Big and Bad vs. Short and Accurate could easily sum up the argument between the 10mm and the .40 S&W rounds. A lot of focus is on the 180-grain 10 mm which has decent stats - 1,300 feet/second and 708 ft-lbf in comparison to the .40 S&W with 200 grains delivers velocity in the 1050 feet/second range and 490 lb-lbf. Clearly, the 10mm is more powerful, but that power comes at a cost - The recoil is huge and that can play with accuracy, especially in the second or third shot with quickfire situations.
Which is better?
A lot of this answer comes down to you as a shooter and how you plan to use either round. If you are talking home defense with a single shot, the 10mm is a good choice, but if you need more than one shot then the .40 S&W may serve you better. That is the crux of the deal between these two rounds.
Who you are as a shooter is a differentiator. There are several factors that influence bullet performance. Some of these are shooter-initiated and others are situational where the skill of the shooter and how they deal with the situation will influence how well the shot is placed.
Factors That Influence Bullet Performance
A bullet's performance stems from goals and expectations that you, the shooter, need. Those may include:
- 1 Shot Drop
- Long-distance accuracy
- Multi-shot accuracy
- User Control
These are some of the tools we use to measure whether a bullet is a good fit for our needs and how we sum up how it performs. Some of the factors that influence bullet performance are incurred due to the bullet's design and some are purely user errors. You have control over only part of that group - user error and the other attributes are due to bullet design. Those factors include:
- Gravity or bullet drop
- Trajectory - including mid-range trajectory and maximum ordinate
- Line of Departure and shot angle
- Environmental conditions, such as wind
1. Velocity or bullet speed is a common stat that lists the rate the bullet travels in feet per second. How fast the bullet moves from the gun to the target is important as it impacts the trajectory and accuracy of the round.
2. Bullet Drop or the degree to which gravity pushed the bullet towards the earth. The effect of gravity is measured at 32.17 feet per second. If we are talking trajectory, then bullet drop is the point in time from firing to when the bullet hits the ground. It is the pressing down of the round as it flies and is what causes the backend arc of a bullet's trajectory.
3. The trajectory is the bullet's flight path as it leaves the muzzle until it stops. Generally, these are arcs. The trajectory is impacted by gravity which induces bullet drop. That is why guns are aimed slightly upwards when fired. If you point the barrel at a distance target and you aim directly, the round will leave the muzzle and gravity will for it down. If you are target practicing and your shots are low, elevate the barrel slightly to compensate for bullet drop. By doing so, you are increasing the angle of the bullet's trajectory and countering the impact of gravity on the round.
4. The mid-range trajectory is difficult to measure in the field. It is the middle point between the gun and the target or the gun and the point where the bullet strikes the earth. If your target is 400 yards away, the mid-range trajectory would occur at 200 yards. That is, you would measure the mid-range trajectory at its height at the 200-yard mark. Because bullets travel in an arc, and each half of the arc is generally equal, you would use the mid-range trajectory to measure where the shot will hit.
5. Maximum Ordinate is the maximum height of the trajectory. It is a measurement of two angles. The first is the arc of the trajectory, and the second is the straight-line distance from the line of sight. The line of sight is flat. Maximum Ordinate is the point where the arc of the bullet meets the line of sightline. While technical, maximum ordinate helps you determine what happens at the point-blank range.
There is a good reason why many rounds come in a variety of formats. While some of that is due to use in different guns, much of it is to correct performance under certain firing conditions. These include attributes such as casing material, whether the bullet is an FMJ or not, and specialty tips such as hollow tip vs. rounded tip vs. poly tip.
Of course, there are factors such as grain size too which will ultimately determine factors such as velocity and energy.
Grain and Bullet Rating
Grain is a rating that depicts the bullet's weight. A single grain is equal to 1/7,000 of a pound. Generally, lighter grains mean higher velocity or bullet speed. Heavier bullets fly slower due to their weight. Lighter grain ratings also mean (generally) better accuracy. Light-weight bullets are often impacted by environmental issues, such as wind. They are also the round that will do the least amount of damage since they have less mass.
Heavier grain ratings mean fewer issues with environmental conditions, such as wind. They also impart larger wounds and often penetrate deeper. In hunting, even if the shot does not drop the animal, the wound will usually kill it. While that all sounds good and many shooters reach for heavier grains, you lose distance. Heavier-grained rounds travel shorter distances compared with a round that has lighter grain ratings. Perhaps the biggest drawback to larger grain ratings is the massive recoil. The larger the grain rating of the round, the more kick it produces when the gun is fired.
10mm vs .40 S&W: A Breakdown
10mm - Overall length - 1.2 inches
.40 S&W - Overall length - 1.135 inches
10mm - Offered in a wide range of grain sizes including, 77, 155, 175, and 180 grains.
.40 S&W - Offered in a wide range of grain sizes including 115, 135, 155, 165, and 200 grains.
77 = 649 lb-lbf
155 = 775 lb-lbf
175 = 649 lb-lbf
180 = 708 lb-lbf
115 = 500 lb-lbf
135 = 588 lb-lbf
155 = 463 lb-lbf
165 = 468 lb-lbf
200 = 490 lb-lbf
77 = 2,420 feet per second
155 = 1,500 feet per second
175 = 1,290 feet per second
180 = 1,300 feet per second
115 = 1,400 feet per second
135 = 1,400 feet per second
155 = 1,160 feet per second
165 = 1,130 feet per second
200 = 1,050 feet per second
10mm guns are okay for home and self-defense. They come with a much larger recoil than the .40 S&W making them difficult to use in rapid shot succession. Also, the recoil from the 10mm can intimidate shooters with weaker arm and hand strength. The power of the 10mm will stop predatory animals and it is relatively easy to holster and carry. It is impressive for the gun range too.
The .40 S&W is a good option for home defense and self-defense situations. The slightly weaker rounds help prevent accidental injury due to the bullets penetrating walls. It has enough power to stop an intruder and offers a lighter recoil that makes it a nicer, friendly gun for those of us with weaker arm and hand strength. It is slightly smaller so easier to conceal carry. A very appropriate round/gun for the range.
.40 S&W 155 gr Hollow Base Flat Point - 1000 rounds - Expect to pay about $165 or for 250 rounds for about $47.
10mm 180gr Flat Point Thick Plate - 1000 rounds - Expect to pay about $180 or for 250 rounds for about $55
Ultimately, the Choice is Yours
Which is a better option - the 10mm or the .40 S&W - ultimately the choice is yours. If you want more power and can handle a heavier recoil, the 10mm is a good option. If you need a gun with a lighter touch, greater distance, and less recoil, the .40 Smith & Wesson can be a good option.
Whatever your gun choice, be sure to shop Berry's for our wide selection of size and grain options for both the 10mm and the .40 S&W
Shop Our Selection of Bullets
Berry's offers a wide array of rounds in various calibers and grains. When you are choosing between the 10mm and the .40 S&W we offer you a great selection of grain, and profile options - RN, HBFP, DEWC, THP, and so many others. We also are your first choice in ammo storage and reloading supplies. Check out the options at Berry's.