Discussion in 'Handguns: General Discussion' started by TheProf, Jul 16, 2012.
Really, it's the answer to a question that the FBI was asking, and was asking very seriously about. At the time the .40 S&W came out, the FBI wanted a high capacity service sidearm, but as a result of the Miami shootout, they'd decided that .38 special and 9mm Luger cartridges were ineffective to their requirements.
At this point in time, there really were not any options for a high-capacity .45 ACP pistol, and the THOUGHT of a high capacity .45 ACP pistol conjured up images of coke-can like grip diameters that would be impossible for LEOs with small hands to qualify on.
Nowadays with modern 147gr +P 9mm ammo, and .45 ACP pistols with magazine capacities of 12 or more rounds, it seems like there's no reason to go with the .40 S&W. But at the time it was developed, neither of these things were available. It really was the right round at the right time, and while there really doesn't seem to be anything specific going for it now, there's nothing particularly WRONG with it either.
With a .40 S&W case you can stay on the low end of the pressure scale, 25k-28k and easily get that speed. You can also use some powders at maximum load and pressure, 32-35k, and get similar numbers. I suspect
that is the real problem. People using maximum loads of the wrong powder in
to generate mediocre ballistics, since the wrong powder is cheaper then a less recoiling, more efficient powder.
With the 10MM you can use 9mm like powder charges, at .45ACP pressures
22kPSI and get that kind of speed.
I have shot 180's, handloaded, out of a Glock 35 that didn't recoil, as far as I could tell. They were going about 970 fps.
As it's playing out, the 10mm might still be the right answer to the FBI's question. The only problem is the horse has left the barn, and the .40 is in it.
I just got done reading the Platt fight, again:
"Weaponry and injuries
Richard Manauzzi: lost control of weapon in the initial vehicle collision, no shots fired. Minor injuries from shotgun pellets.
Gordon McNeill: S&W M19-3 .357 Magnum revolver, six rounds .38 Special +P fired. Seriously injured by .223 gunshot wounds to the right hand and neck.
Edmundo Mireles: Remington M870 12-gauge shotgun, five rounds 00 buckshot fired, .357 Magnum revolver (S&W, records show that it was a Smith & Wesson Model 686 despite not being FBI issue), six rounds .38 Special +P fired. Seriously injured by a .223 gunshot wound to the left forearm.
Gilbert Orrantia: S&W (model unknown, likely a Model 13, as it was an issued weapon at the time) .357 Magnum revolver, 12 rounds .38 Special +P fired. Injured by shrapnel and debris produced by a .223 bullet near miss.
John Hanlon: S&W M36 .38 Special revolver, 2-inch barrel, five rounds .38 Special +P fired. Seriously injured by .223 gunshot wounds to the right hand and groin.
Benjamin Grogan: S&W M459 9mm pistol, nine rounds fired. Killed by a .223 gunshot wound to the chest.
Jerry Dove: S&W M459 9mm pistol, 20 rounds fired. Killed by two .223 gunshot wounds to the head.
Ronald Risner: S&W M459 9mm pistol, 13–14 rounds fired, S&W (model unknown, possibly a Model 36) .38 Special revolver, one round .38 Special +P fired. Uninjured.
I'm not getting warm and fuzzies from this. The guys carrying .357's use .38 special Plus P.
3 of the 4 using high capcity 9mm guns are dead.
I carry .357 and 9mm. Looks like I'm toast if I meet a determined attacker.
If you look at the wounds, a number of the rounds are arm hits, that fail to penetrate further. That even with getting hit by the .223.
The real elephant in this discussion is penetration. The FBI was sold a bill of goods on hollow points, and, in these weapons, .38 special plus p, and 9mm, they failed to penetrate, and the hollow points failed to transfer enough energy/damage to create a wound that stopped the bad guys from functioning. It's clear that even though the FBI guys were using rounds
that were easy to shoot well, under the conditions of stress, their ability to score accurate hits was near non-existent.
If trained agents, using 9mm puff loads in a 14-15 shot big auto, and
the same using powder puff .38 special plus P's in a heavy 357 revolver
can't hit these guys, what are we going to do?
One of the observations that really bothers me is how the lighter rounds didn't work going through glass or barriers. Shooting through glass the bullet
hit's the guy in the face, and fails to penetrate. So, when the guy does make a good shot, the .38 fails to penetrate, and a couple follow up shots are required.
I think the .40 has a place. That place requires heavy, maybe non-expanding bullets, and velocity. It appears that as the FBI said:
Over-penetration is a concern. Under penetration will get you killed.
Don't make the same mistake the FBI made by loading your carry gun with light for caliber, under-penetrating bullets.
As I recall, aside from tactics, the 115gr 9mm HP is what "failed" in that famed scenario; IMO, the poorest aggregate performing (i.e. penetrating) 9mm HP there is. Regardless, I think the 180gr HP .40sw is an ideal LE choice for a large, full size belt/duty gun. The greater bullet weight offers better aggregate hard cover penetration than 9mm HP with greater capacity than .45acp. It's a good compromise for that application. In a CCW size/weight gun, IMO, not so much.
Tactics, shot placement, and specific round selection were the areas of opportunity.
If they had been carrying .45, some of those guys are running dry, and/or reloading early in the fight.
No matter what they had, the thing goes badly.
Agreed. No one in government wants to admit that government agents were to blame for something that went so badly. I'm all in favor of upgrading to bigger calibers, but the Miami incident had little to do with caliber. Caliber became the scapegoat.
Rounds blamed, when 2/4 guys carrying 6 shot revolvers fired six shots, and 1/4 reloaded, and stopped at 12? That makes three guys running dry during the fight, for capacity reasons.
I am not saying that they all should be carrying 9mm to have max capacity. I'm saying that there were a boatload of red flags, here. Blaming caliber is just silly, when PLATFORM may have been a bigger issue for 3 participants-- among many other things.
The third hit Matix in the face, and fragmented in two, with neither piece causing a serious wound. The fourth hit Matix in the face next to his right eye socket, travelled downward through the facial bones, into the neck, where it entered the spinal column and severed the spinal cord. The fifth hit Matix in the face, penetrated the jaw bone and neck and came to rest by the spinal column. Mireles reached the driver's side door, extended his revolver through the window, and fired his sixth shot at Platt. The bullet penetrated Platt's chest and bruised the spinal cord, ending the gunfight.
The above bold is what bothers me. I suspect for all concerned that light fast was the wrong solution. It's not a perfect world, and barriers, glass etc.
need to be breached. For LEO, heck for even CCW, the ability to stop someone trying to run you over with a car is for me, a concern that should be addressed with ammunition.
I'm not blaming caliber, but I am blaming ammunition selection.
This is the guy who took his gun out of the holster and put it on the seat, so he could get it quicker.
Apparently, he had never been in an automobile before and didn't know what happens when you step on the brakes.
I've shot a few that weren't at all unpleasant - like the full size M&P and XD compact, but some like the Glock 23 just didn't work right for me. The recoil was nasty enough that I wouldn't have shot much or would have developed a flinch. For comparison, a 3" SP-101 with full power loads isn't too much for me at all, but I think it's about the fit as much as it's about the caliber. I've also never had trouble with the .45 ACP in a 1911, so I'd carry that over a .40 as well even though I would have fewer rounds available.
The 9mm seems more user friendly in every platform I've shot it in than .40. Personally, I'd probably choose the 9mm because it's likely that I'll shoot it better, but that's just me.
The rest of y'all can carry what you like.
And FWIW, how is comparing any handgun round against a suspect in a vehicle armed with a semi-auto rifle "fair"?
You go pick a fight with a guy carrying a Mini-14 while you have your .40 Glock and let me know how it works out for you... but the odds won't be in your favor. Rifles have more range, better accuracy, and are easier to shoot well. And the Mini can carry twice as many rounds as your Glock 23 in a "standard" magazine. Sure, a Glock has many advantages over a S&W M 13, but compared to a semi-auto rifle it's entirely inadequate.
If you want to fight a guy armed with a rifle, bring your own rifle.
Page 11: Urey Patrick:
While penetration up to 18 inches is preferable,...12 inches of soft body tissue at a minimum, whether it expands or not..."
There are a lot of reasons to choose inadequate penetration ammo in 9MM.
Lighter bullets make it easier to shoot. You buy into the HP Gello, and believe
you are saving bystanders by getting yourself killed with inadequate penetration. It's easier to qualify with. It has less recoil.
The bottom line is you need something that penetrates, and, in particular, through barriers. The 9MM has a history of working in war, but, that ammunition is 130 grain ball ammo, at high velocity.
The other problem with 9mm is in general, the rounds lack sufficient weight, using hollow points, to penetrate on a consistent basis, in the real world.
Patrick on page 11 discusses the problem using HP's, having them deform, or fail to expand, and the deformation changes wound path and depth, as a soft point would.
"Expansion must never be the basis for bullet selection, but considered a bonus when, and if it occurs."
"Bullet selection should be determined based on penetration first, and the unexpanded diameter of the bullet second.
In ballistic gelatin very few of the current offer rounds penetrate to 18", his preferred penetration level. In fact most blocks are only 14-16" for testing.
Now we need to factor in if the person can hit anything with the ammunition that penetrates to 18", and their the problems come in.
In HP bullets, to meet that criteria, they HAVE to be heavy for caliber:
9MM we are looking at 147 grains, and that's still not enough bullet weight to get to 18". It's at this point we should start looking at solids, probably truncated cones, in 9mm, to ensure penetration, starting at 130 grains or so.
The .40 has an edge here. It handles heavier bullets. It appears from brassfetchers data that only the Corbon 165 grain HP and the Hornady XTP 180 grains come in around 16", still short of the 18" Patrick is after.
Both of these rounds are going to recoil a bit due to bullet weight.
The .45 ACP REALLY suffers, in that most of the current batch of HP's expand too much, don't penetrate enough, and or are going too slow, or too fast with the light HP's.
There are rounds that do penetrate 18", but you have to stay with bullet weight at 230 grains, DPX, very expensive, of 255 grain LFN, TCN type bullets.
The advantage does go to the bigger bullet. Again, you have recoil problems, and they aren't easy to shoot.
The bottom line is all of these rounds are manageable to shoot, but, it takes practice, which costs money. There is no free lunch, and it would appear vital to balance your life against the bullet cost.
Funny part is the 10MM is pretty much ideal for what Patrick wanted.
With 180 grain HP's it's got a pretty good chance of going 18", at 1200 fps,
and does it with less pressure then the .40, which has a hard time getting near 1200 fps with a 180.
If you want to fight a guy armed with a rifle, bring your own rifle."
"If everyone says if you are going to a firefight bring a rifle, and we have handguns now as powerful as rifles, why not have a handgun that is as powerful as a rifle in a firefight?"
That's my signature.
Not to go Dirty Harry, but if Mireles with the .357 had a .44 Magnum, with 240 HP's, at even 1100 fps, that shot that the bullet split on the guys skull would likely have taken the entire back of the guys head out.
He would not have had to fire his third and fourth shots at this target. Heck, with 220's in the .357 likely the same result.
Pretty clear at this point the FBI guys had been buying into the ammo Koolaid about over-penetration, and that stuff is ok.
Not to say that this has happened before, but the .44 Magnum came around because Elmer Keith and a few other LEO's wanted a round that was more effective then the .357, for just such reasons.
I can't argue that a .44 Magnum to the head won't probably stop an attack pretty effectively, but I'm also surprised that a .38 Special didn't. And I've got no doubt that a .357 is about as good as anything I'll lay hands on.
Given the choice, if I have to go into a fight against a guy armed with a semi-auto high capacity rifle, I'd choose a semi-auto high-capacity rifle of my own over a S&W M-29 loaded with anything.
These guys in the FBI shootout didn't do so poorly because they were armed with the handguns of the day - they did so poorly because they weren't armed with rifles and their opposition was. If they'd had even just a couple lever-action 30-30's in their trunks they'd have stood a much better chance - and a couple Mini-14's or AR-15's would have put them in a much better situation.
As for over-penetration - you can bet your Arizona summer home I'm worried about it!
It is a concern in the overly litigious society we live in. Even if it wasn't, I feel it's socially responsible to try to choose ammunition that won't over-penetrate and risk harming a bystander.
You can argue that my attackers rounds are a threat to bystanders as well and that stopping him quickly is the socially responsible thing to do, and if it takes a through and through from a solid to do that, so be it... but for my own purposes I fall on the other side of the fence. That's just how it is - so I carry JHP for defense and load something that will penetrate better in the woods (for dealing with aggressive animals, should that be necessary) where the danger of and over-penetrating round harming someone is much lower.
The irony is the round that is so hyped is the 125 grain HP,
which has serious penetration problems, in particular on barriers. The hype is exactly the Koolaid I was taking about.
G: you are creating a false D. You can have sort of both. Hornady XTP, Hawk's thicker jacketed bullets, both have controlled expansion, so they don't zip through like a solid, but don't blow up like the current thin jacket, soft lead HP.
Heavier caliber handguns would have changed the dynamics of the fight. Just as rifles turn certain items, most cars for instance, into concealment, not cover, so do heavy caliber handguns. All of a sudden that windshield that slowed down a .38 Plus P is of no consequence, the bullet plows right through it, and the target.
The sheet rock, house wall, everything but the engine block on a car, all become concealment, not cover. It becomes a different game when you can shoot sideways, through 2 car doors and three people, with one shot.
The tradeoff is your rate of fire is generally reduced, and you need to train like crazy to be able to shoot the gun, sort of.
As for the FBI: They really don't need to worry about being sued. If they are, we pay for it with our taxes.
Over-penetration is a rare issue, since it's very difficult to find any ammunition for a handgun, service caliber, that penetrates over 16" much less 18". If they do, the gelatin blocks usually used to test are either 14-16"
and we don't know what the bullet does after it leaves the block, or with how much force.
Finally if you are an FBI agent, and you are limited to a 9MM high cap auto, there is no reason not to use rounds that are capable of penetrating, just like the machine gun ammunition that is out there. There are also steel bullets, with copper jackets that do a great job of penetrating barriers.
Over-penetration is a concern, under-penetration will get you killed.
That's pretty much the FBI Urey Patricks' statement.
Over-penetration may make you wish you were dead when you're locked in cell, impoverished from fighting a legal battle you can't win, and are dealing with the moral consequences of killing an innocent person.
No offense. You carry what you're comfortable with and I'll do the same.
Also, do you know of any actual tests showing the performance of handgun rounds against an engine block? I'd be surprised if anything other than those old, illegal KTW's could penetrate entirely through an engine block and through the whole engine compartment to stop an attacker on the other side (I don't even know if they could do it), but I'd still be really interested if there is such a load.
Sounds like it would be a good thing to know about - even if I don't want to carry it for normal CCW uses. I seriously would like to be educated on this.
Thank you. When I was typing it, I knew I had the wrong industry standard terms.
About 30 years ago we used a 308 M1A and Tungsten spike AP rounds
up at the Lockheed range. We were shooting at a 'gong' a manhole cover hung up at 300 yards. The AP spike would blow through the thin parts. I found one spike embedded in the thick part, with about 3/4" of the spike sticking out the back of the manhole cover.
We had a guy around here that was trying to patent and sell to the government a short version of the .50 BMG round for protection of nuclear
research sites, in a rifle. It was a .308 to the 30-06 version of the BMG round, and would go through an engine block, using AP .50 cal bullets.
He never got the contract, and the recoil was substantial. The bullet weight was around 700 grains, IIRC.
He was mainly concerned with heavy trucks.
That's all I've got on trying to bust an engine block.
There are some rounds out there, Punch Bullets, a couple of turned solids that penetrate incredibly well, so well they aren't legal here.
As for shooting through glass, looks like the .40 does well:
I really wonder about the over-penetration stuff. Guys are shooting at each other. Let's go over and stand behind one of them...
I do realize panic makes people do illogical things. The problem is the alternatives to over-penetration are not good.
IIRC, this is one of those issues that hardly ever really occurs for CCW carriers. MUCH more an issue for LEO.
If you reload, the .40 is a great choice. You can load minor loads (say 3.5 grains of titegroup under a 180 grain bullet) and the recoil is as little as a 9mm. Some people say even softer. Then you can load full power rounds and it's good practice for sd rounds. The thing about the .40 is that the guns are pretty versatile. A lot of them can be converted to 9mm with a conversion barrel and even more of them can be converted to .357 sig by just swapping a factory barrel. The brass is real easy and cheap to get a hold of because of all the leo brass out there. You can also get the guns super cheap if you don't mind leo trade-ins. In 2008 when the ammo shortage hit, I could find .40 but not 9mm.
Those are my arguments for it....I'm not saying it's the best. I'm not even saying I like it more than any of the others. It's certainly not useless though.
The Box o' truth tests kind of confirm this. Even the rifle rounds fail to completely penetrate. They may disable the car, but they won't even hit an attacker on the other side let alone stop him. Of course, you can also disable a car by hitting something electrical or damaging the fuel system, and these components are not as tough as the block or all that protected, so you don't need to penetrate the block to stop a car. Seems like whether you bring a .38 with 158 grain LRN or a .44 Mag with hot rounds though, you're not getting to an attacker with a handgun, or even a rifle, if he's taking cover behind the block. Put him behind the driver's side tire and you also have all those steering components and the rim to shoot through... so he's pretty safe there. Of course, it's easier to hit him with a rifle when he moves up to fire - even a 10/22 at 50 yards will be easier to make that hit with than practically any handgun, as will any reasonable centerfire rifle. Again, handguns are just plain outclassed.
As for the passenger compartment, that's not so hard to penetrate. I've seen .22 LR solids penetrate through one door and out the other with a fairly square hit, so I have no doubt lots of rounds could do that.
But I don't think any of this really applies so much to the .40 anymore, so I'll stop derailing the thread so that competent folk can debate that topic.
They almost re-invented the .44 Special?
I bought some inexpensive PMC Bronze JHP to shoot in my new 30-year-old SAA. They're 180 grains at 980 fps.
More like 240's at 1050-1200 fps. That's a broke .44 Special.
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