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Muzzle Energy and Terminal Ballistics, .357 & .30 Carbine

Discussion in 'General Gun Discussions' started by ArfinGreebly, Mar 31, 2011.

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  1. ArfinGreebly

    ArfinGreebly Moderator Emeritus

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    One of the things that's puzzled me from time to time is a pair of assertions for which I have inadequate data to draw a solid conclusion.

    Assertion #1: the .357 mag cartridge is a hard-hitting man-or-game stopper, and
    assertion #2: the .30 Carbine cartridge is a wimpy pistol-class cartridge with no stopping power.

    Now, I'm not a ballistics expert, and my high-level math skills are weak, but I'm reasonably literate and simple math isn't a real hurdle.

    Given the numbers for the .357 standard factory load (110 gr, 1500 fps MV, 550 ft lbs ME) and the same numbers for the .30 Carbine factory load (110 gr, 1990 fps MV, 975 ft lbs ME), and given that using ball ammo (or soft points) in both should be something resembling apples-to-apples, what is it then about the .30 Carbine cartridge that makes it anecdotally so much less effective than the .357 mag?

    I mean, just looking at the numbers, the .30 Carbine has not quite twice the ME for the same projectile weight.

    So, I chuck a hunk of lead downrange at 1990 fps and it gently bruises the target, who limps away.

    Then I chuck a hunk of lead (of the same weight) downrange at 1500 fps and the target falls like a sack of potatoes. DOA. [Ahnold] Terminated. [/Ahnold] Paid in full.

    Now, I'm presuming that my .357 numbers are derived from the cartridge fired from a four-inch barrel, and that the .30 Carbine numbers are done with an 18-inch barrel.

    Somewhere, and I wish I could recall the source, I read that the .30 Carbine delivers effectively the same energy at 100 yards as the .357 does at 50 yards. Never personally tested that theory.

    Now, just for clarity, we're not talking about the .357 fired from a rifle. Just a stock factory load fired from a stock factory pistol.

    Are the numbers misleading?

    Are the anecdotes statistically "salty" and given too much weight?

    I've known guys who hunted deer with the .30 Carbine and had no complaints. I knew a guy in Reno who took down a bison at 70 yards with a .357 hard cast lead round. (My grandfather hunted deer with the .357, but he was a bullet and cartridge inventor, so maybe not the best example.)

    So what I'm trying to grasp is the contradiction of ".30 Carbine weak, .357 mag strong" when the numbers would seem to indicate otherwise.

    Perhaps someone with more miles on those cartridges can shed a little light?

     
  2. skoro

    skoro Member

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    Sounds like the "wimpy .30 cal carbine" legend that came from the Korean War. Some troops reported that the 30 carbine round wouldn't penetrate the heavy winter jackets the Chinese troops wore. From my time in the service, talking to veterans of Korea, the consensus was those stories were the result of poor marksmanship. Those 30 cal rounds zipped right through the heavy coats, but the coats weren't tight fitting, so they didn't strike the guy underneath the coat in some cases.

    That's how I heard it and it sounds reasonable.
     
  3. Snowdog

    Snowdog Member

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    I completely agree. However, I suspect people are indeed comparing apples to oranges. As a rifle cartridge, the ballistics of the .30 Carbine are quite anemic. As a handgun cartridge, the .357 magnum is quite respectable.

    Unfortunately, some take that to mean the .30 Carbine is universally anemic and the .357 magnum is universally potent, so the .357 magnum (from a handgun) trumps the M1 carbine... which certainly isn't true. A .30 Carbine from an 18" barrel yields roughly double the energy of a .357 magnum from a revolver. It's really just that simple. However, it becomes a much fairer fight when the .357 magnum is chambered in a carbine.

    With JSPs or JHPs, the M1 carbine has ample stopping power against ne'er-do-wells within reasonable ranges, as does the .357 magnum.
     
  4. Remo223

    Remo223 member

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    There is more to it than that, skoro.

    When people first began using 30 carbine in a handgun, they got pathetic results. the reason is a 30carbine cartridge is optimized for longer barrels and uses slower burning powder.

    The theoretical power available from a projectile is directly proportional to the volume of the barrel it is being shot out of.

    357mag has a larger bore and therefore you can get more power from it in shorter barrels than from a 30carbine.
     
  5. General Geoff

    General Geoff Member

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    Because .30 carbine is weak for a rifle caliber, and .357 mag is strong for a handgun caliber.

    .357 mag is arguably stronger than .30 carbine flat-out, when comparing similar barrel length velocities and energies.
     
  6. Remo223

    Remo223 member

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    btw, the stories of the carbine being weak in korea are true. It was determined that the powder used in those cartridges in use in korea was defective but that the defect doesn't show up unless you are using it in extremely low temperatures. ie...the powder was weak in below zero temps.
     
  7. GRIZ22

    GRIZ22 Member

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    the stories of the carbine being weak in korea are true. It was determined that the powder used in those cartridges in use in korea was defective but that the defect doesn't show up unless you are using it in extremely low temperatures. ie...the powder was weak in below zero temps.

    Not trying to sharpshoot you but could you disclose your source of this info?
     
  8. sixgunner455

    sixgunner455 Member

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    I know two men who used a .30 carbine to good effect on goblins. One was on a Pacific island, and the other was in law enforcement.

    I would not consider either weapon or cartridge weak. Choose your weapon for the role you need it for.
     
    Last edited: Apr 2, 2011
  9. kragluver

    kragluver Member

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    Keep in mind too that 30 carbine ammo used in combat was FMJ - penetration through & through with a pencil diameter hole. Penetration was probably not a problem but stopping power was. At pistol fighting ranges, mass and bullet diameter have far more to do with stopping power than energy. Mass gives you penetration and diameter makes large holes - preferably two.

    The Korean discussion about 30 carbine shouldn't even be considered here as for hunting purposes you would be using hollow points or soft points. I would imagine that FMJ in 30 carbine is pretty anemic.
     
  10. yyz

    yyz Member

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    when you compare the 30 carbine to it's true contemporaries, IMHO, the subguns rather then rifles or pistols. the 30 carbine round is a potent round but like the 7.62x25 it suffers from a problem with over penetration with a FMJ bullet. with a good soft point bullet it is much better. remember in the gun world there is a lot of opinion and fact that has to be sorted though for your self.
     
  11. Remo223

    Remo223 member

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    really? Then you must really think the 556nato is worthless.
     
  12. Remo223

    Remo223 member

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    ah, I'm afraid that's going to take me awhile to remember. hafta get back to ya.
     
  13. hso

    hso Moderator Staff Member

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    The volume of the M1 Carbine barrel is greater than that of the .357 revolver, with the most common barrel length, so the "power" would be greater out of the M1 Carbine. That's the opposite of what you're contending. Obviously the volume of the barrel has less to do with the power as long as the powder all combusts before the bullet leaves the barrel.
     
  14. Remo223

    Remo223 member

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    wow. you need to re read my words.

    THEORETICAL AVAILABLE POWER

    disregarding cartridge size and or powder charge

    and no, not the opposite of what I'm contending. I'm comparing EQUIVALENT BARREL LENGTHS. as in a foot long 357 barrel compared to a foot long 30carbine barrel.
     
  15. buttrap

    buttrap Member

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    That was from the Army Ord board and the army small arms lab backed up by the White lab. They concluded that the WW-2 ammo that had a tropical humidity inhibiter had degraded the powder and at 0 and below temps it would go off at around 650 FPS out of a 16 inch M-2 with a huge share of the charge not lighting off and clogging up the action and gas tappets.
     
  16. JohnBiltz

    JohnBiltz Member

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    My dad had one then and there and he never had a kind word about it. We also did not really hear that much negative about the round in WW II. There may be something to the story.
     
  17. kragluver

    kragluver Member

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    I do not think the 556 is worthless although I do believe our forces would be better served by a larger caliber round that was more lethal at long ranges. At the engagement ranges the 556 is intended for, the round becomes unstable once it hits flesh and tumbles (not always, but that's what it is supposed to do). This causes terrific damage. The fmj 30 carbine is short and far too stable to tumble like the 556. Of course, in a hunting round, the results are different. The post above was right on about comparing the carbine to the contemporary rounds it was supposed to replace.
     
  18. Snowdog

    Snowdog Member

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    Certainly someone that has heard these stories has the time and resources to validate the likelihood of them. To track down this exact ammunition, a vintage M1 and similar clothing worn by the DPRK, freeze the ammunition for a few weeks (hell, the carbine as well) and shoot frozen wool clothing at 100 yards to try to recreate these failures... anybody?
    I know the good fellow over at The Box of Truth gave it a good run, though many have argued that several variables were overlooked.

    Actually, I would be happy with just finding the ammunition issued and leave 'em at below 0 temperatures for some time before shooting them over a chronograph. If the velocities differ vastly between the test ammunition and the control, then I'd be interested about learning more.
     
  19. Devonai

    Devonai Member

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    Snowdog, I agree, except that in order for the test to be 100% scientific, the ammo would have to be of recent manufacture, loaded with the same type of components used in the original.

    Of course, if one were to go through all that trouble, one could always sell it as a speciality round and charge a buck a shot. :)
     
  20. Remo223

    Remo223 member

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    see post 15, someone has a better memory than I do.
     
  21. Remo223

    Remo223 member

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    Ok.

    Like the AK47?

    LOL, same caliber as a M1carbine.
     
  22. Owen Sparks

    Owen Sparks member

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    The comparison here really should be:

    Hollow point expanding bullets are a effective man-or-game stoppers.

    Small diamiter full metal jacketef bullets that do not expand have poor stopping power.
     
  23. natman

    natman Member

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    It's all a question of perspective. The 357 is fairly hard hitting - when used with hollow points and compared with pistol rounds.

    The M1 Carbine is pretty wimpy - when used with FMJ ammo and compared with rifle rounds. Which is how it got it's bad reputation.

    The M1 does OK, when used with hollow points and compared with other pistol rounds fired from a carbine. It's not in the same class as a real rifle round such as a 308.
     
  24. ArfinGreebly

    ArfinGreebly Moderator Emeritus

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    So, Bison . . .

    Alright, so given that the .30 Carbine should perform reasonably comparable to the .357 using comparable ammo and reasonable distances . . .

    and given that I know a guy who brought down a bison at 70 yards with a S&W 686 (.357 flat nosed lead) . . .

    then would it be reasonable to expect that, using soft point ammo (never seen hard cast lead for .30 Carbine) at approximately 70-100 yards, one could bring down similar game?

     
  25. BrocLuno

    BrocLuno Member

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    I dunno, but I don't want to stand down range and be a test target for either.

    Since 357 carbine rifles are readily available (levers mostly) this should not be a big problem to prove. Who has the chrono numbers for M1 and 357 out of a saddle gun?
     
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