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Does Energy Count In Handgun Calibers?

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

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Do you think energy counts in handgun calibers?

Poll closed Nov 27, 2012.
  1. Yes

    208 vote(s)
    79.1%
  2. No

    49 vote(s)
    18.6%
  3. Don't know

    6 vote(s)
    2.3%
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  1. 56hawk

    56hawk Member

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    Well, according to Brass Fetcher Speer 158gr Gold Dot penetrates 13.5" and Federal 36gr Champion PLHP penetrates 13.9". Which would you rather carry?
     
  2. RBid

    RBid Member

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    It matters only insofar as it relates to penetration and expansion.
     
  3. farm23

    farm23 Member

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    Big holes and penetration need energy.
     
  4. mljdeckard

    mljdeckard Member

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    Among standardized service cartridges, no, not at all. They have enough to completely traverse a human target under most circumstances. That's enough. They don't have enough energy to create explosive force like a rifle bullet does.
     
  5. kokapelli

    kokapelli Member

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    Any fmj 380 or 32 will give plenty of penetration, but I'm really talking about "energy transfer" and that's my fault for not being more specific.
     
  6. coolluke01

    coolluke01 Member

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    Transfer of energy is foolishness. Leaving all the energy in the target is not what "stops" the BG. As has been said Penetration is what is important. An 13" ice pick and a .44 mag with 13" of penetration can have the same end result on a target. It will take much less energy for the ice pick to gain 13". But if the placement is right it will do the job. As will the .44 mag, if placed right it will stop the BG. The expansion of the .44 slug will buy you a little leeway and also offer more tissue damage so after he's done shooting/stabbing/clubbing you he will die in a few minuets.

    I voted no as energy is hardly important. Mass and speed are, but not the product of the two multiplied but how it achieves penetration and allows a HP to expand reliably.

    Shot placement if far more important. The force exerted on the target will only be as great as the opposite force you feel in recoil.
     
  7. SammyIamToday

    SammyIamToday Member

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    This particular incident was down a street. Well inside 100 meters.

    If you'll re-read my post, you'll also notice I said service calibers. To be more clear, there's a threshold of usefulness when it comes to handgun calibers for sure. Which may have been an assumption on my part to the purpose of this poll.

    Bingo with stopping failures. Therefore, I've come to believe that more capacity and shootability while meeting a threshold of energy is the best solution. Personal opinion and all.

    I was perhaps again not descriptive enough. By hits, I meant several rounds of a burst to which the target suffered massive trauma. Organs needed to survive were done significant damage judging by placement. I'm not sure how a hollow point bullet at significantly less energy is going to suddenly provide a stronger stop than a series of rifle rounds at high energy even in a FMJ configuration. The target did expire after a short time, but more rounds were fired back our way in that time period.

    Perhaps not a good scientific comparison, but certainly one powerful enough for me individually to not worry about small amounts of foot pounds of energy. If you think a bit more energy is a great thing, then that's a testament to choice and I think choice is wonderful. I've simply decided my anecdotal evidence makes it negligible at best.
     
  8. wally

    wally Member

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    Not very much. Bullet placement on the target counts way more!
     
  9. 481

    481 Member

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    Do you think energy counts in handgun calibers?

    It is part of the picture, but not exclusively so.

    Any bullet that has kinetic energy (1/2MV^2) also possesses momentum (MV)- regardless of which quantity you favor, how much it (KE or momentum) has is not nearly as imprtant as what it (the bullet) does with what (KE or momentum) it has.

    The poll could really use an option that reflects this.
     
  10. Sergei Mosin

    Sergei Mosin Member

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    Energy is an indicator of potential effectiveness. But it is only one factor - and a minor one - in what actually happens to a person struck by a bullet.

    What are the important factors? Shot placement, penetration, and expansion - in that order.

    Shot placement is affected by training and luck. The better you are trained, the more likely you are to be lucky. But sometimes it's just not your day. The death of Trooper Coates is a prime example of this. Four solid hits with a .357 Magnum didn't stop a bad guy. One bad hit with a .22LR killed a good guy. An unlikely outcome - but it happened. Just bad luck.

    Penetration means getting deep enough to hit something vital. Penetration is dependent on the mass of the projectile, the velocity of the projectile, (these two are commonly thought of as energy) the shape and construction of the projectile, and the target characteristics (target angle, shape and construction of the target, etc.)

    Expansion means making a big enough hole to increase the bullet's chances of hitting something vital once the projectile reaches an adequate depth. Without adequate penetration, expansion is irrelevant. Bullet design plays a huge role in this, of course. A bigger hole helps the luck side of the equation.

    Ideally you want a bullet placed so as to hit the vitals, capable of penetrating deeply enough to reach the vitals, and big enough to do as much damage as possible to the vitals when it gets there.

    Either big and slow or small and fast will work. Small and slow doesn't work very well. Big and fast works best.

    Small and slow is exemplified by the .25 ACP. It's just too small to do very much and relies too much on luck.

    Big and slow is exemplified by the .45 ACP. An expanding bullet can make it even bigger, at a cost in penetration.

    Small and fast is exemplified by the 9x19, preferably with an expanding bullet to overcome the disadvantages of being small. However, expansion usually has a negative effect on penetration, which may effectively negate the gains in expansion.

    Big and fast is exemplified by the .357 Magnum, which uses an expanding bullet to overcome the disadvantages of being small (it effectively becomes big) while using its very high speed to retain its ability to penetrate.
     
  11. 56hawk

    56hawk Member

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    I was referring to rifle rounds since that is what you were talking about. The same does hold true for pistol rounds, but not to the same extent. The drawings below show the difference for rifle rounds, but the quote is for pistol rounds.

    1-s2.0-S0196064496700628-gr1.jpg

    1-s2.0-S0196064496700628-gr2.jpg
     
  12. Jaymo

    Jaymo Member

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    I've decided that there are too many variables, to be able to count on any weapon for self defense.
    As a result, I'm just not ever going to try do defend myself.
     
  13. SEE IT LIKE A NATIVE

    SEE IT LIKE A NATIVE Member

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    What I get from the article is that he is telling me that if i shoot Mr. Grizzly bear with my .45 auto , that it will be just as effective as my .454 Casull ? I think he forgets that it takes energy to drive the bullet to sufficient depth to reach vital organs or circulatory and central nervous system, it also takes energy to deform a bullet so that it cuts a larger wound channel ! So yes energy matters ,but a direct hit to a vital area with a .22 is still better than a loud miss with a .44 ! Kevin
     
  14. NG VI

    NG VI Member

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    Because of the proportions of diameter, mass, and velocity that the .357 delivers. Energy numbers can show one aspect of a bullet's overall performance, but it doesn't show the most important factor, which is how the bullet behaves in a human-sized animal. It's entirely possible to deliver huge amounts of energy with a bullet that isn't capable of reliably reaching anything important in a human-sized body, and it's possible for a projectile with much lower energy to deliver more useful results, because energy alone is not useful.

    .357 has more energy than .22, sure, but the attributes that give it more energy are what matters.

    It has three to four times the mass.

    It flies 50-100% faster from similar weapons.

    It has much more frontal area.

    And it is easy to load with projectiles made to penetrate a meaningful distance in medium sized animals while also expanding.

    .22 cannot do the same things, not because it has lower energy, it has lower energy ratings because it is not capable of doing the same work. Energy is one way to measure the difference, it isn't the difference itself.
     
  15. CZ57

    CZ57 member

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    Yes it matters. It's what makes the bullet expand and penetrate. Both are very important. The faster the bullet expands the larger the wound volume will be but I believe that the expanded bullet still needs to penetrate to a min. depth of 12". Momentum works in much the same way like say a 230 gr. .45 ACP JHP. It has a lot of momentum so it is not as dependent on kinetic energy to expand and penetrate. For a lighter bullet to develop higher momentum it has to have both higher velocity and thus kinetic energy.

    I believe there is a kinetic energy window of about 400 - 600 Ft/Lbs. Handgun bullets, particularly older designs, tend to work better in this window. The best defense load that I am aware of in LE use was the 125 gr. JHP in .357 Magnum. It is near the top of the energy window. Loads that exceed the window limit often do not expand very well because there is actually to much kinetic energy that actually works against expansion. Examples like Full power 10mm, .41 Magnum and the .44 Magnum have shown to have too much KE for practical defense use and more often than not behave like FMJ bullets.

    Newer JHP designs do not require as much KE for expansion and 12" of penetration but a good many of them are subsonic. Personally I like to choose a bullet that develops 400 - 600 Ft/Lbs of KE provided it meets depth of penetration requirements. Especially testing to make sure a bullet will penetrate to 12" after passing through 4 layers of denim. If that requirement is met then all the KE you can get is desirable as in the case of the .357 SIG. Having said that I actually use a load that satisfies all requirements with a .45 ACP 230 gr. JHP achieving 900 FPS. It has both the momentum and over 400 Ft/Lbs of KE. With the 9mm, I tend to favor the 124 gr. +P or +P+ loads, but I wouldn't hesitate to use a 147 gr. +P JHP. For me the standard pressure 147 just does not have the KE to cause expansion to provide devastating wound volumes. What it does have is higher momentum so it penetrates very well, but the 124 +P penetrates as deep or nearly as deep while providing greater expansion. ;)
     
  16. 481

    481 Member

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    Looks like the Federal 147 gr JHPs expand quite well given their "diminished" energy-

    http://www.luckygunner.com/catalog/product/gallery/id/2432/image/12515

    The Winchester Ranger 147s -RA9T and RA9B- do pretty well, too.
     
  17. kokapelli

    kokapelli Member

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    The interesting thing about energy is that the lighter and faster bullets produce more energy, but lighter means less inertia which (in my mind) means less penetration.

    Here is a chart with velocity and energy comparisons……..
    http://www.ballistics101.com/9mm.php
     
  18. Thompsoncustom

    Thompsoncustom Member

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    Is it? A .22 to the heart or head should put something down just as easy as anything other handgun caliber that's why shot placement will always be king.
     
  19. The smiling swordsman

    The smiling swordsman Member

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    My thoughts exactly.
     
  20. coolluke01

    coolluke01 Member

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    I doubt a bullet with 0 energy will penitrate to vitals. The real factor is not energy but penitration. A single number such as energy won't provide the correct information. Bullet weight, surface area, expansion, etc are needed. These still wont tell you exactly how far the bullet will penitrate. Real world testing is required.

    Pointing to energy is to simplistic and won't tell the true story.
    That is why I say that energy really isn't that important.
     
  21. AABEN

    AABEN Member

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    Energy is very important in rifles!! You would not take a 22 to kill a bear!
     
  22. AABEN

    AABEN Member

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    the 158 G D any time over the 36gr ! For the 158 will do more body damage and you will bled out faster and it will have more knock down powder! Why did the navy have large guns on battle ships? Be caws it did a lot more damage than a 5in did! The larger the bullet the more damage it does that is why tanks have large gun and longer barrels!
     
    Last edited: Oct 29, 2012
  23. coop2564

    coop2564 Member

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    No not in the standard defensive guns such as 45 acp, 9mm but in like full load 10mm, 357 mag it starts barely making some edge. In standard guns its about the hole.
     
  24. ku4hx

    ku4hx Member

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    Of course energy counts. Ye ol' physics teacher says you go to get work done and that requires an energy be expended. There are no perpetual motion machines and Enthalpy rules.
     
  25. kokapelli

    kokapelli Member

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    "knockdown power"! You have been watching too many movies. Nothing, nothing in a handgun caliber will knock someone down and that is pretty much true of rifle calibers too.

    Battleship guns! The subject of this thread is about handgun calibers.
     
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