ShootingTheBull410 takes a break from his 9mm AmmoQuest to to demonstrate just how substantially a different barrel length can have in the way a round of ammo performs. Three guns, three barrel lengths ranging from 2″ up to 18.5″, all firing the same round. Think ammo performs the same way through all three barrels? You won’t, after watching this.

56 Responses to ShootingTheBull410 on the Effects of Barrel Length

  1. Hmmm. Couple of points here:

    * Bonded bullets like the Gold Dot will tend to work over a broader speed range than non-bonded. That said a few companies are substituting bonding lead to copper with a different trick whereby the jacket has a deep “locking ring” (doubling as a cannelure in many cases) to keep the jacket glued to the lead core. Hornady is doing this with at least some (all?) of the Critical defense/duty series.

    * I’m not sure I’m ready to call the results from the carbine a fail exactly. Yes, it isn’t as fat but it’s going to have more of a “slap effect” and more bone-shattering power if it does hit heavy bone like the pelvis.

    • “If Wile E. Coyote designed a gun…”

      Brilliant! That’s exactly it — it totally is a Wile E. Coyote pistol. Maybe that’s what I love about it, it’s so over-the-top in so many ways, it’s just fun. I may steal this line when I do a review of it, if that’s okay with you…

  2. I’m wondering what my favourite .357 Mag round’s (which happens to be Buffalo Bore’s 158 grain semi-jacketed hollow point) performance is really like when fired out of different guns… I mean beyond mere numbers: but actual mechanical meets anatomical performance?

    Out of a 4 inch barrel, it clocks in at 1480 fps (give or take 5 fps) and hits with over 760 ft lbs of force…

    In my 6.5 inch Blackhawk, it enters .44 Mag territory (man does it get people’s attention when I touch off a round!)

    And out of a 16 barrel lever-gun, it breaks the 2000 fps barrier and starts to encroach on .30-30 levels of performance…

    The thing is, a round of .30-30 is loaded with a bullet designed to handle, and take advantage of those kinds of velocities… Sure the .357 is going to make a bigger entry hole, but will the bullet’s construction handle the stresses, or will it tear itself apart?

    I know out of my Blackhawk, it’ll do some serious damage at close range (a deer my friend shot didn’t go down at first, and we followed the blood trail until we found it still breathing and struggling: one round of the Buffalo Bore to the head didn’t leave an exit wound, so much as a yawning, mush filled chasm…)

    But, again, despite the impressive velocity and punch, is it advisable to push a bullet designed for 1200-1300 fps velocities to such levels of performance? Are there diminishing rewards for such bumps in velocity? Because that .45 out of the carbine looked like it didn’t dump energy as effectively as the same round from a 6.5 inch barrel…

    • I have to confess that I am very encouraged to see you asking this question and thinking about this. Thanks for your post!

      This idea comes up a lot (and all too often gets overlooked) in hunting in the context of big magnums (and their associated bullets) are used for close range.

      Too many folks are quick to jump the bandwagon “this bullet is no good,” when the real problem was they improperly applied it.

      Bullet design is not black magic. Bullets are designed to do something specific over a very specific range of velocities. It’s very easy to forget, but it’s very, very important when one is seeking the true “best possible chance of proper performance.”

      Does that mean your .357″ bullets will not perform properly out of a carbine? Maybe, maybe not. You’ll have to test it (or find someone who has), but given that .357 Mag carbines have been around a LONG time and used a lot for hunting deer sized game, chances are there *IS* a bullet properly constructed for that application.

      In other words, you may not get away with using one bullet for ALL your applications, but there’s nothing wrong with that. Handloaders that load one caliber for multiple applications learn that VERY quick, or they give up loading out of the frustration of truly disappointing results.

      • I have had three distinct periods of thoughts on ballistics:

        1. No thinking: When I was a kid, I had my .22 Winchester, and shot whatever my dad gave me, or whatever I’d be able to buy, or rather have my dad buy, when I saved up enough allowance… I was also allowed to use either the .30-30 or 1903 when we hunted. Again, it was whatever was on hand that went down the pipe. Things like sectional density, drag coefficient, and terminal ballistics played no part in ammunition selection. This thinking process, or lack of thinking, continued into the USMC: I shot what I was given… I wasn’t payed to ponder the multifaceted problem of ammunition selection.

        2. Bigger and faster: In my early to mid twenties, I adopted the bigger is better attitude. But, because of my experience lugging an ’03 around the hills of rural California, and later humping way too much gear in the 3/1, I decided light weight carbines and midsized pistols were the way to go. To this day my gun cabinet has far too many 16 and 18 inch barrel, 7 pound rifles, that have a calibre that starts with a .3… and lets not even mention my love affair with .357 Sig, .454 Casull, and .357 Magnum in light little snubby things… I figured that FPS, bullet weight, and bore diameter were the be all and end all…

        3. Shot Placement and the right round for the job: Now in my mid 30’s with nearly 30 years of shootin’ under my belt (sadly a far larger belt than it was 15 years ago) I’ve come to realize that there are other factors to take into account… like how does the bullet construction factor into its performance? What do I plan to do with a given round? What do I expect it to do for me? I’ve also started to notice things like the same bullet out of two guns with identical length barrels can perform very very differently… or how a round like a .180 grain .30-06 Remington Core-Lokt out of my sporterized M1917 Rifle is wicked effective on one animal, but lack luster on another: yet the lighter, and slower 150 grain .30-30 just drops that second crittier, where as the .30-06 leaves a nice 1/3 inch hole and not much else…

        I’d love to be able to afford to recreate things like the “pig board” and the “goat board,” or the earlier Thompson-LaGarde Tests… heck even some of the stuff done on Shooting the Bull… just because I’m curious… how does velocity effect a bullet’s terminal performance? Why does my m1917 shoot one particular bullet better than my buddies Remington 7600, even though both rifles have the similar length barrels (he actually has an inch or so on me)? Seriously, out of my rifle, and into a deer, the recovered bullets are these big lead and copper mushrooms, but from his gun… meh…

        So, yeah, I’ll ask the questions I’m asking, because I think it’ll be a benefit to me, and other shooters: on the range and in the field (and in defending our homes)… I’m just glad there’s folks out there asking, and answering the same questions as me!

        • “Why does my m1917 shoot one particular bullet better than my buddies Remington 7600, even though both rifles have the similar length barrels “

          Is this difference in terminal performance noticed on one shot each or a bit more comprehensive sampling?

          Talking about terminal performance on living bodies (deer, humans, whatever) is VERY tricky. There are more variables than just “hit bone” or whatever. Entry angle can matter a lot, and this is something that can NOT be controlled in real world shootings.

          Was the range to the deer the same? That’s a big one, because muzzle velocity is of course not the determiner of terminal performance; impact velocity is.

          But, for the sake of discussion, let’s say the deer impacts were the ‘same’ (or close enough) and we wonder what could be different between the two rifles.

          To get your answer, you need data. The first step I would take would be to shoot each over a chronograph. Are they both producing the same velocity? If not, there are several reasons that could be so.

          Keep in mind that relatively small muzzle velocity changes can lead to larger differences of impact velocity since deceleration is neither constant nor linear.

          If they are not both producing the same velocity with the same ammo, and his is indeed lower even though the barrel is an inch longer, there could be several reasons for this:

          –barrel friction differences (actual diameter, roughness, condition of rifling, etc)

          –headspace differences, though if both are in spec for the cartridge, perhaps should have a small effect; add in here general chamber dimensions as well. You could get a casting of both chambers.

          –free bore distance and throat differences; this could make a BIG difference in developed pressure and pressure curve uniformity.

          Are any of these differences alone enough to produce marked differences in muzzle velocity (and/or terminal performance)? Maybe not. But I’m thinking there could be combined effects. In any case, it NEVER hurts to make the measurements and draw conclusions based on data.

          General comments aside, of the list, I would put my money on barrel friction differences as the most likely culprit if a large velocity difference is found.

          Do both rifles have the same twist rate? I’d also check that if for no other reason than to know.

          And finally, perhaps the most obvious question…when you say same bullet, you DO mean same actual ammo, right? Cartridges from the same box?

        • “when you say same bullet, you DO mean same actual ammo, right? Cartridges from the same box?”

          No, it’s the same actual bullet. You dig it out of the carcass, remold it, and fire it from the other gun.

      • To your point, my 3″ SP101 that I cc daily “wears” 125gr. JHP in a +p loading while my 18″ bbl. Marlin 1894C whose job is home security wears 158gr. semi jacketed soft points in a magnum loading. The reason(s) for the drastically different performance profiles are specifically to account for the differences in muzzle blast, recoil, barrel length and, above all, the effects of the increased velocity gain.

    • An excellent resource to be sure, but they test only velocity variation. STB is showing how bullet performance varies as that velocity changes.

      Both are important pieces of the same puzzle.

  3. Zachary,
    I’m sure he would if you sent him some of what you’d like tested.I know that I have thoroughly enjoyed his series of reviews.

  4. I’m kind of amazed that such a relatively little difference in velocity (±10%) can make such a dramatic difference in bullet performance.

    And I’m speculating that that unknown ring with the first one was the missing lead, but have no idea how it could have come apart.

    • Don’t be surprised. 10% velocity variation is quite large in terms of bullet design when those designs are at the cusp of a number of engineering trade-offs.

      And from an ammunition loading perspective, 10% change is not small anyway.

      This is why STB’s short barrel 9mm tests are so hugely important.

    • It’s not that surprising when you remember that energy is velocity squared. So a 10% velocity difference makes for 21% more energy output.

    • It does seem small at first.

      However, the way I thought about it was that the extra velocity created more pressure to push back the “petals”. I would suppose that the bullet diameter, bullet jacket, lead alloy (hardness and softness), velocity, and terminal material would affect how much the bullet opens. Obviously there wasn’t enough pressure to open it up in the 2″ and the pressure was high enough to overly distort it in the long barrel. It’s possible that 50 fps difference wouldn’t change it much, but that extra 100 fps was enough to break the petal structure and bend them back. It’s interesting to consider that if the experiment was done exactly the same but with different gelatin or a different lead hardness, either of the other two could have performed like the 6.5″ barrel, depending on which way the projectile/target material was modified.

      • Yes, exactly. That’s why you can’t just take an ammo test at face value and say “look at so-and-so’s test, that’s how the ammo performs.” Because that test is only reflective of how that ammo performed from THAT pistol. It doesn’t necessarily reflect how the ammo would perform from a longer or shorter barrel, and it certainly can’t be used to extrapolate how different ammo would perform from the same pistol (example: you can’t say that all 147-grain 9mm’s are no good from 3″ barrels, just because you tested some and they were no good.) Bullet construction, lead hardness, whether the jacket is scored to permit better separation, whether it’s a solid-copper or lead jacketed bullet, the depth and width of the hollowpoint cavity, and the impact velocity, are all so different, that the only way to know is to actually conduct the test.

        Bullets are made to perform properly within a certain window of velocity. Sometimes even just a slight variation in velocity can be enough to get inconsistent performance. And, as you mentioned, sometimes what you shoot through might affect it as well. In short, there’s no way to predict exactly what a bullet is going to do; all we can do is try to find out what a bullet is likely to do, and try to put the odds in our favor by using bullets that are more likely to perform properly than those that are less likely to perform properly.

  5. I am not so sure that the 2″ barrel’s failure to fully expand means that the round is ineffective. A 45 round puts a big enough hold in the target to cause serious damage. I am sure you can find a better technically performing round for the short and long barrel but I wouldn’t use the 9mm MOEs to judge the overall effectiveness of a 45 round.

    • Agreed. MANY people believe (me included) that penetration is much more critical than a bigger wound channel with in reason. A hollow point that falls apart or expands so much to not allow proper penetration into a vital organ is a loser in my book.

      Sure that bad guy might bleed to death 3 hours later from that lack luster hollow point, but I would take a FMJ ball ammo round that goes through the hart and drops them where they stand in mere minutes any day of the week.

      • I am not arguing for or against JHP. I was only pointing out that STB’s MOEs for 9mm are not the best indicator of damage from a larger, heavier round like 45 Colt or 45 ACP. One the big advantages of the 45 over 9mm and standard 40 caliber rounds is that if you have to use ball you still have a round with high lethality. That means that when I go up to the Shenandoah National Park I still have an effective anti-personal round when I quite literally loaded for bear.

        • I only care about penetration. If its a hollow point and can achieve the proper penetration, I am all for it.

        • Good point. When you speak of ball ammo, do you have a type that is not simply target ammo?

        • Nope, 230 grains of 45 ACP is 230 grains of 45 ACP. I have heard that PPU rounds are a little hotter than SAMMI standards.

        • “I was only pointing out that STB’s MOEs for 9mm are not the best indicator of damage from a larger, heavier round”

          And yet another excellent point in this discussion!

          Experimental data is very specific to what is being tested.

          And to belabor the point just a little bit, that is exactly WHY he’s doing the short barrel 9mm test series…because all other comprehensive gel testing of 9mm is with longer barreled handguns.

          Even though his testing is still a work in progress, we can emphasize some important conclusions already. Namely, “known” good ammo out of a 4.5″ 9mm may well NOT be worth snot in a sub compact as a ‘reliable self defense round.’

          In other words, as Einstein said, once we think we “know” something, we cease all understanding, and there are no panacea solutions in shooting.

          Likewise…these short barrel 9mm tests should not be extrapolated to .45 or any other caliber.

  6. Expanding rounds do indeed have an operating range. Too little velocity results in no expansion or minimal expansion. Too much velocity can cause a bullet to break apart, although fragmentation is not always a bad thing. Using very short pistol barrels can exhibit poor performance, and using pistol rounds out of carbines can cause a bullet to break apart.

    My takeaways? Two inch and shorter pistol barrels can cause bullet failure by failing to generate enough velocity to cause expansion. I also consider how short barrel 5.56, 300 AAC, and .308 (etc.) loads may also push a bullet too slowly to ensure expansion at longer ranges.

    I actually have an email sent to Precision One regarding the velocity and expansion range of their 150 grain ballistic tip 300 AAC load. In particular, I am wondering about the effective range of that load in my 16″ barrel and the 9″ Daniel Defense pistol that my best friend owns.

    • Exactamundo.

      There’s a reason why dangerous game hunters prefer solids. They don’t break up, they drive through bone and connective tissue much better than a bullet that sheds mass early on.

      Given the disparity between various HP defensive rounds, I still keep coming back to my “big, heavy and slow” bullets in .45 Colt, .45 ACP, .44 Special, etc. They might not expand quite so impressively, but they started out large, they have mass to break bones and drive through denim (and other conventional fabrics), and their slower velocities mean that, regardless of FMJ, SWC, semi-jacketed, whatever, they’ll at least perform consistently. I’ll take massive cast lead bullets over a high-velocity, super-engineered JHP round that works under “ideal” conditions.

      The reason why I carry a .45 for defense is that I find carrying a used engine block to lob at someone to be inconvenient.

    • I tend to agree, except in the case of the .300 Blackout, which I researched to some minor extent before buying one. It is my understanding (which I did not expect) that the projectiles, either subsonic or super, were specifically designed (I think by AAC) for the power profile of the .300. I thought it obvious that if bullets made for the 7.62 NATO were used, you might as well use all ball ammo, there would never be expansion of any kind. But my understanding now is that I can expect a 220 g bullet at 1050 fps to expand as one would expect. Don’t even ask what would happen if that bullet was loaded in a 7.62 NATO round, suspect vaporizing in flight.

      I expect to be shooting pigs by this summer, will advise as to effectiveness vs 5.56 out of 16″ bbl.

  7. Wow MAJOR FAIL.

    The first round that hit the gel comprised the gel and could/did skew the results of the others shots. He needed a new block for each round fired.

    Also he said that the round out of the the 18 inch was a failure because is “almost came apart” ?????? Really? More like the faster the round went the more it expanded and hence that round expanded all the way and then folded back on its self. It is SO EASY to understand I am not sure why he did not get it.

    The slowest round started to expand, the next round (speed wise) was at the max diameter of expansion and the fastest round full expanded and then folded back. DUH!

    • You don’t need a new block every time. If you watch ballistic gel tests you would see that it’s common to put 5 shots into the gel. Often the 5 shots have nearly identical expansion and penetration, you would not get that result if the block was compromised.

      Therefore, MAJOR FAIL comment by you.

      • Really which would you rather have?

        I would rather have a clean block for each shot, so there is NO chance that the second and third shot are impacted in some way by the damage done by the first round.

        • Multiple shots into one block is common practice; perhaps someone, somewhere (FBI, maybe?), has validated that multi-shot procedure.

          Have you ever fired a bullet into gelatin, conducted any kind of ballistics research or is your objection based upon arm-chair speculation?

    • Notwithstanding your hasty comment, but shooting several rounds into the same gel block is a common practice. Many bullets show uniform expansion and penetration as long as the permanent cavities do not overlap. Even if the cavities do overlap, the test still has value. Ballistic gel is meant to mimic pig muscle, which in turn is representative of human muscle.

      Faced with an armed assailant, I plan to shot multiple overlapping permanent cavity pathways through my attacker.

    • Others have addressed the points here, I just want to make some specific points:

      “The first round that hit the gel comprised the gel and could/did skew the results of the others shots. He needed a new block for each round fired.”
      This is absolutely not true. Professional testing uses up to five shots per block, as long as the wound channels don’t overlap there is no “compromising” of the gel. Virgin/untouched gel is not “compromised” because a bullet hit somewhere else in the block. I’ve done many tests where five shots expanded and penetrated nearly identically (see my forthcoming test of Gold Dot 115’s for an example) — so the first shot performed exactly the same as the four that followed it. If the gel had been compromised, you’d expect different results between bullets, but that’s not how it actually works.

      FBI protocol is to shoot five shots per block, one in each corner and one in the center. The corner shots are to be 1.75″ from the edge of the block (assuming a standard 6″ x 6″ x 16″ block).

      “Also he said that the round out of the the 18 inch was a failure because is “almost came apart” ?????? Really?”

      Yes, really. The bullet was compromised. It resulted in a smaller wound path and less ability to do damage because of the way it deformed.

      “More like the faster the round went the more it expanded and hence that round expanded all the way and then folded back on its self. It is SO EASY to understand I am not sure why he did not get it.”

      Okay, here’s the thing I really wanted to address. If it is SO EASY to understand, then polite and civil discourse in an enlightened community would assume that I DID, in fact, “get it” — and therefore, seeing as I did get it, the question you may want to ask yourself is “if it’s so obvious, then surely I must be missing something — what am I not getting?” That’s a more productive question than “if it’s so obvious, why is the other person such a moron?”

      So here’s the thing you’re missing — obviously yes the bullet did expand and then overexpand, with the petals squashing backwards and nearly ripping off. In doing so, it made itself a smaller overall bullet with less wounding capability. The bullet that performed as designed, the one in the middle of the velocity range, presents a much larger profile and damages much more tissue on its journey. The one that peeled all the way back ended up creating a smaller final profile. That is generally viewed as a bad thing in expanding bullets. The purpose of an expanding bullet is, of course, to grow larger. The overexpanded/ripped back bullet might as well have been an FMJ, for all the size that it carried.

      Now, a .45-caliber hole is still a big hole. I’m not saying the bullet from the carbine was “bad”, I’m saying the bullet did not perform as it was designed to do, it did not deliver the results that one would expect from an expanding hollowpoint. The medium-speed bullet delivered the results that it was engineered to produce.

      “The slowest round started to expand, the next round (speed wise) was at the max diameter of expansion and the fastest round full expanded and then folded back. DUH!”

      Yes, thank you so much for that. Obviously that’s what happened. The point I was demonstrating was that only one of them actually performed the way the bullet was intended to perform.

      There are other bullets that would perform better from the designated guns. PDX1, for example, expands perfectly and penetrates deeply from the 2″ barrel, but actually overexpands and rips apart from the 6.5″ barrel. 250-grain Gold Dots expand magnificently from the carbine, but fail to expand from the 2″.

      There is a right and proper design for each task. You cannot blanketly assume that just because a bullet works properly from one gun, that it will perform that way from all barrel lengths; variations in barrel length can have a significant, even drastic effect on how the bullet performs.

  8. Im going to keep this short: There is some ignorance in his analysis. The 18.5 inch barrel bullet obviously has more force pushing it through the media and peeled itself back further and compressed itself under heavier force. However, the bullet did expand at one point to the same size as the six inch bullet, but traveled further and had more force to compress the pedals further backward after full expansion. To say the six inch barrel did better because it expanded greater is incorrect. The 18 inch barrel would have made a similar or even more violent wound tract, because their maximum expanded states were the same. The video should have shown and analyzed what the wound tracks between the bullets looked like. Damage and penetration should be the deciding factors with bullet performance, not how pretty they look when they come out of the gel.

    • I agree to with your comment to a point. His intent was to show you the goldielocks effect. When bullets have their petals peeled back like the 18 incher, it usually happens in the first 4 inches, and is carried though to the 16 inches. Whereas the 6.5 incher probably expanded at 4 inches and held it to the end. Regardless, as you said, we would have to look at the bullet tracks. TNOutdoors9 focuses heavily on the wound track when inspecting ammo. So check out his videos for that type of info.

      • “His intent was to show you the goldielocks effect. When bullets have their petals peeled back like the 18 incher, it usually happens in the first 4 inches, and is carried though to the 16 inches. Whereas the 6.5 incher probably expanded at 4 inches and held it to the end.”

        EXACTLY. Exactly exactly exactly.

        As for the bullet track: what happens in the first few inches of penetration is, generally, irrelevant in terms of overall terminal performance. It’s what happens deeper that matters. I know that some people like to focus on how the bullet expands and trace through the wound path; that can be interesting from an academic perspective but in terms of actual terminal performance it’s really rather much ado about nothing. Gary Roberts (DocGKR) doesn’t even bother showing pictures of the gel tracks at all, he just reports overall penetration and final expansion. Same for the FBI and other professional testers. MacPherson’s wound trauma incapacitation formula actually discards the first 8″ of penetration completely; he only starts weighting the damage once it exceeds 8″. What happens in the first few inches is irrelevant.

        Of course, what happens in the first few inches can make for nasty flesh wounds, to be sure — and they can hurt, and bleed. And it can LOOK impressive, which is why “exotic” ammo like DRT, Extreme Shock, Liberty, G2 R.I.P., etc., all make big wide shallow wound cavities — they look horrific to the layman, but those initial shallow damage tracks are pretty much ignored by professional testers.

    • Ultimately, he was just trying to show “barrel length matters.”

      There are large segments of the shooting population that think stuff like “one round to rule them all,” as if such things as a panacea exists in the real world.

      This test is simply a demonstration that ammo needs to match the application, which includes factors such as velocity (at impact) which is arrived at in this case via the testing proxy of barrel length.

  9. Hmmm, wonder if they were to make a .410, load it with different loads in a drum or a dbl. stack 20 round magazine in a short carbine. Could be a pretty good house cleaner! .410 in each hand, wow. Be careful out there, there’s a lot of lead flying.

  10. Does this take us back to the issue of having two or three FMJ rounds in my mag mixed in with my JHP Critical Defense in case the penetration is an issue with a particular target.
    Missing your target is a more likely danger to a bystander than a FMJ popping through the skin of a bad guy with little energy left.
    I have JHP in the pipe, FMJ at the top of the mag then two JHPs then another FMJ the rest JHP. Instead of trying to make one projectile do multiple things, I use multiple bullet types.
    Gelatin is the same, bad guy targets will vary, ya never know what you’re gonna get

    • This is a good point. That tactic goes a long way back, too.

      But for SD considerations you’ve touched on something that is VERY important. This idea,

      “Missing your target is a more likely danger to a bystander”

      is BY FAR the much, much, much bigger concern than 1″ less average penetration in a gel test, etc.

      Hit rates in real gun fights are at best around 20%, even at spitting distances. The target is rarely standing still, may well be shooting back, hiding behind cover, you may already be shot or otherwise wounded (in the shooting hand…hand injuries are VERY common in gunfights) and of course there may be bystanders around, also running, screaming…who knows.

      That’s why in a past post on this topic I mentioned that the differences between ANY of these bullets in The Real Test ™ are small; the differences are “on paper” and do NOT show much real correlation in real shooting data. In real shootings, terminal performance is simply a bit of an unknown no matter what bullet you choose or how it tested in gel. Hunters know that, and I can base that on my own experiences in attending real human autopsies.

      I like to bring up one of Jared Reston’s shootings as very good example. He shot the bad guy a total of seven times – with a .40 S&W and Police Duty Ammo – and three of those shots were contact head shots. When he relates this story, he emphasizes that ONLY ONE of those three contact head shots was fatal.

      All three bullets were of the same time out of the same gun and all three were extremely close range…essentially ‘bam bam bam’ in a CQB fight for his life when he also had already been shot numerous times. VERY different results, and yet the ‘gel test’ would not indicate this at all.

      The First Rule of gunfighting is HAVE A GUN.

      After that, a large percentage of all this other stuff…fun to discuss and debate as it might be…is academic. The “best” bullet in gel may well fail to perform when you need it most, and I’ve personally seen one-shot kills with .22 LR out of handguns.

      To put more emphasis on all the caliber stuff, bullet this or that than it really deserves is a gross exaggeration when extrapolating that data to the real world.

      But, I guess I’m singing on a broken record. Folks will continue to say, “just use ammo/caliber/gun make or model x” while they continue to ignore REAL data from the REAL world which shows their mental energies may be better spent on shooting weak hand only, for example.

      William Aprill has talked about the concept of “schema” and how dangerous that can be….having a preconceived map in your head of how the world is and trying to adjust reality to fit that. Absolute and simple statements about how a self defense gun fight “will be” or how the gun, ammo or shooter will perform are good examples of a schema that does not align with objectively observable reality….the observations that come from studying real gun fights.

      • EDIT: “having a preconceived map in your head of how the world "should be" and trying to adjust reality to fit that.”

        That right there is the Fundamental Root Cause of Every Problem There Is.

        • Well, actually, no. Not as I understand it, anyway.

          I’m way out of my element on the psychological concept of schema and only understand what I do know about it from casual, lay reading and listening to an Aprill podcast.

          But, here’s the deal as far as I get it with schema. It’s a map of how things ARE that exists in your head, and when your senses collect data, the processing of that data adjusts the data to fit the schema that is already there.

          He gave an extreme example of a woman who witnessed the murder of a neighbor that reported she thought her neighbor was in her yard gardening! Witnessing a murder next door was so far beyond her mental map of what her neighborhood is that psychologically, her mind did not process what she was seeing correctly.

          So, I do think it goes beyond just a simple “I see the world how I think it should be” but rather, “I make what I see fit what I think it is.” I guess the term cognitive dissonance applies as well.

          Saying “how it should be” implies some recognition of the real facts; You recognize that ‘crap happens’ and just wish it didn’t or that it should not. That’s the difference, I guess – that with the schema map, the real inputs are maligned to fit the mental map. “There’s no crime in my neighborhood; I live in a good part of town.”

          Schema and how it relates to crime and self defense is fascinating, and some study has deeply changed my approach to training.

  11. The takeaway is use a longer barrel for distance work where the round slows down to a point where it is most effective. It’s probably a good idea to test different bullets at different distances and media to determine what works best.

    For deer hunting with handgun I use 240gr JHP .44 mag from a 8 inch barrel. Hunting distances are 20 to 75 yards with a max of 100 yards. Close up I can aim for the head or engine room so expansion is less important. Expansion counts at distance where you need to rely on organ damage and blood pressure drop to fall the game.

    I’m impressed with the performance of those rounds and the lighter recoil would be a good thing.

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