Best .40 Cal Pistol [2024 Review]

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If you want to own a .40 cal pistol now is the right time to buy one. They’re less in demand compared to when it was more popular back then. Here are the best .40 cal pistol you can get online.

My Top .40 Cal Pistol Reviews

.40 cal pistols have declined over the years because of the sudden resurgence of the 9mm. That’s why there is a lot of surplus .40 cal pistols right now.

Don’t be mistaken though the .40 S&W is the 3rd most popular caliber pistol in the market. It’s only surpassed by 9mm and .45 ACP. Some law enforcement organizations still prefer .40 S&W for its power.

Here are some of the best .40 cal pistols I found online.

Best Overall .40 Cal Pistol: Smith & Wesson M&P 40M 2.0

The Smith & Wesson M&P 2.0 is a striker-fired pistol made with a polymer frame. It was designed for law enforcement use. It’s one of the best .40 cal pistols you can own.

Smith & Wesson M&P 40M 2.0

This pistol is offered in 9mm, 40 S&W, 357 SIG, and 45 ACP. Its notable feature includes an interchangeable back strap which provides adjustments so you can fit the pistol comfortably in your hands.

The pistol also has other notable features. If you opt for the original M&P, you get a set of three-dot sights with an option to add a frame-mounted safety and thumb safety.

An extended stainless-steel chassis reinforces its durability. You also get an ambidextrous slide stop so this gun is suitable for left and right-handed shooters.

Compared to other pistols on this list, the hinged trigger has been slightly changed adding a bit of curve to it.

The slide has changed a lot. It now contains additional lightening cut-out slots and is slightly thicker than the previous design.

While the trigger has made changes to its design, it still feels lacking. It’s more about personal preference. So the feel might be different for you.

It’s different when it comes to firing. This pistol is far greater than any other pistols on this list with high accuracy and no malfunctions.


  • Action Type: Striker Fired
  • Barrel Length: 4.25 inches
  • Capacity: 15+1 round
  • Cartridge: 40 S&W
  • Finish: Black
  • Front Sight: Fixed
  • Length: 7.4 inches
  • Magazine Included: 2 x 15-round
  • Magazine Type: Removable
  • Muzzle: Plain
  • Rear Sight: Fixed
  • Stock Material: Polymer
  • Weight: 1.55 pounds


  • Improved ergonomics thanks to its interchangeable back strap
  • Provides an option of a quality set of three-dot sights
  • A polymer frame with an aluminum chassis makes it lightweight yet durable


  • The trigger feels like a common one even though they made changes to it
  • Most people prefer using its 9mm version

Smith & Wesson M&P 40M 2.0

Best Compact .40 Cal Pistol: Smith & Wesson M&P Compact 2.0 

The Smith & Wesson M&P Compact 2.0 is worth a look at if you want something that’s economical. This pistol is closely similar to the M&P 40M 2.0 only with a compact build design.

Smith & Wesson M&P Compact 2.0 

This pistol was a redesign for the M&P only made compact to compete with 9mm pistols. It retains the best parts of the M&P like its ergonomics. Just like the M&P 40M 2.0, it also made changes to the pistol.

The grip texture has changed opting for aggressive texturing for better control. While I had problems with the trigger of the Smith & Wesson M&P 40M 2.0, this compact pistol doesn’t seem to share it.

The trigger feels light and crisp with a better tactile reset. Maybe it has a different feel to it because of its compact build design.

The pistol also adds the extended stainless-steel chassis. Even for a compact pistol, it still feels durable.

The downside of this compact pistol is that it might be too small for you. If you have big hands, this pistol might be uncomfortable to use even with its excellent ergonomics grip design.

Firing it feels great and smooth thanks to its trigger. They’re great for close to mid-range. I wouldn’t use it for long-range as it doesn’t have that great of accuracy because of its compact build.


  • Action Type: Striker Fired
  • Barrel Length: 3.6 inches
  • Capacity: 15+1 round
  • Cartridge: 40 S&W or 9mm
  • Finish: Black
  • Front Sight: Fixed
  • Length: 6.8 inches
  • Magazine Included: 2 x 15 round
  • Magazine Type: Removable
  • Muzzle: Plain
  • Rear Sight: Fixed
  • Stock Material: Polymer
  • Weight: 1.67 pounds


  • Light and crisp trigger with tactile and audible reset
  • Compact design is great for concealed carry
  • Excellent ergonomics for comfortable use


  • Might be uncomfortable to use for people with big hands
  • Doesn’t have great accuracy for long-range shooting

Smith & Wesson M&P Compact 2.0 

Best .40 Cal Pistol for Self Defense: Smith & Wesson SD40VE

If you want something uncostly, you might want to get the Smith & Wesson SD40VE. While the M&P series failed to dethrone the Glock, this pistol might actually do it for Smith & Wesson.

Smith & Wesson SD40VE

The SD40VE has its design similarly patterned to the Sigma and M&P series. You might notice a similarity of performance with the other pistols above. The SD stands for self-defense so this pistol is marketed towards people who want to own a pistol for self-defense.

The sight of this pistol is really good. It works even under low light conditions and it’s not uncomfortable to your eyes. The sights are also easy to replace if you want an upgrade or replace a broken one.

Although the grip is not adjustable like the M&P pistols above, it still feels comfortable. Though not as comfortable as the other pistols on this list.

Because this pistol is reasonable, there are features that it fell short on. For instance, this pistol isn’t ambidextrous. It doesn’t even have external or manual safety features. I wouldn’t recommend this gun for shooting beginners.

The self-defense trigger option feels smooth and crisp. It feels comfortable to fire and it helps with improving your accuracy since the trigger is so consistent.

Overall, a great and reliable pickup for an affordable .40 cal pistol.


  • Action Type: Striker Fired
  • Barrel Length: 4 inches
  • Capacity: 14 + 1 round
  • Cartridge: 40 S&W
  • Finish: Stainless
  • Front Sight: White Dot
  • Length: 7.2 inches
  • Magazine Included: 2 x 14 round
  • Magazine Type: Removable
  • Muzzle: Plain
  • Rear Sight: Fixed
  • Stock Material: Polymer
  • Weight: 1.42 pounds


  • Smooth and crisp self-defense trigger option
  • An excellent sight that can work even under low light condition
  • Designed for self-defense use


  • Not ambidextrous so some people might feel uncomfortable using this gun
  • Doesn’t have external or manual safety features so you have to be careful in handling if you want to use it

Comparing the Best .40 Cal Pistols

Specifications Smith & Wesson M&P 40M 2.0 Smith & Wesson M&P Compact 2.0 Smith & Wesson SD40VE
Action Type Semi-Auto Semi-Auto Semi-Auto
Magazine Capacity 15 15 14
Muzzle Non-Threaded Non-Threaded Non-Threaded
Barrel Length 4.25 inches 3.6 inches 4 inches
Weight 1.55 pounds 1.67 pounds 1.42 pounds

Smith & Wesson SD40VE

Features to Consider for .40 Cal Pistol

.40 Cal pistols are known for their firepower contained in a small gun. However, it’s not all that you would want to look at when getting a .40 cal pistol. Here are some other features that you should check out before buying one.

Macro shot of ammo


If you want to get a .40 cal pistol for self-defense, you want a full-sized one. You have a better grip for bigger pistols. This means that you will have better control and accuracy when you’re firing it for self-defense or in a life or death situation.

For concealed carry, it’s obviously compact pistols like the Smith & Wesson M&P Compact 2.0. Smaller means it’s easier to hide under clothing.

Build Quality

The build quality of .40 cal pistols differs from each manufacturer. While they do have some differences they more or less lean toward making polymer-framed pistols. It’s cost-effective and provides durability.

You can’t go wrong with any of the pistols on this list. All of them uses polymer frame while the slide is made of stainless steel. They’re reliable and will work for a long time.


The pistol should be comfortable to your touch. If you’re comfortable, you have more control over it which translates to better accuracy when firing.

Manufacturers heavily emphasize grip ergonomics as it is usually the make or break for people when buying guns. Guns are bought for the long term and you don’t want to be stuck with a gun that you’re uncomfortable using.

The M&P 40M 2.0 has the best ergonomics on this list without a doubt. The interchangeable back straps allow you to change the grip so it is more comfortable to hold.

Magazine Capacity

Pistols with a magazine that has a higher capacity is generally better because you have more rounds to fire. It’s recommended to have at least 10 round capacity magazine in your .40 cal pistol.

Having higher magazine capacity can be extremely useful in situations where you do not have access to additional ammunition. However, if you prioritize compact and portability for concealed carry, expect to have a lower magazine capacity because of the smaller size. Although some compact pistols have more than 10 rounds.

If you want a .40 cal pistol with a high magazine capacity, you can’t go wrong with either the Smith & Wesson M&P 40M 2.0 and the Smith & Wesson M&P Compact 2.0. Both have 15 + 1 round magazine capacity which is more than enough for self-defense.

Night Sight

Another extra feature that you might want to consider is a night sight. If you are getting a .40 cal pistol for home defense, then it’s better to have one with night sight. A night sight allows you to shoot better in low-light conditions because it gives you better vision.

Unfortunately, most .40 cal pistols don’t have night sights and that includes the pistols on this list too. However, you can add a night sight accessory for all these pistols without any problems.


Overall comfort of your .40 cal pistol affects your confidence in using it. For guns, there’s no one size fits all. Each gun can feel different in your hands so it’s important that you choose what you’re comfortable of.

A .40 cal pistol with excellent weight distribution would naturally feel more comfortable on your hands than a gun which has has its weight tilting to one side. Some people prefer heavier pistols. 

Other than that, how the grip feels also affects the comfort of the pistol. It’s important to feel comfortable holding the pistol. Some pistols may feel clunky to grip especially if you have big hands. There isn’t one I can recommend that has the best comfort. After all, it’s all about your preference to the pistol.


While accuracy is largely dependent on the shooter, the gun also plays a small factor. Things like sight, build design, weight, and grip ergonomics affect your accuracy.

For that, you can’t go wrong with SD40VE because of its self-defense trigger option. While the M&P has the better quality overall, the trigger just didn’t sit right in my experience.

40 cal pistol with bullets beside it

How to Disassemble a .40 Caliber Pistol

Disassembling a .40 caliber pistol is easy as long as you follow the right instructions. Before anything else,  you should prioritize safety first and practice it at all times. Here are some steps to follow for safety before you start the disassembly:

  1. Always point the pistol to a safe direction and check if it’s unloaded.
  2. Press the magazine release. It is usually located on the left side of the trigger guard. Remove the magazine and place it somewhere safe.
  3. Grasp the grooved sides of the slide using your thumb and forefinger.
  4. Pull the slide back until it reaches its rear limit.
  5. Press up on the slide-stop switch so it locks into the open position.
  6. Re-check the chamber and the magazine to see if they do not contain any ammunition.

Locating the Frame Tool and Disassembling the Rest of the Pistol

  1. The location of the frame tool is usually found at the bottom of the pistol grip.
  2. Rotate it one-quarter turn in either direction and it will be removed from the gun.
  3. Push the sear-activation lever downwards into the magazine-well using the frame tool.
  4. Move the takedown lever clockwise to the down position. It is generally located on the left side of the gun.
  5. Grasp the top of the slide and unlock it through pulling the slide slightly toward the rear.
  6. Move the slide forward slowly to decompress the recoil spring.
  7. Remove the slide from the end of the gun and then turn the slide over.
  8. Remove the recoil spring and the recoil spring’s guide assembly from the slide.
  9. The last step is to remove the barrel from the slide and you have disassembled your .40 caliber pistol for cleaning and maintenance.

Frequently Asked Questions

These are questions that people usually ask when buying or already own a .40 cal pistol.

Is .40 More Powerful Than 9mm?

.40 caliber has a heavier bullet than the 9mm. It also has a larger diameter. In terms of performance, the .40 caliber is easily better. It has better penetration so it does better in damaging.

Still, the 9mm maintain its popularity for its convenience of use. People don’t mind the difference in power since it’s not that much.

Why Is .40 Not Popular?

The .40 is still popular. However, it isn’t as popular as the 9mm. This is mainly because 9mm bullet designs have changed and innovated. The .40 still maintains its design mechanism and not much innovation has happened.

Therefore, when in actual use, a 9mm fares better against a .40 caliber because of its changes in design.

Do .40 Cal Pistols Wear Out Faster?

It depends on how much you are taking care of the gun. If you maintain your gun on a regular basis, it won’t wear out faster. Proper maintenance is key for long-term gun use.


As a final note, this list is only made with online buying in mind. There are better .40 caliber pistols out there. However, it takes considerable time to acquire one. The guns listed here are readily available online and can be bought easily with an FFL dealer.

James Forrester is a lifelong gun and firearms owner, and an even bigger advocate for gun safety. He created with the purpose of sharing helpful tips and educating others on how to keep guns and weapons safe and secure.