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Is Everything You Know About .40 Wrong?

drderek

Alpha
I confess to being a mostly Springfield junkie. I have their 9 (XD-M, & XD Mod2), 40 XD, and the 45 (XD & XDS). Shooting all 3 calibers has made me a better shooter, I feel. The 40 is indeed snappy (I learned later the 45 has less perceived recoil than the 40). But for my smaller hands in terms of self-defense, I feel the necessity to be able to get back on target quickly; this is accomplished with the 9mm. With modern ammunition configurations, for me this works. (My Mod2 loves anything in 124 gr within the various better ammo company offerings).
 
Them: "It's short and weak!" Me: "Not according to the numbers." Them: "Wellllll, it's too snappy!" Me: "Well which is it?" And also, because 10mm is more powerful the 40 is thus weak?! (Sigh.) By that logic a 7mm Mag is "weak" because a 458 Lott is more powerful. SMDH.
seem to be just about splitting hairs really, doesn't it?...
Your point is well taken, it's like "have ones cake and eat it to" and most don't seem to really have a clue as to the facts.
When it comes right down to it, it's all about shot placement and terminal impact really
 
Interesting article but some points I'd like to point out. First, .45 defensive loads are NOT typically 230 grains. Second is that bigger bullets do not always translate to "snappy" recoil. I kind of feel that most .45 rounds will PUSH rather than snap. The .45 round is not, I think harder to deal with than the .40 which is a decidedly smack rather than a push. As for 9mm the only real thing I think it has going for it is less, to none, recoil, less weight to carry all day, and more rounds which you shouldn't need anyway. Course I'm a dinosaur because I carry a 9MM in a 1911 Officer model. But only because of weight. At 79 every ounce counts. And of course, because I'm a dinosaur and perhaps soon to become extinct.
So what weight in grains is the most popular 45 self-defense load? Source? I'm not disagreeing with that assertion, just would like to know if your assertion is indeed true. I don't have any sources but just for a quick idea of what might be indicative of the answer I went to Lucky Gunner's 45ACP self-defense round tests and counted three 200-grain loads, three loads that were less than 185-grains, nine 185-grain loads and nineteen 230-grain loads. Even if you add up ALL the loads that are less than 230-grains, that totals 15 loads, still quite a bit less than the 19 230-grain loads. And even if the 230-grain load isn't the most popular, what does that really change? Only that you're basic goal of saying the energy of a heavy-and-slow 180-grain 40 load is less than the light-but-fast 185-grain 45 load. Wow, congratulations! Ya got us. Never would have expected energy to be influenced by velocity and bullet weight! That 40 really must be "short and weak."
 

Sasza

Alpha
I own a .40 Walther PPS (M1) and am very happy with it's reliability and capability. The .40 was developed to provide better performance than either the 9mm or .45 auto at request of the FBI. But there were complaints from some shooters regarding recoil management. I don't find that to be an issue, and feel well-armed for EDC, or home defense.
 

TSiWRX

Professional
From where I stand, objectively, the .40 S&W's barrier performance is what it has most going for it.

Also objectively, with the 9x19 as a baseline, I get closest to my scores on timed standards/tests with the .40 S&W only when, as @HansGruber wrote above, I am shooting a full-sized pistol; the heavier the better, too.

As I drop to the "Compact" category -which is my Goldilocks spot for concealment- I find that I start to see noticeable differences in scored standards/tests: I either need to spend more time to chase the same score, or I drop score in the attempt to meet the par that I've set with 9x19.

I posted this before in another thread ( https://www.thearmorylife.com/forum/threads/does-the-cartridge-still-matter.10166/ ), but I'll post it again here as it is aligned to the current thread and still just as pertinent -

Noted terminal ballistics expert DocGKR , as he posted on M4Carbine.net a few years back. Here, he recounts a conversation that he had with a true gunfighter -

DocGKR on M4Carbine.net said: said:
In a timely coincidence, a very experienced senior SOF NCO who has slayed many of our Nation's foes and who has the distinction of having used 9mm, .40, and .45 ACP pistols in combat during various phases of his career wrote the following superb analysis discussing this very topic recently:

Not getting into the weapons transition issues from frame design to frame design (it's the reason I love to hate the Glock), the fact of the matter is that the recoil on the 23 crosses the magic line of running the **** out of your pistol.

Allow me to explain...

Most of the guys on the G19 thread mentioned that they can handle the reduced size of the 19 and the recoil increase over the 17 is acceptable. Most of us have also determined that this does NOT cross over to the .40 cartridge. Guys with a firm handle on recoil manipulation can use the 22 and 35 with acceptable results. However when you go down to 26's and 23's, the juice is not worth the squeeze. The recoil is now noticably effecting times and it's measurable. If you can't effectively control recoil and are wasting time allowing your pistol to settle between shots then this is all a wash and means nothing to you, but if you can apply the fundamentals effectively you will quickly see that you can't run a sub compact 9 or a compact .40 worth a ****. So a decision to accept a larger pistol in order to have an acceptable recoil impulse based upon caliber must be made. The smallest 9mm Glock recoil that I will accept is the G19 and I will not go below the G22 when bumping up to .40.



Subjectively, I do feel that recoil is more harsh with the .40 S&W, when all other parameters are held the same (i.e. same platform). I believe that this is confirmed by the differences I observe in my performance on objective standards. Again by-perception, I think I am seeing more front sight lift (I've never filmed myself using ultra-slow-motion to see if this is objectively true, however), and this would logically align with both my perceptions of recoil characteristics as well as the objective differences in my shooting performance.

To me, subjectively, at the full-size level, if someone laid out a pair of what are otherwise "the same" handguns in front of me and told me that one is a 9x19 and the other a .40 S&W, I wouldn't mind blindly picking one and just rolling with it. I feel that they are almost the same.

But "a feeling is just that, is'n it?" 😁 And "almost the same" isn't "exactly the same," is it? Objectively, I know -because I've measured it- that there will be a difference, in my hands.

---

Also subjectively, my favorite thing about the .40 S&W is that it is currently not very in-vogue with shooters. :) I'm relatively new to shooting, having only really taken up the sport/hobby seriously in Q.3, 2011.

The timing of my entry into the shooting world meant that just as I was starting to really seek out training and was taking a bunch of classes and getting to the point where I started to be able to self-diagnose/correct in solo-practice, the ammo shortage of that particular period (c.2008-'16) also reached its peak. In very short order, I found that the only caliber I had owned at the time - 9x19 - to be completely depleted from not only store shelves, but also from online retailers...they just weren't able to be had, at any price.

What remained on the shelves, at surprisingly reasonable costs (at least at the beginning of the peak run) was the then-falling-out-of-favor .40 S&W and the now "semi boutique" .357 SIG.

As with many novices/beginners, I had thought that by consolidating my cartridge selection that I'd be doing myself a favor, logistically. :p That didn't work out so well in-reality. 😅

When the opportunity arose for me to purchase a Glock 32 from a friend, I jumped on it, and now maintain a small stash of .357 SIG and .40 S&W.
 

javbike

Professional
I have a 40 Sw shield it’s snappy I was thinking about selling it but think I will keep training with it I love the looks of the shield
 
Yeah, the 40 is short and weak, let's switch to a 10mm! Yeah! That's the ticket! I don't understand the illogical hate towards the 40. If the 10mm is so great why can't it stand on it's own? It seems people have to put it on top of the "short and weak" to build up the 10mm. It's like saying the 7mm Mag is great because the 280 sucks. Let it stand on it's own merits, not by denigrating a smaller and obviously less powerful cartridge. Yeah, I know, it's just a meme and so it's funny, but many seem to seriously subscribe to it's illogic.
 
I have a XD9 and it's very comfortable to shoot at the range. Compared to my S&W Shield in 40 S&W, it's pretty tame. Of course, everything we get in The People's Republik is outdated, and we drones put up with the Democrats telling us what we need, such as magazine restrictions.

I have a couple 45's, one is a Colt Combat Commander and the other is a Springfield A1. Some have said the 40 is neither fish nor fowl and some say it's a happy compromise. With the ammo shortages and all those nice folks in Sacramento making sure we are safe from mail order sales, I have found a small advantage in availability of 40 ammo locally, along with a pretty good selection of serious social loadings. But they do not give them away.

It's all sarcasm, folks. I'm sorely tempted to leave the Land of the Fruits and the Nuts!
 

markr6754

Elite
Founding Member
This was the perfect round for my Springfield EMP. I like metal, hammer fired guns, and there is little to cause my heart to pound (speaking strictly of firearms) than a beautiful 1911. Taking advantage of the current dislike for all things 40S&W I picked up my EMP for a steal. Adding to my joy I picked up 2,000 primed cases of 40 S&W new brass for 9 cents each, followed by a mess of 135gr Sinterfire frangible bullets at half price. Yeah, I’m enjoying a ton of shooting, really cheap shooting with the current disdain for this caliber. Add to the fact that the EMP is my most accurate pistol, and I’m a happy camper. Too bad the new Ronin EMP is only out in 9mm. I’d love to get my hands on one in 40 S&W.
 

SaltyMonkey252

Master Class
Yeah, the 40 is short and weak, let's switch to a 10mm! Yeah! That's the ticket! I don't understand the illogical hate towards the 40. If the 10mm is so great why can't it stand on it's own? It seems people have to put it on top of the "short and weak" to build up the 10mm. It's like saying the 7mm Mag is great because the 280 sucks. Let it stand on it's own merits, not by denigrating a smaller and obviously less powerful cartridge. Yeah, I know, it's just a meme and so it's funny, but many seem to seriously subscribe to it's illogic.
Sensitive are we? I see I struck a nerve.
Speaking for myself . It absolutely does stand own its own merits. The 10 mm is a round that I can use for home defense or a multi purposes round on the farm, woods or mountains. The 40 has its place , just not with me .
 

MattD

Alpha
I appreciate .40 S&Ws, given I shoot and reload everything from .32acp to .44 Mag.

As I get older, currently 75 with some rheumatoid arthritis, I do appreciate recoil as something to be considered when deciding what firearm to purchase.

The author is dead on with considering barrel length and firearm weight as part of the firearm/caliber deciding factors for an individual.

Yes, the .32 has a 2.5" Bbl. and the .44 Mag. has a 10.5" Bbl and I reload to match my rheumatoid arthritis tolerance for recoil.

I can say that my .40 S&W reloads are very close to my 9mm reloads for recoil using Bayou bullets (BB) 140gr .40 S&W bullets and their 120gr. 9mm bullets. I have about 5, .40S&W to 9mm conversion Bbls so I can compare both calibers in the same firearm given that the 9mm conversion Bbl. is slightly heavier due to the hole in the Bbl being smaller.

I tolerate those two loads as well as my BB 200gr SWC .45acp reloads and I love me some .45 cal. firearms.

I'm 6'2", 220 lbs with large hands so consider that in my evaluations.

If you are not able to reload, rent or borrow and try the firearm you are considering before you buy!

I also found a .357 Mag., published load, that I can load in .357 cases that is down to about a .38 Spl. +P recoil range.
 

TX_Kinz

Alpha
When you compare the damage that the 9, 40, 45 and 10 do upon impact; I believe the 40 is the perfect balance between capacity and stopping power.

I carry a compact 40 and the recoil is considerable when compared to the several 9’s that I have.

I am considering a 10 for my next purchase, however, it will be my bedside firearm and definitely full-size. I would expect a compact 10 to kick like an Army mule and I’m not a young buck anymore.
 
Back in 2013-14 I bought 3 full size handguns XD 9 and 45 and an XDM 40 I also bought the XD Mod 2 in 9, 40 and 45 I sold or traded in all but my XD Mod2 40S&W for me that sub compact is my favorite handgun, just recently I purchased a XDM 45ACP 4.5 barrel full size and I’m really happy I did, I also bought the XDM Compact 3.8 barrel in 10mm and that is a great gun, not as “snappy” as I thought it would be. I definitely need to put more rounds through it but over the winter I’ll stock up on 10mm ammunition.
Instead of answering every post that was negative towards the 40? All I can say is to each his/her own, for me it’s not dead, it’s not obsolete, for me a great round that I shoot very well and very comfortable carrying every day.
 

Lchtus

Master Class
I have a .40 Shield with almost 7k rounds through it and use it for my EDC. If you are an experienced shooter you can handle the 40. I also have a 9m and Sig barrel that gives me access to ammo I can find. Living in the Chicago area I prefer the 40. The caliber and my shot placement gives me piece of mind (retired LEO).

Chicagoan as well…been real interesting in this city.. even spilling to the burbs more than it should.
 

Bassbob

Ronin
Interesting article but some points I'd like to point out. First, .45 defensive loads are NOT typically 230 grains. Second is that bigger bullets do not always translate to "snappy" recoil. I kind of feel that most .45 rounds will PUSH rather than snap. The .45 round is not, I think harder to deal with than the .40 which is a decidedly smack rather than a push. As for 9mm the only real thing I think it has going for it is less, to none, recoil, less weight to carry all day, and more rounds which you shouldn't need anyway. Course I'm a dinosaur because I carry a 9MM in a 1911 Officer model. But only because of weight. At 79 every ounce counts. And of course, because I'm a dinosaur and perhaps soon to become extinct.
Every defensive round I have ever bought for any of my .45s was 230 gr.
 

Bassbob

Ronin
I too have a Performance Center Shield .40. I have no complaints about it. It holds the same amount of rounds as the Shield 9mm I believe. Lots of people say lots of things about .40. I have never found them particularly harsh recoil wise. I do have some people I trust a lot who tell me that .40 cal beats up the gun pretty bad and it will wear out faster. Some guys here mentioned that the bullet can get set back in the case if you screw around racking them too much. I never had that issue, but then I don't generally do that.
 
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