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Does Energy Count In Handgun Calibers?

Discussion in 'Handguns: Autoloaders' started by kokapelli, Oct 28, 2012.


Do you think energy counts in handgun calibers?

Poll closed Nov 27, 2012.
  1. Yes

    208 vote(s)
  2. No

    49 vote(s)
  3. Don't know

    6 vote(s)
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  1. kokapelli

    kokapelli Well-Known Member

    Do you think energy is an important factor in handgun calibers?
  2. ozo

    ozo Active Member

    As it would with any round....
    unless you only shoot beer cans.
  3. jim243

    jim243 Well-Known Member

    For the most part, yes it does. Depending on what you are doing, the transfer of energy from projectile to target will determine how effective you are in using the caliber.

    Speed times mass, or larger mass times slower speed could give the same results. Shape, caliber and weight of the projectile also will have an effect.

    All are factors in the amount of energy that will find it's way to your target.

    Now if you are just paper punching, energy is less of a factor except in pushing your bullet's mass to the target at a certain distance, the greater the distance the more energy you will need.

  4. Steve C

    Steve C Well-Known Member

    As a function of mass and velocity energy certainly does count but IMO only as a less determinative number. i.e. a .44 mag load will generally have a higher energy level than say a .357 mag. However the number isn't a good single definitive method of determining effectiveness between different rounds with energy numbers of relatively small variation.
  5. 2wheels

    2wheels Well-Known Member

    I'm going to vote no, because I lean towards the "bullets make holes" school of thought so I'm more worried about the average penetration and expansion of any given defensive round than I am about the energy level of the round when comparing bullet A to bullet B.

    But, that doesn't mean I discount energy levels entirely. I just don't know how much of a factor they are.
  6. JERRY

    JERRY Well-Known Member

    the more energy the better chances of a hollow point opening up in soft tissue.
  7. leadcounsel

    leadcounsel member

    Transfer of energy, especially with lower calibers, is important.

    For rifle calibers, they are overkill so it's probably not as important in my view.

    But for pistols, which are really undersuited for immediate results, energy dump is very important.
  8. R.W.Dale

    R.W.Dale Well-Known Member

    In terms of transferred energy into the target no it doesn't matter at all.

    As a value that can be used to represent a loads ability to drive bullets of a given mass to an adequate depth it has limited usefulness

    posted via that mobile app with the sig lines everyone complaints about
  9. kokapelli

    kokapelli Well-Known Member

  10. ozo

    ozo Active Member

    "But, that doesn't mean I discount energy levels entirely. I just don't know how much of a factor they are."---

    Not really a factor, as much as a result.

    [edit: I'll leave it to the obvious experts]
    Last edited: Oct 28, 2012
  11. jmr40

    jmr40 Well-Known Member

    Penetration, expansion and placement matter. Energy numbers help help predict what will happen with the 1st 2. Energy numbers aren't useless, but are easy to misinterpret if you don't also understand that there are other factors that influence bullet peformance such as bullet construction.

    Also anything within 100 ft lbs of energy is close enough to call a tie. No point in arguing about caliber "A" getting 400 ft lbs of energy being inferior to caliber "B" getting 500 ft lbs of energy. When we see 300-400 ft lbs difference then it starts to matter.
  12. Jaymo

    Jaymo Well-Known Member

    Can't really compare gut shots that don't hit anything major to an arterial shot. Apples and oranges.
    Plus, if the assailant is on certain drugs, stopping power goes out the window, unless you get a CNS shot.
    Had the trooper hit the assailant in the same spot where the assailant shot the trooper, the assailant would have ended up the same way as the trooper.
    Had the trooper shot the assailant in the heart/lungs with his .357, the assailant would have had a lot harder time breathing and functioning.
    Stopping and killing are two different things, and that is one of the flaws in the linked article.

    The assailant got lucky. Plain and simple. Had the trooper dumped those four rounds into the assailants chest, instead of his gut, the story would have been about a dead assailant, instead of a dead trooper.

    The author lost credibility by referencing the Nicole Brown Simpson case, and by stating that the knife "ruptured" major blood vessels.
    The knife severed the blood vessels.
    Last edited: Oct 28, 2012
  13. SammyIamToday

    SammyIamToday Well-Known Member

    Having personally seen people survive direct center mass hits with 7.62 machine gun rounds and keep fighting; I believe the energy difference between common handgun service calibers to be negligible to say the least.
  14. Jaymo

    Jaymo Well-Known Member

    At what ranges were they shot with the 7.62 NATO rounds? That makes a difference. As do adrenaline and drug use.
    If handgun energy doesn't matter, then the .25 acp is a great service round.

    I'm not saying it's the be all, end all of stopping power, but it does matter. Especially with expanding ammo.

    The reality is, stopping failures can occur with any and all common small arms projectiles. There are a lot of reasons they can occur.

    Bottom line is, we all need to carry a 12 gauge shotgun for SD.
    Too bad it's not practical.
  15. 56hawk

    56hawk Well-Known Member

    When comparing cartridges with properly designed expanding bullets I think energy is the most important factor. If you look at 9mm, 40 S&W and 45 ACP they are all very similar in effectiveness because they have very similar energies. 22LR, 25 ACP, and 32 ACP are much less effective because they don't have the energy to do the damage that the bigger rounds can.

    I actually found this article to be pretty ridiculous. Is he really saying that a 22LR is just as effective as a 357?

    Yes, that is a common problem with FMJ bullets. The wound cavity is very small until the bullet starts to tumble. The results would have likey been very different with hollowpoint bullets.
  16. huntsman

    huntsman Well-Known Member

    I voted No but it's a really good marketing tool for magic bullets.
  17. BSA1

    BSA1 Well-Known Member

    Since all bullets must have energy in order to travel to the target the purpose of your question is unclear.
  18. kokapelli

    kokapelli Well-Known Member

    No that's not what he is saying at all. What it says is that the energy of the round is not relevant but rather shot placement and adequate penetration are what counts.

    I think his examples make a lot of sense, but that's just me.

    It's interesting to see how people see what they want to see, isn't it.
  19. kokapelli

    kokapelli Well-Known Member

    Yeah I could have made it more clear. What I was looking for is do you think handgun bullet energy transfer is a big factor in stopping someone.
  20. intercooler

    intercooler member

    Not at all. .22LR = .44 Magnum
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