What happened to 40 caliber?

Discussion in 'Handguns: General Discussion' started by Slamfire, Sep 11, 2022.

  1. CDW4ME

    CDW4ME Member

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    I shot my Glock 35 and 22 yesterday, l like 40.
     
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  2. Madcap_Magician

    Madcap_Magician Member

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    Well I mean, you'll never pick up any of my .38 Special, since it'll get ejected into my brass bucket LOL, but I'm not going to waste time trying to account for every fired case from a semiauto.
     
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  3. jmr40

    jmr40 Member

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    Cost. That is the simple one-word answer.

    9mm has been accepted everywhere on the planet as perfectly acceptable as a handgun round. But Americans have always thought if somebody else did something then doing it bigger was better. And having confidence in what you carry is important. Most Americans didn't trust 9mm. And the fact that USA made 9mm ammo was rather anemic compared to what was being sold in the rest of the world didn't do anything to build confidence in 9mm.

    When the 40 was developed it was seen as a compromise between 45 and 9mm. You got a bigger bullet, with nearly the same capacity as 9mm. But at least on paper it turned out to be a better cartridge than either. I can understand why many in LE wanted the round.

    But not every agency made the switch. Locally our City PD stayed with 9mm. The County PD, the Sheriff, the State Patrol and Fish and Game all went to 40 S&W. But after about 20 years they compiled the data and came to the conclusion that the agencies carrying 9mm were just as effective at stopping bad guys as the ones carrying 40 S&W. Especially the 9mm rounds loaded to its full potential that matched what the rest of the world was using.

    Since they could buy 9mm ammo for about 1/2 the cost of 40 S&W ammo it was an easy call to make the switch the next time new handguns were purchased. All of our local cops now carry 9mm.

    I don't dislike 40 S&W. But everything it does, my 10mm does better. I can even shoot 40's through my 10mm if necessary.
     
  4. Hangingrock

    Hangingrock Member

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    I did not rationalize a need for the 40S&W. The 45ACP and 9x19mm were satisfactory for my requirements.
     
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  5. LiveLife

    LiveLife Member

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    And likely more so as increasing number of 40S&W owners shoot 9mm with 40-9mm conversion barrels.
     
  6. FL-NC

    FL-NC Member

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    I was never in love with it. I got one cheap (Glock 23 turn in I believe is 2nd gen) that I carry on my belt hunting. It lives behind the tool box in my shed. It works fine and will take care of anything I run across in the woods. Especially if I'm hunting with my crossbow, or turkey hunting with a shotgun. 1 arrow and broadhead is like $20. My turkey rounds ain't cheap either, and I hate firing them unless I have to because they hurt.
     
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  7. mcb

    mcb Member

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    Late to the thread. My first semi-auto handgun was a 40S&W. It got me into USPSA where 40S&W sort of ruled many divisions. Now many years later nearly all of my semi-auto handguns are in 40 Cal including one of my revolvers. I do not currently own a 9mm handgun and have only ever owned one 9mm handgun. I like 40S&W...
     
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2022
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  8. BJung

    BJung Member

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    My handgun caliber choices were a result of me - being a handloader - picking up too much brass and deciding that I need a gun to go with it. Years ago, the police use to train at the range I shot at just the day before. I went once a week that day for a long time. So, very soon I had a 20 mm can of once-fired 40 cal can of brass and just had to have a 40cal.
     
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  9. Smaug

    Smaug Member

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    10 mm has a huge performance advantage over 9 mm. The questions are whether that was needed and whether it was worth the accompanying recoil and blast.
     
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  10. RetiredUSNChief

    RetiredUSNChief Member

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    I agree. But the part you quoted from my post was about the .40 S&W, not the 10mm. This thread is about the decline of the .40 S&W.

    The .40 S&W suffered because it was a "dumbing down" of the 10mm to a point where eventually practicality and the modern market cause people to essentially say "Meh, what's the point now?"

    This is not to say, of course, that the .40 S&W isn't a good round; rather that it became something that couldn't effectively compete enough to maintain its initial popularity.

    ;)
     
  11. DesertFox

    DesertFox Member

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    .40S&W scores higher in gun games than 9mm. Makes sense for competition. OG 10mm nut here who appreciates both 40S&W and 9mm. Last several trips to the range have yielded 97% 9mm, 2% 45ACP and 1% 10mm brass so I would concur that 40S&W scavenging has gone slim.
     
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  12. Smaug

    Smaug Member

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    Even there, a typical 9 mm load is 365 ft-lbs, (124 gr. bullet @ 1150 fps) while a mild 40 S&W load is 450 ft-lbs. (155 gr. @ 1200 fps)
    That's 23% more energy from "Forty Short & Weak" than good ol' 9 mm Luger.

    The hotter defense loads in 40 S&W have pretty serious energy; 600 ft-lbs. (135 gr. @ 1400 fps)
    That's 64% more energy.

    Source: SHTF blog

    Try not to laugh at the prepper title of the site; it's pretty well-reasoned.

    I also bet that the FBI wanted the higher-performing defense-type rounds and with some barrier penetration ability and went with hotter loads in the 600 ft-lbs range, compared to a similar 9 mm load which would be closer to 400 ft-lbs for a similar load. It's 30% less energy and about that much less recoil.
     
    Last edited: Sep 16, 2022
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  13. BJung

    BJung Member

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    I don't shoot often and this is what I remember. The drawback of the 40cal is the muzzle lift. The .45, as I recall recoils less with a longer push vs. the snappy .40cal.
     
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  14. RetiredUSNChief

    RetiredUSNChief Member

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    Indeed, the typical .40 S&W energies are greater than those of typical 9mm. However, there are plenty of 9mm loadings available which are comparable to the typical energies of the 40 S&W. All while being cheaper and allowing for higher capacities.

    And it's this which makes people as a whole scratch their heads over why they should go for the .40 over the 9mm.

    Note that I'm not saying that the 9mm can be loaded to energies higer than the .40 S&W can, only that the 9mm has a huge variety of ammunition available, some of which already matches that of the "typical" .40 S&W.

    I won't argue that the .40 S&W does not have significant offerings of it's own which make it attractive. Because it does.

    But the question posed by the OP was "What happened to 40 caliber?" The answer is as I described it in my previous posting. After the initial popularity of the 10mm, and it's subsequent .40 S&W offspring, it simply died away in the face of a marked already dominated by existing established calibers, most notibly the 9mm, which better fit the market niche overall.

    There are a great many fine caliber choices out there, both in handguns and long guns. Some calibers have risen to dominate the field in several areas, especially in handguns. It's exceptionally difficult any more for something "new" to radically upset the market cart in the long term because of this. Short term, yes. Long term, not so much.

    The simple fact that the .49 S&W is still around as much as it is, however, is quite a testimony to the cartridge in itself.
     
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  15. mavracer

    mavracer Member

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    There's always a lot of cherry picking and gaslighting that goes on in caliber wars add in good old human perception and cognitive bias and these mantras become accepted facts.
    In reality if you put them in similar weight guns and shoot full power loads in both there just isn't that much difference on a shot timer.
    There was some ebb and flow with gun designs and growing pains with 40 guns.
    Many early ones were 9mm designs tweaked to shoot 40, many of the guns released more recently were blank page designed specifically for a 40. Many 40s will have a smidge more weight in the slide some do it internally some like my FN FNS have visibly deeper machining on the 9mm version.
    If you compare it to a lightweight commander 45 cap it's very soft shooting they're both 27.5 oz ish.
     
  16. RetiredUSNChief

    RetiredUSNChief Member

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    I usually roll my eyes on caliber wars.

    It is exceptionally difficult to compare terminal ballistics in a meaningful way across calibers. It's difficult enough within the same caliber, but at least you have the advantage of identical cross sectional areas.

    If one were to compare a 9mm (115 gr at 1200 fps) with a .45 ACP (30 gr at 860 fps) one would come up with virtually identical KE calculations (368 ft-lbf vs. 378 ft-lbf). And yet other aspects of their terminal ballistics will be radically different simply because of the difference in mass and bullet diameter.

    Momentum, for example, will not be the same. Momentum for the .45 ACP will be about 43% higher than that of the 9mm. The cross sectional area of the .45 ACP is 62% greater than that of the 9mm. The resistence to penetration for the 9mm is less than that of the .45 ACP.

    All these things have an "impact" on terminal ballistics and what that means on how the target is affected as a result.

    Thus you can only make some broad generalizations between calibers. And most people assign more meanings to the differences than actually exists. Kinetic Energy, for example, is not the "be-all" of terminal balistics, though it is an important value to consider.

    If you stay within the same caliber, then comparison of terminal ballistics becomes both easier and more meaningful. If you further limit changes to some characteristics, it becomes even more so. For example, same caliber, same mass, same bullet design, but different velocities. Or same caliber, same mass, same velocities, but different bullet designs.

    Caliber wars CAN be entertaining, but they often go off kilter too.
     
  17. mavracer

    mavracer Member

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    Absofreakinlootly when it supports their bias if not then they'll downplay the differences or deny they exist.
    Caliber is a compromise and best compromise is an oxymoron.
     
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  18. mavracer

    mavracer Member

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    Was out and about today and both Cabelas and Atwoods had 40 range ammo for a buck or 3 cheaper than 9mm. Was all outrageous though lol.
     
  19. BJung

    BJung Member

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    Shed some light for me here. But, when the 10mm was adopted and reduced to a point where the 40 came out, the development of today's new bullets did not exist yet. I think the Black Saber or whatever the government wanted to ban was the bullet at the time. And so, the larger caliber bullets had an advantage. That is not the case today. Would anyone care to agree or disagree?
     
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  20. mavracer

    mavracer Member

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    First off the "10mm was adopted and reduced" is one of those gaslighting things I mentioned.
    The FBI knew at the time that full power 10mm was too much for the average suit, I mean they'd been using 38+p in their 357s for years.
    The 10mm was tested and adopted with the FBI load [email protected]
    Second there's also been this gaslighting that has morphed 12" minimum and up to 18" is preferred into "as long as it penetrates 12" you're GTG".
    So yeah modern 9mm is as good as the 40 was 30+ years ago, but modern 40 still out performs both.
     
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  21. Bennj

    Bennj Member

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    Whew, You scared me there! Made me run to my closet and check to see if all my 40 was still there.
     
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  22. Mike J

    Mike J Member

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    I like .40. I also own pistols chambered for 9mm & 45 acp. As has been stated many manufacturers just put .40 barrels in 9mm guns. The guns that were initially designed for .40 S&W usually shoot better.

    It has been a while since I bought a new .40. The last one I bought was Pre-Covid. I found a M&P 2.0 Compact chambered in .40 for $350. The same pistol chambered for 9mm was selling for a bit over $500 if I recall correctly. They M&P was originally designed for .40. I like how it shoots & I like the round.
     
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  23. BJung

    BJung Member

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    One can argue that the 40 is the equivalent of the .38 to the .357. I've seen my younger brother shoot a .40 through his 10. While the 40 is less expensive to shoot through the 10mm. The overall cost of shooting a 9mm more so. As a side note, what I do like about the 40 is that I can switch barrels so it can shoot .357 Sig.
     
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  24. mavracer

    mavracer Member

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    Except the 357 runs double the pressure of the 38 so you're talking 500 FPS difference. With the 40 and 10mm it's only 7% which equates to about 200 fps and usually the 10mm lists a 5" barrel and 40 is 4".
     
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  25. WrongHanded
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    WrongHanded Contributing Member

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    The problem with the .40S&W is that it's boringly adequate.

    It doesn't need the fanciest new bonded jacketed hollow point bullet technology to be effective. Even the standard 180gr FMJ at around 1000fps with a flat nose (standard), is a reasonable choice for defensive use if there's just no JHP available. And that loads is probably more than adequate for most woods adventures. The capacity is decent. The recoil isn't particularly offensive.

    There's no question that the terminal performance is adequate when measured against the holy FBI standards, because that's exactly what the cartridge was created for.

    But it's not cool. And the capacity is slightly lower than a 9mm, and the ammo does cost a bit more, and there is slightly more recoil. And with the latest HST or Gold Dot G2 ammo, the 9mm does performed pretty much as well.... in gel tests anyway.

    But if you took away all my reloading gear, pistols and pistol ammo, and gave me only $2000 to replace them; I'd probably buy a G22, a G27, a few holsters, half a dozen more G22 mags, and bulk .40 ammunition. Why? Because it's good enough. And because I still won't trust 9mm to do everything I might want doing.
     
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