One of the Big Three pistol cartridges of the late twentieth century was the 40 S&W. Seen as a stopgap between the other two (9mm Parabellum and 45 ACP), the 40 S&W made a lasting impression in the law enforcement and concealed carry worlds for over 30 years. It was born from the 10mm Auto cartridge and is the parent cartridge of the 357 SIG.
10mm Auto ammo was developed in 1983 by FFV Norma as a straight wall semi auto pistol round designed from the ground up to replicate the ballistics of the 357 Magnum cartridge as a hunting and self-defense round for the Bren Ten pistol, a semiautomatic pistol based on the CZ-75.
It was heavily championed by the late Col. Jeff Cooper as the ultimate semi auto pistol cartridge. Unfortunately, the Bren Ten project was never properly sorted out and despite what you may have seen on episodes of Miami Vice, the round would have faded into obscurity if not for Colt chambering the Delta Elite, a slightly modified 1911 pistol, to chamber this round.
In the aftermath of a deadly shootout in Miami, Florida, in 1986 that left two agents dead and five wounded, the FBI began a search for a new pistol cartridge to replace the 9mm.
On paper, the 10mm Norma round seemed viable between the bullet's mass, velocity and of course penetration results. Unfortunately, there were only a handful of pistols chambered in this round. Smith & Wesson came on board and offered to design a new handgun for the FBI in the form of the Model 1076. This was a stainless steel double/action pistol based on the company's large framed 4506 and 1006 with a shorter barrel and slide to aid in concealed carry.
While testing went well, the initial rollout in 1989 proved almost disastrous as most agents found the recoil of the 10mm Auto to be too harsh to shoot comfortably and accurately.
Because they had been offered a pistol chambered in 45 ACP prior to adopting the 10 mm and found it lacking, the Bureau could not choose that cartridge and the search was on to find something else.
A brand new round was designed by shortening the overall length of the 10mm case and using a small pistol primer instead of a large one. In 1990, the 40 S&W was rolled out to become the FBI's official round.
Soon after, the round was adopted by numerous law enforcement agencies across the United States as a compromise between the 9mm and the 45 ACP. As is the case, civilian shooters flocked to it in droves, partially fueled on by a 1994 federal law that restricted magazine capacity to 10-rounds. Most 45 ACP caliber handguns did not have this capacity and the primary advantage of 9mm pistols was their increased capacity in excess of 10-rounds.
The 40 S&W is most commonly chambered in handguns. There are a handful of revolvers and even carbines that chamber this round, but it mostly belongs to the realm of the semiautomatic pistol. Glock, Heckler & Koch, Smith & Wesson, SIG Sauer, Walther, Colt and just about every company that sought a law enforcement contract from 1990 onward have chambered pistols in this caliber.
Some inroads were made with the US military for use with Special Operations units, but nothing of consequence ever came of this attempt due to NATO standardization.
Despite it being based on the 10mm round, which was used for handgun hunting, 40 S&W never caught on well with the hunting community. It did, however, become a hit with target shooters, especially action pistol shooters in USPSA.
When it comes to magazine capacity, standard double-stack magazines can now hold as many as 16 rounds of 40 S&W in a duty sized pistol. Most compact pistols intended for concealed carry hold 10 to 14 rounds.
Recoil tends to be a bit snappier than either the 9mm or the 45 ACP rounds. Although it was originally offered as a subsonic load with a 180-grain bullet, manufacturers began offering lighter bullets with a higher muzzle velocity. Today, the 40 S&W can be found with bullet weights anywhere between 115 and 200-grains boasting energy between 300 and 500 foot-pounds.
SBR ammunition offers a wide variety of factory ammunition in 40 S&W and 10mm in various bullet weights for whatever your shooting needs including frangible lead-free and tracer. All ammunition is manufactured using new components and loaded to strict SAAMI standards.