What Makes a .40 S&W So Good?


January 1, 2004, 06:37 PM
Educate me please.

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January 1, 2004, 07:00 PM
135gr JHPs @ 1500fps out of a 4.5" barrel. :D

January 1, 2004, 07:07 PM
Is it so good? I've heard first and second hand stories of 9mm failings including at point blank range but they are pretty few and far between.

I think the 40 only gained success because of the FBI adopting the 10mm then some lesser folks complaining of the recoil.

Other than fitting a few more rounds in a same sized (as a 45) magazine, I don't see any role the 40 fills that isn't filled just as well by a 9mm or a 45... At least as far as civilian use goes. Not that it isn't a viable self defense chambering. I just have never seen an overwhelming need for it.

January 1, 2004, 07:08 PM
A .40 cal hole is better than a .35 cal hole - however it is not as good as a .45 cal hole. - JM.

January 1, 2004, 07:13 PM
Good size hole, fast follow ups, easy on the wallet, easy to get bullets, easy to control, knock down power,no huge flash of light, ears don't ring after a time at the range, small grip, many different loads, easy to conceal in small weapon, and great penatration in targe.:)

PS, I still love my 1911 45 best!

January 1, 2004, 08:13 PM
It is the first bullet designed from the ground up to be an LE bullet. So in theory it feeds better than 9 or 45 because the profile is optimized for JHP.

It addresses both the large cap and big bore needs of some folks in a platform that is not overly large.

I won't say it's so good but it is the most successful new round in recent history.

January 1, 2004, 09:49 PM
I've never understood why the 40 is supposed to feed better than the 9mm. I would think the 9mm and the 10mm should both feed more easily and more smoothly because of their relatively longer profile.

Not that I have proof or anything... it just makes sense.

January 1, 2004, 11:21 PM
9mm is the same length as 40S&W. which is why alot of people are using 40S&W 10 rounders as 9mm hicaps sometimes requiring at most feedlip work though not all the time requiring feedlip modding some mags will work flawless with 9mm and 40S&W.

how is 10mm supposed to feed better it uses the same bullets though some heavier.

40S&W FMJ rounds will expend pretty nicely roughly the size of a quarter unlike 9mm which zips through most items and keeps on sailing supposedly also a problem with 10mm.

40S&W is a nice middle man cartridge you dont get as many rounds as 9mm in a mag then again if you aim you wont need them.

January 1, 2004, 11:35 PM
The 40 will FAR surpass 9mm and get quite a ways past the 45acp for sheer power. Do the math on those 135's at 1500 FPS, that is 675 lb/ft of energy!!!! It makes a big enough hole, fits in 9mm sized guns that are significantly smaller than 45 platforms, offers good magazine capacity, reasonable recoil, hits harder than 9mm or 45 in nearly all factory loadings, and is readily available.

I had no use for a 40 until I was given one. Then I was forced to learn about it, use it and get to know it. It has replaced my 45 as the primary "bump in the night" gun and my 9mm's are all gone. I have a lot of respect for the 40 now that I took the time to educate myself. I really tried to hate the 40 but logic tells me it is the better mousetrap for defensive use. Just don't tell my brother, I had a yard of hide chewed off of him for not getting a 45 a year or so before my 40 appeared:uhoh:, he would probably thump me if he knew I was praising the 40 now.

January 1, 2004, 11:42 PM
I always kind of looked at it as the solving of a nonexistent problem. The 10mm was the answer to a real issue, and the .40 was the compromise for the folks that couldn't handle it. The .40 gives an extra round or so on the .45 and in a 9mm sized weapon. The size difference is miniscule at best, and the performance difference is also negligible. I think hype is what sold the round instead of performance. I would have really enjoyed seeing the 10mm get the good press as I think the round has been under valued for what it offers.

January 2, 2004, 12:37 AM
Cor-Bon lists their 135 grain load at 1325 feet per second. Where are you guys getting 1500fps? That's 10mm territory.

.40S&W operates are pretty close to peak pressures already; it doesn't offer a lot of room for hotloading, I'm told. It's ballistically superior to 9mm, but isnt' as powerful as 10mm and makes a smaller hole than a .45.

But, there's nothing glaringly WRONG with it, either. If you like a gun in .40, get it. But I wouldn't buy a gun in .40 if it was also available in either .45 or 10mm.

January 2, 2004, 01:13 AM

Go here (http://www.thehighroad.org/showthread.php?s=&threadid=55519).

January 2, 2004, 01:39 AM
Well, I suppose. I liked running .45 Super through my CZ-97. Talk about an increase in pressure...

But then, I tend to consider .45 Super the truly modernized .45ACP round...

January 2, 2004, 01:41 AM
I'm of the opinion that the tapered case of the 9mm feeds better than all other pistol rounds including the .357 SIG.

January 2, 2004, 04:34 AM
But, there's nothing glaringly WRONG with it, either.
YMMV on this.
2 reasons I personally don't like the .40 S&W-
1.) The majority of the guns it's chambered in are based on the 9mm. Metal has to be removed in order to make the larger round fit the gun.
2.) The 40 S&W - in 180 gr - is particularly suseptible to extreme pressures in the event of "bullet setback".


The above link shows how high the .40 S&W can spike with minimal setback. Industry rule of thumb for a safety margin is SAAMI max times 2. In the case of the .40 S&W, max is 35K psi.
Bullet setback is something that all auto loading firearms do to the ammunition to some degree. Good premium self defense amunition (Hydra - Shok 230 gr .45acp for example) will have a cannalure on the case to help prevent the bullet from being driven too far into the case. Poorly made ammunition, such as the **Cor Bon 124 gr 9mm I have, will NOT have a cannalure.

Bottom line here is that after doing quite a bit of research on line into the KB, I've come to the conclusion that the major factors listed as being involved:
- lead bullets in a polygonal barrel
- pistols based on a lesser caliber
- bullet setback
- unsupported case
- high initial pressure
are most likely to be found in a gun chambered for the .40 S&W. For the time being, I'll take a pass on the .40. Like I said though, YMMV.

**In fairness to Cor Bon, I've noted that on their current web site all their offerings now show a cannalured case.

Ky Larry
January 2, 2004, 08:53 AM
The .40 S&W is just another choice in a self defense round. If you like it, fine. If not, nobody is going to make you use it. I personally like having as many choices as possible. I have a CZ-75B in .40 S&W and a SIG PRO 2040.They are fun,accurate, and reliable. I also own .45 ACP's, 9mm's,.44 Mags, .357 Mag's, .38 Spl's, .380 ACP's, and .22 LR's. They are all just choices and are all a blast to shoot. Shoot well and often.

Sean Smith
January 2, 2004, 09:31 AM
Leaving out dangerous overloads, .40 S&W won't give you anything near 135gr @ 1,500 ft/sec. Kids, don't blow yourself up because some guy on the 'net said it was OK. :rolleyes:

As for .40 S&W... I don't think that its very minor ballistic edge over 9x19 is justified by the decrease in capacitiy, increase in recoil, and the cartridge's smaller margin of safety by design.

Comparing full-power loads of approximately equal sectional density in both calibers, we find:

Winchester +P+ 9x19: 127gr @ 1,250 ft/sec, 450 ft-lbs
Winchester .40 S&W: 155gr @ 1,200 ft/sec, 500 ft-lbs

An edge of 50 ft-lbs and 0.045" diameter is hardly worth crowing about... and having shot both out of comparable guns, the kick of the .40 is considerably nastier than even +P+ loads in 9x19.

The fact of the matter is that, caliber partisans aside, there is hardly any ballistic difference between 9x19, .40 S&W, .357 Sig or .45 ACP worth mentioning.

January 2, 2004, 10:25 AM
I agree with Sean Smith here...

135g at 1500 fps is not available commercially for a reason.

The fastest 40 S&W load I can find on any of the manufacturer's web sites is Corbon's 135 g at 1325.

January 2, 2004, 10:45 AM
WOW.. a .40SW debate.. I'm in! :)

From Winchester's website:

180 Grain JHP .40SW || 115 Grain JHP 9mm || 230 Grain JHP .45ACP
Velocity (fps) 1010 || 1225 || 880
Energy (ft lbs) 408 || 383 || 396

Marginal gains at best.. Not a whole lot of difference between them.

If you multiply the grain X velocity X energy, you get what I call a bullet performance index..

.40SW = 74,174,400
9mm = 53,955,125
.45ACP = 80,150,400

The .45 and the .40 are close..

The .40's advantage is near .45 performance, in a near 9mm size. You get a little bit more than a 9mm, but without a huge size penalty. Why the LE loved it. A faster bullet than the .45 also.

But the truth of the matter is, not a big difference between the 3. Shoot what you can shoot best with.

I agree with the problems of the .40. It's usually build from a stepped up 9mm platform ( a bad idea IMHO) like the glock .40's. That means weaker parts that weren't designed to handle the pressures of a .40 within it's initial design spec.

Then there are those who for some reason, won't step up to a .40, and put a ++++PPPPP++++++ in their 9mm in attempts to blow themselves up

I like the .40. A good balance between firepower and size. If you want serious power, go 10mm. But the truth is, whatever you can shoot more accurately should be your caliber of choice.

January 2, 2004, 10:53 AM
40S&W FMJ rounds will expend pretty nicely roughly the size of a quarter unlike 9mm which zips through most items and keeps on sailing supposedly also a problem with 10mm.


I've gotta ask what kind of "metal" the jackets on your FMJ's are made of...tin foil?! When I dig my FMJs out of trees and stumps they are normally hardly deformed at all..if so the might be a tad bit pressed thinner from top to bottom but there is NEVER any expansion. My FMJ target rounds are Winchester White Box by the way.

brad cook

ps- Maybe you meant to say hollow point..?

January 2, 2004, 11:05 AM
I'm sick of people telling me 1500fps is an overload. Go to HODGDON'S (http://www.hodgdon.com/data/pistol/longshot/index.htm#top) and see for yourself. Listed velocity for 12 grains of LongShot is 1480fps. I took the time and hand measured each round and found this to be an accurate claim. (1482fps average for 10 shot group from my chronograph) Listed pressure is only 32,400psi... and the overall length is shown to be 1.125"... my loading used 1.130"... my only deviation from the recipe was by using winchester brass, which is likely insignificant.

I dont know why corbon doesnt produce a higher velocity round. It is certainly not for lack of powders.

Personally, I dont think 1500fps 135gr ammo is available commercially because it requires a spring change and can be difficult to shoot.(I can only shoot 100-150 before fatigue sets in...and I've shot alot of these) It produces excessive flash and is very loud.(similar to a hot .357mag from a snubby) I've also read that expansion becomes troublesome at velocities greater than 1400fps for most 135gr JHP... I havent gotten around to any media tests, but rest assured, I will.

January 2, 2004, 11:10 AM
Ive got one thats very close and the hottest I know of.......Goegia Arms has a +P+ (Ya I know about the pressure's of the 40 S&W, save your typing skills........K? ) 155 gr 40 S&W @ 1300 FPS..........=581 FPE.......

Just for reference.................Shoot well........

January 2, 2004, 11:22 AM
Cor-Bon likely doesn't load hotter because most .40's have unsupported chambers. They don't need any glocks going kaboom with their ammo.

Personally, i feel that permanent cavity diameter + penetration = incapacitation. Muzzle energy doesn't mean nearly as much when it comes to stopping power.

Here's why i like the 40. Almost as good as a .45 in a smaller package with a couple more shots. Less kick too for faster followups (IMHO)

You really shouldn't feel disarmed with a 9mm, nor should you feel like you have some huge advantage with a .45. .40 is a good midrange, but with modern hollowpoints, any of the big three service pistol calibers should perform very well.

January 2, 2004, 11:39 AM
I've loaded and shot nearly a 2k full power .40 loads through my unsupported glock barrel and have yet to see a smiley. I have noted a slight case bulge...just like all factory ammo...but nothing that cant be resized.

I found some nice pics of 1475fps 135gr noslers in ballistic gel:

Test #10 (http://ntdx.tripod.com/GT/001/010.htm)
Test #18 (http://ntdx.tripod.com/GT/001/018.htm)

Funny though.... they were shot from a 10mm.:D

January 2, 2004, 12:24 PM
While we're on the subject, how bad is 10mm recoil anyway? How does it compare, say, to a .357 magnum? .40 s&w is said to be about .45 ish, with maybe a little more muzzle flip?

January 2, 2004, 12:34 PM
The thing with 10mm recoil is that most factory (as in from major manufacturers) download it to near 40S&W levels.

I've shot nearly full power 10mm in the little G29 and, while it requires a bit more attention than a 26 or 27, it isn't something that should be feared. A little 2" snub firing full 357 loads is no worse in my opinion.

January 2, 2004, 12:38 PM
Ignorance is no excuse when the information has been provided..

The 135@1500 shows LESS pressure than factory loads, go READ the thread FITH linked.

IMO, the reason hotter ammo is not available commercially is the market is VERY small. Recoil becomes quite brisk, blast much like a 357 mag, and not many people can handle it. I think VERY few would buy a second box.

Unless you are a POOR handloader setback is not an issue, not at all! With proper precautions and equipment it takes over 150 pounds of force on the bullet point for setback to begin with my 40 reloads, and it takes over 200 to set the bullet back .020" (put the round in your kinetic bullet puller backwards, bullet out, and use the hammer and handle to get a good grip otherwise it is very hard to control and get decent readings). I only weigh 185 so I am not sure what the real number is for measureable setback, I just know it is alot. 15 chamberings from slidelock of the same round only show .002-.005" of setback, or about the same amount of deviation in OAL you find in most commercial ammo. I have only seen one factory round that is close to mine in resistance to setback, and that is Cor-Bon 135 load. Most others are in the 50-80 pound range.

Good thing we have experts that don't test anything nor research anything to guide us through these things:banghead: :cuss: .

Until you have been there and done that the way to find out about it is to ASK, not proclaim that it is unsafe because YOU don't know how to do it safely.

January 2, 2004, 01:41 PM
I get great .40S&W accuracy out of this 6.5" S&W 610, plus I can load up higher-energy 10MM on occasion. The 25-yard target shown below is shot easily :D - ... (truth in advertising) only after practice emphasizing trigger control did my groups tighten.

This accuracy for me is astonishing ... can't anyone tell me that .40S&W is inherently inaccurate! :neener: ... well, I will say .40S&W is a challenging round from my H&K 40 USPC. I love the H&K, but it sure takes alot of practice to shoot respectable groups.


January 2, 2004, 06:22 PM
10mm and .357 Magnum are more or less ballistic equals. These days, you see more 125 grain loads for .357, but that doesn't reflect what the round is capable of. Like 10mm, .357 has been downloaded as of late, but for a different reason (use in 16oz snubbies...still a recoil problem).

They have similar bullet weights (140 grain vs 135 grain, 158 grain vs 155 grain, both have 180 and 200 grain bullets) and in factory loadings push them to similar velocities. Both can be safely hotloaded beyond factory loadings in strong guns (GP100, 610, etc.).

So, I'd imagine the recoil of the two would be very similar in guns of similar weight and design. (A 610 4" should recoil about the same as a 627 4", using similar loads.) In theory, anyway.

Peter M. Eick
January 2, 2004, 07:39 PM
The 40 is good because you can warm up with it and then move onto a 10mm. Beyond that it is a nice plinking round. It is fun to shoot like the 9mm but not much else.

They don't call it the "40 short & weak" for nothing.....

Long live the 10mm, the round Jeff Cooper designed!!!!!!

January 2, 2004, 07:49 PM
"***can't anyone tell me that .40S&W is inherently inaccurate!"

Let's get serious. :scrutiny:

It took a scoped 610 with a 6.5" 10mm/.40cal barrel to get those groups. ;) Okay, that's good shootin' on your part, but my Delta's done pretty close to that off-hand. With a shorter barrel and no scope, the .40 quickly becomes a certified ... minute-of-barn-door cartridge. :neener:

Also, a ways back someone commented on the feeding issue. The 10mm AUTO has demonstrated bobble-free feeding in every autoloading design it was every chambered in - and WITHOUT bullet setback.

At least in 1911-platforms, the 40S&W is a notoriously finicky feeder, which is why you'll find competitive shooters loading their .40s at or near 10mm COAL for more reliable functioning.

Tells you something, don't it? :scrutiny:

January 2, 2004, 09:09 PM

For me it does take a S&W 610 to get that kind of accuracy with either .40S&W OR 10MM. My experience has been that .40S&W and 10MM have very similiar accuracies from the S&W610 out to about 50 yards.

That orange dot in the photo above is a 1-1/2" Birchwood Casey Target Spot which gets completely covered at 25 yards by any fixed or target handgun sights in my collection.

January 2, 2004, 09:56 PM
So the 40 Short and Weak should bow down to the 10mm gods, eh?

Ok...........Ba ha ha ha ha........Whatever!:what: :neener:

We can have the 10mm bow down to the 50 AE Gods and so on.

Shoot well..................................

January 2, 2004, 10:08 PM
At the end of the day:

compared to 9mm, .40 S&W offers wider, heavier bullet with more energy

compared to .45ACP, .40 S&W offers better concealability, less recoil, more mag capacity

I own a 45 1911 but am considering the CZ 75B in .40 S&W. 9MM is a old, historic round with alot of loyal adocates. But, compared to the .40 S&W, 9mm is a whimpy round for personal defense.

January 3, 2004, 09:18 AM
Why push a cartridge and firearm to the limits and beyond when another suitable cartridge and firearm exists? What's the purpose in battereing or stressing a .40SW when you can achieve the same performance out of the 10mm whose platforms are designed to take pressures like that?
You can load a .38sp to the capabilities of a .357mag load and not have case failure. The handgun on the other hand may not survive the experiment. The .44mag and the .454 both were derived from the same concept. The capabilities of the cartridge cases were never a real concern. The platforms have been the weak link.
Save your handguns from shortened life expectancy and use the larger platforms. Stressed metal can sometimes give no warning before it fails. The firearm was engineered for a particular cartridge developing a standardized pressure with a large saftey measure built in to allow for acculative manufactoring tolerances. Threading into the safety margins can allow the accumulated tolerances of individual firearms to ne day bite you in the a$$.
Yall be careful pushing cartridges to the limits. There are alot of factors working against you while you try to achieve your set goals.

January 3, 2004, 12:11 PM
Majic-why would you consider a .40S&W "battering or stressing a firearm"????? Firearms for this load are designed for it; these .40S&W loads are a lot lighter than .45acp or 10mm, yet why aren't these "battering and stressing".

The problem with the 10mm is it's too big for concealed carry in most street clothing; business or casual attire. It's fine for home protection, hunting, range work, law enforcement. But if a civilian wants an all around firearm, I don't think you can beat the .40 S&W.

Sean Smith
January 3, 2004, 12:17 PM
He's talking about the 135gr @ 1,500+ ft/sec overloads of .40 S&W mentioned above. His point is that if you want 10mm ballistics, buy a 10mm so the gun can cope with the increased stresses involved. Chamber pressure is probably the least of your worries when dealing with a .40 S&W gun that is just a re-barreled 9x19 design loaded to 10mm power levels.

And for the folks who think loading their .40 S&W up to 10mm power levels is OK, there are alot of folks with blown-up .40 S&W guns that would suggest otherwise, may of whom weren't trying to be macho about their load development. :rolleyes:

January 3, 2004, 06:05 PM
Thanks Sean.
I'm not saying no one should explore cartridge capabilites, just that to be on the safe side use enough gun if one exists. Each overload fired will stress the platform. You may get away with it several times will no ill effects seen, but one day something may give out and the results can be catastophic. I have seen several blown handguns, but also know of a shooter with partial usage of his right hand, missing a portion of his finger on his left and is blind in one eye after his pistol catastrophically blew up.

January 3, 2004, 09:03 PM
Look if I was shooting my 'overloads',:barf: , through a sig or other alloy framed .40 like a beretta 96 your argument would hold weight. There are documented cases of such frames giving out when converted to .357sig.

I am, however, shooting a glock 22 with an upgraded 22lb recoil spring. My frame isnt deforming and no noticable additional peening has occured to the slide.

Sean Smith:
Just how is a gun going to KB if the pressures are almost 3kpsi below max SAAMI? I'm sorry, but that just does not make any sense.

For the record, do we all agree that overpressure is the cause of kabooms?

At most the frame will be trashed... but I think the glock 22 is tough enough if a spring upgrade is used.

Just FYI I'm one of those unlucky guys with hands too small to shoot a 10mm comfortably. I'll take my .40 s&w 'overloads' as they are the only thing that sets the .40 apart from a 9mm in my eyes.

EDIT: Sean Smith, I just glanced at your homepage... you seem rather fond of glocks... why do you feel that a g22 isnt up to my 'overloads'?

January 3, 2004, 10:41 PM
The 40 will FAR surpass 9mm and get quite a ways past the 45acp for sheer power.

Sure, if you compare the jacked-up .40 pressure to a standard-pressure .45ACP. Comparing apples to apples, though, changes things just a bit. :)

January 4, 2004, 01:08 AM
40S&W compared to 9mm and 45acp is a new round. it has only been out what 10 years compared to over 50+ years. corbon and other companies didnt release 135gr round pushing 1300fps and 500 ft lbs energy that long ago its generation 3 40S&W. generation 2 is 155gr doing 1200fps and 490-500ft lbs and 165gr at light and full load.

in hodgdons 2004 annual manual for handloading/reloading they post loads for 135gr doing 1480fps and 600+ ft lbs think its more around 670ft lbs. the recoil is supposed to be stout and will put good wear on the gun and shooter its max load within safe pressure 32,400psi with 12 of longshot powder. a safer load with 135gr bullet is 10.5 of longshot which does 1367fps and 28,100psi well within safe pressure. of coarse the disclaimer in the section says use only fully supported barrels which is standard disclaimer with 40S&W.

they also have load for 155gr pushing 1329fps at 32,300fps using 10 of longshot powder and getting to 600ft lbs. another load for 155 doing 1244fps 29,600psi and near 500ft lbs energy.

also something I have never seen besides from hornady as custom round is 200gr bullets. now no one makes commercial 200gr ammo for 40S&W why I dont know plenty of load data out their for it. it tends to get slow in 700-800 and at most barely above 900fps.

after finding this info it makes me want to go out and get setup for handloading because commercial ammo in 40S&W is bit limited in availibility.

if you go with 10mm good luck finding ammo. best to handload or buy bulk of whats availible and that is not much. overall I like .400 or 10mm bullets. they can do quite a bit

January 4, 2004, 01:46 AM
10mm can get to 44mag energy

I want to visit your magic land. I have never seen a unicorn.

January 4, 2004, 02:45 AM
Good discussion here. One thing that's worth repeating is that the difference between a .355 projectile and a .40 is NOT just .045 of an inch. That's only the difference in diameter. The AREAS are the key fact, and there it's much more significant.

(Who'd have thought this high school stuff would come in handy. Feel free to check my numbers, it's late.)

Pi times the radius squared of a 9mm, .40, and .45 cal projectile gives their (cross-sectional) area as follows:

9mm (.355) = .099
.40 caliber = .126 (26% increase over .355)
.45 caliber = .159 (26% increase over .40, 61% increase over .355)

Then you have to figure in the penetration of each round, then the potential for expansion of a JHP, all that extra stuff.

Any of those three calibers will work, but if you can't get affordable full-caps for 17 9mm, your choices are 10+1 in either 9mm or .40, or 7+1 of .45.

So what makes the .40 so good? Bigger bullets, and more of them!

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