Skill Set: Why I Don't Like the Forty

JimConway

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Skill Set: Why I Don't Like the Forty
by Tiger McKee

This pair of Glocks are 9mm and the .40 caliber versions are the same size. The more abrupt cartridge, the .40 Auto, is harder on the machinery and the shooter. Is it enough more effective than the 9x19mm to justify going to the .40? Rich Grassi Photo
I do not like the .40 caliber. I'm sure there will be plenty of people who disagree with me on this, but since it's my column I get to state my opinion. This opinion is based on two issues with .40 caliber pistols. Keep in mind that an issue is something that is common, you see it a lot, as opposed to a problem, which is normally limited to an individual or particular weapon.

The .40 was developed specifically as a law enforcement caliber by Smith & Wesson and Winchester and as a direct result of the 1986 F.B.I. Miami shootout between agents and two hard criminals, Platt and Matix. Both bad guys were killed, but two agents were killed with five others injured. Basically the F.B.I. was looking for a cartridge that had the performance of the .38 Special +P load that would work with a semi-auto pistol. The .40 is supposedly the ideal blend of bullet size and velocity.

There is no doubt the .40 performs well, but it has a very sharp recoil impulse, which is hard on shooter and pistol alike. The most common issue we see with shooters is related to recoil. With the .40 you must use a good aggressive stance, arm position with isometric tension between the arms, and the proper grip to provide the resistance necessary for the pistol to function properly. Failures to eject, commonly called stovepipes or smokestacks, are more frequent with the .40 than 9mm's and .45's. This is especially true when shooters are working with one hand, during injury drills, or firing using a less than ideal platform, like laying sideways on the ground.

The sharp recoil of the .40 literally beats pistols to death. No, you probably won't see a problem if you only run a few rounds through your pistol a couple times a year. But with heavy shooting sooner or later with the .40 you'll likely see problems develop, and a lot sooner than with a 9mm or .45. A few years ago one area department we train sent several of their officers here for five-day handgun classes. We worked hard and during the class each officer fired approximately five thousand rounds. After the classes the officers' pistols had send their pistols in due to problems with the rails on the slide and frames. They had been beat out. (The pistols were replaced, but they were never given a good reason from the factory why this problem appeared in the first place.)

The recoil also presents a problem with individual shooters who come to fear the snap of the .40 and begin anticipating the recoil, which of course drastically affects their accuracy. You can take the same shooter, give them a 9mm or .45, and their accuracy improves. I know recoil shouldn't be an issue, but with most shooters it is so we might as well go ahead and acknowledge it. Several departments I deal with have switched from .40 caliber pistols to .45acp weapons with a noticeable increase in their qualification scores.

When new shooters me what they should get my immediate answer is a 9mm. And, as we know, it's a lot more about where you put the bullets as opposed to how big or fast they are moving. Get a pistol that works for you, plenty of ammo, and practice the fundamentals until you can perform them under any conditions.

Tiger McKee is director of Shootrite Firearms Academy, located in northern Alabama. He is the author of "The Book of Two Guns," writes for several firearms/tactical publications, is an adjunct instructor with the F.B.I. and designer of the Shootrite Katana. (256) 582-4777 www.shootrite.org
Skill Set: Why I Don't Like the Forty
by Tiger McKee

This pair of Glocks are 9mm and the .40 caliber versions are the same size. The more abrupt cartridge, the .40 Auto, is harder on the machinery and the shooter. Is it enough more effective than the 9x19mm to justify going to the .40? Rich Grassi Photo
I do not like the .40 caliber. I'm sure there will be plenty of people who disagree with me on this, but since it's my column I get to state my opinion. This opinion is based on two issues with .40 caliber pistols. Keep in mind that an issue is something that is common, you see it a lot, as opposed to a problem, which is normally limited to an individual or particular weapon.

The .40 was developed specifically as a law enforcement caliber by Smith & Wesson and Winchester and as a direct result of the 1986 F.B.I. Miami shootout between agents and two hard criminals, Platt and Matix. Both bad guys were killed, but two agents were killed with five others injured. Basically the F.B.I. was looking for a cartridge that had the performance of the .38 Special +P load that would work with a semi-auto pistol. The .40 is supposedly the ideal blend of bullet size and velocity.

There is no doubt the .40 performs well, but it has a very sharp recoil impulse, which is hard on shooter and pistol alike. The most common issue we see with shooters is related to recoil. With the .40 you must use a good aggressive stance, arm position with isometric tension between the arms, and the proper grip to provide the resistance necessary for the pistol to function properly. Failures to eject, commonly called stovepipes or smokestacks, are more frequent with the .40 than 9mm's and .45's. This is especially true when shooters are working with one hand, during injury drills, or firing using a less than ideal platform, like laying sideways on the ground.

The sharp recoil of the .40 literally beats pistols to death. No, you probably won't see a problem if you only run a few rounds through your pistol a couple times a year. But with heavy shooting sooner or later with the .40 you'll likely see problems develop, and a lot sooner than with a 9mm or .45. A few years ago one area department we train sent several of their officers here for five-day handgun classes. We worked hard and during the class each officer fired approximately five thousand rounds. After the classes the officers' pistols had send their pistols in due to problems with the rails on the slide and frames. They had been beat out. (The pistols were replaced, but they were never given a good reason from the factory why this problem appeared in the first place.)

The recoil also presents a problem with individual shooters who come to fear the snap of the .40 and begin anticipating the recoil, which of course drastically affects their accuracy. You can take the same shooter, give them a 9mm or .45, and their accuracy improves. I know recoil shouldn't be an issue, but with most shooters it is so we might as well go ahead and acknowledge it. Several departments I deal with have switched from .40 caliber pistols to .45acp weapons with a noticeable increase in their qualification scores.

When new shooters me what they should get my immediate answer is a 9mm. And, as we know, it's a lot more about where you put the bullets as opposed to how big or fast they are moving. Get a pistol that works for you, plenty of ammo, and practice the fundamentals until you can perform them under any conditions.

Tiger McKee is director of Shootrite Firearms Academy, located in northern Alabama. He is the author of "The Book of Two Guns," writes for several firearms/tactical publications, is an adjunct instructor with the F.B.I. and designer of the Shootrite Katana. (256) 582-4777 www.shootrite.org
 

jasons

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So he doesn't like it because it's too powerful? Maybe he should switch to a .380 so his limp little wrists don't get so sore.
 
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What kind of jacked up guns failed after 5k rounds of .40? That's kind of an important detail that the reader may want to know.
 

Boris

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So he doesn't like it because it's too powerful? Maybe he should switch to a .380 so his limp little wrists don't get so sore.
I was reading this article and all I saw is "sharp recoil ...blah blah blah ... sharp recoil" Time to change panties and get a .22. oh, and it's pronounced: foh-tey [laugh]
 
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I want to know the gun model too. I have ~1,500 rounds through my P226 foh-tey, and the only apparent damage is from the lint it collects from carrying it
 

winter

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I do not like the .40 caliber.
I LOVE THE .40SW! I don't shoot it cause I also love my cheap 9mm, but I love anything that goes boom, and I would have thought that someone from Alabama would feel the same.

So he doesn't like it because it's too powerful? Maybe he should switch to a .380 so his limp little wrists don't get so sore.
I don't know.. those little .380's can be pretty snappy in those subcompacts.

What kind of jacked up guns failed after 5k rounds of .40? That's kind of an important detail that the reader may want to know.
Umm duh.. that batch of G22s back 20 years ago in the 90s.. Pfff EVERYONE knows that!
 

jar

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I don't like 40 either, but I stopped reading when he gave the "history" of the 40 without mentioning 10mm Auto. If he can't get that simple thing right, he doesn't likely know anything of use to me.
 
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I stopped reading it after I looked at the picture that stated that the "pair of Glocks are the same size". Doesn't look like that to me, one is a compact (either 19 or 23) and the other is a subcompact (either 26 or 27).
 
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I started shooting .40 for one reason: it's the minimum caliber to make major in USPSA SS/Limited/L10. It's got a straight wall, rather than tapered like 9mm. It's easier to size mixed brass properly. You don't have to deal with crimped primers (though they are starting to show up). You can down load it to minor for divisions/games that don't require it. The bullets are only slightly more than 9mm and a lot less than 45. Brass in widely available for free or cheap too.
 

drgrant

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U R what U eat. / 40 cal 180grain are not that snappy
They can be, depending on the gun. Shooting .40 in a lot of guns is easier than in other guns. It also depends on your hand size. I am cursed with what I would call "girl hands" so rapid fire with a .40 for me is tough on a lot of guns.... my support hand starts wandering despite having good strength in both. I can control most full power .45s a lot easier.

"Your mileage may vary."


-Mike
 
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+2 for the foty, mine suited me just fine and I'd hate to be on the wrong end of it!
sounds like you need to work on your handling of the weapon....


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That's so sad because my five foot zero wife shoot and carries a S&W Shield in 40. Never cried about being hurt and she's dead accurate and loves it. I love my XDM40 and even used it for a handgun course which I did very well with and my wrists seem to survive. Pussy

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FPrice

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I stopped reading it after I looked at the picture that stated that the "pair of Glocks are the same size". Doesn't look like that to me, one is a compact (either 19 or 23) and the other is a subcompact (either 26 or 27).
This pair of Glocks are 9mm and the .40 caliber versions are the same size.
I had to go back and re-read the caption. What he said was that the pair were both 9mm and the .40S&W versions are the same size. I thought the same as you until I re-read it.
 
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I have never been able to listen to him when he is on the gun shows.

Everything has pros and cons.



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Wendell

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If .40 was free

I'd dump the 9x19 in a heartbeat.

But, in addition to everything Tiger McKee said, all true, .40 costs more than 9x19 too.
 

frenchman

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But, but, but, his name is Tiger! AAND he was on sons of guns. He has to be super knowledgeable.
 
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If the author was so worried about the 40sw destroying a gun why not have a beater you train with then have the exact same model, broken in, for carry?
Otherwise I agree that he's just complaining about the recoil.

If I can't carry 45 i carry 40. If I can't carry 40, I carry 9mm +P+ or +P.
 
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