Do 40 Cal Guns Wear Out Faster?

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It is a well-known fact that 40 caliber Smith & Wesson weapons have high recoil. This leads to many gun enthusiasts wondering, “Do 40 cal guns wear out faster?”

The answer is more involved than you’d expect.

Do 40 Cal Guns Wear Out Faster?

The 40 S&W cartridge has a heavier bullet downrange and fires at slightly higher energy than the 9mm cartridge. While the differences aren’t large, they bring more wear to the recoil spring of 40 cal guns. That said, 40 cal guns can fire thousands of shots without breaking as long as the recoil spring is changed now and then.

40 caliber bullets

In other words, the issue with 40 cal firearms is not that the bullet leaves the muzzle with more energy than a 9mm round. As long as a firearm is maintained well – cleaned and inspected regularly – it will fire thousands of rounds before the end of service.

How Long Do 40 Caliber Guns Last?

Experienced gun owners know that the average Glock 40 cal will fire between fifty to seventy thousand rounds before the end of service. However in terms of accuracy, there is little difference between the real-world performance of a 40 caliber and a 9mm weapon.

  • The 40 caliber packs more of a punch on paper.
  • Besides, with 9mm weapons offering low recoil and higher magazine capacity, many prefer getting a 9mm handgun over a 40 cal.
  • What’s more impressive about 9mm weapons such as the Glock 19 is that they have a service life of over 100,000 rounds, given that they’re maintained well.

Are 40 Caliber Firearms Obsolete?

With the FBI switching back to 9mm ammo a few years ago, citing research stating that handgun power is a myth, and the 40 caliber being known to produce high recoil, many believe that the 40 caliber is obsolete.

40 Caliber Handgun

But this is far from the truth. After the pandemic made 9mm and .45 caliber weapons next to impossible to find at stores, 40 caliber weapons and ammo were available almost everywhere. Furthermore, 40 caliber weapons often are cheaper than the average 9mm firearm.

In the true American spirit of things, the reports of 40 caliber being obsolete are exaggerated. It’s true that they hold less ammo and have more recoil compared to 9mm handguns, but that doesn’t necessarily make it an obsolete weapon. Similar to 9mm pistols, 40 caliber guns can be used for both professional use and hunting animals such as bears.

Recoil control is not something that you can learn with dry practice. This makes 40 cal weapons more difficult to handle compared to 9mm handguns. Putting in the live-fire work is vital before relying on a 40 caliber weapon for self-defense.


The 40 cal cartridge fires at a higher energy than the 9mm cartridge. This brings more wear on the recoil spring in comparison. As long as 40 cal weapons are maintained well, they will fire well over fifty thousand rounds before the end of service.

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.