The 10mm Auto (10x25mm) is a cartridge for semi-automatic pistols, developed by firearms visionary Jeff Cooper and originally produced by ammunition manufacturer FFV Norma AB of Åmotfors, Sweden.
It was originally introduced in 1983 for the Bren Ten pistol, of Magnum PI fame. That pistol was later followed by the Colt Dela Elite.
Adoption and Rejection by the FBI
In the late 1980s, the FBI adopted the 10mm round in the S&W 1076 pistol. This chambering was selected due to the Bureau's dissatisfaction with the performance of the .38 Special cartridge in the S&W revolver during the infamous 1986 Miami FBI shootout, in which special agents Gerald Dove and Benjamin Grogan were martyred by two criminals.
The FBI chose the 10mm round based on its superior ballistic performance, producing up to 744 ft·lbf (nearly equaling the .41 Magnum). Shortly thereafter, the Bureau was forced to relinquish their 10mm pistols, switching instead to the .40 S&W cartridge, a round of very similar design, but less stopping power.
The decision to change to the .40 S&W was caused by the inability of many FBI agents to cope with the recoil produced by a full-power combat cartridge. At this point in the FBI's history, affirmative action programs had led to the hiring of a substantially different demographic than had been hired in the past. Further, many new recruits in the 1980s had generally been too young to have served in the Vietnam War, which combined with a general urbanization of the United States as well as politico-cultural pressures against legal firearms ownership, left the FBI with a pool of candidates unfamiliar with and uncomfortable with firearms. Accordingly, a change was made to a less-powerful cartridge that could be easily handled by the average recruit.
FBI statistics do not indicate how many shootings have failed to stop a suspect due to the usage of a reduced power cartridge.
The 10mm cartridge continues to enjoy a fringe popularity among certain firearms enthusiasts:
- Those who hunt medium mammals such as wild hog or deer utilize 10mm autopistols such as the Glock 20 or Colt Delta Elite.
- Those with the training to handle a full-power cartridge offer prefer the 10mm for self-defense.
- Those competing in tactical shooting competitions (IDPA, IPSC) sometimes use the S&W 610 10mm revolver, since the 10mm cartridges can be united by a single "moon-clip", giving the shooter a reloading speed advantage over the traditional revolver.
As of 2008, several companies have reintroduced 10mm products that had languished in past years, leading to hopes for the long-term viability of the cartridge, albeit more for the specialist than the average shooter.