How important is grain/caliber for range work?

This is a discussion on How important is grain/caliber for range work? within the Defensive Ammunition & Ballistics forums, part of the Defensive Carry Discussions category; Here's the situation: I currently have a .40 Glock 22 and 23. These are my primary carry guns. I have used 180 gr. JHP for ...

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Thread: How important is grain/caliber for range work?

  1. #1
    Member Array Penhall's Avatar
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    How important is grain/caliber for range work?

    Here's the situation:
    I currently have a .40 Glock 22 and 23. These are my primary carry guns. I have used 180 gr. JHP for carry ammo and 180 gr. FMJ for practice at the range. I have a limited amount of money I can shell out for ammo each month. I would like to get to the range at least twice a month, although weekly would be better.

    My short term goal is to maximize the time/rounds vs money spent honing my marksmanship and familiarizing myself with the grip and trigger pull of the Glock. Long term, I would like to spend more time in tactical training.

    Here are the questions:
    1) Is it better to shoot the same grain you carry (180 vs 165) every time or is going with a lower grain for more ammo (165 seems to be cheaper than 180) on occasion a fair trade off?

    2) Is dropping to a lower caliber in the same style gun (thinking of picking up a G17 and G19) acceptable for some target shooting in order to provide more shots per month (9mm ammo is substantially cheaper than .40)?

    3) What is the minimum amount of shooting per month (rounds/range visits) you would be comfortable with to hone/maintain your skill with a gun?

    4) Is it better to shoot 50 or a 100 rounds on a weekly basis or will one or two range visits firing 200 rounds accomplish the same thing?


    Thank you in advance for any feedback. I've been around guns my whole life but am starting to get serious about mastering them and want to make efficient use of my available resources.

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  3. #2
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    You're asking good questions which don't have clear-cut answers, but let me offer some guidance.

    Overall, the best advice to maintain your proficiency is to shoot. Shooting accurately and fast pretty much comes down to managing sights and trigger well, and practice in whatever fashion you can manage will be good. Dry firing, air gunning - it all counts. Shooting well for most of us isn't like riding a bicycle; it's a perishable skill.

    So, addressing your numbered questions:
    1. The biggest difference in shooting lighter vs. heavier in the same gun is probably in point of impact, but it won't be dramatic at handgun distances. I can feel a slight difference between 165s and 180s in my G23, but not enough to write home about. I can't say it's "better" or worse, but if you're on a tight budget and the lighter stuff saves you a little, go for it. Time behind the trigger is what counts.

    2. Smaller caliber in the same gun keeps your muscle memory and reflexive actions (like clearance drills) alive and you're saving money. Look at the popularity of .22 conversions for 1911s. Hardly worth it if you have to go out and buy another gun, though - right?

    3. This is a "how many angels can dance on the head of a pin" question. Only you can map your own progress. I know I'd shoot better if I shot daily instead of just on weekends. I'd be more concerned with how well you shoot the rounds that go downrange, rather than the number of them.

    4. My opinion is fewer rounds shot more often. 200 full-power rounds can get fatiguing, depending on the gun.

    My advice is to search on the 'net for a Clint Smith article called "One Hundred Rounds." He goes over some pretty sensible drills that are a lot more productive than just standing and banging away at a paper target. Unless you're practicing for an action match, I'd say 100 rounds is a good limit for a practice session. Structure your practices around developing skills (like running the gun - loading, clearing malfunctions, etc). Make every shot count for something. Have a plan when you head to the range. If it's just general practice, warm up with some easy confidence-builders, and finish your practice the same way. In nearly any skill-building endeavor, you want to end your rehearsal with something you can do well so your mind isn't left frustrated if you didn't reach your goals for that session.

    Hope this helps.
    Smitty
    NRA Endowment Member

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    VIP Member Array Majorlk's Avatar
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    "grain" is a measure of weight. The term you want is "bullet Weight".
    bbqgrill and bmcgilvray like this.
    An armed society is a polite society. Manners are good when one may have to back up his acts with his life. - Robert A. Heinlein

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    Or consider a 9mm conversion barrel and mag for your G22/23. Saves the cost of a new gun. For me, trigger time is trigger time; I shoot all calibers about the same.
    Retired USAF E-8. Avatar is OldVet from days long gone. Oh, to be young again.
    Paranoia strikes deep, into your heart it will creep. It starts when you're always afraid... "For What It's Worth" Buffalo Springfield

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    Senior Member Array FLSlim's Avatar
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    1. I would use the same bullet weight for practice and SD. Nothing wrong with 165 for both.
    2. To save $, look at OldVet's comment. You can get a 9mm Lone Wolf barrel for about $100-much cheaper than a new gun! The barrel for the G22 will also fit in the 23 (it'll just stick out a bit).
    3 &4. Shoot/train as much as you can comfortably afford. I agree with the suggestion of fewer rounds more often. When you really shoot a large number of rounds at once, there is a tendency to get careless and sloppy which doesn't contribute to improving your shooting and defensive skills.
    Chose a weapon that goes bang EVERY time!

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