As our regular readers are aware, I’m very fond of the 9mm Parabellum and .45 ACP pistol cartridges alike, notwithstanding the endless debates about which is the better of the two calibers for self-defense.
Ergo, when I did my two separate 19FortyFive articles on the 5 Worst Handguns in each caliber, I must admit I was a tad bit pained to do so, but in the spirit of journalistic integrity, I went ahead and bit the (proverbial) bullet.
Meet the 5 Worst .40 S&W Guns on the Planet
And as those same regular readers are equally aware, I’m **not** fond of the .40 S&W cartridge, though I can objectively acknowledge its effectiveness as a defensive round.
What’s more, I’m far from the only gun writer out there who’s less than enthused about the calibre.
So then, it is with gleeful anticipation that I now write this article on 5 Worst .40 S&W Handguns…
To reiterate what I stated in a separate article about Worst Glock Handguns (still pending publication as I type this), The G22 stands out as the first Glock model to be reported by the gun press as actually breaking, which is a complete 180-degree contrast to the 9mm G17’s legendary near-indestructability. This happened back in 1990, reported in GUNS Magazine, and though, in fairness, it transpired with a prototype version, it nonetheless goaded California Highway Patrol (CHP) to instead go with the Smith & Wesson Model 4006 in the same caliber when that department made its transition from revolvers to autopistols.
Now, mind you, my own (admittedly limited) experience firing the G22 has been positive. But as I noted in my standalone review of that gun, “(T)he infamous ‘Glock Kaboom’ incidents that have cropped up in the last couple of decades seem to transpire more with the .40 and 10mm models than with the lower-pressure calibers, so buyer beware.”
Smith & Wesson Model 4006
So then, does that mean everything went hunky-dory with the S&W M4006 and CHP, not to mention other police departments and private citizen gun owners who chose it? Er, not exactly.
I personally enjoyed firing it – doing so at the now sadly defunct Santa Anita Firing Range in Monrovia, Calif. back in the summer of 1991 – as did three buddies of mine who joined me for that same range outing.
But soon reports started filtering back from the field, and they weren’t so good: broken extractors, broken drawbars, broken disconnectors, bent ejectors, and cracked barrels. As one gun enthusiast friend of mine put it: “S&W made the same mistakes with the 4006 that all the rest of the industry did as well, basically to underestimate the engineering required to handle the stresses produced in handguns by the .40 S&W round. Almost all of them essentially rechambered their 9mm pistols without doing the complete redesign that was needed, and the guns wouldn’t take it.”
The 4006 is now conspicuous by its absence from the myriad of .40 caliber options listed in Smith’s online catalogue.
Glock 27 .40 S&W
“Ah so desuka” (as they say in Japan), the “baby Glock” (subcompact) .40 cal, the counterpart to the Glock 26 9mm that I’m quite fond of. If y’all have been reading my recent articles, you’re probably inclined to say, “Hey, c’mon now, Chris, haven’t you kvetched about the G27 already?” And my answer to you would be a resounding “Heck no, I haven’t!” Reliable and accurate and reliable, yes, but absolutely torturous to shoot, as it stung the unholy Hades out of my firing hand pinky and made me unintentionally bleed myself at the same time. Mind you, some of my fellow gun enthusiasts actually like their G27s. Eh, more power to ‘em; as Burt Reynolds (portrayed by Norm Macdonald) once said to Alex Trebek (played by my fellow USC alum Will Ferrell) on SNL Celebrity Jeopardy, “Yeah, well, that’s your opinion.” (R.I.P. to Burt, Norm, and Alex alike, by the way.)
Lest any haters out there start leveling accusations that I’m some just recoil-averse wuss, fie on thee, wretched knaves! I can handle the recoil of a full-sized 10mm such as the Colt Delta Elite and S&W M1006 just fine, thanks. Bigger ‘n’ badder yet, I find the shooting big Magnums like the Smith Model 29 and Ruger Redhawk in .44 Magnum and LAR Grizzly .45 Win Mag to be downright exhilarating! So there!
And don’t forget what I just said a few paragraphs earlier about Glock “kabooms” .40 cal (and 10mm).
SIG Sauer P229 DAK
Mea culpa, this is admittedly purely a personal grudge here. This was the gun I was issue when I was a U.S. Immigration & Customs Service (ICE) 1811 Series Criminal Investigator/Special Agent. Yes, I shot Expert with it. Yes, it functioned reliably. But unlike the Heckler & Koch (HK) P2000 LEM in the same calibre I’d carried when I was a uniformed Officer with ICE’s sister agency, U.S. Customs & Border Protection (CBP), it never enabled me to shoot a perfect qual score, as that miserable frickity-frackin’ DAK (Double-Action Kellerman) trigger pulled like a truck through the mud. That Kellerman dude who invented that trigger needs to be beaten over head with a sock full of turds! (I speak strictly in hyperbole of course, lest anyone think I’m seriously advocating physical violence against a fellow member of the firearms community.)
To add insult to injury, my two most obnoxious Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC) classmates both outshot me with, rendering me as the measly bronze medalist (metaphorically speaking) of my training class. Not that I hold grudges or anything, oh no, not me!!
What’s more, the P229 wasn’t as comfortable for concealed carry as the HK P2K.
I’ll again quote the same anonymous gun buddy I cited in the Smith 4006 segment: “I broke a P99 Walther in .40 – twice! Wonderful pistol, but designed for 9mm and not able to withstand the stress inflicted by a regular diet of 165gr. Blazer in IDPA competition.”
Sheesh, no wonder James Bond stuck with the 9mm version.
Christian D. Orr is a Senior Defense Editor for 19FortyFive. He has 34 years of shooting experience, starting at the tender age of 14. His marksmanship accomplishments include: the Air Force Small Arms Ribbon w/one device (for M16A2 rifle and M9 pistol); Pistol Expert Ratings from U.S. Customs & Border Protection (CBP), Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE), and the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC) Criminal Investigator Training Program (CITP); multiple medals and trophies via the Glock Sport Shooting Foundation (GSSF) and the Nevada Police & Fires Games (NPAF). Chris has been an NRA Certified Basic Pistol Instructor since 2011.