Bullet Weight for sub-compacts

This is a discussion on Bullet Weight for sub-compacts within the Defensive Ammunition & Ballistics forums, part of the Defensive Carry Discussions category; I keep reading that for a sub compact (Glock 27 in particular), it is preferred to use a smaller bullet. What are the pros/cons? I ...

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Thread: Bullet Weight for sub-compacts

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    Senior Member Array PaulJ's Avatar
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    Bullet Weight for sub-compacts

    I keep reading that for a sub compact (Glock 27 in particular), it is preferred to use a smaller bullet. What are the pros/cons? I assume the idea is that the barrel is too short for the bullet to reach its optimum velocity. But isn't that true for the lighter bullets as well?

    I see for example that the Federal HST bullets are available in a number of different weights (seen them from 135/155/165/180 gr, maybe more...). Why so many? What's the best for my Glock 27 ;-)

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    Ex Member Array TacticalCompact's Avatar
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    I have the same question rollin' around in my head for my Kahr P40, with the same little 3.5" barrel. It all started when I read that thread about the gun shop employee that was taken hostage by a young man that just rented a 9mm colt AR-15. Apparently the guy had intended to murder the clerks at the range, then drive to a night club and murder untold numbers of innocents. Anyhow, the clerk got the BG but found out his bullets did not expand, and was told (by someone???) that there have been problems with the 230 gr .45 not expanding because of low velocities from short compact CC barrels.

    So I'm assuming the same could be true for the .40? Should I be using 155 or 165gr instead of 180gr purely because of this?

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    Senior Member Array rhinokrk's Avatar
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    The 180gr is a hold-over from the 10mm, and has no place in 40S&W. All it does is add a chance of an overpressure failure (not good).

    The 130gr is to light to insure proper penetration.

    the 155gr or 165gr is the only way to go in the 40S&W, it's been shown in tests to have the best penetration/expansion results. I prefer the 165gr Gold Dot.
    YMMV
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    Senior Member Array PaulJ's Avatar
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    I did a bit more reading on the Federal website. Looks like the test barrel they are using is 4 inches long. The Glock 27 and Kahr P40 use about 3 1/2" long barrels.

    Doing some Googeling, I found this website: Brass Fetcher Ballistic Gelatin testing. He seems to use the Glock 27 for a lot of his tests. However, his bullet speeds don't quite make sense. In some cases, they are faster at 10ft then the muzzle velocity quoted on Federal's website.

    Here (.38 Special Snubnose Ballistics) is another site with some data from snub-nose revolvers (38 special). It suggests a decrease of roghly 10% going from 2 1/2 to 2 inches in barrel length.

    This guy 1911 barrel length (John Bercovitz) did a study with 1911s and cutting the barrel down from 4.4 to 0.8 inches. Looks like he lost about 5-10% going from 4.4 to 3.6 inches. Not a big change.

    I read the gunshop holdup recap, and was wondering if the missing expansion was somewhat due to the placement of that shot. I forgot if that shot penetrated a lot of body or not. So this may indeed be not an issue.

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    Senior Member Array coffeecup's Avatar
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    I trust my life, and the lives of my family members to standard velocity 185gr DPX rounds in my 3" Micro Compact Springer. My chronograph only shows a drop of 30fps between the 3" and my 5" 1911. Up close and personal it wont make much of a difference and the 3" is WAY more comfortable to carry.

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    Member Array gunmetal's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by PaulJ View Post
    I keep reading that for a sub compact (Glock 27 in particular), it is preferred to use a smaller bullet.
    I think you more specifically mean a lighter bullet.


    I assume the idea is that the barrel is too short for the bullet to reach its optimum velocity. But isn't that true for the lighter bullets as well?
    Yes and yes, however, AIUI a lighter bullet will reach a greater proportion of its maximum velocity (due to accelerating more rapidly) by the time it exits the muzzle.

    That said, the Glock OEM barrels do use polygonal "rifling" which makes up for some loss in velocity -- i.e., a bullet fired from one of these barrels will exit at higher velocity than the same bullet fired from a barrel of the same length but with conventional rifling.

    All that aside, I would choose something from DocGKR's list and worry more about shooting it well.

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    .40 S&W:
    Barnes XPB 140 & 155 gr JHP (copper bullet)
    Speer Gold Dot 155 gr JHP
    Federal Tactical 165 gr JHP (LE40T3)
    Winchester Ranger-T 165 gr JHP (RA40TA)
    Winchester Partition Gold 165 gr JHP (RA401P)
    Federal HST 180 gr JHP (P40HST1)
    Federal Tactical 180 gr JHP (LE40T1)
    Remington Golden Saber 180 gr JHP (GS40SWB)
    Speer Gold Dot 180 gr JHP
    Winchester Ranger-T 180 gr JHP (RA40T)
    Winchester 180 gr bonded JHP (Q4355)

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    Member Array Balsac's Avatar
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    What they said ^
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