Quite a few shooters, myself included, cling to the handguns they have used for many years and don’t give newer rounds a chance. As an example, for most of the past 30 years, I have relied on the .45 automatic pistol and .357 Magnum revolver.
Today, I have finally found a cartridge that combines the advantages of each. I am glad I took the opportunity to test the 10mm and give it a fair shake.
There is much to like about the 10mm. It is a powerful-but-controllable cartridge with excellent accuracy potential. Since the 10mm demands a .45 size frame, it is ideal for many of us, as the size and weight of the heavier pistol offer good control.
Benefits of the 10mm
The 10mm offers range and penetration improvements over both the .40 and the .45 cartridges. While wear is a concern, with the proper recoil spring system, this is less of a consideration.
With attention to load practice, the 10mm responds well to cartridge development, both by handloaders and by the factory. As Colonel Cooper said, there are things that may be accomplished at 50 yards with the 10mm that cannot be accomplished with the .45.
The 10mm qualifies as a go-anywhere, do-anything handgun capable of personal defense, defense against dangerous animals and hunting game in the deer and boar class.
An inevitable comparison of the 10mm and .357 Magnum must be addressed. It is generally assumed the .357 Magnum is more powerful than the 10mm. With modern loads, this isn’t necessarily true.
Another advantage is that the 10mm begins with a .400-inch bullet. Whether it expands or not, the frontal diameter of the 10mm is greater than the .357 Magnum.
Top-end loads, such as the . 357 Magnum Buffalo Bore 180-grain hard cast, will beat the 10mm for energy and penetration when fired in like barrel lengths.
Barring the Coonan, however, the .357 Magnum is a revolver cartridge. This makes the 10mm a very interesting cartridge for those that prefer the self-loader for personal defense.
Revolver vs. Semi-Automatic
Then there is the Ruger GP100 and the Smith and Wesson 610 revolver. The question might be, why the revolver? Due to the popularity of the 10mm, ammunition is readily available—more so than the .41 Magnum, as an example.
Recoil is less than most Magnum cartridges and the 10mm offers good performance. It isn’t a Magnum, but the 10mm is a respectable number.
While some prefer a revolver, the self-loader is controllable in rapid-fire and puts hits into a target more quickly.
Animal attacks often demand that the handgun be pressed into the animal’s body and fired repeatedly. The automatic would jam after the first shot. The revolver will keep firing.
The bottom line is that either will save your life if you practice with the chosen handgun. There are advantages to the revolver that cannot be overlooked.
Either type is well-suited to the shooter that desires more power for one reason or the other, and the 10mm is much easier to master than the .41 Magnum for field use. It seems it will prove easier to master than the .357 Magnum as well.
Controlling recoil in self-loaders is a consideration that requires some research. A significant difference in handling and recoil impulse between pistols may be traced to the recoil spring.
As an example, the Ruger SR1911 exhibits healthy recoil. It will feed and function with lighter 10mm loads.
When I first obtained the Kimber Custom II 1911 in 10mm, I was disappointed that it would not cycle with my 180-grain 1050 fps handloads. When I moved to full-power 10mm loads, I was surprised.
The Kimber not only functioned perfectly, but recoil was considerably abated as well.
A heavy recoil spring that harnesses the power of the caliber is essential. You may change the recoil spring for a lighter version for lighter loads. (Try the Wilson Combat Spring Caddy.)
The Ruger isn’t a bad gun and will feed any commercial loading. The Kimber as delivered is properly set up for heavy loads. A heavy recoil spring and Wilson Combat magazines make for a service grade set up for the Ruger SR1911 as well.
The first question when choosing ammunition must be, “Is it reliable?” There are good loads available that feed, cycle and function reliably.
The Hornady 155- and 180-grain XTP loads have proven accurate in the Ruger 10mm handguns, both revolver and automatic. The 155-grain load expands more quickly and offers an excellent balance of penetration and expansion.
The 180-grain load is a good hunting load for taking thin-skinned game.
I like the Critical Duty 175-grain load for general use. Designed for those agencies that issue the 10mm, this is a first-class service load. Feed reliability and accuracy are excellent.
For those desiring to deploy a load for protection against the big cats and feral dogs, one of Buffalo Bore’s hard-hitting all-copper hollow points fit the bill.
For protection against bears—and this is a stretch for any handgun—Buffalo bore’s hard-cast bullets offer extreme penetration that just may do the business.
Federal Cartridge Company introduced one of the most powerful factory 10mm loads a few years ago. The 180-grain bonded core load breaks a solid 1275 fps in most handguns. This is an excellent hunting load that has taken its share of deer.
For those wishing to limit penetration in home defense, Honor Defense, maker of the Honor Guard pistols, offers a special composition bullet that rapidly fragments in gelatin testing, but offers good penetration against light cover.
Overall, selection is broad and interesting for this ammunition.
Here are a few charts of ammunition comparisons:
10mm Average Velocity 5-inch Barrel 1911
|SIG Sauer 180-grain V-Crown||1198 fps|
|Hornady 155-grain XTP||1402 fps|
|Hornady 180-grain XTP||1180 fps|
|Buffalo Bore 155-grain Barnes||1255 fps|
|Buffalo Bore 200-grain hard-cast||1220 fps|
|Federal 200-grain HST||1124 fps|
.45 ACP Average Velocity 5-inch Barrel 1911
|Hornady 185-grain Critical Defense||960 fps|
|Hornady 230-grain XTP +P||920 fps|
.357 Magnum 4-inch Barrel GP100
|Buffalo Bore 180-grain FP||1344 fps|
|Hornady 125-grain XTP||1439 fps|
|Hornady 158-grain XTP||1188 fps|
So, why should you give the 10mm a chance? Many shooters with extensive experience prefer a harder-hitting caliber than the 9mm or .40, but do not necessarily wish to step up a hard-kicking Magnum.
Magnum loads in the revolver and the high-intensity .357 SIG in the automatic are often hard on the mechanism. The handguns do not blow up or crack frames, but wear on small parts is increased.
The 10mm offers a viable alternative in a standard .41 frame revolver or .45 frame automatic. The 10mm offers good accuracy in the right handgun and the cartridge hits hard.
Have a favorite 10mm firearm? Let us know in the comments below!