Why the .40 S&W?

Discussion in 'Ammunition & Reloading' started by YankeeTactical-com, Nov 21, 2012.

  1. YankeeTactical-com

    YankeeTactical-com New Member

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    Why the .40 S&W?

    When you go to the gun store and tell the man you are looking to purchase a firearm, does he sell you his favorite or does he ask what you will use it for? For years now, I have been championing the idea that a customer is more satisfied with their purchase if you simply ask how they see themselves using it. Where do you plan to keep it? When would you use it? What calibers are you comfortable shooting?

    These were some of the questions I asked when a friend came to me to recommend a weapon for his first handgun purchase. His only reference up to that point was a work buddy who brought in his .40 S&W over to show him. So naturally he assumed that was the perfect place to start. Instead I asked, “Why the .40 S&W?”

    Following the 1986 FBI Miami shootout, law enforcement began to reexamine not only what weapon was carried but also the round. The FBI in particular sought to replace their standard issue revolver with a semi-automatic pistol (Semi-automatic pistols provided the obvious advantages of increased ammunition capacity and was much easier to reload during a firefight). Many of the more popular calibers of the time were examined, but there were still an ‘old guard’ who loved and appreciated the .38 Special +P 158 gr. Twenty years of documented performance was a big hurdle to overcome.

    To win them over, FBI testers developed a series of eight tests that simulated real world events that agent would likely encounter. And if a new cartridge was to be selected, it had to deliver performance superior to the .38 Special +P 158 gr.

    The practical replacement cartridges were the 9mm and .45 ACP. However, this is where the story gets interesting, Special Agent-in-Charge John Hall of the FBI Firearms Training Unit, offered his personally owned Colt Delta Elite 10mm semi-automatic along with ammunition he had loaded himself.

    The tests ended with two primary findings with regard to the 10mm: excellent ballistic performance exceeding the .38 Special +P 158 gram cartridge, but a heavy recoil that necessitated reforming the sight picture following each shot. An issue not unheard of in the .45 ACP, it took a strong hand with experience to keep the 10mm under control.

    The FBI contacted Smith & Wesson to request a cartridge and handgun design that met their desired specifications on the 10mm model for a medium velocity weapon. Engineers at Smith & Wesson recognized that in downsizing the high velocity 10mm meant less powder and more airspace in the cartridge case. Reducing the airspace allowed them to shorten the cartridge to fit a medium frame 9mm handgun. Nearly identical ballistic performance was produced with far less recoil, and the .40 S&W was born. Once introduced to the law enforcement and shooting communities, the new round and handgun was an immediate success.

    Law enforcement agencies in Australia, Canada and the United States have made the .40 S&W cartridge their round of choice. It possesses nearly identical accuracy, drift and drop to the 10mm, it has greater kinetic energy over the 9×19mm Parabellum all with manageable recoil most shooters will find easy to keep on target.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 26, 2012
  2. steve4102

    steve4102 New Member

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    This is of course not true.
    The max velocity for the 40 with 180gr bullet is roughly 1050fps.
    The Max velocity for the 10mm with 180gr bullet is roughly 1250fps.

    I would hardly call this nearly "identical Ballistics".
     

  3. noylj

    noylj Member

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    I have never found the 10mm Auto to be difficult to control. It bothers me, even with max loads, less than a 230gn milspec .45 Auto. Then, it can easily be downloaded to .40S&W performance.
    If you want cheap ammo, get the 9x19. If you want accuracy, get the .45 Auto. If you want versatility, get the 10mm Auto.
    Then, there is .38 Spl/.357Mag, .44Spl/.44Mag, .45 Colt/.454Casull.
     
  4. willfully armed

    willfully armed New Member

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    Bwahaha.

    Accuracy 45 schmortyfive.



    10mm is THE single greatest semi auto chambering ever. Anyone who compares it to 40 or 45 just needs proper education.
     
  5. steve4102

    steve4102 New Member

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    My perfect "TEN".

    [​IMG]
     
  6. rhyno13

    rhyno13 New Member

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    I'm comfortable shooting any cailber. I choose to carry a .45
     
  7. HOSSFLY

    HOSSFLY New Member

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    Everyone has one--(NOT a 10mm)
     
  8. robocop10mm

    robocop10mm Lifetime Supporting Member Lifetime Supporter

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    OK, If you actually read the post and understood the history, you would know the .40 DOES mirror the 10mm ballistics. The load they were mirroring was called the "FBI Lite" or 10mm Subsonic. The .40 does that well in a smaller package.

    What the .40 cannot do is keep up with the "high performance" loads. 180's @ 1300? .40 gets left in the dust.

    IMHO the .40 S&W is an adequate defensive cartridge for most applications. The 10mm is a SUPERIOR defensive cartridge for most applications that include real man hands.
     
  9. mountainman13

    mountainman13 New Member

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    Lmfao. I have this argument with my boss on a daily basis. His stance is his bullet is bigger. I can move that same weight hunk of lead much faster. 10mm trumps .45 all day long. Lol
    Besides he has 8 shots, I have 15. I win hands down.
     
  10. Sonic82

    Sonic82 New Member

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    I like the .40... in the proper pistol. Some handguns handle the recoil better than others. My SIG P229 handles it with ease. I bought it for two reasons, it's alot more gun than a 9mm (but I like 9's also) and the ammo is nearly as plentiful as 9mm and at good prices.

    I don't dispute that a .45 or 10mm are better ballistically speaking, that's just a simple fact. I just find the 40 S&W a good compromise.
     
  11. JTJ

    JTJ Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Nice story but the 10 mm lite came about because the agents could not handle the full power load. The 10 mm is a great cartridge in a pistol heavy enough to mitigate the recoil. Not so great in a 27 oz carry. As far as the 40 S&W goes, I would rather shoot my G36 45 than a G23 40. A Steyer M40 is a pleasure to shoot so there is a difference in pistols.
     
  12. willfully armed

    willfully armed New Member

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    /\ :(


    The 10mm WILDCAT (not lite) was created due to grip size and overpenetration. The ammunition available in 1986 was full pressure loads.

    Due to the recoil and grip size, women... and men with small hands had trouble controlling the pistol for double taps and follow up shots. Add in the minor annoyance of bullets passing through targets, they were faced with a dilemma -

    Fire the women and girly men currently in the ranks, hiring real men that could handle PERFECTION.

    Or, redesign and dumb down that perfection.
     
  13. steve4102

    steve4102 New Member

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    I read it and I understand the history. This comment is entirely false.
    Nearly identical ballistic performance was produced with far less recoil, and the .40 S&W was born.

    If this refers to the "FBI Light" ammo then it is false. The "FBI Light" and the 40 have "Nearly Identical Ballistics" and that would include recoil. Recoil would be the same in identical firearms. The 40 slipped into a smaller 9MM frame actually has more recoil than a full size 10mm using "FBI Light" ammo.

    Don't get me wrong, I like the 40, I have a very nice-accurate CZ PO-6 that makes me happy, but a 10MM it ain't.
     
  14. robocop10mm

    robocop10mm Lifetime Supporting Member Lifetime Supporter

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    Oh I agree the .40 is not a 10mm. The original statement was partially true. The .40 DOES duplicate the 10mm ballistics (at least the ballistics of the 10mm Lite). It does have less recoil than FULL POWER 10mm ammo, but so does the FBI Lite ammo.

    I explain the difference in two ways;

    1. The 10 mm is to the .40 what the .357 Mag is to the .38 Spl (I know this is not entirely accurate as the 10 predates the .40 and the .38 predates the .357)

    2. The 10 mm is kind of a .40 Magnum.

    These tend to put it into layman's terms. It is easier than spending 30 minutes explaining the history of the cartridges.
     
  15. steve4102

    steve4102 New Member

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    So to compare the "ballistics" we use full power 40 and watered down 10MM to make them equal? When comparing recoil, we compare full power 10mm and full power 40?

    Interesting concept.
     
  16. robocop10mm

    robocop10mm Lifetime Supporting Member Lifetime Supporter

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    Exactly. That is the new American way. Make unfair comparisons to sell a product, make a law or convince the people a political party is doiing good for them.

    I have both calibers. The .40 serves a purpose, but the 10 serves most purposes.
     
  17. Dragonheart

    Dragonheart New Member

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    The 10mm is definitely far superior. It will not only kill the intended target, but continue on to possibly kill one ore two more. For me I am quite happy with the accuracy, comfort and stopping power of my 45.
     
  18. Sonic82

    Sonic82 New Member

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    Attached Files:

  19. willfully armed

    willfully armed New Member

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    Say What!?!