Buying ammo for your handgun might be as simple as picking between two of the most popular calibers available. 40 caliber and 9mm ammo, for instance, have become popular among experienced handgun users who know when and where one caliber works better as compared to the other.
For beginners, however, the ammo shop might prove to be a confusing place. So, we opted to compare 40 S&W vs 9mm ammo to help the beginner handgun owner choose the ammo that should work the best for them.
Both of the cartridges perform excellently in a self-defense situation. Recently, however, recreational use of the rounds has seen a rise in their purchase. The pros and cons of 9mm vs 40 cal are many with one caliber outdoing the other in different conditions.
About the .40 SW Cartridge
The .40 Smith and Wesson rounds were first developed in the late 1990s, at the request of the FBI. The manufacturers of this round targeted law enforcement officers when developing it but uptake in the civilian communities has risen recently for handgun owners who want to beef up their security (plus the influx of cheap 40 caliber handguns in 2018 and 2019 have helped stoke demand for the caliber).
The round is developed to pack more power in a smaller size, which makes it perfect for maintaining the intended power without limiting load capacity.
The dimensions for the .40 SW are as follows:
- Diameter – .4 inches
- Rim Diameter- .424 inches
- Length – 1.135 inches
- Weight – ranges from 88 to 205 grains
About the 9x19mm Round
The 9mm Luger has been in existence for over a hundred years now, with the initial development being in 1901. The reliability of this round has seen its use in military, law enforcement, and civilian self-defense scenarios over a long time.
The 9x19mm round is widely used because it delivers lots of power when fired from a handgun. The manageable recoil that you experience with this round also ensures that even beginner shooters are able to handle a handgun without any problems.
The rounds are also readily available and have stood the test of time.
The dimensions for this round are as follows:
- Diameter – .355 inches
- Rim diameter – .392 inches
- Length – 1.168 inches
- Weight – ranges from 90 to 160 grains. Standard weight is 155 grains
9mm vs 40 Ballistics
According to 9mm vs 40 ballistics tests reports conducted by Gun data on the two rounds, the 9 mm round with Remington Jacketed Hollow Point +P, 115gr drops 455.9 inches after travelling a distance of 500 yards. This round starts with a velocity of 1249 which drops to 678 at the 500 yard distance. The energy begins at 398 from the firing point and drops to 116 after 500 yards. The round does not experience wind drift at any point through its trajectory through the 500 yards. The time taken from the firing point to the 500 yard point is 1750 milliseconds.
The .40 Smith & Wesson, Winchester Silvertip Hollow Point 155gr, on the other hand, drops 444.43 inches after the 500-yard distance.
This round begins with a velocity of 1205 from the barrel, which reduces to 711 after travelling the distance of 500 yards.
The energy starts at 500 from the firing point and drops to 174 after 500 yards. The time taken from the starting point to reach the 500-yard mark is 1715 milliseconds. Moreover, the round does not suffer any wind drift effect throughout its trajectory.
From a review of the 9mm vs 40 ballistics, we can see that there is no significant difference with the trajectory of the two rounds. The .40 round, however, drops comparably faster as compared to the 9mm due to its heavier nature.
What is More Common for Law Enforcement, 9mm or 40?
According to the Pew Pew tactical website, government security agencies led by the Federal Bureau of Investigations are stopping the use of the .40 S&W in their operations and adopting the 9mm. The move has seen the Glock pistols previously used in the law enforcement agencies flood the used gun market. Moreover, the pistols’ prices have fallen to an all-time low. In fact, used Glock pistols now sell for about $300 to $400.
Which is more expensive between 9mm ammo vs 40?
For frequent shooters, the price of a gun does not that important because it is a one-time purchase. Moreover, the price of a new gun that can shoot both 9mm and .40 caliber rounds is not that high. If you are a regular shooter, therefore, the most important factor to consider is the cost of replacing the rounds you will be using.
Although the price difference on one round does not seem like much, the frequent need to replace the rounds makes the price difference significant in the long run.
From the ballistics statistics, it is clear that the difference in the trajectory and velocity change when you compare the 40 caliber vs 9mm is not significant. As such, the price should be one of the factors you need to consider when deciding which caliber to use.
The military times compared 40 vs 9mm price per round and found out that the 9mm costs 14 cents per round while the .40 cal is sold at 19 cents per round. The 5-cent difference might seem insignificant but after shooting 1000 rounds, the person shooting the .40 caliber bullet pays $50 more as compared to the one using the 9mm.
Choosing the Right 9mm or 40 SW Handgun
While 40 S&W has long been favored by police and 9x19mm more by civilians, this seems to be shifting. Starting in 2016, more LEOs started to sell or trade in their 40 SW handguns in order to get equipped with new 9mm pistols.
This sell off / trade-in phenomenon caused prices for used 40 cal pistols to plumet, encouraging civilians to scoop up high-quality guns at rock bottom prices.
If you’re deciding if you should buy a 9 or a 40 pistol, we’ve compared three of the most popular platforms in order to help you decide!
How to decide which M&P Shield to buy: 9mm vs 40
Like other handguns, the M&P Shield has been tested and proved to have advantages and limitations, especially to beginner gun users.
The Shield offers great aesthetics and can be easily customized to your needs. Its grip is also great because the handle is spacious and wide, thus allowing you to hold the firearm firmly.
The wide Shield measures 3.1 inches in width and is 4.6 inches tall. It is light at only 19 ounces when unloaded. Its design allows for a tight fitting magazine placement at the bottom. The pistol has a loading capacity for the 9mm rounds at 8 maximum rounds. The wider .40 rounds can only allow 7 rounds to be loaded at a go.
To determine which M&P Shield you should buy, be sure to consider your shooting needs. The difference of one round loaded at a go might be significant or negligible depending on how you intend to use your gun. In cases of self-defense, you want the maximum loading capacity. If you are a recreational shooter, however, the option of loading 7 or 8 maximum rounds at a go is not likely to affect you.
How to decide what to get between Glock: 40 vs 9mm
The Glock has proved to be a favorite among handgun owners. This is due to its reliability and ease of use. The Glock has been used by law enforcement over a long time.
If you want to purchase a Glock handgun, it is imperative to compare the .40 vs 9mm pistols to ensure you have the best for your needs. The best part is that you can buy either new or used Glock pistols.
Buying new Glock handguns does not offer much of a price difference.
in Mid-2020, many retailers have new .40 Glock pistols for sale beginning at $540 to $600 and 9mm Glock pistols for sale starting at $474 to $550.
Buying a used .40 Glock will save you a lot more money due to the discontinuation of the .40 by the law enforcement agencies. The used gun market has .40 Glock pistols going for as low as $300. Wholesale prices can even have the price drop up to about $225.
Police traded Glock pistols are cheap and well maintained. As such, you are sure that you will buy a quality weapon at a great price even though it is slightly used.
The decision to buy a Glock 40 or the 9mm option should also factor in the number of rounds you intend to fire over a given period. Consider the ammo prices for both calibers and go for what will have you spend less in the long term as opposed to the one off firearm purchase.
How to decide which to buy SIG P226: 9mm vs 40
SIG Sauer guns are military-grade weapons that are widely used in combat as secondary weapons. Civilian versions are available in the market with toned-down specs and at lower prices. The comparison of shooting a SIG P226 with either a 9mm or .40 round reveals a difference in the recoil energy.
Different individuals will handle recoil differently due to differences in body weight, height, and general body strength. High recoils when shooting results in a more difficult shooting experience, a lowered accuracy, and more difficulty in firing consecutive shots.
Shooting a 9mm round from the SIG Sauer P226 has 40% less recoil as compared to when a 40 SW is fired from a SIG P226 gun with a 40 Cal chamber.
For the best results, you should take the SIG P226 on a shooting range and see if you can handle the recoil difference in both calibrations. Go with the one that least affects your accuracy and gun handling. Be warned that too much recoil can also cause injuries to your hand.
40 cal vs 9mm Stopping Power
The stopping power comparison of a 40 cal versus the 9mm sees the .40 caliber outdo the 9mm due to its heavier and thicker build. As such, the .40 cal penetrates obstacles with ease and can stop your target with much more power as compared to the 9mm. The thicker build has much more impact and will leave a larger wound or mark depending on what your target is.
40 vs 9mm for Self-Defense
Many individuals who own guns cite self-defense as the primary reason. To defend yourself against threats, however, you need to be able to handle the gun you are holding with ease. Although the .40 caliber has greater strength when stopping threats, the heavier ammo and higher recoil might end up compromising your accuracy by a great deal. For close combat, the 9mm is easier to handle and its magazine packs more ammo.
This makes self-defense using the 9mm rounds more efficient. Comparing the 40 s&w vs 9mm home defense performance has the 9mm rounds winning over the .40 rounds.
40 cal vs 9mm Concealed Carry
The .40 caliber rounds are thicker and heavier as compared to the 9mm. Comparison of the ease to conceal the number of 40 smith and wesson vs 9mm rounds reveals that the packaging of the .40 rounds will be heavier and bigger as compared to the 9mm rounds.
40 cal vs 9mm Price
As of December 2019, the cheapest 40 S&W round went for about $0.21 per round while the most expensive 40 round was available at $2.10.
The price per round for the 9mm is $0.14 for the cheapest round and $1.95 for the most expensive one.
So, 40 cal ammo is typically about 50% more expensive than 9mm ammo. If you’re going to be spending a lot of time on the range, then know 40 SW will certainly hit your pocket book more than 9mm (even if you score a cheap police trade-in Glock)!
40 vs 9mm Recoil
Shooting the .40 caliber round has more recoil as compared to shooting a 9mm round. The build for the .40 round is shorter and wider, which means that it packs more pressure as compared to the 9mm.
At the shooting range, a gun that fires both rounds will have you experience less recoil when shooting the 9mm round, thus enabling easier handling and accuracy. Firing consecutive rounds is also quite easy. The .40 caliber round will punch more recoil due to the heavier rounds. You might even find it hard to shoot with one hand.