.40 Cal S&W Replaced the .38 Special

.40 Cal S&W comparison

Designers from Smith & Wesson and Winchester introduced the .40 Cal S&W cartridge in 1990. The ammunition was designed along with Smith & Wesson’s Model 4006 pistol, months after receiving a request from the FBI for a new type of ammunition.  However, one week before the ammo went to market, Glock introduced the Glock 22 and Glock 23, chambered in .40 cal.

Development of .40 Cal S&W

The Federal Bureau of Investigation requested that S&W create a new ammunition to replace their standard issue sidearms. The request came after a 1986 shootout in Miami. Two bank robbers confronted FBI agents and a shootout ensued. During the standoff, agents realized that they could not reload and fire fast enough to take down the criminals. The bank robbers killed two FBI agents and wounded five. Agents killed the bank robbers.

The FBI stated that the .38 Special revolvers were no longer sufficient for their agents. They requested to replace them with semi-automatic pistols. Agents asked Smith & Wesson to develop a new type of ammunition that could be retrofitted into 9mm semi-automatic handguns. S&W and Winchester developed the .40 Cal, based on 9mm and .45 ACP ammunition. The new medium-velocity round had the same accuracy as a 9mm while using the specs of a 10mm load. The FBI approved the ammo and hoped it would prevent another catastrophe like the one in Miami. Shortly after the FBI adopted the round, law enforcement agencies across the country switched to the new ammo. Although the FBI no longer uses the .40 Cal S&W, it endorses the Sig Sauer P226 and P228, both of which can be chambered in 9mm and .40 cal. The U.S. Coast Guard uses the .40 Cal S&W as a standard issue sidearm.

Specifications

The .40 Cal S&W is a medium velocity cartridge ideal for concealed carry and self-defense. It uses a 0.40-inch diameter lead bullet that can range from 105 to 200 grains. The casing measures .85 inches long, .424-inch at the base. The cartridge has an average pressure of 35,000 psi. The muzzle energy is higher than the standard pressure of a .45 ACP, with 350-500 foot-pounds of energy. Ballistics performance tests in the 1980s and 1990s prompted experts to refer to the .40 Cal as “the ideal cartridge for personal defense and law enforcement.”

Use for Self-Defense

Civilians choose the .40 Cal for the fact that it is easy to use. It has a light recoil, which makes it an accurate round. Self-defense and home defense situations require accuracy and adequate stopping power. Consumers can choose a variety of options for design and bullet weight. Shooters choose the .40 Cal S&W for the same features that were required by the FBI and law enforcement, including a high magazine capacity, light recoil and high muzzle energy. Although the .40 Cal S&W isn’t a highly sought after ammo, most firearms manufacturers offer compact and sub-compact models chambered for the round.

Picking the Perfect .45 Ammo

Finding the perfect ammunition

When you get that masterpiece of a gun – a .45 Automatic Colt Pistol (ACP) – the first thing you want to do is shoot. That’s natural, but it’s hard to do without the right ammunition. Experts have debated the perfect ammo ever since the weapon was introduced. It was designed by John Moses Browning in 1905. Hobbyists want to take the gun out on to the range or to a competition while others want to use it for self-defense or home protection. So, the question remains – what is the perfect .45 ammo? If you’re looking for one brand or type of ammo to use as an all purpose round, you’re going to be disappointed. Some ammo will work well enough for all applications but won’t be ideal: self-defense rounds require ultimate stopping power that is best found in a hollow point, while target practice can use a less aggressive, less expensive round.

Choosing the Type of Ammo

The first thing you should do is decide what the ammo will be used for and then pick the type of ammo that will work best. .45 ammo comes in two styles: Full Metal Jacket (FMJ) and Jacketed Hollow Points (JHP).

Full Metal Jackets

FMJ ammo has a soft lead core encased in a copper jacket. It offers good penetration, but since there is no expansion, it is best used as a target round. If the round is used in a self-defense situation, it could over-penetrate and cause collateral damage.

Jacketed Hollow Points

JHP is the number one choice for a self-defense round. It features a lead core encased in a copper jacket, but unlike the FMJ, it does have expansion. The core of the bullet will expand upon impact, creating a larger channel than the FMJ. However, the copper jackets will slow down the round so over penetration is unlikely.

Testing the Ammunition

Enthusiasts know that the best way to find the right ammo is to do your homework. You can run a search and find out what others are using, and then based on the results, choose what is most appealing to you.

The Process

Testers use the following to determine the ballistics of ammunition. The tests will give you a good idea of what to expect and how to run your own tests. The tests are performed with a compact pistol, which is ideal for concealed carry. A gun with a larger barrel will yield high numbers for muzzle velocity and penetration.

  • Fire 5 shots of each with each brand of ammo to achieve a good average.
  • Shots should be fired from 10 feet away, the average distance in most defense situations.
  • Place 4 layers of fabric in front of ballistics gel to simulate real life situations; the fabric mimics heavy clothing.
  • Ideal penetration for the ammo iss 12-18 inches; shows adequate stopping power without over-penetration.

Regardless of which ammunition brand or style you choose, there is no substitute for practice. Never wait until a situation calls for action to learn how your new ammunition will perform.

Concealed Carry Weapons: Protecting Yourself in Public

Protecting Yourself

There is a lot of information out there about protecting yourself at home, but little about self-defense in unfamiliar places. It can be tricky if you don’t know the lay of the land, especially in a foreign country.  Whether you are out and about alone or with friends or family, it always pays to take certain precautions:

  • Park in well-lit areas.
  • Keep valuables out of reach of passersby.
  • Don’t go into strange areas alone at night.
  • Carry car keys in your hand when walking to your car.
  • Remain a minimum of a foot away from your car if you are unlocking it manually. (Some thieves will wait underneath a person’s car and grab their legs to pull them to the ground.)
  • Never flash money. Keep small bills on the outside if bills are folded over to dissuade thieves from thinking you have a lot of cash.
  • For women, always hold your purse by the body and not just the strap – thieves will cut the strap and make off the with the goods. Chances of catching them are almost nil.
  • Carry defense spray on your key chain for emergencies.
  • If you are in a foreign country, program emergency numbers into your phone to save precious moments in a time of crisis.
  • Carry a concealed weapon when possible.

Awareness and Avoidance

It’s crucial to be aware of your surroundings. This is especially true if you are in an unfamiliar situation – a strange city, foreign country, etc. Danger doesn’t always come from the creepy guy on the corner, or someone who happens to be walking down the same street. It can be the person sitting next to you at dinner who steals your credit card or someone casually walking through a parking lot at a shopping mall. Pay attention to your personal space. If someone is invading it when it isn’t necessary, move away. Part of self-defense is avoiding dangerous situations. Avoid talking on the phone while walking through potentially unsafe areas as it will distract you from your surroundings.

Self-preservation

There are times when confrontation cannot be avoided. Know how to protect yourself. Taking a self-defense class is paramount. If traveling with your family, teach children what to do in case of emergency. You can practice together to take away the fear factor.

If you are unarmed and confronted by someone with a gun who demands your money or jewelry, give it to them. Those items can be replaced; your life isn’t worth the risk. Make a mental note of the mugger so you can recall those details when reporting to the police.

If you are on equal ground and neither of you is carrying a weapon, fight dirty. Remember the following acronym: SING. Hit the person in the Solar plexus, stomp on his Instep, smash in his Nose, and lastly, hit him in the Groin. Nose, eyes and throat should be the first choice – if the mugger can’t see or breathe, he’s going to stop the attack. The groin, while common, may not be as effective if the person has been using substances. He simply won’t have the same pain reaction as someone who is sober.

Where appropriate and legal, carrying a concealed weapon may be your best line of defense. You also want to know how to handle a gun properly, so taking safety classes is a must. Also, be aware that the best weapon for a woman may not be the same as for a man. Do your research and find out which is the best gun for you. As always, drawing a weapon should be the last resort and, if you pull it, be prepared to use it.