take 4 to 5 shots on a popper to take it down while 40 and 45 both were 1 shot guns. The fact still remains that you can take any gun reguardless of caliber and kill someone with it…goes back to shot placement. The argument of caliber will be around forever just the same as the glock vs other guns. I carry a Springfield XD Tactical .40. It has a 5″ barrel and a mag cap of 12. You can get 15 but i carry 3 12’s and 1 10 for a total of 47 rounds….and yes i can count…there is always 1 in the hole. I dont feel that i need to carry any more ammo than that. Afterall if i get into a shootout and i run out of ammo….most likely there will be some guns laying on the ground. And i for one am not against using a turds gun to kill his buddies if they are shooting at me.

  • http://www.facebook.com/rob.pincus Rob Pincus

    My thoughts on the topic… “Why I prefer the 9mm over the .40″:

    http://www.icetraining.info/131/

  • Dan

    OK, let’s get real! If you can’t get the job done with 15 rounds, you’re not gonna get it done with 17 round either. As far as shooting scores goes, .40 S&W gives me the most accuracy (like hitting a dime at 10 yards) and the highest shooting scores. And I am just an average guy. Trigger control and practice are more important than choice of caliber.

    • http://www.military-arms.com MAC

      This Illinois police officer would disagree with you. So would our staff writer Matt who is also a police officer and switched to 9mm for similar reasons.

      http://www.policeone.com/patrol-issues/articles/6199620-Why-one-cop-carries-145-rounds-of-ammo-on-the-job/

      • maveric101

        Oh, goody! You’re still looking at this post. Could you go ahead and respond to my comment?

        As for your comment here, you know what a case study is, right? What they’re good for, and what they don’t prove?

      • booker

        For being a “a master firearms instructor and a sniper on his department’s Tactical Intervention Unit,” Sgt. Gramins made a series of grave tactical errors during his engagement. He needed 33 rounds because he failed to capitalize on his multitude of advantages going into and during the situation, not the least of which was leaving both long guns in the cruiser, one out of reach. Further, it is clear he was not properly prepared with the tactics and mindset – his comment about “Hey, I need to slow down and aim better” only kicked in after 30 rounds and two reloads. Sgt. Gramins is very fortunate this suspect was not a “master firearms instructor” as well.

        Also, the article contradicts itself. In the body, it says he suspect was hit 14 times. In the “expert analysis” block, it says he was hit 17 times. Sgt. Gramins talks about “hearing the gun go click” when empty, but a properly maintained Glock will lock the slide back after the last round is fired and the trigger will not click. Perhaps he is being figurative or dramatic and not literal, but I would expect more accurate statements and descriptions from a “master firearms instructor” in a section labeled “expert analysis.”

        Perhaps its a good thing Sgt. Gramins stored the rifle out of reach, the chances of him injuring or killing that 10-year-old or other innocents in one of the homes would have gone up significantly. had those 33 rounds been M855.

  • booker

    Is there an over-under on when the firearms “community” will all swing back to .45? Or maybe the 10mm will make another resurgence? Perhaps .357 is lurking in the shadows to spring on the “tactical” world?

    I thought the days of caliber war trolling on THR, TFL, blogs vblogs and the like ended five or six years ago. Oh wait, that’s just when I stopped caring what everybody else thought and focused on how my targets printed. In those same six years, my combat effective shooting with .22LR on up to .454 Casull improved drastically as a result. Funny how that works. As said above, the weapon is between your ears, not on your hip (or appendix) or in your hand. The student of martial arts does a disservice to themselves when they become married to any single object, method or system.

    Case in point, George Zimmerman killed Trayvon Martin with a single 9mm shot to the chest at point-blank range from a compressed firing position. He never saw the front sight and didn’t need a follow-up. Would Trayvon have lived had he been shot with a .40 or .45? Meanwhile, Curtis Jackson (50-cent) received nine 9mm wounds, including rounds in his chest and face, yet he survived. Would he have died had he been shot with a .40 or .45? These are just “popular” examples, no doubt hundreds of examples of both outcomes could be found for nearly any popular or duty caliber.

    Most civilian self-defense shootings happen at short range, at awkward angles without a proper grip/stance, and within (or just outside) contact range. “Target accuracy” isn’t the dominating factor to win that fight, it is speed of deployment and ability to quickly incapacitate the aggressor. That means, given a user who is trained and proficient, a platform that fits the user and a cartridge that has the penetration, cross-section and energy to damage or destroy the CNS and/or drain fluid. Any other discussion is internet fluff.

    • Dan Nabis

      10mm or 357(sig or mag?) would probably make a come back if there were a glut of cheap ammo IMO.
      40 is easier to shoot than 10mm, but I would get a 10mm if the ammo was affordable.
      I think 357 needs an amazing reliable platform before it can really rise.
      Very good points though.

    • urbsdetector

      A very intelligent, lucid, and well thought out post which I concur with completely. Most police shootings are very similar to the civilian shootings you describe. At least in my career as an officer, and the determining factors in winning that encounter are the same. Very good. I happen to carry a 1911 and have for 40 years.

  • http://twitter.com/Desertscout1 Cope Reynolds (@Desertscout1)

    Some logical and intelligent posts here but three amusing points over the course of this thread as well.
    1. The number of experts that come out of the woodwork in these discussions is quite impressive.
    2. Discussions concerning ballistics and calibers inevitably result in childish, demeaning comments towards our fellow shooters.
    3. The number of presumably experienced, adult, male shooters that find the .40 recoil punishing, especially in a Glock, is amazing.

  • Hambone

    If I’ve learned one thing about the internet gun comm. it’s don’t insult someones pet caliber, gun or whatever. Because people get rather feisty about what they feel is the best choice, 4 THEM, to defend themselves and their loved ones. To tell them that they’re not correct is to insult their intelligence and responsibility, somehow. But it’s just that, whatever hardware/software you use for U, is OK. But for those who can handle a .40s&w, they should feel at easy in doing so. Ballistically the round will always be superior to the 9mm in size, weight, expansion & penetr. The 115gr. 9mm can now pentr. to 12” in denim tests, but it’s still a lightweight bullet. And just as in Miami, it will always be subject to the possibility of not being able to overcome some unforeseen scenario, due to it’s weight.The .40 offers much better ballistics in short barrel guns. As seen in recent YT gel tests, standard or even +P 9mm ammo loses enough speed & energy to not expand as much as in a service pistol, and rounds get out to around 16” or so. You can view this as good or bad, but it’s the reason that it’s occurring which is significant. And that is a loss in energy transfer at impact expansion, POWER. The 9mm can mimic the .40 in penetration by altering some parameters, but it can never rival it in all areas. Whereas the .40 rivals the 10mm & some specially tuned .45s in penetration to expansion ratio. But a comparatively lightweight 9mm can never match any of them completely. Some people can shoot better with a less powerful round, and I get that. That is REALLY why 9mm is preferred, whether you’re a trainer, agency or range junkey. But aside from physical problems in the shooter or recoil sensitivity, which can decrease in time, it really is a training issue re: fundamentals. But for non-shooter types, it’s easier when less time is spent qualifying them for duty or getting your students moving along in a 1 or 2 day class. It’s easier for some to rapid fire a 9mm, and get hits, but most defensive shootings expend only a few rounds, It will probably get the job done, with proper ammo selection being more dependent than larger calibers, but just as .380 doesn’t compete with larger calibers, to think that a 9mm does, ballistically, is just being hopeful. There are stronger calibers available.

  • hot rod

    Mac is talking Leo , their requirements are different than c.c. or range shooters , not many citizens are going to be shooting bank robbers across a parking lot or into the windshield of a perp etc. Blondes brunettes or redheads one of each for me and don’t forget the twins

  • hot rod

    I’m with you brother ,the varied options in ammo is very exciting , it has even brought life back to the .38 spcl . as for stopping power human wise ,ask the Kennedy’s, BTW cor-bon is out of rapid city ,south dakota

  • tom rkba

    Your examples merely show what police trainers have been complaining about for decades. Ed McGivern wrote about the dismal shooting skills in the 1930’s. Changing the caliber will not solve the problem of officers not practicing. I bet the real driver for the change is the cost difference between 9x19mm and other calibers.

  • John

    I spent 20 years as a LEO, 15 of those as a state certified law enforcement firearms instructor. I remember clearly the introduction of the 40 and the reasons behind it’s wide adoption in the LE market. At the time is was do to the dismal performance of the 9mm rd. It is true that qualification scores dropped and costs went up. But in time scores and cost leveled out. Today my old agency only qualifies twice a year firing an average of 200rds per year for line officers and detectives. This is down from four times a year and an average of 1000rds per officer. I think the majority here would agree that is dismal. As I understand it my old department has gone back to issuing 9mms. Officer can still carry 40s but have to provided their own range ammo. The department will still issue duty carry 40 ammo but only 50rds.

    For my agency it was all about the cost. It’s not just the need to train with a pistol and shotgun like in the late 1990 and early 2000s. Now like many others they have to add in the cost for training and qualifying with patrol carbines and God knows how many less than lethal options. All of which cost come form the same training budget.

    Would I have gone back to the 9mm? Hell no! I have seen it fail first hand one two many times. I would be one of the guys paying for my range ammo out of my own pocket. But as I am retired now I can carry what I like, so I choose a 45. The 9mm IMHP is best saved for playing shooting games at the monthly match on the square range or as a back up.

  • Jason

    Would love to go back to the 9mm, but with laws now restricting capacity, I cant gain the advantage of switching to 9mm in my guns… I have 16+1 in my .40 xdm, so if i switch now, I would lose 1 round as my state now limits mags to 15 rounds… (currently owned mags are grandfathered)

  • Dogboy

    I shoot my G23 better than my G19. But I have a feeling it is because the trigger in the G23 is smoother, for some reason. Both have been well worn; the G23 just seems smoother. The recoil doesn’t make a bit of difference to me, it seems. My scores in IDPA have been essentially equal, within the normal spread. I prefer .40 to 9mm, because like the article said, .40 has been easier to find lately. I also deviate from the norm, too, in that I prefer the original 180gr load instead of the fancy new 165, 155, and even 135 grain loads. I go for the greatest sectional density in a hollowpoint of any given caliber. The bonus is the 180 tends to shoot with less sharp a recoil impulse.

  • Phill

    Even with modern bullet technology the 9mm still falls way short of the .40 in terms of pure energy. Watch all of Brass Fetchers videos on YouTube and you’ll see that the .40 consistently delivers 160 ft/lbs. or more from whatever distance he’s shooting from. Compared to the 9mm which on average tops out at around 90. Only a few 9mm loads got close to what almost all of the .40 rounds hit. Even the .45, which I assume must lose energy faster since it’s relatively slow from the start, tops out at around 100 ft/lbs on average with only very few beating the .40s&w. Factor in the minimal capacity loss from 9mm and the choice is obvious. The .40 is just the better overall choice.

    • n0truscotsman

      “.40 consistently delivers 160 ft/lbs. or more from whatever distance he’s shooting from.”

      …which, in the terms of a gunfight, means absolute fuckall.

      Congratulations, you get a extra 1-200 foot lbs for the increased recoil (which makes follow up shots less accurate and more difficult), muzzle flash, faster slide cycle rate (increased wear), smaller magazine size, and more expensive ammunition.

      The 1-200 foot lbs does NOTHING to enhance lethality. 40 is a waste of time and money.

      • gipbmac

        Its all about what you decide to shoot/like/carry and then get damn familiar with it! I have a Glock 23 and 27 and I can shoot those pistols damn fast and with pretty damn good accuracy – I also have an HK45, Smith M&P 9mm and a couple of 1911 pistols that I also carry and I know them about as well. It didnt take me long at all to get real good with my Glock 23. The 27 a little more and about the same as it did with my 9 and 45acp pistols. I’m not bragging or saying I’m a great shooter, in fact I’d say I’m just a weekend beater but I will say that I know my Glock 23 (and 27) real well, took the time to learn it and the caliber that they shoot and then got some good instruction to be even better. I have done this with all of my pistols that I carry. The .40sw caliber doesnt suck at all – I love it and I think it has a strong edge over the 9mm all day long – but just like any other round you need to put the time in to learn how to make it work for “you”…

  • bob jones

    I like both rounds. Bullets are unpredictable, no HP expands 100% of the time! And no handgun round is a one hitter quitter, except maybe a 44 mag or a 500 s&w. I now try focus on improving my speed and accuracy. Shot placement is most important. Based on a study I saw from a coroner, handguns have about a 50% chance of stopping a bad guy with 1 round. So my logic, if I quadruple tap him from the start, I have 200% chance of stopping him. Lol. The mag holds 15rd for a reason (smile.)

  • justinhohn

    So if the performance difference between 9 and 40 are now negligible, are we to believe that the difference between 15 and 13 rounds is not also “negligible”?

    Heck, a 6 shooter of .357 mag is–practically speaking– more ammo than a person will need in 99.9999999% of all encounters.

    This above article boils down to ballistic differences being negligible, but hole size, capacity, and other differences are not.

    How’s that?

    • n0truscotsman

      Comparing .355 to .40 is negligible, yes. The difference between a 9mm and 45 is the width of two fingernails, so the difference between 40 is even smaller.

      13 and 15 rounds is NOT negligible because those are 2 rounds that can shoot targets. That person will have an advantage.

      Realistically, I probably wont need 15 rounds in my Glock 19. But I get to decide that, not the owner of a 357 mag, or a 40 shooter trying to justify their purchase.

      • http://www.mistymanormercers.com Eric Vought

        “The difference between a 9mm and 45 is the width of two fingernails, so the difference between 40 is even smaller.”

        True, but keep in mind that the area swept out by that round is a square relationship against the radius rather than just linear. At that rate, an expansion to somewhere in the .7 – .79″ range makes a big(ger) difference in the area and, consequently, the volume of the permanent cavity and the likelihood of that volume intersecting something that matters such as nerves and arteries. People are not just bags of Jell-O.

        • n0truscotsman

          Not to move the goalposts, but my point is that if you want measurable difference, carry a 357 or 44…but keep in mind that you have six shots rather than 15-17. :P

          • http://www.mistymanormercers.com Eric Vought

            “…carry a 357 or 44…but keep in mind that you have six shots rather than 15-17. :P”

            Absolutely. In parts of the winter, I end up carrying my 1858 Remington (reproduction) that I picked up as a backup during black-powder hunting season. It’s a 44 cap-and-ball revolver, a big beast, and it ends up being extremely handicap accessible because of it’s weight (little muzzle flip), simple, safe, accurate design, and because of the way that black powder kicks versus modern powder. Even when my hands hurt too badly to use my normal carry piece, I can still use and practice with BP. Anyway, it is rather versatile with ammunition and can be pattern-loaded with shot, .454 round ball, or .451 conicals. The round ball expands like a pancake and is devastating when it is close enough to both expand and penetrate, but if I have to go through six rounds(*), that’s it for a few minutes. Of course, when I’m in that level of pain and I can’t end a defensive confrontation quickly, it really won’t matter anyway…

            (*) The 1858 has a safe-landing zone to rest the hammer in, so you can load all six chambers and not have the hammer on a live cap. It was a very good design which, unfortunately, never caught on with the madness after Colt came out with its cartridge-revolver patent.

            • n0truscotsman

              Wow…
              :D
              that is entertaining, I dont care what anybody says.

  • focusfront

    You can look at the ..40 as a compromise. Or you can look at it as what it is; the best of both worlds. It fits in 9mm envelopes, yet packs standard pressure .45 power. It is harder to shoot than the 9 because it is more powerful than the 9; let the cops shoot .22 LR and their scores would be better yet. That is why IPSC has a Major category. Small as a 9 in the hand, big as a .45 (mostly) on the target; and always remember that any ammo tech that helps the 9 also helps the .40. As it was not chambered in Lugers or 1911s or Hi-Powers, it is not an iconic round. If is a young round, so neither Bonnie and Clyde nor Frank Hamer ever used it. It is not shot in competition because the .45 makes bigger holes in the paper and so scores better. But I have small hands and I want something portable yet powerful. My choices are .40 or .357 SIG, NOT 9mm or .45. Sorry.

  • Pingback: .40 S&W: The Perfect Middle Ground - Part 3 | The Truth About Guns

  • David Lane

    it’s all about cost for the police departments, every test even the ones they try to tain in favor of the 9mm fail to meet the .40 standard. Yes the ballistics on 9mm has greatly improved, but speed, impact,, penetration and expansion is still ruled by the .40. Yes they can get some rounds to do better in one category by a very slim margin, but loose drastically in the other 3. If you want a good weapon that delivers and is more cost effective then yes, the 9mm is fine, but with that said a 380 is even better than that. However if you’re willing to dish out the little extra money and I mean little, there is no comparison to the .40 SW. The statement about their score being lower is hogwash or they allowed the officers to shoot more of the 9mm rounds and become more efficient because of cost, nothing more.

  • Leo Guy

    If a 9mm or 45 ACP won’t get the job done then neither will the .40 S&W! See more worn out .40 S&W pistols then I do 9mm or 45 ACP. Like the .40 S&W cartridge would only use it for home or carry, and only shoot it occasionally at the range.

  • Dan Nabis

    My philosophy? Find a round and a pistol that fit your needs and your abilities and your body. Practice, train and be comfortable with what you use.
    9mm is a great round and I salute your preferences and talking points.
    That said, I love my .40S&W. Consistently I can find 9 and 40 at the same prices.
    Easy to shoot accurately for me. (6’3, 200lbs)
    I think a major component of the rise of 40 over 9 now, is not the military/police, but the Enslaved States, such as NJ, MA, CO lately, and other state with low capacity laws. Probably people feel more comfortable with 15 rounds of 40SW over 15 rounds of 9mm, unless they are 1911 purists.

  • CorruptionInColumbia

    For years, I had no use for a .40, partly because of numerous news articles and anecdotal evidence of people being shot with them who didn’t go down and didn’t die, even with multiple torso hits. One example of a catastrophic double failure of this round involved a deputy and a thug he had stopped who opened up on the deputy, hitting the deputy in one eye. To be honest, a bb to the eye would have probably put me down, but this deputy (God bless him) returned fire and hit the thug in the head. The thug was apprehended when he sought medical treatment for his head injury, which I understand was more like a scalping wound than anything. The deputy returned to work, minus his eye. Both were armed with Glock .40’s. These type stories were very common with .40’s at one time. When I had a little extra cash, I purchased a Glock 23 out of curiosity and to have in case of ammo shortages in the event that I was low on everything else and someone provided me with a source of .40 ammo. I had it for years before I would consider carrying the thing, only after I acquired a quantity of W-W T-Series in 180 grain size. From my limited study of the lack of stops and deaths with the .40, it appears the problem stemmed from use of 155 grain and lighter projectiles which were in style for a lot of years. The 180 and even 165 (yeah, only 10 grains more and I don’t understand, either) loads seem to have more desirable results in actual gunfights. Apparently the lighter projectiles didn’t deliver the penetration necessary to effect a reliable stop or kill. I would not carry anything lighter than 165 grains in a .40 for serious use and prefer the 180 if it is at all available. Nowadays, I usually carry a G-27 (baby .40) loaded with 180 grain T’s and feel comfortably armed with it.
    For me at least, the 27 is more accurate and easier to deploy from concealment with speed than my G-23. I feel better armed with this than I would a 9mm, though I have 9’s (again, in case of ammo shortage) and would carry them if that was all I had ammo for.

    I’ve carried .45’s and 10mm’s and felt well armed with them. I was carrying a 10mm up until about a year or so ago and worries about over penetration if I found myself in a gunfight nudged me toward the .40. The .40 is a nice compromise between capacity and bullet weight/diameter. With 10 rounds before a reload is necessary and a .40 caliber projectile, I feel well armed.

  • CorruptionInColumbia

    “Columbia (SC) made a similar switch back to 9mm, swapping their Sig .45 ACP handguns for FN 9mm’s. Assistant Police Chief Ruben Santiago said officers will have improved accuracy with the lighter handgun, which doesn’t have as much recoil as the Sig .45-caliber pistols they’re replacing.”

    Having friends who worked at that agency, I have had the opportunity to fire some of those Sig .45’s and can tell you without hesitation that it was not the caliber/recoil that caused people to perform poorly on the range. Those Sig P-220’s were DAO and without a doubt, had the toughest, grottyiest, triggers I have ever seen on a duty-type weapon. Seriously, I compare them to the old High Standard .22 WMR (NOT LR) derringers from the 1970’s. The guns were accurate and the recoil on any .45’s I’ve ever fired was not much different if any from a 9mm. Those triggers were the deal killer for a lot of their officers.

    Also, FWIW, the guy quoted in the article left the department under a huge cloud of suspicion and shame, among other things, surrounding allegations that he had planned to plant a stolen hand gun and dope in an Assistant City Manager’s car, so that the ACM would be fired and the Chief at the time, himself, and one other, could move up a notch in rank and pay. I wouldn’t put much stock in anything he told me, even if he said the sky was blue.

  • Michael EightOTwoOutdoors

    A little ‘investigative’ reporting would have been nice, i.e. the Columbia, SC switching to FN’s from Sig’s is because FN manufactures them IN Columbia, SC – politics primarily for the change & the FNX .45 is far too massive for most hands to use as a duty weapon and the 9mm is more affordable to train with. I doubt ‘performance’ is too much of an issue with the .40.
    It’s sad when I hear allegedly trained ‘professionals’ lament about capacity. A typical duty .40 holds 12+1 to 15+1 and they usually pack two to four extra magazines. It seems they’ve shifted from quality to quantity since moving away from wheel guns.
    I’ll tell my age here – training at the PD range with .38Sp wadcutters in my S&W 28-2 Highway Patrolman and having 6 + 2 loaded speedloaders on my duty belt. I never felt outgunned.
    Move back to quality of shot instead of quantity and capacity and then yes, the 9mm is an adequate choice.

  • Potsynolls

    This article reaks of agenda. I say find out what pistol rounds were bought by Homeland Security when they acquired over a billion hollow points, because they either bought in attempt to drive up the price on people, or they know what really works.

    Let me ask anyone this, do you have the money to have enough rounds of “modern 9mm bullet technology”? The shit is expensive. Besides, is the 9mm the only round being packed with these special modern advancements? No, and if you think so then you are a fool. All this article is saying is the 9mm is better than it once was which isn’t really saying much.

    Bullets are very lethal no matter what caliber or type. People often lose sight of this in the marketing hype. However, the 40 S&W and 45 ACP are devastating period, and round for round have significant advantage over the 9mm (especially in ball). Also, ever consider a bad guy could be a hulk?

    Bottom line is, give law enforcement tactical shotguns to carry and qualify with then we’ll see those babies crying for their 40’s back (what a bunch of wussies). PD’s are a disgrace; they don’t want to spend any time or money training, they just want you to be good enough and switch to something inferior to get these flunkies up to standard. Having an effective weapon is part of the profession. Toughen up ladies…

    • KawiMan

      No .40 S&W for me thanks. I’ll keep my 10mm.

  • Pingback: U.S. Army Rejects the 9mm by EspoMan - Page 2 - TribalWar Forums

  • eric thees

    It is true that a + p 9mm is close to 40 standard ( no + p 40) it is already + p.
    Some will argue that 40 is a high pressure round causing muzzle flip and wear on firearm . So they practice with 9mm standard pressure and then use + p for defense. So in order to get a 40 cal equivalent you use a non standard + p 9mm.
    I have 9mm, 40sw,and 45 if I can’t get one maybe I can get the other. All will work.

  • ed

    More controversy: supposedly the US DOD / military is now interested in none other than…the .40 S&W. Although I would think .357 SIG would be better against mil spec body armor.

  • ed

    I think the reason for the 9 comeback has to due with raising qual scores and saving money. Not to mention two or three well placed hits from a 9 will make most ordinary bad guys just as stopped cold as if by a .357, .40, or a .45. However, I predict the weaknesses of the 9 will also re-emerge when officers tey to reach bad guy’s vitals through windshields, walls, and/or body armor. But of course that’s what patrol rifles and shotguns are for.

  • Dex

    Hey if any of you have any .40 ammo that you want to give away I will gladly accept it email me musclemind80@gmail.com thanks! & stay safe.

  • Dex

    I plan on going 10mm & .40 will be my sub training pistol! 10mm is a monster of a gun it’s a real man’s pistol you can get 220 & I think 240 grain bullets for it, that 10mm will let them know that they fucked up real bad! Much stronger than a 357 mag but softer shooting! It’s really a magnum in it’s own right! Don’t sleep on that 10mm, one fired10mm round is like two 9mm rounds massive man stopping power! & you have all these 10mm H8TERS screaming .460 rowland well put that .460 up against a full power 10mm Norma load or hotter not these 10mm lite loads full power bring the HULK out I bet the playing field will be leveled plus the 10mm doesn’t need to be compensated to be tamed! The Glock 20 gives you 15+1 man/bear stoppers & for you smaller hand people you have the smaller Glock 29 in 10mm, the military should go 10mm some police departments are using it as well.

  • http://techeyes.com Icyou

    As much as I’d love to see a return to the 10mm and the ammo prices lower I don’t think it’ll ever happen. The 40 is kay, and the reason I keep one is simple, I can find ammo for it anywhere, including during the height of the drought.