Shopping Caliber: 9mm Vs .40 S&W

Every so often, we see a misguided or new shooter who asks to be shown a gun in .40S&W. Although we’d never turn down a customer because we didn’t agree with their choice, we always try our best to educate our customers on the difference. For a new shooter or a newly licensed concealed carrier, for example, we always advise 9mm or .45 ACP.

Any caliber will defend you in a self-defense situation, and any caliber is better than none at all, but if you’re carrying a handgun that you’ll need to depend on – one that fires reliably, has a decent magazine capacity, and allows for quick follow-up shots; .40 might not be the way to go.

Here’s why we prefer 9mm over the .40 S&W in a carry/defense gun:

Cost of Ammunition

Granted, the cost of ammunition has skyrocketed for all calibers, the .40S&W has all but lost its appeal to fans of the cartridge. At an average of $17-19 for a box of 50 FMJ rounds, it’s worth it just to shoot the all-around better .45 ACP. 9mm is a great platform for practice or recreational shooting, as FMJ boxes of 50 can be had for anywhere between $12 – $14.

Magazine Capacity

There are some double-stack guns that wear their magazines efficiently. The Glock 23, for example, allows for 13 rounds of .40S&W in a relatively compact magazine. However, in a self-defense situation, every round counts, and having three extra rounds in the 9mm counterpart, the Glock 19, can make a world of difference. On a side note, anyone who suggests they only need one round in a self-defense situation is surely lying.

Recoil and Controllability

And here’s the meat of the argument. For those who don’t know, .40S&W was designed in the early 90′s as almost a “watered down” version of the 10mm round. Intended mainly for law enforcement, the round seems to almost be required to be fired out at least a 4″ barrel. The round is snappy and clunky. The round is slightly larger, too, which will help for incapacitation, but not too much bigger than it’s 9mm counterpart. There have been some freakish reports of .40 not being able to penetrate, such as the video below.

So, there you have it. Again, we encourage any shooter to buy whatever caliber they desire. The idea is that you shoot well enough to the point where you are comfortable in your skills in case you need to defend your or someone else’s life.

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