The larger caliber does not necessarily make these pistols more difficult to carry. Plus, these weapons have a bunch of features that make them safer, more powerful, and easier to use. Here is my quick guide to finding the best rated .40 caliber pistol.
- Beretta 96A1 Handgun 40 S&W
- Glock 23 Gen 4 .40 S&W Pistol
- Walther PPQ M2
- Beretta 96A1 40 S&W Pistol
- Heckler & Koch VP Semi-Auto Pistol
Click here to get one for yourself.
About .40 Cal. Pistols
.40 firearms are popular and many have been advertised as must-have pistols in your arsenal. With so many .40 cal pistol brands to choose from, it’s critical to make an educated choice and pick one that actually suits your needs.
How to Choose the Best .40 Cal Pistol
The pistol’s size, construction, capacity, and grip are among the key features. They may improve the handling, accuracy, and reliability of the gun. Let’s dive into what makes a great .40 cal.
Most .40 cal. pistols are made of durable polymer and they may feature stainless steel slides. However, this can’t be regarded as the standard and the construction may vary widely from one manufacturer to another.
The rule is ‘the sturdier the material the more durable the weapon.’ And when selecting a pistol, make sure that the materials aren’t going to affect the gun’s performance.
By design, .40 cal. pistols should be able to withstand the punch of the larger caliber. Yet, they need to be compact enough for everyday carry.
When considering the size, you need to think about the grip and recoil. Larger pistols tend to be easier to handle, and the bigger surface often allows for a more favorable distribution of the recoil force.
If you want to get a .40 cal. for personal protection or home defense, it might be better to opt for a bigger gun. While smaller models are a great choice for a concealed carry, it’s not like they’re the last word in firepower.
It is worth noting that most of these guns aren’t heavy, especially if you go for one that has a polymer construction.
A 10-round magazine should be more than enough for most needs. You won’t need to reload too often at the range, and 10 shots are plenty to scare off any home invaders.
Of course, there are .40 pistols that can hold more rounds. And if you want a compact .40 cal, you might need to make do with eight bullets.
In addition to the caliber and the ease of use, these pistols are well-liked because they offer more rounds than most revolvers.
Most often, .40 cal. pistols have a polymer grip, and some may have a rubber or wooden inserts for better handling. The grip could feature checkered patterns and have finger grooves.
And some are even suitable for left- and right-handed shooters. Either way, it’s advisable to get a slightly angled grip because it allows you to get in a better shooting position.
Attributes that Differentiate .40 Cal. Pistols
Characteristics that separate the great .40 cal. pistols from the duds are comfort, accuracy, and adjustability. These also have to do with features like construction of the gun.
If a pistol feels comfortable in your hand, you become more confident in its use. But with guns, there’s no such thing as a model that fits all. And there are different ways a gun can feel right.
For example, when a pistol has a good weight distribution, it should feel more comfortable. In fact, some users prefer a heavier pistol for the better balance and confidence that it gives. After that, there is the grip.
As said, the grip is preferably angled in a pistol. But it’s even more important for you to have a firm hold on the pistol. And some smaller models might be too clunky to hold if you have bigger hands.
Right off the bat, all the pistols featured in this write-up have exceptional mechanical accuracy. But the pistol sights can help with your aim and doing it faster too.
You’re going to want a pistol that gives you the option to configure the sights for faster target acquisition and increased accuracy. These are two different settings on a sight.
Some .40 pistols even feature a night sight, which might be helpful for home defense in the dead of night. But this is one of those extras you might not really need.
Another thing that can improve your accuracy is the rifling assembly. Some have really tight barrels, and this may affect the grouping size. As you might have guessed, the tighter the barrel the tighter the grouping.
.40 caliber pistols are easy to adjust and customize. If you’re new to this, a safe start would be to switch the gun’s sights. In any event, you’re not going to want to modify any of the mechanical parts unless you know what you’re doing.
Best .40 Cal. Pistols
The 96A1 has a lot going for it. The pistol comes with a 10+1 capacity and possesses great firepower. This Beretta is also accurate, reliable, and safe.
The disassembly is smooth, which makes maintenance much easier, and the thing I particularly like is the recoil buffer; it minimizes the stress on the other components and improves the pistol’s durability.
This Beretta’s barrel is fashioned from cold-forged steel, and its precision machined to improve the accuracy. The open slide closes the barrel, and this is a common engineering solution in the 90-series pistols.
The fact is that this reduces the pistol’s overall weight and the 96A1 comes in at 34.4oz unloaded. The enclosed barrel also minimizes backward momentum and makes the gun more reliable.
This model has a Bruniton finish that has excellent corrosion resistance. There is also a Picatinny rail, so you can easily mount tactical lights and after-market optics.
You might think that all the characteristics add to the size. But this is one of the most compact among those that have a shot at the title of the top rated .40 cal. pistol. The total length is only 8.5” and the barrel is 4.9”. This makes the Beretta perfect for a concealed carry.
- Compact and lightweight
- 10+1 round capacity
- Bruniton finish
- Picatinny rail
- Great accuracy
- Long trigger travel
Even if you’re a complete novice, the Glock needs little introduction. When people talk about a Glock, they mean this one. It stands out as one of the most compact and best-engineered pistols that money can buy.
Straight out of the box, the pistol appears to be built to last. The back-strap contours are easy to swap to fit your grip, and this is an improvement over the previous generation.
Unlike some other models, the 23 has a relatively small trigger that’s complete with short travel. In some ways, this improves the gun’s safety. But then, there is also a loaded-chamber indicator and you can feel it on the trigger finger.
As for the capacity, the magazine holds 13 bullets. At 23.6 oz., the Glock 23 is the lightest of all my top candidates, but it’s also always rugged and sturdy.
This pistol also offers the Striker Fire action, and there are levers to block or engage the slide’s path, and you get an accessory rail near the trigger guard.
- Trigger action
- Loaded-chamber indicator
- Weighs only 23.6 oz.
- 13-round magazine
- None to speak off
What pistol does 007 James Bond use? It’s called the Walter PPK. Not exactly the M2, but you get the idea. And then, there is the German engineering.
The M2 has a Tenifer-coated slide and barrel. The barrel is 5” long and enough for greater muzzle velocity. The PPQ’s sight radius is also quite long, which helps to line up the sights quicker and easier.
This pistol is designed for ambidexterity. This characteristic applies to the rear and front slide serrations, the slide stop, and the magazine release.
The grip fits like a glove regardless of hand size or side. The M2’s frame is a polymer and it makes the gun lightweight, durable, corrosion-proof. The slide is stainless steel and serrated front and back.
The M2 also features a Picatinny frame to mount tactical accessories. But it does not have a manual safety. To offset this, Walther included two drop safeties, in addition to a firing pin block.
- Tenifer-coated slide and barrel
- Increase muzzle velocity
- Racking serrations on the slide
- No manual safety
- Long take-up
So, there is the Beretta 96A1 40 S&W Pistol and Beretta 96A1 Handgun 40 S&W. At first glance, the two models look the exact same. In fact, they even feel the same because of the weight and overall design.
However, the two pistols are in fact different. I’m going to call the gun in this review the Beretta Pistol and the other the Beretta Handgun.
For a start, the Pistol offers semi-automatic action and has a round capacity of 12+1. It’s designed for ambidextrous use, so is the Handgun. However, the Pistol does have safety controls on both sides.
The Pistol has a high-quality aluminum frame and the Bruniton protective coating. There is a Picatinny rail on the frame and an open-top slide. The latter effectively does away with stove pipping and jamming, which might be a major selling point for all.
I also like the chrome lining in the barrel of the Pistol; this significantly improves corrosion resistance and makes maintenance a breeze.
Lastly, this model offers great value, as if you don’t already know, right?
- 12+1 capacity
- Semi-automatic action
- Can be tricky to take apart
With a striker-fired system and a polymer frame, this H&K has hard to rival ergonomics. For instance, the charging handles are at the rear, relative to the slide. And for me, this is superior engineering for ease of operation.
However, the VP trigger is perhaps even more impressive in its crisp and smooth action. As you fire the pistol, you’re going to discover that there’s almost no take-up. And the trigger allows you to take advantage of the gun’s mechanical accuracy.
You get superior fire control, particularly when shooting repeatedly at the same target. Furthermore, H&K found a clever solution to counter the recoil in rapid firing mode.
The trigger guard is undercut, and the pistol is equipped with a tang on the backstrap. This design nudges you to grip higher, closer to the centerline axis, and in essence helping to buffer the recoil.
This pistol is also lightweight and compact. The round capacity is 13+1.
Other highlights include three-dot sights, slide serrations, polygonal bore, and charging supports. Combine that with an affordable price and you can hardly go wrong with the H&K.
- Good ergonomics
- Great fire control
- Minimal recoil
- Nonadjustable rear sight
When all is said and done, all the pistols tested are neck and neck in attractiveness. They are extremely accurate, easy to operate, and suitable for everyday carry. And then there is the Glock 23.
This weapon feels like a deadly extension of your arm. It grips perfectly no matter how you hold it and the loaded-chamber indicator is something you’re going to cherish.
As a Striker Fire action pistol, it helps you get really tight clusters. And it still baffles me how little recoil there is, in light of the gun’s weight and firepower. Lastly, the Glock 23 Gen 4 comes at a price that’s hard to beat. The best .40 cal pistol for the money in my book.