Why I Love The 10mm Auto

Why I Love The 10mm Auto

This powerhouse handgun round is a great choice for wilderness carry

This little gem came to life in 1983 alongside a new pistol named the “Bren Ten.” The 10mm is the first time magnum-level revolver performance came to the production semi-auto pistol. It offered performance nearly identical to the .41 Magnum in, first, the Bren Ten and then in Colt’s Delta Elite.

The 10mm started out as an odd cartridge greeted enthusiastically by a small niche in the shooting community. However, a shootout between a handful of agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and a couple bank robbers in Miami in 1986 changed the cartridge’s trajectory substantially. Rounds fired by FBI agents lacked the penetration required to quickly incapacitate the robbers, especially rounds that had to pass through car doors or vehicle glass. The FBI took these lessons learned from the Miami shootout and adopted the 10mm as their standard-issue cartridge because of the additional penetration and great terminal ballistics it offered.

10mm Auto Recoil

A couple years after the FBI adopted the 10mm they realized they had too much of a good thing for their small army of accountants and lawyers (most of whom were not firearms enthusiasts). The FBI determined the recoil the 10mm generates made it less than ideal for casual pistoleros. While the FBI was correct to get behind the 10mm for use in and around vehicles or in times where the shooter requires deep penetration, they were wrong to demonize the 10mm for having too much recoil.

It’s true the 10mm is more difficult to control than the typical 9mm. However, there isn’t much difference in recoil between a 10mm and a .45 ACP. Anyone placing a premium on terminal performance and penetration from a semi-automatic pistol should still look to the 10mm first. While the 10mm has bullet weights similar to a .45ACP, those bullets are smaller in diameter and move about 100 feet per second faster out of the muzzle. These two facts are small details that make a big difference in how the bullet performs when it arrives on target.

10mm Auto Velocity

The velocity of the 10mm means that jacketed hollow point bullets will open quickly on impact while still penetrating deeply. This combination makes it a great choice for self-defense when over-penetration is less likely to be problematic. For example, I wouldn’t choose a 10mm for home defense, but I would choose it for concealed carry in rural environments when it’s not difficult to conceal a full-sized handgun. I would lean heavily towards a 10mm pistol if my self-defense needs took me into the great outdoors.

Ultimate Wilderness Carry Round

Being armed in the outdoors is where the 10mm really shines. When loaded with jacketed hollow points and equipped with a red dot sight, the 10mm is potent medicine for two-legged threats at far away as 100 yards. When the main threat is bears, hard-cast flat-nose bullets from the 10mm are by far the best handgun solution available. Sure, big-bore revolvers offer more ballistic horsepower, but a semi-auto 10mm can put a lot of hurt on a rampaging bear in a hurry.

10mm Auto Bullet Selection

Hard-cast flat-nose bullets penetrate straight and as deeply as three feet into living tissue. Think of it as a long-distance hole-punch for angry critters. The flat nose also leaves an excellent wound cavity because it disrupts tissue much more effectively than a round-nose bullet. Top choices for these bullet types are Buffalo Bore, Underwood, and Federal Solid Core. Federal Solid Core is my preferred of the three because of the wide, flat nose and the syntech coating that keeps lead fouling to a minimum.


Want to take a look at our full selection of 10mm ammo? Click here!

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