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What's up with all the .40S&W ragging?

Discussion in 'Handguns: Autoloaders' started by beatledog7, Oct 16, 2012.

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  1. beatledog7

    beatledog7 Member

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    OK, this gets covered peripherally in many threads but maybe it's a good idea to bring it out into the open. It's not intended to be cartridge war, but a rational discussion focused on why the .40 cal is so maligned. Of course, some comparison to the 9mmx19 is inevitable.

    Many shooters rag on the .40S&W cartridge, saying it's a cartridge looking for a purpose. But the same can be said for a number of rifle rounds whose ballistic curves are so close that the differences probably aren't worth the ink they get (that discussion belongs in another thread). Some argue that it's more kaboom prone than other cartridges. Others say it's too snappy in recoil and not enough stouter than a full-house 9x19 to make that recoil worthwhile. Still others simply argue that it costs more than 9mm and has no advantages as long as you get hits.

    But some of us like it. It can easily push a 180gr bullet as fast as a 9mm struggles to push a 147gr bullet (somebody will launch into a +P lecture to prove otherwise), and it's very economical if one reloads. It allows for nearly the same capacity as 9mmx19 yet packs more punch, and its recoil characteristics are easily mitigated by training. Scads of LE agencies use it, so it can't accurately be labelled "useless."

    So, what's your take? Why do so many label the .40S&W an unnecessary duplication of existing capability, a round looking for a purpose? And is it a fair assessment?
     
  2. allaroundhunter

    allaroundhunter Member

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    To me, it is a cartridge looking for a purpose.

    I have my 9mms, and as you said, with +P loads, it near duplicates .40 S&W performance. If I want something heavier, I will step up to a .45 ACP.

    I do not reload, so cost is another factor that pushes me away from the .40 S&W.

    Now, a place that the .40 S&W is great is in USPSA style competition. The .40 gives you major power factor points, with higher capacity than the .45 ACP.
     
  3. CoRoMo

    CoRoMo Member

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    Same reason that so many label the .40S&W an ultimate perfection which fulfills the shortcomings of existing designs.

    Because everyone's got an opinion.
     
  4. Kyle M.

    Kyle M. Member

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    I really like the .40S&W I can shoot my g35 better than any 9mm I've ever shot, and it's cheaper to load than .45, holds more rounds, and the gun fits my hand. Unlike a double stack .45. I was always a .45 man then I tried 9mm and didn't like it, I fell in love all over again with the .40 and it's now my favorite. Of course the .38 super is a close second.
     
  5. Sam1911

    Sam1911 Moderator

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    Just another thing to argue about. You know all there is to know about it, I'm sure. You can get a few more .40s in the gun than you can .45s. You can get more energy and momentum out of .40 than you can 9mm. The .40 isn't all it's big daddy cartridge (10mm) could have been, but it's now about 10,000 times more popular/common.

    (Imagine some sports guy like a baseball player or race car driver who's dad was a legend but is out of the game now -- and that young "Junior" fellow gets tons more press and fan attention than his pop ever did. The die-hards would hate him just because.)

    Throw in a bit of kerfuffle about how the .40 runs at higher pressure and plays closer to the edge than the old standbys -- and maybe a gun came apart every once in a while back in the day -- and now there's a kernel of truth for the hate to cling to. Sort of like air bourn dust collecting moisture and eventually forming hail.

    Gun guys tend to be conservative-minded and many (MANY) are not terribly good at objective reasoning. A new whatever that comes on the scene has to be either AWESOME or WORTHLESS. Just being "fine" or "acceptable" and "a reasonable compromise" doesn't get the blood pumping.
     
  6. beatledog7

    beatledog7 Member

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    Well said, Sam. I guess that's why I like the .40 cal -- it isn't the best for any niche purpose, but it has no vices and can be called upon for just about any role. It's the Honda Accord of handgun rounds.
     
  7. Skribs

    Skribs Member

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    I think, from what I've read (because I wasn't even born yet when the shootout that is credited for starting the whole kerfluffle towards the 10mm and then the .40 S&W), that the .40 fixed a problem that existed at the time, but modern technology has brought the 9mm round back up to par. So 20 years ago, the .40 had a bigger purpose.

    As it stands, the .40 is a mid-range between two cartridges that work, and so one can assume it works. What works best is open to interpretation, but I personally believe the 9 doesn't give up much in "stopping power" and has a lot of other advantages. I started on a .40, but I'm making the switch to 9.
     
  8. holdencm9

    holdencm9 Member

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    I agree with Skrib the .40 was probably more relevent 20 years ago. Now, I agree it is kind of a cartridge looking for a purpose. So it can push a 180gr bullet as fast as a 9mm can push a 147gr....so? Both have adequate penetration for civilian needs (IMO). With one you just get less capacity (usually only one or two rounds though) and snappier recoil which results in slower follow-up shots.

    I would love to get a .40 though, just to complete my service-caliber trifecta. It is a fine cartridge.

    I don't see people "ragging" on the .40 S&W so much as I see newbies saying something like "Looking to get my first gun, don't know anything, but I think I want a .40 S&W" and then people come into the thread and explain the benefits of 9mm over .40, especially for a new shooter (usually cost, since a new shooter won't likely be interested in reloading at first, and practice ammo will be important starting out, and the snappier recoil, etc.)

    Just the other day at Gander Mtn I hear some guy telling the clerk he wants a .40 but had no reasons why, he just thought it was "better than 9mm and cheaper than .45" but luckily this particular store employee knew a thing or two and pointed out that most modern 9mm SD offerings are just as capable, and it will be way cheaper to shoot, and less snappy...if that is "ragging" then I guess I hear a lot of it. I don't consider it ragging.
     
  9. beatledog7

    beatledog7 Member

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    I would define "ragging" as expressing a dislike for the round without offering any rationale. It's saying something like, "You couldn't pay me to own anything in .40cal" or "the .40S&W is an abomination" and leaving it at that.
     
  10. Bovice

    Bovice Member

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    It is not 9mm nor .45 acp, so it has a purpose. It's the same argument people make about 357 SIG, or anything other than 9mm.

    I am sick of people claiming the 9mm can be pushed to +++p+++ and smoke the .357 magnum on the cheap.

    It doesn't do that, and if you try, you'll be scrapping that gun for cosmetics before long.
     
  11. Skribs

    Skribs Member

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    Actually I make an entirely different argument for the .357 SIG. My argument there is that you get a similar wound tract with SD loadings, except maybe a tad deeper, but you lose on capacity and gain recoil. The .40 at least makes a bigger hole, but I don't think the hole is big enough to make much of a difference in a SD situation.

    I'm not saying it doesn't have a purpose, I just think its losing in the tradeoff with the 9.
     
  12. trickyasafox

    trickyasafox Member

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    I'm a fan of the 40- especially in ban states. if I am only getting 10 rounds, than the extra oomph the 40 has over the 9 in a small package is nice.
     
  13. R.W.Dale

    R.W.Dale Member

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    The 40 is a cartridge that HAD a purpose but lost it with the most recent generations of defense projectiles and folks are starting to realize this.


    Its not 1992 anymore, we don't need that extra 1mm and few grains of bullet mass over 9mm to make up for the unreliable JHP bullets of the day. Today in the same guns wich was 40's selling point once apon a time its all trade offs from 9mm to shoot a 40 in terms of cost, recoil, capacity, durability all for no practical increase in effectiveness.



    posted via that mobile app with the sig lines everyone complaints about
     
  14. Bozwell

    Bozwell Member

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    I agree with Skribs and R.W. entirely. While it may have served a purpose when it was created, these days you are largely just giving up capacity and faster follow-up shots when compared to modern 9mm rounds. In my mind, if 9mm isn't up to the job, .40S&W isn't either and you need to move up to a rifle. God forbid I ever live in a state that mandates 10 rounds or less in the magazine, but if I do, I'll look to a .45acp long before I ever consider the .40S&W. Just my $0.02.
     
  15. silicosys4

    silicosys4 Member

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    40S&W is cheap to reload. Really cheap. Once fired brass is insanely cheap. Cheaper than 38spcl. Much cheaper than .45acp. It gives .45acp performance with an average of 2-3 more rounds per magazine. I don't get how somebody would prefer the .45acp over the .40s&w. I can definitely see preferring the 9mm over the .40s&w, capacity benefits are obvious...for the same reason, the .40s&w has got an advantage over the .45acp.
     
    Last edited: Oct 16, 2012
  16. David E

    David E Member

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    Not true with properly executed technique.
     
  17. Walkalong

    Walkalong Moderator

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    It's an excellent caliber.

    I don't have one anymore because I like .45 ACP better (For defense or the range), and it costs me pretty much the same to load for either one, so..... I don't have one any longer.
     
  18. R.W.Dale

    R.W.Dale Member

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    Here's my take

    40 and 45 do not compete directly with each other as they don't share the same platforms and or frame sizes much like ar15-10 comparisons.

    40 caliber for better or worse is strictly vs 9mm.

    I look for 40's future to somewhere mirror that of 38acp/super. Its popularity will never be greater than it was in the past but it'll always be around as a enthusiasts niche caliber.




    posted via that mobile app with the sig lines everyone complaints about
     
  19. Walkalong

    Walkalong Moderator

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    The .40 is indeed compared to and argued about with the .45 all the time.
     
  20. David E

    David E Member

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    This line of reasoning is interesting. Modern technology is touted to bring up the 9mm to "nearly the same level as the .40!" (prior to the .40, the same was said comparing the 9mm to the .45, specifically during the military handgun trials of the early 80's)

    This assumes the .40 stays the same, inexplicably not utilizing the same "modern technology" that improved the 9mm performance enough to make the statement plausible in the first place.
     
  21. David E

    David E Member

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    It may be, but the inventor of the .40 insisted it was vs the 9mm.

    FBI wanted a 10mm load pushing a 180 @ 950 fps. Inventor realized he could achieve that with a shorter case that would fit in 9mm sized guns. (the 10mm would not)

    He acknowledged from the start the .45 acp was better, but also that the .40 was better than the 9mm.

    The result was a great combination of power, capacity and size.

    The popularity of the .40 confirms he was not alone in his thinking.
     
  22. R.W.Dale

    R.W.Dale Member

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    No it only assumes there is just one grade of stopped or dead.

    If 9mm in anti personnel use is getting there what exactly is 40 going to do differently?






    posted via that mobile app with the sig lines everyone complaints about
     
  23. W.E.G.

    W.E.G. Member

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    The .40 does everything a .45 does, and it does it in a gun the same size as a 9mm, and with more magazine capacity than a .45

    A .45 will always be unnecessarily large and heavy.
    A 9mm will always be less than a .40

    Relevant?

    Much more than that. Try SUPERIOR.
     
  24. Arkansas Paul

    Arkansas Paul Member

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    This is it for me. I'm a fan of the .40 for sure. IMO it's a good combination of magazine capacity and power.
     
  25. CoRoMo

    CoRoMo Member

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    Wouldn't that make it the ''Jeep' of handgun rounds''? Or the 'F150'?

    If not, what's the 'Jeep of handgun rounds'? What's the 'F150'?
     
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