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Old 12-02-2010, 08:59 PM
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Default History of the 40 S&W

I think we all know that the 40 S&W was derived from the 10mm, however until today I never heard the entire story. I had some time to do a little browsing this afternoon on one of my favorite sites, this one! Many of the people that participate in the auto section also participate in the revolver sections and have read the postings of 29-1 and Doc44 on the early years of the 44 Magnum. I always find historical info to be fascinating, especially with the detail that they write with.

This got me thinking there really isn’t much historical data in the auto forum, one of the most interesting reads I’ve found on the auto forum is a discussion of why the FBI chose the 10mm over the 45 ACP. With the resources of this forum there were members that contributed to this thread that were involved in the FBI’s decision making and implementation of the 10mm. If you haven’t read the tread it is a very interesting read:

F.B.I. why .10mm. over .45ACP. ?

While this is a fascinating read the 10mm originated from the work of Jeff Cooper in the early ‘70s, Cooper worked on a concept originated by Whit Collins. The 40 G&A, Collins’ design of the 40 G&A would ultimately become what we know today as the 40 S&W. From Cooper’s work with Collins he developed the 40 Super which later became the 10mm that was originally chambered in the Bren Ten.

Many of us appreciate the craftsmanship of pistols that come out of the S&W Performance Center however many don’t know how this came to be. This is where the story of the 40 S&W really began; enter South African world-class IPSC competitor and gunsmith Paul Liebenberg. When Liebenberg came to the US he went to work for Pachmayr Gun Works. While at Pachmayr one of his projects was to adapt what was known at the time as the Centimeter cartridge to the 1911 for IPSC as possibly a cartridge that might replace the 38 Super, this was the original design of Collins’ 40 G&A.

When Liebenberg left Pachmayr Gun Works he started his own company building custom 1911 IPSC pistols, Pistol Dynamics. Here Collins and Liebenberg continued their work on the Centimeter cartridge. Through his competition in IPSC Liebenberg and friend Tom Campbell tried to get S&W interested in the Centimeter cartridge, but to no avail. It wasn’t until S&W President Steve Melvin approached Liebenberg about converting a couple of 5906s to the Centimeter cartridge then the 40 S&W was born.

After this Melvin approached Liebenberg about the concept of the Performance Center, Libenberg teamed up with fellow gunsmith John French to create what we know today as the Performance Center. As the director of the PC Liebenberg developed the pistols while French headed up revolver development. The rest as they say is history.

It was shortly after this timeframe that I became enamored with one of Mr. Liebenberg’s creations, the Performance Center Shorty 40. This is a pistol that came about due to a senior engineer at S&W saying that it couldn’t be done indicating that peak pressure and slide velocity would be too high. Liebenberg brought his prototype to the next staff meeting and laid it in front of the senior engineer saying “There’s the impossible!”



There is really no historical significance to this pistol other than it was one of the first 500 Shorty 40s (PCS0442) produced, but it is an illustration of what a talented gunsmith can do. To this day this is one of my favorite pistols.

Cheers,
Sam
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Old 12-02-2010, 09:26 PM
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I remember when the .40 S&W first came out. I remember thinking, with all of the other cartridges that had come onto the marketplace and failed and/or fizzled, that the new .40 was going to be another dud, wasn't going to go anywhere, was going to be a flash in the pan.

Boy, can I be wrong! The.40 was the right cartridge in the right place at the right time.
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Old 12-02-2010, 11:32 PM
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Default Great Post with the links

Shorty4T,
Thanks for the great post.
Paul Liebenberg is a great guy, I've met with him a couple of times over the past two years.
While I love the 10 m.m. and have a complement of firearms chambered in it.
I wish the .356 TSW took off like the .40 S&W did.
They are both a magnitude above the 9 m.m.
With the .356 TSW edging out the 40 S&W.
BM1
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Old 12-03-2010, 03:43 AM
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There is a fair amount of text devoted to the matter in one of the later chapters of the book "Bren Ten-The Heir Apparent" and it contains some very interesting quotes by Paul Liebenberg concerning Smith's adaption of the round. Interesting read just for that information.



Bruce
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Old 01-01-2011, 03:23 PM
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There is a fair amount of text devoted to the matter in one of the later chapters of the book "Bren Ten-The Heir Apparent" and it contains some very interesting quotes by Paul Liebenberg concerning Smith's adaption of the round. Interesting read just for that information.



Bruce
Forum member "Wesman" could add quite a bit to this thread.
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Old 01-01-2011, 03:55 PM
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Originally Posted by Shorty4T View Post


There is really no historical significance to this pistol other than it was one of the first 500 Shorty 40s (PCS0442) produced, but it is an illustration of what a talented gunsmith can do. To this day this is one of my favorite pistols.

Cheers,
Sam
Sam,
I don't know if 500 is a good prodoction number?
I've got a PCS11XX, real high #XX, I mean real high................
Regards,
BM1
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Old 01-02-2011, 02:02 AM
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I think that there were several batches of the initial offering. SCS&W III says "approximately 500 manufactured in each of three production runs. PCS0000 was our example." I have PCS08XX. I bought it new in June of 1993. They were kinda pricey then; I paid $895.00 for mine and $39.95 for a third magazine.

I probably should shoot it sooner or later...
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Old 01-02-2011, 04:32 PM
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Sam,
I don't know if 500 is a good prodoction number?
I've got a PCS11XX, real high #XX, I mean real high................
Regards,
BM1
You are correct BM1, there were just over 1500 of the PCS 1st generation Shorty 40, I simply stated that mine was one of the first 500. The initial numbers were for 500 when they were first released, however they sold so well the extended the run of the first generation. There were some minor changes within the first generation, I seem to remember that the barrel bushing was different on the later pistols. You will also notice that they also transitioned to the blued hammer and trigger on the later guns.

The 2nd generation pistols are the rare ones, there was someone here a while back that had serial number SPC021x if memory serves. Again there were only minor changes between the 1st and 2nd generations.

I think the 3rd generation pistols were the ones with the higher production numbers, but no one has ever been able to tell me how many. These were release in blue and stainless steele.

Cheers,
Sam
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Old 01-02-2011, 08:32 PM
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I saved the issue of Guns & Ammo with the .40 G&A creation/test review - It was a converted Browning Hi Power RCBS made up the dies
Bar Sto made a barrel, but the cases were based on the .224 Weatherbuy belted magnum rifle case. With the RCBS dies you also got
a reamer to thing the inside of the rifle case. Headspace was on the
blet of the case. They used the 180 gr. JSP Remington bullet offered for the .38-40. I think the performanc e was that 180 gr. bullet at a bit over 1,000 fps.

the .40 G&A was doomed because of the cost of the weatherby brass and case prep. I wouldn't say the .40 G&A evolved into the 10mm AUto
or .40 S&W but it inspired a more practical .40 cal cartridge design.

my $.02

Randall
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Old 12-08-2011, 10:25 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shorty4T View Post
You are correct BM1, there were just over 1500 of the PCS 1st generation Shorty 40, I simply stated that mine was one of the first 500. The initial numbers were for 500 when they were first released, however they sold so well the extended the run of the first generation. There were some minor changes within the first generation, I seem to remember that the barrel bushing was different on the later pistols. You will also notice that they also transitioned to the blued hammer and trigger on the later guns.

The 2nd generation pistols are the rare ones, there was someone here a while back that had serial number SPC021x if memory serves. Again there were only minor changes between the 1st and 2nd generations.

I think the 3rd generation pistols were the ones with the higher production numbers, but no one has ever been able to tell me how many. These were release in blue and stainless steele.

Cheers,
Sam
What an interesting read this entire sticky is! I've been searching for some detailed information on my second production (generation) run of the Shorty Forty that was given to me by my brother over Thanksgiving weekend. I've posted a thread on it today in the S&W Semi-Auto forum.

I'd like to know just how many of the second generation batch (Vertical and horizontal front strap grooves, extended grip tang, blued hammer/trigger/magazine release button, et al.) were produced.

Thank you for confirming the scarcity of the second production run, ShortyT40.

My weapon's serial number is SPC012x. My brother kept ALL of the factory documentation (including his original sales receipt), brown S&W wrapper and the blue Lew Horton flyer. He ordered it from a dealer in November of 1994. The weapon is in near-perfect condition only having been shot 200 to possibly 300 rounds.

Best regards,
-Jim
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Old 12-08-2011, 10:50 PM
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Great back ground information, a good read on the lead up to the 40S&W. Thanks to all who contributed.
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Old 12-08-2011, 11:14 PM
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I am glad this thread came back out from the Chamber of Dust and Oblivion because I recently acquired a 4006 and am trying to get up to speed on what I bought. I have not been a semiauto guy up to now, having spent a few years with the wheelguns, but what I am reading about the .40 S&W and the 4006 makes me happy to have one as an introduction to a handgun class that is new to me.

Interesting reading here. My thanks to all the contributors.
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Old 12-08-2011, 11:28 PM
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I still have my 4006 # TFF7xxx bought new. I read all the magazine articles about the caliber. It was fun back then, (when folks actually read articles). When CHP decided on the 4006 with adjustable sights that's what I bought. A wonderful pistol it is. I have 3 pistols now in .40 S&W.
Put it in a Miami shoulder rig with a two mag right side the zombies don't have a chance!!
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Old 12-08-2011, 11:47 PM
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My favorite story about the 40 S&W was when the FBI was having trigger troubles with their 10MM and blaming S&W, who in turn were blaming the FBI for their trigger. The 40 came to be and a gunwriter predicted the 10MM was here to stay but the 40 was doomed and should have been known as 40 Soft & Weak.
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Old 12-09-2011, 12:01 AM
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I remember .40 S&W ammo being hard to find..could buy guns, no sweat..commercial ammo was near impossible to lay hands on...

I soon discovered a fellow who was loading the caliber and selling ammo at gunshows...I carefully reserved my commercial hollowpoints for duty use..and purchased bulk practice ammo from the garage reloader dude...his ammo wasn't cheap either..I soon quit the caliber for duty use...

Yes..I too thought the .40 would fail..and fall into obsolesence.
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Old 01-15-2012, 10:38 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Palmetto Sharpshooter View Post
Forum member "Wesman" could add quite a bit to this thread.
Palmetto: BM1 pointed this thread out to me and I found the original posting I did before the forum site changed and all earlier threads of mine were deleted. I hope this new posting of an old topic and posting sheds some light for those who did not see my original post.

My original post is in response to a forum member "trf" asking information regarding the facts (?) that Charles Petty wrote in the September 2005 issue of Guns. My answer to trf is as follows:

trf – I went back and re-read the article that was in the September 2005 issue of Guns that was written by Charles Petty. It is sad that in an era of revisionary reconstruction of historical facts a writer would not only write himself into the history of the .40 caliber but would effectively diminish the efforts of many who were involved and are still alive to remember.

The history of the .40 caliber has been documented in the following publications:

GUNS & AMMO, June, 1972, article “The .40 Auto, G&A modernizes the ‘lost’ caliber”; or AMERICAN HANDGUNNER July/August, 1987, Cover Article – “CENTIMETER: The Cartridge/The Gun”; or AMERICAN HANDGUNNER, September/October, 1990, article “.40 S&W”, or the AMERICAN HANDGUNNER, July/August, 2002, Cover Article – “The Liebenberg Legacy”.

The history is well documented that Whit Collins was the designer of the .40 caliber auto cartridge. Granted, Mr. Collin’s cartridge was not always called the .40 S&W. It has been known as the .40 Auto, .40 G&A, 10 mm (as a beefed up version for Jeff Cooper), 10mm PGW, Centimeter, 10mm lite and finally the .40 S&W. It is a misconception that the 10 mm came before the .40 caliber. It actually is the other way around. It was not someone just shortening “some 10mm brass with the thought of using it in a smaller pistol platform” as Mr. Petty would like everyone to believe. It had already been used and proven in a smaller platform when John French built the Browning Highpower prototype for Whit long before S&W and Winchester were even involved.

The original 10mm/.40 caliber cartridge as drawn up by Mr. Collins prior to 1972 was lengthened to accommodate Col. Cooper’s drive to have the most powerful pistol cartridge. The gun inspired by Col. Cooper and built by Dornaus & Dixon was the Bren Ten. Norma made the cartridges in 1984.

Even with Col. Cooper pushing the 10mm, Mr. Collin’s never gave up on the .40 and continued promoting the original cartridge design known then as the Centimeter. Mr. Collins approached Pachmayr Gun Works with the project who considered the project under the 10mm PGW (10 mm Pachmayr Gun Works) name. The new owners of Pachmayr Gun Works decided not to go forward with the project.

While Mr. Collins was working with Pachmayr Gun Works, he met Paul Liebenberg who was assigned to the project. Due to Pachmayr’s business model change that included moving away from custom handguns, Liebenberg struck out on his own to open Pistol Dynamics and continued to work on the Centimeter project. During this time period, many Pistol Dynamics guns were built, advertised, used in competition and sold with the Centimeter cartridge. As stated before, there is an article in AMERICAN HANDGUNNER covering these guns.

During this period, Liebenberg introduced the Centimeter cartridge to long time friend and shooting competitor, Tom Cambell. At that time Cambell worked for S&W (now for Safariland). For several years, Cambell tried to get the engineers at S&W to look at the project. Unfortunately, at that time, S&W was unable to see the true potential of the cartridge.

It was not until Steve Melvin became President of S&W that Tom Cambell could get anyone to listen. Steve Melvin requested his top engineers in Advanced Product Engineering to look into this. In a report by the engineers to the head of the department, it stated that they had laid it out in their cad software and the cartridge would not fit in a S&W 9mm gun.

Since the S&W engineers had no confidence that the .40 caliber would work in a 9mm based handgun, Melvin had to go outside the company to prove that it could be done. Pistol Dynamics was contracted by S&W to modify two 5906 pistols to accommodate the Centimeter.

Pistol Dynamics ordered a custom run of .40 caliber barrels that would fit the envelope of the S&W 5906. These were custom made by Irv Stone Sr. at BAR-STO to the technical specifications provided by Pistol Dynamics. One modified 5906 was sent to Advanced Product Engineering at S&W and that prototype was promptly “misplaced”. The second prototype was sent shortly thereafter.

The fact is that the project started 17 years before S&W and Winchester were involved by Whit Collins, John French, Jeff Cooper, NORMA Cartridges, Pachmyr Gun Works, Pistol Dynamics, Paul Liebenberg, BAR-STO, Irv Stone, Bud Watson, Tom Cambell and ultimately Steve Melvin.

S&W and Winchester were actually handed a turn-key product. The .40 caliber cartridge had 17 years of development with drawings and proven ballistic data that could be handed over to Winchester, as well as working prototype pistols, ammo and magazines that were handed over to the same engineers at S&W who insisted it could not be done.

I personally have reviewed most all documentation at S&W regarding this cartridge and all the Pistol Dynamics records. The original drawings by Whitt Collins. One of the two original PD modified 5906’s. The prototype parts that were manufactured for the project such as BARSTO Centimeter marked 5906 barrels from original batch and prototype magazines in addition to the cartridge cases that were made by Bud Watson of Watson Precision on a modified Dillon 1000. These cartridges were supplied to S&W along with the PD modified 5906 and PD modified magazines. Winchester had nothing to do with that.

While the articles written are not 100%, the closest article mirroring the actual events surrounding the development of the .40 S&W is the Cameron Hopkins, AMERICAN HANDGUNNER, September/October, 1990; article “.40 S&W”. Technical information on the .40 is best found in the AMERICAN HANDGUNNER July/August, 1987, Cover Article – “CENTIMETER: The Cartridge/The Gun”.

So much for a short response. However the history spans now for more than 30 years and could not be written in 3 lines. People forget, documentation gets lost or discarded and then the historical facts are re-written and accepted as truth.

Hope this answers your question trf.

WESMAN
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Old 01-15-2012, 11:17 PM
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Default The truth be known.................

Thanks Wesman,
For clearing up all the mis-information.
You were there in the beginning with it.
I knew that you could set the record straight with the .40 S&W.
Regards,
BM1
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Old 04-23-2012, 09:44 AM
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Exclamation Need some help with 4003 tsw

Hi All -

Ok! I am a NRA LTC instructor and a student bought a S&W 4003 TSW as a carry firearm. He is also a alternate Police officer in our little town! The force has gone to Serpa Level 3 holsters. So he came to me to find one for his S&W 4003. Yes this does have the rail and the Novak sights. So looking around on the web I find that few manufactures specifically make a level 3 holster for this firearm. So my thought was that there are other models of the same gun made in Stainless Steel, black, or military with the same form and fit. The question is what other model 4000 series S&W have the same form and fit that would work in a level 3 holster still being produced?

Thanks -
Mike -
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