.40 S&W Concealables: M&P40 Edges Out Sigarms’ P229 SAS
The Smith & Wesson M&P40 was half the cost of the slick and well-put-together Sigarms P229 SAS, and handled and shot just as well. FN’s solid, but uninspiring, FNP-40 earned a ‘C’ grade.
The ammo development program at Winchester had been a closely guarded secret. The goal: to make a suped-down version of the 10mm Auto.
When the FBI began testing the 10mm, the agency found that a 180-grain bullet with velocities between 950 to 1,000 fps had great defensive potential. But the 10mm Auto, introduced in 1983, was too hot and dealt the shooter too much recoil for practical law enforcement use. What was needed, essentially, was a shortened 10mm cartridge that would fit in a smaller pistol platform—that is, S&W’s 9mm frames. Also, the cartridge needed to deliver a 180-grain payload at 950 to 1,000 fps with chamber pressures under [IMGCAP(1)]35,000 psi, the established ceiling for the 9mm.
The result was the .40 S&W, which Smith & Wesson and Winchester teamed up to introduce in 1990. Though big-bore critics of the time derided it at the time as "Short & Weak" or "Short & Wimpy," the .40 came along as law enforcement was beginning to switch from revolvers to autoloaders.
Still, it’s a curious choice for the average LE or concealed shooter, because the .40 S&W cartridge is a high-pressure round that delivers a sharp recoil pulse. It pushes a medium to heavy projectile at high velocity, and this in turn pushes the slide back sharply. While it is supposed to occupy the middle ground between the 9mm and the .45, it is a much more difficult cartridge to shoot well than either of those rounds.
So we were curious how the .40 S&W would fare when packaged in concealable 4-inch-barrel guns.