In Miami Florida in the year 1986 a shootout took place between eight FBI agents and two bank robbers. The criminals were outgunned four to one, yet still they managed to kill two agents and wound five others.
One of the bank robbers was shot multiple times and continued the fight. This deadly incident was studied by many law enforcement experts and the search began for a newer, more potent pistol caliber.
On January 17th, 1990 the .40 caliber made its debut. The goal of the .40 caliber was to have more stopping power than the 9mm, but still keep the pistol’s capacity higher than the .45 caliber options available. Since then, the .40 caliber has become one of the most popular cartridges in America, used by both law enforcement and civilians.
Here’s a list of some of the best .40 caliber pistols on the market.
#1 Glock 22
The full size Glock 22 chambered in .40 S&W is probably the most popular pistol in law enforcement today. For decades, police departments across the country have issued this pistol to their officers. It’s reliable, simple to operate and holds 15+1 rounds of the potent .40 caliber. Next time you walk by a police officer, take a look at their duty belt. Chances are you’ll see a Glock 22 in the holster.
#2 Glock 23
This compact .40 caliber pistol from Glock is another popular choice among police and civilians. The model 23 is easy to carry and still offers a full five finger grip with a 13+1 capacity. This pistol can do it all, from home defense to concealed carry. The FBI and several other agencies issue this model to their officers. If it’s good enough for them, chances are it’s good enough for anything you might encounter.
#3 HK VP40
The Heckler and Koch VP40 offers excellent ergonomics, a crisp trigger and one of the best slide designs on the market. The slide features a raised insert to assist the shooter in fast reloads even when their hands are wet. The slide can also be manipulated one handed by hooking the rear of the slide against your belt, boot or a piece of furniture. It’s a brilliant design that assists the shooter when needed and doesn’t get in the way. The interchangeable back straps allow the shooter to custom fit the grip to their hand size.
#4 SIG Sauer P229
Getting tired of all these plastic guns yet? The P229 from SIG Sauer might be right for you. This classic single stack pistol is all steel yet still compact enough for comfortable all day carry. The smoothed off snag free design is ideal for deep carry and drawing from concealment. The pistol is available in several different finishes from matte black to stainless steel. Synthetic and wood grips are available which gives it that classic look. The double action trigger is smooth and reliable. You can’t go wrong with Sig.
#5 Walther PPS
The single stack pistol that started it all. As more and more American’s began getting their concealed carry permits, the market started shifting to more smaller, thinner and lighter weight handguns. The 1911s and revolvers of the past feel like boat anchors compared to what’s available today. The Walther PPS was one of the first to hit the market with their super slim subcompact PPS model. At just one inch wide and nineteen ounces empty, the PPS is ideal for concealed carry. It’s also a great shooter and extremely reliable. A lot more options have hit the market since then, but still it’s hard to go wrong with the PPS.
#6 Glock 27
The Glock lineup has something for everyone. The model 27 is the subcompact model which is basically just a shortened version of the Glock 22. It shares many of the same parts, magazines and it even fits in many of the same holsters. It’s the ideal back up gun to the larger models and it makes an excellent deep concealment pistol.
#7 Smith & Wesson M&P Shield 2.0
If you’re looking for a subcompact pistol for concealed carry then the M&P Shield deserves your consideration. The .40 caliber Shield is a slim frame single stack pistol that weighs in at just eighteen ounces. The Shield is available from the factory with tritium night sights and it includes two magazines. A flush fit six round magazine for concealed carry, and a seven round magazine with a pinky extension which allows the shooter to get a full five finger grip on the gun. It’s nice to have that option.
#8 Smith and Wesson M&P 2.0 Pro Series
If you’re looking for a full size American made pistol in .40 caliber then look no further. The M&P 2.0 Pro Series is the long slide five inch barrel version of the M&P. The barrel and slide are ported to reduce muzzle flip and allow the shooter more fast and precise follow up shots. The rail offers shooters the option of mounting tactical lights and lasers. The Pro Series also features factory fiber optic sites which are high visibility green and orange. This pistol is a bit big for concealed carry, but would be great for home defense or competition shooting.
#9 Walther PPQ
The Walther PPQ is touted by many as the “Glock killer.” Glock isn’t going anywhere anytime soon, but the Walther is still an outstanding pistol. Walther seemed to listen to the common complaints of Glock owners when they were creating the PPQ. It’s more ergonomic, has a better trigger and a better set of sights from the factory. The PPQ has proven to be a reliable pistol that holds its own against the bigger name brands out there.
#10 Springfield Armory XD40
The Springfield XD line is great for anyone looking for a good reliable pistol made in the USA. Springfield Armory was first established in Springfield Massachusetts in 1777 to manufacture weapons and ammo for the patriots fighting for America’s independence. It doesn’t get any more American than Springfield Armory. The XD line offers subcompact, compact and full size duty models in .40 caliber. Many prefer the grip angle and ergonomics of the Springfield XDs over the Glocks, so it’s worth trying them out for yourself. Whether you need a small concealed carry pistol or a full size home defense gun, Springfield has something for you.