In Defense of the 10 mm

by
posted on October 26, 2016
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Hi, my name is Tamara and I’m a recovering gun nerd. I know I was a gun nerd because I had a favorite caliber. I don’t mean there was a certain cartridge that I just kinda liked, but rather that I actually belonged to a fan club for my chosen round and sought out arguments to defend its honor.

Some people get overly attached to sports teams, NASCAR drivers, science-fiction franchises or pop singers, but I was a rabid fangirl of the 10 mm cartridge.

I had ballistic data for pretty much every commercial offering, current and past, memorized. I could quote handload recipes off the top of my head. I sneered derisively at the .40 S&W, insisting the initials stood for “Short & Weak” and yet somehow held great affection for other 10 mm-based cartridges like the .224 BOZ and 9x25 Dillon. When fans of the classic .45 ACP cartridge made their presence known, I lost no time in pointing out that 10 mm had more energy at 100 yards than .45 ACP did at the muzzle. (This, of course, invites the retort that .45 ACP is bigger at 100 yards than 10 mm is at the muzzle.)

While the backstory of the 10 mm properly includes all manner of wildcats, as well as drawing on such inspirations as the .41 Mag. revolver cartridge, the chambering’s mythos ignores this and us fans would revel in the idea of a perfect semi-auto pistol cartridge that sprang forth fully formed from the mind of Jeff Cooper, like Athena from the forehead of Zeus.

Did early Colt Delta Elites suffer cracks in the left-hand frame rail? Did the FBI migrate quickly away from the cartridge, citing wear on guns and harsh recoil that made it harder for agents to qualify? When legendary gunwriters Frank James and Walt Rauch attended the Glock G29 debut, did Frank fink-out Walt for putting on padded shooting gloves after a magazine or two? All these things just made the 10 mm that much cooler in the eyes of the true believers, and probably attracted as many adherents as they repelled. Sure, it was expensive and kicked like a beast with full-house loads, but that was the price for carrying the round of choice of the true cognoscenti, right?

At the height of my 10 mm love affair, I not only had the G29 that was my usual CCW, but also a pretty well customized Colt Delta Elite, a 3-inch Smith & Wesson Model 610, and even a dual-cylinder Ruger Vaquero whose extra .40 S&W cylinder came straight out of the bubble wrap and to a date with the chamber reamer before it ever went into the gun. (I called my thus-converted 10 mm Vaquero the “Space Cowboy.”)

As time went by, though, I got all serious. Carry guns became, first .45 ACP 1911s, and now generic plastic 9 mms. I sold off all the cool 10 mm pistols and, some four or five years ago, finally swapped Frank James all the considerable amount of 10 mm ammo I had left for a bunch of 9 mm and a first-round draft pick to be named at a later date.

I didn’t hike in grizzly country, so what was the point? I was done with my 10 mm frippery; I’d outgrown it.

So, here we are nearly ten years later and I’m looking for a project gun to do some writing on, and there’s a Gen3 Glock G20 for a really good price. No, I mean a really good price. Can’t hurt just to take a look, right?

Can’t hurt to put it on layaway, or to take it home, either. It’s just a project, after all, and I’m all grown up now and able to resist this silliness. There’s no way I’ll find myself up late at night, browsing the ballistics of available commercial loads, shopping G20 holsters, or ordering a 9x25 Dillon conversion barrel. I’m past all that, right?

Right?

Sigh.

Oh, 10 mm, I wish I knew how to quit you.

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