For police officers around the country, the .40 S&W pistol was king. Now that “the King” has been dethroned, the police are running, not walking to new .9mm pistols. For those of us that like to buy used or surplus guns, this presents an opportunity.
So now that we all know to buy .9mm pistols, why should we pay any attention to the piles of gently used .40 S&W's? Well for one thing, they're really cheap. Now that police departments are swiveling back to the .9mm, you can get forties for around $300 before shipping (e.g. GunBroker.com listings). Considering that most police pistols see more holster action than anything else, the guns are typically still in very nice condition. Magazines are also going for cheap so look around.
One thing that's been lost in translation is the fact that .40 S&W is still a very good cartridge. There's a reason the FBI recommended the cartridge for so long, and it still works just as good as ever. Plus there is a large variety of loads that can be fired. From light and fast 130 to 155 grain to subsonic 200 grain there's a lot of performance for that little round.
But what if you want to shoot some other caliber?Well a great side benefit of many .40 cal pistols is they are multi-caliber! The forty can be easily converted to .357 SIG with just a barrel change. Ironically, forties can also shoot the evergreen 9x19mm as well. They need a special conversion barrel (.40 S&W barrels are thicker, so the slide is different from the .9mm) and readily available .9mm specific magazines. While fully modular pistols are closing this gap, 'old school' forties are still capable of firing three different calibers. Pretty impressive for an unwanted pistol!
And here’s another cool option for the .40 S&W. Anyone out there love a lever-action rifle? Here at Ranger Point, we convert Marlin 1894 rifles to a half dozen semi-auto pistol caliber short stroke carbines one of which is the .40 S&W (donor rifle Marlin 1894 .357 or Marlin 1894CL 32-20). If you thought a .40 S&W out of a handgun delivers great performance, consider this: the .40 S&W cartridge shot out of a rifle length barrel packs the same energy as a .357 Magnum revolver. Booya!