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10MM/.40 CALIBER CARTRIDGES: The odd man out caliber-wise!

If you asked the average shooter to list the best-known cartridge calibers, I'm sure he would rattle off, ".22T, .223, .243, .270, .30, .32, .357, .38, .44 and .45," without an iota of hesitation. Our European cousins would chime in with, "6.5mm, 7.62mm, 7.65mm, 8mm, 9mm and 11mm." And, in most cases they would be correct ... except for one lone caliber.

Shortly after the introduction of the first commercially successful metallic cartridge, the tiny .22 Short, in 1857, we saw a steady stream of rimfire and centerfire cartridges introduced by any number of gun and ammunition companies. To name a few: the .44 Henry, .50 Spencer, .50-70, .45-70, .45 Colt and .44-40 Winchester. But, here again, we are missing that certain caliber.

That certain caliber is the 10mm/.40 caliber.

If you asked most shooters today about the 10mm, they would quickly tell you, "The .40 S&W ... oh, yeah and the 10mm Auto." But, while well-known, these two cartridges are only the more recent additions to a long line of 10mm/.40 caliber cartridges stretching back to the early 1860s.


.41 Short Rimfire

In 1863, the National Arms Company of Brooklyn, NY, introduced a small revolver chambered for a cartridge originally known as the .41 Short. It consisted of a rimfire, copper case 0.467 inches long, topped with a 130 gr. heel-type lead bullet with a diameter of .405 inches (10.3mm) that 13 gr. of black powder propelled to a rated velocity of 425 feet per second (fps), generating 52 ft./lbs. of energy.

While hardly a serious fight stopper, in 1866, Remington introduced its Model 95 over/under Derringer in this caliber, and the popularity of this pistol/cartridge combination was such that production continued until 1935. For this reason, the cartridge is commonly referred to as the ".41 Remington Rimfire" or ".41 Remington Derringer." Colt chambered its House Revolver--better known as the "Cloverleaf"--for this cartridge.

.41 Colt Long Rimfire

To replace its Cloverleaf Revolver, in 1874, Colt introduced its New Line revolvers in several rimfire calibers, including the .41 Long Rimfire. This round used a slightly longer copper case containing a .405 inch (10.3mm) diameter 163-gr. heel-type lead bullet backed by 15 gr. of black powder. Forehand & Wadsworth, as well as Webley, also made revolvers in .41 Colt Long Rimfire as were a few inexpensive single shot rifles.

Revolver-Patrone M.72 10,4mm

In the early 1870s, the Swiss army adopted a Chamelot-Delvigne-style revolver modified by Oberst Rudolph Schmidt of the Thun Arsenal, the Ordonnanzrevolver M.1872, which was manufactured under contract in Belgium. Its 10.4mm rimfire cartridge utilized a copper case 20mm long with a 193-gr. paper patched lead bullet that 15.5 gr. of black powder propelled to 610 fps.


10,35mm Cartuccia Pistola Mo. 1874

The Pistola a Rotazione Modello 1874, a solid-frame, rod-ejecting design, was the Italian army's first "modern" revolver. Its cartridge consisted of a rimmed, slightly bottlenecked case 23mm in length, loaded with a 179-gr., 10.35mm round-nosed lead bullet in front of 17 gr. of black powder, for a muzzle velocity of 750 fps.

.38-40 Winchester

This classic cartridge was introduced by Winchester in 1874, for its Model 1873 lever-action rifle. In 1877, Colt began offering its Single Action Army revolver in this caliber. It consisted of a rimmed, bottle-necked brass case l .305 inches long containing, despite its designation, a .401 caliber (10.2mm), 180-gr., flat-nosed lead bullet that 40 gr. of black powder pushed to approximately 800 fps from a revolver. Remington offered its M1875, 1888 and 1890 revolvers in this caliber, as did Colt with its later New Frontier and New Service revolvers.

.41 Short Colt Double Action

There are two versions of this cartridge, the differences being the case length and the rim diameter. Introduced in 1874-5, the ".41 Short Single Action" had a rim of approximately .460 inch and was loaded with a 130-gr. lead bullet and 20 gr. of black powder. Colt New Line revolvers could be had in this caliber. The later round, known as the ".41 Short Double Action," was introduced around 1890, and had a rim of about .435 inch and used a 165-gr. lead bullet backed by 22 gr. of black powder.

.41 Long Colt

In 1877, Colt introduced its double-action "Thunderer" Revolver, along with a new cartridge, the .41 Long Colt. Over its lifetime, it was produced with three different-length cases--0.95, 1.135 and 1.055 inches--but, being as the revolver had straight-walled chambers, all could be used interchangeably. They were loaded with blunt-nosed, 200-gr., .401 caliber (10.2mm) lead bullets that 20-21 gr. of black powder propelled to approximately 720 fps. Both flat-based and hollow-based bullets were used.

Colt's Single Action Army, Bisley, New Army/Navy revolvers of 1889, 1892, 1896 and 1903, and Official Police revolvers were all available in this caliber, and it remained popular into the 1930s.

Revolver-Patrone M.78 10,4mm

In 1878, the Swiss adopted the locally produced Ordonnanzrevolver M.1878. It utilized a drawn-brass-cased and centerfire primer but, other than that, it was dimensionally and ballistically identical to the Patrone M.72, and most M.72 revolvers were modified to fire it.

10,6mm scharfe Revolver-Patrone M.79

In 1879, the Prussian army adopted the Modell 1879 Deutsche Armeerevolver. While a rather crude six-shot, single-action design, it served Das Vaterland until 1918. Its cartridge consisted of a rimmed, straight-walled case 25mm long loaded with 20 gr. of black powder, which propelled its 262-gr. lead bullet to approximately 700 fps.

10,35mm Cartuccia Pistola Mo. 1874-89

In the late 1880s, the Italian army adopted an improved revolver, the Pistola a Rotazione, System Bodeo, Modello 1889. The issue cartridge was loaded with smokeless powder and used a slightly shorter 21mm case topped with a 174-gr. brass-jacketed bullet moving at 820 fps.

.41 Remington Magnum

The 1960s American police began asking for more powerful weaponry than the common .38 revolver. Some championed the .357 Magnum revolver,, while a small clique said a semiauto pistol should be considered. Into this controversy stepped three of the most respected figures in American handgunnery: Elmer Keith, Bill Jordan and Skeeter Skelton.

They approached Smith & Wesson, Remington, and Norma, suggesting ammunition that would fall between the .357 and .44 Magnum in performance, envisioning a .40-caliber cartridge that launched a 200-gr. bullet to 850 fps.

These plans went awry due to an ongoing fascination in the firearms community with magnum cartridges, and instead Remington developed the .41 Remington Magnum. This consisted of a straight-walled, rimmed case 1.29 inches long, which, as originally loaded, propelled a .410 inch (10.4mm) diameter, 210-gr. JSP bullet to 1560 fps (later reduced to 1300 fps).

In 1964, S&W introduced the N-frame Model 57 revolver in .41 Magnum. Its companion, the Model 58, was a fixed-sight revolver with a 4-inch barrel intended for police service. For this, Remington produced a "police load" that launched a 210-gr. lead SWC bullet to 1000 fps. The revolver proved too heavy for use by foot patrolmen, while the "lighter" load still produced unacceptable levels of recoil. Several other gun makers offer .41 Magnums, such as Ruger's Blackhawk and Redhawk revolvers.

10mm Auto

By the 1970s, American police were seeking a handgun cartridge with better performance than the 9mm pistols then being used by many agencies. A gentleman named Whit Collins proposed a medium-caliber cartridge that propelled a 200-gr. bullet to 1000 fps, providing the ballistic advantages of the 9mm, and power of a .45, along with higher magazine capacity.

Col. Jeff Cooper lent his support to the idea and teamed up with Thomas Dornaus and Michael Dixon to develop such a .40-caliber cartridge. The result was the Bren Ten pistol chambered for the 10mm Auto.

Norma further developed the cartridge, but it was considerably hotter, propelling a 170-gr. JHP to 1300 fps and a 200-gr. FMJ to 1200 fps.

While the Bren Ten was a commercial failure, over the years, several gun makers have produced limited numbers of 10mm pistols. It was adopted for a short time by the FBI, but it found the pistol's weight and recoil problematic.

As currently produced, the 10mm Auto is based upon a straight-walled, rimless case .922 inches long, containing 175 to 120-gr. FMJ or JHP bullets with .401 (10.17mm) diameters at velocities ranging from around 1000 to in excess of 1300 fps. Some of these loads approach the performance of the .41 Magnum revolver cartridge, which is why the resurgence of interest in this cartridge is primarily among handgun hunters.

.41 Action Express

The .41 Action Express (.41 AE) was designed by Evan Whildin, VP of Action Arms, in 1986. It was based upon the .41 Magnum case cut down .866 inches in order to fit in a 9mm Parabellum frame, and used a rebated rim. The standard load had a .410-diameter (10.4mm) 180gr. FMJ bullet moving at approximately 900 fps, which provided performance similar to that of the aforementioned 10mm, but with much more controllable levels of recoil.

While Israeli Military Industries offered its Jericho pistol in this caliber, the introduction of the .40 S&W (see below) doomed the chances of the .41 AE's acceptance, and production of pistols and ammunition were phased out.

.40 Smith & Wesson

FBI tests revealed that a 170-180-gr. JHP 10mm bullet, propelled between 900-1000 fps achieved the desired terminal performance without the heavy recoil associated with the 10mm Auto cartridge. S&W engineers realized that downsizing the performance allowed them to use a shorter cartridge case, one that would fit in 9mm-sized platforms. Designed by S&W engineer Bob Klunk, the resulting .40 S&W cartridge was released to the market in 1990, and became an instant success.

As originally loaded, the .40 S&W consisted of a straight-walled, rimless case .805 inches long loaded with 180-gr. bullets with a diameter of .40 inches (10.2mm) propelled to approximately 990 fps. In Europe, it is known as the 10x22 S&W. Today, it is loaded with bullets ranging from 115 to 200 gr. and is used by the majority of North American law enforcement agencies. It is also the dominant cartridge in IPSC/USPSA and other action-pistol disciplines.

.400 Cor-Bon

Designed by Peter Pi, and released on the market in 1997, this production "wildcat" cartridge provides the performance of the 10mm Auto in a .45 ACP platform with lighter operating pressures. It is based upon a .45 ACP case .898 inches long that is necked down to hold .401-inch (10.2mm) diameter .40 caliber bullets weighing between 135 to 165 gr. at velocities ranging from 1250 to 1400 fps.

Nearly any .45 ACP pistol can be converted to fire the .400 Cor-Bon by simply replacing the barrel and using a stouter recoil spring.

While we Americans have always shown a dislike for the metric system, I believe that we can't hold out much longer, and I have few doubts that we will see more cartridges with metric designations in the future.

Photos by: Lou Behling, Paul Budde & James Walters

I would like to thank the following for providing materials used to prepare this article: Lou Behling, Lisa Warren, Lois Chase, Joel Kolander, Heinrich Harder, Peter Pi, Sturm, Ruger & Company, Glock USA, Cor-Bon Ammunition, Rock Island Auction Company and James D. Julia Auctioneers, Fairfield, ME (

Caption: An original box of 10,6mm scharfe Revolver-Patronen made in Germany in 1914. (Lou Behling photo)

Caption: Remington's M95 over/under derringer was chambered for the .41 Short Rimfire and was so popular it was produced from 1866 to 1935. (Courtesy James D. Julia Auctioneers, Fairfield, ME,

Caption: Colt's House Revolver (better known as the "Cloverleaf) was chambered for the .41 Short Rimfire cartridge. (Courtesy James D. Julia Auctioneers, Fairfield, ME,

Caption: Comparing the Swiss rimfire Revolver-Patrone M.72 10,4mm (L) and the centerfire RevolverPatrone M.78 10,4mm.

Caption: We must now jump ahead three-quarters of a century to find out next popular 10mml.40 Caliber cartridge.

Caption: Left to right: .41 Short Rimfire, .41 Colt Long Rimfire, .38-40 Winchester, .41 Colt Short Double Action and the .41 Long Colt. (Lou Behling photo)

Caption: Italian revolver cartridges: 10,35mm Cartuccia Pistola Mo. 1874 (left) and 10,35mm Cartuccia Pistola Mo. 1874/89. (Lou Behling photo)

Caption: Colt's New Frontier revolver was produced in .38-40 Winchester. (Courtesy James D. Julia Auctioneers, Fairfield, ME,

Caption: Colt's popular New Service revolver was available in .38-40 Winchester.

Caption: Colt New Line revolvers were produced in both .41 Colt Long Rimfire and .41 Colt Short Single Action. (Courtesy James D. Julia Auctioneers, Fairfield, ME,

Caption: The Swiss Ordonnanzrevolver M.1878 fired the centerfire RevolverPatrone M.78 10,4mm.

Caption: Left to right: the Swiss Revolver-Patrone M.78 10,4mm and the German 10,6mm scharfe RevolverPatrone M.79. (Lou Behling photo)

Caption: The German Modell 1879 Deutsche Armeerevolver used the 10,6mm scharfe Revolver-Patrone M.79.

Caption: The Italian army's Pistola a Rotazione, System Bodeo, Modello 1889 was chambered for the 10,35mm Cartuccia Pistola Mo. 1874-89. (Heinrich Harder photo)

Caption: Comparing (L to R) the .357 S&W Magnum, .41 Remington Magnum and .44 Remington Magnum.

Caption: The S&W Model 57 was the first revolver chambered for the .41 Remington Magnum cartridge. (Courtesy of S&W, via Lois Chase)

Caption: Ruger offers its single action Blackhawk revolver in .41 Magnum.

Caption: Ruger's double-action Redhawk revolver is available chambered for the .41 Magnum.

Caption: Left to right: .41 Remington Magnum, 10mm Auto, .41 Action Express, .40 S&W and the .400 Cor-Bon. (Lou Behling photo)

Caption: The Bren Ten was the first production (albeit for a very short time) 10mm Auto pistol. (Courtesy James D. Julia Auctioneers, Fairfield, ME,

Caption: EAA's Elite Stock II is available in 10mm Auto.

Caption: The Glock 20 Gen 4 is chambered for the 10mm Auto cartridge.

Caption: Ruger's SR1911 10mm is, well, another 10mm Auto pistol!

Caption: Comparing (L to R) the 9mm Parabellum, .40 S&W, .45 ACP and 10mm Auto.

Caption: Glock's .40-caliber G35 Gen 4 pistol is popular with action-pistol competitors.

Caption: Springfield Armory's .40-caliber XDM is widely used by police agencies and as a civilian defense handgun.
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Author:Scarlata, Paul
Publication:Firearms News
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Nov 20, 2017
Previous Article:10MM OMEGA.

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