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9mm vs. .40 - my VERY subjective range report

Discussion in 'Caliber Corner' started by DannyII, Nov 19, 2011.

  1. DannyII


    Jul 25, 2011
    So, today I took my circa 1996 Gen2.5 G26 (many, many thousands of rounds through it), and my new Gen4 G27 (and my first .40 ever) to my indoor range to see how the two compare - for me. My goal was not to compare 9mm target ammo to .40 target ammo, but 9mm carry ammo to .40 target ammo. Why? Because I remembered from previous experience that .40 and 9mm were very different in recoil impulse/energy, in target load strength ammo, but wondered if the same were true for my carry ammo.

    Here's my thoughts from today, YMMV:

    1. 115 gr. 9mm target loads (WWB, Federal Champion) have far (15-25%-ish) less recoil than the lightest .40 target load (WWB, Federal Champion, TulAmmo). No surprise there!

    2. 180 gr. .40 TulAmmo from Wallyworld is cheap, and it works just fine. It is also very mild recoiling ammo for .40. I did note some "sparks" when shooting it.

    3. Speer Gold Dot 9mm 124gr. +P recoils pretty similarly for me to .40 regardless of .40 bullet weight.

    So, I now think that in my chosen carry-quality ammo, there isn't much difference in perceived recoil between the 9mm and the .40. That makes me feel more confident in carrying the .40 for self defense for controllablity, and follow-up shots.

    I have some .40 Federal HST in 165 and 180 coming on the big brown truck of happiness. When it gets here, I plan to compare them to the Speer Gold Dot 124 +P.
    Last edited: Nov 19, 2011
  2. unit1069


    Oct 10, 2007
    So. Central US
    Please let us know your impressions. For what it's worth, every time I've shot .40S&W in 180-grain it demonstrated a significant increase in muzzle flip over 9mm and .357sig. Owning both 9mm and .357sig I decided to forego buying a Glock G-23 barrel for my G-32.

    Totally subjective, but I'd place the .40S&W caliber right alongside .45ACP as to recoil, with the .45ACP somewhat more manageable.
    Last edited: Nov 19, 2011

  3. hotpig

    hotpig IAFF Local 4766 CLM

    I shoot better with the 45 because it has less felt recoil and muzzle flip than the 9 and 40.
  4. Edmo01


    Feb 19, 2010
    Central Arkansas
    One reason is the lower operating pressure of the 45 ACP round vs either the 9mm or 40 S&W.

  5. PghJim


    Apr 21, 2005
    You are correct when you say "for me", the numbers show the 40 to have a greater recoil speed and energy than the 9mm. Just plug in your information:

    However, it is a subjective issue. I believe the 40 S&W recoils worse than the 9mm, 357 sig, or the 45 ACP, but that is for me.
    Last edited: Nov 20, 2011
  6. Brucev


    Jul 19, 2009
    Pressure is irrelevant to recoil. Recoil, felt or actual, is the result of bullet weight/velocity and the weight of the pistol. There are simple formulas with which such recoil force can be calculated. If you chamber a 21 in .45ACP and then fit a .40 barrel, you have a fairly close basis of comparison. Then same goes for two 1911's, one chambered in .45 ACP and one chambered in .40 S&W. Shoot 180 grain bullets in both pistols at identical speeds and compare recoil. If the weight of the pistols is not different, recoil will be virtually identical, both actual and felt.

    Does a .40 S&W recoil more than a 9mm? Yes. Take the 17 and 22 for comparison. The 22 will recoil more using standard loads. Load the 17 w/ 147 gr. bullets and load the 22 with a similar weight bullet... maybe say 145 gr., at the same velocity, and recoil will be identical. The caliber of the bore and the pressure of the load are irrelevant.
  7. English


    Dec 24, 2005
    Absolutely! Pressure is irelevant to recoil. What matters is net force and that is pressure times bore area minus friction summed over the distance the bullet moves. Force produces acceleration little bit by little bit as the bullet accelerates up the barrel. You can forget all that maths and say that recoil momentum is equal to bullet momentum plus a bit for the jet effect.

  8. Kingarthurhk

    Kingarthurhk Isaiah 53:4-9

    Sep 5, 2010
    A .40 is like a 9mm and a .45 had a baby. The .40 is definately the snappier of the two as far as perceived recoil.
  9. DannyII


    Jul 25, 2011
    That was my thinking too, but only as far as 9 vs. .40 target/practice ammo is concerned because that was my basis for comparison.

    The 9mm 124 gr. +P Speers felt pretty much the same as the .40 target/practice ammo to me.
  10. DWARREN123

    DWARREN123 Grumpy Old Guy

    Jan 25, 2008
    Clarksville, Tn.
    I myself enjoy the recoil from a hot 40 cal round. Makes me believe it will do wonders for bad people. :supergrin:
    Love to shoot my G22 and G20 with warm reloads.
  11. jeremy1


    Jan 27, 2006
    Armed In Alberta
    My first Glock was a G22, and after 2 yrs bought a G17 because 9mm was cheaper than .40. After taking them to the range I found that the recoil between the two was noticable, but not significant. I found that with the G22 I could hit a 12 inch square plate at 100 yards much more frequently than with the 9mm. I think that most shooters who can handle a 9mm should be comfortable with the .40, at least in a full size. I have not shot the G27, and maybe recoil is more noticable in the small packages. I sold the G22 to a friend, and wish that I kept it.
  12. txgunguy


    Dec 14, 2007
    DFW, Texas
    Brucev got it right. A 230gr 45 is going around 850fps, give or take. A 230gr +p 45 is moving around 950fps. The recoil is way, way harsher even though the velocity isn't that much more. The weight of the bullet makes that jump feel much more than it is. The +p 45s I have shot make it un pleasant to shoot.

    I agree with the op about 9mm gold dots feeling like a 40.

    I carry 180gr hst in my 40. They seem to have less blast than the 180 gr gold dots to me. They were more accurate out of my 27 also.
  13. LawScholar


    Aug 23, 2011
    I acknowledge there is a difference between 9 and .40, but I shoot them identically (or very close to, no discernible difference) accurately and quickly, so I lean toward the .40 for my chosen self defense round, with the general exception of micro-compact pistols.
  14. Felt and perceived recoil is a very individual thing and is affected by a number of factors. The weight of the gun, its shape, the height of its bore axis, size of the shooter's hands and how it fits in his hands are just a few of the considerations.

    A good way to do a valid comparison is to use the same gun in different calibers; such as a Glock 19 and 23 for example. I have found that the Winchester Ranger 127gr +P+ (RA9TA) fired in my 3G G19 feels similar to Federal American Eagle 155gr hardball target rounds from my 3G G23. And in general, both my Glock 19 and my Glock 23's seem to generate more felt recoil than my M&P's in 9mm and .40S&W, a fact which I attribute to the guns' designs (the M&P just has a better grip purchase for most folks).

    Once again, the perception of recoil is definitely not a static thing. Just too many variables to make blanket, one-size-fits-all statements with this topic.
  15. fredj338


    Dec 22, 2004
    I don't know how much shooting exp you have, but in identical platforms, there is a significant recoil diff. between 40 & 9mm+m in recoil. Not objectionable but certainaly noticeable.:duel:Recoil is very subjective though, I would certainly shoot your chosen carry ammo & compare that to the 9mm+P. I think you'll find a diff.
    Last edited: Nov 22, 2011
  16. PghJim


    Apr 21, 2005
    I do not have an M&P, but I think you are right about the Glock grip, for me anyway. I had one Glock (G23) grip reduction by Robar and it made such a difference that I had it done on all of my guns. Maybe the G4 takes care of that, but the fit of the gun to your hand does have a big influence on the perceived recoil. To me, the grip reduced G23 seemed to have less recoil than an unaltered G19 shooting +p+ ammo.
  17. OctoberRust

    OctoberRust Anti-Federalist

    Jun 15, 2011
    Owning both, even shooting +p non comped vs non comped I feel a huge difference. Now when I use my 23 with a comp'd barrel vs my standard 19, it's much closer.
  18. bruzer


    Apr 18, 2011
    Grants Pass, Oregon
    I have a Gen 4 G22 with 40-9 conversion barrel and the stock .40 recoil spring.
    Shooting the 9mm WWB and Federal target loads my Wife will get stove pipes, I get none.
    Shooting 9mm +P ammo my Wife and I get no failures.
    Shooting .40 WWB and Federal target loads we get no failures.
    9mm target ammo almost feels like the gun is on the verge of too little slide action and that is probably why my Wife will have problems.
    9mm +P ammo actually makes the recoil feel great and you can shoot all day long.
    .40 target ammo has enough recoil that after a few magazines you will see the Gen 4 grip leaving impressions in your hand.
  19. DannyII


    Jul 25, 2011
    En GARDE! :supergrin:

    I've had my 26 for 15 years now, and I probably shoot on average 1200-1500 rounds per year through it, and I compete in 3-4 GSSF matches per year. So, I think I've had plenty of experience with lots of different 9mm ammo - both hot, and bunny-fart.

    That being said, the 27 is my first .40, so not so much experience there.

    I just receieved my .40 HST (165 & 180) so I'll be trying those out next to the Gold Dot 124+P this weekend.
    Last edited: Nov 22, 2011
  20. fredj338


    Dec 22, 2004
    Let us know how 40 SD ammo feels, but 1200rds a year is not much shooting, many are doing that in a month. I can tell when I switch 9mm ammo in my G26, I would certainly know I was shooting full power 40s in a G27. Recoil is very subjective though. Usually it's the other way; shoot a lot & you don't care much about recoil, shoot a little & recoil seems more of an issue. Shoot bigger guns & recoil gets even more subjective.:supergrin:
    Last edited: Nov 23, 2011