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The 40 Smith & Wesson is based on the 10mm Auto case that was shortened to 0.85in. (21.60mm). There is a long and interesting history of how the 40 S&W came to be that started during the early 1970’s when the late Jeff Cooper was looking for a cartridge that could be an everything-for everybody, more capacity than the 45 ACP, more powerful than the 9mm, packed together into a cartridge that offered velocity and momentum, his idea focused on a .40cal cartridge with a 200/1,000 combination (a 200gr. bullet travelling at 1,000 fps). This would deliver a cartridge that was flatter shooting and gave better penetration and higher energy than the 45 with increased magazine capacity. This idea eventually led to the development of the 10mm Auto in 1983. It was after the infamous 1986 Miami Shootout that the FBI had a long and serious look at replacing the revolvers they had with pistols and they adopted the 10mm Auto cartridge shortly after. There are conflicting stories, innuendo and rumours about the failure of the 10mm Auto. One was that the recoil of the full loads offered were too much to handle for the FBI agents. The second part  - and maybe more realistic - was that the Smith & Wesson Model 1076 was too heavy to carry, especially for female agents, they were too bulky for concealed carry as well as suffering metal failure/cracked frames and some were prone to jamming.

The FBI used a lighter loading in the 10mm but that meant having excess capacity in the case when loaded to a lower velocity. The downloaded charge still proved a powerful enough loading at 950 fps for a 180gr. bullet. S&W solved the problem by reducing the case length from 0.992in. to 0.85in. which also made it possible to fit into smaller medium-frame pistols. This was the birth of the 40 S&W on the 17th of January 1990.

The South African 40 S&W versions can be seen under the SA REFERENCE COLLECTION


A-Merc is by American Ammunition Co., Miami FL; Blazer is part of the ATK Group, including Federal, RCBS and Speer; CHEDDITE S.r.l., Livorno, Italy; Creedmoor is by Creedmoor Sports Inc., Anniston, AL


DFA is by Delta Frangible Ammunition, Stafford, VA; Double TAP is by Double Tap Ammunition, Cedar City, UT; DRT is by Dynamic Research Technologies. Albany, MO, now part of Cor-Bon; ELD is by Eldorado Cartrige Corporation, Boulder City, NV


GA Arms is by Georgia Arms; 


JAG is by Jagemann Technologies, Manitowac, Wisconsin; LC is by Måtravidèki Fèmmüvek Sirok (Hungary) for Armscorp USA IncNTW is by Northwest Ammunition and Technologies, Italy; RBCD is by Roscoe Blended Civilian Defense