Filthie's Mobile Fortress Of Solitude

Filthie's Mobile Fortress Of Solitude
Where Great Intelligence Goes To Be Insulted

Sunday, 16 January 2022

Fuzzy Thinking: The .40 S&W

 Gregory took me into the boards for a much deserved cross check and some high sticking:

So. Why don't you like the 40 S&W round? I shoot Them in my 10mm Smith. They are strong and accurate (at least to this old man and his shaky self)


By Godfrey... I may indeed have shat the bed on that one. Badly! When it comes to calibres I always tell folks to buy the old tried and true .45ACP/9mm/357/38 Special/.22 long rifle/44 Magnum. They are relatively cheap, readily available and fully supported by the gun marketplace. The gunnies have worked with them for years and years and they know everything about them from the reloading standpoint (except for the .22 - and to be honest, if you are anal enough - you can reload for that too!). I avoid exotic calibres like the plague because brass and ammo supplies can get disrupted with them and then, without any ammo... your gun would be a paperweight. I always lumped the .40 S&W in this category and only realize the error of that now that Greg brought it up. How long has that thing been on the market now? 30 years? 40? Jeebus, Filthie!!! Good grief!!! Ya think it might be time to finally take a look at this thing...? GAH!

40 S&W Ballistics Chart

AmmoVelocity (Feet per Second)Energy (Ft. Pounds)Bullet Drop (Inches)Ballistic Coefficient
Ammo NameBarrel LengthMuzzle25 yds.50 yds.75 yds.100 yds. Muzzle25 yds.50 yds.75 yds.100 yds. Muzzle25 yds.50 yds.75 yds.100 yds. (G1)(G7)Sect. Density
Blazer Brass 180 Gr. FMJ4985954926901877388364343324308-0-2.4-7.3-14.90.1470.161
Sellier & Bellot 180 Gr. FMJ4968940915892871375353335318303-0-2.5-7.5-15.30.1570.161
Tula 180 Gr. FMJ49193380.161
Magtech 180 Gr. FMJ4990966944924904392373356341328-0-2.3-7.1-14.40.1990.161
Black Hills 180 Gr. FPL48002560.161
Black Hills 200 Gr. RNFP Cowboy48002840.179
Blazer 180 Gr. FMJ41000967938911887400374352332315-0-2.3-7.1-14.50.1470.161
Winchester USA 180 Gr. FMJ410209934163940.161
Winchester USA 165 Gr. FMJ4106010294123880.147
Federal American Eagle 165 Gr. FMJ4113010781035999967468426392365342-0-1-4-9.10.1540.147
Remington UMC 180 Gr. FMJ4990964940392371353-0.3-1.10.161
Federal American Eagle 180 Gr. FMJ41000972946923901400377358340324-0-1.4-5.3-11.60.1750.161
PMC 180 Gr. FMJ4985957931908887388366347330314-0-2.4-7.2-14.80.1640.161
Federal HST 180 Gr. JHP41010980954930908408384364346329-0-1.4-5.1-11.40.1750.161
Blazer 165 Gr. FMJ410501008972941913404372346324305-0-2.1-6.6-13.50.1390.147
Fiocchi 165 Gr. FMJ411001016954443378333--0.8-3.90.1550.147
Federal Hi-Shok 180 Gr. HP41000972946923901400377358340324-0-1.4-5.3-
Speer Lawman 165 Gr. TMJ4115010891040999964484435396365340-0-0.9-3.9-90.140.147
Federal Hi-Shok 155 Gr. HP4115010871036994959455407370340316-0-0.9-3.9-90.130.138
Speer Gold Dot 180 Gr. HP41025988956928902420390365344325-0-1.3-5-11.20.1430.161
Fiocchi 125 Gr. Sinterfire Frang.412654440.112
PMC 165 Gr. FMJ4989964941920900358340324310297-0-2.3-7.1-14.50.1870.147
Federal HST 165 Gr. JHP4113010781035999967468426392365342-0-1-4-
Remington HTP 155 Gr. JHP4120511461095500452413--0.2-0.80.138
Speer Gold Dot 165 Gr. JHP41150109010421001967484436398367342-0-0.9-3.9-8.90.1380.147
Speer Gold Dot 155 Gr. JHP412004960.138
Federal American Eagle 155 Gr. FMJ41160109510431000963463413374344319-0-0.9-3.8-8.90.138
Hornady Critical Defense 165 Gr. JHP31175111610671027992506456418386360-0-1.7-5.4-11.10.1540.147
Speer Lawman 180 Gr. TMJ41000967937910885400373351331313-0-1.4-5.3-11.80.1470.161
Speer Lawman CleanFire 180 Gr. FMJ41000967937910885400373351331313-0-1.4-5.3-11.80.1470.161
Prvi Partizan 180 Gr. JHP4968943920899880375356339323309-0-2.4-7.4-15.10.1750.161
Hornady 180 Gr. XTP49509038623613262970.161
Winchester 180 Gr. Bonded JHP49853880.161
Barnes 140 Gr. TAX-XPD HP4112010611014975940390350320295275-0-1.9-6-12.30.1280.125
Remington Golden Saber 165 Gr. JHP4115010891040484435396-0-0.90.135

Sorry about this chart - I couldn't figure out how to format it....

Hmmmppfppfpfffff!!! That is easily 45ACP performance with light bullets! Hmmmmmmm. And maybe 9mm with very hot loads? What’s the heaviest pill they shoot? 125 grains? 

This whole cartridge came about because back when the FBI actually did law enforcement - they did it rather badly. They got in a pitched gun battle in Miami with some very well armed goblins and lost two agents and had five or six others severely wounded. For whatever reason, the Feebs decided their Sig P226s in 9mm were underpowered and they needed more jam to compete in these altercations. (I thought (and still do) think that they were full of beans - they returned fire with 9mm's, .357 magnums and 38 special guns... and the 9mm and .357 certainly DO have all the power needed to end a gunfight. Theirs was a training issue... but I digress). 

What we have here is basically 9mm performance with bigger bullets. Or 45ACP performance with lighter boolits. Unfortunately for the Feebs, that comes with more recoil and I guess the new crop of crime fighters…. The vibrant little women and diminutive chinks couldn't handle it ... so after all the work of developing and issuing the new guns ... they all ended up going back to the 9mm. Now ya see why those guys turned away from law enforcement and became the secret police for the shitlib democrats, HAR! And why they go around nowadays arresting drunks and grannies and retards and dress them up as super villains, HAR HAR HAR!!! But the round caught on with other serious police agencies and the public - and it is out there in full force just like all the other tried and true standby's. 

Why don't I like it?

I suppose I probably should! My only issue with it is I like to shoot cheap cast lead bullets that I make myself. Cast lead likes low velocities. For target work, a 230gr round nose, poking along at 750~800 FPS is just fine. I get marginally better accuracy from jacketed bullets - but cast lead is just super for practice. Other than the 38 Special, none of the other standby common calibers will handle low power cast lead loads as  well as the good ol' 45. But that's just me. If all you are going to do is fight with the gun... the 40 S&W may be a good fit for you. There’s certainly nothing wrong with it.

Are any of you guys shooting this calibre recreationally? What are your impressions? I have heard complaints about recoil and muzzle blast - but that comes with the territory when you shoot serious ammo at serious targets.

As always, your two bits are sincerely appreciated!


  1. I’ve got a pair of .40’s that are set up for potential ugliness. A 1911 style sidearm I traded a compact .45 ACP for and a Ruger PCC carbine. 2 guns, one round. Where I live, the odds of having to make a 150+ yard shot aren’t high; there’s just too much vegetation. My only regret is both take different magazines. As far as shooting them, I run 185 gr plated flat nose over Unique or Power Pistol charges. No problem finding brass or bullets when I started shooting them. I bought a goodly supply of bullets and found 1000 nickle cases (easier to relocate after getting spit out of the chamber) for cheap. The .40’s about the same size as my 1911 but with an 11 round magazine. Recoil & muzzle blast aren’t significantly different from the 45, IMHO. If I’ve got to put any of them to work, 38, 40 or 45, I’m probably not going to have the time to install earplugs anyway. They’re all gonna be loud and recoil won’t be noticed. Go test drive a .40!

  2. I got a Glock 22 some 20-25 years ago, and discovered that it doesn't like the arthritis in my hands. I down loaded it a bit and it works fine. My carbine is in the same caliber and has all the reach an power I could ask for with full power loads. I use 165 gr over 5 gr of Titegroup in the carbine. If I load with Power pistol, I can get 1500 fps and no muzzle fireballs. Looking forward to hunting pigs.

  3. Around here, 40 was easy to find when 9mm was in short supply. Lots of cops still carry the 40. Few carry the 45. Lots also have started using the 9mm to be like the fed "cool kids". All three will do the trick IF you do your part. Placement, placement placement. Now I am older than dirt. I started out the the 357, went to the 40 for about 15 years, went down to the 9 for about 5 years. Now having trouble with my hands. Going down to a 380. That scares me a lot. I just got to do even better at shot placement. Getting old sux big time. BTW, I found the 40 easier to load than the 9mm, and no cast because Glock. Stupid 1mm can really make a difference in handling the shells. 45 should be a breeze to load. I like shooting cheap but lead is getting harder to find and FMJ is nearly as cheap when you account for the time running lead. The only lead I run nowdays is .54 round ball for the half stock Lyman.

    1. I have a gen 2 Glock 23. Famous for unsupported chamber causing "glocked" brass, a bulge at the bottom of the case. Need to do proper full case length resize for reloading. Problem solved by buying a Lone Wolf barrel; fully supported chamber and non-polygonal rifling allows lead bullets.

  4. At least one of the goblins was armed with a Mini 14 rifle and IIRC had body armor No handgun would have sufficed,

    What the G-Men needed was a carbine, not pistol and shotgun

    Even so the FBI won that fight so I'd say they did alright.

    Ultimately though stopping power is not a thing with some people . I've seen footage of a jihadi in Scotland who set himself on fire and was still in the fight.

    Problem with the .40 S&W has a lot of recoil, big noisy muzzle blast and because most guns cambered for this were just reinforced 9mm's , it beats up guns something fierce.

    Given what a pistol is for, somewhere between arrest goes wrong tool and badge of office 9mm is plenty especially with modern hollow points .

    As far as "gun fight" around here So Cal its often as not a burst of automatic fire from a highly illegal AK or modified Glock

    If someone is going to be attacked and this includes LEO's the ones in my areas being generally good guys it will be from ambush kill team style with body armor and auto weapons , the mag dump being a favorite strategy.

    No pistol will help that much.

  5. I like the .40 but what do I know? It's not what I carry and is only for fun but again, what do I know? I have a 226 in .357 sig that is a tack driver. One needs to make room for inventory when shooting off the wall but very accurate rounds like that though. I stocked up a little extra after the last shortage.

  6. The muh diversity hires quelled the .40 in law enforcement.
    Some years back the NYPD did a after action study that showed the .40 with Speer Gold Dot 165 gr. was a real performer.
    I shot .40 in USPSA Limited matches for many years.
    I carry a S&W Shield in .40 AIWB these days when I go to the big city. I would like a Ruger PCC in .40 but alas no have $$ for that right now.

  7. I agree with the earlier statement I carry a 9 but when ammo was hard to find there was 40 available. My 40 is a beast but I like having options.

  8. Glad to see I am not alone here. I consider my S&W a beast too, partly due to my old age and arthritis. But ammo is plentiful and reloading supplies for it are plentiful too.

  9. I don't know about the Great White North, but here in the lower 48, I can get 150 gr in 9mm. I can also hit a 12" plate with 115gr @130yds. (took me 4 tries) using a G19 w/viper venom 6moa. As for .45, (my fav) with just Irons, I can hit anything inside of 30yds. with deadly accuracy with 230gr fmj. Big, strong hands helps. There's my no bullshit .02cents. Ohio Guy

  10. S&W 459. The SIG was not yet adopted by the Feebs.

    Most of the agents were shooting .38 from revolvers, even if they were .357's.

    It really had more to do with finding two guys who could shoot someone without concern and discovering they were also very well armed for the occasion the FBI had created by ramming their car than a lack of puissance in their ammo.

  11. I bought my first pistol to celebrate Bill Clinton's election. I wanted a .45 but most of them maxed out at 8 rounds. I wanted more bullets. 9mm seemed too light to me. I bought an HK .40 USP, right after it was adopted by the Seals (as I recall). Ballistics were much better than the 9 and the pre-ban mags held 13 rounds. Now you can get mag extensions that increase the round count to 18. I never had trouble with accuracy or recoil.

  12. One of the reason LEOs went back to 9mm is statistical analysis of gun wounds. Every pistol cartridge from .38 to .45 had the same (within 2%) chance of neutralizing the target in a fight. It turns out that humans are not made of ballistic gelatin*, and shot placement is much more important than caliber. 9mm pistols are (generally) easier to shoot well due to reduced recoil, and carry more rounds for the same size.

    However, if you're hunting pigs, the .40 is definitely better than a 9mm, due to the increased mass of the projectile.

    * The temporary wound channel shown in ballistic tests has no real world effect on humans. It only becomes relevant in velocities above 2200 fps, where tissue begins to tear. 2300 fps is much more reliable in this regard.

  13. I kinda feel that the full power 10MM (the father of the .40) is about the best balance of handgun power, portability, and shootability, although it's a bit much for some people. The .40 is the answer to this. Its 180 grain ballistics are a close match to the old .38-40 black powder load, which provided a big enough bullet with excellent penetration along with relatively mild recoil out of an SAA. it was also popularly chambered in rifles, where it coincidentally pretty closely duplicated full power 10MM.

  14. I have several 40s, and reload & cast boolits for it too. My EDC was a 40 for 5-6 years and I still have the guns (Glock 23 and Springfield XD).
    The 40 is everything you said it is- nothing to really dislike other than you get less rounds in the gun for the size compared to 9mm.
    At the time I got into 40, I placed a lot more weight on foot-pounds of energy and similar metrics about "terminal performance". As years went by, I took more and more training and learned more, I went back to 9mm.
    I have a butt-ton of 40 brass still and similar to 45ACP, if you case boolits you can do well with big slow ones. You don't have to load them hot so you will get some kind of a load that works ok. I had good results with about a 170 or 180 grain boolit loaded light to medium.
    Only particular thing about 40 that I had to experiment with, was "full length sizing" the cases. Some dies like my Lee 40 resizing die can still leave a small bulge at the base of the case, even if you run the die all the way down. I'd have to check my notes and gear but I think I settled on an extra brass prep step for 40s which was pushing the resized 40 cases through a sizer die to get that last little bit of bulge out. Without this step, some of the reloaded rounds wouldn't fully chamber or go into battery. Especially if the case being loaded had been fired in a Glock barrel with it's partially supported chamber. Never had that happen with any other hangun chambering.

    The 40s (and really my 45s too) are backup guns or range toys now. I could pull them back out and still have holsters for them, but 9mm is fine for most of my carry needs.