Why did police switch to 40 S&W

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Thread: Why did police switch to 40 S&W

  1. #46
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    Glad you got one. They are awesome guns
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  3. #47
    Distinguished Member Array Rexster's Avatar
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    I think the major reason my employer switched to .40 as the mandated duty pistol standard was that it had enough rounds in a typical magazine to satisfy the capacity-hungry folks, enough velocity to placate the energy folks, and a big enough bore to placate the big boredom crowd. I work for a big-city PD with several thousand sworn officers, and before standardizing on .40, we carried just about anything and everything from 38 Special and 9mm on the low end to .45 ACP and Colt on the high end.

    We still must buy our own duty firearms, and much other duty equipment, a typical Texas tradition to keep taxes low, but we now are guided by a list of about eight models from four manufacturers. Nobody had to buy a new pistol when the policy changed; anyone can keep their older pistols "grandfathered" by keeping up to date on the qualification schedule. I used grandfathered .45 ACP 1911s for five years after the .40 standard started. We can still carry a fairly broad range of other handguns as "back-up" on the clock, and for concealed carry off the clock.

    To be clear, even though many agencies see the .40 as a compromise round, I don't see it that way. I loved my S&W Model 58 .41 Magnum sixgun, with milder-than-max loads, as a duty handgun from 1985 to around 1991, and was a 10mm fan from its inception. I experimented with .40 Browning Hi-Powers in the mid-1990's. A forty-ish bore is fine with me, though I have evolved to disregard actual bore diameter, as well as pure energy figures, and look at what has actually worked for others, over time. Decent velocity, decent energy, and good bullet construction all trump bore diameter, and shot placement is king.

    I cannot publicly disclose my employer in social media, but being a big-city PD, we shoot bad folks on a regular basis, and sadly, we get shot sometimes by bad guys, on occasion by our own snatched or otherwise stolen guns. The .40 works fine, when placed well, regardless of bullet weight. In the days when we carried a wider variety of ammo, it all worked quite well when placed well, too. Going forty did not notably increase nor decrease the success rate of our shootings. The Texas state troopers in the more rural areas around us shoot enough bad guys with their 357 SIGs to cause me to look favorably upon that relatively new cartridge; I may convert my P229s after I retire, and already own one conversion barrel.

    One-shot stops are hard to calculate, because we don't train to shoot once and then sit back to observe our handiwork. I only fired my .357 Magnum sixgun once, back in the day, because the bad guy ceased to be a target immediately upon impact of the first and only shot.

  4. #48
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    Quote Originally Posted by cmdrdredd View Post
    It's a well known fact that the ammo selection during the Miami incident was to blame, no doubt about it. I'm sure a design similar to something we carry today would have fared better. Second, I do not believe the NYPD is a good indicator of anything. They have an unusually high number of stray rounds hitting various structures and people. Just because it's deemed "good enough" for the NYPD doesn't in any way indicate top performance. The Gold Dot itself is a good round, but I do not think this based on how the NYPD deploys it.
    You need to produce some evidence then, because the round did just about every thing that could be expected from a round. To claim a round would do better in some past event is speculation, and cannot be proven.

    I'm not aware that the NYPD has any more percentage of 'strays' than any other department. And what does strays have to do with the effectiveness of a round anyway?

    They are content with the performance, that is the response they get when they hit the BG get with the 9mm.
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  5. #49
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    Quote Originally Posted by afcarpenter View Post
    Tangle,

    ....I do have to respectfully disagree about your opinions on shot placement...though I also have to caveat this by saying that what you said is true.
    So you're saying what I said is true, but you disagree with it even though you think what I said is true??

    Quote Originally Posted by afcarpenter View Post
    ...Good shot placement will stop the fight every time without fail. My disagreement is that in those "Oh S%&#" situations, you don't have time to think about shot placement as you won't be able to index the weapon properly nor will you be able to get far enough into it to think about anything but how to stop the situation at hand. You're just looking at getting a bullet or two into the target to slow the progression.
    You're gonna have to produce some documentation that supports that poor placement with a .40 is more effective than poor shot placement with a 9mm. I just debated that issue with three people that are deeply involved with gunshot wound analysis, and all three came to the same conclusion - you cannot tell from the wound channel what caliber made the wound unless you have the actual bullet.

    But going with your opinion that for poorly placed shots, a .40 stops someone where a 9mm wouldn't, then we would have no choice to logically deduce that for poorly placed shots, the .45ACP would be better than the .40 for the same reason. Unforturnately, statistical evidence, much less proof, of this seems to be very elusive. Could you share some statistical data to support your claim?

    Quote Originally Posted by afcarpenter View Post
    ...And I speak as someone who has used a 9mm in combat over yonder a few too many times...and no, I'm not a fan of 9mm as I think they aren't enough when the adrenaline of battle is flowing through your veins but they sure as heck will make anyone stop and think twice about their choices in life! I prefer to kill my attackers.
    How'd the .45ACP fare in the same situations?
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  6. #50
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    Coast Guard uses Sig 229 DAK I am not sure of caliber. I would guess 40Sw since they are part of Homeland Security and is the most widely used.

  7. #51
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    Why did police switch to 40 S&W?
    Same reasons the 40S&W is my favorite?

  8. #52
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    Tangle,
    It appears you totally misunderstood what I was saying. I do agree with shot placement being key but it seems that you think that good shot placement is possible everytime in every encounter. That is my disagreement.

    I really don't care what people think about rounds and data that gets shot into ballistic gel. All the experts in the world can debate and in the end all your going to get is disagreement. You have people that seem to agree with your point of view, and I have people and some real world experience that agrees with mine. We'll just have to agree to disagree. And I feel no need to hijack this thread with a caliber war.

    This one thing we both can agree on though, an effective round is any that will cause the BG to cease his attack and allow you to gain the initiative again.

  9. #53
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    I recall reading a bunch of stuff on the caliber wars of the 70-80’s. John Bianchi was involved in the mix and I found a lot of good information from Mass Ayoob and Paris Theodore. Seems that ballistic studies, politics and gun/ammo manufactures all play into this. I guess if I were a LEO today I’d prefer the 40 for the reasons mentioned. As a lonely CCW type, the requirements or choice is more open.
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  10. #54
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    I have always thought it ironic that in adapting the 40, we have basically rediscovered a ballistically identical twin of a cartridge we got away from over 100 years ago. Of course bullet technology has advanced and we are no longer restricted to a 6 shooter. But ballistically, the 40 wasnt new when it was new.

  11. #55
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    ^ This. Yes, indeed, the .38 WCF, a.k.a. .38-40, actually shoots true .40-caliber bullets, 180 grains in weight, at about the same velocity as a modern .40 S&W.

    The .41 Magnum "police load" of the 1960's-1980's was just a bit bigger in diameter, and just a bit heavier.

    The .41 AE of the 1980's did not live long, but tried to be a "middle" bore answer to the question.

    There were other efforts that remained wildcats.

    The .40 S&W came to be during a perfect storm of circumstances.

  12. #56
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    Quote Originally Posted by afcarpenter View Post
    Tangle,...it seems that you think that good shot placement is possible everytime in every encounter. That is my disagreement.
    Quite the contrary - I make mention of the fact that all this perfect shot stuff is very unlikely to happen. One of my main arguments against revolvers for SD. My common mantra is threats can be moving, shooting, partially disclosed, mixed in with innocents, etc.

    All stats, i.e. street stats I see, conclude that poor placement with a .45 is no more effective than a poorly placed 9mm.

    Quote Originally Posted by afcarpenter View Post
    ...I really don't care what people think about rounds and data that gets shot into ballistic gel. All the experts in the world can debate and in the end all your going to get is disagreement. You have people that seem to agree with your point of view, and I have people and some real world experience that agrees with mine. We'll just have to agree to disagree. And I feel no need to hijack this thread with a caliber war.
    I wasn't talking about rounds shot into ballistic gel; I was talking about street shooting statistical data. That is real-world experience. E.g. four Chattanooga officers recently hit a guy with 20 .45 ACP rounds before they were convinced he was no longer a threat. Years ago, NYPD published statisitical data collected from their street shootings. Marshall and Sanow collected and processed street data that was supposed to show which rounds perform the best although I think it completely failed in that regard. In fact, I believe it was Marshall himself that reported on his forum that he once saw a fleeing felon shot in the back of the head with a .357 magnum. The bullet went all the way through his head! When Marshall go to the down and supposedly out felon, the felon sat up and stated that he had a headache! That's the kind of statistical data I meant.

    Just to be sure my point of view is not misunderstood, my point of view is that a good hit with a 9mm is about as effective as a good hit with a .45. A poorly placed .45 is no more effective than a poorly placed shot with a 9mm.
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  13. #57
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    Quote Originally Posted by afcarpenter
    ...And I speak as someone who has used a 9mm in combat over yonder a few too many times...
    My point exactly.... The brand, model and caliber isn't determined by the individual LEO or soldier... I'm sure you would want something else to carry into combat had you had the choice right?

    The US military is using 9mm because it is a NATO cartridge. They use a Beretta 92 series because that is what won the contract. Again it isn't the guy on the ground that chooses his pistol or caliber... that is what is issued and it is up to him/her to use it as efficiently as possible.
    Ask 10 soldiers what they want to be issued for a side arm you could get 10 different answers.
    There is something about firing 4,200 thirty millimeter rounds/min that makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

  14. #58
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    The .41 AE of the 1980's did not live long, but tried to be a "middle" bore answer to the question.

    There were other efforts that remained wildcats.

    The .40 S&W came to be during a perfect storm of circumstances
    The .40 also had a major advertising campaign that the .41 AE did not. The .40 was written about extensively in every gun mag there was. What really seals the deal with the CLEOs is the sweet deals that some of the manufacturers as Glock offer in package deals. Glock went after the Police market with a very aggressive marketing strategy whereas other dealers looked at the LEO markets as a secondary issue, Glock tackled it and made it their priority.

    The .41 AE suffered from the onset because of the availability of the ammo to shoot in it, or in this case, lack of it.

    In the real world is not often about the best product or tool for the job...its about the marketing campaign and the advertisement of it.
    The .40 S&W was picked up by the major Ammo Manufacturers and it became available in every Walmart, gun shop and mom and pop store that sold ammo. While we often argue about the technical details of this caliber or that or bullet weight and performance, the guys making the decisions only care about what looks good on paper. Its the presentation of a product that sells it.
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  15. #59
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    Wasn't the 41AE offered as an interchangable combo with a 9mm barrel? Man that was some time ago. If I'm not mistaken it was made by Jericho?

  16. #60
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    It was.
    I would rather stand against the cannons of the wicked than against the prayers of the righteous.


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