Heavy or light grain for compact pistols

FWIW, I don’t trust the clear ballistics gel, it’s not 1:1 with calibrated ordnance gel, though it generally seems IMO to show as the second best thing out there.

That is an unusual result also. First time I remember seeing an HST fail to expand. And it was only about 20 FPS slower than the long barrel. Like literally if I followed that correctly 3.3" was only 20 FPS slower than 5". I have a hard time believing 20 FPS difference on an HST accounts for massive expansion vs basically zero expansion. I’d also like to see more than three total bullets fired, the better tests do a minimum of 5 and then average them to account for outliers.

But, it did fail to expand from the shorter barrel, even with all of the limitations to the test listed above, that was the result. Maybe that’s one reason I don’t conceal carry .45 ACP, it doesn’t expand reliably from short barrels maybe? IDK lol


because their pictures are easy to link, here is lucky gunner doing 230gr HST in .45 out of a 3.6" barrel


That picture is a thing of artisic and engineering beauty. Lucky Gunner is simply terrific.


Not arguing, just discussing …

The 1st short barrel shot was 767 ft/sec, the long barrel shot was 830 ft/sec. That comes out to 300 ft-lbs of energy for the short barrel and 352 ft-lbs for the long barrel. That is 8% more velocity and 17% more energy for the long barrel. I am not an expert in this arena, but my understanding is velocity is one of, if not the most important, parameters for hollow point expansion.

BTW, is it just me, or did the OP drop a grenade and just step back to see what happens? :rofl:


Bingo! I went down that road a while back, asking bullet manufacturers for intended velocity ranges of their various JHP bullets and couldn’t get any info. Like most people, I don’t have the time or money to set up a bunch of ballistic gel tests. But I do have a chronograph, so I can verify if I’m getting the velocity that the mfg expects.

I also came across a lot of info on the Internet comparing 5" barrel 1911 with 3" barrel Glock, etc., etc. That doesn’t really tell much, because a 3" barrel 1911 is likely going to be different than a 3" barrel Glock, which will be different than ______. There’s no uniformity in velocity for all 3" barrels of various manufacturers. And the only thing that really matters is the velocity of that bullet coming out of MY firearm.

Even Speer, who came out with a specific “SB” (Short Barrel) JHP was publishing their info for 4" barrel lengths. Nothing on 3" barrels. I got nowhere with them when trying to get a target velocity range for 185gn vs 230gn vs 230gn SB bullets.


I don’t understand why this information isn’t more easily available. Maybe because they don’t want you choosing another manufacturer’s ammo because you like their velocity window better? Or maybe the sales and marketing people just don’t think it is important? Or the sales people can’t get that information because the ballistic nerds designing the bullets are too busy at the range? Or they consider it a trade secret?

Every once in a while I come across that information reading range reports from someone who supposedly got to hang out with the ballistic nerds who designed the bullet. But you can’t be sure that info is accurate second or third hand.


Yes. That is what I’ve been told as well. I have a 9mm 3.3 barrel with an 147gr ammo. I like compact pistols vs the standard or long length barrels. Still, they dont hold velocity as your regs. So, I just wanted to get more opinions or so on which would be better.
You convinced me heavier, as it is already.

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I understand you there, but…in my case if the second person gets hit then that means he was a tag along with the first person to attack.
Im not so concerned with over penetration at home, maybe with my carry-around yeah.

You should be VERY concerned with over penetration at home. Walls are poor stoppers for bullets. Who’s in the next room, next door apartment, next house over?!? You have to know what your bullet will strike, but more importantly where your bullet will stop!!!


I guess to the group, does lower grain result in lower recoil, higher recoil, or no significant difference?

What do you all think about +P loads? I’m far from knowledgeable on minute details of ammunition, but I thought +P was too powerful for some firearms and that it runs the risk of damaging them. I figured I’d never really need it, so I never purchase +P’s.

Is +P more of a “gimmick”?

9mm. 147gr. HST from a 3.2" barrel.


I noticed the Hydra Shock Deep 135gr has almost identical energy but a bit more velocity.


Looking at the “deep” in .380. the results look good. I plan on picking some up in .380. The tests I’ve seen between heavy 9mm I still think HST has the edge over deep.


Most commonly, lighter bullets (“lower grain”) have higher recoil. Lighter bullets (of the same construction) leave more room for powder (which can mean more powder physically fits, or there is more volume so a little more powder can be used for a little more power without pressures going too high) and lighter bullets have more velocity which results in faster/sharper/higher perceived recoil.

Go shoot a small .357 mag using off the shelf 125gr JHP loads then 158gr JHP/JSP and you’ll probably witness this in action

Go to a match and there is a reason that in order to hit “power factor” or whatever, the competetitive shooters tend to use the heaviest bullets they can. Less recoil. 9mm you’ll see heavier than standard at 150+ grain weight even in competition because of this, or at least 147 commonly

Splitting this off from the initial:

Modern, working condition, duty/service/defense grade pistols have no problem with +P. (check your owner’s manual)

+P tends to only exist for old cartridges/calibers, those that have been around a long time. .38spl, .45 ACP, 9x19, etc, these are like century old cartridges. It wouldn’t be safe to take a round that you can shoot in a modern quality pistol, and put it into an older or piece of crap pistol. Too much pressure.

So to make sure you put it in a quality modern gun, it gets marked +P for the little extra more modern pressure.

That’s really it

It’s not a gimmick, it’s a quantified measurable thing.

The Speer Gold Dot 124gr +P is a fantastic long proven defensive 9mm round. But other than that exact round, I don’t worry about +P. Standard pressure is just fine…especially in HST for defense and in all range ammo for training/practice

My 2 Smith & Wesson snub nosed revolvers are both rated for +P ammo and I can handle the recoil. They also work fine without +P ammo. I suffer from corpal tunnel sometimes and can be a bit rough with +P.

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Yeah, you should watch some of the crime cases. Three dudes were drunk in their room, minding their own business until one shot a gun. They didnt realize where it went. It ent up into the next room. Went through a guys lower extremedies ( scrotum )…broke two ribs, went through part of his heart as well. He crawled towards the door and died. The inside door had the latch on it and the cops couldnt figure out how he died. They thought sine he was 55 and a little overweight he had a heartattack. The coroner dug deaper and find out he was shot. They couldn’t figure it out they asked all the people on the same floor. Then a couple of weeks later one of the guys spilled the beans, as he couldnt deal with it. They were electricians and the lower floor. The shooter got 10 years and the other two got probation for 3 years. Leaving the scene of a crime…so, think about where those rounds end up!!! You never know where it could lead to… jail time or a loved one accidently killled…again, jail time.


Yep, There are tons of cases of over penetration hitting innocents bystanders if you care to do a little research. Ask the folks in the set of Rust…


We have a law here in AZ, called Shannon’s Law. Basically, New Years Eve alot of people would shoot into the air not thinking where the bullets land. Well, a young girl named, Shannon got hit with one of the stray bullets and she died, hence the Shannon Law.