Those who have followed my posts know I have one foot in the past and one barely in the present when it comes to firearms and cartridges. It takes a lot of evidence and time to prove something to me. Nothing like the tried, true and tested. Nevertheless, I cannot argue with the point that somethings are good right out of the box, like the Colt Python, wait there I go again. Another thing that is hard to argue with is physics. Well you can, but people will see you talking to yourself and runaway. When it comes to physics and raw proof, there are few cartridges that rival the mighty 10mm Auto.
The 10mm Auto cartridge was thrust into service due to the death of two FBI agents on April 11, 1986. On that date FBI agents, engaged in a firefight on the streets of Miami with two serial bank robbers and killers. An assailant wielding a Ruger Mini 14 .223 semi auto rifle killed special agents Jerry Dove and Ben Grogan. The glaring problem was that an assailant, Michael Platt, was already shot approximately nine times including a wound from a 9mm that broke his arm and lodged in his chest cavity. This round collapsed a lung and filled his chest cavity with blood yet he was still able to fight and kill two agents.
One suspect, William Matrix, took six shots to succumb to his wounds. Platt took at least 12 shots to bring to an end his actions and his life. Of the eight agents who engaged the suspects, only one was uninjured. Seven were either shot multiple times, injured by shrapnel from bullet impacts, and as stated above two killed. All this after the suspects had been shot multiple times. The guns used by the agents were wheel gun .38 Special .357 magnums, 12 gauge shotguns and 9mm semi auto pistols. Tactically some mistakes were made in the stop but that is only half the story. It should be noted, that the suspects had no drugs in their system.
The result of this event, and later the North Hollywood shootout, would result in at least three major changes in the law enforcement community. The first was the exit of the revolver from the duty belt. This gun had served well but the firepower–amount of bullets that can be fire–had to be changed. Second change, the caliber that most departments used needed an upgrade. Finally, the officers and agents on the front lines needed a caliber as good if not better than the bad guys.
Within a year, the FBI was at work finding the right cartridge. Tests performed on various clothing, barriers, and ballistic gel types resulted in at least three outcomes. It must create quick incapacitation by damaging the central nerve system. It must cause the greatest amount of internal injuries to cause massive blood loss. Twelve to 18 inches of penetration must be achieved and with good bullet expansion.
The goal was to find a cartridge with better external ballistics than the .45 ACP and better terminal ballistics than the 9mm Parabellum. The search resulted in the 10mm Auto designed by a legend in the firearms industry, Jeff Cooper. The 10mm was on the shelves at least four years prior to the Miami tragedy. Of the cartridges tested the 10mm was vastly superior to the 9mm in exterior and terminal ballistics. As far as the .45 ACPs performance, the 10mm’s external ballistics performed well above the .45 ACP. However, in the terminal ballistics it was just marginally better.
Unfortunately, when it came to the internal ballistics the 10mm, it was a third-place finisher. The 10mm’s pressures and subsequent recoil made it a little too hard to tame in a firearm that could contain numerous rounds and adequately wielded by the majority of agents. Some female agents, officers and those with smaller hands and body frames had trouble controlling this monster round. The FBI experimented with a 10mm light at this point. This defeated the purpose and only created a somewhat inept .45 ACP.
Sadly enough the FBI and other agencies ran away too soon from the 10mm Auto. They did so not because this is a bad cartridge, only that a better one was found for their purposes. That cartridge was, and continues to be, the .40 S&W. The .40 has taken the law enforcement community by storm and rightly so, it is a great round. Nevertheless, the 10mm still has a place in that community. It is a great cartridge and for those who can handle what it comes wrapped in and the bark that goes with the bite, it is everything the .40 S&W is just on steroids. As firearms enthusiast we must not let the 10mm Auto go quietly into the night.