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Old 08-31-2008, 07:05 PM   #1
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Default Question regarding caliber "power"

Hello all.

I have yet another totally (probably) dumb question for you.

Is the power of a given caliber determined by the grains?

For example a 115 grain 9mm cartridge is more powerful than a 40 grain .22 lr cartridge. Is this how the steps up in stopping power (and felt recoil) is determined, or it is solely based on the physical size of the projected "bullet" with no consideration to the grain?

I apologize in advance for my ignorance...

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Old 08-31-2008, 07:37 PM   #2
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Cartridges are generally not reffered to in grains, though that is how they are weighed. A cartridge is the complete package, case, primer, powder, projectile. Powder and bullets are measured in grains. 7,000 grains = 1 pound.

Bullet weight has nothing to do with "power". I think sometimes people new to shooting use the term "power", but in any shooting references I know of that term is not used, since it's pretty vague and inaccurate when describing a cartridge. For example, a 40 grain 22 long rifle is not as "powerful" as a 20 grain 204 Ruger. There are many other things that are factored in like pressure, velocity and the determining bottom line which is case capacity. A 204 has more powder capacity than a 22 lr, which eventually translates to more pressure, higher velocity, and ultimately to what one might consider "power".

Conversley, a 180 grain 30-30 WCF has significantly less velocity than the 204 Ruger, however is more "powerful" since it has a much heavier projectile, but moving at a lower velocity. All of these things are relative to one another. If you pick one single cartridge, you can significantly change how "powerful" it is by changing the bullet weight, powder charge (amount of powder the cartridge contains measured by weight, in grains), and even the type of powder used. Different powders have different burn rates which in turn affect pressure, which in turn affect velocity. Back to that whole relativity thing again.

Recoil is also a product of all things combined. Bullet weight and powder charge influence recoil, with heavier bullets and powder charges (heavier by weight in grains) delivering more recoil.

I hope that is close to what you were looking for for an explanation. And it's not a dumb question, nor is it ignorance. Not knowing and not asking is ignorant. I think you've had some pretty good questions and at least you're making an attempt to find out rather than just buying xyz ammo for xyz gun and blasting away, never knowing the how or why.

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Old 09-01-2008, 02:29 AM   #3
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Thank you jeepcreep927.

I appreciate your informative and thorough post. That does answer my questions...and more.

Also, thanks for not being rude or condescending in your post. So far I have been fortunate in that no one has been rude when I ask the beginner questions. Perhaps this sport only attracts the upper echelon of society.

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Old 09-01-2008, 04:18 AM   #4
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I am happy to offer what little knowledge I have. There are people on here that can answer anything you could think of.

There gun owners, and gun people, in my opinion. Anyone can buy the latest or coolest gun and make it go bang, but only do it for a thrill and don't care anything more about them and have no real knowledge of guns or anything to do with them. I find they are usually the ones who make stupid remarks, are condescending and rude in conversation, same as they leave trash on ranges, and do irresponsible things with firearms. Most people who truly like firearms and related interests shun these idiots and strive to represent responsible gun owners as real people with a real interest, not a stupid "redneck", wanna be Rambo or whatever other steroetypes exist.

There a so many off shoot interests involved with firearms there's bound to be one that you really like and it's so much easier to learn about things when your really interested. I mean, who cares about the ballistic coefficient of a bullet anyway? The guy that wants to find the best bullet for hunting, or the woman that is looking for the most accurate bullet for competition. I guess it's like wondering who would want to study the origin and history of a stamp? Someone who is interested. Same thing.

Anyhow, there are no stupid questions, especially here. So shy of asking how to make your AR full auto, make a silencer or something else illegal, I would bet no one here would say anything purposely insulting. Some of the posts get a little heated and some of the posters are more "flip" than others, but that is usually on topics of opinion. Anyone who berated you for asking a legitimate question, no matter how trivial it may be to some, would probaly catch some serious flak from everyone else. No responsible gun owner wants to turn off new comers to the sport, hobby, trade, obsession, etc. It's the complete opposite, the more positive outlook on firearms and the more support for the Second Amendment, the better.

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Old 09-01-2008, 11:09 AM   #5
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Default Taylor KO

To add to the till here... "Knock Down Power" of any given caliber is a factor of velocity, diameter, and weight of a bullet. This is calculated by using the "Taylor KO Factor" :http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taylor_KO_Factor

This will help you figure out what has Knock Down Power and what doesn't...
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Old 09-01-2008, 05:07 PM   #6
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Thanks Mark! The more knowledge the better.

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Old 09-01-2008, 05:26 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jeepcreep927 View Post

Anyhow, there are no stupid questions, especially here. So shy of asking how to make your AR full auto, make a silencer or something else illegal, I would bet no one here would say anything purposely insulting. Some of the posts get a little heated and some of the posters are more "flip" than others, but that is usually on topics of opinion. Anyone who berated you for asking a legitimate question, no matter how trivial it may be to some, would probaly catch some serious flak from everyone else. No responsible gun owner wants to turn off new comers to the sport, hobby, trade, obsession, etc. It's the complete opposite, the more positive outlook on firearms and the more support for the Second Amendment, the better.
That is a very good point jeep and thank you for pointing that out. One of the things that drew me to this website in the first place was that the "inner circle" of experts, that you find on a lot of web forums, weren't all snobby and condescending.

Almost everyone here has knowledge to share and does so willingly and without making it seem like they have the only answers. Some of the political stuff gets a little heated, but that is normal if you have passion.

The weapons information is very good, and the questions that get asked always get addressed, which is a great credit to everyone who takes the time to post and share what they know.

To everyone who contributes - THANK YOU!

JD
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Old 09-01-2008, 06:59 PM   #8
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Jeep you did a great job Explaining That

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Old 09-02-2008, 11:46 AM   #9
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In my business, we have a saying:

"Without DATA, it's just another OPINION".

I believe it's very important to provide good quality, factual information to anyone that wants it, and then let the reader(s) decide for themselves... that's why I like this forum.

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Old 09-02-2008, 08:39 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mark F View Post
"Without DATA, it's just another OPINION".
That's going in my collection of quotes.

In regard to the OP's question, I suggest you do some digging for ballistics data to help answer your question. Kinetic energy plays a large role in determining the "power" of a bullet. E=.5*mv^2 where m is the mass and v is the speed of the body. So, knowing the feet/second and the mass of a bullet, you can determine the kinetic energy that will, at least partly, be transferred to your target.

A more massive bullet does not guarantee more energy being delivered to your target.

Generally speaking, the faster a bullet goes, the less stable it is such that when it hits something, it tumbles and possibly breaks apart, thus transferring more of its energy to the target than if it were traveling slower -- and thus would be more stable -- and pass right through the target.

Mind if I ask why you posed the question? Are there specific calibers you're considering? Is there a particular application you're pondering?
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