Best 40 Cal Pistols of 2020 – Buyer’s Guide

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.40 caliber pistols have seen an uptick in purchasing recently, especially as people look for versatile weapons that they can practice with on both the shooting range and for self-defense purposes.

Although finding the right .40 caliber pistol can be difficult, it doesn’t have to be.

​Our guide below has all the compiled research and advice you need to find the best firearm for your goals.

Comparison Chart of the Best 40 Cal Pistols

PRODUCTDETAILS
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Beretta 96A1 Handgun 40 S&W

  • Best Overall
  • 10+1 capacity
  • 4.9-inch barrel length
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Glock G22 G4

  • 15+1 capacity
  • Best for the Money
  • 4.49-inch barrel length
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Smith & Wesson M&P M2.0

  • 15+1 capacity
  • 4.25-inch barrel length
  • Best 40 Cal Pistol for Concealed Carry
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Hi-Point 40 S&W 10+1 Round

  • 10+1 capacity
  • 4 ½ inch barrel length
  • Best Hi Point 40 Cal Pistol
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S&W M&P M2.0 Shield .40 S&W

  • 6+1 capacity
  • 3.1-inch barrel length
  • Best Smith and Wesson 40 Cal Pistol
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Taurus 740FS

  • Best Smith and Wesson 40 Cal Pistol
  • 3.2-inch barrel length
  • Best Taurus 40 Cal Pistol
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Beretta Usa PX4 Storm Compact

  • 12+1 capacity
  • 3.2-inch barrel length
  • Best Beretta 40 Cal Pistol
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Can You Find a Quality 40 Cal Pistol That’s Affordable?

There’s a common misconception that higher-priced items are automatically infinitely better than affordable firearms. When it comes to .40 cal pistols, this isn’t necessarily the case. In fact, many affordable .40 cal pistols will still be high-quality and constructed with exceptional materials, even compared to more expensive guns.

Of course, pricier guns often have more bells and whistles and may be “better” on paper. But the truth is that you can find a good firearm for your uses and budget if you seek a balance. .40 cal firearms are popular because they’re reliable and affordable, so don’t let anyone tell you that you have to spend a fortune to find a decent pistol.

What Should I Look For When Buying a 40 Cal Pistol?

These are the main factors that you should keep in mind as you seek out the perfect .40 cal pistol for your needs.

Accuracy

This is far and away the most important aspect of choosing a good .40 cal pistol. Accuracy can be affected by lots of things: material in construction, barrel design, handling, comfort, and grip all play a part. Try to find an all-around accurate firearm that will serve you well for years to come and something that is accurate even if you switch ammunition types.

Material/Construction

Next up the material used to make the gun. Most .40 cal pistol frames are made from a polymer-metal material that offers balanced strength and weight. These allow for a flexible firearm that’ll still withstand some significant punishment. Check to see if a pistol has a stainless steel slider, as this indicates even better durability and quality.

Capacity

Keep the capacity in mind. Some pistols only allow for a few rounds before you need a new magazine, while pistols with larger magazines can fire more rounds before being interrupted.

Grip

The grip is also important. Grip comfort and anti-slip function are critical, especially if you have sweaty hands or want to make sure that you don't drop your weapon in a tense moment.

Quick Take - The Best 40 Cal Pistols

These are our recommendations for the best 40 cal pistols:

  1. Beretta 96A1 Handgun 40 S&W
  2. Glock G22 G4
  3. Smith & Wesson M&P M2.0

Review of the Best 40 Cal Pistols

Below, you’ll find the best .40 cal pistols on the market, with some being specialized for certain needs and others being all-around winners. No matter what you’re looking for, one of these pistols should be a good fit.

Pros

  • Has an internal recoil buffer
  • Blue finish to reduce corrosion
  • Very easy to assemble or disassemble
  • Has an attachment frame for tactical lights
  • Magazine is interchangeable with other 92 family magazines

Cons

  • Grip could be better
  • Quite expensive for most
  • External recoil control could be better

What Recent Buyers Report

The most recent users of this firearm report that it is a durable and powerful piece of equipment that combines lots of the great elements of .40 caliber pistols with a lighter frame and a dedicated accessory rail. They also report that it’s incredibly easy to take apart and put back together, which minimizes the frustration you might encounter during a maintenance session.

Why it Stands Out to Us

This .40 caliber pistol stands out thanks to its internal recoil buffer. This increases the service life of the firearm since it reduces stress on the pistol receiver with each shot. While this does have some effect on the outside recoil felt by the user, it could be a little better. Still, this dedication to longevity is an excellent aspect, especially given the high asking price.

Who Will Use This Most

Those in the market for a long-term duty firearm will really want to pay attention to the Model 96A1. It delivers consistent performance and accuracy at long ranges and can be customized with tactical additions at your leisure. It’ll last for quite a long time, so learn how to handle the recoil and you’ll be in for a treat.

Bottom Line

Overall, the Model 96A1 is a phenomenal .40 caliber pistol. It's wear-resistant, durable for a long time, and is pretty easy to use once you figure out the recoil. In addition, we think there’s a lot of value in its internal recoil buffer, as well as its magazine interchangeability with other pistols of its type.

Runner-up:
Glock G22 G4

Pros

  • Has a larger than average capacity
  • Magazine is easy to load and unload
  • Features a lightweight and agile frame
  • Grip makes it easy to control the weapon
  • Has gas nitride finish to reduce corrosive damage

Cons

  • Trigger hole is a bit narrow
  • Sight is only average at best
  • Trigger pull is short, may affect accuracy

What Recent Buyers Report

The most recent users of this .40 caliber pistol say that they generally enjoy its performance, especially as a self-defense or shooting range weapon. It’s easy to handle and it provides for snappy reloading thanks to its magazine chamber. Its light weight and agility mean it’s very easy to get the hang of even if you’re a beginner firearm enthusiast.

Why it Stands Out to Us

The Glock G22 stood out to us because of its quality construction and ease-of-use. Its hand-grip is particularly notable, being comfortable and anti-slip so it’s difficult to lose control of the weapon even in a tense situation. It also offers decent accuracy even though its sights are average at best. The gas nitride finish is also notable since it improves the life span of the weapon by reducing corrosive damage.

Who Will Use This Most

We think this is a great .40 caliber pistol for just about everyone. Its versatility makes it a decent fit for both service members or home firearm owners alike. It may be particularly valuable for people looking for an easy-to-use firearm that has a larger than an average capacity magazine, which can give you a few extra bullets when you need them most.

Bottom Line

All in all, the Glock G22 provides great .40 caliber performance at a distance and has lots of leeway to help you recover from mistakes and get your bearings. It’s quite a comfortable weapon to use and is a great choice if you want to find a firearm that’s a little more gentle for beginners overall.

Best 40 Cal Pistol for Concealed Carry:
Smith and Wesson M&P 40M2.0

Pros

  • Reduced muzzle rise
  • Has a stainless steel chassis
  • Allows for faster in recovery
  • Has a tactile and audible trigger pull and reset
  • Very good for concealed carry due to size and shape

Cons

  • No anti-corrosive finish
  • Safety can be tricky to reach
  • Grip isn’t as durable as the rest

What Recent Buyers Report

Recent users of this .40 caliber pistol report that it’s an excellent choice for concealed carry holsters. It’s because of the small size and light weight of the firearm that this is the case. It’s a particularly sleek example of the .40 caliber pistol and features an excellent design, plus innovative features across most of its major components.

Why it Stands Out to Us

It stands out largely due to its excellent construction. The stainless steel chassis will improve its durability over the long term, and the reduced muzzle rise will help you recover your aim after each shot taken much more quickly than other .40 caliber pistols. In addition, the trigger pull is particularly satisfying, since it clicks audibly and features a tactile reset to help you take multiple shots in rapid succession. 

Who Will Use This Most

We think those who typically carry their firearms in a concealed holster will want to consider this choice at length. It’s a phenomenal firearm that offers fantastic performance and great durability, with the mild exception of its grip, which can be exchanged for different inserts. While this is nice for customization, it’s not quite as damage resistant as grips that only have one feel or texture.

Bottom Line

Overall, this .40 caliber pistol features a higher than average capacity magazine and excellent performance for concealed holsters. It’s super durable and long-lasting thanks to its stainless steel chassis and has some of the best aim recovering design features we’ve seen on the market.

Pros

  • Very affordable overall
  • Additional rear peep sight
  • Fully adjustable rear sight
  • Has a double-action trigger
  • Accepts multiple kinds of ammunition without trouble

Cons

  • Grip isn’t very textured
  • Trigger hole is a little small
  • Size is a little odd in some holsters

What Recent Buyers Report

The most recent users of this firearm report that it’s an excellent and affordable option if you want a quality .40 caliber pistol while still remaining within your budget. It’s made with 100% American parts, which lends it decent consistency and a high-impact frame that can last for a long time while delivering accuracy at a distance.

Why it Stands Out to Us

This firearm stands out thanks to its fully adjustable rear sight, plus an additional peep sight that can improve your accuracy even further. Even better is the super low asking price, which still delivers a high-quality firearm into your possession if you decide to purchase it. The fact that it can accept multiple types of ammunition improves its value for money even further.

Who Will Use This Most

Those who want a decent .40 caliber firearm on a budget will really want to check this out. It’s also a great choice if you like to adjust your sights or need a little extra help hitting your targets on the shooting range. The free trigger lock that comes with the purchase isn’t a bad bonus, either.

Bottom Line

All in all, the Hi-Point 40 is a great example of the .40 caliber handgun that can deliver performance without raising the asking price too high. It features several excellent design innovations, like a fully adjustable rear sight or a magazine disconnect safety, without breaking the bank.

Best Smith and Wesson 40 Cal Pistol:
S&W M&P M2.0 Shield Pistol w/ Crimson Trace Laser

Pros

  • Very lightweight overall
  • Has a corrosion-resistant finish
  • Has a tactile and audible trigger reset
  • Comes with a lifetime service warranty
  • Comes with a crimson trace red laser out of the box

Cons

  • Grip texture could be a little better
  • Lower magazine capacity than normal
  • Accuracy is not the best of the bunch here

What Recent Buyers Report

The most recent users of this firearm report that it’s a phenomenal choice if you want a true sidearm that’s perfect for self-defense or for carrying a concealed carry holster. The small size and light weight of this firearm cement its nature as a secondary weapon or something you pull out as a last resort. Despite this narrow use, it’s a phenomenal example of a defensive weapon.

Why it Stands Out to Us

This pistol stands out precisely because of its small size and utility. It can offer excellent short-range accuracy, especially thanks to the integrated red laser that can tell you exactly where your bullet will land when you pull the trigger. Each trigger pull is extra satisfying thanks to the tactile reset. The corrosion-resistant finish is a nice touch, as well, as it ensures that the firearm will last for a long time to come.

Who Will Use This Most

Those in need of a good defensive weapon that they can carry on their person within a small holster will enjoy this pistol. Because it is a .40 caliber weapon, it can deliver stopping power without taking up too much space. As a result, it’s best used for self-defense situations rather than for shooting range competitions.

Bottom Line

This smaller .40 caliber pistol is still an excellent example of a quality product designed to serve a niche audience. It does its job very well, even though it has a few downsides that prevented it from being the best overall .40 caliber pistol. We’d recommend it if something along these lines is exactly what you’re looking for.

Best Taurus 40 Cal Pistol:
Taurus 740FS 3.2IN

Pros

  • Durable frame
  • Excellent anti-slip grip
  • Doesn’t weigh much at all
  • Very small size, easy to conceal
  • Blue nitride finish for corrosion resistance

Cons

  • Smaller than average capacity
  • Safety can be accidentally flicked
  • Accuracy is poor at longer ranges over 50yrds

What Recent Buyers Report

The most recent users of this firearm say that it offers dynamic performance, putting .40 caliber rounds where they need to go and drawing smoothly from well-sized holsters. It’s another great example of a concealed carry self-defense weapon that has enough power to stop anyone trying to mess with your day.

Why it Stands Out to Us

This firearm stands out as another potent defense of weapon alongside the last pick on our list. It’s an excellent size and weight for a .40 caliber pistol for this purpose and features one of the best anti-slip grips we’ve seen, meaning you’ll be less likely to drop it in a tense situation. The only major downside is that the small side makes its safety a little easier to accidentally hit when you don’t intend to.

Who Will Use This Most

Those looking for a slightly more affordable self-defense weapon would do well to check out the Taurus 740FS. It offers great performance even though it has a small capacity, and its grip is comfortable and great for snappy drawing and quick aiming.

Bottom Line

This is a perfect self-defense weapon through and through. Once you get used to the odd location of the safety, you'll feel secure walking just about anywhere with your concealed carry holster so long as this firearm is resting within. 

Best Beretta 40 Cal Pistol:
Beretta USA PX4 Storm Compact Handgun

Pros

  • Lightweight polymer frame
  • Has an ambidextrous safety
  • Has a Picatinny accessory rail
  • Blue nitride finish to reduce corrosion
  • Stainless Steel barrel improves durability

Cons

  • Not the best for long-range accuracy
  • Weight is a little lopsided toward the back
  • Grip could be better for anti-slip purposes

What Recent Buyers Report

The most recent users of this firearm report that it offers consistent performance at ranges standard for .40 cal pistols, but quickly starts to drop off past that point. Still, it delivers a snappy response and features a Picatinny accessory rail that’s perfect for customizing the firearm with extra sights or other things to improve your experience.

Why it Stands Out to Us

This Beretta stands out thanks to its modular design and versatility. The modular construction can let you change the back straps to fit your hand in shooting style. Its ambidextrous safety and slide lock are great for shooters that don’t favor one hand or the other and want as much utility as possible. Furthermore, the magazine release can be reversed, so you can train with this weapon with either hand.

Who Will Use This Most

Firearm enthusiasts who want to practice shooting with their left or right hands equally will get a lot of mileage from this .40 caliber pistol. It has a great capacity and an excellent design, plus durable components that will last a long time to come even if you take it apart and put it back together again multiple times in a row.

Bottom Line

All in all, this .40 caliber pistol is a durable and versatile piece of equipment that does a great job at shorter-range distances. Its design strength lies in its ability to work equally well for both the left and right hand, plus its acceptance of various high-quality accessories, like laser sights.

Pros

  • Decent grip
  • Doesn’t weigh much
  • Has an integrated accessory rail
  • Features a wear-resistant polymer frame
  • Made of a durable but lightweight material

Cons

  • Range is only moderate
  • Both sights aren’t adjustable
  • Safety can be difficult to adjust

What Recent Buyers Report

Overall, the most recent users of this pistol report that it's an excellent self-defense weapon and can handle the recoil of .40 caliber rounds without too much trouble. It's a reliable and dependable weapon that can provide stopping power and short-range accuracy when it counts.

Why it Stands Out to Us

This pistol stands out to us thanks to its affordable asking price and versatility. It’s a great starter .40 caliber pistol since it can handle most self-defense situations without trouble since it’s so durable and reliable. Its range isn’t the best at the upper end, but it’s still great for general self-defense needs.

Who Will Use This Most

Overall, law enforcement or security personnel will get a lot of mileage from this .40 caliber pistol. By the same token, anyone who wants a consistent and reliable sidearm to ensure their personal safety will love this .40 caliber pistol. 

Bottom Line

We think that the SP2022 is a lightweight and easy to use .40 caliber pistol that nonetheless delivers consistent performance and enough stopping power to serve as a defensive weapon for anyone. As a bonus, its size and shape make it a great choice for both duty and concealed carriers alike.

Aspects to Consider Before Buying a 40 Cal Pistol

These are the Major Things to Consider Before Buying a .40 cal Pistol.

Durability

A good .40 cal pistol should be durable and last you for a long time. This ensures that you’ll get your money’s worth and you’ll have a reliable firearm for many years to come. It may even save your life if you depend on your weapon to work after getting into trouble.

Budget

You should always try to pick a firearm within your budget. Going into extreme debt for a new .40 cal pistol isn’t a good idea when there are effective and affordable options, such as the pistols we described above.

Ammunition Type

Some .40 cal pistols only accept certain types of ammo. If you have some bullets you are already planning on using, be sure to pick up a pistol that accepts those rounds. Otherwise, you might make a mistake when you decide to pull the trigger on a purchase!

Effective Range

If you're planning on taking your weapon to the range, be sure to pick up a .40 cal pistol with a good effective range for your purposes. Some pistols are shorter range and better for self-defense, so consider this as well if you're primarily buying for a defensive weapon.

How to Assemble a 40 Cal Pistol

Assembling a .40 cal pistol doesn’t have to be hard. Here’s a brief breakdown of the major steps, but check out this video for a full overview and a more detailed description. 

Start with the slide. Place the barrel into the slide and make sure everything is aligned properly. Next, grab the spring and guide rod. Make sure they’re going in the same direction and keep your thumb over the end as you place them into the slide. This will effectively keep all the pieces of the firearm so far together and tightly oriented.

Next, grab the grip and frame of the pistol and make sure no obstructions are present that might interfere with its firing abilities. Match up the grooves of the slide and accompanying parts, then slide everything into place toward the hammer of the pistol.

Switch the takedown lever to about a three o’clock position. Pull it forward and release it, testing the slide by pulling on it a few times to ensure that it won’t slide off and is secure. That’s all there is to it!

Conclusion

Overall, any .40 caliber pistol will serve well as a self-defense weapon or as a great firearm for taking to the shooting range. Few weapons match the versatility and all-around usefulness that a .40 caliber pistol can bring to your life. Hopefully one of the above examples is perfect for your needs. Thanks for reading!

People Also Ask

When it comes to .40 caliber handguns, people tend to have a few questions, especially since there are some urban myths that spread around now and again. Let’s tackle these questions with some descriptive answers so you can feel knowledgeable about .40 caliber pistols and their uses.

What is the Smallest 40 Caliber Handgun?

Overall, the CM9 and PM9 pocket pistols by Kahr are the smallest .40 caliber handguns you can find on the market. These are thin, fit in your hand comfortably, and are very easy to use, making them popular choices as defensive sidearms or as options for concealed carriers. They also come in several different types of materials for their frames, such as polymer, carbon steel, or stainless steel.

What is Better: 40 Cal or .45?

Both types of round use the same bullet types, which are full metal jacket or jacketed hollow point. .40 cal rounds have greater velocity and greater minimum energy, but .45 rounds usually hit harder and have higher maximum energy. .40 rounds are easier to be more accurate with at long ranges with, although both are great at short range. .40 cal rounds also have less recoil. Overall, they’re fairly similar in many respects, although .40 cal rounds are a little more versatile and easier for beginners. They’re both worthwhile and one is not really “better” all in all than the other.

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