A lot of handgun owners are apparently moving to 9mm. Parabellum pistols, following recent improvements in ammunition technology that have allegedly improved the performance of the smaller cartridge until it rivals that of larger rounds. I've noticed many more advertisements for .40 S&W handguns on, for example, the local Armslist than I have for 9mm. pistols, and anecdotal evidence from other bloggers and shooters also persuades me that the 9mm. is finding renewed popularity.
I'm not surprised by this; I often carry a 9mm. pistol (for reasons explained here), and I know many other experienced, competent shooters who've made the same decision. Nevertheless, the number of quality .40 S&W pistols currently offered for sale means that their prices have become depressed. I'd say that at present, in my area, a pistol chambered for 9mm. Parabellum will sell faster and fetch 10%-20% more than an almost identical model from the same manufacturer in .40 S&W or 357 SIG.
Apart from the lower price you'll get for it, there are three reasons why I suggest you hold on to your larger-caliber pistol, rather than sell it.
- For best-selling pistols like the Glock or Smith & Wesson M&P series, aftermarket caliber conversion barrels are available. (See, for example - in alphabetical order - the products of Bar-Sto, KKM Precision, Lone Wolf Distributors and Storm Lake. I currently use conversion barrels from KKM and Lone Wolf; the latter are the lowest cost, in my experience, and their quality is quite acceptable.) They convert larger-caliber pistols to shoot smaller cartridges (e.g. a .40 S&W or 357 SIG can shoot 9mm, or a 10mm. can shoot .40 S&W). They can typically be had for $100-$200 - a lot cheaper than the price of a new pistol - and most have proven pretty reliable in service. When fed with the right magazines for the cartridge in question, and after a break-in period of 500 rounds or so (an essential precaution, IMHO), I've found mine every bit as reliable as factory 9mm. handguns. I wouldn't hesitate to trust my life to them if necessary.
- If another 'ammunition drought' strikes, expect the most popular cartridges to be the hardest to find. During the most recent ammo drought, one couldn't find quality defensive 9mm. hollowpoints for love or money in some areas. (Fortunately I had a decent stash of the good stuff, so that wasn't too much of a problem for me; but other shooters of my acquaintance were hurting badly.) However, even at the worst times one could always find quality defensive ammunition in larger and/or less popular and/or more expensive calibers on at least some gunshops' shelves. If you find yourself running low on stocks in one caliber, and your pistol can accommodate another caliber by using a different barrel, you won't be in danger of running dry.
- The same improvements in ammo technology that have upgraded the 9mm. Parabellum cartridge have also upgraded other favorite defensive loads. I still have several .40 S&W and .45 ACP pistols in my gun safe, and I'll carry any of them for defensive purposes without hesitation. A great many law enforcement officers and agencies still entrust their safety to those rounds. I trust their performance, and the .40 S&W sacrifices very little to the 9mm. in terms of magazine capacity - perhaps ten per cent at most in a typical handgun. Why get rid of a good thing?
In fact, when I see a bargain-priced .40 S&W handgun for sale, and I know I can get a reasonably-priced 9mm. barrel for it, I tend to make an offer and see if I get lucky. Right now is an excellent time to buy handguns like that.