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45 ACP VS 40 SW Recoil Question

Discussion in 'Caliber Corner' started by jmy, Aug 12, 2013.

  1. jmy

    jmy Still Alive Lifetime Member

    How does recoil of a 45 ACP and 40 SW caliber compare to each other?Which is easier to control?
  2. ShallNotBeInfringed

    ShallNotBeInfringed NRA Business Al

    Feb 2, 2013
    45 has less chamber pressure. Hits the wrist with less abrupt force.

    Not as much of an extreme comparison as 9mm and 40

    It is all trade offs. 9 holds more rounds. 45 costs less than 40 (sometimes) 45 puts bigger holes in paper targets.

    Something special about the 1911 round that everyone in shooting should experience. It was my carry round before 40s father, 10mm came along.

    Sent from my VS950 4G using Ohub Campfire mobile app

  3. OldSchool64


    Sep 5, 2010
    I believe the .45 is easier to control, it could be described as a slower, yet heaver pushing type of recoil as compared to the .40 which has a faster, snappier type of recoil.

    Opinions may vary.
  4. SDGlock23

    SDGlock23 Glockoholic

    I think the .45 recoils less, but then again it's usually fired from a bigger, heavier gun too, which makes a big difference. As for pressure, that can affect recoil as higher pressure rounds tend to a little more snappy where as lower pressure rounds tend to push more. But, recoil is subjective because I've heard guys say the .45 ACP kicks like a mule, which it doesn't.
  5. Arnold Kuhl

    Arnold Kuhl

    Apr 15, 2013
    NE Tennessee
    I remember when I was a kid, more than 50 years ago, that when the .45 Auto was mentioned, somebody always said something like: "It kicks like a MULE!"

    I have long since discovered what a crock this is. I have NO TROUBLE shooting the .45ACP, in any of my 5 .45ACP handguns. Both the .40S&W and the .357SIG have quite snappy recoils, and take some getting used to. Despite this, I am quite a .357SIG enthusiast, and have been reloading and shooting it practically since it was new on the shooting scene. I never did have the same affinity for the .40S&W, for some reason.

  6. countrygun


    Mar 9, 2012
    I shot the .45 as a teenager it was my first centerfire. My wife with a little coaching has really taken to it.

    What the others have said about the .40 is true and also remember that most .40s are put in a 9mm frame (one of the reasons for the round). A frame designed around a 115-124 grain bullet is now throwing a 165-180 grain bullet. While it operates at the same pressure level as the 9mm moving the extra weight makes a difference.

    Bear in mind that the .40 S&W throws the same diameter and weight bullet at the same velocity as the old 38-40, and it was never considered a "snappy" round in either the Colt SAA or New Service DA.
  7. Fear Night

    Fear Night NRA Life Member

    Dec 18, 2005
    Sweet Home Alabama
    Try 'em both out and see for yourself. Typically, .45ACP is described as a slow "push", while the .40S&W is described as a quick "snap". The "push" is easier to control, and is more predictable, than the "snap".

    I would not describe either as kicking like a mule or uncontrollable. Just a different feel.
    Last edited: Aug 12, 2013
  8. fredj338


    Dec 22, 2004
    Chamber pressure has nothing to do with recoil, nothing. It's simple; mass X vel / gun wt. I find the 45acp recoils slightly less, BUT most 45acp guns are slightly heavier. So while my XD45C is almost the same size as a G23, it is still slightly heavier & with full power loads, I find the 40 just a little more recoil in the slightly lighter gun. Of course the load chosen makes a diff. I find a 185gr+P in the 45acp more recoil than a 180gr load in the 40, but is should be, the bullet is moving 100-150fps faster.
    Last edited: Aug 12, 2013
  9. English


    Dec 24, 2005
    The pressure in the barrel has almost nothing to do with it. The basis of recoil is momentum. The momentum of the bullet plus the gas and unburnt particles of propellant HAS to be equal and opposite to the momentum of the gun if it was suspended without resistance. If you are holding it then that momentum gets shared between the gun and your hand, arm, shoulder etc.

    The .40S&W was designed to have the same momentum as the 230gn .45ACP ball round. The hot gas part, since it is at a higher pressure, will add a little to that even though the mass of propellant is less. In short the difference is negligible.

    Felt recoil varies with grip shape and size and so it varies from individual to individual, but it also varies with the mass of the pistol and .40S&W pistols are usually lighter than .45AGP pistols. What is felt as recoil that is consistent from person to person comes from the speed at which the pistol hits your hand. If the pistol is 25% lighter its recoil speed has to be 33% greater. It is this that makes it feel like more recoil even though the free recoil, its momentum, is just the same.

    How much a pistol flips depends on the momentum of the bullet plus hot gas etc. multiplied by the distance of the effective pivot point (maybe 2/4 inch below the beaver tail) below the barrel axis, working against the moment of inertia of the pistol. That is, for pistols of similar configuration, the speed of the flip would be much the same as the speed of the recoil. The result is that the significantly lighter .40S&W pistol recoils significantly faster and flips significantly faster than a .45ACP almost entirely because the pistol is lighter and not because the .45 bullet has less pressure behind it or because it is traveling slower or any of those other differences that so many people put forward in explanation. If you don't believe this all you have to do is get hold of a G20 with a .40S&W conversion barrel and a G21 and shoot them side by side. You will be hard pushed to detect any difference at all, apart from the difference in sound.

  10. WinterWizard


    Jan 17, 2012
    I would say the recoil of a 230gr standard pressure .45 acp and a 180gr .40 S&W are about the same, with different characteristics already described in this thread.

    However, pistol size and weight have a great affect and can make the recoil feel weaker or greater than the other caliber.

    That being said, I far prefer the .45 acp. I find the snap of .40 very undesirable and unenjoyable. JMO.
  11. Fear Night

    Fear Night NRA Life Member

    Dec 18, 2005
    Sweet Home Alabama
    I think people are relating higher chamber pressure to a higher velocity, which is true for most cases comparing .40 and .45.
  12. barth

    barth six barrels

    Oct 7, 2011
    The Free Zone
    There are machines that measure recoil and accuracy.
    But we are not machines.
    IMHO felt recoil is a subjective thing.
    And has a lot to do with platform, ergonomics and shooting style.
    Even if you can switch calibers in the same frame.
    Different designs can still feel different.

    You need to pick a platform, or two, in the calibers you are interested in.
    And shoot them for yourself.

    A skilled shooter can be proficient with both calibers.
    But only you can determine which you favor.
    Last edited: Aug 12, 2013
  13. plp


    Feb 11, 2013
    Redneck Riveria
    I find my two Rugers have essentially the same felt recoil, but are applied differently. The .45ACP tends to recoil up, while the 9mm recoils back. Comparing the .45 to my nephew's SVE 40, I find the same type upward recoil, but is more pronounced with the Smith and Wesson. This may be design A vs. design B, may be caliber, may just be my subjective impression.

    With his SVE, I'm going to miss the target more than I'm going to hit it, may look for a P series .40 S&W so I can make a fair comparison. Since I started looking, have found exactly zero Ruger .40's for sale. They were either so bad everyone got rid of them immediately, or so good nobody ever sells them.

    EDIT: Gunbroker made a liar out of me, found 3 listed this week and one with a BIN of 375.00. If a buyer follows through on a pending sale, I will have that and a bit more. Possibly(?) more to follow......
    Last edited: Aug 12, 2013
  14. fredj338


    Dec 22, 2004
    Still, pressures & recoil have nothing to do with each other. I can build a low pressure 45colt round that the avg shooter would find quite uncomfortable to shoot (25Kpsi), yet I can also build a 9mm load (40Kpsi) that a 12yr old girl can easily shoot. So pressure & recoil have nothing to do with each other. Even higher vel isn't getting you more recoil if you are reducing the bullet wt significantly. A 90gr 9mm @ 1500fps has very little recoil in a full size service gun.
    Last edited: Aug 12, 2013
  15. vulcan71


    May 8, 2013
    The general rule for lower perceived recoil is greater bullet weight, lower ft-lbs (charge), greater pistol weight, improved ergonomics, pistol design (lower bore axis &/or recoil reduction system) and S.A.A.M.I specs. The .45 ACP (21,000 psi (140 MPa), piezo pressure) has lower perceived recoil than the .40 S&W (35,000 psi (241.32 MPa), piezo pressure). The various bullet weights for .45 ACP are 120 gr to 230 gr (.45 LC 250 gr – 255 gr) and .40 S&W are 125 gr to 180 gr (10 mm 200 gr – 220 gr).

    Additional info

    There are two key elements to the .460 Rowland concept. The first is a sharp increase in cartridge maximum pressure over the .45 ACP and .45 Super. Maximum Average Pressure is: 45 ACP (21,000 PSI), .45 ACP +P (23,000 PSI), .45 Super (28,000 PSI), .460 Rowland (40,000 PSI). The second is to damp or reduce the velocity of the slide in converted auto-loading pistols to manageable levels.

    This specs for the 10 mm S.A.A.M.I. pressure rating (37,500 psi (259 MPa), piezo pressure).
    Last edited: Aug 13, 2013
  16. countrygun


    Mar 9, 2012
    Of course a good way to prove this would be to glom onto one of the Ruger Blackhawks in 10mm/38-40 and load some black powder load or a low pressure smokeless load for the 38-40 and some 40 level high pressure loads in 10mm cases with the same bullets to the same velocity and see what happens. Since the .40 basically mimics the older rounds stats.
  17. GunHo198


    Oct 7, 2004
    Both are the primary rounds for most of my handguns. We carry either .40 or .45. I prefer my .45's as I like sending bricks down range. The G30 is a heavier gun than my G27 so naturally the .40 has more recoil. Even with the extra recoil my son says I shoot better with the G27 and should carry it more often. I'm just stubborn and still prefer my G30. Both of them are built identical. I only prefer the G27 when I really need to conceal it with what I'm wearing.
  18. marvin

    marvin sci-fi nut

    Mar 26, 2001
    greentown ind.
    in two 1911's one in .45 the other in 40 i find that the .45 230 grain bullet has a bit more recoil than a 180 grain 40, but it's not that much different though
  19. fredj338


    Dec 22, 2004
    In identical guns, few exist, the std 180gr factory load will offer slightly less recoil than std 230gr 45s, physics. If I load my 10mm Delta to the same vel levels as a 40, it recoils less than 230gr ball but not much.
    Last edited: Aug 13, 2013
  20. NEOH212

    NEOH212 Diesel Girl

    Mar 25, 2008
    North East Ohio
    For starters, everyone will experience recoil differently. What I experience when shooting a .40 or .45 may differ from another person's experience since perceived recoil is relative to the shooter.

    With that said:

    In most firearms I've shot that are chambered in .40 S&W, I experience a more abrupt muzzle rise (what some people call snap) from the .40 over .45. There is a small amount of push back.

    To sum up the .40, it's more of a sharp snap up and a light push back.

    In most firearms I've shot that are chambered in .45 ACP, I notice the recoil impulse is more of a push straight back. That push is heavier than that of the .40 but not uncomfortable by any means.

    There is a little muzzle rise with the .45 but not near as much as that of the .40 S&W.

    To sum up the .45, it's recoil is more of a push straight back with minimum muzzle rise.

    Both the .40 and .45 have their own personality and require a little different technique when running the gun. My shot to shot times between the two come out slightly in favor of the .45. I'm also more accurate with the .45's.

    Some will state the .45 is the more accurate round but I'm not sure about that. I think the single stack or otherwise thinner guns fit my hand better, hence making those guns more accurate for me.

    With proper training, most people can shoot either effectively.

    Lastly, allow me to touch on the word Most that I have in bold in this post.

    The reason I've brought extra attention to this word is because there are almost always exceptions. I've shot some .40 caliber pistols that handle like .45's. Just the same, I've fired some .45 caliber pistols that handle like a .40 caliber pistol.

    I've seen people that couldn't shoot a .40 for a crap as I've seen people that thought they'd never like the .40 shoot one and like it so much, they sold their 9's or .45's and converted to the .40 S&W.

    I've seen people that said the .45 kicked too much and ended up liking a .357 Mag better. (I can't figure that one out either but it's a true story!)

    So as I stated, in most cases what I've posted here holds true but there are always exceptions. Personally, I prefer the .45 followed very closely by the .40. I just simply shoot the .45 better.
    Last edited: Aug 13, 2013