Shooting illustrated | 5 reasons to choose a 10mm for self defense
Introduced in 1983 in the Bren Ten Pistol, the 10mm was praised as an excellent defensive bullet by none other than Colonel Jeff Cooper. However, the excitement about the 10mm and the Bren Ten subsided when several of these pistols were shipped with inoperable magazines or no magazines at all. The 10mm bounced back from these early problems and was even starting to attract the interest of large government agencies like the FBI. After the infamous Miami shootout in 1986 that killed two agents and wounded five, the FBI decided to use a pistol with a punch greater than 9mm for its agents. The 10mm car became the front runner and in 1989 the marriage was made official.
But there was a problem. The 10mm car, despite its impressive punching power, produced enough recoil that some agents found it overwhelming. The FBI began to cut its service burdens significantly, and eventually the .40 S&W took over the vacated position of the 10mm as the preferred FBI service circuit.
The 10mm Auto has had some tough years, but shooters are finally learning to appreciate everything 10mm has to offer. The demand for 10mm auto handguns and ammunition is increasing every year and more and more manufacturers are offering 10mm pistols and revolvers than ever before. What has changed? Nothing.
The success of the 10mm is purely organic, the product of shooters taking a closer look at this round that was on the verge of obsolescence. And what most of these shooters have noticed is that, despite its early problems, the 10mm is actually a very good defense cartridge. It’s not for every shooter or situation, but for those who can handle the power of the 10’s, it may be the best defense cartridge available. Here are five reasons the 10mm car can be a great option for personal defense.
1. Recoil really isn’t that bad
When news spread that the 10mm gun was too much for FBI agents, many shooters perked up their ears. Too Much Gun for a Pro? That must mean that the 10mm are handing out serious abuse.
In truth, the 10mm isn’t the wrist flaw it’s thought to be. We must remember that not all FBI agents are experienced with firearms. If you’re a computer scientist who has never held a gun in your hand, then firing the 10mm car to qualify is a challenge. However, if you’ve shot a lot and are comfortable with a .45 ACP, the 10mm isn’t bad at all. In fact, the 10mm may be more comfortable to photograph than a .45 ACP or even a 9mm.
Every week I fire different types of handguns from a fixed break and it’s not the 10mm that makes me moan. Compact .45s are worse, and I contend that really light, really small 9mm with hot ammunition (a pistol / loading combo we push on newbies) that get choppy with recoil is the worst. A 10mm 1911 or full-size polymer cannon like the Glocks G20 / G40 or Springfields XD-M isn’t uncomfortable to shoot, especially if you choose the ammunition wisely.
2. The 10 mm car embodies the versatility of cargo
There is no semi-automatic cartridge on the planet that offers the versatility of the 10mm auto. Rounds like Barnes’ 155-Grain VOR-TX, Federal’s 180-Grain HST Personal Defense, and Hornady’s 175-Grain Critical Duty are great options for personal defense. In addition to its reputation for excessive recoil, the 10mm car also gets a bad rap for over-penetration, which I think is underserved as well.
Defensive 10mm loads routinely shoot 12-18 inches in gel, which is the FBI standard for testing. Do you want an even milder 10 mm? Double Diamond and Storm Lake offer barrels for 10mm Glock pistols that can fire .40 S&W ammunition.
If you want heavy loads, the 10mm Auto offers them too. When fully loaded, the 10mm auto generates more than 700 foot-pounds of energy, which is near the level of .41 Remington Magnum revolvers. Of all the semi-automatic chambers, the 10mm Auto offers the ballistics of big bore revolvers in a much lighter, easier-to-carry package.
3. The 10 mm put the energy / capacity debate to bed
For years we have heard the same arguments about capacity versus energy from the same corners of the shooting universe. 9mm fans argue that their cartridge is no longer the same as it was in 1986 (and rightly so), saying that the extra capacity makes it the best option. .45 ACP fans will smile and dismiss the capacity advantage, pointing out that the enormous energy and large bore diameter of the .45 more than make up for the lost capacity.
Then there is the 10mm auto. 10mm auto pistols hold more rounds – one or two more rounds in the magazine than comparable .45 ACP pistols – and the 10mm hits much harder than the .45 ACP or 9mm. Compact pistols like the Glock 29 also make it possible to carry the 10 mm concealed, so that you do not have to forego the capacity or braking power of your carrying pistol.
4. The 10 mm car is equally suitable for two-legged and four-legged predators
Black bears are found in 41 of the 50 United States, so there’s a good chance you live in bear country. Once relegated to the hinterland, these predators are now more commonly seen in urban and suburban areas. Grizzly bear populations are also increasing in the Lower 48, and as more bears of both species learn to live on and get used to what is left of humankind, dangerous encounters are sure to increase.
Chances are you will be attacked by a bear, but when I’m in the back country of bear country (especially grizzly country) I always have a weapon that can stop a bear of any size. Does a 9mm work? Probably, but “probably” killing a bear right away is not what I’m looking for.
The 10mm cannon is no doubt sufficient for black bears, mountain lions, and other potential predators and is one of the most popular choices for those who spend time in grizzly land. And as mentioned earlier, the 10mm auto is much easier to transport than a large bore turret. When hiking I wear a Rock Island 10 mm in a GunfightersINC Kenai chest holster and often forget that the gun is there at all. However, if I suddenly need strength to stop, it is always at hand.
5. The 10mm car is more panic proof than the 9mm, .40 S&W and .45 ACP.
If 2020 has taught us anything, it is that ammunition supply chains can quickly become overwhelmed in times of crisis. This year’s pandemic and widespread public unrest resulted in a gun and ammunition buying frenzy unlike anything we’ve seen before. The first things to go? 9 mm handguns and pistols.
Of the record-breaking 14.9 million background checks done this year (and it’s only October!), About 6 million of these new weapons went to first-time buyers. And guess what? First-time buyers typically don’t buy 10mm car ammunition. When I checked the numbers in June, stocks of .45 ACP, .38 Special, and .40 S&W were pretty low, and finding 9mm ammunition was like tripping over the Ark of the Covenant. However, 10 mm car ammunition was still available at that time – not in large quantities, mind you, but available.
Since then it has become harder to find 10mm as ammunition companies work in duplicate to get enough 9mm ammunition to market to meet the outrageous demand. Even so, during the worst of the summer, it was possible to find 10mm car ammunition when everything else was gone.