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.40 The best "compromise caliber"

Discussion in 'Handguns: Autoloaders' started by tackleberry45, Apr 1, 2011.

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  1. tackleberry45

    tackleberry45 Member

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    OK, before the barrage.... I was at a martial arts seminar with many LEO. I butted in and started a "what do you carry" conversation (S&W M&P .40 is their current) So I asked about eval, training etc and did not think I was going to start such a debate (I carry a G36 .45) but this is what came out of it (why they chose .40, not keeping the current 9mm) so I thought I would open it up here as topics to hit on:

    Debate/ Thoughts?? I am probably asking a lot but lets try not to make a caliber war out of this.

    1. The 165 and 180 loads penetrate well
    2. Still a decent mag capacity vs. compact pistol size
    3. For training, easy to convert to 9mm
    4. Swap easy to .357 Sig
    5. ammo cost not much more than 9mm
    6. modern designs tame .40 snap (e.g. Gen4 Glock Dual Spring)
     
  2. Manco

    Manco Member

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    That IS asking a lot! :uhoh: I guess we could focus less on "caliber" and more on finding the best set of compromises to match the specific requirements of the user.

    Regarding terminal ballistics, penetration depends on the individual load, including bullet design. In general, with .40 S&W you either get the same penetration as 9mm with a wider expanded JHP or slightly greater penetration with the same expanded bullet diameter (or a combination of the two). This is the most obvious benefit derived from trading off a couple of rounds of ammo capacity and having to put up with greater recoil.

    Additionally, penetrating barriers (light cover) is a common law enforcement requirement, and .40 S&W appears to do a good job of matching 9mm's performance with similar velocities for similar sectional densities. The heavier bullets also seem to deflect significantly less when penetrating angled barriers such as windshields, which is another benefit from trading off a couple of rounds and perhaps a small degree of shootability for some.

    .40 S&W pretty much maxes out what can be had in a relatively compact frame size (with a relatively short trigger reach) without trading off much capacity. All points considered (and I'm sure we haven't actually covered ALL of the points here ;)), .40 S&W is a fairly optimum set of compromises for law enforcement use (as well as for anybody who has similar requirements), in my opinion. That's probably one reason it has thrived so far, particularly in that market segment, but of course we're not talking about huge differences here, which is why many still question the need for its very existence.
     
  3. Ala Dan

    Ala Dan Member in memoriam

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    Why I Prefer A .45

    "Cuz they don't make a .46"

    * No .40 caliber handguns owned by anyone in this household~!!!!
     
  4. jmr40

    jmr40 Member

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    The 9mm vs 45 debate was settled when the 40 came out. The 40 is not a compromise cartridge. It is SLIGHTLY better than either. I say slightly because in reality there is so little difference in all 3 that I'd be perfectly content with any of them.
     
  5. md7

    md7 Member

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    I basically agree with this.
     
  6. kk0g

    kk0g Member

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    I'd agree that ballistically the ability to stop an attack and the ease of shooting is pretty much equal between all three, therefore I carry the one that allows me the most capacity............. 9mm.
     
  7. Loosedhorse

    Loosedhorse member

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    To the extent that this is true, then 9mm may still hold an advantage, with cheaper practice ammo and higher capacity (and smaller grip, compared to .45) for similarly sized pistols. To the extent it is untrue, well, now we all have decisions to make.

    But I certainly wouldn't consider .40 a "compromise"--unless you mean compared to .308! For many, its recoil feels worse than .45 or 9, and that may induce flinch or slow down follow-up shots.

    My advice is to not just make lists of theoretical advantages, but take a 9, .40 and .45 to the range and see what you think. You, personally.

    And if you like the .40, well...then try a 10! :evil:
     
  8. Zundfolge

    Zundfolge Member

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    These handgun caliber debates are foolishness.


    9x19mm, .40S&W, .45acp ... any other standard handgun caliber are all just fine and at the same time are all a compromise when compared to rifle and shotgun calibers.

    Doesn't matter which one you pick they'll all perform within similar acceptable parameters and if you ever need to use a handgun in self defense you're going to wish you had a rifle ... and a squadron of Marines ... and one of them on the radio calling in air support.
     
  9. Smaug

    Smaug Member

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    Have you ever actually shot a 45 and a 9mm in the same session? They take twice as long to recover from recoil as a 9mm. (comparing 230 gr. load in 45 to the 115 gr. load in 9mm)

    To the original poster, when you start off a thread suggesting that one caliber is the best [anything], you've just started a caliber war. Take it from me, I've been around a while. It happens EVERY time.

    If you're looking for consensus, that's not going to happen either.

    So as not to be totally critical and useless, I'll put in my vote: 9mm, 40, and 45 have all proven, ballistically speaking, effective.

    9mm is easier to shoot well, and has higher capacity, but one is relying on good hollowpoints expanding, no matter the situation. 45 is harder to shoot well, and capacity suffers, but doesn't rely as much on bullet expansion. I find that .45 is no harder to shoot well than 40, but that capacity is superior, as you pointed out.

    If I were a cop and had my 'druthers, I'd have a .45. It isn't too much to ask to be trained enough to shoot a 45 well, and there is no question of effectiveness or expansion. To me, 10-13 rounds of .45 is enough.

    If I were the guy who decided what my cops could choose from, I'd give them the option of: .38 Special, .357 Magnum, 9mm Luger, 10 mm, .40 S&W, .357 Sig, .45 GAP, or .45 ACP. I'd have some trial guns around, and let each officer choose what he/she is most comfortable with. I expect most lady cops would probably choose 9mm, and most guy cops would choose .45 ACP or .357 Magnum. Oh, and they'd have to pass the tests with those guns and those loads. When it comes down to a firefight, I'd rather have each cop use what he or she is most comfortable with.
     
  10. KenW.

    KenW. Member

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    Its not the size of the hole, its where you place the hole.
     
  11. Strahley

    Strahley Member

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    But they do make a .50. I guess your girlie hands aren't strong enough for a giant half inch slug-o-lead. It's okay, at least yor tiny .45 is soft recoiling
     
  12. kk0g

    kk0g Member

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    Yes, I've shot them back to back before and yes there is a difference in recoil. My point is there's not a big enough difference in recoil to matter in a real world situation. I've never experienced anywhere near twice as long of a recoil recovery time going from 115gr 9mm to 230gr .45.
     
  13. 1stmarine

    1stmarine Member

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    The best compromise caliber is the one round that you can shoot accurately and feel good about it.
     
  14. One-Time

    One-Time Member

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    I feel its the best of the 9mm and 45 worlds

    9mm ish velocity, and 45ish stopping
     
  15. 1stmarine

    1stmarine Member

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    Then look at .357 Sig. It was conceived on this idea.
    Again it is more important what you can shoot fast and accurately than anything else. Weekly defensive pistol training is paramount.
     
  16. miles1

    miles1 Member

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    Couldnt agree more!
     
  17. Zerodefect

    Zerodefect Member

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    This, exactly.

    If you choose a midsize gun, and it comes in .40 and 9mm, if you can shoot he .40 as well as the 9mm then get the .40. If recoil is a problem get the 9mm.

    I like midsize Glocks. But .45 deosn't fit in those. So I went with .40.



    :uhoh:No matter what the jello says. Bigger, heavier, faster......better. .40 is just turning 9mm up to "11". :uhoh:
     
  18. 1stmarine

    1stmarine Member

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    I have the glock 23 among others and I love it.
    9mm +P corbons also very lethal.
    357 sig. I love it. 85gr solid HP coppers moving at 2000fps.
     
  19. Deaf Smith

    Deaf Smith Member

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    Either the .40 S&W or .357 Sig are fine compromises. I pack a Glock 27 in .40 but I'd be just as happy with the Glock 33 and .357 Sig.

    And guys, I have .45s, 9mms, .357 Sigs, .40 S&Ws, .38 Spls, .357 Magnums, etc....

    But I really do find the .40 & .357 Sig excellent compromises.

    You can even get a 9mm version for a practice piece to cut cost.

    Deaf
     
  20. klcmschlesinger

    klcmschlesinger Member

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    All three

    I shoot all three, 9mm, 40 and 45. I don't even look at caliber when I buy new guns. As long as a semi-auto is one of those three I am ok. I am comfortable protecting my family with any of them. Buy, shoot, practice, be confident.
    :p
     
  21. BeerSleeper

    BeerSleeper Member

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    Both holes in the right place, though, and the bigger one's more effective.
    Both holes in the wrong place, and the bigger one is still more effective.

    If you shoot a 9 center mass, and a 40 in the foot, you're not really comparing them in a fair and objective manner.
     
  22. longshot7.62x51

    longshot7.62x51 Member

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    this debate come from the poor folks like me that are forced to use ball ammo i wich case .45 would be my choice if i where able to use hollow point i would have no problem using 9mm (witch i have to use) or .40.

    theres my 2 pennies
     
  23. earlthegoat2

    earlthegoat2 Member

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    This is assuming that it is the best compromise between the 9mm and 45.

    I personally think all three are inadequate and of the three they all have the same amount of likelihood to stop any given threat. All require good shot placement.

    No, it is not a compromise cartridge. Maybe a political compromise. Not ballistically or practically though.

    So it may just be the worst compromise.
     
  24. Marshall

    Marshall Member

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    I like the .40 S&W, compromise or not.

    That's it.
     
  25. kilo729

    kilo729 Member

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    More effective? What, they'll be more dead?
     
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