Why do most LE agencies choose 40 S&W over 45 ACP?

Both of those calibers are in the same price range. However, 45ACP puts a bigger hole in the target. That being said, why do LE agencies choose the less powerful 40 S&W cartridge?

5 Answers

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    I will offer some other thoughts here for your consideration. There is something called kinetic shock. This is what happens when an object travels through something. As an example, picture a pond of water. Drop a rock in the water and you will see ripples spreading outwards from the impact site. That rippling effect is kinetic shock. The human body does exactly the same thing, A fat, slow bullet will displace quite a bit of flesh in 360 degrees as it travels through the body.

    The Colt 1911A1 was specifically designed during the Moro wars in the Phillipines during the early part of the last century. The Moros would work themselves into a frenzy and attack in human waves a thousand at a time. The current caliber in use then was the .38, which just did not have the knock down power to help in this type of situation. The .45 ACP in 230 grain ball traveling at 875 feet per second fit the bill perfectly. It has nothing to do with the metallurgy of the time period. The 1911A1 is the most common firearm in the world with the largest amount of after market parts available and still remains so today.

    The main drawback of the .45 ACP is the muzzle climb and felt recoil. You had to have a big hand to control this during rapid fire and the 1911A1 is what is called a "single stacker", meaning it only carries a single row of 7 rounds in the magazine.

    The .40 cal comes in 150 and 170 grain bullets and has a very unusual shape. It looks like a pyramid with the top cut off and flattened. The .40 will actually have MORE kinetic shock than the heavier .45 ACP due to the shape of the bullet and since the round is considerably lighter, the muzzle climb and felt recoil is greatly reduced, making it far more popular with a broader base of shooters. Greater controllibilty means staying on target for more people. Also, since the round is smaller, quite a few manufacturers have produced this weapon in what is known as "double stackers" , so a single magazine carries 10 to 15 rounds at one time.

    Most departments have switched to the .40 for the above reasons. Quite a few will still allow a choice, but the average person leans more towards the .40.

    Just one other note worth mentioning. There are also manufacturers (such as Para Ordnance in Canada) that manufacture their own .45 ACP autos in double stacking magazines. The main drawback is the width of the grip is MUCH wider and you need a very large hand to hold and use the weapon single handed.

    I hope this helps and you can find it useful


    Firearms Instructor, Arsenal Officer, Armorer, Use of Force Instructor, Chemical Munitions Instructor.

  • 1 decade ago

    The .45 ACP isn't as all-powerful as legend has it. It was designed over a century ago for the metallurgy of the time. Consequently, by modern standards, it's a low-pressure round and low-energy for its size.

    The .40 S&W is a high pressure round in a smaller case, so it's easier to fit more of them into a reasonably sized magazine. Realistically, no one who's shot with one is going to notice the .05" difference between a .40 and a .45.

    Both rounds are proven fight stoppers, so many PDs are opting for the .40's ability to put more rounds into a smaller package that can be easily used by large and small officers alike.

    Source(s): I'm a firearms instructor.
  • 1 decade ago

    The .40 has a higher magazine capacity, it has less recoil which means you can get back on target faster, and it has a smaller frame, so it is easier to get a firm grip, which is essential for accuracy. The frame is also easier for smaller hands to control.

    Source(s): 17 years law enforcement
  • 1 decade ago

    I carry a .40 S&W. They usually hold more rounds and have less recoil.

    Source(s): Police officer - 3 years
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  • 1 decade ago

    More rounds? Better aim?

    Source(s): Guess.
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