What makes the .40S&W snap like that?


10 Ringer'
January 17, 2004, 07:26 PM
Out of most platforms I've tried, I can shoot a 9mm pretty darn well. The same holds true when I put .45ACP through even the most beat up ol' M1911's I rent at ranges I've been to. Though I've only shot .40S&W in plastic frame guns - maybe a full steel frame would be different - , I can't get over how much the forty seems to hit my hand, snapping straight back and up much more than I've experienced with nines or forty-fives. Why is that?

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January 17, 2004, 08:08 PM
the .40 is a hotter round than a .45 so it leave the gun quicker. Also the 9mm is smaller so there is less recoil. The .40 is actually a chopped version of the 10mm...but if you don't like that "snap"...then forget about ever liking a 10mm or .357 Sig. I personally love the .40, but in my experience for reasons unkown to me, the "plastic" .40 seems to handle recoil better than the steel ones do. Though thats seems to be true for only the Sig and Glock. The Sig 2340 with the "medium" grip seems to eat the recoil for me. Though that grip may be to large for some. Its perfect for me. If you were shooting the HK .40 you suffer from the same affliction of many, for some reason the HK platform does not handle the .40 well in their compacts. It really depends on the gun. Which one were you using?

January 17, 2004, 08:38 PM
Buy a 44 mag, shoot it for about 50 rounds, and then try your 40, and you will realize recoil is pretty wimpy.

January 17, 2004, 08:42 PM
Try a .357 Sig talk about snap. Weeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!!!!!!!!

January 17, 2004, 08:49 PM
It really is simple. 350ish lb/ft of energy for the 9 and 45 vs 475ish for the 40. A significantly more powerful round, THAT is why it snaps.

January 17, 2004, 09:12 PM
HSMITH, the weakest 9mm Winchester whitebox valuepack are 360 ft/lbs and they cause FTF in alot of guns, especially new ones. I usually shoot military spec ammo in the 400 fpe range, and the +P+ (especially the subgun ammo) can run into the 500fpe range out of a 4.5-5" barrel.

January 17, 2004, 09:47 PM
The 40 S&W has a much faster pressure curve than a 9mm or a .45ACP. The cartridge reaches its' peak pressure much sooner than a .45, which means that the recoil is *perceived* to be a hard, fast slap. With the .45, the recoil impulse is spread out over a longer period of time.

I'm not a fan of the .40, either.

January 17, 2004, 10:26 PM
The cartridge reaches its' peak pressure much sooner than a .45

Which perhaps explains why .40 carbines see so little velocity gain, yet 9mm and .45 carbines seem to benefit quite a bit.

January 17, 2004, 10:27 PM
And I can have 40's that make over 675 fpe. Big deal. Most factory ammo for the 9mm places a 115 at 1200 or so. Most 40 places a 165 at over 1100. Pretty sizable difference. I apologize if you feel like I picked on your favorite round, it was not my intention. ON AVERAGE the 40 has more muzzle energy, and therefor more recoil. ESPECIALLY since most 40's are built on the 9mm parent platforms. Same gun making more power is going to kick harder.

January 17, 2004, 10:30 PM
HSMITH, I totally agree.

Except I don't believe that a .40 @ 675fpe out of a factory gun will cycle reliably or last very long at all. There's far and few between 10mm's at that kind of energy.... That's a little bit out of specs for .40 to say the least....

However you can fire plenty of hotty 9's out of a HP 9mm out of the box without so much as a hiccup.

January 17, 2004, 10:44 PM
In a revolver, I might agree with the theory about the pressure curve. Maybe.

In an automatic pistol, I don't. The amount of perceived recoil is going to be determined by the slide velocity. The slice velocity will be determined by the recoil factors of bullet weight, velocity, powder weight, and velocity.

The slide ending its travel against the receiver is what the shooter is going to feel as recoil. Simple math, even if it is not simple to measure the variables involved.

This is my theory, anyway. Different springs, different slide weights, different barrel weights, different hammer springs, (or mainsprings, if you prefer), even different firing pin stops, (in the case of the Gov't model), can all affect perceived recoil, as can different grips.

Way too many variables to place the blame on a difference in cartridge.

January 17, 2004, 10:45 PM
in 40 it all depends on the ammo.


135 doing 1150fps is pretty tame and 9mm like though leaves a nicer hole than 9mm. 180gr gave me muzzle rise in my Steyr M40 which weighs 24oz and has polymer frame with a full metal subframe inside of the polymer for frame rail and internals similar to kel-tec p11 though has no pins holding it into the polymer which no other manufacturer has seem to be able to duplicate. handles the recoil of .40 great and was designed for .40S&W not 9mm with 40 topend which some guns have. weight,design,spring weigh and action can make a difference.

little playing around with 5-10lbs weights can help also. 165 is probably nicest gr besides a slow 135gr bullets only commercial version of slow 135gr is federal hydra shock not a cheap round to shoot but a compfortable round to shoot. to each his own though. you can get anything out of 40S&W that you like if you handload.

I am guessing your using 180gr ammo in 40S&W which imo turns more people away from 40S&W than bringing them too it. look for 165gr it has less muzzle rise and does not snap as much 155gr has even less rise though more snap.

its a crazy round but it works and does its job well. if it snaps at your end imagine how it is for the guy down range.

January 18, 2004, 05:41 AM
The design of the USP40 makes it feel lighter and less recoil than my 1911 .45. It's the only thing above 9mm my wife will shoot with any joy! Oh, and her Desert Eagle .41 Magnum! :evil:

January 18, 2004, 07:15 AM
Recoil velocity is increased by the difference in momentum between the 40’s bullet/gas and the 9mm’s and compounded by any reduction in pistol weight. There is a good deal of overlap in the range of recoil from these two cartridges. When you compare some mild 115gr ball in a 40+ oz fully loaded all steel 9mm and the last shot of high test (1150+ fps) 165gr JHP from an empty Glock however, the difference is night and day.
Of course, felt recoil is highly subjective. I had a new shooter once that would shoot my 9mm USP9F all day, but triggered only one mild target load from my Beretta 96D. Recoil between the two were indistinguishable (I thought). He saw it differently. He never shot “the devil gun” again.


Ala Dan
January 18, 2004, 07:58 AM
Greeting's All-

10 Ringer', I'm with you on this one, my friend! :D
I've owned a total of three .40's; and I have discarded
every one of them, in favor of the 9m/m and .45 ACP! :uhoh:
Count 'em, three!:rolleyes: a SIG P229, and Glocks 23
and 27. Of the three, the sub-compact G-27 shot the
best; but I never could warm up to the .40 S&W. My
groups looked like they had been fired from a 12 ga,
using #4 buckshot. So, no more .40's for me! :cool:

Best Wishes,
Ala Dan, N.R.A. Life Member

January 18, 2004, 10:45 AM
"What makes the .40S&W snap like that?"

That's easy. It feels "snappy" because the .40S&W is simply a low-end 10mm load being fired from a 9mm-size gun. While some .40 pistols were designed around the .40 itself and beefed up (like the HK), most .40s are, dimensionally, little more than 9mm-platforms re-bored to .40S&W specs.

Thus, in terms of subjective felt-recoil with a given load, .40 pistols typically exhibit more perceived "snappiness" than the heavier, large-frame 10mms & 45s firing, respectively, peppy 10mm loads or .45+P loads.

Tropical Z
January 18, 2004, 11:52 AM
Theres a lot of factors involved.I own several .40S&W's,but my hardest kicking handguns are my compact Charles Daly DDA in .45acp and my FEG-PA63's in 9x18.

January 18, 2004, 05:28 PM
The .40 is my favorite round for defensive purposes. I like 9mm also, but have never been a .45 fan.

The .40 is unquestionably snappier than 9mm, but its not that bad. Get a gun in .40 that is beefed up from its 9mm version, like a sig 226 or 229. Glock .40s are known for their inadequately supported chambers and resulting KBs, althought I think the problem may be a little overexaggerated.

January 19, 2004, 11:26 AM
My gal never took to the Glock 19 I bought her because of the kick. On an outing just playing around turns out she liked my more powerfull S/W 4006 (very heavy all steel .40).

Glocks tend to have a wide comfortable backstrap which is easy on the hand, but it is still a very light gun. So instead of complaints of "recoil" or "kick" the hand doesn't really hurt, so people note that it's "Snappy".


January 19, 2004, 03:20 PM
I've shot plenty of all three (9mm, 40S&W and 45ACP) and can generally control any service-sized pistol (Beretta, CZ, Glock 19/23/22/17, 1911) well enough to be on target pretty consistantly. The biggest thing I notice is more of a larger 'explosion' going on rather than what I would call more recoil. I know it is more recoil, but not dramatically so... more like 'more excitement.'

As noted above, comparing a full-size CZ in 9mm to a G27 is going to be quite a bit of difference. But truthfully, a lot of times, guns that are more top-heavy irritate me more than the difference between calibers. I have a G23 and used to have a Sig PRO. Not that the Sig was intolerable by any means, but to my hands, the Sig felt notably snappier and like it had more upwards momentum than the Glock did. I know the Glock has a more rakish grip angle and a lower bore axis both of which should amount to less muzzle flip, but whatever it was, the Sig felt like it had more kick to me even though truthfully, the grip of the Sig was more comfortable in my hand.

January 19, 2004, 09:33 PM
I have a Kel-Tec .40 and when I first shot it, I didn't think that I could handle it.

Then it became a challage.

Then after around 500 rds, I really enjoy it.

Won't be the best for me when I get old(er), but for the time being, I know that I've "tamed the beast".

If it's a compact, just put a mag extender on it so your pinky can help control the recoil. I've gotten to where I can do follow up shots just as fast as I do with my 9mm and .45.


I'm also getting a .357sig barrel for it.. yes, I like pain :D :D

January 19, 2004, 10:10 PM
Your more of a man than me home or not! ;)

Seriously though you talked about might not being able to handle it when you get older. Shooting lots of rounds through high recoil pistols at a young age can do damage that makes age come on a lot quicker...

Enjoyable or not be carefull not to overdue it :)

January 19, 2004, 10:22 PM
Honestly, I can't tell the difference between a G23 (.40S&W) and a Sig 239 (9mm).

My G34 (9mm) however, is *much* less 'flippy' than either gun. I conclude it's the gun and grip and shooter, not so much the round, that determine recoil, at least in the 9/40/.357/.45 scene.

All three are a pleasure to shoot, though I have shot some short barrel .45 autos that were starting to move my wrist quite a bit more than the others.

I'm as accurate with a .45 as with a 9, but I get back on target twice as fast with the 9, so that's what I own! (G34)

January 19, 2004, 10:34 PM
Heavy bullet, quick pressure curve, and high pressure round to begin with, in relatively light platforms. No real surprises here. I like the round myself. I find that the 9mms that reach into 40 S&W territory are pretty snappy in their own right.

January 19, 2004, 10:59 PM
Doesn't anyone like Kahr products? (Please save me from the moonie crap.OK?) I own three .40S&W Kahrs, all stainless (no plastic thank you) all were designed to be .40 cal's. Justin Moon didn't just "revamp" a 9mm, he redesigned the entire gun to be .40 caliber capable. When you fire a "too heavy" Kahr .40 cal, you know that you are firing a strong cartridge but it is very controllable and comes to back on target very quickly even under rapid fire. My micro Kahr MK40 Elite has a healthy snap to it but the recoil is more directed straight back into your hand with not an excessive amount of muzzle flip which is why they come back to target very quickly. Please don't knock a Kahr if you haven't fired a hundred or more rounds through an all stainless Kahr .40 cal, they really are great guns when used for what they were designed for, that being a highly reliable, highly concealable CCW.

January 19, 2004, 11:08 PM
Put some Hogue rubber grips on a .40, and a whole lot of the "snappiness" goes away. It's really a surprising improvement.

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