2nd Amendment to the Constitution of The United States of America

A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.

"I ask sir, what is the militia? It is the whole people except for a few politicians."
- George Mason (father of the Bill of Rights and The Virginia Declaration of Rights)

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

A round that should of...didn't

There is an article in the Columbus Dispatch about a Columbus PD officer cleared in the shooting of a knife wielding assailant last December.

My first thought when I read the article was "Wow, it took this long to conduct this investigation". My second thought was "Damn, guy got shot in the chest with a .40 and still had to be tazed to get subdued". That is not supposed to happen for the most part, a .4o HP round from a S&W M&P is supposed to hit the target with 450+ ft./lbs of force and meets or exceeds all FBI standards for penetration and expansion. Still this guy took one to the chest and still required a zap of electricity to get cuffed. And we are talking about a homeless guy here, not a well conditioned soldier or anything like that.

The .40 S&W round was developed after the failed 10mm trials conducted by the FBI to find a suitable cartridge to replace the standard .38 Special +P rounds issued in S&W 13-3 revolvers in .357 then issued. The 10mm was found to be too powerful for all of the agencies staff to shoot regularly, and paired up with a desire to prevent over penetration and the liability that would surely follow the 10mm fell out of contention. What emerged afterwards was a shortened version of the 10mm that reduced felt recoil as well as penetration, the .40 S&W.

The round was heralded by some as a leap forward in ammo design combining both the stopping power of a .45 ACP with the capacity of a 9mm "wonder nine" style pistol. Others saw it as an answer searching for a question. Its widespread adoption was not without growing pains. One common problems was that some manufacturers just took a pistol in 9mm from their production line and modified it to accept a .40 caliber barrel and shoved it into production. These early pistols did not take into consideration the dramatically increased chamber pressures of the .40 round compared to the 9mm Luger and the additional wear on parts it would bring with recoil and other wear. Eventually designers got it right and the .40 S&W is now one of the most prevalent rounds in both state and federal LE inventories.

The .40 S&W (center) flanked by the 9mm Luger (left) and the .45 ACP (right). These 3 rounds combined have probably been responsible for more handgun related deaths than any others in the 20th Century.

I used to carry the .40 (S&W M&P40c and then the G23) but have since switched to the more economic 9mm round (G19) as my primary pistol round. It does not carry the energy of the .40 but it makes up for some of that by offering a more managable recoil for follow up shots and a few more rounds in the mag for the same size gun. In my opinion the 9mm does offer sufficient stopping power for most situations, but as this story shows all of that talk of stopping power is not always black and white.

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