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Bullet Weight - Heavy vs Light Login/Join 
Picture of AUTiger89
This is NOT meant to be a caliber discussion.

For carry, do you prefer heavy-for-caliber bullets or light-for-caliber rounds, or in-between?

Let's take 9mm for example. Do you prefer heavy-for-caliber 147gr rounds, or light-for-caliber 115gr rounds, or 125gr in-between? And why?

I know that lighter bullets make for less recoil and don't drop as much before hitting the target, and I'm assuming that heavier rounds make a harder hit on target but drop more.

Which do you prefer for carry or self-defense?

(I'm also curious about rifle rounds, so feel free to chime in, but wanted to start this thread off in the Pistols section.)

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Posts: 5648 | Location: Upstate SC | Registered: April 06, 2011Reply With QuoteReport This Post
The cake is a lie!
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For me, it depends on the type of projectile. Some designs seem to work well in certain weights and velocities.

HST in 147 grain standard pressure, or Gold Dot 124+p in my 9mm guns.

In the end, if somehow I can't get more of what I normally carry, I won't lose sleep over switching to another kind as long as they are reliable.
Posts: 6852 | Location: CA | Registered: April 08, 2004Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Picture of sigfreund
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Originally posted by AUTiger89:
I'm assuming that heavier rounds make a harder hit on target ....

That’s actually very easy to determine without any assumptions.

The first thing to decide is what you mean by “harder hit,” and there are two common ways of looking at projectile effect: its kinetic energy or momentum.

Kinetic energy is usually how we predict the wounding effects of a bullet, and that is calculated with this formula:
bullet speed in feet per second × bullet speed in feet per second × bullet weight in grains ÷ 450400 = kinetic energy in foot-pounds
The bullet with the greater KE hits “harder.”

Bullet momentum is simpler. This formula doesn’t yield a scientific value but is valid for just comparing two projectiles.
bullet speed in feet per second × bullet weight in grains = momentum comparison figure
The one with the larger figure has greater momentum.

At close ranges, e.g., across the room, we will be very close if we just use muzzle velocity of the bullet.

Compare the factory data for two 9mm Gold Dot loads, the 124 grain +P and the 147 grain standard pressure, both from 4 inch barrels.

124 grain muzzle velocity is 1220 feet per second:
1220 × 1220 × 124 ÷ 450400 = 410 ft-lb

147 grain muzzle velocity is 990 fps:
990 × 990 × 147 ÷ 450400 = 320 ft-lb

Momentum (arbitrary figure):
124 × 1220 = 151280
147 × 990 = 145530

Although fans of big, heavy, slow-moving bullets usually prefer to use the momentum figure to promote their choices, in this case the 124 grain +P load is more powerful regardless of which calculation we use, but that is not true of all loads.

I choose my defensive handgun cartridges and loads primarily on the basis of kinetic energy, and that’s why I prefer the 357 SIG cartridge for the purpose. But not entirely. Loads have been developed using very light bullets driven at very high velocities and therefore have high KE, but which penetrate very poorly. It’s necessary to strike a good balance between the two.

Rifle bullets are a much more complex issue with many factors to be considered for any specific application.

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Posts: 44229 | Location: 10,150 Feet Above Sea Level in Colorado | Registered: April 04, 2002Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Diablo Blanco
Picture of dking271
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I prefer the 124gr in either Speer or Gold dots in the +p and standard format depending on the firearm. On the micro 9s I choose the standard pressure rounds as I shoot them faster and more accurately. I have and use 147gr versions of both the above offerings but tend to steer away in the smaller guns due to a slightly longer OAL even though they work in my p365.

In 45acp I always go with 230gr standard offerings so I lean toward the heavy. For 357mag I guess I again fall in the middle with 125gr-135gr.

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Posts: 2021 | Location: Middle-TN | Registered: November 05, 2003Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I went to carrying 124 HST a few years back after carrying 124 Gold Dot +P for years.

Main reason was I switching to smaller and smaller carry guns and I’d noticed that the +p GD seemed to leave more unburned powder/filler in my guns.

Why 124? Well, it was what I’d heard was recommended in most ammunition discussions for a variety of reasons.
Posts: 2423 | Location: Central Texas | Registered: August 22, 2009Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I generally prefer 147 grain in my 9mm guns. I have a couple that I only shoot 115 in. I never do +P any more. Usually gold dot or sig ammo

For 40sw, 180 grn standard gold dot. for my USP 135 Corbon.

for 357 sig, 125 grn gold dot, or 125 sig ammo

For 45acp, 230 grain standard. Usually HST or Sig

For 38 Spl 158 grain nyclad

For 357 mag, 158 JSP Usually gold dot or HST
Posts: 6251 | Location: Virginia | Registered: December 23, 2010Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Sigforum K9 handler
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The construction of the round is more important than weight. For instance, the Speer Gold Dot G2 147 grain is a great round when it enters g the body. If I could get it, I’d go to the 124 +P. Which has a long, long track record.

In rifle rounds (556) the Federal T1 55 grain is really good. The Hornady Barrier 62 grain would be my second choice.

"It's a bold strategy, Cotton. Let's see if it works out for them"

Posts: 35374 | Location: Logical | Registered: September 12, 2004Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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When Target Sports had monthly sales on HST and Gold Dots I tried out a few different ones.
Being a Prime member I was getting them for $18 a box of 50 delivered.
I seemed to do the best with 147gn HST's in my pistols (365,229,226) so stocked up on that.
Most of my blasting ammo is 147gn also.
Stocked up on HST .357 Sig, .40 and .45, standard pressures.

For 5.56 I have Federal MK318 62gn to try out whenever I can get out to shoot again.
Posts: 788 | Location: Portland Oregon | Registered: October 01, 2011Reply With QuoteReport This Post
The Great Equalizer
Picture of colt_saa
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In the 9mm Parabellum cartridge I prefer a 124/125 JHP as a personal defensive round. These have always performed quite well

However if firing with a suppressor I prefer heavy projectiles. For decades this had been the 158 grain Israeli loading.

Since the velocity is a limiting factor with suppressor ammunition, to get more energy on target I am now using a 165 grain projectile

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Posts: 4982 | Location: Cocoa Beach, Florida | Registered: November 04, 2003Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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What I have GOT is 9mm 115 Federal 9BP as recommended by M Ayoob years ago.
If I were starting over with plenty of ammo available to vet, I would pick a good 124 like George Luger and DWM used. A JHP, of course, Gold Dot or HST most likely.

I do use a 200 gr .45 like John Browning said, now the Hornady XTP because it feeds well in my old Commander.
Posts: 3011 | Location: Florence, Alabama, USA | Registered: July 05, 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Picture of kkina
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There's a more thorough discussion of the different 9mm weights in the ammo section 115 gr vs 124 gr and 147 gr, but I lean towards 124 gr (HST) as a nice compromise between penetration and flat trajectory.

"First, Eyes."
Posts: 14404 | Location: SF Bay Area | Registered: December 11, 2003Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Man of few words

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I don't know why, but I like a heavier bullet. I primarily carry P320 45 compact and I prefer the 230 grain bullet over the 185 grain.
Posts: 7693 | Location: NE Ohio | Registered: July 03, 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I usually carry the 147gr, however in the Winter-time, where layers and heavier clothing are more common, I'll switch to a lighter, faster bullet like the 124gr.
Posts: 11856 | Location: Wine Country | Registered: September 20, 2000Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Picture of K0ZZZ
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I'm surprised there isn't a steel plate target with precise instruments behind it that is used to measure "how hard a bullet hits a target."

... Chad - Much better than scrap paper! Use 'Take5' to get 5 bucks off.
Posts: 720 | Location: Colorado Springs, CO | Registered: December 14, 2009Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Ahh, the younger generation.
Before consumer chronographs were available, IPSC power factor was determined by how far the bullet would move a steel plate. Most famously, Peter the Power Meter with a scale and pointer, although the main separation was Major with as great swing as .45 hardball and Minor with 9mm ball.

More precise measurements were once done with the ballistic pendulum, Q.V.
Posts: 3011 | Location: Florence, Alabama, USA | Registered: July 05, 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Uppity Helot
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Mostly I prefer lighter to medium weight bullets in the calibers I shoot.

9mm - 115gr.- 135gr.
38 Special- 125gr. -130gr.
.357 Magnum (Revolver) - 135gr. - 145gr.
.357 Magnum (Rifle) I want to experiment with 170gr. - 200gr.
.45 ACP (if I ever get another) - 225gr. -230gr.
Posts: 2503 | Location: Manheim, PA | Registered: September 04, 2007Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Picture of SIG4EVA
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I carry heavier bullets as the kick is usually less. For 9mm for instance, I'll carry 124gr. to 147gr.

This message has been edited. Last edited by: SIG4EVA,

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Posts: 6290 | Location: NC | Registered: March 16, 2012Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Generally speaking, I prefer heavy for caliber. Primary reasons, less snappy, solid performers, especially in my revolvers. My .357 revolvers hate .125gr loads, much prefer .158gr loads or heavier...the fatter the more the like it.

“Nobody can ever take your integrity away from you. Only you can give up your integrity.” H. Norman Schwarzkopf
Posts: 3377 | Location: OPSEC | Registered: July 06, 2006Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Picture of the Hudge
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Light and fast for self defense and heavy (and fast) for bear/moose kinda things.
Posts: 751 | Location: Inland Nortwest | Registered: May 29, 2006Reply With QuoteReport This Post
quarter MOA visionary
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In general a heavier bullet.
But in reality matching the weight to the load to the barrel to the intended target or purpose is what I prefer to do.
Posts: 19458 | Location: Houston, TX | Registered: June 11, 2006Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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