Category name:9mm

Stories of the Death of 40S&W are Greatly Exaggerated

40 ounces – wait – what?

To be honest, when the 40S&W came out in in 1990 I was under-whelmed. I felt that the flexibility of the 10mm was close to ideal and that the 40S&W would never catch on. I actually was a fan of Evan Whildin’s of Action Arms Limited (think Uzi) 41 Action Express. Ironically, the 41AE was designed to replicate the 41 Magnum which itself was designed as the “ideal” law enforcement cartridge (according to Bill Jordan et al)

But I was sure wrong about the 40S&W! At the time it seemed to fill in the middle-ground and resolve the great caliber debate: 9mm vs 45ACP, fast vs slow, single-stack vs double-stack mags, light vs heavy. It caught on quickly and like a wild fire among law enforcement and quickly became the dominant round. I can’t help but think that the fact that we were under the 1994 high capacity magazine ban limiting capacity helped fuel its popularity – at least in the civilian market.

Despite this, it would take me about a decade of a proven track record to warm up to it. Let’s face it – the older I got, the heavier that full size 45 felt.

 

What was once old is new again!

Enter 2014 and the FBI has re-adopted the 9mm (more on that in a minute) and it seems that the internet is a buzz with stories of how the 40 is either dead or dying. More recently I have even seen a trend of where very well-known firearms experts seem to go out of their way to discredit the 40S&W. Not that I necessarily disagree with their reasons or evaluations (there is a pro and con to everything), but I find the sudden upswing of anti-endorsements odd.

Just yesterday I saw a thread where a prominent competition shooter said that he (still) preferred the 40 to the shock of many on the internet. There was a bit of criticism and I was surprised to see him defending his choice and even qualifying it. Gosh folks—he can shoot whatever he likes. I will never understand why anyone cares what someone else uses.

Speaking of what is old is new – consider the possibility of another assault weapons ban. It is a common mantra of anti-gunners’ “common sense” legislation. If we were limited to 10 rounds in new pistols again worse (all firearms) would your opinion change? Think that it couldn’t happen? Tell me how it couldn’t happen for the decade that it did. It is only because of the NRA that there was a 10 year sunset. If not for that clause we would STILL be under its limit (end political rant).

 

Internet declares the 40 S&W in its last days

But I digress, why do I think that the stories of the 40’s death are exaggerated?

The biggest reason is that it still holds about 60% of the U.S. Law enforcement market.

That is huge – it means that there are more 40 S&W pistols in service than ALL other calibers COMBINED!

Incidentally, the most popular law enforcement pistol is the Glock 22. Glock civilian sales are completely different and the best seller in the U.S. is the model 19.

 

But the FBI just switched to 9mm so the 40 will die out!

Will it? I was wrong about the switch-over to 40 S&W but this time I am not seeing the massive shift to follow the FBI like we have in the past. Yes, I know that there are some, but not like before.

Seems like the FBI switches standard issue very frequently. From memory I can think of four changes: revolver to 9mm, to 10mm, to 40S&W and now back to the 9mm. I think that most departments would have a hard time justifying the cost of changing calibers so frequently, let alone BACK to one previously used. Today’s political environment is also, unfortunately, much more hostile to law enforcement. I feel that there may be a public backlash to “buying the police new guns.” There would definitely be accusations of funding waste.

 

Abandoned FBI rounds just don’t die

I also question the belief that a round will die out because the FBI no longer uses it. Historically this simply is not true. None of the rounds that the FBI used formerly have died out! The 38, 357 Magnum, 9mm, 10mm, 40S&W are definitely still popular. For literally YEARS people have been saying that the 10mm was dead. At worst, it is a boutique round even though there were new pistols from Glock this year (who already has a pretty good line of 10’s), one from SIG (who has never made one previously) and an expanded line from RIA. Not too bad if you ask me. The 40S&W is even more established than the 10mm ever was.

 

Going down the same road as 41AE and 41Mag?

In fact, of all the rounds discussed I think that the only one that I would say is dead is the 41AE. It was never adopted by any agency and only available from a few providers – in a conversion kit, Tanfoglios and the IMI Jericho. I think ammo only came from UZI/Samson. If you think that the 40 S&W has a bit of kick or is hard on guns the 41AE was worse. I sold my Browning HiPower conversion kit long before it disappeared.

The 41 Magnum has fared a little better – It was adopted limitedly and revolvers are still made. Ammo is still available but far from common place. This is truthfully probably what a lot of people think of (hope?) for the future of the 40 S&W. But, the fact that a very powerful REVOLVER round (significantly more powerful than the 10mm) intended for law enforcement but only adopted by a few agencies (2 or 3?) still exists today is pretty remarkable. Besides Rick (Walking Dead) how many agencies even issue any revolver as a duty sidearm? Maybe some Corrections and Reserves? I think the 40 and 41 Mag comparison is not 1-to-1, but it is noteworthy.

 

Which is better: 9, 40, 45, 50AE? Google!

The 9mm vs 40S&W vs 45ACP vs whatever debates have been hashed to death on the internet. Way too much time and bandwidth is wasted on justifying what the “best” round is. I am not going to engage in each caliber’s pros/cons – and every cartridge has BOTH. Google’g will result in a ridiculous amount of material.

 

Some arguments are just not worth participating/Google first!

I do feel that I have to point out a weird caliber argument that I saw yesterday. Someone called the 40S&W “Short & Weak” when compared to the 9mm. Now, when the 40S&W was introduced there were people who called it “Short & Weak” in comparison to its big brother 10mm but using the phrase in a justification of the 9mm over 40S&W is just wacky – check your cartridge dimensions first! I wish I had kept the link to that particular thread. On second thought, I am glad I didn’t.

 

My conclusion? Somebody buy me a Wilson (in any caliber)

Carry what you want. They all work…mostly (well, they are all still just pistol rounds). As for the experts – they are not wrong and I respect their opinions (heck, I just bought a Glock 43 as a backup/deep conceal!). I am unsure of the seeming animosity towards the 40 S&W and why there feels like an anti-40 campaign. They are people too and are entitled to their opinion and to buy what they like.

But, like most police departments, I am heavily invested in 40 equipment and ammo. So, my main carry will continue to be 40S&W. Not that I don’t think that there are plenty of other reasons to stick with the 40 (it works and I like the boom), but economics alone are a big reason that the 40 S&W won’t be going away any time soon.


Some reading material if your bored/interested:

History of FBI hand guns – http://www.americanrifleman.org/articles/2011/8/22/a-history-of-fbi-handguns/

The Forgotten M&P (41Magnum) – http://modernserviceweapons.com/?p=3176

Wikipedia entry for 41AE – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/.41_Action_Express
(I wish I had kept some of the AAL promo material on it)

FBI Handgun Wounding Factor Effectiveness – http://gundata.org/images/fbi-handgun-ballistics.pdf
(I know it is a bit dated now, but it is worth reading)

Army opens up possibility of adopting non-9mm – http://kitup.military.com/2014/07/army-40-caliber-fbi-returns-9mm.html
(Not likely, but wouldn’t that be funny?)

 

Oct is time for another handgun! (rambling) Thoughts on the Beretta 92FS and other things…

Well, it is October and that means that I should buy another handgun. I know that should please Piers Anthony and Jim Carrey immensely. Oh well!

I was recently impressed with Beretta USA’s statement that they may move from restrictive Maryland. That ended up not coming to fruition, but they did state that any future expansion would be elsewhere. That is at least a start and is more than some other big East Coast gun companies. It is noteworthy to mention that Magpul & PTR have moved, Kahr & Ruger have moved some operations, and Colt has expanded in Florida.

But I digress. Why the Beretta 92FS/M9? This is prior to blogging but back in 1985-6 I was not a fan. I couldn’t believe that the venerable M1911A1 which had served for 75 years and was being replaced by a pistol with undesirable features (my list of cons at the time):

  • big
  • fat
  • 9mm
  • looong heavy double-action
  • slide mounted safety
  • integral front sight
  • open top design
  • complicated (# of parts) design
  • I wasn’t a big fan of the 9mm, but if I had to have a 9mm it should be a High Power. I still love the HP, but 9mm ammo has come a long away and a lot of my early criticisms are not a concern to me any longer.

    Well, almost 30 years later I have come to admire the pistol. One has to admit that despite the controversy and “problems” it has served the United States well. When I say problems I mean specifically the Italian metallurgy issues (that brought about the 92F to 92FS) and broken locking blocks. Both these issues appear to be very limited in scope. Compare to other folks recalls lately (hmm…that sounds like another blog post in itself).

    Other “issues” like the effectiveness of 9mm FMJ in combat or bad contract magazines can’t really be blamed on the pistol.

    What else changed my mind about the Beretta 92FS? Actually spending some range time with one! First time out with one I was able to qualify marksman with it. I was amazed at how straight shooting they are. The craftsmanship on this particular one was exemplary (it was a 90’s Italian if that makes any difference). The pistol operated liked butter – the trigger/hammer although ridiculously long and heavy were superb and everything about it was smooth without grittiness. Pull the action back on one, cock the hammer – no break in required!

    You may have noticed that I am not a big fan of the looong and heavy double-action trigger. At the time I was coming exclusively from the world of 1911s and HiPowers. I didn’t like any DA but the Beretta in particular was stood out as excessive. Since then I have a lot more shooting experience with DA pistols and well, have become more proficient with them.

    Ironically, DA-pistols once claimed the pistol thrown and were all the rage, are now out of vogue. In fact, try and find one. There are few made in the world of single-actions and strikers. Take a look at Ruger’s offering. Ruger pistols were once dominated with double-action pistols in just about any caliber. Now there are none. The P95 (under-rated IMO) was on there the last time I looked, but must have been recently removed.

    My, how times have changed. When the U.S. Military announced M9 adoption everyone rushed out to buy one – at inflated prices. Now, I called around to find one and the youngster who answered the phone at one shop didn’t even know what one was! Forced to looked it up he said that they were discontinued and that all I could get was a compact, INOX (which he had no idea meant stainless slide with silver frame), and M9A1. The 92FS is still in the Beretta catalog, so I hope that they are made. I was bummed that I did not see the Brigadier offered any longer. I don’t think the slide beefing up is needed any longer, but I don’t see it as a detriment.

    The Beretta 92 was designed in 1972 so it is not that old of a design, at least when compared to the 1911 or the HiPower (adopted in 1911 by the U.S. and 1935 by Belgium respectively). I pick these two pistols because they are were designed by John Browning and influenced almost all small arms pistols that have come since. If it has a tilt barrel, it is based on Browning’s designs. Did you know that one of the HiPowr prototypes was a striker pistol? The Beretta 92FS however is completely different and to me that makes it stand out.

    So, what about that list of negatives? Well, they are still there but keep in mind that it is a duty pistol. For me, it will be a range and a nightstand bump in the night pistol and will be perfect. I also suspect that its smooth functioning and non-existent recoil will make it a hit for training new shooters. I still wouldn’t considered it as a primary CCW pistol.

    Sometimes, things are worth taking a second look.

    Glock 26 chrony results

    This is a work in progress…

    Since I don’t have anywhere to put this yet, some Glock 26 (and 17 if available):

    Speer 124gr GoldDot 1068
    Fed 135gr HydraShok 974
    Speer 147gr GoldDot 924
    Speer 124gr+P GoldDot 1155
    Win 147gr SXT 919
    Rem 124gr+P Golden Saber 1139 (1196)
    Rem 147gr Golden Saber 998 (1018)
    Win 147gr SXT 983 (1006)

    Fed 115gr (9BP) 1111
    Hornady 124gr XTP CQTAP 1100
    CorBon 124gr+P XTP 1229
    Corbon 125gr+P JHP 1188
    Win 127gr+P+ Ranger RA9TA 1246

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