Which is better energy or weight?
This is a discussion on Which is better energy or weight? within the Defensive Ammunition & Ballistics forums, part of the Defensive Carry Discussions category; Energy is the ability to do work. Energy gets the job done. Energy imparted to an attacking target is what causes the damage. Of course, ...
View Poll Results: Which is more important bullet weight or energy?
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October 26th, 2007 10:34 AM
Energy is the ability to do work. Energy gets the job done. Energy imparted to an attacking target is what causes the damage. Of course, that energy comes from the size of bullet, the expansion, the speed and resulting shock waves, the mass retained, and ultimately what is struck how many times. "Better"? Semantics aside, reduce the energy put into a bullet and, all other things being held equal, the effects are reduced.
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October 26th, 2007 10:34 AM
October 26th, 2007 11:55 AM
If using any major self-defense handgun caliber, The quote below would pretty well sum it up for me:
Shot-placement is king. Adequate penetration is queen. Everything else is angels dancing on the heads of pins.----Erich (TFL, S&W Forum)
Apply principle above and repeat until threat is stopped. "Everything else," to me, would be a literal statement; i.e. diameter, mass, speed, profile, energy . . .
"The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him." G.K. Chesterton
October 26th, 2007 06:15 PM
Since, when you think about it, energy transfer is a function of bullet design, bullet weight, and cartridge, I picked energy transfer, since it requires all of those elements to be fully-realized. Similar performance can be achieved in a variety of calibers. I know 357SIG best, now. What I have learned is that there is a "sweet spot" on the continuum, where maximum performance is achieved. In the 357SIG, I think that is found at standard pressure and 125gr, because it fully penetrates without overpenetration, with consistent expansion. Lighter loads depend a great deal on the bullet design - either they expand too quickly and underpenetrate, or they fail to expand and overpenetrate. Heavier loads overpenetrate and do not expand consistently, in my experience. I've chosen the round I've chosen because it offers what I consider to be the optimal performance for my platform. The same principle applies to all calibers and all platforms, I think.
October 26th, 2007 07:11 PM
This is like asking which is better, shooting once or twice? The question has many tangents to explore before getting to the meat of the answer...many others have already explored some of those tangents...
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October 26th, 2007 08:32 PM
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October 27th, 2007 02:02 PM
There is no substitue for bullet placement.
October 27th, 2007 03:32 PM
Ok. This thread is starting to bug me.
Assuming we're referring to handgun ballistics and not women, the answer is yes. (Your preference for women is entirely personal.) Mass (what we incorrectly call weight) and kinetic energy are directly proportional. So, if you double your bullet mass, you double the energy. So as stated, they're really the same thing, so my answer is yes.
which is better energy or weight?
Now, in the normal big/slow vs small/fast debate:
Since velocity is exponentially proportional to energy, a doubling of velocity produces a fourfold increase in energy. Thus, most would see that velocity is more advantageous than mass. However, if that energy isn't transferred to it's target, then your system isn't using it's full potential. This is where a bigger bullet will have an advantage because the bigger surface area will transfer more energy. And as others have stated, the design of the bullet and how well it expands (thus transferring more energy) has more to do with lethality than relatively minor variations in mass or velocity.
[End physics rant, begin EMT rant]
Now to echo what others have said, energy doesn't mean anything if you can't disable the central nervous system. A .22 to the brain stem beats a 12ga to the hand any day.
When choosing a load, the hottest/biggest load you can carry and reliably put on target that expands consistently, penetrates fully, and does not over penetrate, is the proper load.
The thing is, self defense situations are so complex with hundreds of factors in play. Picking one deciding factor is nearly impossible, because that factor will change from situation to situation.
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October 27th, 2007 08:14 PM
I agree that the poll is badly worded, but voted for bullet weight. Shot placement is key of course - but if I had to choose between two bullets of different weights I'd take the heavier one. In handgun rounds, penetration is more important to me than rapid expansion and energy transfer.
October 27th, 2007 09:25 PM
Gee ...that is a tough one .... If you get hit with a Volkswagon Beetle travelling at 25 MPH ....you just got hit with the equivilent of 300,000pounds of energy. So which would do more damage .... getting hit with a really fast tricycle or the Volkswagon ???? Fast and light or slow and heavy?
November 10th, 2007 04:00 PM
Do think this analogy is accurate given the tiny difference in size/weight among hangun calibers?
Originally Posted by Ohio Rusty
For me fast and small (or even better fast and big). I feel this what the real life data shows work and what makes sense give that people (versus animals) have a pretty thin chest with no need for much penetration. The prototype for people like in the "fast and small" camp would of course be a 125gr .357hp. Big slow bullets are also a problem when people shoot them from compacts and slow turns to really slow.
In real life, I carry either the 9mm winchester 115gr+p+ HP in my compact S&W M&P or the ultra light 165gr +P HP .45 round in my G30.
November 14th, 2007 10:09 AM
Not an easy answer to your question.
Les Baer 45
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November 15th, 2007 11:09 AM
Energy is 1/2 mass X velocity squared
Momentum is mass X velocity
Theoretical assumptions are interesting.
Empirical evidence can be more persuasive.
The answer to effictiveness may lie somewhere between shot placement and number of hits.
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The MA used to carry a 9mm until he saw the 45 outperform it. I used to carry 230 grain HP's until Cor Bon's DPX with 185 grain Barnes copper bullets became available.
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November 15th, 2007 11:29 AM
What P95 said.
Originally Posted by P95Carry
I did not read all the responses so I risk being redundant but....
A .45 ACP has a bullet weight of 230 gns and energy of about 400 ft-lbs. A .223 round has a weight of about 60 gn, almost four times less than a .45, but has an energy of about 1500 ft-lbs. Which one is best?
A bowling ball is a high mass, low energy object, and even though it has much less energy than a .45, it will send 10 bowling pins flying and a .45 couldn't even start to do that, nor could a .223.
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November 15th, 2007 01:51 PM
Force = Mass x Velocity(squared)...therefore in a pure physics sense, speed matters more. HOWEVER, what really matters is not how much energy the projectile has when it hits the target, but how much energy is TRANSFERRED to the target. That is a matter of bullet expansion and whether or not the shot passes completely through. Although when hunting most people look for a pass through (archery or rifle) hoping the animal will bleed out faster (2 holes) and leave a better blood trail. The ideal situation for energy tansfer is for the bullet to come to rest in the target, thereby transferring all of it's energy to the target.
So, based on the above discussion of the physics of shooting I firmly believe that it is not how fast NOR how heavy your bullet is. It truly depends on WHAT YOU HIT!
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November 15th, 2007 02:30 PM
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