Best .40 S&W Ammo Reviews — Self Defense & Target Practice (2019)

Last Updated: by Aiden Williams

When it comes to self-defense, the harsh truth is that the shooter is only ever as good as their equipment. Sounds pretty obvious, but it is totally true. The fast-paced, quick thinking nature these situations require, means your gear must be top of the range at all times. You want your .40 S&W ammo to be top of the range, as you don’t want it affecting your performance.

For this reason, it’s best to always be prepared with the optimum gear—and know how to use it!

Today, I’d like to take a closer look at my personal top five roundup list for the best .40 ammo to be used for self-defense and target practice shooting. I have compiled a comprehensive review of each, complete with a list of pros and cons.

It should come as no surprise that, yet again, the trusty Winchester reigns “supreme.” Their Supreme Elite rounds made it to my number one for best .40 caliber overall product in this category. Read on to find out why.

At a Glance: Our 5 Best .40 S & W Ammo Reviews

Importance of Self-Defense & Target Practice

The controversial debate in society surrounding the importance of self-defense shooting is an ongoing one. There seems to be a definite split among human beings with some being totally for it and others totally against it.

Whatever your position, there are some important points to consider when it comes to this learnable skill.

If you take guns out of the picture, self-defense is still a necessary attribute to acquire for any individual. It provides safety and security in instances that range outside of normal daily occurrences. It essentially prepares you to handle some of the worst threats you may face in your life. Imagine someone breaking into your house when the kids are asleep. You want to be ready, right?

When you add guns to the picture, self-defense can be taken to the next level. Knowing when and how to use a firearm is a skill that can benefit you when facing the harshest violence on our streets & sometimes even in our homes.

Self-defense is, therefore, an incredibly important ability all human beings should at least give a second thought. Being able to defend oneself at the onset of danger can mean the difference between life and death.

Of course, this is largely dependent on the environment in which you live. In more dangerous societies, self-defense should ideally be taught from a young age and across an array of mechanisms, eventually leading to firearm defense later on in life.

The world is a dangerous place, particularly for women and children. I think this is why I became so passionate about shooting as a form of self-defense so quickly. I’ve seen a need for protection and I’ve found the devices that can provide it.

What is .40 S&W Ammo?

The S&W stands for Smith and Wesson’s brand. Smith and Wesson designed a rimless handgun in collaboration with the famous Winchester brand.

.40 S&W ammo is likely to ring a bell if you’ve ever found yourself searching for bullets online. It’s a popular product among gun owners worldwide.

The ammunition was originally designed to mimic the bullets being used by FBI law enforcement. There was a demand for this size cartridge among the public.

The physical size of the ammunition was significantly shorter than others on the market. This was to accommodate users with smaller hands who needed to load up quickly in chaotic scenarios. This makes it an ideal round to use in instances of self-defense.

Who Can Benefit?

As mentioned above, the physical size of the best .40 caliber ammo makes it more user-friendly to individuals of more petite stature.

If self-defense and target shooting is the goal and you happen to be on the smaller scale of human anatomy, then this is the ammo for you. You will benefit greatly from the quick loading ability thanks to the length of each bullet.

In self-defense scenarios, time waits for no man. As the shooter, you need to be in complete control of your bullets, your gun and the situation unfolding around you. I love .40 S&W for the sole purpose that it’s effortless to handle in these situations, performs well and leaves little to no possibility for fault.

Our Reviews for the Top Rated Products

Winchester Supreme Elite Rounds: Best All Around Product

There are many reasons leading to my conclusion of the Winchester Supreme being the best .40 ammo product in this lineup.

If you recall my earlier facts regarding the inception of .40 S&W ammo, I mentioned that Winchester was collaboratively involved in the ammo’s creation. It is not surprising, therefore, that these Supreme Elite rounds would be of extremely high quality, thanks to the brand involved.

The most notable features of the Winchester are the following:

  • Muzzle energy of 476ft lbs.
  • Bullet weight of 165-grain
  • 20 rounds
  • JHP type

The 20 rounds are packed neatly for easy handling. It’s unlikely you’ll ever need more than this in a self-defense situation.

The penetration of these rounds is carefully controlled. Like all Winchester products, they expand on impact and cause maximum damage with minimal effort. You’ll notice the lightweight and aerodynamic nature.

Pros

  • Brand continuity across ammo ranges
  • Ideal for self-defense instances
  • Lightweight nature

Cons

  • Quite pricey per round

If I was ever in a situation involving .40 S&W ammo, I’d want the Winchester exclusive brand in my magazine. I trust this product wholeheartedly and have only been continuously impressed by its performance.

Overall rating: 10/10

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American Eagle Syntech: Best Value Product

As it is a constant battle between balancing your budget and having a good experience on the range, it is good to know that Federal has out back with AE Syntech ammo that can easily match any ammo meant for competitive shooting. All of this, combined with the fact that you can shoot three rounds for a dollar, means that your craft will not need to suffer because of your wallet.

Features to note about the Tula are:

  • Muzzle energy of 404ft lbs.
  • Bullet weight of 205-grain
  • Up to 500 round per pack
  • Total synthetic jacket

This is a slow and heavy round, but it is very fun to shoot and extremely precise. If you are a daily or even a weekly visitor to a gun range, you will want this ammo that is cheap, reliable and packs a strong punch. Depending on the length of the range you are practicing, you might notice a drop of about three inches after fifty feet, but nothing some practice can’t handle.

The bullets are slow and have a flat nose, which indicates that they are meant for shooting at metal targets. If you are someone who enjoys competing at gun shows, this might be your best option. As far as self-defense goes, it is not the best choice, but the 205-grain bullet will definitely stop any attacker, while this stop might not be permanent at longer ranges.

Pros

  • Value for money
  • Ample shooting practice out of a single purchase
  • Rust-resistant properties present

Cons

  • Looses stopping power at longer range

I always recommend this type of purchase for the beginners in self-defense shooting training. Buying in bulk saves money and also allows you to experience the practice without hesitation of running out of ammo.

Overall rating: 9/10

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American Eagle Ammunition

There’s nothing I love more than being pleasantly surprised by a lesser known brand. This was the case with these American Eagle rounds.

Some features worth noting include:

  • Muzzle energy of 468ft lbs.
  • Bullet weight of 165-grain
  • 50 rounds
  • FMJ type

The heaviness of the jackets on these bullets is what contributes to the higher penetration ability. The ammo shows impressive shooting accuracy with each fire which is what makes me inclined to recommend it for self-defense shooting.

The rounds come in a box arranged in a convenient manner. It’s easy to reach for another and another as needed. There is also less risk of these bullets misfiring due to the smooth exterior of the bullet body.

Pros

  • Higher penetration ability
  • Impressive accuracy
  • Lightweight units

Cons

  • Little feedback about long-term use of this product

Since American Eagle is not a dominant name on the scene it’s going to take time for me to build a longstanding opinion on them. Thus far, however, I’m blissfully impressed by everything about these bullets and would put faith in their defensive abilities.

Overall rating: 8/10

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PMC Starfire .40 S&W Ammunition

The great thing about PMC Starfire is that the brand manufactures these rounds solely with self-defense purposes in mind.

Features to note about the PMC Starfire’s are:

  • Muzzle energy of 388ft lbs.
  • Bullet weight of 180-grain
  • 20 rounds
  • JHP type

The ammo is well priced when you consider its impressive performance. The tray layout packaging makes the product easy to use, even in high-pressure situations.

They’re virtually non-corrosive, thanks to the brass casing around each unit. There will be almost no risk of misfire or jamming should you keep them in the firearm chamber for long periods of time.

Pros

  • Affordable
  • Designed with self-defense in mind
  • Non-corrosive

Cons

  • Based in Korea and can be hard to find at times

Impressively, these Starfire bullets come close to the Winchester rounds in terms of expansion upon contact. While they do not do so to the same extent, the bullets definitely have great penetration abilities and cause maximum damage, making them worthy of noting as some of the best .40 ammo options.

Overall rating: 7/10

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Remington UMC .40 S&W Cartridge

Remington has been an industry leader in terms of firearm and firearm accessory manufacturing for a number of years now. The brand recently began to impress with their range of .40 S&W ammo.

Where possible, I would suggest purchasing this ammo in bulk and avoiding the standard 50 round package. This works out significantly cheaper in the long run and will work to your advantage when using the ammo for target practice.

The jackets on these rounds are heavy and cause deeper penetration. The general feedback for the Remington range is that the feeding system is of high-performance quality. This is invaluable information for anyone looking to use this ammo during self-defense.

The most notable features of the Remington UMC are the following:

  • Muzzle energy of 485ft lbs.
  • Bullet weight of 165-grain
  • 50 rounds
  • FMJ type

It’s said that these Remington bullets produce significantly more kinetic energy than some of their competitors. This kind of velocity results in more intense damage upon contact with a target. The effects have been called “devastating” by some personal accounts.

Pros

  • Bulk available
  • A sound brand worth supporting further
  • Impressive velocity

Cons

  • Slightly pricy

Gun enthusiasts like myself are giving more and more attention to this up & coming range from an already trusted brand. Should the long-term performance match the product quality, then there’s no reason why spending the extra dollars would be unreasonable.

Overall rating: 7/10

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Final Thoughts

In my round-up of the best .40 ammo options (for S&W) today, the Winchester Supreme Elite rounds take the win.

I can’t get enough of the fact that Winchester was involved in the original inception of the .40 S&W ammo and is now offering Supreme Elite rounds as well. The brand continuity is what dreams are made of.

In terms of self-defense, performance and accuracy are what count. I’m confident in both regards when it comes to these bullets. The slightly higher price tag is entirely worth it for the peace of mind of on-target shooting every time.

.40 S&W ammo should be compact, quick and easy rounds to load & fire. With the Winchester, this experience is most efficient, in my opinion.

Invest in your defense today!

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