When it comes to carry guns, the best balance of features is to have as much power in as compact a package as possible. For many, the .40-caliber cartridge fits the bill perfectly, getting bore diameter up to the four-tenths-of-an-inch mark while still fitting in a package sized in the range of many of today’s semi-auto 9mm pistols. The .40 S&W has an interesting history, going back to the tragic lessons learned in the infamous FBI Miami shootout of 1986. In it, two FBI special agents were killed and another five wounded after 145 rounds were exchanged with a pair of perpetrators in five minutes. Although the suspects were ultimately killed in the Florida gun battle, it sparked an investigation by the FBI. The stopping power of the agency’s issued handguns came under scrutiny after it took six shots to drop one perpetrator and 12 to drop the other—the last shot hitting his spinal cord. When toxicology reports determined that neither of the perpetrators had drugs in their systems, it wasn’t long before a search was begun to replace the 9mm and .38 Special handguns used by the agents.
The story is a familiar one, with the joint efforts of Smith & Wesson and Winchester producing the .40 S&W cartridge in 1990. It’s grown to become the mainstay of many law enforcement agencies across the country and has also become a popular civilian self-defense round. However, finding guns chambered for this round that are also extremely compact can take some searching.
Enter the Springfield Enhanced Micro Pistol (EMP). Chambered in .40 S&W, this is one of the sweetest- and softest-shooting compact handguns for this cartridge I’ve ever handled. Don’t get me wrong, recoil from a .40 S&W isn’t painful. Its impulse is different—snappier, if you will—and a little foreign to someone weaned on .45 ACP 1911s. Fifty rounds out of most small guns with this cartridge can get a little uncomfortable, but after more than 100 rounds with the EMP, I was eager for more. I thought it was just me, but a friend had the same reaction. “This is a .40?” he asked just before he went at my dwindling supply of ammo…
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