Light or Heavy Grain HP's?

This is a discussion on Light or Heavy Grain HP's? within the Defensive Ammunition & Ballistics forums, part of the Defensive Carry Discussions category; I was just wondering what the consensus of this board is regarding the difference in grain for HP's? I have been buying .40 180gr. HP's ...

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Thread: Light or Heavy Grain HP's?

  1. #1
    Senior Member Array Sig229's Avatar
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    Question Light or Heavy Grain HP's?

    I was just wondering what the consensus of this board is regarding the difference in grain for HP's?

    I have been buying .40 180gr. HP's for carry instead of the 155gr.
    But, looking at ballistics between the two. As many of you know the 155 has a much faster FPS.

    So which do you prefer? And more importantly - Why?

    And this question isn't only for .40 caliber carriers, Im asking this as an over all defensive ammo option.

    Which do you think is better for carry? A larger but slower HP, or a faster but smaller bullet?
    Primary Carry Gun: Sig Sauer 229~R (.40cal w/ Golden Saber JHP's)

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  3. #2
    Ex Member Array Glock 'em down's Avatar
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    I prefer the 180gr out of my Glock 22 & 23 basically because the 180gr cartridge is what the "original" .40S&W weapon (Smith & Wesson 4006) was designed for. Plus I like a slower, heavier slug instead of a lighter faster one...with that being said, my next weapon I buy will prolly be a .45ACP - either an XD or an M&P. Not that I don't like the .40S&W - it's my favorite! And I'll prolly continue to carry my G22 on duty and my G23 off duty. I just need a big ol' .45 in my rotation. Why? I dunno...

    But as far as bigger & heavier vs lighter & faster...think of it kinda like getting bit by a snake or stung by a bee.

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    Senior Member Array blueyedevil's Avatar
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    My first priority is energy, whichever load has the most muzzle energy is what I prefer. After that, if loads are very similar in energy I go for the heavier one. Most of the time I have found that the mid-weight bullets have the best energy with the exception of 9mm.

  5. #4
    Member Array gotammo's Avatar
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    I have never chosen around based on weight as energy doesn't matter if you can't hit the target use what works best and leave the number crunching to the guys in the lab coats
    If your gun shoots everything the same shoot what is the must managable.

  6. #5
    Senior Member Array Sig229's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gotammo View Post
    I have never chosen around based on weight as energy doesn't matter if you can't hit the target use what works best and leave the number crunching to the guys in the lab coats
    If your gun shoots everything the same shoot what is the must managable.
    No offense, but that's like going Tire Shopping for your vehicle and not worrying about what size it is.

    "Just slap some black rubber things around the wheel, I'll be good to go"
    Primary Carry Gun: Sig Sauer 229~R (.40cal w/ Golden Saber JHP's)

  7. #6
    Distinguished Member Array SonofASniper's Avatar
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    Remember a bullets effectiveness in basic science is mass x velocity = energy.

    So in that respect the heavier and faster, the more energy which equates to more damage to the BG.

    Now that works on paper, but consider this. Velocity in a handgun caliber vs. a rifle caliber is worlds apart.

    A rifle caliber is moving so fast that the damage you are doing to a BG is shockwave damage. Meaning that bullet is passing through the BG at such a phenomanal rate that the bullet is litterally making a bigger hole of damage than the size of the bullet itself.

    A handgun caliber doesn't move fast enough for that. So then we are more conerned with transfering as much energy to the bad guy as possible with weight of bullet and speed of bullet. Thats is where the comprise comes, and their are as many varieties in bullets as are as many opinions to satisfy that "need" for the best bullet.

    George with Madogre.com explains it very well I think. Check out these two articles of his.

    http://madogre.com/Interviews/ballistics.htm
    http://madogre.com/Interviews/Magic_Bullets.htm

    Oh yea, what do I carry in my glock 23.

    165 gr SXT's. I have stuck with the 165 gr because I think it performs better than the 180's, and there have been fewer reported KB's with the 165 vs. the 180.

    Just my opinion.
    I will support gun control when you can guarantee all guns are removed from this planet. That includes military and law enforcement. When you can accomplish that, then I will be the last person to lay down my gun. Then I will carry the weapon that replaces the gun.

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    VIP Member Array Blackeagle's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SonofASniper View Post
    Remember a bullets effectiveness in basic science is mass x velocity = energy.
    Energy is one-half mass times velocity squared.

    0.5 x mass x velocity^2 = energy

  9. #8
    Distinguished Member Array SonofASniper's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Blackeagle View Post
    Energy is one-half mass times velocity squared.

    0.5 x mass x velocity^2 = energy
    I can't help it, its been too long since taking science class. Thanks for the correction.
    I will support gun control when you can guarantee all guns are removed from this planet. That includes military and law enforcement. When you can accomplish that, then I will be the last person to lay down my gun. Then I will carry the weapon that replaces the gun.

  10. #9
    Senior Member Array Sig229's Avatar
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    Thanks for all the input folks.

    Looks like Im going to start buying the 155gr. Hollow Points.
    Its almost a 100 foot pound difference in energy between the two.
    I guess I'll have to go to the range tomorrow and blast through a few hundred rounds of the 180.

    Ah well, it should be fun.
    Primary Carry Gun: Sig Sauer 229~R (.40cal w/ Golden Saber JHP's)

  11. #10
    VIP Member Array Blackeagle's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sig229 View Post
    Looks like Im going to start buying the 155gr. Hollow Points.
    Its almost a 100 foot pound difference in energy between the two.
    I'm going to disagree with some of the folks in the thread and say energy shouldn't be the deciding factor. In any collision between two objects, both energy and momentum are conserved. As mentioned above, energy is based on the mass of the bullet and the velocity squared. This squaring of velocity means that lighter bullets will generally have more energy (assuming the same caliber, of course). Momentum, on the other hand, is based on the mass of the bullet times the speed. This means that a lighter, faster bullet is generally going to have less momentum than a heavier, slower one. There is a tradeoff here.

    So which is more important, energy or momentum? I have to go with momentum. The problem with light, fast (high energy, low momentum) bullets is is once they enter the body they slow down much more quickly than a heavier bullet. This means they aren't going to penetrate as much. Penetration is the real key in pistol bullet effectiveness. All the good stuff (central nervous system, heart, major arteries) is located fairly deep in the body. To incapacitate a target a bullet needs enough penetration to reach them. The good stuff also tends to be surrounded by bone (ribs, spinal column, etc.). A light bullet is much more likely to be deflected than a heavier one. If I were carrying a .40, I'd go with a 180 grain load.

  12. #11
    Member Array jbrooks175's Avatar
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    It all goes back to the ancient (Elmer Keith, "El Meistro") argument between energy (E = .5 m*v^2) versus Momentum (m*v). Energy favors the lighter, faster bullet, Momentum favors the heavier bullet.

    My experience has led me to follow Elmer's advice and go with the heaviest bullet available in a given caliber. Better penetration along with expansion.

    My 180 gr +P .45 ACP bullets do not perform as well as the standard pressure 230 grain bullets in all the soaked phone book and meat testing I have done over the years.

    Just my .02,

    JWB

  13. #12
    Senior Member Array Smith&Wessonfan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Blackeagle View Post
    I'm going to disagree with some of the folks in the thread and say energy shouldn't be the deciding factor. In any collision between two objects, both energy and momentum are conserved. As mentioned above, energy is based on the mass of the bullet and the velocity squared. This squaring of velocity means that lighter bullets will generally have more energy (assuming the same caliber, of course). Momentum, on the other hand, is based on the mass of the bullet times the speed. This means that a lighter, faster bullet is generally going to have less momentum than a heavier, slower one. There is a tradeoff here.

    So which is more important, energy or momentum? I have to go with momentum. The problem with light, fast (high energy, low momentum) bullets is is once they enter the body they slow down much more quickly than a heavier bullet. This means they aren't going to penetrate as much. Penetration is the real key in pistol bullet effectiveness. All the good stuff (central nervous system, heart, major arteries) is located fairly deep in the body. To incapacitate a target a bullet needs enough penetration to reach them. The good stuff also tends to be surrounded by bone (ribs, spinal column, etc.). A light bullet is much more likely to be deflected than a heavier one. If I were carrying a .40, I'd go with a 180 grain load.
    Precisely. That is why I carry the heaviest loads I can shoot with manageable recoil.

  14. #13
    VIP Member Array ccw9mm's Avatar
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    I have never chosen around based on weight as energy doesn't matter if you can't hit the target use what works best and leave the number crunching to the guys in the lab coats
    If your gun shoots everything the same shoot what is the must managable.
    The goal is energy and tissue damage impact on the target. With two-leggers and dangerous prey animals, the goal is the same: how much damage in how little time. Good thing the lab coats have done the number crunching, 'cause the effects are clear. So long as on-target performance is achieved, a given round's sufficient.

    The specific combination of factors, though, will vary by person in all the ways you can imagine ... including strength and focus of the shooter, degree of his/her training, weight of gun, amount of recoil, character of that recoil, amount of blast/flame/noise, and so on.

    For me ... In a rifle, the "maximum" is a mid-sized .243cal in a lightweight rifle for up to mid-sized game. I can't manage the larger calibers, larger rifles or great distances in the field with satisfactory results, so I don't go there. Carbines and < 150yds is about my limit for effective results.

    But with two-legged "prey animals," we are the prey and don't get to make such dismissive choices. So, in a pistol my selection is a ~full-sized 9mm in 124gr in the hardest-hitting round I can find (DoubleTap JHP 124gr +P), since I'm able to equally manage on-target performance equally with all rounds I've found (in my specific gun and level of training).

    With the selected weapons and loads, I can manage it well enough in stressful situations with time/movement pressure, at least to the degree that can be simulated (dry-fire, active range, force-on-force). That is, enough to be comfortable with my likelihood of performing when the chips are down. That works for me.

    In a nutshell: thoughts on caliber/weapon selection.

    YMMV, as this is incredibly subjective and varies by enough factors to make one's head spin. So, pick what works for you and be happy that it works.
    Your best weapon is your brain. Don't leave home without it.
    Thoughts: Justifiable self defense (A.O.J.).
    Explain: How does disarming victims reduce the number of victims?
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    Distinguished Member Array Anubis's Avatar
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    Calculating energy or momentum are equally valid, but you must consider the mass of the pistol (which decreases as the magazine empties) and to some extent the mass of the hands and arms gripping it as well as the bullet.

    The energy released when the powder burns does 2 things:

    (1) imparts equal energy to moving the pistol and its support in 1 direction and to moving the bullet in the opposite direction.

    (2) imparts equal amounts of momentum to moving the pistol and its support in one direction and to moving the bullet in the opposite direction.

    The only way to attain a reasonable value for the speed of a bullet exiting your firearm is to measure it with a chronograph; then you can use the known mass of the bullet and the known speed to calculate its energy and momentum. Everything else is guesswork.

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    Member Array floridaguy911's Avatar
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    I just want to give Kudos where they are deserved. BlackEagle hit it right on the head for me. This isnt the first time he has answered a question so thoroughly that it made me think about why his points were valid, what they meant to me, and how I could apply them to my everyday life.

    I myself had momentum confused with energy. However, from observing BE's statement, all facts seem to be on 'target', and all of his points appear to be valid to me.

    Thanks again BlackEagle, for being a part of the forum.
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