9mm vs. .40 for compact CCW


July 11, 2010, 02:07 PM
Hey folks! I'm looking to pick up a concealed carry firearm in a few months, and have pretty much decided on the Smith and Wesson M&P Compact series. Trouble is, I cannot really decide whether I want it chambered in 9mm or .40 S&W.

Here are some notes I have worked out for both:

- Cheaper too shoot, conducive to practicing with it more
- m&p9c carries 2 more rounds than m&p40c
- I already have a 9mm pistol, would not have to introduce another caliber

40 S&W:
- Greater cavitation than 9mm, a contributing factor to "stopping power"
- Snappier recoil, shot placement may be more of a challenge

I guess what it boils down to is whether the extra punch you get from .40 S&W is really worth the snappier recoil in a compact polymer framed handgun, especially when you take into account modern 9mm defense loadings. I'm not really looking to insight a caliber war, but merely to poll for opinions/ suggestions, especially if you own one of these pistols. Thanks!

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July 11, 2010, 02:25 PM
M&P is a very soft shooter. I wouldn't worry too much about the extra recoil of the .40.

July 11, 2010, 02:26 PM
digsigs226, I recently had the same question you are asking. I decided on the 9mm (in the SR9C) and what led me to the 9mm was basically the cost of ammo now a days. Yes the .40 has more stopping power but a 9mm luger +p or just 9mm luger placed in the wright place would still do the trick! Nothing against the .40 except for the higher cost. Plus with the 9mm you can carry more rounds than the .40. extra bonus when needed. Just so people are not thinking I am talking in circles dealing with "placed in the right place would still do the trick" and "carry more rounds when needed". I know someone out there is going to bring up the issue of "if you place it in the wright place too begin with you don't need the extra ammo!" All I have to say about that is it is always better to have the extra ammo, than to be needing that one extra shot! :) Kurt.

July 11, 2010, 02:59 PM
I agree, more is never a bad thing. At the same time, the two less rounds are not really a deal breaker for me IF I can manage to shoot the .40 accurately. However, if the added snap of the .40 causes me to develop a flinch or trigger control problems that are adverse to shot placement, the poor shot placement coupled with less rounds may become a significant concern.

I just wish it was like it used to be when you can test shoot before you buy, and not be stuck with a $500 dollar gun you just don't jibe with :scrutiny:

July 11, 2010, 03:01 PM
I'd stick with 9mm. Either will do their job if you do yours, and both will fail to to their job if you fail to do yours. Don't let "knockdown" or "stopping power" dictate which you go with; as both are weak handgun rounds, just as every handgun round is. If you ever have to use either to defend your life with, you won't wish you had a "better" handgun round, you'll wish you had a long gun instead

July 11, 2010, 03:05 PM
For what it's worth, I tried out a Glock 27 (sub compact .40) and after about 100 rounds I started to hate it. I had a lot of trigger bite on my trigger finger, and it eventually cut me (which led to gun oils/powders going in, which stung like a mofo). After about 150 rounds I never wanted to pick it up again

Instead, I bought a Glock 36 (sub compact .45) and it was much better. On my first trip I put ~200 rounds through it, and after I was done I was wishing I had brought more. I was also much more accurate with it than the other. Losing a few rounds in favor of comfort and "shootability" is well worth it to me

July 11, 2010, 03:13 PM
...I guess what it boils down to is whether the extra punch you get from .40 S&W is really worth the snappier recoil in a compact polymer framed handgun...
That is the real question and only you can answer that. The effect of recoil is totally subjective. You should try shooting both.

I have the fullsize M&P40 and I find it a very easy shooter for the .40 round. It tames recoil very nicely. I have wanted to get the compact version for a long time. As handgun weight goes down, the snap from recoil goes up. Because of this, I would consider the M&P40c to be about the smallest gun I'd carry in .40, but I still haven't shot one.

If I were in your shoes, and considering a new caliber and the extra costs of practicing with .40 over 9mm, I would get the M&P9c.

July 11, 2010, 03:15 PM
I would recommend the 9mm. The difference between the two in real life situations is negligible. Also, specifically for you, you obviously accept the ballistics of a 9mm and can buy in bulk to save some money, or if you load your own, you can save on equipment.

Shawn Dodson
July 11, 2010, 03:21 PM
Greater cavitation than 9mm, a contributing factor to "stopping power"
If by "cavitation" you mean temporary cavity, then there's little difference in temporary cavity volume between 9mm and .40 S&W. See: http://www.m4carbine.net/showthread.php?t=19887

Indeed, US Border Patrol, after many disappointing shootings with 155gr and 135gr loads, (loads touted for their ability to quickly transfer energy - i.e., "cavitation", which was supposed to increase stopping power) recently changed to 180gr - a load that doesn't produce as much "cavitation" as the others - and they're very satisfied with results of shootings in which 180gr has been used.

July 11, 2010, 03:23 PM
The 9mm is a nice pistol. I shoot 9mm and .45acp exclusively in my autos. I shoot both quite well. I have never been able to adjust to the snappier recoil of .40....and I tried with a Sig P229 and a CZ Rami. .40s not for me. FYI, the ballistics of the 9mm Speer Gold Dot is impressive and the Lawman is cheap to practice with. Good luck with your decision.

July 11, 2010, 06:10 PM
Find one and shoot it before you decide to buy. I am sure there is a FL shooting forum out there where you could ask to try before you buy. You could also rent one somewhere.

I have the compact in .40 and don't find the recoil bad at all...Love that little bugger, it's my EDC.

July 11, 2010, 09:13 PM
i know that some ranges that sells guns will let you rent there guns and they do have the 9mm and .40 available. In florida I know of one that I have been to and that is Tenoroc in lakeland. I beleive Shootstraight does also but have never been to shootstraight. Not sure if all Bass pro shops have the test ranges in them, but the Vegas one does and they let you try before you buy! May be the bass pro close to you has the test range. Orlando is the closes to me, but have never seen an indoor range there, but then again the wife would never let me stay long enough to find it! :) The SR9c does have the improved trigger that I have never had a problem with and acutally love to shoot, which is another reason I love my gun and no finger buggers!

July 11, 2010, 09:21 PM
I really appreciate the responses here. I do want to try out a .40 before I buy, I think the indoor range near me should at least have a Glock 27 for rent. I figure it is similar enough to the m&P40c... just uglier. :barf:

Based on my own research and what I'm hearing here though, I'm starting to lean towards the 9mm. The primary reason is that I have already hoarded a fair amount of 9mm to begin with, and don't really find it necessary to start buying up .40. Also, I think that "stopping power" in itself has so many variables to it that I don't think the difference between all three of the major handgun calibers (9mm, .40, and .45 ACP) is really a great as some sensationalists make it out to be.

July 11, 2010, 09:57 PM
I beleive that you should never put a price on life! Life it self is worth more than anything! (especially yours and your families) So what ever you decide just keep in mind you will still need alot of practice at the range to get familar with your choice of concealed carry. That would require a few hundred rounds or possibly a couple thousand rounds. Just add up the cost of 50 rounds per box of each caliber and multiply by hundreds or thousands! What matters the most (to my opinion) is practice, practice, practice and accuracy. Hopefully you and I will never have to use our concealed carry, but we will be ready if needed!

July 11, 2010, 10:06 PM
My first ccw was a Glock 36 .45 acp. I absolutely love that gun and am very accurate with it, BUT...due to its light weight and small frame for a .45 it does have just enough muzzle rise to make accurate follow up shots...well...not-so quick. (At least with 230 grain) And .40 muzzle rise is certainly more significant. AND .45 ammo has gotten spendy for reasonably consistent practice.

Now, don't get me wrong, the Glock 36 is fantastic and I still consider it my number one ccw. I'd never feel undergunned with it, perfectly satisfied with 7+1 and could probably even handle 2 or 3 attackers with it just fine even with the slightly slower target reacquisition (I like to think so anyway). But it got me thinkin....Yep.

So I bought a Glock 19. Very similar dimensions to my G36. And boy, that 9mm is a cake walk. Especially out of the Glock 19. I can empty a mag with ~2 shots a second into a 3" to 4" target out to 50 feet absolutely no problem. And with the newest SD ammo I don't feel undergunned at all. Especially with 16 rounds before a reload.

So if you acquire enough data to lean toward the 9mm, go for it. You'll have no reason to regret it. You'll save lots on practice ammo and be able to practice more often and you can find 9 ANYwhere. And the 124 gr +P load nips at the heels of the .357 mag 125 gr loading. So, it's no Slouch!

Is .40 cal worth the extra muzzle rise, extra expense and less capacity compared to the 9? Not to me. Good Luck and Be safe.

The Lone Haranguer
July 11, 2010, 10:19 PM
In a compact gun I much prefer the 9mm Luger, due to its lighter recoil.

July 12, 2010, 12:57 AM
Mine is G lock 23 . I carry it 90 percent of the several CCW guns i have.

July 12, 2010, 02:45 AM
I've got a .40 GLOCK with a 9mm conversion barrel.

Good defensive ammo is about the same price in either caliber. But for plinking/training, the 9mm ball is way cheaper. A conversion barrel lets you get the best of both worlds! More importantly, using a conversion barrel lets you stock up on TWO calibers, wherever you find a good deal!

I would ordinarily feel just as confident with either barrel for SD. But I found the best deal on .40 Ranger JHP's, so that's the caliber I prefer right now.

July 12, 2010, 07:38 AM
You're just going to have to shoot both and decide what works best for you.

I prefer the .40 over the 9mm.
From all that I have seen, heard, and read, the .40 is simply a better round than the 9mm for quickly stopping human aggressors.
This is one of the reasons that the .40 is so popular in law enforcement.

Most police agencies have went with the .40S&W, the .45ACP, the .357Sig, and the .45GAP because those calibers tend to be more effective than the 9mm Para.

July 12, 2010, 08:44 AM
I, too, dropped the 40 for the 9. I had the 23 and 27 ( both with 9mm barrels) and after comparing them to the M&P 9fs and compact decided I shot the M&P better. Ammo is cheaper (even though I reload) and normally easier to find.

July 12, 2010, 08:54 AM
I faced the same decision a couple of years ago, looking at the S&W M&P compacts. I decided on the 9mm because I already had another 9mm and figured that adding another caliber of ammo wasn't the way to go.

No regrets. The M&P9c is a great firearm.

The 40S&W is a marginally more powerful round and I'm sure the M&P40c is a fine pistol, too. But keeping logistics in mind, the 9mm makes more sense.

July 12, 2010, 09:41 AM
Either cailber is going to serve you well...in 9mm I like the Gold Dot 124+P compared to the lighter .40 bullets in recoil in muzzle flip I usually tell people it's about the same to a hair more difference going from +P 9mm to .40 as stndard to plus P 9mm loads...that assumes 165gr and lighter .40 loads...which are all I'm interrested in. If I want slow and heavy it's 230gr .45 all the way!

The bigger question is logistics...you have a 9mm...if you are happy with it and planning on keeping both do you want to keep 2 different rounds that could be easily mixed up found loose? Not normally an issue but it has happened before. 9 and .45 are certainly NOT going to get mixed up...something to think about...if you are thinking of upgrading your 9mm to a .40 later than that as well as bulk ammo/component savings are a non-issue...around here .40 has been easier to consistently find than 9mm for the last year actually...I like to say ".40 is the new 9mm" but it's really just a small incremental improvement than a 9mm with the right ammo IMHO....and with fewer choices of bad ammo performance wise....does it outway the 9mm savings? I dunno probably not but I like it a little better...if I can't have my favorite bullet and load in 9mm I'm not happy...in .40 there are more factory loads I can tolerate carry ammo wise.

Practice wise I've already had my years of shooting the snot out of everything...so I'm going to shoot about the same in any caliber...and savings on reloading are pretty well cancelled out by my limited time to do such....45 is about the only thing I feel is worth it these days....so it's only $6 per hundred rounds of FMJ different...if we have a big shooting day I might go through 200-250 rounds and we do that a handful of times a year with more often 50-100 round sessions inbetween. So I'll spend more on lunch and gas than the savings anyway...may as well have what you like. Get what you trust ande want. The M&P compact is a good feeling gun (if one must have a sub- compact) For me the GLOCK19/23 is about as small as my hands go...so the recoil difference is not meaningful...in that gun it will be more noticeable....however a LEO buddy of mine that used to run the police training schools shooting programs bought a .40 M&P compact about a year ago (his wife shoots a regular M&P and carrys it on duty) and he's owned em all like I have and then some...he said it was "the best feeling best shooting sub-compact .40 he'd ever owned"...and he's bought over 350 handguns just at OUR shop since he was 21!-LOL So that says something about your choice of guns. Either way you'll be happy I think.

July 12, 2010, 10:08 AM
not sure if it's been mentioned yet...if you get the 40c, then you can purchase a conversion barrel for 9mm (and 357sig if you decide to). you can convert your 40c DOWN to a 9mm

but you cannot convert a 9mm UP TO a 40

just something to consider.

(fwiw, i bought an M&P40c this weekend...can't wait to shoot it next weekend)

July 12, 2010, 10:21 AM
I don't think the difference between all three of the major handgun calibers (9mm, .40, and .45 ACP) is really a great as some sensationalists make it out to be.

You've spared yourself hours of pouring over thousands of ridiculous "stopping power" threads if you understand the above concept. 9mm, .40, .45, and even 10mm are all merely handgun cartridges. Sheer force stopping power is almost nonexistent so placement is key. I own the M&P .40 (compact and full size) but a conversion barrel makes it versatile enough to shoot 9mm as well. Either way you'll be happy.


P.S. Though I LOVE my M&P 40c it's still a bit much to carry at times in hot Texas weather. Take a look also at the Kel Tec PF-9. I'd still get the MP but the Kel Tec allows me to carry 100%.

July 12, 2010, 01:09 PM
"From all that I have seen, heard, and read, the .40 is simply a better round than the 9mm for quickly stopping human aggressors."

True, but also police departments typically use full size pistols (although they may have compact backups) in which the infamous .40 muzzle flip is less of an issue. After reading the Patrick Report (http://www.firearmstactical.com/pdf/fbi-hwfe.pdf) ( Good read I would recommended) it is evident that the bigger the caliber, the bigger the permanent cavity track, and the higher probability you have of hitting something vital. Immediate incapacitation from a handgun is never a guarantee. In my mind, the fact that a .40 will make a marginally bigger hole than my 9mm would be somewhat irrelevant if I realign quicker and get another shot on target in the same time frame. I certainly won't depend on connecting multiple times, but in reality I believe most CCW situations result in more than one shot on target.

Indykappa, thanks for the info on the .40 S&W conversion barrel, I did not know about that. I assume you mean this one here (http://www.lasersightpro.com/store-products-SLBSWMPC9C358-STORM-LAKE-BARRELS-SW-MP-COMPACT-40SW-TO-9MM-CONVERSION-BARREL-KIT_1096955491.html). It may be nice to have the option, but ultimately I want to be sure I practice with with the same round I carry. Either get deadly with it, or don't carry it. ;)

Again, thanks for the replies!

Mikhail Weiss
July 12, 2010, 01:15 PM
Were I making that choice, I'd go 9mm. Cheaper to shoot. Effective. Friend of mine has one and I like it a lot.

July 12, 2010, 01:18 PM
Definitely go with the Storm Lake barrel. They make a superior product.

September 25, 2010, 06:49 PM
Hey folks, I just wanted to follow up. I decided to stick with the 9mm... and this M&P9c followed me home today.

It's used, but in great shape in with night sites and no magazine safety... exactly the configuration I wanted. It came with 4 mags too!


Next up is a good holster... possibly a Crossbreed Supertuck, and an Apex tactical trigger. I will probably do a full review on it once I take it to the range. Again, thanks to everyone that responded for the advice.

September 25, 2010, 06:53 PM
have a glock 29 with 40 S&W conversion barrell and the lone wolf 10 MM barrel. My choice.

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