9mm vs 40 S&W: 9mm Wins The War

Rainier Arms - 500 rounds - 9mm

9mm vs 40 S&W: 9mm Wins The War

It’s common knowledge by now that a few years after publicly dumping 9mm, the FBI and others are going back in a big way.

Police officers throughout the land have doggedly held on to 40S&W, and that’s pretty much the only reason it still exists as far as we can see.

The simple fact is that the best 9mm ammo is the standard and we’ve had so much investment in the weapons and projectiles that we’ve perfected this cartridge over time.

So, if you’re looking forward to picking up a cheap police or agency trade-in 40S&W then ask yourself why?

FBI Dumped 9mm and Came Back

We all know that the FBI switched to 10mm, then 40S&W, after a suspect survived a gunshot wound and agents lost their lives.

The extra punch of the 40S&W won out in the end, but recently the FBI has re-evaluated the latest breed of 9mm ammunition. The decision to return speaks volumes.

That might be a more powerful case study than any of the 9mm vs 40 S&W ammo videos on Youtube. You have all kinds of weird demonstrations on the other side, like this one. This guy is using light 115gr 9mm bullets, though.

Get a great 9mm at PSA!

Get the best deal on 9mm handguns at Sportsman’s Warehouse.

9mm offers several advantages over the 40 S&W round, including the added capacity and reduced recoil.

40 S&W still has a significant edge when it comes to the final impact, but the modern breed of 9mm weapons have closed the gap.

New 9mm Handguns The Best CCW

There are issues with it, but the Sig P365 Nitron shows the way forward, with 10+1 in a tiny form factor. Then there is the double-stack Springfield Armory XDMOD.2 Sub-Compact, with a 12+1 in the standard clip and up to 16+1 with an extended mag.

Those are guns that slip in to your waistband. The compact class, with a 4-inch barrel, offers even more. We recently did a piece on Glock 19 alternatives and stuck to the 9mm variants for consistency. The likes of the Sig P320 and FN 509 offer insane bang for buck these days and you can easily get 20 bullets in an extended mag an 15+1 in a gun you can conceal.

9mm Closed The Gap On 40S&W

As 9mm technology continues to evolve in tiny, invisible increments, the heavier and more expensive 40 S&W has slowly lost its advantage. It might still offer superior stopping power, just, but the brutal recoil and, therefore, reduced accuracy takes away from your shot placement.

A great 9mm with heavyweight, 150gr hollowpoint bullets is so close to a 40S&W now, that its own inherent benefits mean its worth making the switch.

It’s easier to group shots with a 9mm, you can get sub-compact guns with double-stack, double digit magazines and they’re getting better all the time as the manufacturers focus their efforts on shrinking an effective gun around this one source of ammunition.

9mm is Significantly Cheaper

You will save money at the range, as 9mm ammo is almost universally cheaper than 40S&W. It’s also easier to get a 9mm system with another, bigger semi-auto pistol like the CZ Scorpion Evo 3.

Before you splash out on a 40S&W, though, look at the FBI’s findings. You want basically the same thing they do in a live round, so it’s worth paying attention to one of the most vigorous live tests that can realistically occur.

For the FBI to commit this kind of money to trashing all their 40S&W weapons and replacing the with 9mm, there must be a major advantage. Something other people do the work for us, and all we have to do is pay attention and learn.

9mm Luger: Pros and Cons

9mm Luger has been with us since 1902 and is also known as 9x19mm Parabellum. It’s the most popoular handgun cartridge by a mile, but what are the pros and cons?

  1. Versatile: 9mm Luger is a versatile cartridge that can be used in a variety of handguns, including subcompact, compact, and full-size pistols.
  2. High capacity: The 9mm Luger cartridge has a relatively small size, which allows for higher capacity magazines. This means that a shooter can carry more rounds than with larger cartridges.
  3. Recoil: The 9mm Luger cartridge has a relatively low recoil, making it easier to shoot accurately and quickly.
  4. Availability: The 9mm Luger cartridge is widely available, making it easy to find ammunition for your firearm.
  5. Cost-effective: The 9mm Luger cartridge is relatively inexpensive compared to other handgun cartridges, making it a cost-effective option for target shooting, self-defense, and other applications.
Cons of 9mm
  • Terminal ballistics: Some critics argue that the 9mm Luger cartridge has relatively poor terminal ballistics, meaning that it may not be as effective at stopping a threat compared to larger cartridges.
  • Dependence on shot placement: Due to its smaller size, the 9mm Luger cartridge requires accurate shot placement to be effective in stopping a threat.
  • Penetration: The 9mm Luger cartridge may overpenetrate, especially FMJ rounds. This is less of an issue with hollow points.
  • Noise: The 9mm Luger cartridge generates a relatively loud report, which can be a disadvantage in certain situations.
Pros & Cons of 40 S&W

The .40 Smith & Wesson cartridge (also known as .40 S&W) is a popular handgun cartridge that was introduced in the early 1990s. Here are some of the pros and cons of using this ammunition:


Good stopping power: The .40 S&W is known for its stopping power, making it a popular choice for law enforcement agencies and self-defense situations.

  • Versatile: It can be used in a variety of handguns, including compact and full-sized models.
  • Wide availability: The .40 S&W is widely available and easy to find in most gun stores and online retailers.
  • Good accuracy: The .40 S&W has good accuracy, making it a suitable option for target shooting.
  • Recoil: The .40 S&W produces significant recoil, which can be difficult for some shooters to handle, especially in smaller handguns.
  • Cost: The .40 S&W is generally more expensive than other popular handgun cartridges.
  • Magazine capacity: The .40 S&W has a larger diameter than 9mm or .45 ACP cartridges, meaning that it typically has a lower magazine capacity.
  • Wear and tear: The .40 S&W can cause more wear and tear on handguns than other cartridges due to the higher pressures generated by the cartridge.

Yeah we kind of said it at the outset. 9mm wins this one at a canter and the 40S&W, while not quite obsolete, is heading that way.

You can still debate 9mm vs 45 ACP, a little, but in our mind the 9mm vs 40S&W war is dead and buried. 9mm wins.

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  • Nick Hall

    Nick is a lifelong gun enthusiast who has a simple mission. He wants to find the best deals for guns online and help you make the best choices with weapons your life may depend on one day.Nick won a minor league shooting competition at the age of 11 and it all went from there. Now he runs one of the biggest firearms websites on the net and his work has featured in Playboy US, Tatler Asia, Forbes and a whole host of national magazines and websites.

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