9mm vs .40 vs .45 Recoil


June 30, 2008, 10:27 PM
I shoot 9's and 45's. Don't own a 40. I have noticed that 45's loaded in the 780-800 fps range with a 200 gn LSWC have less "percieved" recoil than a 9mm loaded at 1080-1100 fps with a 115 gn FMJ bullet.

I have heard the .40 has more felt recoil than the 9mm or the 45. How accurate is this? I ask because every time I shoot at a local indoor range there is 40 brass galore to be had. There's usually a good deal of 9mm and only occassionally is there any 45.

May have to look into a 40 in future.

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June 30, 2008, 10:29 PM
I've found the recoil of the .40 snappy and I don't like it. I much prefer the push of the .45 or the little recoil of the 9mm

June 30, 2008, 10:36 PM
I find the .40 recoil to be unpleasant. I had a .40 in a steel framed gun, hated shooting it. I have a Glock 19 that I love shooting. I had a 1911 that I enjoyed shooting (but never carried and hated cleaning).

June 30, 2008, 10:39 PM
9mm recoil = lighter but snappy. .45 ACP recoil = heavier and more of a push (lower operating pressure). .40 recoil = heavier and snappy. I like .40 recoil the least and prefer .45 ACP (or 9mm) by far.

June 30, 2008, 10:45 PM
None of these cartridges mentioned have anything I would construe as anything other than MILD

June 30, 2008, 11:31 PM
My subjective experience is that shooting 9mm is like pointing the gun into a stiff breeze. Shooting .45 feels like having someone push on the muzzle with one finger. And shooting .40 feels more like having someone slap the muzzle with their hand, but not all that hard.

The .40 definitely has more felt recoil, but it doesn't bother me out of my Glock 23 or Kahr MK40. On snappiness, compact .380s are definitely much snappier than .40 in a service pistol size gun!

Old Grump
July 1, 2008, 12:00 AM
You get used to it. I shoot a lot of 41 and 44 mag so in comparison its nothing. Some think a 9 is bad so they would never get used to a 40. Main carry pistol is a 45 so recoil isn't much of an issue for me.

July 1, 2008, 12:02 AM
I had a G23C and although it was a mechanically sound firearm, i didnt like the grip or the recoil of the 40S&W, My grouping was pretty bad. i have shot a Wilson Combat and enjoy the push of the 45. But i own a few 9mm's and enjoy their faster and more accurate follow up shots.

The recoil on a 357 is more significant than the 40S&W, but its a 357, its meant to move your hands. Now my 10mm seems to push like a 45 but kick like a 357. Its quite an experiance in shooting it. The 357 and 10mm are guns i carry when i go backapcking, hunting or camping, where if i use it, i will need the extra power. The gun i carry the majority of the time is my CW9.

I also like the 10mm over the 40S&W because i reload my own ammo. Ican make my 10mm act like a 40S&W if i wanted. Plus its like $.02 or $.03 more to reload per round.

So i guess these are the reasons why i stay away from the 40S&W

July 1, 2008, 12:19 AM
the .40 has more recoil than the .45 or 9mm. having said that i have to say i have not shot the .40 out of a pistol designed for the .45.

July 1, 2008, 12:33 AM
the 9 and the 40 feel a lot sharper to me as well.

none seem too bad though.

my reloads for 45acp are very nice to shoot, even from alloy frames.

9s and 40s kinda bark and the 45 goes woof woof a little deeper and more muffled feeling.

lotsa muzzle flash from the 40 with factory loads, its the snappiest of the bunch.

July 1, 2008, 12:52 AM
Try a Sig 226 in .40, softest shooting for that caliber, I think.

July 1, 2008, 01:26 AM
This weekend I went to the range. To my left two stalls were two guys with .357 Sigs shooting at a Bin Laden posters. Lots of muzzle flash and I could feel the blast. Bin Laden was holding an AK-47. He must've of ran out of ammo 'cause he wasn't shooting back.

To my right two stalls were a .40 S&W and a .45 ACP shooter. I was shooting my XD9.

Here goes the symphony from left to right:

crack, crack, pop, bark, roar.

M47 Dragon
July 1, 2008, 01:41 AM
Try a Sig 226 in .40, softest shooting for that caliber, I think.


Feels wonderful compared to other .40s that I've shot.

July 1, 2008, 04:05 AM
I prefer a .40 S&W for carry and home defense. A .45 is a bit bigger than my liking and I also like having a bit more velocity in a .40 S&W. For a lady or a small man I would suggest a 9mm.

July 1, 2008, 06:40 AM
Schmeky... I think alot of the 'recoil stuff' depends on the gun! You own a 97B.. I've shot that gun a bunch (tho don't own one yet) and the recoil is real soft and managable for a .45... Most of the .40s I have shot (M&P, Sigma, Springfields, Storm, etc) have had a 'bite' to them, at times more than the .45s... don't know why, but they do. Tho will agree totally with M45 and SubS regarding the SIG P-226 .40... its a real soft .40 shoot!
For me, I've just never been able to convince myself the need for a .40!! I look toward the 'extremes'... 9mm and .45! I love targeting, and the thought of dropping $60+ dollars each time I go to the range (3 or 4 times a month) shooting .40s or .45s can get really crazy... and I've NEVER been the guy able to walk away from a range shooting 50-100 rounds!!! I think if you really love COLLECTING and money isn't that big a deal, then you can do... "I'll take one of these, one of these, and maybe even one of these!" Obviously, there's really no arguement on the 'knock-down' ability of the .45!! By my bed, my 9mm has either Hornady Taps or Speer Gold, and I sleep real well!... And if that don't work for you... get a 12 gauge with some serious 'buck.'

Phil DeGraves
July 1, 2008, 11:37 AM
I shoot 9's and 45's. Don't own a 40. I have noticed that 45's loaded in the 780-800 fps range with a 200 gn LSWC have less "percieved" recoil than a 9mm loaded at 1080-1100 fps with a 115 gn FMJ bullet.

As GZoh said, a lot of felt recoil depends on what you are shooting it out of. If you are shooting them both out of the same platform, the 9mm will recoil less. If you are shooting the 9mm out of a polymer gun and the .45 out of a S&W 4506, yeah, the 9mm might have more recoil. But if you are shooting both out of steel framed Govt sized 1911s, the .45 will recoil more.
I have found that the 180 grn 40 S&W will recoil more than either in the same platform.

July 1, 2008, 11:52 AM
I have had all 3 and the 9mm and 45 are still here but the 40 is gone. We shoot indoor IDPA matches and the 40 gave me the lowest scores of all. I shoot all of the matches with factory ammo and do it for practice and not for competition. I'll take a 9mm +p or +P+ that I can shoot well over a 40 any day. The 45 in 1911 is the easiest to shoot bu it is to large to use as a CCW on a regular basis...........Cheese

July 1, 2008, 02:56 PM
I like 9mm and .40, but I don't like the .45. I don't like the slow push type of recoil. I've never owned a .45 and don't plan to.

July 1, 2008, 02:59 PM
Although I often think .40 S&W is a solution in search of a problem, recoil really isn't one of its issues. Some of the ultra-compacts can be rough, but they aren't real pleasant in any chambering.

July 1, 2008, 03:02 PM
I find the recoil of my Glock 22 quite "snappy", no doubt due to the lightness of the gun. I've been thinking about a CZ-75B to see if the added weight gives a different feel.

Back in college in the '70s, I had a Series 70 Colt (which I still have), while my best friend had a Browning High Power. I found that the Colt had more but less sharp recoil than the Browning.

July 1, 2008, 03:07 PM
Recoil on the 9mm CZ-75B is 'sweet'... just a 'nice-easy' shoot!!

July 1, 2008, 03:25 PM
The .40S&W is the 10mm's little brother.

I only own .40S&W and love the snap...it's a good work out.

Now go get one!

July 1, 2008, 03:36 PM
I also find 9mm recoil mild but snappy, .45 is a different type of recoil, more of a push than a snap and I like that. .40 is harsh and snappy and I have no use for this caliber at all anyway.

The 45 in 1911 is the easiest to shoot bu it is to large to use as a CCW on a regular basis
I know load of people carrying 1911's in all sized from ultra compact to gov't. I carry a commander on a regular basis, I'm 6' tall and 165lbs with a 33" waist.

July 1, 2008, 03:38 PM
For the old and/or infirm, the 9 (std ammo) is a puppy - the 40 will tire you quickly - the 10 is for MEN - the 45 is really not bad, 'specially from an M&P. If you're tired, the 9 and 45 are best bets for a good 2nd or 3rd shot. 45s do make bigger holes.

A/C Guy
July 1, 2008, 10:27 PM
I shoot a Smith 4006 and the recoil is no different than my Steyer in 9mm.

I used to shoot a .357 mag in a Blackhawk and that had more recoil than my .40 S&W

BTW, I am buying a Beretta .40 this week because my 11 year old son LOVES the Smith and I never get to shoot it if he goes with me to the range. So, all you men that say the .40 has too much snap, I have an 11 y.o. son that will be happy to have you send him your .40's. He will take good care of them and shoot them every week for you. ;)

July 1, 2008, 10:34 PM
The only .40 I have is a Firestar by Star, an amazingly compact and well made handgun. It's heavy, but maybe that's why I haven't thought of the recoil as excessive. It never occurred to me.

July 2, 2008, 10:02 AM
The .40S&W is the 10mm's little brother.

And the 10mm is the 41 magnum's little sister, and the 41 magnum is the 44 magnum's weak old aunt and the 44 magnum is the 454 Casull's little brother, and the 454 Casull is the 500 magnum's ...

I agree with a lot of poster's. I like the 40 S&W least of all the rounds I have shot. It has a snap I don't like. i would call it more annoying than excessive.

I don't think it's the over amount of recoil - my favorite shoot is a 45 LC that's pushing a 255 gr @ 900 fps (that's a guess from the reload manual, I haven't chrony'd it).

There is something about the impulse I don't like. Here's what have shot (in handguns) in the last 5 years, and the 40 S&W is my least favorite:

45 LC
9 mm
7.62 X 25 Tok
357 SIG
357 Magnum
357 Maximum
45 ACP
40 S&SW


July 2, 2008, 10:30 PM
I like the 40 S&W round very much. The recoil from my GLOCK 23 or 27 is not bad at all in my opinion. The GLOCKs seem to have less felt recoil than a CZ 75 Compact in 40 I had.

July 2, 2008, 10:40 PM
Have a CZ-40p in the .40, and from shooting 9mm, .357Sig, and .45 I will say I like the .40 the least. I find that it has far too much flip making fast follow up shots more difficult. While there is certainly something to be said for having a challenge in shooting a firearm quickly and accurately, for a defensive firearm I prefer something that I can get back on target as fast as possible, hence why I prefer the 9mm, the .45 is fine too, but just personal preference there.

July 3, 2008, 08:20 AM
I can't tell much difference between a .40 and .45 and a 9mm+P when it comes to recoil.
In no way is the .40 difficult to control or unpleasant to shoot.
Heck, thousands of cops (many who are women and smaller-than-average men) have no trouble qualifying with the .40S&W.
It's really not an issue unless the shooter is really weak or disabled.

July 3, 2008, 08:33 AM
The thing with recoil is you have, basically, a triangle.
Leg 1-the round
Leg 2-the weight of the firearm
Leg 3-personal experience (other rounds you've shot)

I grew up shooting .357 Magnum from a pretty early age. Honest to God you've got to get up into a pretty serious semi-auto round before any of them start feeling comparable to a "Ruger Only" .357 load.

Also, the little .380 round out of a mousegun like the P3AT can get punishing after just a few shots because it's like you are just holding the round in your hand and the gun isn't even there <grin>.

But having said all of that my own general opinion of the rounds are...
9mm - some snap but really a mild round. Feels like a toy popgun in something heavy framed like a Beretta 92.

.40 S&W - A challenging round to learn. Lots of fast recoil ("snap") that really throws some folks off their stride. Certain guns are just nasty in .40 S&W but others tame it very well (SIG 229 and CZ-75B)

.45ACP - Seems like a longer "shove" vs an abrupt jerk. All I've ever fired .45 out of was large, heavy framed, 1911 style guns so I don't have that broad an experience with it.

Regardless, they all seem like pussycats compared to .357 out of a light framed 4" barrel revolver.

(P.S. - The .40 S&W is my FAVORITE semi-auto round...out of the right gun that is)

July 3, 2008, 08:41 AM
What zespectre said- I second that.

I dislike 40 the most out of the 3 because of the recoil snappiness. But, I shot a 40 cal baby eagle for a while. I was very accurate with it. I just didn't like the recoil type.
I prefer 45's push or 9's slighter snap.

July 3, 2008, 08:31 PM
I prefer the 9 and 45 over the 40.

July 3, 2008, 09:28 PM
I'm kind of surprised by the responses to the .40. It's not my favorite caliber, but I do like its snappy recoil, which I really don't consider too harsh.

Both the 9mm and .45 almost feel sluggish after shooting a .40; it's hard to explain but I'm sure you get what I mean.

July 3, 2008, 10:08 PM
for me, the 9mm and .45 have a clean upwards "tap" feel. the .40 has more of a jolted+twisted motion, and doesn't feel as smooth as the others unless I have a good Hogue grip.

so I recommend a good rubber grip if you go for the .40.

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