The line “I brought you into this world and I’ll take you out” is often used jokingly, but it may be accurate when it comes to the FBI and the .40 S&W cartridge, especially in light of a 2014 report by the FBI’s highly respected Training Division.
First, let’s revisit a little history, shall we?
The .40 S&W cartridge only exists because of the FBI. It grew out of the FBI’s search for better ammo after the famous 1986 FBI Miami shootout where two agents were killed and five wounded. The FBI laid a lot of the blame, right or wrong, on poor ammo performance in that gunfight. The suspects suffered fatal wounds…but kept on fighting.
The FBI needed a process for testing 9mm and .45 ACP ammunition after that shootout in preparation of replacing its issued revolvers with semi-auto pistols. That led to the development of the FBI Ammunition Testing Protocol, which is used to this day. During the testing, FBI Special Agent-in-Charge John Hall also used his Colt Delta Elite, chambered in the relatively new 10mm cartridge.
The original 10mm auto loading is stout. Norma ammunition featured a 200-grain bullet at 1200 fps, or a 180-grain bullet at 1300 fps. Incidentally those original beastly loads ended up breaking a lot of Colt Delta Elites, as recoil was severe.
The FBI found that the best-performing load, achieving the desired penetration without excessive recoil, was a downloaded 10mm featuring a 170-180 grain bullet travelling 900–1000 fps.
by James Tarr