9mm vs 40 S&W Summary and Ballistics

Article Posted: September 26, 2014

9mm vs 40 S&W

The 9mm and the 40 S&W are two of the most popular pistol cartridges carried by both law enforcement and general public alike. Most people know the primary difference is carrying capacity and hitting power, but let's take a closer look at the numbers as well as a few other deciding factors.

9mm History

The 9mm Luger also known as the 9mm Parabellum and even the 9x19mm NATO is the most popular and widely carried pistol cartridge in the world as of the time of this writing. As denoted by the sometimes used 9x19mm NATO term it is the primary pistol cartridge carried by NATO forces and has replaced the commonly used 45 acp most likely because of the advances in powder technologies combined with the improved carrying capacity. This cartridge was created in 1902 by Deutsche Waffen- und Munitionsfabriken.

40 S&W History

The 40 is nothing more than a short 10mm, in fact the 10mm is it's parent case having been developed in the 80's for the FBI. Problem was however the round was to "hot" for most of the agents to handle so they settled for slightly less "kicky" 40 Smith & Wesson.

9mm Ballistics vs 40 S&W Ballistics (Suggested Carry Loads)

A A 9mm Luger (9mm Parabellum) (9x19mm), Cor-Bon JHP +P, 115gr

B B 9mm Luger (9mm Parabellum) (9x19mm), Remington Jacketed Hollow Point +P, 115gr

C C .40 Smith & Wesson, Cor-Bon JHP, 135gr

D D .40 Smith & Wesson, Winchester Silvertip Hollow Point, 155gr

Trajectory Chart
Range Drop
(inches)
Velocity Energy Wind drift
(inches)
Time
(milliseconds)
A B A B A B A B A B
0 -1.4859 -1.4853 1349 1249 465 398 0.0000 0.0000 1 1
50 0.0887 -0.0989 1171 1112 350 316 0.0000 0.0000 120 128
100 -4.6742 -5.7299 1049 1018 281 265 0.0000 0.0000 256 270
150 -17.3197 -19.7364 967 950 239 230 0.0000 0.0000 406 423
200 -39.2530 -43.3632 905 896 209 205 0.0000 0.0000 566 585
250 -71.7958 -77.8042 854 851 186 185 0.0000 0.0000 737 757
300 -116.2610 -124.2536 809 810 167 168 0.0000 0.0000 917 938
350 -173.9975 -183.9369 769 774 151 153 0.0000 0.0000 1108 1127
400 -246.4202 -258.1330 732 740 137 140 0.0000 0.0000 1308 1326
450 -335.3583 -348.5197 698 708 124 128 0.0000 0.0000 1518 1534
500 -441.8412 -455.9369 665 678 113 117 0.0000 0.0000 1738 1750
Range Drop
(inches)
Velocity Energy Wind drift
(inches)
Time
(milliseconds)
C D C D C D C D C D
0 -1.4857 -1.4849 1324 1205 525 500 0.0000 0.0000 1 1
50 0.0354 -0.1780 1147 1095 394 413 0.0000 0.0000 123 132
100 -5.0403 -6.1050 1030 1017 318 356 0.0000 0.0000 261 274
150 -18.2951 -20.4265 951 958 271 316 0.0000 0.0000 413 426
200 -41.1640 -44.2169 890 910 237 285 0.0000 0.0000 577 587
250 -75.0141 -78.5066 839 868 211 259 0.0000 0.0000 750 756
300 -121.2196 -124.3187 794 832 189 238 0.0000 0.0000 934 932
350 -181.2051 -182.6907 754 798 170 219 0.0000 0.0000 1128 1117
400 -256.4774 -254.6903 717 767 154 202 0.0000 0.0000 1332 1308
450 -348.9883 -341.7426 682 738 139 187 0.0000 0.0000 1548 1508
500 -459.8732 -444.4356 649 711 126 174 0.0000 0.0000 1773 1715

9mm Platforms

The 9mm wins in the platform category as most handguns are released in 9mm and then later in 40. The most popular 9mm platform is of course the Glock 19 and the Glock 17.

40 S&W Platforms

There are less pistols chambered in 40 smith and wesson, but most every popular handgun has a 40 version so don't let this weigh to heavily on your mind.

9mm Ammo Prices

9mm is the cheapest ammo out there most likely because it is the most mass produced. Even smaller rounds like the 380 acp (also called 9mm short) cost more than the 9mm cartridge. 100 round value packs can easily be had at Wal-Mart for around $26 (not carry ammo just a good practice round). You can shoot more often with those prices.

40 S&W Ammo Prices

40 ammo of course cost a bit more than the 9mm because it's not as widely produced. 40 prices are still less than the smaller 380 acp cartridges so that's good. The 40 S&W 100 round value packs usually run around $33 or $36 more than the 9mm value packs but still very affordable plinking cartridges.

9mm vs 40 Carrying Capacity

In the most common (Glock platforms) the 9mm of course wins. In the full size Glock 17 the capacity is 17 + 1, while in the Glock 19 it's still 15+1. In comparison the 40 smith & Wesson the Glock 22 Full Size holds 15+1 while the slightly smaller Glock 23 holds 13+1. All in all the capacity is fairly similar and we are not sure 2 rounds is going to make a world of difference.

Best 9mm Defense Loads (use)

The 9mm is available in standard pressure load along with the +P load. The +P load should only be used in firearms that were made after 1985. They should also be used sparingly compared to standard loads. There are special loads available to law enforcement personnel, but commercial loads are just as good and in some cases better than the restricted loads reserved for law enforcement officials.

The 9mm Luger is considered the best self-defense pistol to use with Cor-Bon 9mm 115 grain +P Jacketed Hollow Point bullets. This is the most powerful cartridge available and a proven man stopper for the 9mm caliber of bullets. The muzzle velocity is 1,340 ft/s and the high pressure round is more effective than the non-commercial market rounds law enforcement officials have at their disposal.

Unfortunately, it is also likely to jam many older guns. For this reason I add a table at the end of the 9mm section discussing round suitability for different guns. Modern hollow points may either (a) jam, or (b) be too powerful for some older guns. This load is suitable only for First Class pistols.

The Federal 115 grain JHP (98P) is the best standard pressure 9mm cartridge on the market. It is effective and accurate, which makes it the set-standard across the globe.

Worst 9mm Defense Loads (avoid)

  • Federal Gold Medal 9mm 147 grain JHP (9MS)
  • Federal Hydra-Shok 9mm 147 grain JHP (P9HS2)
  • Winchester 147 grain 9mm Silvertip Subsonic JHP (X9MMST147)
  • Winchester 147 grain 9mm Super-X Subsonic (XSUB9MM)
  • Remington 147 grain 9mm JHP (R9MM8)
  • Remington 147 grain 9mm Golden Saber JHP (GS9MMC)
  • Remington 140 grain 9mm JHP (R9MM7)
  • Remington 88 grain 9mm JHP (R9MM5) this bullet is far too light.
  • CCI Lawman 147 grain 9mm PHP "Plated Hollow Point" (3619)

Best 40 Self Defense Loads (use)

The real-world shooting database clearly favors the lighter 135-155 gr. JHP loads. It is recommended owners carry the potent Cor-Bon 135 or 150 grain jacketed hollow point or the Winchester Silvertip 155 grain jacketed hollow point (X40SWSTHP). The 135-155 grain JHP kicks less and has higher kinetic energy and stopping power than the 180 gr. JHP loads. The 135 gr. JHP appears to be a real stopper. In short, you cannot go wrong with the .40 S&W - unless you carry ball. Choose a good hollow point and stick with it. Leave the ball for practice (the CCI Blazer 180 grain TMJ is a good inexpensive practice round)

Worst 40 Smith & Wesson Defense Loads (avoid)

No data found please suggest crappy loads in comment section below and we'll add them here.

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