Energy (Snub nose revolver vs. compact auto)


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HellBent
January 1, 2011, 01:44 AM
I have been thinking about buying a airweight S&W or Ruger LCR in .357, but after doing some research and handling some guns I came to the following conclusion:

a round from snubnose (2" or less) .357 revolver appears to have less kinetic energy than a +P round from a compact 9mm (3" barrel) [i.e. Glock 26 or similar].

I know that there may be hotter .357 rounds but they would need to be fired from the snub nose airweight and recoil would become excessive. It would even seem that the 9mm +P from a 3.46" barrel rivals the power of a snub nose (sub 2") .44 Mag.

Am I way off base or does the .357 Mag and .44 Mag loose that much potential in a very short (sub 2") barrel?

-AL

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LawofThirds
January 1, 2011, 02:13 AM
There are some loadings of the .357 & .44 mag that do lose quite a bit when shot from a short barrel. Try looking at some of the speer gold dot short barrel or buffalo bore (my personal preference) for solid short barrel performers. The other thing to consider is how much that 9mm +p loses from a short barrel. Many +p loadings that deliver excellent ballistics in a 4-6" barrel nosedive in performance with shorter barrels.

The other two things to consider are: Revolvers can handle a much heavier for caliber bullet than a semi-auto. Compare the top end of 9mm (147g) vs .357 (180g). This higher sectional density combined with the ability to use a much larger hollowpoint cavity can result in a round that has excellent penetration and opens up much larger than their semi-auto counterpart. The .38 +p out of a snubby is of similar stopping power to the 9mm +p from a mini glock. The .357 and .44 varieties completely surpass it.

Also, energy numbers aren't everything. 9mm rounds that use a super light bullet may look good on paper but their effectiveness may not be equivalent.

jad0110
January 1, 2011, 08:57 AM
Also, energy numbers aren't everything.

Very true. The human body doesn't know the difference between a couple hundred ft-lbs of KE. Controllability, penetration depth, availability and reliability in your particular weapon are far more important considerations IMO than KE. Heck, I am considering switching to full 148 grain wadcutter .38s in my 642. Plenty of penetration and slightly better controllability than a +P load.

As for controllability, most folks find .357 in a sub 18 oz revolver to be miserable to shoot. So if you can borrow a friends or rent a small .357 before buying, do so. 38 makes a lot more sense for most of us mere mortals in these lightweight guns.

For the record, I've never fired a sub 18 oz .357. I have fired a Ruger SP101 .357, as well as a 4" S&W Model 29 .44 Mag. Not too bad, but in the case of the .357 I can tell I wouldn't want to go much lighter.

Fumbler
January 1, 2011, 09:13 AM
The equation for energy favors speed. I personally believe (just an opinion) momentum is a better indicator of effectiveness. You'll find the heavier 357 loads has more momentum than the 9mm loads.

Bullet construction and design play just as big a part as weight and speed. There are lots of factors at work...

Friendly, Don't Fire!
January 1, 2011, 09:48 AM
Don't discount the Speer Bullets (factory cartridges) developed especially for .38 Special Short Barrels.

I think they even show the test velocities and energy from a 1 7/8" barrel which is what a 442 and 642 have.

HellBent
January 1, 2011, 02:13 PM
Thanks for the comments guys.

Using the ballistics by the inch website:

http://www.ballisticsbytheinch.com/357mag.html

I did a rough comparison of bullet energy and velocity by caliber and barrel length. Keep in mind these are rough averages of the particular rounds tested on BBTI. Also these are number generated by their test barrels. The average numbers for various rounds break out as follows:

Round-----Barrel----Energy(ft-lb)-----Velocity(ft/s)
.44 Mag ---- 2" ---- 350-450 --------- 920-950
.44 Mag ---- 3" ---- 500-600 -------- 1000-1100
.357 Mag --- 2" ---- 250-300 --------- 900-1000
.357 Mag --- 3" ---- 410-440 -------- 1150-1250
.38 Spl ----- 2" ---- 210-240 --------- 900-950
9mm ------- 2" ---- 220-240 --------- 900-950
9mm +P ---- 2" ---- 300-330 -------- 1100-1200
9mm ------- 3" ---- 250-280 --------- 980-1050
9mm +P ---- 3" ---- 375-400 -------- 1150-1250
.45 ACP ---- 2" ---- 250-290 ---------- 750-850
.45 ACP +P - 2" ---- 320-360 ---------- 850-950
.45 ACP ---- 3" ---- 280-320 ---------- 780-880
.45 ACP +P - 3" ---- 380-400 ---------- 900-950

Please keep in mind my reason for this comparison. I am looking for a light weight concealed carry / lightweight back-packing gun. I would prefer a gun that fires and keeps firing when trigger is pulled, without intervention. Also, it would be good to have a gun that can be operated one handed. Therefore a revolver seemed logical.

Also, I want a size round that could be used on dangerous 4-legged (and 2-legged) animals in an emergency. This is my reason for wanting a .357 Mag. However, looking at the data it appears a hot +P 9mm may have more power than a .357 Mag and be easier to fire.

Also, I don't own a revolver or any 9mm autos, my only handgun is a .45 ACP Colt 1911 govt' model. It is too big for comfortable concealed carry or carrying on long hikes. I'd like the reliability of a revolver, but it looks like a compact 9mm or .45 with +P ammo may outperform a snub nose .357 Mag, and be easier to shoot.

If you have a sugestion for a particular round that out performs the averages posted above please let me know. Please post the weight, energy, and velocity numbers for a 2" and 3" barrel if available.

AK103K
January 1, 2011, 02:32 PM
Dont kill yourself worrying over the numbers.

The easiest way to make the decision will be to take a light weight (or even an all steel gun) 2" snubbie, +P .38 or .357, and something like a Gock 26 out, and with three 50 round boxes of ammo you would carry in them, shoot them as you would expect to use them.

Do it over 2 days, and go with the Glock first (you'll understand why after day two :) )

It wont be a difficult decision.

Oh, and welcome to the world of the Glock 26 too, by the way. :D

PabloJ
January 1, 2011, 03:23 PM
I have been thinking about buying a airweight S&W or Ruger LCR in .357, but after doing some research and handling some guns I came to the following conclusion:

a round from snubnose (2" or less) .357 revolver appears to have less kinetic energy than a +P round from a compact 9mm (3" barrel) [i.e. Glock 26 or similar].

I know that there may be hotter .357 rounds but they would need to be fired from the snub nose airweight and recoil would become excessive. It would even seem that the 9mm +P from a 3.46" barrel rivals the power of a snub nose (sub 2") .44 Mag.

Am I way off base or does the .357 Mag and .44 Mag loose that much potential in a very short (sub 2") barrel?

-AL
Life is too short to worry about loss of velocity at 10 paces or less. One might argue that pistol with magazine holds more rounds is quicker to reload and quality revolver will be more reliable but does this really matter to average amateur handgun owner? NO.

LawofThirds
January 1, 2011, 04:57 PM
Ahhhh. I'm beginning to see the problem. You're not taking into account the length of the cylinder. Read the disclaimer at the top of the page. To properly take into account the full length of a revolver's firing chamber and barrel, add the length of the cylinder to whatever barrel length you're looking at.

So: a S&W 640 with a 2" Barrel actually should produce around 400-500 ft/lbs of energy (their numbers are 411-448 for a 3" Barrel) since the "breechface-muzzle" length is actually closer to 3 3/4". The same barrel length (3" since semi-auto's measure from the breechface, rather than the back of the barrel/front of cylinder) gives only 265-390 ft/lbs. So.... .357 is beating 9mm +p by a fair margin, even considering that the .357 loads they show aren't optimal for short barrels. .44 Magnum is going to be at least a 4" length from breech to barrel end, you're looking at 500-800 ft/lbs by the time you're using a .44 magnum.

Try buffalo bore for serious 4 legged defense, their .38 special +p loadings do an honest 1000 ft/sec out of a 1 7/8" 642 with a 158grain bullet (by the time you put them in a 2 1/2" S&W model 19, they're clocking around at over 1100 fps, low end magnum territory). The short barrel .357 that they offer does another 200 ft/sec, and is designed for very deep penetration.

The other thing to consider: a revolver can be used with snake shot, light wadcutter loadings and other types of rounds that will be useful in an outdoors situation. Honestly, a ruger SP101 or S&W 636 seems to be what you're looking for, especially with a 3" barrel. Either one with the right loads will be enough to handle the lower 48 (don't ask about alaska) without reservations.

Prosser
January 1, 2011, 10:13 PM
Why don't people look at the bottom of each page, that gives actual ballistics from real guns?????:banghead:

The most I can handle out of a 2" .357 snub is Fioochi 148 grain JHP at 1131 fps, thats through a chronograph, and, the 158 grain buffalobore lead HP, at 1040 fps. Also will move a 125 grain HP at 1204 fps, Corbon.

Anything heavier then that, and the recoil is too much for me to shoot accurately.

The 147 grain 9mm goes max 950 fps, HST from Federal, IIRC. The snub .357 shoots near the same bullet, near 200 fps faster.

With the lighter bullets, the 9mm can be nearly as fast, that being under 130 grains.

I looked at the out of a real gun stuff on the 9mm from Ballistics by the Inch, and, 125's at around 1200 fps is the best the short barreled 9mm can do.

The REAL by far, winner in this is the .44 Magnum. Out of a 3" barrel, it will move a 240 grain hollowpoint at 1100 fps(By the Inch).

They didn't test any heavier bullets, but, I suspect that the same velocity would be reached with even heavier bullets, like 250-325 grain bullets.

The advantage of heavier bullets in short barreled revolvers is they can develop more pressure, without moving, resulting in high velocity, out of relatively short barrels.

Fumbler
January 1, 2011, 11:16 PM
I agree with the others. You're overthinking it.
Get a gun that shoots 380ACP or bigger and you'll be fine.

The BIGGEST thing you need to consider is whether or not you will actually carry it.
If you get a 9mm you'll have many more shots of something that you think is more powerful. That's a good thing for your peace of mind. But, if you get a 9mm and it's too big/blocky/heavy to easily carry and conceal then you're less likely to keep it on you.

Go to the store or find someone who has some different carry guns. Stick the guns in your pocket and stuff them in your waistband. Then, if possible, shoot then guns.
Are they comfortable to carry? Are they hidden well? Can you shoot them with decent accuracy? Do those models have a good track record for reliability?
If you can answer yes to all of these with one gun then buy that gun. If you can answer yes with multiple guns then pick whichever has higher capacity, is cheaper, or is prettier; it really doesn't matter.

Prosser
January 1, 2011, 11:49 PM
I've got both a snubbie and a 9MM Kahr PM9.

The snubbie is lighter, much, and pocket carriable. The Kahr is not, unless your in cargo pants.

However, the Kahr is MUCH flatter, and has no sharp edges.

LawofThirds
January 2, 2011, 12:37 AM
His stated purpose is for woods carry, with an eye to defense against both 4 legged and 2 legged threats. A 380 is not a valid choice for the 4 legged aggressor. A short barrel .357 or .44 magnum IS a valid choice within the lower 48.

Please, don't get caught up in the "oh it's just another caliber war" idea and give poor advice. He was asking if there really was an advantage to a .357/.44 over a 9mm +p and if so, what was the suggestion between those choices.

Fumbler
January 2, 2011, 01:39 AM
His stated purpose is for woods carry, with an eye to defense against both 4 legged and 2 legged threats. A 380 is not a valid choice for the 4 legged aggressor.
You're right, a 380 wouldn't be appropriate for something like a black bear.
I had my mind on people when I posted.

The point I was trying to get across is there are things that are at least as important as caliber. In most cases the platform should be picked first, caliber second.

He was asking if there really was an advantage to a .357/.44 over a 9mm +p and if so, what was the suggestion between those choices.
I did answer his question in an earlier post. Maybe I wasn't clear.

To clarify, it's my opinion that the 357 is a better choice than a 9mm if all you're comparing are the cartridges themselves at short barreled velocities (he's not considering a 44).
While the 9mm may look impressive with its higher energy, it actually isn't better than the 357. Bullet momentum means more than energy in a handgun. You can have two loads with the same energy, one light and fast or one heavy and slow. Despite having equal energy, the heavy and slow load will carry more momentum than the the light and fast load.

About animals...what's the most important thing in killing something? Making a hole.
If you want to make a hole with a handgun you need momentum. IMO the best loads for woods carry are the hard cast flat nosed loads from Buffalo Bore and Double Tap.
This is where the 357 is much better than a 9mm because you can't get the same weights and bullet shapes in 9mm.

Rexster
January 2, 2011, 02:24 AM
I don't let energy figures rule my choices. The moderated-velocity .357 and 9mm +P are indeed in the same ballpark. Nothing new there; I have known that since at least 1985. Since the 1990's, several contenders have tried to dethrone the SP101 snubby as my favored compact handgun, and they have failed. Before the .357 snubbies, several compact autos failed to dethrone my .38 J-snubs.

The snubbies ride better at the ankle or in the pocket, are easier to grab in a hurry from tight spaces, have lock into my grip better while giving an adversary little to grab, are non-snag if equipped with a spur-less hammer, and cannot be pushed out of battery if the muzzle contacts an adversary. (Ever attended force-on-force training? I have.)

To be clear, I am not a die-hard revolver-only guy. I like both autos and revolvers. I generally favor the revolver in the role of compact handgun.

Prosser
January 2, 2011, 04:45 AM
Also, I want a size round that could be used on dangerous 4-legged (and 2-legged) animals in an emergency. This is my reason for wanting a .357 Mag. However, looking at the data it appears a hot +P 9mm may have more power than a .357 Mag and be easier to fire.


Let's see. Dangerous 4 legged animals? Pigs, bears, mountain lions, dogs, coyotes, wolf, alligators?

Without more specific information, your question is very difficult to answer.

Depending on what your answer is, then someone might give you an answer. In short, your approach is WAY off. Kenetic energy, out of a short barrel, is not going to be a decent yard stick for accomplishing your goal out of a short barrel.

9MM is generally going to be WAY too light for dangerous 4 legged beasts, and the only answer is going to be a 130 grain, or heavier, flat point, or even round nose.

ironhead7544
January 2, 2011, 07:24 AM
For a woods gun I would get a Ruger SP101 in 357 with a 3 inch barrel. The 357 would be much better for 4 legged animals but still good in the 2 legged ones. For the street I use a G26 with CorBon 115 at 1260 over my chronograph. I can shoot the G26 a lot better than an Airweight snub.
I think 2 handguns would be better and use a 44 Special Ruger Flat Top for the woods. Just my .02.

CDW4ME
January 2, 2011, 08:16 AM
My chronographed velocities (average for 5 shots):
Glock 26 / Winchester Ranger T 124 +P @ 1,162 fps = 372# KE
Glock 26 / Winchester Ranger T 127 +P+ @ 1,182 fps = 394# KE

Glock 19 / Winchester Ranger T 124 +P @ 1,212 fps = 405# KE
Glock 19 / Winchester Ranger T 127 +P+ @ 1,238 fps = 433# KE

Kahr P9 / Federal 115 gr. +P+ 1,272 fps / 413# KE.

I no longer have any of these revolvers, but here is what I got with them:

Ruger Speed Six .357 Mag (2 3/4'' barrel)/ Federal 125 JHP @ 1,248 fps / 432# KE.

SP101 / Winchester 110gr. JHP @ 1,208 fps / 356# KE. (I no longer have this gun)

Taurus 617 (ported) / Federal 125 gr. .357 magnum JHP @ 1,143 fps / 363# KE.

Published data:

Glock Autopistols 1996 magazine.
These loads were fired from a G19:
Cor-Bon 115 +P 1,268 fps / 410# KE
Cor-Bon 124 +P 1,217 fps / 408# KE

Gun Tests Magazine Sept. 2006:
Ruger SP101 .357 Mag (2.25'' barrel) Federal 125 JHP @ 1,195 fps / 396# KE.
S&W model 60 .357 Mag (2.1'' barrel) Federal 125 JHP @ 1,165 fps / 376# KE.

Gun Tests Magazine April 1999:
Taurus 617: Federal 180 JHP 1,023 fps / 418# KE
S&W 686: Federal 180 JHP 1,042 fps / 434# KE

Gun Tests Magazine Jan. 2002:
S&W 686: Winchester 110 JHP 1,231 fps / 370# KE
Taurus 617: Winchester 110 JHP 1,206 fps / 356# KE

S&W 686: PMC 158 gr. JHP 1,068 fps / 400# KE
Taurus 617: PMC 158 gr. JHP 1,075 fps / 406# KE

Gun Tests Magazine March 2002:
Taurus 617: Black Hills 125 JHP 1,160 fps / 374# KE
S&W 386PD: Black Hills 125 JHP 1,199 fps / 399# KE
S&W 386Sc (3.1'') Black Hills JHP 1,285 fps / 459# KE

Based on the data I've obtained and read, using typical self defence loads, little to no difference in the power of a snub .357 and a +P or +P+ 9mm

bluetopper
January 2, 2011, 10:32 AM
Get what feels best in your hand, what you can hit with, and is tolerable to carry. Real world........everything else really doesn't make a damn.

M&PVolk
January 2, 2011, 11:01 AM
To me, the choice is obvious. If you need a woods gun first, a revolver is the only way to go. Custom loads with heavy bullets, reliability, and easy shootability make them ideal for this role. Stay with .357 or higher.

If you must go semiauto, then you should go with a full size 10mm. That is the only woods round in a semiauto I would trust. A .40 would be barest minimum.

You have already stated that you cannot carry a full sized 1911, so IMO, your decision to go revolver has already been made. Now, go buy one that fits you and get profficient with it.

AK103K
January 2, 2011, 11:19 AM
The way I look at it, and I work and have lived in the woods a good part of my life, if I'm going to worried about critters, I'm bringing along something more appropriate for what I think I might encounter. Handguns are nice and all, but so are short barreled rifles and shotguns.

No matter what, I'll always have along what I always carry, which is normally a full sized auto. Snubbies and little autos are back up guns, not a "main" gun.

Oh, and in the 45 or so years of wandering around in various woods here mostly on the eastern coast and inlands, I have yet to been attack'ed by anything but a couple of shaky raccoons and skunks, and a few irate wood chucks (I was between them and their holes :) ). The bears and snakes always seemed to be haulin ass south every time I've seen them.

ssyoumans
January 2, 2011, 11:45 AM
One more though to consider is second shot time and accuracy. I can get a second & third shot off of my G26 much faster than my 2" S&W 357. Less "blast" from a +P 9mm than 357. More holes on target with a quality performing hollow point usually means quicker blood loss and the threat ceases. I can empty a mag of 380 from my P238 on target the fastest and am confident when carrying it for that reason.
Accuracy is the key, energy numbers don't fix poor shot placement. My $.02

HellBent
January 2, 2011, 11:53 AM
Thanks for all the good replies. I am starting to think there is no one gun solution. It seems for the true potential of a magnum revolver to be realized a 3" barrel is a minimum (particularly if wanting to use it against animals and have decent control of recoil). I saw that a 3" S&W 329PD .44 mag will produce KE numbers in excess of 1100 ft-lbs with hot Corbon and Grizzly Cartridge rounds. I haven't had time to check on hot .357 mag rounds for a 3" .357.

I guess I will have to go shoot some revolvers and see what they feel like. I liked the feel of the Ruger LCR but have not shot one. Maybe find a revolver and small auto I like and buy both for a longer evaluation.

Still the engineer in me can't get past the energy numbers. I will have to do some more comparisons to make myself comfortable on what is available for each gun.

bluetopper
January 2, 2011, 02:03 PM
I highly recommend S&W 629 instead of a 329. You'll find out why after you shoot it.

Prosser
January 2, 2011, 03:09 PM
If you get a large caliber snub nosed revolver, that is capable of shooting over 350 grain bullets, .454 Casull and up, your velocity loss is diminished, because the bullets provide enough resistance to let even slower powders build to pressure.

Here is a 50-110 snubbie, a bit much in the recoil department:
http://i45.photobucket.com/albums/f99/Socrates28/50%20110%20BFR%20snub/50110left.jpg

.500 S&W snubbie:

http://i45.photobucket.com/albums/f99/Socrates28/500%20SW%20snubbie/aweb500swsnubbieleftJacks121406031.jpg

.454 short barreled 83:
http://i45.photobucket.com/albums/f99/Socrates28/FA%2083%20short%20barrel%20454/awebjims454snubby3Jacks121406024.jpg

or, better, .475 Linebaugh, top, and two .500 JRH's,
pretty much shroud length.
http://i45.photobucket.com/albums/f99/Socrates28/FA83500JRH852010/3GIRLSRHPS852010.jpg

The most LOGICAL solution is figure out how to carry your 1911, and buy some Buffalobore 255 grain LFN's for it, and carry those.

Another choice would be to buy a shorter barreled 1911, since you are familiar with them, and use the same load. Commander, light weight commander, or even something like a Detonics CombatMaster.
Better yet, the CCO.

BlindJustice
January 2, 2011, 04:38 PM
I've looked at the balllistics by the Inch web site comparing varaious loads/cartrides by barrel length. and somebody points out besides just the
by the inch T/C congtender cut down table below that is another table with
velocities for the same loads from real guns of vaious barrel length.

For example: the 5" T/C Contedner is pretty close to the Para 1911 5" and so on....

.45 Auto Velocity 5" 4" 3" 2"

Cor Bon +p 1,238 1,163 1050 1,001
165 gr. JHP
*Ctrl Firearms 1,256 1,180 1,173

Cor Bon +p 1,149 1,109 1050 1,001
185 gr. JHP
*Ctrl Firearms 1,180 1,086 1,061

Cor Bon +p 1,067 1,042 999 937
200 gr. JHP
*Ctrl Firearms 1,087 1,040 995

Cor Bon +p 1,015 983 893 844
230 gr. JHP
*Ctrl Firearms 1,007 977 945

Cor Bon +p 1,102 1,060 967 894
185 gr. DPX
*Ctrl Firearms 1,103 1,022 1,030

Federal 1.131 1,087 991 942
165 gr. FJ
Expanding Low Recoil
*Ctrl Firearms 1,114 1,045 1,035

Federal 1,033 964 879 825
165gr. JHP
Hydra Shok Low Recoil
*Ctrl Firearms 1,021 971 937

Federal 1,002 946 867 827
185 gr JHP
Hi Shok
*Ctrl Firearms 980 972 923

Federal 895 865 787 754
230 gr JHP
Hydra Shok
*Ctrl Firearms 893 831 811


>From Ballistics by the Inch

http://www.ballisticsbytheinch.com/45auto.html

* Listed "Control Firearms
L-R
Para O4dnance Beretta Cougar Para LDA
LDA 14 5" Bbl. 8045 3.65 Bbl. 3" Bbl.

I did this & determined I don't want a shorter than Commander length
.45 ACP platform. I'd like a CCO format for carry instead
of the full size I carry

R-

BlindJustice
January 2, 2011, 04:43 PM
I also have a J-frame S&W .357 Mag

It's a Model 60 3" Bbl. with the ramp front/Adjustable rear
all stainless steel gives it a 24 oz empty weight.

My usual HD/SD load is .38 SPecial +P Double Tap GDHP rated at 1125 fps out of a 4" Bbl. controllable recovery - it would be nice though if chosen
for a walkabout/hike to put some full house .357 mag in it but I'd want to
get some of the herretts Jordan Trooper stocks for it for better control.

Randall

HellBent
January 3, 2011, 01:58 PM
Finally had the time to check out the 10mm. This is a very impressive cartridge. I had always just thought of it as a small .45 acp. The velocity and energy is very impressive in some of the Buffalo bore and Corbon loads. I can't wait to shoot one and compare it to a .357 mag.

I can't wait to compare the Glock 29 and Ruger LCR .357.

HelterSkelter
January 4, 2011, 05:23 AM
\\when you take a round that is tailored for longer barrels and shoot it out of a snubby you lose a lot of power. the powder burns slower to accelerate it down the full length of the barrel, you can really see this once you shoot a .357 out of a rifle and it's going 1800+ fps. even out of a snubby though a regular .357 round will have more energy than a +p 9mm. the fastest i have seen a +p 9mm come out of a compact (actually the only time i've ever seen a 9mm chrono'd :D) it did about 900 fps out of a 3 inch barrel. this is about the same that my 2 inch snubby does with regular ammo but it shoots heavier 125 and 158 grain bullets that fast, the 9mm was only 110 grain. you can find ammo tuned for short barrels, buffalo bore and double tap have ammo that comes out of a short barrel at blazing fast speed, i have seen around 1200 fps with bb on my 2 inch and around 1350 with double tap on my 3 inch. the good thing about the bb load though is it's low recoil, shoot it after shooting the double tap and you will come to appreciate it.

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