.40 cal 3.5" barrel: 165 or 180 gr for penetration?

.40 cal 3.5" barrel: 165 or 180 gr for penetration?

This is a discussion on .40 cal 3.5" barrel: 165 or 180 gr for penetration? within the Defensive Ammunition & Ballistics forums, part of the Defensive Carry Discussions category; I just bought a compact .40 with a 3.5" barrel for concealed carry. I want to carry either HST or Gold Dots for self defense. ...

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  1. #1
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    .40 cal 3.5" barrel: 165 or 180 gr for penetration?

    I just bought a compact .40 with a 3.5" barrel for concealed carry.

    I want to carry either HST or Gold Dots for self defense. Locally I can get 165 gr. HST, but not 180 gr. - but I can get 180 grain Gold Dots.

    Does anyone have knowledge of whether the 165 HST has sufficient penetration from my short barrel, or should I go with the 180 Gold Dot?

    The HST are $25 for box of 50. The GD are $20 for a box of 20.

    Thanks for your help.


  2. #2
    Distinguished Member Array 4my sons's Avatar
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    I can't give the answer you are looking for, but to be honest, bullet weight is secondary to accuracy, and controllability. Remember, shot placement is paramount, and the ability to put a follow up shot may just make the difference when you really need it.

    if you can afford it, get a box of each brand, in different weights, collect up a bunch of news paper to make some wet pack, and or start keeping your milk jugs to fill with water. After you function check each round to ensure it works FLAWLESSLY in your weapon, and narrow down your selections, move onto the wet pack or water jugs. Remember, every ammo, performs differently in every gun. The only real reliable source, IMHO is to try it and see what works for you, in your gun, in your hands.



    F.Y.I. Wet pack: stacks of paper that you soak till completely wet through and through, should be at least 6" deep to be sure. The water will aid with expansion, and while not an exact duplicate to the results of shooting a BG, it should give you some reference to compare between rounds.
    "fundamental principle of American law that a government and its agents are under no general duty to provide public services, such as police protection, to any individual citizen." [Warren v. District of Columbia,(D.C. Ct. of Ap., 1981)]
    If I have to explain it, you wouldn't understand

  3. #3
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    I use 165's and only use 180's in a revolver.

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    Ex Member Array brianbat420's Avatar
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    I would go for the lighter 165's. The reason, the 165's will get more speed out of any barrel due to lighter weight. I know some HP's are not designed to expand properly at lower speeds so you want to keep to the optimal speed as much as posible.

    With that said I have done a lot of internet research on HST and I believe you will be good with any of the HST weight. They seem to be the magic bullet of the moment. I bought 50 for $22.00 shipped so not to expensive either.

    Ohh and I went with the 155 grain because I feel it gives the best balance of penetration and power.

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    Member Array gotammo's Avatar
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    Which do you shoot better thats your answer, no amount of penetration matters if you miss.

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    Senior Member Array Skygod's Avatar
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    Personally I've alway's subscribed to the lighter/faster in anything short of a 5" barrel. I don't personally care for the terminal ballistics of the 180 grain in any barrel length. The 155 grains seem to avert the law's of physics for some reason when compared to a 135/140 grain, at least on paper.

    I use the Corbon 135 grain DPX

    A Google fu will show you some comparisons of various loads.

    And yes, none of it matters if you miss your intended target. Shot placement, shot placement, and shot placement.
    Perhaps your sole purpose in life is to serve as a warning to others.

  7. #7
    Senior Member Array fatboy97's Avatar
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    Two word: Shoot Placement

    "sufficient penetration" is very subjective. If you hit the target center mass, will it really matter if it goes to the back bone, or through the target? Have you tried each to see which one you shoot the best?
    Be Observant and Be Safe.

    Current: S&W 442, Springfield XD9sc, XDm9, and Glock G26, G19, G23C,
    and SIG P226-40 TT, and Ruger GP-100, and Beretta 92FS
    Former: Taurus 92SS, SIG P220 TT, S&W 360, SIG P239-40, Ruger 22/45 MKII

  8. #8
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    For controlability

    Quote Originally Posted by plus p View Post
    I just bought a compact .40 with a 3.5" barrel for concealed carry.

    I want to carry either HST or Gold Dots for self defense. Locally I can get 165 gr. HST, but not 180 gr. - but I can get 180 grain Gold Dots.

    Does anyone have knowledge of whether the 165 HST has sufficient penetration from my short barrel, or should I go with the 180 Gold Dot?

    The HST are $25 for box of 50. The GD are $20 for a box of 20.

    Thanks for your help.

    I have a compact 3" .40 S&W. I find that there is too much muzzle tilt with the 180 grains. 165 works better.

    I know that many here do not like the very expensive Mag Safe ammo; but, that stuff really dramatically reduces the recoil, but velocity is very very high. Ammo is frangible and bullet weight quite low. These may or may not be your cup of tea. Nonetheless, this what I keep in my gun. I also keep a second clip with 180 or 165 JHP.

  9. #9
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    I'm going to the range Saturday, and will try the 165 and 180 grain HST, and the 180 grain Gold Dot, all out of my 3.5" barrel.

    A friend of mine will also test the same loads from his Beretta with a much longer barrel.

    I'll post the results after the tests.

  10. #10
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    Had a good day at the range yesterday.

    I shot the 165 grain HST through my .40 S&W M&P Compact. I know many people say water jugs are not a good medium for testing bullet performance, but it gives me a method of comparing loads through the same medium. Making ballistic gelatin to the right parameters is too much for me to attempt.

    Through 4 layers of denim into water jugs, I have no success getting .38 Special loads to open up reliably from a 2" barrel - including the DPX and the 135 grain Gold Dot. They will start to open, but that's all.

    My point is, that if I am testing a new possible carry round, if I can get it to open reliably through 4 layers of denim into water jugs, I will be pleased with its performance. (It should come to rest in at least the third jug for adequate penetration).

    The 165 grain .40 HST out of my 3.5" barrel went through the 4 layers of denim, and came to rest in the 4th water jug, expanded to 0.70".... that was exactly the performance I was looking for, so I did not even test the 180 grain HSTs.

    The 180's would probably perform well out of at least a 4" barrel, but the 165s were perfect out of the 3.5" barrel.

    I carry the Corbon DPX 115 grain +P load in my 9mm PM9. It goes through the 4 layers of denim, and usually pops out of the back of the 3rd water jug and is laying on the table or the ground nearby, with very good expansion. Plus, the recoil is noticeably softer than the 124+P Gold Dots I used to carry (which, by the way, gave me the same performance through denim and water). With that small gun, the lower recoil is welcome!

    I have also found that some of the hotter loads with this test expand too much, and have inadequate penetration due to the size of the expansion - winding up in the first or second water jug.

    It is important to match your bullet to the length of your barrel for optimum performance.
    Last edited by plus p; November 4th, 2007 at 08:53 AM.

  11. #11
    Member Array Manan's Avatar
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    I too favor the 165's kinda. Either will do fine. Remember that most self defense situations will occur within 7 feet. Penetration also means doors, walls, etc. In a home, these are things to consider. That's why the .45.
    NRA Member
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  12. #12
    VIP Member Array aus71383's Avatar
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    I got the 165s for my 226 - they shoot well. I have nothing against 180s I just didn't get them.

    Austin

  13. #13
    Ex Member Array Sneaky's Avatar
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    I have read your thread and understand you wish to use either or 165 or 180 grain bullets! My suggestion to you Sir is to check out the site I have pasted here! Barnes bullets make the copper bullet in various caliber's and weights! Also if you search this site you will find that you can obtain a free DVD on ammo myth's! The pistol bullet Barnes makes is called the XPB bullet. Good luck in your ammo search! http://www.barnesbullets.com/products/pistol/

    Here's a picture of this ammo-

    Last edited by Sneaky; November 23rd, 2007 at 02:17 PM.

  14. #14
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    I use only Corbon DPX in my PM9. It is an excellent performer, and has much less recoil than the GDHP 124 +Ps I used to carry. In this small CCW pistol, the Barnes X bullet is awesome!

    The 165 or 180 question is for a short barrel .40 cal. I settled on the 165 gr. HST - great penetration and expansion, even through heavy clothing. I would use the 180 HST if I had a 4" barrel or longer.

    I would use the Barnes X bullet in the .40 except for the price! It is the only choice for me in my small 9mm, but in the .40, the HST works great, and is less than half the price of the DPX.

  15. #15
    Member Array Gamisou's Avatar
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    I ordered 3 boxes of 180 HST for my M&P .40 compact. I'm going to put some down the range when they get here. My reasoning for 180, was to get the most bang for my buck. Pun intended.

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