Which for HD? high velocity/lighter grain or Low velocity/heavier bullet and why?

This is a discussion on Which for HD? high velocity/lighter grain or Low velocity/heavier bullet and why? within the Defensive Ammunition & Ballistics forums, part of the Defensive Carry Discussions category; I am not sure about this one, and would appreciate any comments. I have heard a faster bullet is better, but then, a lot of ...

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Thread: Which for HD? high velocity/lighter grain or Low velocity/heavier bullet and why?

  1. #1
    Senior Member Array TonyDTrigger's Avatar
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    Which for HD? high velocity/lighter grain or Low velocity/heavier bullet and why?

    I am not sure about this one, and would appreciate any comments. I have heard a faster bullet is better, but then, a lot of people prefer the .45 just for the opposite reason. For which situation(s)/Place(s)/etc. will one be better than the other?

    Thanks.

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  3. #2
    Senior Member Array IAm_Not_Lost's Avatar
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    When speaking of handgun velocities, the term "faster" is quite relative, as all handgun rounds are slow, so go heavy as it favors penetration.
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  4. #3
    Distinguished Member Array 21bubba's Avatar
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    I think you maybe a little confused. What most people reccomend is "heavy" for caliber. With some exceptions.

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    Senior Member Array CanuckQue's Avatar
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    Well, there's a spectrum of reasonableness.

    The goal is to have something that will penetrate 12" into a bad guy, to either hit something vital or to disturb tissue in an incapacitating way. The second goal is to have a round that loses a lot of energy while going through barriers. Almost more important than these two is the ability to deliver the first and second shot accurately.

    I like light 'n fast, because you're more likely to get bullet expansion and because lighter bullets tend to be easier to bleed velocity off of while they're traveling through barriers. This is the main reason why light buckshot is suggested. The high surface area and low relative energy of each pellet allow them to lose energy as they're going through walls. BUT, if they do hit a body (early on), the many holes create decent odds of hitting something people don't like to have hit.
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    Distinguished Member Array 4my sons's Avatar
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    There is no real definitive answer, it's a subjective question. In the overall scope of handgun ammo, the difference is marginal at best. The consensus seems to air on the side of shot placement and what works for your and your weapon to be able to put follow up shots on target.

    My person preference (opinion) is heavy, yes, it's slower, it's also not a hand cannon. My EDC is the largest caliber I can handle in a verity of shooting situations. two handed, strong hand, weak hand. 45 ACP in a Glock 21, standard pressure 230 gr. The +p is too snappy, and anything in the Magnum range, .357 or .41 is way to much gun for me to shoot one handed and follow up if needed. Again, just my preference. Others will Vary.

    As far as home defense, there are as many ideas to what is best as there are people you ask. I saw a very compelling video for using low brass bird shot in a shottie for HD. it rocked a stand up dummy at a typical home encounter distance of about 10', but didn't penetrate a second layer of drywall. A very good consideration when you have kids and or other family members that may not be where you expect them to be after the SHTF in your house. Then some people will swear by buck shot. it's all subjective.

    Handgun rounds in the home, again, what's your situation, others in the house, is your house near other houses, in an apartment, a missed shot with a +p 9mm or 40 S&W could end up in your neighbors bed room. There is just too broad of a spectrum to point to one thing and say, that's the best.

    If you want to lay out some more info about your situation, and home layout, including proximity to neighboring homes, I'm sure some of the more experienced members might be able to help narrow down the list of choices a little.
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    VIP Member Array glockman10mm's Avatar
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    I think there is a definitive answer. The key is to balance desired penetration with appropriate caliber.

    The short and easy answer is any mid caliber loaded heavy, at moderate speed, which in my mind means 38 spl 158 , or 9mm with 147 weight bullets.

    If you go up in caliber, speed is less of an issue as long as you stay with a standard bullet weight.

    Less flash and blast, easier shooting, and deep penetration is what they bring to the table.
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    Senior Member Array Chesafreak's Avatar
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    Exactly. I think you answered your own question.

    If you are going to go with a small caliber (lighter grains), choose one with a velocity of 1200 fps or higher (from your barrel length, not test barrel length). Most rounds will not reliably expand below this velocity. If you are going with a heavier slower caliber, choose the largest caliber you can shoot well. Think about it: the smaller .380 caliber is approximately the same diameter as the 9mm, but the .380 is too slow to penetrate well and can't be counted on to expand. Many people with 9mm's shoot +p rounds with higher velocity. The highly acclaimed .357 Sig round is the same diameter and similar grains as a 9mm, but driven at a higher velocity. If you choose larger diameter and slower like the .45, I wouldn't expect much if any expansion but it already starts out larger and is capable of good penetration.

    My whole point is if you are going to go small(er) caliber, choose one with high velocity, otherwise the larger .40 and .45 is better, and good shot placement to the vitals trumps caliber and projectile type. From that you can bet that 9mm +p, .327 Fed Magnum, .38 spec +p, .357 mag, .40, and .45 are good choices. Now it comes down to which one you can shoot well, which leads into what you can afford to practice often with as 9mm is cheaper than .40 ammo.

    Just my humble opinion, and not based on any sources I care to quote.
    Last edited by Chesafreak; January 18th, 2012 at 11:42 AM. Reason: spelling

  9. #8
    Senior Member Array IAm_Not_Lost's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chesafreak View Post
    If you are going to go with a small caliber (lighter grains), choose one with a velocity of 1200 fps or higher (from your barrel length, not test barrel length). Most rounds will not reliably expand below this velocity. If you are going with a heavier slower caliber, choose the largest caliber you can shoot well. Think about it: the smaller .380 caliber is approximately the same diameter as the 9mm, but the .380 is too slow to penetrate well and can't be counted on to expand. Many people with 9mm's shoot +p rounds with higher velocity. The highly acclaimed .357 Sig round is the same diameter and similar grains as a 9mm, but driven at a higher velocity. If you choose larger diameter and slower like the .45, I wouldn't expect much if any expansion but it already starts out larger and is capable of good penetration.

    My whole point is if you are going to go small(er) caliber, choose one with high velocity, otherwise the larger .40 and .45 is better, and good shot placement to the vitals trumps caliber and projectile type. From that you can bet that 9mm +p, .327 Fed Magnum, .38 spec +p, .357 mag, .40, and .45 are good choices. Now it comes down to which one you can shoot well, which leads into what you can afford to practice often with as 9mm is cheaper than .40 ammo.

    Just my humble opinion, and not based on any sources I care to quote.

    A few points: Most handgun calibers, using avg barrel lengths (4 inches), and standard weight loads for that caliber will travel under 1200fps (most, not all), and get roughly 60-70% expansion in the real world. A .380 IS the same caliber as 9mm, both are .356 inches. A .380 does not under-penetrate due to velocity, it under-penetrates due to weight i.e. a standard 90gr .380 round will travel apprx. 900-1000fps depending on barrel length and load, and penetrate apprx. 7 inches in FBI testing. A 147gr 9mm, which is the same caliber, travels apprx. 900-1000fps, yet will penetrate 12+ inches consistently in FBI testing.

    Just some food for thought. This information can be found at firearms tactical, which will link you to FBI pdf's, and ballisticsbytheinch.
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  10. #9
    Senior Member Array Chesafreak's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by IAm_Not_Lost View Post
    A few points: Most handgun calibers, using avg barrel lengths (4 inches), and standard weight loads for that caliber will travel under 1200fps (most, not all), and get roughly 60-70% expansion in the real world. A .380 IS the same caliber as 9mm, both are .356 inches. A .380 does not under-penetrate due to velocity, it under-penetrates due to weight i.e. a standard 90gr .380 round will travel apprx. 900-1000fps depending on barrel length and load, and penetrate apprx. 7 inches in FBI testing. A 147gr 9mm, which is the same caliber, travels apprx. 900-1000fps, yet will penetrate 12+ inches consistently in FBI testing.

    Just some food for thought. This information can be found at firearms tactical, which will link you to FBI pdf's, and ballisticsbytheinch.
    Right, I did mean to say bullet weight concerning the .380. Also, I have read numerous places around the internets that many hollowpoints clog and fail to expand at lower velocity. After shot placement, heavier bullet weights seem to be the next most important factor because expansion doesn't help if you don't have enough penetration.

  11. #10
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    Number one buckshot is my choice for home defense.

  12. #11
    New Member Array JTTNC's Avatar
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    I am no expert nor do I claim to be. My thoughts on this are: HD I may have loved ones beyond my target on the other side of the wall. So I don't want to over penetrate. A heavy slug is harder to stop than a light fast slug. I like to think of it like this: A small sports car doing 100mph hits something and flys apart(as most lightweight bullets are built to do, dumping all it's energy in that object). On the other hand a big semi hits something running 55 and is deformed slightly but drives the object another 200 yards down the road. Maybe not the best analogy but you get the picture.

    I'm counting on my 85gr .327hp's to fly apart as they make their initial impact. Where as my 230gr .45fmj's should drive right through and take on anything else in it's path.


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