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Short Barrel- Heavy or Light Bullets?

Discussion in 'Handguns: General Discussion' started by Mainsail, Jan 7, 2013.

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  1. Mainsail

    Mainsail Member

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    I usually shoot heavy bullets in my guns, 230gr in my .45s, 147gr in my 9mm, and 200gr in my 10mm.

    Is there any advantage to a lighter bullet when you're shooting it out of a short barrel, or am I getting it backwards?

    I'm wondering if my little XDs would be better loaded (energy level) with 185gr or 200gr instead of the 230gr I have in it now.
     
  2. Naybor

    Naybor Member

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    This is my experience only. A lighter bullet will pick up velocity easier than a heavier one in a short barrel. A light bullet zipping along can at times have more energy than a heavier one lumbering along. In a longer barrel the powder has a better job and time to give heavier bullets extra velocity..

    Personally, I use the lightest bullet I can find in my LCP and SP101

    Again, this is just IMHO.........
     
  3. 481

    481 Member

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    Check out how barrel length effects muzzle velocity here- the .45ACP 230 gr JHPs are (in most cases) still well over 750 fps in 3" barrels

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

    I load a heavy for caliber JHP regardless of caliber or barrel length.
     
  4. Cosmoline

    Cosmoline Member

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    Out of a handgun barrel there's little time for any size bullet to pick up speed. I favor the larger bullets because they don't rely on high velocity as much to do damage.
     
  5. mesinge2

    mesinge2 Member

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    I do the same.
     
  6. jmr40

    jmr40 Member

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    Light bullets need speed to work. You only get speed with barrel length. Heavy bullets work better at slower speeds, so if I have to use a shorter gun, I'd feel better using a heavier bullet.
     
  7. Mainsail

    Mainsail Member

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    OK, then I had it backwards. I'll stick to the 230gr HSTs then.

    Thanks!
     
  8. S&Wfan

    S&Wfan Member

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    ADVANTAGE LIGHT BULLETS?

    Light bullets accelerate and leave the barrel sooner, thus light bullets hit LOWER. So . . . if your gun shoots HIGH with heavy bullets, go lighter so you'll hit your target dead on.

    ADVANTAGE HEAVY?

    Heavy bullets exit later in recoil vs. light bullets in all handguns, thus they hit your target higher. So . . . if your gun shoots LOW with light bullets, go heavier so you'll hit your target dead on.

    BOTTOM LINE . . .

    Shoot the weight ammo that hits at the right spot. Bullet placement trumps bullet thump in the wrong place every time!;)
     
  9. Cubby

    Cubby Member

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    I think that a heavier bullet will penetrate more also?
     
  10. 460Shooter

    460Shooter Member

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    I agree with this 100%. I carry an XDs also and was carrying 185gr Horady CD's. I found it was hitting a tad low. I found it to be most accurate with good old 230 gr FMJ's. I have since started carrying 200gr +p TAP ammo in it as a compromise. I still need to check that ammo for function in that gun. If it is better, I will stick with that, if not I may check out the 230gr or some Speer ammo.

    If it were me, I'd keep doing what you're doing.
     
  11. golden

    golden Member

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    Most important

    MAINSAIL,

    The real question is what do you want the bullet to do?

    When I last used a .45ACP, I only used the FEDERAL Hydro Shok 230 grain bullet. It had slightly higher velocity than the standard 230 grain ball loads, but because of the design of the Hydro Shok and its excellent street record, I was confident that it would expand.
    Prior to that, I would have gone with a lighter bullet, like the 200 grain SPEER jhp. The early loads were in the +P velocity range, so expansion was guaranteed, but recoil was severe. In my COLT Government model or S&W 25, this was a powerful load, but in the Lightweigh Commander, it had fierce recoil, so I used WINCHESTER 185 grain Silvertip.
    Light bullets AND HEAVY BULLETS NEED SPEED TO WORK. The light bullet will be going faster in most cases. In a 5 inch, steel framed 1911, you can count on a 230 grain jhp to expand if it is a decent design, but the shorter the barrel, the lower the velocity. A lighter bullet starts out as a higher velocity, even from a short barrel.

    What you have to ask is what you want from the bullet? I want expansion, not only to increase effectiveness, but to limit overpenetration.
    A heavier bullet will usuall penetrate deeper, but not always if it lacks the energy and velocity to do so.

    The other point is recoil. Small guns can beat your hands up if the recoil is too fierce. I would start with an easy, reliable load like the 185 grain FEDERAL jhp. It had a good street record.
    If recoil is not a problem, then stick with FEDERAL HST. The HST was designed as a follow on to the HYDRO SHOK. It should still expand, even at lower velocities. If recoil proves too sharp, then go back to the FEDERAL 185 grain jhp.

    The most important thing a bullet has to do is hit the target. If it kicks too hard, then you will not practice enough and you reduce your chance of hitting center mass.
    START WITH YOUR LIMITS, NOT WHAT SOMEONE ELSE THINKS IS A GOOD IDEA. PUT CONTROL AND ABILITY TO HIT THE TARGET BEFORE VELOCITY OR BULLET WEIGHT.

    Jim
     
  12. Skribs

    Skribs Member

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    Grabbed off the BBTI site linked here, taking the far left and far right columns and comparing:

    BBL: 165 - 230
    2": 1001 - 754
    3": 1050 - 787 (4.9% vs. 4.4% compared with previous)
    4": 1163 - 865 (10.8% vs. 9.9% compared with previous)
    5": 1238 - 895 (6.4% vs. 3.4% compared with previous)
    18": 1450 - 937 (17.1% vs. 4.7% compared with previous)

    It would seem that the heavier bullet gains less out of a longer barrel. My guess is that by going slower, the gasses have more time to act on it, meaning they need the longer barrel less. It also appears that there is a significant gain for both in going from 3" to 4", but it tapers off after that. The lighter bullet benefits greatly from a longer barrel, the heavier bullet does not.

    Either way, I'd rather go heavy-for-caliber. Run JHPs too fast and they tend to open up real fast and then fail to penetrate, so I'd rather keep a heavier JHP at a reasonable velocity.
     
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