October 2011

New Polymer Forties: Glock, Springfield, Ruger Shoot It Out

The Springfield Armory XDM Compact redefines versatility. Glock’s G23 Gen 4 trims down for easier carry, but Ruger’s SR40 was slimmest overall. The Glock 29 is surprisingly friendly.

The 10mm pistol cartridge was developed to fill the gap between 9mm and 45 ACP firepower. In 1989 its popularity was spurred by the FBI choosing 10mm as its favored caliber. At the time, Colt successfully chambered a 1911 for 10mm, the Colt Delta Elite. Smith & Wesson tried to adapt its line of semi-automatic pistols as well. Durability became an issue. But then pistol makers found out it was easier to increase the strength of their 9mm fleet to handle another round developed almost concurrently, the 40 S&W round, rather than tool up to withstand the more powerful 10mm rounds. We could resort to revolver jargon and refer to 10mm ammunition as 40 Magnum. That’s because both 40 S&W and 10mm ammunition share the same diameter bullet, but the 10mm case is 0.140 inch longer.

Time has not quite eclipsed the standard 10mm round, but it is now decidedly less popular than the 40 S&W it sired. The big reason: the 40 S&W delivers noticeably more power than the 9mm, but the larger high-velocity round can still be packed into same frame as current 9mm pistols with little structural change.

This brings us to our current roster of test guns. The Ruger SR40 began life as a 9mm pistol, and since our test of the SR9 in the December 2007 issue, a compact version is now available in both calibers. Likewise, the roots of the Glock 23 Gen4 can be traced to the 9mm Model 19, which itself was the compact version of the G17 service pistol. The Springfield Armory XDM40 Compact is somewhat of a hybrid with characteristics of both a compact and full-size pistol. Developed from a foreign-manufacture 9mm service pistol, the XDM Compact offers a shortened grip for better concealment and a full-length 16-round magazine that includes a grip extension. Our fourth pistol is a true subcompact, and it shoots the same bullet as our other test guns but from a longer case that packs more powder. The Glock Model 29 chambers 10mm ammunition, from which 40 S&W was developed. Since the 10mm originally lost favor due in part to its recoil, we wondered how much we’d like shooting the round in such a small package as the G29.

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