The 10mm Auto Pistol

by Jeff Quinn

photography by Jeff Quinn & Boge Quinn

April 13th, 2011

UPDATED January 13th, 2012





Click pictures for a larger version.



Buffalo Bore lead-free load uses the Barnes XPB copper hollow cavity bullet.

Lone Wolf long-slide unit with detachable compensator.



Lone Wolf slide has a cut-out to reduce weight.



Lone Wolf slide is available with several sight options; this one is a Glock adjustable rear sight.



Author tested the 10mm pistols using a wide variety of factory ammo.



Best accuracy was displayed using Buffalo Bore 220-grain hard-cast ammo in the Lone Wolf barrel.



This 10mm article, which I wrote about nine months ago, has generated a lot of response. Apparently, and justly so, there are still a lot of knowledgeable shooters who appreciate the power and accuracy of this dandy cartridge. This update is not a rehash of everything that was covered at that time, but is here because I thought it significant to bring to the reader’s attention this new load from Buffalo Bore, for a couple of reasons. One is that some places around the US already have or are considering imposing a ban on lead hunting ammunition, and the bullet in this new load contains no lead. The second is that I think this is one of the best factory ammo loads available for the 10mm pistol. This new Buffalo Bore load uses the excellent Barnes XPB hollow-nose all-copper bullet. These bullets are made to expand at pistol velocities, and they also tend to hold together very well for deep penetration. Buffalo Bore did not sacrifice bullet weight to get hyper velocities. This load uses a 155 grain bullet weight, which gives the bullet a relatively long shank, compared to a lead-core bullet of equal length, and should offer superb penetration in flesh, whether used for defense or hunting. The velocities are listed below, and were recorded with an air temperature of twenty-six degrees Fahrenheit, at an elevation of 541 feet above sea level, with the chronograph screens ten feet from the muzzle. Functioning was perfect in both pistols through which the ammo was fired. The Buffalo Bore ammo turned in better velocity and energy than any other available factory ammo in its weight class, and this would be my load of choice to carry for defense against predators, whether in the inner city of Memphis or in the wilderness of Alaska. This is item number 21D on Buffalo Bore’s website, and can be ordered direct from Buffalo Bore.

Ammunition Bullet Weight VELOCITY Glock 20SF 6.375 inch VELOCITY S&W 1006 5 inch
Buffalo Bore Barnes X 155 1601 1479

Back in 2005, I touched briefly on the history of the 10mm Auto cartridge in my review of the Glock Model 20 pistol, and again discussed the advantages of the cartridge in 2007 in the review of the S&W Model 610 revolvers. RK Campbell also discussed the cartridge in a piece that he wrote back in 2007, published on just a couple of days prior to my 10mm revolver review. Here we are now into the second quarter of 2011, and the news regarding the 10mm Auto cartridge is getting better.

After a good start back in 1983, the popularity of the excellent pistol cartridge came to a screeching halt after the FBI dropped the cartridge and the S&W 1076 pistol as their sidearm-of-choice, claiming that the recoil was a bit much for some of their field agents. The 10mm cartridge performance was watered-down, and a shorter, weaker version was created, which is the very popular 40 Smith & Wesson cartridge. There is nothing wrong with the 40 S&W, as it somewhat replicates 45 ACP performance in a pistol with a 9mm Luger-sized frame. Still, the 40 S&W is to the 10mm what the 38 Special is to the 357 Magnum. The 40 S&W is not and never will be on the same performance plane as the 10mm Auto.

As alluded to in the first paragraph, things are getting better for those of us who appreciate the potential of the 10mm Auto cartridge. Vltor is still yet to produce a production rebirthed Bren Ten, but I have seen prototypes, and they look good. The EAA Witness is an excellent 10mm pistol, and I tried to find one for this review, but it has not yet arrived, and I have been working on this piece for a couple of months now. S&W dropped their 10mm pistols from production a few years ago, but there are still plenty on the used market, and I obtained a couple of them recently. They seem to have developed somewhat of a cult following, as they are excellent 10mm pistols. Here is as good a place as any to interject my disagreement with Mr. Campbell. He stated in his piece on the 10mm back in 2007 that the Kimber 1911 was the best 10mm pistol available, and with that I disagree. The 1911 is an excellent design, but for full-power 10mm loads, there are better designs available, such as each of those listed above, in addition to the Glock. No polymer pistol will ever stir my soul like a well-built 1911, but I find that the Glock is a lot better at handling a steady diet of full-power 10mm ammunition than is the 1911. By that I mean loads like the original Norma, and the current Buffalo Bore, Double Tap, and to a lesser extent, the current Cor-Bon ammunition. Most any 10mm ammo on the market will out-perform any 40 S&W load, but still, the popularity of the 10mm fades quickly in comparison to that of the shorter cartridge.

I have however, recently learned that the 10mm cartridge is growing in popularity with outdoorsmen in areas where large bears are present. Fishing guides in Alaska as well as in the other areas of the Rocky Mountains, and others who work, play, or live where a bear encounter might occur like the relatively light weight and high firepower of the Glock 20 when teamed with the good penetration of high-performance heavy-bulleted 10mm ammo.

Anyway, in this piece we will look at the various high-performance 10mm loads available, along with some of the weapons built to fire them. This is not all-inclusive by any means, but I will try to overview some of the better pistols and ammunition available, along with some good upgrades to the weapons, as well as a bit of info for those who prefer to handload their practice ammo.

The chronograph session went pretty much as expected, with the longer barrels producing more velocity, usually. Chronograph results are listed in the charts below. Velocity readings were taken at ten feet from the muzzle, at an elevation of 541 feet above sea level, with an air temperature of eighty-five degrees Fahrenheit. I gathered together every type of 10mm ammo that I could for testing. Bullet weights are listed in grains. Velocities are listed in feet-per-second (fps). JHP is a jacketed hollowpoint. JSP is a jacketed soft point bullet. DPX is a homogenous copper hollow nose bullet. PB is Cor-Bon Pow’RBall. HCL is a hard cast lead bullet. GDHP is Gold Dot hollowpoint, and GSHP is Golden Saber hollowpoint. The chart below will demonstrate the effect of a longer barrel upon the velocity of the 10mm cartridge. As expected, in almost every case, the longer barrel produces higher velocities.

Ammunition Bullet Weight VELOCITY Glock 29SF 3.79 inch VELOCITY Glock 20SF 4.6 inch VELOCITY S&W 1006 5 inch
Buffalo Bore JHP 180 1262 1314 1326
Buffalo Bore FMJ 200 1102 1148 1192
Buffalo Bore HCL 220 1044 1135 1140
Double Tap JHP 135 1395 1545 1618
Double Tap GDHP 155 1316 1400 1445
Double Tap JHP 165 1298 1370 1395
Double Tap GDHP 180 1228 1294 1323
Double Tap GSHP 180 1185 1256 1280
Double Tap XTP-HP 200 1140 1203 1228
Double Tap FMJ 200 1129 1205 1215
Cor-Bon PB 135 1228 1290 1325
Cor-Bon DPX 140 1233 1303 1334
Cor-Bon JHP 135 1323 1402 1453
Cor-Bon JHP 150 1097 1139 1178
Cor-Bon JSP 180 1208 1288 1280
Cor-Bon FMJ 200 1008 1057 1075
Cor-Bon Glaser 115 1425 1550 1499
Winchester JHP 175 1136 1204 1250
Handload JHP 165 1221 1247 1234

In the standard barrel lengths, the performance was very good, beating out anything offered in the 40 S&W chambering, and demonstrating the superiority of the 10mm round to its weaker little brother. In the Lone Wolf long-slide conversion, the power of the 10mm cartridge is even greater, and for a hunting weapon, the few added ounces of the Lone Wolf slide is of no consequence. The six and three-eighths inch barrel, along with the longer slide, adds less than five ounces to the weight of the standard Glock 20SF with its 4.6 inch barrel, yet adds greatly to the velocity of the bullet. I also tested velocities of the Lone Wolf conversion with the compensator attached. I was expecting no noticeable difference in velocities, but to my surprise, the compensator showed a velocity gain with almost every load tested.

Ammunition Bullet Weight VELOCITY Lone Wolf 6.375 inch (without comp) VELOCITY Lone Wolf 6.375 inch (with comp)
Buffalo Bore JHP 180 1389 1427
Buffalo Bore FMJ 200 1242 1287
Buffalo Bore HCL 220 1204 1223
Double Tap JHP 135 1684 1730
Double Tap GDHP 155 1520 1525
Double Tap JHP 165 1521 1523
Double Tap GDHP 180 1411 1431
Double Tap GSHP 180 1378 1377
Double Tap XTP-HP 200 1297 1319
Double Tap FMJ 200 1273 1307
Cor-Bon PB 135 1426 1415
Cor-Bon DPX 140 1417 1421
Cor-Bon JHP 135 1530 1551
Cor-Bon JHP 150 1271 1254
Cor-Bon JSP 180 1379 1418
Cor-Bon FMJ 200 1131 1136
Cor-Bon Glaser 115 1610 1616
Winchester JHP 175 1323 1331
Handload JHP 165 1377 1391

As is shown in the charts, the longer barrel of the Lone Wolf adds substantially to the velocities, compared to the shorter barrels. Adding very little weight and bulk to the Glock 20SF, the Lone Wolf conversion gains between 100 and 150 fps, making this an ideal hunting pistol for deer, hogs, and even bear. The Lone Wolf slide conversion is very well-made, very accurate, and a worthwhile upgrade to a 10mm Glock. The compensator is very effective in keeping down muzzle rise during recoil, and the conversion can be used with or without the compensator. The Lone Wolf barrel has standard rifling, allowing the use of both jacketed or lead bullets.

The Buffalo Bore 220 grain hard cast lead bullet load was the most accurate load tested in any of these pistols, and would be a great choice where maximum penetration is required. The Buffalo Bore 180 grain JHP would most likely be my choice for use on deer and hogs, and would also serve well as a defensive load against more urban type threats, as would most any of the Buffalo Bore, Double Tap, and Cor-Bon hollowpoint loads, with the exception of the Cor-Bon 150 grain load, which is a lower-velocity load.

For packing in areas where defense against large animals might be needed, it is hard to beat the Glock 20SF. I prefer the slightly smaller grip of the SF to the standard Glock 20. Either will hold sixteen rounds of 10mm ammo, in a package weighing almost a full pound less than most 44 Magnum revolvers, which hold only six. While the 10mm is not as powerful as a 44 Magnum, it is much more controllable, and I would not feel under-gunned at all with sixteen shots of Buffalo Bore 220 grain hard cast close at hand. My practice load for the 10mm uses a Rainier Ballistics 165 grain hollowpoint bullet over a max charge of Winchester Autocomp powder. In fact, my load is a bit over listed maximum, so I will not publish the load here. I buy these bullets from Midway USA, and they are about as cheap as cast lead bullets, and shoot very well in my 10mm pistols.

For carry afield, I really like the versatile Guide’s Choice chest holster from Diamond D Custom Leather of Alaska. This is a leather holster that is very quick and simple to wear, and will adjust to fit whatever clothing happens to be required. It keeps the pistol’s weight off the belt, and keeps the weapon clear of interference with a back pack or slung rifle. The pistol rides up front, within easy reach, and is comfortable to carry all day. The Guide’s Choice for the Glock also has a magazine pouch to handily carry another fifteen rounds of 10mm ammo.

The 10mm is a very under appreciated cartridge, but it still has a loyal cult following. Those who use the 10mm swear by it. It does everything that the 40 S&W does, but does it with more velocity, a flatter trajectory, deeper penetration, and harder impact. It also penetrates better and shoots flatter than a 45 ACP. It has more power than a 357 Magnum, and it does all this in a weapon that holds a fistful of cartridges, yet is still compact enough and light enough to carry all day. Contrary to popular belief, the 10mm is not hard to control. I see no need for the downloaded cartridges that are on the market, commonly called “10mm Lite”. The full-powered 10mm round is not hard to control, especially in an all-steel pistol like the Smith & Wesson 1006. In that weapon, the 10mm is a real sweetheart. Also, in the Glock 20SF, the pistol causes no pain at all, even with high performance ammo.

The 10mm cartridge, as loaded today by makers of premium ammunition, is better than ever. It makes a dandy hunting cartridge, and the pistols, properly outfitted with night sights or a quality laser, are very good defensive weapons for use against large animals or two-legged predators.

The S&W pistols can be found on the used gun market. For a closer look at the Glocks shown here, go to

To order any of the high performance ammo shown here, go to,,, or

To order the Guide’s Choice holster, go to

For a look at the extensive line of Lone Wolf barrels, slides, and other accessories, go to

Jeff Quinn


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Click pictures for a larger version.



Glock G20SF holds 16 rounds of 10mm.



Three different lengths of Glock 10mm slides: G29, G20, and Lone Wolf Longslide.



Smith & Wesson 1006 proved very comfortable to shoot, and very accurate as well.



Diamond D Custom Leather's "Guide's Choice" chest holster.



Crimson Trace Lasergrip is very useful in low-light situations.