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.40 S&W 165 gr. vs 180 gr.

Discussion in 'Handguns: Autoloaders' started by GunNut1976, Dec 12, 2010.

  1. GunNut1976

    GunNut1976 Active Member

    I've decided on federal hst's for my personal defense load. curious whether I should go with 180 grains or 165's or even 155's for that matter. shooting out of a glock 23. I know we're really splitting hairs here but I'd like to know what you guys think. It seems like when you use lighter bullets in any given caliber you get better expansion and maybe less penetration. Guessing this is do to the difference in the sectional density and velocity. But then sometimes you get bullets of the same weight that when they go faster they don't necessarily expand more but they seem to penetrate significantly deeper. ie. 38 and .357. So I guess a 2 part question. What's the relationship between weight, velocity, caliber, sectional density, penetration, and expansion. An whats going to be the best weight for the load I'm looking at. I'm guessing no one has a real good answer for the first part but I liked to see some discussion.

    Thanks Guy
  2. Narwhal

    Narwhal Well-Known Member


    In the HST line at least, it's the best performer according to the tests I've read, such as the Dr. Roberts ammo faq. You really can't draw any absolute conclusions based on bullet weight because the manufacturers vary their hollow point design based on the anticipated velocity of the bullet. The 180gr bullet in the HST line offers the best combination of penetration with consistent expansion (and performance through barriers).
  3. TX expat

    TX expat Well-Known Member

    I carry Federal HST's in my XD subcompact and my personal opinion on the bullet weight issue is this. Get some of both and shoot 'em in your gun. Velocity, expansion and all the ballistic data in the world matters not if one works better with your firearm than the other. If you get good accuracy and performance at various distances with both, then pick expansion data apart.

    Honestly I would carry either one and be happy, I think both preform very well and would do the intended job if needed. For me, the 180 gr. allows for faster follow up shots, so that is what I usually carry, but on a few occasions I haven't been able to get the larger bullet and I've picked up the 165 gr. with no hesitation.
  4. griff383

    griff383 Well-Known Member

    punk rocka is right, see what works best in your gun and what you can shoot the most comfortably/accurate.

    My brother in law, who is a sheirffs deputy, did tell me that he had a long conversation with a very knowledgeable person on this subject and he recommended that his department use 180gr bullets. The theory, IIRC, is that the bullet loses less energy when penetrating objects.
  5. Creature

    Creature Well-Known Member

    Concur with 180gr HST's. Good penetration and expansion. A bit easier to shot as well from my Glock 22.
  6. papa_bear

    papa_bear Internet Reacon Marine

    either one. there will not be a difference as far as tissue is concerned. penetration difference will be completely negligible. even if bone is hit there will not be a major difference. anyone who tells you different is splitting c-hairs and spends to much time of the net. the 180 will be a little less snappy.the 165 will have a little less muzzle rise. the end result will be the same.
  7. A.H. Fox

    A.H. Fox Well-Known Member

    180 gr....Speer Gold Dots....works when ya need them.
  8. Erik

    Erik Well-Known Member

    I prefer the 180 grain HST for the reasons cited.
  9. GunNut1976

    GunNut1976 Active Member

    So I guess I'm curious why do they make these different weights if the result is the same there has to be some difference in performance. Don't you generally get more rapid expansion with a faster bullet and greater expansion with a bullet that has greater sectional density?
  10. TX expat

    TX expat Well-Known Member

    There are performance differences but if you're looking for the "right" choice, you have to realize there isn't one. It mostly boils down to personal preference or buying habit. Bullet weight wars have been going on about as long as caliber wars and nobody's won yet!

    I'm certainly not trying to take your question lightly but I think you are over thinking it. There isn't a best choice. If there was, you wouldn't see so many options on the market. Look at it this way, nobody has unified all of law enforcement on one caliber, much less a single bullet weight, so there isn't going to be a clear cut best answer.

    Just remember to do some practice with what you carry, even if it's just a few shots at every range session.
  11. Shawn Dodson

    Shawn Dodson Well-Known Member

  12. Rexster

    Rexster Well-Known Member

    Which weight shoots best to point of aim in YOUR individual gun? I now use 180-grain Gold Dots in my duty/carry SIGs because anything lighter shoots noticeably low when the distance opens up a bit. It is fairly common knowledge that SIG factory sights, on their .40 guns, are registered for 180-grain ammo.

    Shot placement trumps such minor variations as bullet weight and the resulting slight differences in terminal ballistics.

    When I used G22 for duty/carry, 165-grain duty-type ammo seemed most available at a particular local dealer at the time, and shot to point of aim, so I used it.

    If one is only concerned about gunfights at very short distance, use whatever is the flavor of the day. My personal standard is that I may have to defend a third party, or even perhaps myself, by shooting across a stretch of parking lot.
  13. GunNut1976

    GunNut1976 Active Member

    so I get it that theres no "best bullet" I'm just wondering what the differences are between the two are they going to penetrate differently, are they going to expand differently, is the recoil different?
  14. GunNut1976

    GunNut1976 Active Member

    hey this link is way cool!
  15. REAPER4206969

    REAPER4206969 Well-Known Member

  16. CDawg

    CDawg Well-Known Member

    Shoot a good JHP in a weight that is accurate in your weapon and has recoil that you are comfortable with. My carry weapon is the S&W 4013 loaded with 155gr Hydra Shok. If I were in law enforcement, I would probably employ a 180gr round for barrier penetration (windshields and such). I currently don't anticipate a defensive situation that would justify shooting through windshields, but if that were to change I'd use the heavier round. I would recommend that you choose a good JHP based on reliability, accuracy and recoil, in that order and then practice as often as possible.
  17. stinger 327

    stinger 327 Well-Known Member

    How about the Corbon Power Ball .40 cal. 135 grains at 1325 fps and over 500 lbs. of energy?
    Another one is Hornady Critical Defense?
  18. REAPER4206969

    REAPER4206969 Well-Known Member

    Both are insufficient for serious use.
  19. golden

    golden Well-Known Member

    165 grain for me

    My agency has been using the 155 grain jhp for about 12 years before we went to the 135 grain jhp. I would stick with the lighter bullet like the 165 grain as you have a real chance of expansion which is lessened with the slower bullet.

    If you are going to use a 180 grain bullet, why not just use a .45ACP with the 185 grain jhp.

  20. stinger 327

    stinger 327 Well-Known Member

    Corbon Powerball in .40 cal uses a 135 grain that travels at 1325? fps with close to 500 lbs. of ME.

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