I have mentioned the Safety Solutions Academy Podcast but if you are unfamiliar with it, Paul Carlson is a former school teacher that is now a firearms instructor near Cleveland, OH and he puts out a podcast every weekday across a variety topics that very closely mirror WTBGU! Paul and I almost always see eye to eye on his topics and reach our conclusions for the same reasons. You should check him out. (Actually I like his podcasts enough that I am working my way though all of his back episodes as well.)
On Monday, when I arrived at the range, I looked at Twitter and noticed that he had just posted Episode 274 - 5 Reasons I Don’t Carry a .40 Smith and Wesson and I commented that I was looking forward to listening to it because I believe there is a reason that the 40S&W is left out of the 9 vs 45 debate and he replied asking to hear my comments, so I am posting them here.
In this case, Paul and I agree on all the reasons we don’t like the .40, but we disagree on what that means for us.
Since he did such a good job of identifying 5 reasons I am going to
steal repost them and add some of my additional thoughts…
1. I am not required to carry a .40 - I’m not sure this is a reason to not carry a .40, as opposed to a counterpoint on the best reason to carry one. A LEO that carries a .40 every day and trains on the job with a .40 should probably carry a .40. Similarly an IPSC/USPSA competitor that shoot a .40 major is a great candidate to carry a .40 as well.
2. Today, .40 tends to be a solution where there is no problem – The 40 was developed to have better terminal ballistics than the .357/.38/9mm of the early 80′s and less recoil than the 10mm and it does both of those things beautifully. However, modern self-defense ammunition in 9mm (and even some .380′s) has improved to the point that a Speer Gold Dot 124gr +P, a similar Winchester Ranger or Hornady HST will perform effectively. That said… the .40 is a fairly modern cartridge, designed with a flat nose and it is very hard to find an unreliable or poor performing .40. (Still it isn’t very hard to find Speer Gold Dot’s either)
3. Guns aren’t built to be .40′s – This may be the lone point that we are not in complete agreement. Paul stated “I can’t think of a single firearm that was manufactured specifically as a .40.” I will agree that Glock’s were never meant to be .40 and I will only own the smaller framed Glock’s in 9mm, but newer guns like the Ruger’s and M&P’s should be designed for the .40 and then converted back, although I can not say for certain was the case.
3a. Snappy recoil (WTBGU! Edit) – The recoil profile of the .40 is “snappier” than that of the 9mm or .45 and I find it more difficult to control. Especially in smaller, lighter carry guns.
4. Have you looked at the price of ammo lately? - Lets be honest we don’t save money on ammo! We reinvest our savings in either more ammo or more training. Since we all know that all pistols calibers suck and that its hitting something important that’s important. More trigger presses and time with a competent trainer are both very valuable.
5. It isn’t just about (you) - If you shoot 5K, 10K or 25K+ quality rounds a year, you can most definitely learn to control the recoil and use a .40 effectively, but if you have a spouse or children than may conceivably need to use that firearm in defense of themselves or the family, then it is important to have one that they can use as well.
I am not a fan of the .40 and I think Paul did a good job in summarizing why and you should listen to his podcast to hear his explanations because he takes a slightly different bend than I do. For me I would summarize the reasons I don’t carry a .40 as…
1. Ammo costs more than a 9mm and I want to maximize the training I get for my center fire training budget
2. The recoil is unpleasant and training isn’t as much fun
3. The terminal ballistic performance isn’t improved enough for me to want to deal with the added cost or unpleasantness
4. You can get more bullets in the same gun in 9mm, and assuming they are both effective more is better
5. I shoot IDPA and there is no minor scoring, so I don’t have to.
Check out Paul’s blog or look at his training schedule at http://www.safetysolutionsacademy.com and look for him on iTunes. His stated mission is to “save lives through information, education and training” and he can help you be ready When the Balloon Goes Up!