.40 S&W SD ammunition


Yositomo Wiskisito
March 9, 2009, 11:13 AM
Good morning. I'm new to the forum.

This topic might be beaten to a pulp but I've been away from the handgun scene for the last 15 to 20 years, including the .40 S&W, .357 Sig and other cartridge and ammunition developments.

I recently bought a HK USPc .40 to replace my "old" guns and use as a CCW. I know that how the ammo cycles in the weapon, shot placement and practice matters much more than caliber, brands of ammunition, weight, ext. but I still find it perplexing that after 20 years the industry is still debating weather light and fast or heavy and slow. To be completely honest, after reading about the caliber I'm more confused as the trend started heavy and slow(180 gr.), became light and fast (135 gr.)and now seems to be gradually swinging back to the 180'sgr. bullets (155, 165 & 180). Mix in the topic a 3.5 inch barrel and I feel like Hansel & Gretel in the forest.

Can anyone provide information as to the most effective bullet weight for a .40S&W handgun with a 3.5 barrel? Thank you

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March 9, 2009, 12:07 PM
I'll have to dig up the article, but there was a real good one published a couple years ago that concluded that the 155gr-165gr JHP is the most effective .40.

I shy away from 180gr because bullet setback in 180gr is what really caused all those kB!s years ago (my .40 has a supported chamber, but I figure no point in risking it). Its probably an irrational concern, but there you go.

Also I've found that 165gr is the most accurate out of the various weights (although out at distances greater than 50 yards the 135 tends to shoot a little flatter ... but lets be honest, you're not engaging targets at 50yd with a handgun, and even so the difference is slight enough to matter).

March 9, 2009, 12:45 PM
You know I don't remember where I heard it but somewhere I had read / heard that most LEO's use 155-165gr so that's what I use in .40 - speer gold dots 155gr. I wish I knew where I heard that so I could forward it to you but I can't seem to find it.

March 9, 2009, 12:47 PM
I wish I knew where I heard that so I could forward it to you but I can't seem to find it.
Same here, I think it was an article in American Handgunner a couple years ago done by either Massad Ayoob or John Taffin (in searching I did find another article about .40S&W by Taffin, but it was an introduction to this "new" cartridge).

Yositomo Wiskisito
March 9, 2009, 12:57 PM
Thanks for the replies. Should have done a search on the subject since it appears the topic has been beaten to a pulp. Lots of reading material.

March 9, 2009, 07:23 PM
I also have a USP .40 Compact, and I use either 180gr or 165gr JHP for my defensive ammo. I like Gold Dots or Federal HST. I prefer the heavier 180gr loadings because they penetrate further. The lighter bullets might produce more energy in ft-lbs, but they are more likely to expand quickly and not penetrate far enough.

I have also been reading a lot about how heavier loads lose a smaller percentage of their velocity when shooting from shorter barrels. Supposedly it's because heavier bullets stay in the barrel longer, which allows the pressure to build up more in shorter barrels. This came from a good source here on THR, but can't remember where I saw it.

Anyhow, you can't go wrong with 165gr or 180gr bullets. I'd never go lighter though. If I wanted something lighter, I'd just shoot 9mm since it has a greater cross-sectional density which is what you need for good penetration. At least that's what I've gathered from reading up on similar topics.

Yositomo Wiskisito
March 9, 2009, 08:11 PM

That seems to be the consensus. I just read in another forum the FBI and another ballistic lab (?) are now recommending 180gr. exclusively. Can't vouch for the info though. Ad verbatim from a post in another forum:

"There are two ISO 9000 rated laboratories which conduct ammunition testing for law enforcement in the United States; one run by DOJ/FBI, one by DHS/ICE.

Both recommend and have secured Departmental contracts for .40S&W 180 grain JHP loads at approximately 1000 fps. The DHS/ICE lab had previously recommended and secured .40S&W 155 JHP at approximately 1200 fps.

As for improving the need to improve the load, look for the competition among the major manufacturers to yield good things to the shooting community in the .40S&W 180 grain JHP category. They want those contracts, and we all benefit from the R&D expended to secure them."

Still, many folks advocate for the 155 and the Border Patrol load, specially in short barrels. They seem to have an excellent record. Again, can't vouch for the info.

I know it's splitting hairs but I can't believe this is still a mystery.

March 10, 2009, 02:29 AM
i wouls say look into the speer gold dot short barrel ammo. that might be a good choice for you.

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